December 3rd 2012
Senator Hannigan was Caro. The second I made the connection, everything started making perfect sense: Senate vessels aren’t subject to Customs scrutiny, his position allowed him to monitor and compromise Advocacy investigations, the bastard was even on the Subcommittee for Development & Expansion, which gave him full access to all those untouched worlds, just crawling with untouched property.
The more laps the notion took around my mind, the more obvious it became. The solution started to become crystal clear too.
The K&W LR-620 Precision Railgun could put a round through 36mm of titanium at three thousand meters. It’s expensive but if you want a guaranteed kill, it’s worth the stretch.
Up in Dovkin’s penthouse, the rifle looked like one of the over-priced works of art on the wall. The clean design. The impeccable placement of every feature. It was beautiful. Who knows, it might even achieve sainthood once it blasted the skull of the worst trafficker in the UEE.
Dovkin brought me a drink. I took it and sipped. He broke out the nice stuff. He expected a sale.
A tiny man with a gnarled face, Dovkin smoothed his suit jacket as he leaned against the wall and watched me. Raj hooked us up a couple years back. Although we had several transactions between us, we weren’t friends by any stretch. Dovkin didn’t deal in friends. He was a fixer, he dealt in acquaintances.
“Reg is clean. Won’t come up on any systems, guaranteed.”
“Save me the pitch, Dovkin.” I lifted the rifle up, powered up the sights, and tested its weight. It felt good, balanced. “I know you deal clean merch.”
“Remember that when I tell you the price.” His mouth contorted into a wretched smile.
“It’s worth it.” Dovkin’s eyes glittered.
“Must be someone big. I’d almost like to know.” Dovkin chuckled. I tracked a taxi moving in the distance.
“No, you wouldn’t.”
* * * * *
I had the tool. Now I needed to focus on the man, see how he breathed. Punching out a UEE Senator was not something to be approached lightly. While it’s easy to drop anyone (moral/ethical dilemmas aside), getting away with it is the real puzzle.
Terra’s Citizen Day festivities lasted the entire weekend and Senator Hannigan was the guest of honor. I scanned the local NewsOrgs and found them to be more than helpful in providing a rough schedule of the Senator’s appearances.
From here on out, I had to be a ghost. Laser-burn knew I was still out there. He might run with the notion that Fake-me dropped Hannigan’s real identity but I know Caro’s reputation, he’s beyond slippery and it’s highly unlikely that he would be anywhere near Fake-me. The glimpse of Laser-burn and Hannigan on the NewsFeed was pure dumb accident. He couldn’t have known that I’d seen that. Even so, I’d bet my ship that Laser-burn is the cautious type so I could look forward to beefed up security details, counter-snipers, and maybe even random wave-sweeps of the crowds for weapons.
On the screen, the NewsFeed showed clips of Hannigan at the opening of some new Vivarium. Flashes captured his every move. He smiled his way through the crowd like a man unburdened by conscience, who believed that the multitudes of wretched sins wouldn’t ever come back to touch him. My head started swimming…
* * * * *
I was running. Blood, sweat, and that damn red dirt kept getting in my eyes. We had to keep moving, at least until dark. Back in the pens, I heard the guards complain about their terrible optics. So at night, we would be harder to track. We’d have a chance.
So we ran. I could feel her hand in mine. Even through the rough red clay caked on both of us; I could still feel her skin. I held it tight.
Then it was gone.
* * * * *
I was back. The rail-thin, Stim-smoking shop-owner stood over me. I checked the screen. Twenty minutes had passed this time. The News moved from Hannigan, covering some local idiot celebrity nonsense.
“The hell’s the matter with you, buddy?” He muttered and spewed a stream of smoke.
“Plenty.” I tapped my card on the beat-up sensor to pay for my tea and vacated.
Back on the street, I put my head back onto the task at hand. There were two events that felt promising.
Hannigan was set to give commencement speech at TU in eight hours. Between the students and their families, thousands were expected to attend so there would surely be vulnerabilities. Downside, it was going to be held in an auditorium. Getting in would be tough, getting out of the inevitable lockdown once the shot popped off would be harder.
Tomorrow, he was scheduled to attend the Governor’s Ball for the closing festivities. Security for that would be damn near impenetrable but it’s on an open-air platform just off the bay and there are a lot of tall buildings around. That was going to be Plan B. While I could generally place a shot where I wanted, between the distance and cross-winds, this would require masterful aim.
I hit the University first and watched for an hour or two, seeing where the advance teams checked, where the Sniffers looked for explosives. No sign of Laser-burn or any other familiar faces from last night’s dance at the landing yard.
A group of students hovered by a side-door, chain-smoking Stims. It took me about twenty minutes to be their new best friend. They were the stage techs, more than a little disgruntled about being booted for the Senator’s personal lighting team. Another fifteen minutes of listening and I had a plan.
* * * * *
Two hours to go. The LR-620 lay across my bed. I put the final pieces of my costume together. I watched the NewsFeed for anything that could upset my plans. I did my best to keep focused. I threw in potential obstacles and worked out contingencies. It was a puzzle I was more than happy to engage.
Maybe I was too focused.
I heard the beep before the door exploded. The force bounced me off the window. The world swirled away from sight and sound. By the time the smoke and my vision cleared, there was a gun in my face with the Advocacy Agent on the other side.