I was twelve and had taken my father’s varmint rifle and a box of ammo. It was for the small pest animals that were destroying three of our dams. I laid on a ridge several hundred meters from the first dam and watched and waited. One after another I shot the burrowers in the head before finally going to get the bodies.
I skinned them and buried the bodies where they would not contaminate the water table. I had finished the last dam when the shuttle went over. It was heading for the ranch house and I hurried to get home and see it. I stopped when I reached the last ridge and heard the shots and screams. I dropped and hesitated before I crawled through the tall grass to the top of the ridge.
It was over a thousand meters to the ranch buildings. I could see the shuttle close to the house and facing away. From here I could even see into it and the men coming and going from the house and barn. I could see my father and brother laying on the ground and using the scope I saw the blood. My sister was dead on the porch and just inside the door I could see my mother’s feet.
I growled as I took the safety off and aimed. The men were wearing body armor but my first shot went through an eye before expanding and exploding out the back of his head. Before they even heard the crack of the round I shot another through the left ear. I killed six before they tried to get back into the shuttle and I killed each one when they ran.
Twelve lay on the ground dead before I stopped and waited. I knew there were more and finally shifted and began to crawl. It took awhile to reach the side of the barn and one of the men I had killed. I took his matte black pistol and checked it before I stood. I walked into the barn and headed for the other end.
Two men spun when I came close and I lifted the pistol and shot each between their eyes. I walked out of the barn and headed to the house. When a man stepped into the door and started to lift a pistol I shot him in the face. He fell as another man was starting to follow him and I was still walking and shot him twice in the head.
I walked through the house and then stopped on the back porch to see three men running away. I tucked the pistol behind my belt and took the rifle off my shoulder. I put a bullet through the back of each man’s head and turned. I set the rifle down as I started back through the house and pulled the pistol. I went to the side and into the shuttle and a man spun from the bridge hatch.
Before he could lift the pistol in his hand I shot him in the head. I killed the two men on the bridge trying to start it and then shot the engineering console to kill the power. Raiders were hitting isolated steadings all over the planet. When I called the constables they did not believe me ... until they arrived at the ranch.
Ships scrambled and the raiders tried to flee but were caught. My report went through the constables and to the imperial intel section and finally to the emperor’s chief of staff. Three weeks later I was feeding the animals when a transport landed. The constables had wanted me to come into the city but this was my home and I had buried my family here.
I lifted my father’s large bore rifle as I watched the transport and two imperial guards got out. I relaxed as another man followed them and looked around. He saw me and started for me as he gestured the two guards back, “Jas Noble?”
I frowned since I did not know him, “it depends.”
He smiled, “I am Harold Johnson.”
I waited as he stopped and reddened before continuing, “I am the emperor’s chief of staff.”
I nodded and he looked around, “perhaps we could speak in the house?”
I glanced around the corral, “why?”
He shifted and shrugged, “you killed twenty two raiders yes?”
I nodded again and he smiled, “twelve from over a thousand meters with a five millimeter varmint rifle?”
I shrugged and he looked at me, “five of the men you killed with the pistol were more than fifteen meters away?”
I continued to wait and he nodded, “you have a gift Jas and the emperor needs that. How do you feel about killing those men?”
I snorted, “they were nothing but rabid animals.”
That was the start of my career as an executioner. I killed men that were evil or terrorists or ... I always checked the men out before I killed them. Sometimes I used a rifle and sometimes it was a pistol but I always killed them and never missed. I used a neural net for schooling and even had military officer rank and pay.
Of course my promotions seemed to go a lot faster than a normal fleet officers. In six years I had thirty four missions and killed ten times as many men. I had gone up the ranks to commander before the chief of staff started making excuses. I finally got the promotion orders to captain and it came with another mission.
This time when I tried to use my comp to find out about the person it was not working right. The information seemed like fiction or made up and when I did a check of the details that only confirmed it. I walked off the shuttle and checked in with customs but this time they watched me as if they knew who or what I was.
I changed my plans before I even left the starport. First I drained the working account and then used it to give a couple a free cruise out of the system. I ignored the building they had picked for me to shoot from and began to scout and do more research. I used public comp systems and even the library to check the target.
That was when I found out he was one of several candidates for the chief of staff position. They were elected and not appointed or hired. First the emperor had to examine their record and approve them for the election. Next the dukes council reviewed their record and voted to approve them. After that the elected commons security council checked them and had to approve them.
All of that before they could even start the election. There could be a thousand people that apply and only a handful get to the election stage. Each candidate received their campaign funds from the emperor and had to decide how to use them. The target had already been approved by the emperor, the dukes and the commons.
I had stopped using my comm and comp and even removed the batteries. I also wore a bio skin mask and avoided normal areas where people were scanned regularly. I did slip into the building I was supposed to shoot the target from and did a careful recon. That was when I found the hidden vid cameras and the black operations team.
I acquired a new grav pulse pistol and a special weapon from an underground source. The night before the scheduled kill I made a call and recorded it. The chief of staff was slow answering, “you are not supposed to call me.”
I was in a dark section of a tram station, “your information on the target is wrong.”
He hesitated, “you have your assignment. Do the job and we will talk about it later.”
I frowned, “no. This is not what I agreed to do.”
He growled, “you are being paid to do what I tell you. Kill him or you will be the one I target.”
I snorted, “by the black operation team already here?”
I disconnected and removed the battery and memory card before I tossed the comm into a recycler. I walked into the tram tunnel and stayed to the side for a few kilometers before I climbed up and out service stairs. I slipped into a crowd and headed away while I thought. It was almost simple to drop down the side of the target’s building that night.
I had a new comp with a special card reader. I entered from the open door on the hotel balcony. I glanced at the entrance with the two imperial guards standing outside it before I walked to the next room. I looked at the man and his wife sleeping in the bed and thought of my own parents. When I touched the barrel of my pistol to his head the man’s eyes snapped open.
I gestured and he slowly moved out of bed. When he opened his mouth I shook my head and gestured to the door. In the other room I let him sit in a chair, “why does the current chief of staff want you dead?”
He blinked and shifted, “what?”
I repeated it and he shook his head, “I have no idea. I am favored in the election and ahead at the moment but...”
He shrugged and I pulled out the comp and card reader and replayed my call to the chief of staff. His face went white as he listened and looked into my eyes. I shut it off and put it away, “there is a special operation team in a building three kilometers from where you are giving a speech tomorrow.”
I smiled crookedly, “I believe they are there to kill me after I shoot you. Since I am not going to do that they will likely try to do it themselves and make it look like I did. Either way you will be dead and I will be hunted. I suggest you cancel or find another way out and add more security.”
He nodded and I moved towards the balcony, “good luck.”
He stood, “wait.”
I looked at him and he smiled, “what is your name?”
I hesitated before I shrugged, “Jas Noble.”
I walked out and attached a spider thread and reel to my harness and jumped and started dropping. Once on the ground I used a lighter to burn the spider thread before I walked away. If they want to play I knew the game well. It was not easy to get into the building without being seen. First I had to set up my backdoor and then I sat on the roof in the shadows.
.... There is more of this story ...