The moon shone weakly through the lowering storm clouds. Its light reflected off the serene, untouched glacial lake like the sun echoing off a stain glass window. The ultimate blackness enclosed the landscape and silence filled the night.
Clad in all black, the Astari Ninjas stalked across the mountainous topography of Isenrahm’s far northeastern reaches. The only noise that could be heard emanated from the small rathskeller inside of the fort. Around 20 Martian slaves sat inside drinking flagons of western ale and complaining about the harsh climate and wilderness this far north. Older sentries and lookouts reminisced quietly about the years long ago when the Barscri had not ruled and aliens such as themselves lived free and blithe. When Governor McBrives passed they quieted themselves and grumbled about the musty ale and stale bread. Their sufferings, although small and insignificant would soon be over.
The Astari Ninjas descended on the small town and squad Victor Juliet readied themselves for the coming siege. The tremendously secretive Ninjas of Astari were a group considered terrorists by the vastly oppressive and communist Barscri government and considered heroes by all the citizens of Isenrahm. The way of joining the Astari was incredibly hard to perform and only known by the Ninjas and a handful of outsiders and contacts.
The first loud clash of thunder of the night exploded and shattered the almost perfect silenced like a Government bomb detonating in the home of a “citizen” who spoke out against the Barscri. That first sound covered up the noise of Victor Juliet’s marksmen eliminating the sentry on top of the eastern wall. Ochre Lotus, Astari of four years, checked his chronometer, midnight, and reloaded his flechette rifle after watching his first shot rip through the watchman’s upper left torso. Entering his chest and staying lodged inside the ribcage the flechette caused instantaneous loss of life. The Martian guard was toppled over the wall by the force of the impact and thudded onto the cold ground 20 feet below. Lightning struck and Lotus fired a second shot, unheard over the noise of the lightning. Now two of the 5 alien guards lay deceased on the ground, rain pouring down and washing away the enormous amount of green blood that spilled out their chest.
Saffron Haku pulled on the line of his grappling hook and felt the resounding tug back that told him the line was secure. As the rain poured down Haku made sure that the other side of the line was secured to the rock wall behind and grabbed the handle that hooked to the line out of his rucksack. That would stay behind now that everything was out. He clipped his saber, Wrath Sting, to his waist and attached the handle to the line. Haku sprinted to the edge of the cliff and jumped off. For a split second, Haku was a majestic eagle flying high above the smog of the southern cities and through the beautiful clouds seen only by the skilled liberationist pilots. Then reality rushed back and Haku attached the hook to the line and began to slide on the rope. The torrential rain was exceedingly loud and the third guard turned around to investigate a faint whine that he had just noticed. It was too late. Saffron Haku, primary blades man of Victor Juliet Squad, had already drawn his electrified katana from its sheathe. As he came closer to the wall he let go of his hook and rocketed his blade through the guards exposed neck. It did not immediately kill the sentry but he confidently pressed the concealed button hidden in the hilt of Wrath Sting. That shot a bolt of electricity through the blade and ignited the guard's neck with lightning and his life was ended instantly.
100 yards to the west, Cardinal Takashi, point man, and squadron leader of Victor Juliet, slowly drew his straight machete and quietly stalked the fourth guard. As Takashi came closer, the nervous sentry turned around. He did not expect to see an Astari Ninja silently rushing towards him. He opened his mouth to scream for help but he was a moment late. Takashi quickly slid his blade through the guard’s chest puncturing the heart and delivering death in a millisecond. Takashi pulled his blade out and dragged the dead guards body to side of the wall and rolled him over the railing. He noticed, out of the corner of his eye, the machete was cleaned. The rain washed away the green blood that spilled out of the guards chest.
The last Martian was calmly walking about worrying about nothing other than getting wet and was thinking about his ancestors and living on his home world of Mars. But under Biscari rule, he was not allowed to leave the planet unless he had worked as a slave for over fifty years and paid a Martian-only tax of 500,000 hyranii for going to Mars. Letting his hunting rifle hang from the strap and his axe rest in its sheathe, the Martian peered over the wall and looked at the landscape spread out before him. Every few moments the night was illuminated by a flash of bright lightning, striking for a moment, beautiful but fleeting. Gone in a second, the lightning strike reminded the lonely Martian of a mockingbird fluttering past the back window of his home in Isenrahm’s middle highlands before the Biscari takeover. The guard, who had incredible hearing, perceived a tiny footfall a few yards away. Fearing nothing more than a small mountain dinosaur, he turned about and lightly gripped his rifle, and casually checked the steam gauge and flicked off the safety. What he saw came as an enormous surprise and the guard immediately ducked and missed Cardinal Takashi’s double sided tomahawk. The Martian felt the throwing axe whip centimeters above his head; he felt the extremely sharp blade chops off the short hairs on the top of his head. Takashi cursed his insolence at missing his throw. He blamed the storm and the wind that drew the blade towards the heavens and away from his target. It was of little consequence for Takashi had a second already in throwing position. After hurling the tomahawk at maximum speed toward his opponent, Takashi sprinted towards the already falling body. With hopes to catch the guard before he toppled over the railing of the wall, and straight through the roof of the small rathskeller, Takshi made a diving lunge. He grabbed a hold of the Martian’s left leg, and in thinking he had succeeded in stopping the sentry form going through the roof of the rathskeller he relaxed. However, his rest was fleeting, fleeting as the strike of lightning mere moments before. Takashi once again cursed his skill with a tomahawk. His throwing axe had cleaved the Martian in half at the waste. When the inevitable happened, and the guard toppled over the wall, gravity ripped off the top half of his body. Everything was ruined, Takashi thought, he could picture it now: the torso of the sentry plunges through the bar ceiling, everyone stands up and draws their swords or guns, they rush outside and kill the proud members of Victor Juliet Squad, or worse, capture us and bring the government into this. Takashi and his squad mates would be tortured for weeks.
But the Astari do not give up so easily. An inch away from crashing through the roof of the tavern, Ochre Lotus fired a grappling hook through the head of the falling sentry. It entered his through the eye, punched out through the back of his skull and drove the hook into the side of the wall. For now, the guard was secured, by the hook through his head, to the wall behind him. Crisis averted, thought Cardinal Takshi. Across the fort, on the other side of the wall Ochre Lotus put his rifle on his back and sprinted to meet up with his squad mates and finish the mission.
When Lotus, Takshi, and Haku all were together, the point man, Takshi pulled a bladder of Bogeeca 7-2, an extremely flammable substance designed by the scientists of Astari countless years ago to continue burning even if drenched by water, and dumped the contents all over the roof and sides of the bar. The twenty men sitting inside heard nothing out of the ordinary expect the pouring rain on the roof of their tavern. Lotus shot a second grappling hook at the cliff ledge directly above them. The 3 ninjas hooked themselves to the line and were pulled up. As they walked away from the fort, and back into the mountains and forests, Haku struck a match and dropped it down into the fort. As it fell, no rain touched, and no wind put it out. It fell into the Bogeeca 7-2 and ignited the building and the rest of the fort. As Victor Juliet Squad strode into the mountains, Lotus checked his chronometer, 12:02 on the dot.
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