It hadn't been an overly difficult kill: clear sightlines, no appreciable wind, a negotiable distance of four hundred yards. It was practically a slam-dunk, and as he'd eased the trigger back and felt the Remington jump against his shoulder he knew instantly that the shot was clean, just like a batter knows when he's hit the home run exactly in the sweet spot of the bat. It was like that. The .308 slug – his deadly little hornet – pierced Il Presidente behind the base of his left ear and blew through his spinal column at the base of his skull, killing the man instantly, but still had energy enough to spray bone and gristle on the wall behind him and lodge itself ten inches deep in the stone. Home run.
The Marine had known all this before impact, of course, as soon as he had squeezed the trigger. In fact, squeezing the trigger had been the easy part. Now all he had to do was get out alive and leave the country undetected.
He left the rifle behind – it was a common enough weapon, and did not signify any particular armed forces, nor did it contain any prints or DNA – and walked briskly down the stairs of the empty four story office building and out the back door, to the waiting car idling by the sidewalk. He got in and drove (not speeding but definitely with some urgency) toward the docks, which would take him less than fifteen minutes. He stripped off all his clothes as he navigated the near-empty cobblestone streets under a bright springtime sun, leaving him wearing only an ultrathin wetsuit, and stuffed them into a tiny duffel bag strung around his waist. It was a crappy little hatchback, paid for with a handful of cash from a tiny nameless town two hundred kilometers away. The Marine had removed all the glass, and the warm air moved through the interior and cooled him as he drove. He had picked his departure point with some care, knowing that particular section of the docks was often very empty, and his luck and planning held true for him; he didn't see a living soul for the last seven minutes of his commute.
He reached the correct pier and scanned the area for signs of life as he drove toward the edge of the dock. What he was about to do would most certainly be noteworthy enough for some passerby to remember. But what the hell, even if there were witnesses, he couldn't wait forever. Time was of the essence.