Author : Julian Miles, Staff Writer

I am a rifle.
There are few like me, but I am unique.
I will fire true.
I will fire straighter than any other.
I know that only hitting the target counts.
I will maintain myself clean and ready.
I will defend my country.
I will master the enemy.

The creed runs through my frontal RAM as it always does, because they think it helps.

“Camera One, pan the crowd.”

That is my confirmation. I leave the gathering quietly, entering the stairwell using the card from the security guard I left sleeping in the toilets.

Letting the door close I kill the biomass masquerading as my heart and extend my tibia and humerus, then leap into the gap between the staircases and progress rapidly upward, something only my extended reach permits. Intense security leaves holes. In this case, detecting for life signs in the stairway and movement on the stairs, not dead things moving in the gap between them. Foolishly they considered a metre-wide, sixty storey drop secure.

I slide to the edge of the parapet and reform. My vertebrae alternately revolve ninety degrees to lock, while my head cants back and swings up to locate above where oesophagus-muffler has risen to align with spine-barrel, as my lower jaw bifurcates to become the bipod. My left femur rotates and swings back, feeding a 13mm long cartridge into the breech that forms my sacral curve, while my arms swing out to stabilise my incline, counterbalanced by my extended right leg.

My Zeiss-lensed eyes feed compensated targeting data to the dedicated math processor that handles all the windage and other variables in less time than it takes Senator Lindham’s bodyguard to open the door of the limousine.

As his head rises into view, I wait until I see the carotid pulse in his neck in my holographic cross matrix. I exhale death and his head explodes. I use the recoil to slide back, letting my head drop forward as I disengage my osteo-locks and deform. I roll off the parapet and sprint across the roof as alarms start. I dive from the back of the building, sixty storeys up giving me the angle to plunge into the deep end of the public pool across the road and a block down. Water pours from me and startled lovers exclaim, but I am gone over the fence and into the bushes. As I climb the tree by the next road over, the evening run to the recycling plant is passing. I leap from the tree into the back of the truck, amongst metals and electricals that will mask my presence, just as the pool eradicated all detectable miasma of rifle shot. I may have left some pieces of overskin, but it leads back to the only man who had cloneable cells, like every other piece of vatflesh on this planet.

On the slip road to the industrial estate that surrounds the plant, a rescue and recovery hauler sits. I drop from the back of the recycler and roll under the hauler, pulling myself through the belly hatch into my residence.

William says: “Fine work, Swan.”

He means it. He only ever uses my nickname over my designation, S-One, when he’s exceptionally pleased. Which means Ruger-Sony are paying him a lot, again.

I settle into a solvent bath and idle my processors. After I’m clean I’ll upload the mission log. As I am scoured, I run my creed in private RAM.

I am Sniper One.
I never miss.


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