"My murder?" Mi asked.
"Unless you plan to come quietly. I'll admit I'm in a humoring mood, you're not the person I came here for. I'd settle for your incarceration."
Tai frowned, looking at Mi . . . what was happening?
Mi stood up straight and swept her arm out, moving Tai behind her, "I have no intention of surrendering . . . I was hoping I could get your attention."
The woman called Hyuuga folded her arms, "Come on now, tell me your name . . . that's how duels work. For example . . . I'm Akuma . . . it means "demon."
Mi smirked, "That's not your real name."
"Does it matter?" Akuma asked.
Mi shrugged, "I know who you really are . . . Hyuuga Shiroi. Your master is ashamed."
Shiroi's empty white eyes blazed, "You can't speak for my master, you don't know my master!" She laughed then and calmed down and for some reason seeing her calm was even scarier than seeing her angry, "I guess you said that just to force me to take you in alive . . . no such luck though, see we can pull from your brain all the knowledge you have long after you're dead, and while I'll take a surrendered ninja in alive, I won't spare you once we start to fight."
"Hmm. Guess I'll just have to kill you." Mi said.
"What. Is. Your. Name?" Shiroi demanded, speaking very slowly and deliberately.
Mi slowly moved a hand to her blindfold and slid two delicate looking fingers into the fabric and pulled it away from her face, throwing her head back to sweep her long blue bangs from her eyes.
"Call me Saeki. As for the meaning . . . well it might as well mean "vengeance" to you."
Shiroi tilted her head to the side, "Oh really? Well Saeki, for what do you claim vengeance?"
Mi--or rather Saeki folded her arms, "Murdered parents, a murdered clan, a home burned, a life stolen."
Tai felt like maybe he should be running away but Saeki didn't let him, she kept him close, she whispered "Stay with me, it'll be easier to protect you that way. Now that she's seen you we can't let her get away, it could endanger your parents."
Shiroi snorted derisively, "Yes, because you're such a badass you can take me even with the kid behind your back."
Saeki smiled at Tai, and Tai saw her eyes . . .
Her red irises expanded to cover her entire eye, her black pupils swirled outward like sickening swirling whirlpools, she said, as she turned to face Shiroi, "Only one way to know."
Shiroi smiled, "Nice trick . . . let me show you mine. Byakugan!" and thick veins appeared near her eyes, she lunged forward, striking out towards Saeki who dodged and weaved easily, while moving Taiki whenever necessary.
The two women moved fast, and they were only getting started, they actually began to speed up so that Tai had trouble recognizing any sort of fighting style.
Mi--er Saeki dodged and Shiroi struck, Shiroi punched and kicked, her hands glowed with light blue energy, or chakra, which Tai's father had explained to him but he'd never seen it channeled through hands before, only special katanas.
Saeki was fast, but suddenly, without warning Shiroi swept her leg around in a roundhouse kick, and the blue chakra came from her foot too and swept out like a wave of blue flame, engulfing Saeki who spun around and covered Tai with her body.
There was smoke, Tai coughed.
He waved his hands, he couldn't feel Saeki's hands on him, he just felt smoke.
He waved the smoke from his face and saw Shiroi was smirking, "Shadow clone eh? But how does that help the kid?" Shiroi sprang forward, reaching out for Tai.
Then there was blast, the blindfold Saeki had discarded suddenly exploded outward, it became Saeki, standing behind Shiroi, blade in hand.
She threw the kunai knife at Shiroi who somehow twisted and dodged as if she'd seen it coming even though it was aimed at her back.
The dagger passed over Tai's head, he saw when it suddenly exploded too.
It became Saeki as well, both the Saeki behind Shiroi and the Saiki in over Tai's head held their hands to their mouths and inhaled sharply, still in the air Saeki swept her leg down, hitting Tai's shoulder and knocking him out of the way when both Saeki and Saeki blew forth powerful blasts of fire.
Shiroi raised her arms to cover her face and screamed as the flames engulfed her.
She screamed like a banshee as the flames engulfed her, then Tai noticed something about the screams.
They weren't stopping.
The flames suddenly disappeared, blown outwards from Shiroi, Tai felt a warm wind wash over him, Shiroi was smiling and screaming . . . sarcastically.
"Ahh, ooh, ahh!" Shiroi cried in mock pain, she laughed, "What was that? That weak stuff won't work on me, get real! Effective use of clones and fire Ninjutsu, but come on . . . I'm Akuma, I'm like a demon, you need more to kill me."
Tai became suddenly aware of the people around them.
Or rather the soon to be lack thereof, the fires had scared everyone off, those who'd been attracted by the fighting were running away now.
Shiroi laughed, "That was just for show, right? I mean you can do better, can't you?"
"Watch me." Saeki smirked. The Saeki behind Shiroi disappeared in a puff of smoke and the one in front of Tai inhaled sharply again, she breathed again, this time the flame took shape, becoming some strange sort of . . . horse?
The flames became a horse, it charged towards Shiroi and literally ran circles around her, when she tried to advance towards Saeki and Tai the horse would charge towards her, she couldn't attack it because it was flame.
She folded her arms and shook her head, "Seriously. Got anything else? Because this is boring."
Saeki fell backwards into a ready crouch, sort of like father when he showed Tai swordplay.
She held her hands out to the side, moving both rapidly, she spoke but it was gibberish, it almost sounded like she were speaking two different languages . . . or speaking with two voices at once.
The air in one hand suddenly caught flame, that flame became a sphere in the palm of her hand, a sphere of fire.
Shiroi laughed, "Oh my, well that's a pretty familiar Jutsu."
"Here's another," Saeki hissed, and then her other hand came suddenly cackled with electricity.
"Chidori?" Shiroi demanded, staggering back, "No!"
"Your master . . . is ashamed." Saeki reminded Shiroi, then she sprang.
Tai held his breath as Saeki's fist shot through Shiroi's stomach, Shiroi became a puff of smoke and a stone statue, but the lightning covered hand of Saeki cut the stone to rubble, Saeki spun around and thrust her hand out towards Tai.
The sphere in her hand shot towards Tai, he screamed in fear and fell back.
As he did he saw Shiroi had been standing behind him, she reached for him but the sphere of flame burned into her forehead.
She didn't even get to scream, her eyes began to smoke, then her head began to disappear, it was burning up from the inside out.
Tai screamed in terror as Shiroi's entire frame was burned alive from the inside out, even closing his eyes he could still feel the heat and smell the burning flesh.
Saeki pulled him to his feet, she said "Don't worry . . . you're not going to remember that tomorrow."
Tai didn't answer her, he just kept screaming.
She placed her hands on his face and forced him to look into her eyes, her red swirling eyes, "You're not going to remember it." She repeated, and Tai's screams slowed.
Gradually . . . after a while . . . he didn't know what she was talking about.
What wasn't he going to remember?
Shiroi's eyes snapped open, she lay in the fourth channeling cell.
The servants must have moved her from her bedroom . . . that wasn't unusual.
She looked around . . . Kurai . . . Kasumi . . . both of them were in the second and fifth cells, they were projecting.
Shiroi got out of her cell, she wore the lavender robes of the Kamikage's servants, she rushed out of the room.
She had to find her master.
She ran down the halls, she ignored every guard and they all knew better than to get in her way.
One that didn't, or rather didn't do so fast enough had his head snapped around and broken, she threw him into the doors of the throne room and strolled through.
The throne where the Emperor sat was empty . . . but to the side of the room, behind the veil where the Kamikage sat . . .
Shiroi threw herself to the ground, prostrating herself before her master, Lord Orochimaru.
"My host was destroyed, my killer spoke of my old master, and used the Chidori."
Orochimaru laughed softly, "So . . . Sasuke-kun couldn't stay hidden forever. Well then Okatsu . . . tell the first and third to reinforce the second and fifth, bring them back . . . all five will begin the hunt as soon as possible . . . I will have that Sharingan."
Shiroi felt a tremor run through her, the full force of the Sound Five had never been mobilized after a single target before.
And she wasn't sure it was necessary, she'd trained under Sasuke-sensei for years . . . but she was certain that she was stronger than him now.
But she didn't question her master's judgment.
"Will he be there when we rally them?" Shiroi whispered.
"My dear girl, by making himself known to you Sasuke-kun called you out, he called me out. Wherever he is you and the others must find him and bring him to me so that I may possess his body."
"What of the First?" Shiroi asked.
Orochimaru was silent for a moment, Okatsu put a hand roughly on Shiroi's shoulder, "Yours is not to question, but to do. Move."
Shiroi shoved Okatsu's hand away, the older woman was no longer the stronger, she and the others had completed their training under Okatsu they were now strong enough to kill Okatsu, only Lord Orochimaru's orders kept them from doing exactly that.
"You are dismissed, Fourth, your time is your own until I send for you." Orochimaru said evenly.
Shiroi bowed low, "My thanks master." She said, and she turned away, and moved quickly through the halls, reaching the wing of the palace where she and her husband resided.
She stepped through the door, there were no servants in this wing, mostly the Sound Five didn't have servants as a way of preventing them from growing weak or lazy they were never able to call upon others to do menial labor for them.
But Shiroi did have one servant, an old, almost ancient woman whose name had long since been forgotten.
The nursemaid bowed low when Shiroi entered and without a word left the chamber as soon as Shiroi was inside.
Shiroi smiled when she saw her son sitting in the center of her apartment's sitting room, he was playing with some building sticks, a small swarm of insects moved over the sticks and together the child and the bugs were building a complex looking group of structures, sort of like three towers all connected to each other at various points.
Shiroi wasn't sure why or what the tower was meant to resemble, maybe the boy would be an architect someday. She'd never liked blocks or building sticks.
She smiled and the boy looked up and noticed her with his white Hyuuga eyes, her eyes.
He smiled and moved his hands to present his creation to her, "See?" The three year old child asked..
Shiroi smiled and nodded, "It's beautiful."
He frowned and she laughed, "Okay, it's very handsome? Impressive?"
He giggled and Shiroi sighed.
It bothered her just a bit that only a night before she'd slaughtered children at or around her own son's age.
She'd done it for the sake of peace . . . because it was her duty, because whatever Lord Orochimaru asked she would gladly do . . .
But what if it had been her child? What if Lord Orochimaru asked her to do the unthinkable? Could she do that?
Don't worry about that now. She thought. She sat down next to her son and watched him build.
Because of the sacrifices your father and I are making when you come of age you will be able to be an architect or a soldier or whatever because Lord Orochimaru will rule a perfect and peaceful world. Once we stop Naruto and Sasuke . . . once the last of the rogue ninja are wiped out. Then you can be an architect and rebuild the world.
Shiroi smiled. Putting things together wasn't her idea of fun . . . but she liked the idea of her son's generation building the world up instead of tearing it down as hers was doing.
Not that she had any regrets about her actions. Because of them her son was free, he didn't possess the Hyuuga clan's branch family seal on his brow, he would never be a slave of the now nearly extinct main family. Because of her actions though the world was being systematically destroyed it was also being systematically rebuilt.
And when it was finished it would be perfect, the image that Lord Orochimaru desired all the long.
Pity Sasuke-sensei for not understanding that. Pity Naruto for standing in the way of that.
And pity ninja like Saeki, for not supporting it, a Shinobi who could master both Incineration Palm and Lightning Blade and use them simultaneously would have been a fine Sound Ninja.
Shiroi smiled contentedly. Her life was good . . . and the lives of her enemies would soon enough come to an end.
"It's a very beautiful building, Saizo," She told her son, he just sighed in exasperation, "Build one just like it when you grow up." She smiled.
It was near dawn when Tai woke up in his own bed, or at least the bed of his vacation home.
He came out of the room to hear some light chatter and even some laughter from father.
He tiptoed and peeked into the sitting room but the doctor spotted him and smiled, "Come here, Taiki, you're about to meet a legend."
Tai walked into the sitting room, there was the doctor, father, mother and Saeki, but there was also a man dressed in a black robe, it had a hood which was drawn back, the man had swept back black hair, sort of spiky, he wore a headband with a metal plate and a strange leaf symbol Tai had never seen before.
He was a little pale, he raised his gaze to Tai and said "I am Uchiha Sasuke, of the village hidden in leaves."
Tai smiled weakly, "I learned about you in school. It's said you fought the emperor and you're an evil being who turns into a demon and that if we look into your eyes we'll lose our souls."
Sasuke smirked slightly, "The first part's true . . . and the rest is in the eye of the beholder."
Saeki said "We all fought the emperor, and we will continue to do so."
Tai nodded and sat down, "So what happens now? Just by knowing you people we're . . . traitors."
"You're going to go with us to a place where that's not true." Sasuke said evenly, "You're taking us to the Village Exiled to Shadows, the last bastion of hope for many ninja formerly of the leaf village. You'll meet some interesting people there Taiki, you'll meet many, many heroes."
"And someday," The doctor said, "you just might be one yourself."
Tai frowned, "Me? A hero?"
"Who can say?" The doctor shrugged. "Anyway we've never been properly introduced . . . my name is Hayato. Endo Hayato. I was a medic during the war. This is Hijiri Hitomi, Uchiha's current . . . what's the word for it? Student? Apprentice?"
"Subordinate is more appropriate," Uchiha said calmly, "She was Naruto's student."
Hitomi shrugged, Tai frowned, "You have a lot of names."
Hitomi smirked, "Ninja don't give their true names in the field, not unless they're recognized . . . or grandstanding."
Tai noticed now that mother was holding a baby, the child had short black hair, longer than the hair on most babies but still very short. The child's pale skin seemed even whiter compared to their black hair, and the ashen gray cloth wrapped around them.
Tai raised an eyebrow at the small child, "Who's that?"
"My daughter." Hitomi said simply.
"Your daughter?" Endo rolled his eyes.
"For better or worse." Hitomi said simply. "Her name is Saeki."
The gears in Tai's head worked and moved, he said "So you were taking revenge for her last night."
"You remember that?" Hitomi smiled slightly.
"You're getting sloppy." Endo laughed.
Uchiha gave her a hard glare, but mother said "He's very resistant to persuasion."
Hitomi nodded, "Well in any case yes, when I'm in the field Saeki is my handle. It reminds me that I have a good reason to come back, and why the Empire has to be stopped. I swore to her in the ruins of her burning village that I'd not only take the revenge she deserved, but I'd make sure those who wronged her knew her name before they paid the price for their sins." Hitomi said, watching the infant girl Tai's mother held.
"Yes . . . it wasn't at all overdramatic." Endo smirked, Hitomi hit him in the shoulder.
Tai smiled slightly, "So . . . what happens now?" He asked.
"Now . . ." Father said softly, "We'll leave this place, claim we were made uncomfortable by the ninja activity. Us, a doctor, an infant . . . and ten fugitive ninja."
"Well," Uchiha said softly, "While Hijiri was distracting Shiroi I made contact with a very important someone, Shiroi's actual target. I don't suspect she knew who it was or she would never have been distracted by the likes of Hitomi here. Anyway if you don't mind Taisho, I think it'll be eleven fugitive ninja."
Father nodded slightly, "Very well then. Eleven fugitives. Then you and your mother will disembark along with our passengers, whilst Uchiha and I see the Daimyo and the Mizukage about . . . going to war against the entire world."
Nobody smiled or cheered at that, they just looked solemn.
Tai understood these were real soldiers, not the romanticized warriors of the stories he read, they weren't going to fight this war just because they could, or for entertainment, they weren't setting out to be recorded in historical texts or to have their names dramatized in fiction.
They were preparing to fight a war because they saw no other option, they understood the threat the Empire posed to their ideals and beliefs and like mother had said they were ready to die and have done with it before they ever surrendered.
With the exception of father and technically mother not one of them were Samurai . . . they were ninja and rogues, the people his historical and fictional texts described as cowards and mercenaries, the people whom he'd grown up hating like every other kid his age did.
He watched them . . . he knew he wasn't a kid anymore . . . his eyes had been opened.
Before long he, his parents, and a boatload of fugitives were sailing for the island chain that made up the land portion of he Lands of Water, and one island in particular that hid the Ninja Village Exiled to Shadows . . .
Final Word: I hope you've enjoyed this, if you haven't and you're reading this note then you're a real trooper and I commend you but I won't give back the time of your life spent reading. Hope those who did like this, or else liked New Blood and not this, or else liked this and not New Blood, will catch the sequel, Old Souls.
Also the name/word/whatever "Saeki" does not mean "vengeance/revenge/whatever" according to my sister it actually means "Different/Unusual Destiny" or something similar, which is kind of cool but it's an extremely rough translation, one that I have, in fact, been unable to verify anywhere leaving it rather suspect. Not that I doubt my sister . . . just her translation skills. However the story and the character retain the name anyway.
Nevertheless the last thing I need is the headache caused by someone not realizing Hitomi wasn't being literal. Her statement of "Saeki" meaning "vengeance" is in regards to her oath to take revenge on the child's behalf, thus to Sound ninja Hitomi means for Saeki's name to become synonymous with "vengeance" it is not the actual meaning of the name, just in case that wasn't made clear in the story itself.