"For they are but women, and even brave men run

When they see Death coming."

Creon, King of Thebes

Scene II, Antigone

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They are women, certainly, but they do not run.

They are kunoichi, and they stare death in the eye and laugh in its face.

They will die someday. All things die. They know this, and they accept it. They do not fear it, but neither do they court it.

Instead, they study it, and they learn to cause it, and they use it for their families and for their rulers and for their comrades.

And sometimes they use it for themselves, but above all comes loyalty to country and kin, and they would never break the unspoken law.

The men may sneer and laugh and patronize, but they are the ones who will, in time, find themselves staring at death herself. For the women are weapons, and they have sharp edges.

And Tsunade's heels slam into the ground, splitting the earth and rending the sky.

And from Shizune's mouth spew clouds of poison, laced with the silver that pierces bodies.

And Anko's sleeves contain serpents, and venom can dispose of a man in mere seconds.

And Hanabi's eyes see weakness and pinpoint it, and her body lashes out to follow up.

And Kurenai's fingers weave the intricate illusions that tear foes to pieces, leaving only shaking husks of men.

And Konan's wings, those pearly butterflies, give the silent kiss to whom so many succumb.

And Kin's bells sound in a carol to not quite cover up that last death rattle from a faltering throat.

And Karin smiles with anticipation as she senses the chakra of her foes.

And Chiyo's puppets, still nimble in her old age, swarm and engulf.

And Tsume's fangs tear open bleeding flesh, and she revels in the fight.

And Hana's patience nurses more warriors back to health, so they may also defend and kill.

And Rin, with glowing green hands, slices tendons and muscles and skin.

And Mikoto has birthed a genius, and a murderer.

And Kushina, fiery-haired with a personality to match, offers forth the one who will contain the demon.

And from Hinata's fingers come lightning-quick flashes that deal death in tiny doses.

And from Ino's eyes comes the pain of betrayal, the helplessness of one who cannot control his own body.

And Tenten's knives are steel and fire, and they grant darkness in a single swift blow.

And Temari's hands are callused from swinging her fan and summoning the scythe of the reaper.

And Sakura's hands, luminescent with chakra – they heal, and they save, and they beat back death.

They are kunoichi, and they will not bow down.

When it storms, some will bend and some will stand firm, and some will break before others.

They will all break in time, and when they snap perhaps no one will mourn.

They mourn for those they lose.

But they are kunoichi, and until their time comes, they will stay strong.

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because in

the end

we are kunoichi