The soldiers gathered for their first mission, wearing their uniforms, black body suits with a subtle insignia of the number seven framed by a crescent moon, reinforced with body armor. The top soldiers out of the one hundred and eight soldiers that had been created specifically to serve the Seventh Moon were going to take out a terrorist cell in the Kanagawa prefecture.
Among the new soldiers was the first-and so far, only-cyborg that the cybernetics department had been able to produce. He was called Hidariude which means left arm and referred to the cybernetic arm he had. The cybernetics department thought only about the arm and had referred to the child by the project’s code name and so it became his name as well. Now that he was ready for the field, he now had a convincing artificial skin made of latex complete with acrylic nails and hair to hide the true nature of his arm, although he was also wearing gloves as part of his combat uniform, so this time it did not matter at all. Aside from his arm he seemed fairly typical, short black hair and a body shape somewhere between a mesomorph and an endomorph, perfectly balanced between strength, speed and agility. The other soldiers did not have cybernetics, but instead drew their advantages from DNA modifications by way of specific genes from various animals that would make superior human soldiers. Hidariude’s closest comrade among them was Kichiku, the brute, who had been designed simply to be strong. He was huge, over three meters tall, and heavy, but pure muscle, each fiber as tough as a Hercules beetle so he could lift eight hundred and fifty times his weight, with a grizzly bear-like hump of muscle on his back and shoulders for good measure. He was also bald, not that it mattered he didn’t need hair to level buildings with his fists.
The commanding officer and field leader was Gaki, the oldest soldier. He had once served in the Japanese military until the Seventh Moon provided him with gene therapy by way of a retrovirus that made him an elite soldier beyond his comrades and needed a greater challenge. He had a hand in training the soldiers, teaching them military tactics after they had been trained in basic fighting from another instructor, though he had to take over full time since the other instructor disappeared three years earlier. He had supposedly had some experience in the region, including reconnaissance before the soldiers were old enough for his training. Then there was Renzokuken, the gunner, he was designed with the vision of a hawk and aim to match, and his muscles were built to handle the recoil of his pistols so he could actually fire continuously without losing his target. Aka was built for speed, the musculature of a cheetah and the endurance of a gazelle, he didn’t have to be strong, just quick. Paku was the eater, his sharp teeth were his weapon and he was as ravenous as an entire school of piranha. Kappa was their aquatic specialist, gills and webbed fingers and toes; he wouldn’t necessarily be specifically advantageous in this mission, though if anyone tried to escape across water, he would make sure they were captured. These were the best of the best and today was their time to shine for Seventh Moon by taking down the terrorist cell hiding in a farming commune just outside Tokyo.
“Remember boys,” Gaki said before they disembarked from their shuttle, “There are rogues from Seventh Moon who have secrets and technology among the people we will find here. They may look like harmless farmers, but make no mistake, there are dangerous enemies here. This entire place could be full of armed militia. For our security, we must leave no survivors.”
Kappa went first to get into the irrigation canals so he could quickly get into place to ambush his quarry. Next, Kichiku went to work knocking down buildings, which was surprisingly easy for him, one well-placed strike on a cornerstone and a whole two story brick building would crumble like a sandcastle. Then Aka went running, with his speed he was able to quickly catch up to and get ahead of his cohorts. He was too fast to use guns, he was actually faster than the bullets, so he just attacked any person he encountered with jabs that at the speed he was moving, had the same lethal force as a bullet. For actual gunplay of course, Renzokuken had the duty of shooting everyone with his handguns. He marched down the middle of the town and scanned quickly for anything that moved and fired.
Hidariude and Paku were there for cleanup, they were there to kill anyone their cohorts missed. Hidariude was an elegant artist of warfare, specializing in a three strike combination attack with his blades, first he used his finger blades with a palm strike, followed by a tiger claw with the blades on top of his hand, and a finish with a slice from his long arm blade. While Hidariude was elegant with his practiced rhythm, Paku was the complete opposite, greedily grabbing anyone unfortunate enough to survive the onslaught of his comrades only to cross his path and be devoured.
Some people tried to fight back, though their efforts were futile. No matter what weapon the locals used, the soldiers simply dodged or deflected the attack then countered with deadly force. Kichiku threw one attacker at the next, using the people themselves as weapons. Aka was a blurry streak of death, sneaking up to, behind, even between targets and striking each person down with a single deftly placed strike. Escape was futile; anyone who tried to run away through the fields was caught by Kappa who would drown them in the canals or rice paddies.
Within an hour the strike team had successfully killed everybody in the community. Their next task was to search for technology that might have been confiscated by the rogues. Hidariude teamed up with Kichiku to search buildings, or rather, the rubble left after Kichiku had laid waste to the village. It took time to move the rubble and check underneath, worst of all; there was no trace of any technology, not even fragments of anything that had been pulverized. If there was anything, it was dust now.
“Perhaps we should have organized the search before destroying everything in sight.” Hidariude observed.
“I was just following orders.” Kichiku said coldly.
“You sound so sad. Take some pride in your work.”
“What is there to be proud of? These people took pride in their work, and all I did was destroy it.”
“Listen big guy, I just don’t think there was really anything here. Don’t worry about it.”
“If there was nothing here, then why did we kill all of these people?”
“Geez man, now you’re way over thinking this whole thing. Maybe they sold the goods already and that’s why we couldn’t find anything. Whatever the case, we took out the terrorists and saved Seventh Moon. We’re heroes, not bad for a day’s work, especially considering it’s our first day on the job. Let’s go report back to Commander Gaki and head home for a victory drink.”
Kichiku just stood there. He looked around the room and saw a woman lying on the floor, her head covered in blood from a fatal wound inflicted by her roof caving in on her, the handiwork of Kichiku himself. He held quiet in a moment of silence.
Hidariude walked to the door and opened it, then turned to find his comrade motionless. He closed the door and was about to say something when something else moved from under the rubble. Enough of a wall remained to create a blind spot hiding the soldiers from the view of whomever-or whatever- was still alive, but they could still see the lone survivor of the attack.
It was a child, a boy of no more than three years of age. He had been hiding in a cellar they overlooked. He approached the woman and gave her a shake. “Mama? Mama, wake up. Come on mama, we have to get out of here. Mama…MAMA!”
The woman actually turned out to be alive, but just barely. She reached out her hand to touch her son’s face and with her last breath she answered him, “Douji, don’t forget, the Shrine of the Golden Dragon, Ryu…” Then her hand dropped to the floor. The boy picked up her hand as it grew cold and held it to his face while he cried.
Tears began to stream down Kichiku’s face. Slowly he approached the small boy. He reached out and embraced the boy. “I…I am sorry…so sorry…”
The three shared a very somber moment. Hidariude knew his orders, but at this moment, it just seemed appropriate to let things be. Hidariude and Kichiku were close, probably the closest of any two soldiers on Seventh Moon. They knew what it was like to be alone and need somebody. Among the soldiers they were different somehow. Hidariude had grown up alone in a lab only joining the others later and everybody hated his arm-everybody except Kichiku. Despite his size and strength, he was soft hearted, kind and trusting, and the others disliked him for it, sensing weakness. The more the others ostracized the two of them, the closer they grew.
The time of reflection was broken when the door opened again. This time it was Commander Gaki. “We’re almost finished; did you two find anything in here?”
Hidariude turned to face Gaki, but Kichiku remained huddled over the boy. The ruse did not work at all; Gaki approached Kichiku and looked at the boy beneath him. “Well well, what do we have here?” He got close to the boy and breathed in deep, smelling him. He had a very good sense of smell, especially for blood. He had been selected for a special task that involved information only he had been given and none of his team knew about. He was looking for someone, and this was that someone. “Okay, we’re going. Bring the boy.”
They left the broken building and walked back to the rendezvous point at the edge of town. As they walked, Douji saw the bodies littering the sides of the road and held Kichiku tightly. Kichiku placed his hand on the boy, fearing the worst was yet to come for the boy.
Gaki did a roll call, “Attention! Hidariude, Kichiku, Renzokuken, Paku, Kappa…” Aka was the last to arrive, showing off by setting the town on fire on the far end and then racing the spreading flames back to the rendezvous point. “…and Aka. Good, all accounted for. Did anybody find anything?”
Each soldier replied a resounding “No sir!” except of course, Hidariude and Kichiku, who knew Gaki already knew their answer.
“Well we hit the jackpot here boys. This small child your comrades located is actually one of ours, but was abducted by these renegades. Today we have liberated him so he can return with us and rejoin our ranks as he should. This mission is a success, let’s go home victorious!”
The boy clung to Kichiku even tighter and cried. Kichiku couldn’t stand it; he spoke out, “What is the meaning of this? We killed all of these people just so that we could retrieve one child? Did they even ever have weapons to begin with?”
“They had the boy. They were able to get this child away from our space station and evaded us for three years. Clearly they have some masterminds in their organization. Who knows what they were planning? If we had spared them today they would only make plans to retaliate later on and you’d have to kill them later. Who knows what they’ve put into this boy’s head, who knows if we can even save him or if he’s just a sleeper agent, their secret weapon all along?”
Kichiku couldn’t take this, he grabbed Gaki by the throat. “No! No more innocent blood will be shed, no one else will be our victim today!” He turned to the boy, “Run!” Douji ran as fast as he could.
While Kichiku wasn’t looking, Gaki bit his hand and dropped to the ground. “Aka, Kappa, after him!”
The two soldiers responded with a resounding “Yes sir!” and pursued the boy as ordered.
When Kichiku tried to stop the other soldiers, Renzokuken shot at him, but Hidariude deflected it with his blade. “He’s right, no more bloodshed, especially from our own comrades!” He then attacked Renzokuken and disarmed him, deftly removing his guns from his hands and holsters with his blades, flinging them each in the air and slicing them up in midair. “You’re the best with guns, but your weakness is that you’re no good at hand-to-hand combat.” Paku tried to defend Renzokuken by biting Hidariude, but before he could sink his teeth in, Kichiku quickly grabbed Paku and threw him at Renzokuken. Hidariude looked back in appreciation. “You’ve got my back, and I’ve got yours. Get the kid, I’ll take care of these guys.”
Kichiku ran after Aka, who he knew would already be making his return trip with the boy in tow. He found Aka coming back, slowed down just slightly by the boy’s weight because he wasn’t quite as strong as he was fast. He was just slow enough for Kichiku to see where he was and stop him with a well-placed palm strike to the solar plexus. Kichiku tried to help the boy up when Kappa surfaced from a nearby canal and tried to grab him, but Kichiku was able to kick him off as well. While Kichiku was fighting Kappa, Aka got up and grabbed the child again, and then Kichiku grabbed him, gesturing to Douji to flee, only to find Kappa in his way again. Desperate, Kichiku spun around slinging Aka into Kappa, then picked up Douji and ran for his life. At this point, the fire Aka had set at the far end of town crept up on them and Kichiku used the flames as cover, appearing to dive straight into them while holding Douji tightly to protect him from being burnt. Aka couldn’t do much, but Kappa swam under the fire and tried to locate the escapees in the chaos, but the smoke blurred his vision and Kichiku had really knocked the wind out of him. He returned to Aka who helped drag him back to the others.
When they got back, Hidariude was facing off against Gaki. Hidariude was trying to avoid using his blades, but still used his same style of palm strikes, punches, and strikes that were normally slashes, but now amounted more to hammering his opponent with his fists and forearms. Even without blades, he had flawless form from constant practice and a metal arm still hurts as a blunt weapon even if it doesn’t draw blood. Gaki was a more experienced fighter, but also older and not quite as strong to begin with, and his fighting style was much less refined than the younger generation’s training. The only thing keeping the commander alive was that Hidariude was holding back so as not to kill him on purpose.
Paku got back up and tried to attack Hidariude again. Hidariude could hear him coming and turned around to fend him off. Gaki tried to attack but Hidariude was able to deflect each with one hand. Renzokuken knew he was useless so he just stood there. Aka took Kappa over to Renzokuken so that they could protect each other. While Hidariude was busy fighting his two voracious foes, Aka quickly got behind him at full speed and struck him down before he even knew he was there.
“Thank you Aka.” Gaki said.
“You’re welcome, sir.” Aka replied, “I’m afraid Kichiku got away with the child. He jumped into the flames and we lost sight of him.” His words quickly turned Gaki’s opinion of him from appreciation to disgust.
“Everybody get back on the jet.” Gaki ordered, “Don’t forget to bring Hidariude. The traitor needs to be held accountable.”
Hidariude was still conscious enough to know what was going on even if he couldn’t do anything about it. He could feel himself being picked up and dragged back onto the jet. As he got dropped in the corner, he thought about how he had heard that Kichiku and Douji got away. At least the beating he took wasn’t in vain, they got away safe.
As the world seemed to blur away from Hidariude’s senses, everything else about the day was becoming clearer in his mind. Why did they come on this mission? Why did they kill these people? Why didn’t anyone fight back? Why didn’t they find any evidence of stolen technology? Why that child was so important that they were all going home covered in blood and bruises? Why did he just lose his best friend for asking the one question no soldier was supposed to ask?