Ran looked down at the front steps of Unity Hall. He was on the roof of the Southern Continent Bar and Grill, an establishment known for its wide variety of drinks and adequate sandwiches. It catered mainly to Unity Hall staffers, who thronged its bar stools during their lunch hours.
Ran hadn't come there to eat. The shadow within him had. Ran was an unwilling prisoner, a spectator without control, in his own body. The shadow was in command and was no longer hiding its actions from Ran.
Ran had unwillingly watched as the shadow walked into the bar and taken a corner booth. It ordered a fried slaskian sandwich, an overly spiced meat that Ran couldn't stand, and a bottle of klebia, a dark sweet drink. The shadow ate and drank with every evidence of enjoyment, while Ran fought to regain control of his body. It was a futile effort.
As the shadow was draining the last of the klebia, a nondescript woman in standard civil servant grays paused by the booth. The shadow, and thus Ran, barely glanced at her. Ran judged her to be on the far side of middle age, though her face was the kind that fell into perpetual lines of worry and discontent making her look older. She dropped a baub unto the table, pushing it toward the shadow, then continued on her way as the shadow's hand closed over it. The transaction was done without speed and yet was completed in seconds. Unless one had been specifically watching for it, it would have passed unnoticed.
The shadow stood, swiping Ran's cred chit through the payment scanner. Baub concealed in hand, it headed toward the back where the restrooms were. Instead of stopping, after a quick look around to see if anyone was watching, the shadow went through the door marked Roof and headed up the staircase. This was the way heli-landed supplies would be brought in or the way employees would take to sneak away for a break.
This time of day the roof was deserted. Ran watched as the shadow pulled a block lock from its pocket and snapped it on the door. No one could enter from the stairway until the lock was released.
The roof was empty except for a large recycling bin tied off in the corner. The shadow went to it, snapped open the lid and reached in. A moment later it pulled a protecta wrapped package from amongst the discarded packings.
Ran watched in horror as hands not under his control unwrapped and assembled components into an XR Ought rifle. Banned on most worlds, they were outlawed on all space stations. Their armor piercing bullets could pass through a man and a station's plating.
"Beautiful, isn't it?" said the shadow. It had taken to taunting Ran now that it had revealed its existence. "I would have preferred a more intimate weapon. It would have been so much more enjoyable to see the Emperor's face as he saw who killed him. But at a closer range, among the crowd, it was possible I might only wound. This will serve the purpose much better."
Ran railed at the creature. "You can't think you'll succeed. Geeov will have this placed tagged as a security risk.