Author: Julian Miles, Staff Writer

That shadow is cast by scenery. The one next to it likewise. The third I’m not sure about, and the fourth will become scenery if the body isn’t found. Sniping lasers give nothing away when killing, although the wounds are distinctive. By the time they’re identifying that, I’ll be off killing beings on another planet.

Mother used to tell me an old tale about the two wolves within me. Urged me to feed one and let the other starve. Uncle Enapay suggested I feed them both, listen to both, then decide wisely. Didn’t tell me where I could get wisdom from, though.

A fifth shadow? Not a target. Looks like an early scavenger visiting the cause of shadow number four. Come on, number three. Either reveal yourself to be the local equivalent of a bear, or as my other target, but please move soon. It’s cold out here, and I have a long flight to the spaceport on a skiff so old the heater barely works.

Grandmother nodded politely when mother spoke of the two wolves, but shook her head when mother said they were what guided us still. I never understood why, until one day grandmother told me about the dream the last chief of our nation had, about the two guns. Unlike the wolves, they’re not inside. They’re awful tools, brought by invaders and taken up before their menace was realised.

A sixth shadow slides from behind the fourth and moves away, trying to be stealthy. No heat signature, and the movement profile of small fauna. It’s very well done. However, I’m up high enough to see the one thing they forgot: their shadow on a white snowfield. I let whoever it is get a good way off, then kill them.

The two guns are what my people sometimes called ‘soul tools’. To go back to my mother’s tale, they are things that – while outside of us – can taint the wolves within.
Both guns are shiny and fascinating, and both do only one thing well: kill. They give you strength when you slay, but the only the bright one gives you greater strength when you put it away without killing. The dark one feels cold when you put it away like that.

Speaking of tools, that’s a drone rising from behind the third shadow. A rescue beacon. If it reaches a hundred metres up it’ll emit a signal powerful enough to be picked up at the far spaceport, let alone the near one.
Guessing the lead required, I manage to wing it with the first shot, then skip a second as the drone spins down to crash a short way from where it took off.

Whichever gun you use the most decides where your desires lie. Some folk switch guns after a while, some stay with the one they first used. Nobody switches back and forth, even if what they do with their chosen gun doesn’t match the lives they lead. I often wonder if those folk are ever truly happy.

Scenery doesn’t send drones. I put a beam through the third shadow. It slides sideways, then settles.

The thing is, everybody chooses a gun. Many never draw it. Even so, their actions and inactions will be influenced by it.

I’ve drawn mine often, and I’m probably doing good by killing bad beings.

But I know my gun is dark.

What about yours?