Six. Seven. Eight. Nine. Ten. Eleven. All of them together. The short one to the far right was the leader. The overweight one just left of center was the second in command. One of the others had to be her main target. Didn't matter, they'd all be dead in the end.
Breathe in. Half breath out. Pull the trigger. It was more than an action, it was her prayer. It would be a second before the bullet hit. Time always seemed to hang, and it was the only time she ever second guessed a shot. Not the trajectory, it would hit just fine, but the target. Should she have just shot the leader, destroyed the head of the dragon to begin with? Not with this leader, the quiet sort, never talks directly to the men. He could lead in a pinch, but the men won't be used to it, they'll get conservative in fear.
The bullet easily cuts through the layers of fat, tearing through his rib cage like butter. You want to cut off the head, you aim for the neck. They scatter like rabbits, confused and scared while she chambers another round. Briefly she looks up from the scope, watching them mill about, firing randomly into the surrounding brush. She'd have time to think now, all alone on the side of the hill with the steady rhythmic beating of her heart.
Motivations, always a sticky subject. It used to be easy, they said shoot, she'd pull the trigger. They said shoot, and the whole world blew up, real easy. This? Revenge maybe, justice, perhaps simple catharsis, hard to tell. All the thinking ate on itself, turning certainties into suggestions and delusions into facts. The insanity of taking life, something the world just never did get tired of. Maybe she was doing it for the face of a daughter, finally seeing her mother after so many years, so happy to see her she didn't even ask why they were suddenly driving across half the country.
She'd been a good girl, and never asked, just trusted her. And now that trusting face taunted her, asking why she hadn't been there. Some part of her still thought this would make it right, like it wouldn't be a betrayal if she just did this. It never worked that way, it couldn't, the look in those trusting eyes was gone now. Then again, she couldn't really question this current course of action, it wasn't a choice. When they'd crossed the line, when they'd hurt her daughter, they were already dead. This was just a formality.
The milling calmed, people started talking in ones and twos. The next couple guys in line for promotion were trying to look useful, getting people out checking further afield. A couple people were getting the bikes ready, thinking they'd be moving on. Shouting from the leader at the guys on the bikes, third rate commander making a third rate decision apparently. Staying in a compromised position, bad decision all around. One of the up and comers starts arguing, first to be heard, now accusing. It's tempting to take the young buck out, remove the voice of reason from the picture. Better to wait until tomorrow, with any luck someone will put two and two together and come up aces with conspiracy theories about their boss.
Ever so slowly she finally starts to move. Ten hours to invisibly traverse the hundred yards or so to her next position. It was going to be a long night.