Chapter 68:

Blood Under the Wicked Moon


The nightlife of the city was unusually dark and empty as the convoy of Land Rovers roared through grasslands of streets. Street lamps and electric powered signs still worked, but with most businesses closed almost none of them were lit. The lack of other traffic made it feel like they were out in the countryside of Japan, despite the buildings that lined the sides of the passages.

Apart from the infrequent murmur from Tamotsu, Chiharu’s ride remained uneventfully quiet for her. All of her gear had been checked ten times in her anticipation. After the tenth time she had been interrupted by Tamotsu, who tried to calm her nerves. ‘We’re almost to the mission start coordinates…’ She turned her eyes towards the door’s window catching a dim reflection of her own face. ‘Can I do it this time? My test…’

A home passed by her gaze suddenly changing the image in the window to her grandfather. His wrinkled stern eyes stared back at her as though demanding something of her. ‘…grandfather…’ She swallowed painfully trying to hold herself together. The nearby street lamp washed its brilliant light over the darkness of the car, momentarily blinding Chiharu. Once she focused back all she could see was herself once more. ‘I’ll show you, Grandfather! You can rest easy soon!’

The vehicle came to a sudden stop shifting everyone forward a little. Behind Chiharu’s Land Rover the others matched position filing in next to her. She opened the rear door and stepped out into the open night with only the moonlight as her guide. ‘It’s time…’ Chiharu moved forward to the front of the row of vehicles quickly taking in her men that flanked her. “Move out!”

Chapter 68 – Blood under the Wicked Moon

Their starting location was set nearly an hour out from the Higoshi Clan’s main compound. They could not afford to get too close to the grounds. It was Chiharu’s plan to go in through stealth rather than charging in through the front door. Using the cover of night and the confusion brought on by the new state of affairs in the country, she hoped to catch them off guard.

She figured there would be an increased guard patrolling, but once through the patrol the inner compound would have lighter resistance. There were five teams of five men with her all moving through from different positions to keep the defenses thin once they recovered from the initial attack.

The Higoshi Clan was considered to be stronger than the Chinen Clan currently, but that was only due to the number of client orders that they received and completed. The overall numbers in both clans were fairly equal with direct family members held as the elite. So for Chiharu it was less of a numbers game and more of a tactical one.

She had a small strike force, but they were not interested in wiping out the Clan, but hitting the family itself. Doing so would cause the same effect. On her side, she knew that she had the burning passion of revenge in her men that would give them the strength to keep fighting on. She knew that she could complete the mission so long as the teams were able to make their secondary objectives.

A half hour into their mission Chiharu came to a stop. “…a forest…this wasn’t on the maps…” She looked over at Tamotsu to read his reaction.

Tamotsu remained quiet for a moment taking in the environment and calculating. “My guess would be that they had the same thing happen that we did at the estate.”

“Agreed, but this doesn’t change the mission.” The small microphone communication set attached at Chiharu’s neck and ear sent in notices from the other teams encountering the same situation. “Continue the mission as directed.” She pulled out her short sword taking two clean slashes at the overgrowth of plants in front of her. As the tanto returned to its sheath, Chiharu gave a brief glance to Tamotsu as a signal to proceed.

Traversing the forest slowed down their progress a little, but it still put them within Chiharu’s time table for the next stage of the mission. The approach to the compound was halted by a low perimeter wall. It was originally decided to climb over it, but with the forest there was a slight change in the plan. Chiharu and Tamotsu climbed up the tree closest to the wall up to the lowest branch for clearance. ‘Two guards and another two fifty meters away…poor lighting as well…’ She nodded over to Tamotsu giving him a sharp signal with her arm.

Tamotsu moved, acting as an extension of Chiharu's body dropping down behind the two guards. He jerked his hands back revealing two bloodied kunai. The kunai disappeared back into his belt as the bodies of the guards collapsed to the ground. He already moved the bodies out of sight when Chiharu landed, holding in the dark shadows until the next two guards approached.

Chiharu pulled two kunai preparing to throw them once her targets were close enough to insure lethality. Her fingers slid a little and flexed around the handle as the seconds ticked away for her. She tried to keep herself from sweating due to nerves, but it proved difficult to stay calm. ‘Another second and…’ Chiharu slowly raised up her arms as she prepared. Each moment pushed her closer to her test.

The images of the guards being struck by her played through her mind quickly. Feeling the blood from the blade dripping down crawled against her skin lighting up each nerve to heighten its senses. Knowing that it would be her first spun in her mind endlessly. It slowly began to tie down her muscles. She strained against her unconscious will to keep moving. ‘Got to—‘ A dark blur flew by her vision in an instant and the two guards were down.

Tamotsu turned back and pulled away the guards. The way had been opened for them into the main grounds. It was open terrain, but they would only be exposed for a short time. Night easily covered their approach to one of the wings of the mansion. Tamotsu leaned against the wall of the building slowly coming into sight of an open window. He barely tilted his head over to look inside. ‘Only one.’ His hand raised up signaling his findings back to Chiharu as she closed.

Chiharu passed by him going for the sliding door. She kept her shadow out of sight of the paneled door and placed a hand against it. Tamotsu returned to her side opposed to the door reading her body for the moment to strike. The door was hardly pulled back when Tamotsu sprung into action. He sprinted through the opening and dug his blade into the back of the man, dropping him quietly to the ground. Chiharu walked inside, closing the door behind her. “Status.”

“Team Two entry successful…proceeding to third objective…”

The other teams reported in quickly after with the same results. Everyone had made it inside the compound and began their individual objectives without any problems. “Mission is still on track…” She looked over to Tamotsu, already finished hiding the body. “Surprise is still with us, Tamotsu. Let’s start!”

“Yes, Lady Chiharu…”

She stalked over to the door for the interior pressing her ear checking for any noise. It remained still long enough that Chiharu was satisfied and slid the door open quietly. Her head fell into the hall enough to give her sight through the mansion. The hall stretched on empty for several rooms with no furniture. Only a few hanging picture scrolls decorated the well lit passage. Chiharu pulled back into the room and checked her watch briefly. ‘It should be time shortly…cameras should be going down…’ She checked on Tamotsu in her spare moments before returning to the door entering the hallway.

Tamotsu followed at her side, passing through the hall mentally going through the layout of the mansion in his head. They soon reached an obvious choke point in the wing of the mansion. As such it was expected that there would be several guards. It would be where they would be forced to fight and lose their surprise. The next minutes would determine the success of the rest of the mission. ‘…Lady Chiharu…’

An intersection in the hall brought Chiharu to her planned location. She removed a small mirror from her gear pack and stretched her arm out to the edge of the corner. ‘Four guards, about what I calculated…’ Being interior guards they were dressed in regular business suits. The unaware would easily mistake them for just being staff rather than well trained bodyguards. Chiharu nodded to herself in reassurance.

Chiharu shifted her weight as she judged her path ahead of her. She pulled back, tightening the muscles in her legs into a spring taking her around the corner and towards the guard post. “Die cowards!” Her tanto drew out from its sheath at the small of her back. Its blade shined from the overhead lights in the hall glowing with a thirst for blood.

The attention that she gained pulled in all four guards. They formed a wall across the gap closing it from her and reaching into their suits. Tamotsu watched from the corner and immediately recognized what happened and sprinted out for Chiharu. “Lady Chiharu, look out!”

A split second was all she had to react to seeing the guards going for guns. She threw herself against the wall in the moment that they opened fire with pistols. “Don’t you have any pride? Using a gun!” Chiharu’s eyes burned fiercely as she taunted them.

It didn't change her situation as they fixed their aim for her. She was able to read them well enough to roll down to the ground just before they opened fire. “You’re too slow…” Chiharu leapt forward after the hail of bullets ceased a few seconds after her dodge. The sword's blade rippled in the shining light as she sped towards the guards quickly gaining a lock on her.

The men were ready to fire with Chiharu still too far away and almost no time to dodge anymore. Tamotsu charged forward trying to cover the distance in the wake of Chiharu’s recklessness. It quickly became clear to him however that he wasn’t going to be able to make it time. There were no more options left.

Several steps away from guards, Chiharu stood up and came to a stop smirking. The men in front of her all collapsed to the ground trailing only small bits of blood. “The path is clear now. Good job, Team Four!” She returned the sword back into its home.

Tamotsu caught up to them a few moments later looking down at Chiharu ready to scold her. She gave him a glare in an instant that halted his intention dead. Team Four headed on to its next destination leaving the two of them alone once again. “Lady Chiharu, you’re being reckless!”

“I can’t let you do everything, Tamotsu. How else will I be able to get real experience if my life isn’t on the line?”

“Your life is too important to be throwing it away, Lady Chiharu!”

“That’s enough, Tamotsu. We press on!” Chiharu turned away from him and focused ahead of her, sprinting forward expecting him to follow her. The layout of the mansion placed them near the central section where all of the wings linked together. It was a main pathway and expected to be heavily trafficked by guards. They slipped back outside into the grounds as they neared the main block. There were no guards in their way allowing them to return to the other wing unnoticed with their target nearly in sight.

Security in the new wing was light and nearly non-existent. It made Chiharu concerned, but she pressed on to the chambers of the Head of the Higoshi Clan. The winding hall they followed ended in a widened antechamber like space, but it was too small to be considered a room. However, unlike the rest of the wing it was guarded by four men.

Chiharu lifted herself back against the wall facing Tamotsu. “This is the place and there’s four guards to deal with. It should be easy dealing with them and then our target.”

“Be careful, Lady Chiharu.”

“It’s all part of the plan. Nothing has deviated yet from my schedule.” Chiharu stepped out into the hall immediately drawing the guards’ attention towards her. They prepared to move out, but hesitated with the lights suddenly turned off. It cast the entire hall into a pitch black curtain. Her short sword came out glowing faintly as it picked up the slight bit of light that managed to exist. It gave it a white appearance with a menacing aura. Tamotsu joined her about to move out when a message came across their earpiece.

“Team One under attack!” Chiharu narrowed her eyes expecting it to have happened eventually. “What the hell?! How is that possible?! Team One un—“ The line was dead interrupting the broadcast. She took a glance over to Tamotsu not seeing him, but feeling his body’s presence nearby.

“Team Five under attack! Hey, what are they using?! Retreat n—“ Her eyes widened in shock at hearing another one of her team going down.

“Team Thr—“

All of the teams cut off abruptly. Sweat began to build up along the side of her face trying to understand how her plan fell apart so suddenly. ‘What’s going on? I don’t understand what’s happening to my men!’ Chiharu staggered back in the dark, suddenly feeling as though the walls were surrounding her. It was all closing in on her and crumbling away with no footing.

Emergency lights flickered on renewing sight for everyone in the hall. However, there was a middle aged man standing behind the guards staring out towards Chiharu. He narrowed his eyes reading the situation and trying to learn the intruders’ identity. Both Chiharu and Tamotsu’s faces were covered up with only their eyes visible leaving them in safe anonymity. “Having some trouble little girl?” the man sneered.

Chiharu held her tongue as she tried to sort out the new development. The presence of the head of the family so close it made her job a lot easier. She didn't hesitate in launching a kunai from her belt towards the face of the man. It looked like she was going to make it when it suddenly dropped in mid-air. ‘What happened? There was nothing for it to hit!’

“Confused, child?” The man signaled one of his guards to step forward looking ready to attack. “The world you knew is no longer the same. The rules have changed!”

“What are you blabbering about?”

“You’ll understand in a moment, child!”

The guard stood in front of the middle aged man and several steps from the rest of the guards. He raised his hand up to his suit and pulled at it sharply tearing the fabric. An instant later it was all removed and the man stood in black cloth, traditional ninja garb. The man clasped his hands together before slamming his right palm into the floor. Blue light shone around the man’s body as it was succeeded by thin sparks.

Chiharu took a step back, not certain what was happening. It was unlike anything she had ever seen. It was something impossible. Her mind went back to the radio broadcasts from her team. ‘Is this what they were talking about?! What nightmare have I walked into?’ She lifted up her tanto in reflex, uncertain how she was going to defend against whatever the man had in store.

The light pulled away from the body of the man funneled into the arm and down into the floor. Sparks bounced from his fingers spreading rapidly out into the panels. Soon the walls were engulfed in sparks that turned to electricity. Lightning jumped from the gathered spot charging at a deadly speed towards an unprepared Chiharu, her eyes widening in shock.