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Snipers

Kristine Kathryn Rusch



1913

The assassin got lost in the corridors of Ferstel Palace. He stood near a dark, dank stairwell, and allowed himself a moment of panic.

Maybe the prototype had malfunctioned again. Maybe he wasn’t in 1913 at all. Maybe he was in some other year, some other century.

Then he took a deep breath and made himself take stock. The walls were covered with soot from the gaslights, and the air smelled faintly of oil. The heat was low, and he was cold. His hands, wrapped in woolen gloves with the fingers cut out so that he could handle his Glock, were clenched into fists.

He relaxed the fists one finger at a time. Gaslights were correct. Not all of Vienna had gotten electricity by 1913. And he had no real map of Ferstel’s corridors. The building had been long gone—nearly a century gone—when he estimated where it had been and activated the prototype.

Then he ended up here, several stories up, uncertain and terrified that his memory had betrayed him.

The Ferstel Palace of the old photographs had bright rounded windows, decorated on the sides with multicolored electric lights. It had never been a palace, nor had it belonged to the Ferstel family, although it had been designed by Heinrich Ferstel.

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