Prologue to a Guilty Sky

Rubel blinked behind his shaded glasses as he noticed the presence coming towards him. A little girl was walking up with what Rubel could only describe as purpose, Teresa's severed head cradled gently in her arms. It was an incongruous enough sight to warrant a second blink, followed by a slightly raised eyebrow.

Now there was something you didn't see every day.

But as much of an peculiarity as the severed head was, Rubel found his attention quickly shifting to the little girl herself. Just by looking at her, Rubel already knew without a doubt that this one was… unique. No more than eight or nine years of age, she just seemed to that that "feel" about her.

Maybe it was her platinum-blonde, almost white hair. Maybe it was the eyes, hazel at the outermost edges, and shading to bright gold at the centers. But whatever it was, this one was obviously different from any other girl Rubel had ever seen.

Suddenly Rubel could feel the beginnings of a stress headache forming behind his eyes. If the Organization handler and deep-cover spy didn't know any better, he might have sworn he was looking at a miniature warrior.

Then the girl did something Rubel would have never expected. She held out Teresa's head, offering it to him as she said plainly:

"Make me like Mommy."

Oh… Oh! Well, that certainly didn't bode well for Rubel's headache; he staunchly resisted the urge to grip the bridge of his nose. Even just the implications of a girl actually calling Teresa of the Faint Smile 'Mommy' did not sound good. Suddenly, Rubel found himself not liking the startling looks of this girl. The resemblance now was really just too uncanny for his tastes.

But then he remembered: most warriors were supposed to be sterile. Not deliberately, but the process by which the Organization implanted Yōma flesh into their trainees' bodies almost invariably caused such damage to their reproductive systems that they were rendered all but infertile as a result. And even if they were not, the scarring from such operations, combined with the "Claymores'" fearsome and monstrous reputation, meant no one would ever be willing to begin a relationship with them, anyway.

That chain of thought calmed Rubel somewhat, but only slightly. This girl's looks were still far too uncanny. If the Organization could have produced a perfect weapon from such an angle, they would've done so a long time ago. It simply wasn't possible.

Perhaps this girl's name for Teresa was simply a childish endearment. That would make much more sense. At least, that was what Rubel hoped – white-blonde hair and those eyes, what those looks could mean were beginning to scare even him.

But still… Could that possibly explain why Teresa had always been so irritable and bad-tempered every month? A Claymore on her period, that was… well… Shit. That explained a whole lot, actually. No wonder she'd always been such a handful for her various handlers!

Rubel surreptitiously fingered the knife hidden in his clothing. As a man in his particular position, it truly wouldn't do to let the Organization get a hold of this girl. For one of the few times in his servitude to the Organization, Rubel allowed himself to frown. He didn't like what he was about to do, but sadly, for the sake of his own country, this girl had to die.

But even as he readied himself to do what needed to be done, he happened to lock gazes with her. Staring into those green-gold orbs, he saw something there. Something he liked. Something that he rarely saw in the eyes of other warriors he had met.

Endless drive, and the determination to do whatever she had to, to reach her goals. Rubel didn't know what those goals were just yet, but he could tell this girl had what it took to reach them.

Slowly, he pried his fingers away from the knife as a faint smile tweaked the corners of his mouth.

Well, this was certainly interesting. Maybe he could have a use for this little one… True, it would obviously be an all-or-nothing gambit with absolutely no guarantee that his hand would the best, but something about this girl told him that she could very well be the trump card he needed to finally put an end to the Organization once and for all. Rubel knew this was nothing more than a gut-feeling, but as a man living in the very heart of his enemies' camp, he knew well enough to trust in his gut. This gamble, he was going to take.

"What's your name, little one?" he asked gently, bending down on his knees to stand eye-to-eye with the girl.

"Clare," she answered, sight not wavering.

Rubel's smile widened ever so slightly. Teresa and Clare, after the twin goddesses of love. How ironic. How perfect. "Alright. But first, I'm afraid I'm going to need you to take these pills…"

Author's Note: With writing so much Naruto, I thought a changeup was long overdue. Several story ideas involving various anime and manga went through my mind; among those choices were Code Geass, Fullmetal Alchemist, D. Gray-Man, Soul Eater, Gundam SEED, and Gundam 00 (I was really leaning towards Gundam 00). But I've wanted to do a Claymore fic for a very long time, long before I published a good deal of my stories.

The ideas for this story ranged from crossovers with Devil May Cry or Soul Caliber, and a list of ideas that changed the story from the start. But I ended up with this idea, and I'm curious to see where this one goes.

For those of you fervently awaiting an update to the next chapter of Shattered Eyes or Nevermore, be happy and know that there will be a simultaneous update. And the chapters after that are also completed and being beta-read. But please be patient; I'm swamped, my beta-reader is swamped. Life outside of fan-fiction exists and it is unfortunate for me to say that my time is going to work and school, among other things. At least once I get my book published, you can enjoy writings of mine outside of fan-fiction.

Alright, as I traditionally say: make sure your hands and feet stay inside the ride at all times and do enjoy!