Dr. Robert J. Oppenheimer, the Director of the Manhattan Project that developed the first atom bomb was said to have quoted the Bhagavad Gita after its first successful test, saying: “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”
Dr. Oppenheimer, though not a soothsayer wasn’t far off the mark.
29 September 2021 United Nations 74th Session of the General Assembly New York
If anyone had asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up, Andrea Malcolm wouldn’t have had an answer. The future wasn’t anything that ever entered the head of the motherless child, who in her short life of only five years, had already lived in nine foster homes. Most days lasting until bedtime with a couple of meals in her belly and avoiding a beating was all her immature mind could manage. Thinking ahead was something that didn’t exist in Andrea’s world. Surviving each day was challenging enough.
At eighteen she escaped the system, and since the military seemed the safest bet toward dependable food and housing, she enlisted. Fortunately she suited the army and the army suited her; so well, in fact that the Agency came calling after her third re-up and she took on a whole new training program. The occupation of trained assassin had somehow never occurred to that innocent child of so long ago, yet here she was twenty-eight years later carefully concealed with an untraceable plastic 9mm weapon trained on her latest mark.
This was the biggest assignment of her career and she was well aware of that fact. In this business you only got so many chances, and she had a sense that this was probably her last. She had no reason for these doubts; so far everything had gone perfectly. All of her press passes and necessary security clearances were in order, nothing had gone awry. That was one thing you could count on when you worked for the Agency: they paid attention to details.
There had been no problem getting through security and no problem getting up here to this quiet corner in the gallery. Contrary to popular belief, when the movers and shakers of the world addressed the NATO conference they didn’t draw a standing room only kind of crowd. The upper galleries were empty, just like the advance information had indicated.
Soon the crowd settled down and the Secretary General made his opening remarks. Andie listened only long enough to know when he was finished. She found in her line of work the less attention paid to politics, the better. Once you paid attention, you tended to form an opinion and when you did that, doing your job became all the more difficult. The crowd stirred and her focus shifted.
“…Casimir Radnaezewski!” The entire room rose en masse. The applause was like thunder, reverberating about the high ceilings and bouncing back in on itself. The man now standing at the podium smiled serenely and put out his hands to quiet the crowd. Slowly the applause receded and the crowd sat. He began to speak in a calm and measured voice. She had no intention of listening to him speak or watching the crowd’s response. Although her practice was to avoid any and all news, she would have had to spend the last four months camping on a glacier to avoid hearing at least some of the whirlwind that surrounded this guy, and even then it was doubtful.
When the assignment reached her desk, she was bothered that the mark was a priest. But a serious discussion with her superiors about the big picture put her reservations to rest. After all, working for the Agency meant something. And so did patriotism.
She had studied his picture and everything else in the intelligence folder she’d been given, in addition to shadowing him for the last twenty-four hours. But being the professional that she was she reached in her bag and took one last look at the photograph, then pulled out her Aculon A220 Long Range Binoculars and made a positive ID of her target. Certain this was her man she stuffed the photo and binoculars back in the bag and proceeded to assemble her weapon from the assorted pieces of what appeared to be a cell phone, a camera, and a tube of lipstick. When she was done, she took her place right behind the curtains, loaded the gun and checked her target once more.
Through the opening, she raised the weapon and got him in her sights. As she focused the hatch-marks on his forehead, he raised his head and appeared to be looking right at her. Stunned, she lowered the gun. She looked around her. There was no one there; there was no way she could have been discovered, and the guy would have to have ex-ray vision to actually see her from where he stood. She was completely concealed in the alcove and the curtains gave her great cover. She raised the weapon again and took aim. He looked up at her again and smiled, the smile drew on her memory; from a place and perhaps even a face she once knew. A tear escaped her left eye and slid down her cheek. The index finger of her right hand made contact with the trigger and squeezed.