The thermally neutral cover was stifling as Marcus observed the road below. Designed to prove impervious to drone observation, the material not only blended into the surrounding landscape it also matched the surrounding temperature so it did not reveal a temperature change. A breather mask absorbed CO2 and water vapour via a tube back to a hydration bladder to confuse any sensitive scans. Not that Marcus was expecting trouble; the Intelligence section attached to the Lee Rigby Brigade had noted an insurgent action taking place in the pass Marcus was observing, but Marcus wasn't expected to deal with it. The view away from the insurgents was also less than inspiring, although Marcus wasn't exceptionally artistic in that way, or indeed any way come to that save for the art of slaughter The Party Youth Faction that had taken in him and his siblings ten years before had more or less erased his past and focussed all his efforts into surviving the system to become the perfect killing machine.
Marcus rarely reflected on the past, his parent's image was a blur, even his true name was gone, though he and his squad always joked that it was probably Mohammed ... for all of them. Not that they followed the Islamic faith, that had been thoroughly beaten out of them and there were far more pleasant ways to commit suicide should any of them even hint at a return to 'bad habits' as it were. Yet he could remember his older brother who had stepped out of line once too often and had been summarily shot for saying the blasphemous word 'Allah' in front of an instructor when being given corporal punishment for failing to memorise the articles of allegiance. As for his sisters? Marcus sighed, he hoped they had survived, though he doubted he'd like what they were forced to become.
There was movement down in the valley Marcus was observing through the scope of his old but upgraded and refurbished XM500 sniper rifle. A small Brigade squad was carefully advancing up the valley, avoiding the road, yet still moving swiftly if cautiously in leaps and bounds. Sighing and wishing for the company of his regular spotter Gary, Marcus concentrated upon the advancing force, carefully looking for his designated target until finally the man came into view, leading from the rear as his information had stated.
For all he now had a clear shot, Marcus waited for the next chapter of the plan to unfold. Killing the target was not enough, he knew. For blame to be placed elsewhere it was necessary for others to be involved. That the others were the real enemy mattered little to Marcus, orders were orders and Marcus trusted his orders as the one who gave them was worthy of the highest trust.
Finally it happened, the ambush Marcus had been observing for the last five hours opened up on the approaching squad. Marcus admired the training of the squad as within a second of realising they were under attack they'd deployed into a defensive line with a three man skirmish maniple pushing forward in a flanking manoeuvre. It was obvious the attackers, though having set up a good ambush, were seriously outclassed by the defending squad and were relying more on volume of fire rather than accuracy. True they had the numbers, but they most certainly didn't have the necessary skills to survive what was coming at them.
Yet this was the moment Marcus had been waiting for, the drifting dust in the valley gave him an indication of wind speed and the distance of 2000 metres was easily within his range. Marcus felt his heartbeat settle and in the cusp of the moment between breaths he gently squeezed the trigger. He knew without needing to see that the high powered bullet literally tore the head off his target leaving nothing other than the torso flopping on the ground.
Carefully watching for re-actions, Marcus observed that his shot had gone unnoticed and that the squad were now up close to the ambushers and forcing them to retreat. Listening carefully Marcus smiled, he could hear the drones approaching and knew the 'enemy' were in serious trouble now. Yes, the ambush had started successfully, but that was the only thing that had gone well for them and indeed the only casualty was the one Marcus had provided for them, there may be a few wounded, but frankly the opposition to the squad was something of a joke. Such incidents were tapering off as the reality of facing an implacable and dangerous foe were slowly sinking in. Marcus did observe the few prisoners taken given a rapid field interrogation and then shot out of hand in reprisal for the squad leader's death and remotely wondered what if anything had been learned. Either way, if the name of a village or a tribe had been learned, that's where the drones would head next.
Finally Marcus felt safe enough to leave, he had a long night-time trek ahead of him and needed to report in person.