The Assassin most regularly went by the name of Bensen, and it was that name that most here knew him by. They of course had no idea who he really was; false papers had seen him assigned to the unit two weeks ago, just as they were sent through the Temburg Pass towards Gurran City. Had anyone thought to check up on his papers when he joined their billet, they might not have been so ready to share this latest foxhole with him, or to invite him to their tables. They might instead have assumed that forged papers made him an agent of the enemy, or at the very best some sort of covert agent.
This latter interpretation would have been nearer the truth, as he had every intention of using the troop movements to get far enough into enemy territory that his subsequent disappearance would be relatively unremarked. Gurran was the unit’s destination, but as far as Bensen was concerned, it was just the first part of his journey to his ultimate target. A complex system of underground railways would lead him onward from there.
Somewhere into the third bottle, and the twentieth poker hand, as the gaps between bombardments were noticeably longer than the bombardments themselves, Bensen threw in his hand and declared that he was going to quit while he still had some money left.
In a rising babble of protestation, the other players tried to call him back – not wanting to deprive themselves of someone who lost so well and so consistently while still being such good company. The usual appeals to bravery, masculinity and the rejection of recent history and the laws of probability were met with apparent good humour. All the same, Bensen continued to gather coin and script into his pockets. Seeing that he was not to be dissuaded, most of the players turned back to the hand in question, though a few mildly barbed comments followed his back as he stepped out into the acrid night air.