Mukuro Ikusaba, however, saw it as nothing but an advantage: a graveyard meant multiple tombstones to use for cover, whilst a heavy fog would ensure that her approach to the crypt was concealed from any enemies that were on lookout. It was simple stealth tactics, true, but Fenrir - and by association, Mukuro - knew never to overlook simplicity when planning out a mission. Even one such as this, that would no doubt end in battle, benefitted from a stealthy approach.
As for the mission itself? It was a simple mission offered by the leaders of some small village that was plagued by a group of cultists lurking within a crypt in the nearby cemetery. Having suffered under their presence (having their crops stolen, village raided and loved ones taken), theyd finally sought her assistance in the matter. And yet, despite its simplicity, it proven to be rather time consuming, requiring constant surveillance and planning on Mukuros part: knowing at what times the cemetery and crypt were the most active, how many enemies shed be facing, and the best way to approach the crypt to engage the cultists within and eliminate them all.
She hadnt been this devoted to the mission when shed heard of it though. When it had first been offered to her by the village leaders, shed refused them outright. Fenrir had always had conditions that they adhered to it when it came to contracts, one of which was a minimum payment. They didnt get to be one of the most feared and well-equipped mercenary groups by doing charity work. However, the elders had continued to offer it to her again and again, each time raising the price until was satisfactory for her standards: not only did it mean she was well-paid, but it showed their desire and determination to see the mission accomplished.
It also helped that they hadnt asked her to waste time and effort looking through the crypt for any remaining hostages. Hostage extraction was always difficult, requiring different tactics than elimination, and it was something that Mukuro knew would have been impossible with her current strength and resources available. But the leaders had proven themselves pragmatic enough to know that anyone whod been captured by the cultists wouldnt have lasted long in their grasp, and so had merely asked her to end them before they could hurt anyone else. It was that kind of pragmatism Mukuro admired.
At least, thats what she continued to tell herself. When she thought back on their conversation, on the plea to stop the cultists before they could cause more harm, she did her best to focus on his words rather than the dark, despairing look in his eyes; the kind of look that came from someone who had lost almost everything hed cared about in a short amount of time, and was barely holding himself together.
A sharp burst of laughter abruptly drew her from her thoughts, and as she peered through the fog with her trained eyes, she caught sight of two figures huddling around a quickly made fire. They were clearly meant to be guards - though really, calling the two of them guards was stretching the truth. The soldiers shed fought against in the past, they could be considered guards: well-equipped, well-trained, sufficient numbers and always on alert. These two were, by the looks of things, layabouts that had been recruited from one of the nearby villages, no doubt through offers of power, wealth and glory, or maybe even threats and blackmail.
It didnt take more than a simple glance for Mukuro to tell that the cult hadnt recruited them for their skills. More than likely, they figured that theyd be useful as disposable soldiers to use against their enemies, whilst their experienced, deadly troops waited in the back. Even so, Mukuro couldnt help but feel a little insulted by the pathetic threat they presented to her. She wouldnt have wasted her time with them if she was in Fenrir, but here? Here she didnt have a choice but to deal with such insignificant pests.
Grabbing hold of the grip of her combat knife, she began her approach towards the crypt, remembering the advice shed been given in her first stealth operation: keep calm, stay low, stick to the shadows and then just wait for your prey to present itself. She slunk across the ground, moving from cover to cover until she was pressed against the crypts wall; all the while, the guards remained unaware of movements, the fog helping to obscure the already concealed approach.
Stick to the shadows...and wait for the prey to present itself.
She could hear the sounds of the guards from around the corner. One of them had a deep, throaty voice that seemed the perfect fit for some kind of stereotypical street thug, the kind of person who wouldnt think twice about playing thug for anyone who offered him money, and wouldnt question anything they did so long as they kept paying him. It was people like him that gave mercenaries like Mukuro a bad name.
The other one sounded younger and, in a way, more innocent, like some of the young boys Mukuro had met on her way to the village. She doubted that his hands were clean, but unlike the first, he clearly wasnt doing this for the money. Maybe hed been threatened into doing it, or was simply trying to convince himself we was doing the right thing by joining them, who could say? Either way, this wasnt a line of thought Mukuro was interested in pursuing. All that mattered to her was that he was in her way.
She sighed and closed her eyes, listening to the two continue to chatter about insignificant details absently, her mind sharpening itself like she would her own knife; focusing entirely on the desire to fight, to defeat her enemies, to leave nothing but destruction in her wake, causing adrenaline to begin to pump through her veins, her breathing getting deeper and deeper as time seemed to slow.
She heard the older of the guards snort at the younger ones comment, and stand up from his spot, his footsteps starting to get closer to her spot.
A pile of leaves and twigs snapped as the mans boot stepped on them, his presence drawing nearer with every second.
Mukuros eyes snapped open, the irises narrowed and the sound of her beating heart filling her ears. There were no distractions, no other sounds, no other thoughts in her mind. Nothing but the enemy that waited for her, and the desire to kill.
As the mans body appeared in view, his head slowly turning to face her direction, she brought the knife up and stabbed at his neck; giving him only seconds to recognize her presence before it reached its target, the blade easily piercing and embedding itself deep within his neck. Death would be sudden and immediate, giving no chance for him to react or retaliate. Just the way she was taught.
One Target Left.
The second guard could barely make out what was happening, but whether it was disbelief, shock or a mixture of the two, he hesitated to react, giving Mukuro the time she needed to close the gap between them. She ran towards him, dodging by the fire with ease and sending a sharp strike at his gut, taking the air out of him in one quick blow. He keeled forward, gasping for breath desperately, only to start struggling as Mukuro wrapper her arms round his neck, and quickly ended his resistance with a quick, sharp snap.
Targets eliminated. Entrance clear.
Despite this thought, she continued to stare at the ground vacantly, her vision red with the desire to fight, whilst the thudding sound of the adrenaline continued to echo in her ears. It was only after a few deep breaths that the focused, trance-like state shed been in began to recede; and as she blinked, she got her first, real sight of the guards shed killed.
The first guard had been a middle-aged man with greying hair, a full beard, and a few wrinkles already starting to form around his eyes. Mukuro couldnt bring herself to care about his death: hed had the age and experience in life to know what they were likely doing, and had had every opportunity to back away. The fact that he hadnt was enough consent in Mukuros eyes.
But as she looked down at the other one, looking at his young, youthful face, Mukuro felt a slight flutter of...perhaps sadness or pity, or maybe even regret for what shed had to do to him. True, shed been hired to eliminate all the cultists, but looking at how young he was, it seemed like such a waste of a life. Someone that young shouldnt have such blank, empty eyes, or such a despairful look-
'Upupupu, see Mukuro? Werent his last few moments of despair just so frantic, so emotional, so enjoyable? Dont try to deny it sis, embrace it. Embrace the wonderful pleasure of despair~'
'You dont have to be like her Mukuro. Dont give in to those feelings of despair. Just be the better person, the kind I always knew you could be!'
Her free hand suddenly clenched into a fist, shaking slightly as the two voice - the ones shed tried so hard to forget - began to echo over and over in her mind, every word threatening to break her apart.
Junko...Junko was her sister. Junko was everything to her. She was-
N-No. Makoto, he believed in her. She couldnt let him-
She turned abruptly, her fist hitting the stone wall sharply and sending a brief feeling of pain through her hand and arm. N-No...no! She couldnt...wouldnt let herself be compromised in such a way! She...She was Mukuro Ikusaba! She was the Ultimate Soldier! She was one of the wolves of Fenrir! She wasnt weak, she was strong! And she wouldnt let herself be defeated by the voices of the past!
And as she made her way into the crypt, doing her best to block out the voices that still echoed tauntingly at her, she focused instead on the first words shed been told in Fenrir, the words that had helped her get through so much in her life.
'Remember this. On the battlefield, theres only two kinds of people: the wolves who tear through their enemies without mercy or hesitation, and the sheep who just wait for the slaughter. We of Fenrir are the wolves who bring destruction to our enemies; so dont hesitate, dont think and dont show mercy. Strike with everything you have, or else youll die like one of the sheep.'
...Now, if only those words could actually help her this time.
- [+] Spoiler
- This is part 1. Part 2 will be done...whenever it's done.