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If possible, it should also be casting a negative light on the person described. For instance:

This assassin is __________ first, and opportunistic second. He primarily seeks to catch his target not only unaware, but in a situation where no one would be able to retaliate after the kill.

The assassin in this case is being described by a person who has nothing positive to say about him, so I would like to be able to fit that theme where appropriate.

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    Did you consider self-preserving? – alwayslearning Nov 13 '16 at 11:19
  • @alwayslearning I did, but I was wondering if there was a better word or phrase for it. – Fibericon Nov 13 '16 at 18:10
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You should be able to use self-preserving as an adjective.

This assassin is self-preserving first, and opportunistic second. He primarily seeks to catch his target not only unawares, but in a situation where no one would be able to retaliate after the kill.

dictionary.com:

self-preservation noun
1. preservation of oneself from harm or destruction.

Related forms:
self-preserving, adjective

In that moment Tito, with bloodless face and eyes dilated, had one of the self-preserving inspirations that come in extremity.

Romola
George Eliot

Through all this bewilderment, self-preserving interest guides his course.

Oswald Langdon
Carson Jay Lee

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How about survivor?

From M-W:

survivor: to remain alive or in existence : live on; to continue to function or prosper

Your example:

This assassin is a survivor first, and opportunistic second. He primarily seeks to catch his target not only unaware, but in a situation where no one would be able to retaliate after the kill.

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Self-centered: preoccupied with oneself and one's affairs.

Engrossed in oneself and one's own affairs; selfish.

http://www.thefreedictionary.com/self-centered

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    Come on, man. You've got over 7k reputation and yet you are a frequent visitor to the VLQ review queue. Please give a little bit more than just one-liners without any references. – Helmar Nov 14 '16 at 13:51
  • @Helmar - I think at the time I wrote this answer I was a bit preoccupied with some personal affairs. What's VLQ? I don't visit it consciously. – aparente001 Nov 14 '16 at 22:21

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