Dark brown eyes peered through binoculars from under a black silk hood and mask. From his vantage point on the rooftop Tamoarichi could make out the outline of the Empire State Building but he wasn’t there for sightseeing. His interest was the family in the apartment across from him.
How foolish, he thought, watching them prepare for bed. They didn’t bother to draw their curtains. The mother was in the master bedroom, at least closing the bathroom door. The father carried the boy to his bed and leaned in for a goodnight hug. Covers were tucked in.
Tamoarichi gave his head a slight shake. Those kinds of details were not important. The only thing that mattered was waiting for lights out.
The boy’s room became dark. Then he saw the father appear in the master bedroom, the mother in bed already. The father turned out the light. Tamoarichi saw the silhouette of him climbing into bed next to the mother.
Now was the time.
Tamoarichi stood on the ledge, judging the distance from his perch to the next rooftop. It was an easy jump. He was a dark shadow crossing silently from one roof to the other, not even visible if someone happened to look up at the right moment.
This was what he had been trained for. He’d done it dozens of times. He was an assassin. He was a Ninja.
This time, though, he felt an unfamiliar anxiety as he attached the grappling hook and scaled down. Tamoarichi ignored it. He couldn’t afford to give into emotions.
He hung from the rope and tried the window to the boy’s room. Locked. He pulled out a glass cutter. Why this family? Why the mother and child? he wondered as he cut a hole with enough room to reach in his hand and open the latch.
He pushed his thoughts aside again. His was not to question.
The room was lit only by city lights. Tamoarichi could see the small form under the covers. He crept towards the bed, unsheathing his katana. A ghostly grey shown from the metal. Tamoarichi had honed it himself until the katana could split a small child without effort. Many of his counterparts had forgone the old weapons for modern poisons and firearms, but Tamoarichi favored the quiet elegance of the blade. He had followed in his master’s way.
His master. The thought gave him pause. His master had recently died, a wrinkled old man ravaged by time. Tamoarichi had been at his side when the man passed. He’d heard his master’s last words spoken not in graceful wisdom, but choked out in fear and pain.
Choose for yourself, Tamoarichi.
His thoughts were broken by a scream. The boy had awakened and climbed out of the bed. Tamoarichi refocused on his mission, rushing towards the boy. He sliced through the air, barely grazing the child’s arm. The boy screamed again. Tamoarichi was angry with himself.
The boy had run into the hallway. Tamoarichi followed, bringing the sword back around. He almost made it to his target when a flash distracted him. It was followed instantly by a booming echo. For a second he was disoriented, then realized he was on his back. His chest was burning. He tried to take a breath, but his lungs felt heavy. His vision was blurring.
A shadow appeared above him. The father was standing over him, a pistol pointed at his face. The muzzle flashed again.
Tamoarichi’s last thoughts were this was why the Ninja did not question, for when the Ninja began to question, the Ninja died.