by Auzdein von Himmler
Auz had always been a fan of the great outdoors, ghillie suits, cold weather, and the hunt. It didn't even matter much to him what he was hunting, so long as it was going on. Central Park was one of the only places he was able to enjoy all of these things while conducting his expedition of the Outland from his forward operating office in New York City; the remainder of the surrounding square miles of dense urban "jungle" required far different techniques and camouflage. So it was in that park that he did, this day, lie... waiting, watching, and planning his next murderous pounce.
Lying 'neath the warm shroud of interwoven mesh, tarp, and haphazard burlap strips, and frosted in a thin blanket of snowflakes, he remained silent as a memory, still as a grave. The texture and color scheme of his white powder dusted covering blended and faded him in masterfully with the terrain away from the walking paths. His heart rate was back down under 50 again. His finger: resting lightly and evenly around the curving, graphite epoxy trigger of his silenced carbine. There was a tiny handful of snow in his mouth, keeping his exhales from emitting the visible puffs of warm water vapor (even though it wouldn't show outside his ghillie). His feet were on their sides, toes pointing outward to keep his heels down. White fatigues, insulated with sealed pockets of down, adorned his frame, embracing him just enough to keep him from freezing, but not allow for overheating and dehydration if he had to run and fight in them. A quick-release flak, complete with all the Blackhawk pouches stuffed with pre-arranged gadgets, magazines, and multi-tools, shielded his torso with four E-SAPI (Enhanced Small Arms Protector Insert) plates inserted underneath the Kevlar and silk weaving. To most (minus the meta's, of course), this load might sound daunting. To him, it was his happy thought, and its weight was barely noticeable. He had, at times, forgotten he was wearing all of it, and even been unable to sleep without it on. He was extremely comfortable right now.
Auz graduated a few schools which had coached him in the finer shadow- and dark-arts, as they had come to be called in this age, allowing him to hide, conduct reconnaissance, and snipe right out in the open; he could lie in a field, plain, prairie, or plateau, with no trees, boulders, caves, or buildings as far as the eye could see, and still make calm, accurate shots without alerting a soul (unless, of course, they had E.S.P., but his technology was quickly catching up to counteract those post-Shift abilities). Now turned out to be one of those times when skills like those were needed.
Cora came into his cone of view several minutes after his ears had picked her up. Probably due to his automatic calming effect, the vampire just ahead of her route hadn't noticed him despite the semi-human blood coursing through his arteries and veins, but, as he could clearly see, it was well aware of her, and only waiting to take her on, too, once it finished its current meal.
Auz admired the bravery and self-control Cora displayed as she followed the blood drips and drag marks off the beaten path, but was soon considering the possibility that Cora was just insane, reckless, or mentally handicapped. Then he reminded himself that just about everyone these days seemed to have newfound powers, and maybe that was, in part, the source of this young lady's resolve and drive as she approached what was almost certain to result in the untimely demise of any regular.
The vampire looked up, assumed an aggressive pose which demonstrated hostile intent very blatantly in Auz's opinion, and the moment its first step made contact with the snow between her and Cora, Auz let his trigger finger slowly add pressure until the vampire tensed as if in a one-second convulsion and then collapsed under its own weight, dropping softly into the blood-drenched snow. His carbine had been outfitted with an under-slung module that emitted ion- and microwave-beams the same way the more privileged hospitals' non-invasive surgery equipment did. The beams were as thin as a laser, but were invisible, silent, odorless, and left no entry or exit wound. The beams crossed along a millimeter-sized point inside the target, after self-adjusting in response to the infra-red laser range finder in his scope. The result was that first the target's nervous system was permanently fried by the ions, and then the center of its brain was microwaved, leaving a golf ball sized cavity where the diencephalon met the pons and medulla over the brain stem -just to err on the side of caution (and overkill). So far, it hadn't failed to produce the desired result on anything. 'If only it was that easy to hush unruly children,' he mused.
Auz picked no sides in this chapter, and might have instead helped the vampire on another day; sniping anyone who noticed it feeding, which it couldn't help but do to survive, but today was Cora's lucky day. Maybe it was due to the fact that he found her more attractive than the bloodsucker. He was, after all, a very visual and superficial patron of the arts. That was just part of who and how he was and had always been.
Just as quickly as the vampire had been dropped, Auz had risen to a kneeling position, thrown off his ghillie tossing its snow layer off and to the side, rolled it up tightly and slid it into his small backpack, pulled out his jogger's jumpsuit, unrolled both pieces with one shake, slipped it on over his winter fatigues and flak to conceal them, situated the pack on his back, and collapsed the bi-pod and butt-stock of his carbine, lastly slinging it under his arm inside the black nylon sleeve for a folding lawn chair. The routine was one of many he had well rehearsed at this point, and took no more than ten or fifteen seconds.
Now casually walking to close the gap between him, the neutralized v-infected individual, and whoever Cora was, he looked like one of the park joggers, except for the opaque white contact lenses that covered his pupils, irises, and sclera, making his eyes look like solid white and featureless orbs. It was fairly creepy for someone not familiar with that product, but it was how he liked to joke and break the ice; front lines Marine humor all the way.
"Hello there, I say. Find yourself in a spot of trouble, eh?"
Dr. Auzdein von Himmler
Governor of Inisfree