Author: Karama9 PM
A Storm Shadow story, set in his youth. The Arashikage is at war with another clan, and the compound is invaded. You can probably guess that this story contains violence. Third and final part now up.Rated: Fiction T - English - Storm Shadow - Chapters: 3 - Words: 3,102 - Reviews: 13 - Favs: 4 - Follows: 2 - Updated: 05-19-10 - Published: 05-17-10 - Status: Complete - id: 5977684
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
The Hard Master took his sword out of his opponent and stood still as the lifeless body of the last Akai invader collapsed to the ground, joining dozens of others. He inhaled deeply, made himself straighten up, wiped his blade on his own pants and sheathed it.
He heard the Soft Master a few steps to his left and turned that way, ignoring all the others. He needed advice. He bit his lips: his brothers were by their sister's body, cradling her. Most of the clan members were doing much the same thing with the various victims. He listened for Kimiko, his sister's daughter, and found her crying, cradled in Tommy's lap, who was clutching her as though he thought she might fall dead herself any second. There were so many of their clan who had died today, 96 by the last count he'd received, that he could hardly blame the boy.
"Soft Master, a word," he called softly.
The Soft Master turned to him but did not quite lock eyes and did not get up.
"You know what we need to do," he said. "They've sealed their fate."
"This was the decision of one man," the Hard Master sighed.
His other brother rolled his eyes at him.
"Fine. HE sealed their fate."
The Hard Master nodded. It was all the confirmation his impetuous brother needed: he dashed off, heading for the exit closest to the way to the Akai compound, followed by just about all the surviving teachers and wage earners capable of doing so.
He grabbed Tommy just as he was zipping by. Thankfully, his brother's son was the only child silly enough to even think he might be allowed to go.
"Don't be foolish. You're not going."
Tommy glared at him and actually tried to break free. The Hard Master's eyes widened. The Soft Master appeared and helped subdue the teenager, more to avoid the Hard Master having to hurt him than because his brother needed help to prevent the teen from escaping.
"Tomisaburo, stop. We will not let you go along."
"Let me go!" Tommy growled. "Everyone… Tsuhiro-Sensei… Oba-san… Amaya-chan…! LET ME GO! LET ME…!"
He stopped and collapsed under a pinch by the Hard Master.
By the time Tommy woke up, his father was by his side.
"You tried to follow," his father stated.
Tommy sat up, holding his knees to his chest, and nodded, his lips curled in a snarl.
"I wanted to go. This isn't fair. I could have defended myself. I could have helped. I…"
"Do you even know what we did?"
Tommy nodded firmly.
"Same as last time, with the Kamura. You went to kill the Master and disband the clan."
"The Kamura tried to STEAL from us and besides, they're already regrouping, less than a year later."
Tommy cocked his head.
"So what did you do?" He asked.
"The Akai is no more," his father answered. "We didn't kill the infants we found – we brought them to a nearby temple – but we left no other survivor. Including the families, including the staff, including the staff's families, including all the children old enough to walk and maybe remember, because otherwise, they may have grown up to seek vengeance. What the Akai tried to do here, we did there. Their home sits empty."
Tommy paled a bit.
"Can you understand why?"
Tommy lowered his eyes: he could. Anything less would have invited the survivors or even other clans to attack them again. They had to show that attacking them was a fatal mistake. He nodded.
"Do you also understand why you weren't allowed to come?"
Tommy nodded again. It was a dirty job, one that pushed the limits of what's honourable and what isn't, and in all honesty, he was rather glad it hadn't been HIS job. He could understand the necessity of it, but it was too close to what the Akai had done by attacking them for comfort.
"If it's normal to do that for self defence, why didn't we do it BEFORE they attacked us?" He asked.
His father scowled.
"Seems like a bad decision in hindsight, doesn't it? We didn't because we didn't think they would attack us: we knew they wouldn't win if they did, and we thought they knew as well. We were negotiating a truce with them hours before the attack, and we thought we were making progress. Your uncle blames himself for what happened… he's devastated. If he wasn't so level-headed, I'd pity the next clan who so much as looks at us funny."
"Maybe they thought we were about to attack them. Maybe it was self-defence for them too."
His father snorted disdainfully.
"I don't care why they did it," he said. "Whatever their motives were, they identified themselves as a threat and if we hadn't dealt with it, they would have stayed a threat AND made us look vulnerable to the other clans. Our family is what's important to me, not strangers from unfriendly clans and whatever their fears and hopes may be. Sort out your priorities, Tommy, and when things aren't clear, go back to those priorities."
He got up and left before Tommy could answer, preferring to let him think it through by himself.