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An Assassin in the Crowd
by Dan D'Alimonte
©1998 Dan D'Alimonte -- all rights reserved

The insertion had gone off without a hitch. I had managed to infiltrate the building. The target's security people did not even suspect that I was there. So far, so good. I had already managed to make my way through several of the outer checkpoints. Security had been fairly lax and not a problem. One more obstacle to go and I would be in striking range of my target.

All that I knew was that he was a diplomat of some repute. An important figure in some sort of negotiations that were underway. I did not know the specifics. They would have had no effect on the job, and thus, were unimportant to me. The most important facts were that my employers felt the target would be better off dead, and that they were willing to pay me an obscene amount of money to see that their wishes came true. To me, a target had no life, no family, no purpose other then to become my victim. I did not judge them, I simply killed them because I was paid to do so.

The meetings between the two factions involved in the talks were taking place in an ancient building. It held some sort of special significance to both parties. Why it was special was another fact that was beneath my notice. It was built many years ago, and its design afforded me plenty of winding hallways and corners in which to conceal myself.

Later in the day, the target would be making a public announcement before a delegation of his people. Public gatherings were always a prime situation to make a hit. The target and his guards would have a false sense of security, surrounded by what were supposed to be his supporters and compatriots. All that I had to do in order to satisfy my employers was get into the hall in which the target would be making his speech, and ensure that he was dead before he could make his announcement. It had to be in the hall. My employers had paid extra to insure that he died in front of the crowd. I did not know why. It was not my job to ask, just to kill.

I was approaching the final checkpoint, the last barrier before I reached the hall. Here security was tighter then it had been elsewhere in the building. Sneaking out from behind a pillar, I joined a group of people making their way to the hall. At the gate, the guards were checking identifications when the sergeant recognized one of the group members and let the whole group pass. It would have been highly unlikely that the guards would have stopped me, but it was a relief to pass through the gate without scrutiny.

Finally, I was within striking distance. People were milling around the hall as they were apt to do during such gatherings. Separating myself from those who had unknowingly gained my entry to the room, I made my way around the outside of the hall. An occasional stop at a group of people gave the impression of mingling with the crowd until I had reached my destination.

Settling in next to the wall, I looked over the speaker's podium sitting on the slightly raised stage not twenty meters from where I sat. I could visualize the target's arrival in the hall; Coming through the small door at the back of the stage and stepping up to the podium. That was where I would strike the blow that would kill him.

A few minutes later my vision began to unfold as he entered the room escorted by a single bodyguard. As he approached the podium, the bodyguard remained by the door. Too far away to save the target from my blow. The target cleared his throat and as the microphone carried the sound across the room, every eye in the hall focused on him, intent on hearing what he had to say. I waited until he had gotten half way through his introduction before I acted.

Breaking into a sprint, as fast as my four legs could carry me, I charged him. I had covered about half the distance between us when he noticed my approach. A few seconds later he bore a look of complete surprise as I barreled into him, knocking him to the floor. Quickly regaining my balance, I rose and locked my teeth around his throat before he could raise his arms to ward me off. A second later I had flexed my jaws, severing his jugular and ripping his larynx from his body.

At first the crowd stared in stunned silence, and then a wave of pandemonium broke out with people shouting and screaming and running about the room. I noticed that target's bodyguard had drawn his pistol and was taking aim. The shot never came as he hesitated, not pulling the trigger. I guess he did not want to risk hitting one of the people in the crowd. Unfortunately for him, this gave me the opportunity I needed as I pounced on him. The bodyguard's head cracked nicely against the stone wall, leaving him quite stunned.

It was now time to make my escape. I could see guards entering the hall through the main entrance with their rifles raised, but still not sure what had happened and not willing to fire into the chaotic crowd. Taking advantage of the anarchy, I slipped through the stage door. Running down the corridor that ran along the back of the hall, I began to search for my way out. Considering this part of the building secure, someone had neglected to post guards so I was able to move with ease. I was still hurrying though. Every minute I wasted the less my chance for escape would be, as more guards were alerted to my presence.

Just as the general alarm sounded, I found what I was searching for, an open window within jumping distance of the ground. Leaping through the window, I found myself in the yard that separated the building and the high wall surrounding it. Quickly loping across the yard, I headed for the wall and the next step in the extraction plan. Just as I reached the wall I heard a shout and, looking over my shoulder, I saw a company of guards rushing towards me. I dove behind a pile of boxes as high-power shells crashed into the pavement where I had been seconds before.

Looking along the wall, I saw my destination. A drainage culvert was about fifty meters from were I was hiding. A piece of flagging tape tied around it marked it as my bolt hole. Dashing from my concealment, I sprinted towards the hole, hoping that I could outrun the soldier's bullets. I heard the retort of shots during the infinite instance it took me to reach the culvert. Never even looking back to see how close I had come to meeting my maker, I dove into the black abyss.

Scrambling along the corrugated steel tube, I prayed that the extraction team had removed the grating from the outside end and that the guards would not think to empty a few clips down the culvert while I was still in it. Concentrating on the point of light in front of my nose, I moved as quickly as I could. Seeing it growing, I redoubled my efforts, crashing out of the inky blackness seconds later.

As the plan called for, the extraction team was in position and, in less then a minute, I found myself in the back of a rotocopter and heading towards the horizon at top speed. Relaxing in the passenger compartment, I considered how the hit had gone. I had easier hits in the past, but there had been more difficult ones as well. No-one ever suspected that mongrel hound sitting in the corner, and after another few weeks in the vats that scruffy dog would not even exist anymore. I pondered over what form I would take for my next job. Perhaps a tiger? A viper? Maybe a large cat or even a horse? The possibilities were just endless.

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