Gabriel, by Adam Towne
_ Mavericks of all types shuffled through the street below him, going about their questionable and likely illicit business. Gabriel watched from his rooftop with an uncaring gaze. His concentration remained focused on the doorway across from his location. He studied every face that passed in front of his scope, remaining on one for just a split second before flitting to the next. His body was still and relaxed, his easy breathing providing the only visible movement. His mind remained firmly fixed on his target's image – a red-haired Maverick nicknamed Sniffer. The man meant nothing to Gabriel. This was merely the task his bosses required of him. And he'd accepted the job with the same practiced “Yes sir” he'd been giving for as long as he could remember. Another face, another target, another incomprehensible gain for his superiors. None of that mattered to Gabriel. He was more than content to be a catalyst; a metaphorical go-between. It gave him a sense of purpose, knowing that without him and his rifle, the entire plan fell apart. A flash of red flared into his magnified view, and Gabriel adjusted accordingly. The man in view matched exactly with the image in his mind. Satisfaction bloomed in Gabriel's chest as he readied himself. All according to plan. He was even on schedule. Time seemed to stretch as Sniffer's profile came into view, slowing down for everyone but Gabriel. A gentle pressure on the trigger and the Clockstopper bucked against his shoulder. His free hand was already a blur of motion, moving before the first shot cleared the barrel, and by the time Gabriel re-aligned his sight the next round was loaded and ready to fire. He watched as the Maverick started to drop, his hyperactive senses taking in every detail. Another bit of pressure and the rifle jumped again. Sniffer slumped to the ground, half of his skull decorating much of the wall behind him. Gabriel lifted his head from its resting spot and carefully watched the street below. Even in this day and age firearms were noisy and obvious. He had certainly caused a bit of panic after the initial shock wore off, and most of the Mavericks in the street had already drawn their own weapons and were ready for imminent danger. But two had instantly caught Gabriel's attention. They had stayed a respectable distance from Sniffer and done well to blend in with the crowd, but it's tough for professional bodyguards to deal with the sudden loss of their charge calmly. They knew well enough to not go rushing into the line of fire, and could easily discern their mark was well beyond assistance. One of the guards, a man that appeared to be more metal than muscle, instantly whipped his head around and stared at Gabriel's hidden sniper nest the moment the gunman made him. He shouted to his partner and pointed. But Gabriel was already on the move. He'd leapt from his nest the moment the bodyguard sensed him, unlimbering his PAW from its mount on his back. His fingers lingered over his pack of incendiaries before grabbing the flashbangs. His superiors always frowned upon unnecessary casualties; said they're “bad for business”. He loaded the grenades, checked the regular magazine, then leapt from the rooftop and started moving around the guards' left side. Midday was not his favorite fighting environment, but he could easily adapt. As he closed the distance he fired a flashbang followed by a five-round burst. He ducked into a small alcove before the grenade detonated. A startled shout went up as nearby Mavericks were suddenly rendered temporarily blind and deaf. Gabriel darted out of his cover to find both guards already bearing down on him. At this close of range Gabriel could now make out the metallic sheen on both the guards' irises. Damn cybernetics. Another five-round burst punctuated his short retreat, catching the mostly-normal guard in the chest and dropping him to the ground. A bolt of energy blasted past Gabriel's head, nearly singeing his close-cropped blond hair. He ducked behind cover once again, mentally shuffling through the contents of his many pockets and pouches. He chanced a glance back at the other bodyguard, only to have to yank his head back to avoid another sizzling blast. The other bodyguard – Gabriel thought of him mas the cyborg, with as much cybernetic augmentation he'd had applied to himself – was bearing down fast on his location. He fished a small cylinder from a pocket, pressed a button, then dropped it at his feet. He waited for the cyborg to get close enough, then leapt up and bolted away. Another beam lanced past him before Gabriel heard the thump and distinctive crackling of his dropped EMP grenade. The following cry of despair confirmed his theory, as the cyborg suddenly found himself paralyzed. Judging by the quickly shortening gasps he was making, it was safe to assume the man had had some internal organs replaced as well. Gabriel glanced around him, finally taking in the rest of the scene. Every other Maverick had cleared out once they'd regained their vision, but Gabriel was sure that reinforcements would likely be on their way. He didn't need to see the familiar tattoos or look up the guards' rap sheets to know he'd just killed a couple of Cartel enforcers. What a freelancer like Sniffer was doing getting tangled into the Gambler's web was none of his concern. Judging that there were no other immediate threats, Gabriel went to collect his rifle and return to Colt-Burton to de-brief.