Chaotic Assualt by CyberEvil
Chapter 1: Chaotic
Chaotic, yet simultaneously serene, the sun casts its light over a similarly natured vista. A picturesque forest stands illuminated by it; similar to the world it resides in, however, it slides inexorably closer to darkness. Amongst the flora and all its vivid greens, the umber trunks of the great and long-lived trees, and the shadows doing their timeless dance over the forest carpet, many things are amiss. This peaceful scenery hides the aftermath of battle. Only one thing is certain when man raises his sword against his own; death.
Human forms lay prostrate and lifeless. Long slashes leave the corpses dry husks; achromatic splashes, now mostly dried into the ground, exist as testament to the life that previously flowed within them. Others merely appear to be sleeping until, upon closer inspection, one notices that the neck has been snapped or chest crushed.
Surveying the carnage, the figure cloaked in shadow lets out an exasperated sigh. How had it come to this? Hayate had let loose the dogs of war on a Goddess of War. Few could match the unbridled fury of a master of Mugen Tenshin. Kasumi could not be touched by any of these men. They had no chance. Hayate knew it. Yet he had sent them to their deaths and returned to the village shortly thereafter. It seemed he didn't want them to catch her. If that was the case, though, why was this man standing in that forest?
The hours bleed away, ticking off to the tune of the setting sun.
Sunlight glints off of the fast disappearing surface of the Dragon Sword as it slides into its sheath. Its owner makes sure it is secure and flicks the clasp over, locking it into place. He drops a now bloodied black cloth onto the ground, having no further use for it. Shooting a glance down at the shadowy form on the ground, his eyes close for a brief moment. One last glance cast up at the fading fire of the sun and it's time to go.
Stepping unceremoniously over the body, he makes his way to a nearby clearing in the canopy above. The shadows slide off of him as he enters the direct sunlight. It reflects off of his silver forehead protector as he gazes up, watching the sky. A cry pierces the stillness of the forest, coming from above and behind him. He waits, though not for long.
A falcon glides into view and veers towards his young master. The raptor alights atop his shoulder and receives a gentle rub on the neck from his master's finger. Ryu Hayabusa looks up into the clear blue sky for a moment, his hand unconsciously sliding towards a rather vicious looking cut in his armor.
Although the wounds had been healed, several slashes in the leather armor were visible. The fight had not gone well. A master of Hayabusa-style ninjutsu, easily the most powerful style of ninjutsu, had just clashed with a master of Mugen Tenshin style ninjutsu. While the styles aren't wholly dissimilar, Ryu himself was unfamiliar with it, and not accustomed to fighting against it. Both styles are extremely fast and powerful, relying on several illusionary techniques to aid the practitioner. The problem with this is that when two similar styles collide, it always comes down to a close quarters fight. Kasumi had come to this realization slightly faster, being on edge from the pursuit.
He had encountered her resting on a branch, clearly winded from the battle the previous night. She had single handedly disabled or killed twenty men, all highly skilled, without taking so much as a visible scratch. The problem was the mental and physical exhaustion. Believing herself in the clear, she had settled in high above the forest floor to rest. She was far from safe.
Hayabusa closed his eyes for a minute, remembering the events that had taken place just over four hours ago.
Her blue raiment was what gave her position away. Dashing from tree top to tree top looking for her, he hardly expected to find her sleeping on his level. What had stopped him was the splash of blue nestled safely away in the top of the old tree. He stood on the adjacent ginkgo tree, collecting himself.
She had brought this on herself the moment she had gone rogue. A runaway shinobi is not tolerated. A village's secrets are not to be compromised. It does not matter who that shinobi is; they must be dealt with all the same. Hayate was a wise man. He knew this. He would not break tradition and clan rule to save his sister. He was honor-bound to see his villages secrets die with her. He sent a small contingent of ninja after her, but they were merely to slow her down.
Waiting for the right moment, he had knelt in silence among the branches. Several hours had passed. While watching her sleep, he had remembered the conversation from two days ago that had brought it all about.
“Ryu, I have never asked you for any favors. You are a great friend to me and the Mugen Tenshin clan,” Hayate had said. “Things have changed, though. I need to ask a favor of you.”
He takes a deep breath.
“I need you to track down and kill Kasumi.”
“Hayate, are you sure? She has been invisible ever since she attacked and killed Raidou and was captured by DOATEC. She could not have spoken to anyone. She could not have divulged any of your clan secrets. Does she really need to die?”
Hayate had merely looked up with a resigned look on his face. “They cloned her, Ryu. She has given DOATEC every secret we have.”
“Might I remind you, you were cloned as well, Hayate.”
“I was cloned improperly. You may remember my clone as using a form of Karate, not ninjutsu. You may also remember her clone was nearly a perfect reproduction of her. Our network of ninja have infiltrated DOATEC. We're planning a strike on them. We don't know when. Some rather disturbing news has recently come to light.” He paused. “DOATEC has been working on creating more clones of Kasumi. Our sources tell us they've been experimenting on the clones to make them even stronger than the original.”
“If Kasumi were to be re-captured, they would be able to accelerate their research. They haven't yet perfected their technique. There is still time. Due to our clan's rules, however, we cannot simply take her under our care. Therefore, she must be killed to make safe our secrets and slow DOATEC's plans.
“Will you help us, Ryu? Will you help me?”
Opening his eyes again, his hands wrapped around the hilt of his trusted sword, he shifted his weight uncertainly. It's always humbling to think back on a battle; think back on what may have been. What if he had slipped up?
The ninja banishes the thought as quickly as it forms. What was done was done. He glanced back at the corpse again. The memory of battle surged to the forefront of his consciousness. He remembered it clearly, second by second. It had only happened fifteen minutes ago, after all. He closes his eyes to relive it.
Ryu unclasps the Dragon Sword slowly, not wanting to wake her until it was the right time. Pulling the blade fully free, he shields the blade from the sun to nullify the chance of a reflection giving him away. His eyes shift back and forth, taking in the entire forest. He hears a slight sound from just beyond Kasumi's tree. Time to move.
He settles back onto his hind leg, and utters the incantation. In a flash of light and smoke, he disappears. Before he's even through to the other side, he's raising his sword. The emergence on the other side allows him the element of surprise on his quarry. His sword bites into his target, blood spilling from the cut, but her wrist guard blocks the brunt of the attack. The fact that his target had so easily blocked his attack was no surprise. His target was fully awake, after all.
The auburn haired beauty wasted no time in leaping backwards to the nearest tree. Her eyes pierced through him, seemingly looking past him. This was, in fact, what she was doing. It wasn't where she was looking that caught his attention though. It was her eyes themselves. There was something unnatural about them. . .
She leapt forward and extended her elbow, hoping to catch him full-on in the chest. He was no longer there when the attack should have connected. His strike with the Dragon Sword came from above and behind her. She spun, thrust her wrist guard between her and the blade once again, and shoved the blow aside. In one single, inhumanly fast motion, she drew her own blade, and sliced in a horizontal motion across his chest.
Surprised, he managed to pull back in time to see only a small piece of his armor falling to the ground. He hadn't even felt the cut. This was one fast little girl.
He swung upwards, attempting to remove her sword arm, but she's no longer there, finding only air. He whips the sword over his shoulder to block the attack aimed at his neck, his muscles straining under the force of the blow. He parries the attack, spins, and kicks outward, catching her full in the chest. She crashes through several branches in a neighboring tree before hitting the trunk itself. Stunned, his opponent falls the thirty feet to the ground, landing with a sickening crunch.
Appearing in front of the body, Hayabusa keeps his sword pointed at her head. Resting the tip under her right arm, he rolls her over onto her stomach. She doesn't move. She is no longer breathing. Still using the sword, he pulls the back of her tunic away from her neck, revealing the tattoo. Satisfied she's dead, he kneels closer. He reads what it says, then stands again, once again sure of himself. He quietly says the incantation once again and is once again standing in the tree top.
Once again he had found himself looking at a sleeping Kasumi.
After waking her, he had explained the situation to her. That Hayate had condemned her. That Ryu had agreed to hunt her down. That one of her clones was also after her.
Taking her down to the ground, he guides her to the body of her clone. She looks at the tattoo in shock.
“ALPHA PROJECT SUBJECT 143”
Chapter 2: Assault
The metallic stench of blood tainted their senses, omnipresent and ever a reminder of their own mortality. This blood does not stain their clothing though, or their skin, nor even their blades; no, this blood stains their memories. Memories of furious battles, memories of lives and innocence lost. Flashes of tattooed numbers; sometimes clearly visible, sometimes needing to be guessed at. One-hundred-forty-three, 144, 145…each number attached to a more and more vicious opponent. No one clone had stood long, however. Not before the combined might of the Master of the Hayabusa Clan and the heiress to the Mugen Tenshin lineage.
They stood together in the darkness, just outside the reach of the searchlights, just outside the line of sight the soldiers so stubbornly kept up. The only indication of their presence at all is the shadows thrown behind them by the moon itself. The sounds of marching boots and radio chatter struggled to reach their ears at this distance, but not a sound would make it back to the other party. No, if anything was heard at all, it would be the hum of a blade through air. And it would not sound long.
No words are exchanged, for none are needed. Countless bodies lay behind them, all with stolen visages. Each had been more and more powerful than the last, and not all had had the patience, honor, or courtesy to wait their turn. It had been brutal, it had been fast, it had been everything but clean. No rites were followed for the dead for they deserved none. A clone deserved nothing. Their bodies lay where they had dropped; a quick glance at their necks, when still possible, was all that was needed for identification. Their eyes stared up at the sky, cold accusations from a corpse that neither perceived nor cared. Every corpse dotting a map seen by none but known only by two, leading inexorably…
Thirty feet below the pair, the spotlights parted, the soldiers' patrols led them away from the area, the helicopters overhead a distant thumping sound. A blind spot. An entrance. The end for them all.
A soldier turned down the path that would lead to his chosen destination, thirty feet above his normal patrol route. It overlooked the whole camp and was his place of respite and calm during an otherwise tense and long day. The moonlight cast a soft blue hue over everything, but did not provide much in the way of actual light to walk by. He had his rifle-mounted lamp for that. Despite the somewhat odd lighting clashing with the harsh, powerful beam emitted by his rifle lamp, the night was still and calm. Perfectly fitting mood for a meal. Once he reached his spot, he prepared to sit, but noticed something strange. A cloud of dirt floated just before him.
Odd , he thought. There is no wind…
The soldier ignored the peculiarity of it all in favor of just getting to the task at hand. Very little could disrupt the break of a DOATEC soldier. Setting his rifle down and loosening his boots, combat belt, and heavy Kevlar vest; he settled to the ground. Once properly situated, he reached into his pack and pulled from it his bagged meal. Before moving to open it, he glanced again at the curious cloud of dirt that had now all but dispersed into the still night air. Four depressions had been made at its epicenter, though they were much too big to be the usual rodents or birds in the area.
Curious now, he temporarily forgot about his lunch and rose, grabbing for his radio still attached to his combat belt. He triggered the talk button and called in his location and identified himself by serial number. DOATEC assigned individual numbers to each member of its security detail, though security detail is just a modest term for the small army it employed. Nearly 200 members of that force staffed this installation alone, and it was but one of many. None were more important, though. The Tri-Tower, it was called.
He finished calling in the disturbance and sat down again to eat, the situation no longer his problem.
Soldier designate DOATEC-PA716, frowned as his wrist LED changed colors. Normally a bright green, the LED now gave off a harsh yellow glow, indicating something was amiss. Nothing had come down through the Alert frequency on his radio yet, so he merely shrugged and unshouldered his rifle. Thumbing off the safety, he sighed and wondered why HQ bothered changing the status indicators at all. If it was so important, why not just let everyone know what was going on? More to the point, if it was so unimportant, why bother raising an alert status? Good questions, and they would be brought up at his end-of-shift debrief.
He continued his lonely route through the dark alleys of the complex, office buildings, dark and ominous, towered overhead, casting a net of shadows over everything. His only sources of light, the LED on his wrist and the lamp mounted on his rifle, were never really enough. He grumbled to himself and flipped on his Light-Enhancing Goggles built into his helmet, pausing as he did so. A quiet buzzing song broke the silence as they adjusted his view of the world, making it seem almost as if it were broad daylight out, and not three in the morning. The goggles gave off a ghostly red glow to any onlookers, not that there were any. The soldier had always found it fascinating to observe other soldiers with the LEGs activated. Any amount of movement left an interesting red trail, almost akin to what one might see if they squinted at fast-moving cars taillights in front of them.
It was always the little things that fascinated him.
Once his eyes finished adjusting, he resumed his steady pace down the path, perhaps 300 meters from where his path would intersect with another soldier's route. No words would be shared, but it was always a highlight to even see another comrade during these damned graveyard watches. As he moved forward, visualizing his patrol route as he went, he caught sight of what seemed to be a blue bird flying overhead, bouncing from wall to wall in the narrow alley. He watched it for a moment, not fully comprehending what he was seeing. It moved incredibly fast through the alley, a blue, white, and red blur, rounded a corner, and was gone. Could that have been a bird? It most certainly had to be, given the height at which it traveled. Only it had most definitely been too large for any bird he had ever seen.
He stopped dead in his tracks.
His route disappeared instantly from his mind, concerned only with the intruder. He processed everything he had just seen through his trained mind, taking mere seconds to put it all together. A ninja, female from the looks of it, had just gone right over him. Why was he still alive? She had to have seen him. Not stopping to wonder at his good graces, he grabbed at his radio. Blinking in the enhanced-light world his goggles provided, he was about to call it in when he realized another soldier had appeared right in front of him.
Might as well get a second opinion before alerting the brass , he thought.
Looking the soldier over, he realized for the first time how ridiculous it was to have so much equipment. Rifle, sidearm, grenades, heavy full-body Kevlar armor, matching survival pack, and this particular soldier had an RPG launcher slung over his shoulder, much like himself. Why carry that much equipment when our primary concerns, the ninjas, were so unencumbered ? Only chance is to catch them at long range anyway. No use being slowed down.
Best course of action when a ninja sees you first? Run.
Curious, then, that this particular soldier was teetering like a drunk, not a soldier on Yellow alert status. PA716 went to call out to him, demand an explanation for this outrageous dereliction of duty, but found he could not. Frustrated he tried again, but then remembered the radio still held in his hand. He must first call in the intruder. Then he could deal with the shameful and drunk individual in front of him. He attempted to raise the radio to his face to speak into the receiver but for some reason it just wasn't happening. The soldier in front of him had raised his own radio now, but…
Where the other soldier's head should be was a fountain of arterial spray, messy and chaotic.
Horrified, PA716 tried to turn and run but found the effort to be impossible. Was he really immobilized by fear? All that training had not allowed him even a modicum of self-control? He started to faint from the horrible sight, but as the world around him darkened, he caught sight of the decapitated soldier's pack. Stenciled in a special glow-in-the-dark laminate was the soldier's designation: DOATEC PA716. In that second, right before the real panic could set in, a heavy black shadow smothered the remaining light in the alley, moving swiftly past the already-cooling corpse. The shadow sheathed its sword and leapt into the air, bounding between the buildings with a mounting speed as it moved quickly away.
Ridiculous , PA716 thought. Shadows couldn't wield a sword …
And then the world gave way to darkness.