Title: Mirage of Kaleidoscopes
Summary: Life is a kaleidoscope full of mirrors and shards that twist and turn creating a mirage of beauty and colour and life is nothing more than a beautiful illusion, just like a kaleidoscope.
Chapter One: The Unnamed
"Life and death are the opposite sides of a coin."
She remembers lights, and laughter and the sound of music blasting through speakers and then the sound of metal scrapping against metal. She remembers screams and tears and the bright red liquid that spilt onto the ground.
There are touches and slaps on different parts of her body; she feels tears falling down splattering onto her dirty skin. There are people surround her, pushing, screaming, yelling and crying. She can't hear their voices as they all blend into on as her mind grasps onto the situation at hand.
She feels fear and tries desperately to hold on, to grasp as much strength as possible to stay alive. Chanting over and over till it became a mantra, "I don't want to die, I don't want to die. Not yet, not yet… not like this." She wonders in that moment if she was chanting it out loud or just thinking it.
She hears sirens close by and tries to stay awake… but she is so tired.
Her eyes begin to close.
Her arm stretches out.
There is a light in the distance.
She is born in Konohagakure, the eldest of the twins, her younger brother born only a few minutes after her. She is born in Konoha, a village built through blood and murder, betrayal and deceit, and thrives on will of fire that burns.
It is during the Second Great Shinobi War that she is born.
In the maternity ward in the largest hospital in Konoha, she is born. When a child is born it is a joyful occasion but her birth is treated with nothing but cold indifference on the borderline of hate.
Usually a nurse would hold the child – or in this case children – and give them to their parents, but there are no parents to hold these children. The father died a month before they were born and the mother dies a few minutes after her daughter's birth, the son had to be forcefully brought out from his mother's cut open stomach.
The boy is taken by a couple who coolly accepts the child and names him Shinji and leaves.
It is the only time she will ever be so close her brother.
The nurse leaves her in a cradle and leaves.
She has no name.
Nanashi, the unnamed.
She is left at an orphanage built recently in the Uchiha clan compounds, at the very edge. She is one of many, an insignificant creature who is not worth anything till she is older. The orphanage is crowded, filled to the brim with Uchiha children who have lost parents in the war, abandoned by their remaining family or simply unwanted. They are children who are used, toyed with, and forced to submit to the wishes of their more fortunate clan members. Most of them are civilian born Uchiha or branch family who are worth nothing in the eyes of the main branch.
She remembers seeking a caretaker's hug once before only to be slapped and sent back to her cot.
Since then Nanashi vows to be strong.
She is not the youngest or the oldest. She is like all of them, abandoned, and unwanted, with no parents. But she is the only one who tries to survive.
She has watched as some Uchiha children were lured away by older Uchiha members, returning broken and haunted and young children being bought with money by masked ANBU members. Once in a while an elder – sometimes accompanied by a chuunin or jounin – comes for a visit, looking intently for children who hold promise to become ninja… to become the Uchiha clan's tools to gain greater power. They would take them away and make them into shinobi for the clan.
Sometimes many children are taken all at once by an elder. They are the ones she never sees again.
Nanashi avoids them as much as she can.
She will become stronger on her own.
Most of all, she refuses to become anyone's tool.
She dreams a lot.
Sometimes she falls asleep without meaning to.
Other children and drunken caretakers comment on it.
She does not care.
When she closes her eyes she is no longer in Konoha, but in a grey, gleaming city with looming towers and brightly coloured cars speeding down the street. The voices of hundreds of people overlapping each other and the smell of gasoline and cigarettes and trees and flowers, everything she missed, would fill the air.
She would be back in her room, her finger tracing over the books on her bookshelf. Her bed would be messy, unmade, clothes thrown carelessly on the floor and leftover pizza on the table.
She would open up her manga collection and read and dreams and imagines a life beyond her own.
Her eyes open.
She stops dreaming.
She does not want a life beyond her own.
No one notices until months after.
They come back more often.
The war has claimed many lives.
This time they take any children available – those whose absence would not be missed greatly.
Nanashi is drafted into the group. There are children crying in fear. Some older ones are joyful to be able to become a ninja. Some boast of their relations to some Uchiha ninja. Fools, she thinks, what is the point of fame if you will die before achieving it.
The group is led into a cave and then underground.
The group of children is forced into stripped pajamas.
Like the Nazis made the Jewish people wear, she thinks.
Nanashi is three and a half when she experiences death head on once more, but this would not be the last time.
She is in pain.
Her arms, legs, face… every part of her is in pain.
They cut her open and stich her back up.
A never ending process.
In the dark she laughs, wondering if she resembles the rag doll from the Nightmare Before Christmas.
She is one of few children who survive the procedure.
She pukes and coughs and vomits all of the meager content in her stomach. She glances around and sees nothing but dead or dying bodies of children.
And she might become one of them.
Slowly she reaches for the piece of discarded bread and eats ravenous. She places her hands over her mouth and forces herself to swallow. When pain and heat – burning – scorching through her, and bile threatens to come out through her mouth, she swallows.
They have poisoned the food.
"… help…" One of the children, a boy, begs, whispering.
The bread is pressed against their lip and she can see a girl urging him to eat. But Nanashi knows that he will die.
She hands tighten around the kunai pressed against her leg.
A weapon given to end their life if it became too hard to survive.
Pushing the other girl aside, she plunges the kunai into the boy's heart, her eyes emotionless as she watch his eyes dim.
The girl shrieks in horror and her cries echo throughout the cave. No one care.
Nanashi stands up, blood splattered across her face and shirt.
She chews and bites and swallows.
It is – according to the nurses in the hospital – six months since her, and the other children's disappearance.
A council elder had been conducting experiments with children to negate the Hidden Sand's wide arsenal of poison users. It became suspicious more children began disappearing from the orphanage.
Three groups of ANBU barge into the cave battling Uchiha ninja and hired assassins and searching for survivors after.
All are died, except for her.
Splattered in blood, eating molded bread and yet…
She is alive.
After the hospital deems her stable, she is immediately returned to the orphanage. The experiment was a failure and Nanashi laughs.
The other children fear her, the caretakers shun her and everyone avoids her.
Food becomes scarce as the war continues and she is soon drafted into the academy. Konoha cannot allow her skills to be wasted no matter what she has been through. She goes without a fight because she wants to live.
And because she wonders when life became so meaningless to her.
Sometimes she dreams of killing everyone in the orphanage.
Nanashi does not want to lose herself anymore. She prays for a reason to continue living, to keep herself sane.
They call her a prodigy.
She is the hope of the new generation.
The Ninja Academy is jokingly easy. She speaks only when spoken to, writes when needed, and participates only when necessary.
The teachers are pleased.
She is a model student.
Finally, the clan elders are beginning to pay attention to her.
The clan's elite ninjas take time off to teach her.
She learns quickly.
But they never teach anything more than the basics to achieving something great. They fear her becoming too great that she will break apart from the clan.
Tree walking, water walking, spewing fire, taijutsu and genjutsu.
She learns what she is taught.
The first – or rather second – time she meets her brother it is in rather undesirable circumstances.
The couple that adopted her brother, Shinji, has taken her into their family as well.
The clan elders pit her in a battle against her brother, they are only still children. Shinji aims and hits and kicks and she dodges and sneaks past his guard with a kunai pressed to his neck.
"Yield." He does.
Shinji hates her.
She does not particularly care for him.
But one thing she is sure of is she hates the clan.
She is fond of her freedom and hates the shackles the clan tries to place on her.
They train her. Feed her. Try to teach her loyalty to the clan above the village.
The clan members are pleased.
… But she does not obey.
In the academy she has no friends.
She is always alone.
The children fear her and Shinji's rumors only heighten their fear.
But at least she is glad her brother is in another class because she is not sure she can restrain herself from developing feelings towards him. She does not want to love or hate such a person like Shinji.
Love makes you weak.
Hatred makes you even weaker.
They are mottos that she lives by.
She is five when she graduates.
The normal – current – age to graduate is nine. The children are enrolled at the age of four or five and pushed out sooner to replace the shinobi who have died in battle.
A large number of Uchiha gather at ceremony, all of them proud at producing such a shinobi. They are sure that she will be loyal.
She scoffs and laughs at their delusions.
Shinji is jealous of her abilities and status. He hates her with a passion. She knows because he tells her so every day.
She finds herself caring nothing about the boy whom she shared eleven months with in their mother's stomach.
This day on she is a kunoichi of Konoha.
This is the beginning of her new life.