This was an event: some great wine-tasting, the unveiling of a new vintage from the casks buried in the cellars of the great compound. In the main courtyard there were tables of rich desserts and glasses of expensive wine, all for the guests who showed up in gaily colored clothing, any one piece of which cost more than the total amount of money Eduardo would see in his lifetime. He wasn't discouraged at this, for it was the way that things had always been, and truly this job had made him more money every week than he would normally see in years of working the fields with backbreaking, sweaty labor. No, this job was paradise compared to that, and the rear patrol kept him away from almost all of the guests except for the occasional adventurous soul who came to admire the view like the bald man with the black suit and the oddly-shaped briefcase. He looked like one of the serious businessmen that would occasionally show up to do business within the deeper recesses of the wine cellars below, where the main product wasn't wine but the fine white powder of the gods. Eduardo wasn't supposed to know about the powder, but it was difficult to keep secrets in the Villa, and a few of the other guards had a taste for the powder, as well as tequila and loose women. Eduardo stayed away from the powder; he had seen a few too many of the guards that became too attached to it disappear in the night, and he had no desire to become one of them. But he did like the occasional tequila, and the senoritas were something that any man would crave.
He thought of Maria then, his favorite. She had huge eyes, fantastic legs, and the memory of her warm mouth made him swell slightly. Payday was Friday, and he would see Maria again, call to her softly and caress her warm soft breasts; he could imagine feeling them in his hands, pressing her nipples between his fingers as she would gasp slightly and writhe against his body.
A movement out of the corner of his eye caught Eduardo's attention just a fraction of a second too late, and he felt the sharp bite of a steel cable biting into his throat. In a panic, he dropped the Remington and clawed at the burning, searing pain as he tasted blood and saw his world turn white and finally, dark.
The bald man buttoned the last button of the shirt that used to belong to the guard. It didn't fit quite right, but it was close enough that he'd be able to pass unnoticed into most places in the compound. He dragged the body over to the wooden rail and lifted it over the side, watched as it fell some fifty feet into the water below, barely making a sound above the noise of the waterfall.
The bald man didn't have a name. He may have had one once upon a time, but that time was long past, and now he simply had a number, a code that was burned into his brain that identified him as an operative of an organization that had no name, that did not exist in any official capacity. He was a man who didn't exist, working for an organization that didn't exist: he was quite simply a ghost.
The oddly-shaped briefcase held a special version of an XM109A sniper rifle, designed with the ability to take down light armor ar 2500 meters. It houses the equivalent firepower of an Apache helicopter, firing 25mm HEDP rounds with near-surgical precision, and the bald man wss intimately familiar with the weapon. It is a heavily modified version, one of only five in existence, and it has no metal parts whatsoever: it is radar transparent to a degree that is not admitted possible by any available technical specification. He has fired in the neighborhood of 3000 rounds through its immense barrel, enough to understand how the weapon feels, how it sounds, how it talks to him like a lover. The telescopic sight is called BORS, and has a sophisticated sensor package that measures range, humidity, wind, elevation differences, and even the pulse of the shooter to coordinate the position of the crosshairs. The weapon simply does not miss.
Neither does the bald man.
The double doors to an inner courtyard opened behind him. He turned to see another guard, dressed in clothes similar enough to almost be considered a unifiorm. The guard raised his hand, and the bald man returned the gesture, friendly and noncommittal. The other guard turned and walked back in through the doorway; the bald man picked up the briefcase and followed.
Behind the doors was a small side yard that looked as if it was the dumping ground for all sorts of empty crates and barrels, and had been used like this for several years. He stashed the sniper rifle case behind a set of rusted barrels that smelled vaguely of diesel oil and fish and climbed atop a set of boxes that was piled in the corner. From this vantage point, he could see the main house of the villa crawling with armed guards, TEC-9 submachine guns at the ready. Different guards, military-trained and wary. He expected as much. The house was readily defended against a frontal assault, but he did not intend a frontal assault. His target lay in the cellars below the compound, and he needed to find his way in.
He slipped down from the boxes and made his way toward the front. The big double doors opened as a hefty man dressed in a large apron carried a barrel back into the storage yard; the bald man held the door open for him, the hefty man nodded a haggard gracias and passed through, leaving the bald man to walk into the main courtyard unimpeded.
The main courtyard was decorated like a carnival: bright streamers, mariachi bands, beautifully dressed people, and tables of gourmet food and wine everywhere. A group of the tourists had started to congregate in front of the entrance to the wine cellars, and he slipped in along with them as if he belonged.
Inside the cellar, the group casually walked down a wide stone stairway, chatting amongst themselves over the voice of the tour guide.