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An Alpha Legionnaire contemplates an assassination. Not entirely satisfied with the end.



The sounds of celebration carried through the chill morning air as Anaphrax crouched in his dusty alcove. The wind clutched at his cloak, grasping fingers falling away from the heavy fabric. The deep relief of the alcove obscured the morning sun, casting a murky shadow over his scaled armor, rendering him almost akin to the grotesques adorning the spire. It was a carefully chosen perch - the spire was decrepit, abandoned by the decadent merchant nobility that dwelled below.

Anaphrax cast a baleful eye through his rifle's scope, drinking in what his enhanced sight could not. Far below, the proceedings of a grand parade carried out, a great brass snake winding through lofty causeways. Soldiers in ancient ceremonial garb marched in perfect synchronicity to great fanfare. Following the soldiers came the members of the military aristocracy, surrounded by servitor burden-slaves and commemorative floats depicting their victories in grand relief. Each was borne on some manner of palanquin or hover-dais, each greater than the last according to their rank. From his vantage point, Anaphrax had near-perfect visibility of the main stretch of the parade. It was a good perch. It was merely added convenience that the nobles of this spire happened to be at odds with the current regime.

Finally, the local governor himself came, carried on the grandest float of them all. The man wore simple military garb, at odds with the flash of his noble bodyguards' uniforms. In approximately three hundred meters, the governor's float would enter the widest stretch of its course, where many tens of thousands of citizens crowded the streets and balconies. The parade continued its march forward. A hundred meters and the governor's float would be in maximum visibility.

Anaphrax closed his eyes and visualized the events to come. He imagined bringing his rifle to bear, feeling the recoil pound against his shoulder as he fired a round through the governor's chest. Bright ribbons of blood painted his entourage, fine droplets painting the pavement as his body crumpled. Gasps and murmurs spread among the bystanders before giving way to wails and screams as shock turned to panic, the onlooking crowd becoming a stampeding mob.

In the days to come, longstanding tensions would come to a boil. Needing a scapegoat, the military hierarchs would pin the blame on the governor's bodyguard for inadequacy. The punishment would almost certainly be death. The more observant ones would trace the bullet's trajectory to the crumbling spire Anaphrax now perched on, bringing the already-maligned noble family it belonged to under scrutiny. Factionalism and paranoia would dominate the poltical sphere as nobles on one side banded together to avoid a similar fate, and on the other to avoid retribution. In a week, operatives would come forward, each claiming to be the real governor, hidden away by the dead imposter, each siding with a different faction. In a month, the military aristocracy and mercantile nobility would be all but engaged in open war, and the streets they now paraded on would drown in bitter blood.

Anaphrax opened his eyes. Fifteen meters. The governor's float would be in position in seconds. He tested the wind again, the servos in his armor making micro-adjustments to compensate for the wind's fluctuations. Three meters. His breathing slowed. Two meters. He felt the pulse of his twin hearts as the governor waved and saluted the crowd. One.

He pulled the trigger.


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