A Bullet for Her
Following is an unedited short story from an upcoming "Armory" book in the Chaos 6010 setting from Arcanum Syndicate.
He knelt there, the rain beating a steady staccato on the top of his combat helmet, as he stared through the scope of his Tritan Farshot rifle, silently watching a place almost a mile away. His position beside the communications antennae of the building made him almost invisible, in a location that anyone with a view of the city would casually ignore for more fanciful buildings that dominated the skyline of Haven.
His mind was not particularly upon his task, instead he kept thinking about his wife, lying there, tubes coming out of her arms, her breathing shallow and raspy, a victim of the Tarcoda Plague. They had shared a wonderful life for awhile, until the disease took hold.
They had been young when they met, she was just out of medical school, and he had been recovering from taking a bullet in the shoulder from an org gang banger. He had told the doctors and the police that he was simply the victim of a mugging, and for a time, she too believed the lie. He didn't want to tell her the brutal truth, of his involvement with criminal organizations, his reputation as a mercenary.
She had been there to nurse him back to health, as he recovered from a job that had gone sideways. It wasn't until after they had moved in together that she began to question things, like where he went, or why he would return with a few scrapes and bruises. He finally broke down and told her, and she held him in silence for awhile, and made him promise to leave it all behind.
But he couldn't leave her behind. When she came down with the Plague, their meager savings disappeared so quickly, eaten up by radical treatments barely keeping her alive. Doctors had been working on a cure, and the promise of a pending release kept him going. The few hours a day that she was able to remain conscious, they spent holding one another in silence.
When their savings were fully spent, he knew he didn't have a choice. But she didn't need to hear, didn't need to know that he was going to take another job. She deserved to live, and to live free of the guilt of knowing what he had to do.
His focus suddenly snapped to the present, as his target stepped into view. He said a silent prayer to those that would listen, and pulled the trigger. The bullet sped out of the end of the barrel with a sound like a heavy cough, flew through the intervening distance, punched a hole in the safety glass and sent spiderwebs through the window. His target's head disappeared into a mist of crimson, and the bodyguards turned in horror as their boss crumpled, a headless suit hitting the floor.
He began to dismantle the rifle, knowing that he had so very little time.