She stretches out her shoulder muscles. It is the first movement she has made in some considerable time, but such is the lot of a sniper. Amélie Lacroix has spent longer than this in infinitely more uncomfortable positions as she waits for the perfect opportunity, the perfect shot.
The perfect moment.
The form-fitting clothing she wears is dark, enabling her to blend effectively into the shadows although – and it is a grudging admittance – she doesn’t blend as well as her Talon compatriot, the man everyone knows only as Reaper. His ability to dissolve into the ether and make himself invulnerable to anything is a skill she envies. But she does not display such envy in front of him.
It is unladylike.
A movement catches her attention and she snaps her gaze back down to the building below her. It is a seemingly impossible distance away, but her sniper rifle combined with her precision marksmanship mean that for her, this is little more than a vague challenge. Others would have balked at the height. Afraid, no doubt, of losing their balance and falling.
Amélie does not fear falling. Now, hitting the ground, that she does fear. Because like anybody else, she has no desire to leave her life, cursed though it may be.
Below, the people move like tiny insects, scurrying about their business, heedless of the danger that lurks far above them. She brings the rifle’s sight to her eyes to allow her a telescopic gaze into the hive below. For so long now, this rifle has acted as her primary eye. Were she inclined to visit an optometrist, her near-sight would be terrible. But for what she does, it hardly matters.
Her long hair swings momentarily into her face, caught by an errant breeze and she flips back the pony-tail with gentle irritation. It has been suggested that a shorter cut might serve her far better, but she ignores such comments. There is something deeper than the neural programming has been able to reach. Something precious to which she clings with tenacious stubbornness.
They will not take my dignity.
So it has ever been. Proud, haughty, quite literally blue-blooded, the Widowmaker is not going to change for anybody ever again.
“If you don’t like what you see,” she says in her soft, lilting, heavily accented voice, “then don’t look.”
Her mark is down there in that buzzing anthill of activity. For most people, picking out an individual in a swarm would be nigh on impossible, But as an apiarist marks the queen, so the Widowmaker has spent time studying her prey. She knows his movements intimately. Her highly modified scope has been tuned, over the past few hours, to identify his specific heat signature. And he has been keeping largely inside. If she didn’t know better, she’d suspect a tip-off is keeping him indoors. But she does know better.
She has infinite patience. It is for the best, because it is another two hours before he leaves the confines of his sanctuary. In all that time, Amélie has been nothing more than a slight anomaly in the shadows that occasionally makes the slightest of movements to stop muscles from seizing up.
As she lines up the shot, she allows her mind to wander one last time. This time, she idly muses on how people paint the life of a sniper. Nobody ever includes the facts. Like sitting so still for such extended periods invites birds to perch upon your shoulders and utilise your clothing as a makeshift lavatory.
Amélie hates birds.
But then, she hates most things. It’s easier that way. Form no attachments, break no hearts. The easiest way to live is to live free of all ties and all connections. To be alone. Blissfully and terminally alone.
Enough. The thinking is done. It is time to act.
Her heartbeat, already slow and sluggish, becomes even more so and her breathing stills so much that she would barely mist a mirror. Every fibre of her being tingles with the exhilaration, the anticipation of the sniper’s perfect moment: those precious milliseconds between the instant your finger squeezes the trigger and the projectile strikes with the precision of a predator.
There is no feeling on earth like it. It is what she lives for.
It is all she has, now.
There is a distant sound of a projectile fired from a distance meeting its target. It burrows through flesh and bone, lodging itself into the man’s brain and he topples backward, eliminated.
She stands, a languorous movement and with the faintest of ‘clicks’ releases the grappling hook that will take her higher still and to the rendezvous point. Another successful mission. Another perfect moment.
She has no regrets. Emotions are for other people, not for her. She is a broken creature, really, but she does not care. To care is to imply interest. And she is not interested. To be interest implies connection and she has severed those. She is aloof and indifferent.
She simply seeks that moment of perfection. The exquisite satisfaction. It is the closest to joy she will ever feel again and so she basks in its warmth.
A perfect moment.