Soft music filled the late-afternoon air as the wedding guests arrived at the manor house, exchanging waves and pleasantries, gathering near a peaceful pool where a fountain of clear, cool water glistened in the sunlight. On the summer solstice, it was said, the steps of the manor house, the fountain in the pool, and the stone parapet that jutted from the hillside were three points in a perfect line that pointed to the setting sun. Even in early September, one had only to stand on the massive stone edifice and look through the trees toward the horizon to understand what a stunning sight that setting sun must be.
The sun was still high in the sky when three shapes became visible on that far off horizon, growing ever larger and ever more distinct as they approached, accompanied by a soft, steady tattoo that soon rose to drown out the lilting music: the whup-whup-whup of narrow blades cutting through the air.
The guests turned, almost as one, as the three helicopters raced overhead, scant inches above the manor house’s many dormers and towers. Two of the black behemoths veered off, one north and the other south, circling in a wide arc over the gardens to hover over either end of the wading pool. A moment later, the third helicopter reappeared, looming directly over the apex of the stone steps.
Then they came, the groomsmen in their black and white tuxedos rappelling from the southernmost helicopter, the bridesmaids resplendent in black chiffon and lace descending from the chopper to the north. Scarcely had the first polished wingtip touched the grounds when an ear-splitting cry rang out from the shaded woods nearby. Dozens—perhaps hundreds—of ninjas ran from the trees, each brandishing a ninjatō—the ninja’s short, deadly sword—in a two-handed grip, each screaming loud enough to be heard above the roar of the helicopters overhead.
The groomsmen sprang to action, launching themselves unarmed at the onslaught. Ducking beneath one deadly blade, the best man felled the first assailant with a quick leg sweep, followed by a jab to the fallen ninja’s throat. In the space of three seconds, all of the groomsmen had similarly dispatched their nearest foes and stood in a resolute line—each now brandishing the razor-sharp ninjatō of a defeated ninja.
Across the courtyard, the first wave of ninjas from the north met a hail of bullets as each bridesmaid dropped her bouquet to reveal a silenced Beretta Px4 Storm pistol. Calmly, the bridesmaids fired round after round into the oncoming sea of black shinobo shozoku, delivering a dispassionate death to those who sought to disrupt the ceremony.
As the groomsmen and bridesmaids dispatched the ninja horde, the helicopters from which they had descended retreated once more to the west, leaving a lone UH-60A Black Hawk hovering over the steps of the manor house. Into this carnage, two figures rappelled from the Black Hawk; both men carrying an air of purpose as they descended their respective ropes, and one carrying something more: a Holy Bible.
As the groom and the pastor lit upon the stone platform, the final helicopter tilted forward and accelerated to the west. In the space of just a few seconds, the only sound that remained was the soothing melody of the piano. The groom calmly surveyed the scene: no ninja remained standing. The groomsmen approached the steps, each bowing in turn and placing a bloody ninjatō at the groom’s feet. The best man made a quick gesture with his left hand and the tuxedo-clad groomsmen snapped to attention, assembled on the right side of the stone steps in order of descending height.
The bridesmaids retrieved their bouquets, daintily concealing their still-smoking handguns once more, and marched to the opposite side of the stairs, the diminutive flower girl tossing handfuls of rose petals on the granite path as she walked. The pastor nodded to the pianist and the music swelled with the familiar strains of the Processional.
For a long moment, the guests craned their necks to the left and right, over their shoulders, and to the sky, hoping to be the first to catch a glimpse of the bride. Without warning, five F/A-18 Super Hornets, flying in a tight “V” formation rocketed across the sky from east to west, leaving trails of white smoke in their wakes…and through this smoke descended the bride, her parachute a dazzling white that was outshone only by the brilliance of her gown. Delicately, she landed mere feet from a decapitated and disemboweled ninja. With a flick of her wrist, the bride detached the parachute’s harness and stepped forward, treading lightly upon the pink blossoms strewn over the stony path.
A cry rang out. One of the ninjas had feigned death and was now racing toward the bride, his ninjatō poised to deliver a deadly blow!
She never paused.
Her step never waivered.
She didn’t even turn her head toward her assailant.
Eighty feet away the groom’s right hand shot out, a glint of silver catching the rays of the sun as a single shuriken sliced through the space between his hand and the ninja’s throat. With a wet, agonized shriek, the would-be assassin fell, his ninjatō clattering to the stones only a few inches from the bride’s long, white train.
All eyes turned once more to the bride as she crossed the courtyard and ascended the stone steps to stand next to her beloved. The music faded away and the pastor smiled at the couple standing before him, then looked to their friends and family in the courtyard below.
“Before we begin,” the pastor said, “if there is anyone here who knows of a reason why these two should not be joined in matrimony, let them speak now or forever hold their peace.”
A battle cry echoed through the gardens and another wave of screaming ninjas poured from the surrounding woods…