Range

The figure clinging to the side of People’s Security Observation Platform Number Three would have been barely noticeable even to a careful observer. The ambioptics of his chameleon cloak, whose electrostatics held it still and in position against the satellite’s hull, perfectly reflected the appearance of that hull across the entire visual and ultraviolet spectrum.  Some infrared emission was thermodynamically necessary over his four-day vigil, but he had carefully positioned himself over one of the platform’s radiothermal generators: the addition of his body heat would only fractionally increase emissions.

Careful ranging and hull mapping might still detect his presence, of course, but even the infamously paranoid Iltine State Security Bureau did not do that routinely – and, thank Éadínah and Her Shadows, no watchers had detected him on his brief cold-gas jumps from bermos freighter to cargo dropper, from dropper to Terilti’s tiny moon, from moon to shuttle, and most risky of all, from shuttle to this secure platform.

Silently he watched, unbreathing, relying on the stored oxygen of his hemocules. His hearts did not beat: constant-pressure pumps ushered the blood through his veins. Nothing disturbed his perfect stillness as, eyes pressed to the sights of a custom-tailored mass driver, he watched a garage door slide open in the side of a skyscraper on the planet far below. This was the fourth day, and once again, his target was departing precisely to schedule. Consistence of habits, and in such a desirable target! It was hardly even sporting.

(Nonetheless, he permitted himself a slight smile at the thought of the record he was about to set. Let the 75th boast of their prowess; to pull this off from 120 miles above the planet, with a low-angle shot even, would write his name for all time in a book which, admittedly, few would ever read.)

The garage door finished its traverse, and locked home. His brain flashed through final calculations, integrating the observations of the last days with what could currently be seen of the traffic around the building, the current weather, and a dozen other factors. He made a microscopic adjustment to the alignment of the mass driver, and gently squeezed the trigger.

Twenty pulses went by.

A black, luxury aircar nosed its way out of the garage.

Another ten.

The aircar began to turn, slipping sideways to join the flow of morning commuters.

One more.

And the aircar abruptly jerked downwards, shoving its nose into a lower traffic lane with – he presumed – some great effusion of horns and epithets, before its safety features yanked it to an abrupt stop.

Then alarms went off in the offices of the orbital SSB, as the thermal bloom of self-destruct nanotech reducing the sniper and his weapon to a thin, homogeneous, minimal-evidence plasma set off sensors all along Platform Three and beyond.

But by then, Lieutenant Dynari Ejava, 82nd Imperial Legion (“the One Hope”) – or the spray of neutrinos representing him – was already on his way home.

 

Trope-a-Day: Awesome Moment of Crowning

Awesome Moment of Crowning: The coronation of Alphas I / Seledie III of the Empire, interrupted as it was by assassins, and demonstrating once and for all that it is entirely possible to be crowned – well, for values of the passive voice equal to “We crown Us, etc.” – with a clockbow bolt in your lung at the time.

(It is also acceptable to pass out afterwards, mind, but that’s not the point.)

Ugly

Probably the ugliest of these weapons was the windblade, a product of Merianvard artificery. A windblade resembled, in form, a smaller version of the Variasotec double scimitar without its hilt: i.e., two opposingly curved blades joined in the center, and sharpened to a razor’s edge.

No hilt was required for the windblade, as it was a specialized weapon designed to be wielded by a psychokinetic adept (of strength estimated at 288-plus, Revised Impulse Scale). The adept would levitate the windblade and cause it to spin rapidly; then, would propel it in looping curves amid the ranks of the enemy, slashing through everything in its path.

It proved less than useful as a battlefield weapon, both due to armor halting the blade’s rotation even when penetrated, and to the limited number of psychokinetic adepts with sufficient strength to use the windblade; on such occasions as it was deployed openly, the windblade battle often turned into a contest between multiple adepts, each trying to deflect, or seize control of, their opponent’s windblade while forcing their own to conclusion. Such contests were typically inconclusive, except when one adept possessed both great strength and the ability to handle multiple windblades simultaneously with dexterity.

Rather, it was as a weapon of mass assassination that the windblade was unparalleled. Wielded from ambuscade, a windblade could slash an entire rank or file of enemy troops to ribbons before a defense could be mustered. Likewise, scout troops armed with blackened windblades could scourge an overnight encampment clean of life while those within slept and, often, before the guards could be alerted.

– Ranged Weapons of the Era of Hand and Fire

 

Also, I Can…

“Leaving aside all the sophisticated techniques that are the domain of professional assassins, there are _two_ commonly discussed ways to kill someone with your brain – with, of course, the aid of its associated kinesis effectors:

“First, take hold of a blood vessel, preferably an important and large one, and then either pinch it shut or rip it open. Or grab an organ and crush it. It is not easy to do untrained, and is particularly difficult when the target is also a trained psychokinetic, but against most targets can be considered reliable and effective.

“Second, trace an ionization path through the air and permit cascading electrons to do the hard work for you.

“You will learn to perform both of these techniques during this course. First, however, we shall concentrate on an often-overlooked third technique: macrokinesis. In a typical target’s day to day existence, there are many moments at which a healthy shove, easy to deliver with little warning, can send the target into traffic, over a precipice, or flailing helplessly into space. It lacks, perhaps, sophistication – but simplicity sometimes has a sophistication of its own.”

– Psychokinetic Ktenology,
Faculty of Shade,
Imperial University of Calmiríë