Shadow Warriors

Posted by on Feb 1, 2013 in Blog | 0 comments

Shadow Warriors

Written by Spartan Franco | Tags:

More commonly known to others as ninja, the secretive Shinobi Clans of the Iga and Koga regions of Japan have played a key role in the politics and military operations of the Empire of the Blazing Sun for decades. Their rise to such a position of power and influence, albeit very much behind the scenes, is inextricably entwined with the resurgence of the power of the Empress.

Once thought all but exhausted and destined to be consigned to legend, the Shinobi Clans were saved from a descent into ignominy by the actions of the Empress Maya, the great-aunt and immediate predecessor to the current Empress Shinzua.

Determined to wrest power away from the long-running Tokugawa Shongunate and restore it to the imperial throne where it rightfully belonged, the ‘Iron Butterfly’ quickly came to see the Shinobi as a key means of maintaining control over the more aggressive military leaders who dominated the Shogunate government.

The Empress made secret deals with the remaining Shinobi, promising to restore to them their ancestral holdings in central Honshu that had been taken from them by the Shogunate centuries before, supporting them in the restoration of their power and prestige with generous stipends from the imperial treasury. In return, the clans would pledge their loyalty solely to the imperial throne, taking no contracts from others as had been their wont in the past.

Shinobi Section

Shinobi Section

The Shinobi clan leaders agreed without hesitation to this generous offer, and have served the interests of both Empress Maya and Empress Shinzua ever since. Although rarely seen, they have a well-earned reputation for extraordinary fighting skill and loyalty unto death.

They serve as the imperial secret service, reporting to none other than the Empress herself, and it was their awesome reputation as both spies and the agents of punishment that allowed Empress Maya to restore the power of the Chrysanthemum Throne with such rapidity after her ascension in 1822.

By the time the Iron Butterfly abdicated in favour of her great-niece in 1862, the Shinobi were well-established in the Blazing Sun military as well as its power politics. The Shinobi Clans have leave from the Empress to send Strike Teams to assist Blazing Sun military operations all over the world.

In practice, the Faceless Lord, whose symbolic seat on the Imperial Council of Seven gives him or her parity in power with the High Generals, allocates Shinobi warriors at the request of Blazing Sun military commanders, seconding them to direct military command in the field for practical purposes. In return, most commanders allow their Shinobi contingents a high degree of autonomy in how they carry out their assigned missions.

However, the Shinobi reserve the right not to intervene in actions they determine to be inimical or directly contrary to the Empress’ will. It is significant that no Shinobi accompanied General Oni’s expedition to Singapore, which resulted in the razing of that city, since the Empress did not anticipate a full-scale war breaking out.

Some believe that had they been present, the tragedy and subsequent war could have been avoided, at least for a while longer. Since then, all senior Blazing Sun military commanders have been allocated Shinobi ‘advisors’, to prevent any repeat of such unsanctioned actions.

On the battlefield, Shinobi Strike Teams provide an exceptionally effective precision weapon for Blazing Sun commanders. Unparalleled in skill at close quarters with their deadly ninja-to blades and lethal shuriken, some teams are also accompanied by a kyodoka, a marksman armed with a traditional Japanese bow or yumi.

However, while their weapons might be traditional in style, the materials from which they are made most certainly are not. Specialist metal alloys developed by the Imperial Alchemical Instrument gives these ancient killing devices lethal new power for the modern, while explosive and incendiary arrows give the yumi a punch as deadly as any rifle at comparable ranges. The IAI have also devised an ingenious reusable lightweight folding grapnel shot with an attached cable to the kyodoka.

This device allows the Shinobi to use their already superlative skills to overcome almost any obstacle. Truly, no part of the battlefield is safe for enemies seeking sanctuary from the attentions of these deadly shadow-warriors. They ensure that the Empress’ retribution will always be delivered, to enemies and traitors alike.

HMG Section

Just like those of every other military force in the Sturginium Age, the Empire of the Blazing Sun’s commanders long ago recognised the need for heavy fire support, especially for the Ashigaru regiments. As much as close quarters engagements are prized as the most honourable tasks a warrior can perform, the Empire’s military leaders are astute enough to understand that few others share the same view in the modern era. Therefore, flexibility is required.

However, a tradition of offensive warfare is not easily sacrificed, even in the provision of fire support. Fortunately, the Imperial Alchemical Insititute and the many gunmaking concerns under its direction have developed a weapon that satisfies the Blazing Sun military’s desire for dynamism in warfare, without sacrificing the weight of fire which is crucial for troops taking on more numerous or well dug-in enemies.

The result of their work is the Type 9 ‘Fireball’ support machine-gun. This weapon is effectively brand new, appearing in general issue for Ashigaru units only in 1870. However, it is simple to build and shares many components, as well as ammunition, with the standard ‘Dragon’s Breath’. It is effectively a heavier, double-barrelled and longer ranged version of the same weapon, and many thousands have already been placed in service, with numbers still growing rapidly as it supersedes the earlier and very similar Type 4.

Unlike the support machine-guns of other nations, the Type 9 is very lightweight and easy to handle – a consequence of the Blazing Sun tradition of engaging in warfare in very adverse terrain such as the jungles of South-East Asia and the East Indies islands, and the harsh mountainous regions of northern Korea on the borders of the Russian Coalition.

Empire of the Blazing Sun HMG Section

Empire of the Blazing Sun HMG Section

Although quite short-ranged by the standards of its weapon class, the Fireball makes up for with this with a very high rate of fire. Given that it uses the same formidable incendiary munitions as the Dragon’s Breath, this means that even a single Type 9 is capable of delivering powerful suppressive fire capable of blowing through just about any target it is pitted against.

Moreover, its size and lightness permits it to be fired on the move with little loss of effectiveness, saving valuable time that would otherwise have to be used in setting up and allowing Ashigaru units to continue pressing the attack.

The Type 9 has already earned a reputation as blessed weapon even in its relatively short life. Large numbers were issued to the Ashigaru regiments of the ‘Hariken’ 8th Division of the Army of the Sword, and they saw extensive service in the South Atlantic and during the Caribbean campaign. In particular, the plentiful machine-guns were great assets during the taking of Port Stanley and its citadel on the Falkland Islands, and later during the initial offensives that swept many islands of the Lesser Antilles clear of Britannian forces during the first assault on the Caribbean.