Introducing... Noriko: The Begining, as brought to you by Moonfire Productions...

Prologue: The Sealing

When people, responsible people that is, decide to have children, they swear that they will do all they can to protect their child. That no matter what they will always be there for them. To dry their tears when they cry, to hold them when they're cold, to pick them up when they first fall down, to watch with pride as they learn to do it for themselves. The first word, the first step, the first tantrum, the first piece of candy; when they truly want a child, parents swear in their deepest hearts to be there for it all.

Namikaze Minato, as he crouched over his newborn child, knew that with his last breath he would do something he had sworn to never do. He would break all of those promises one by one. A single tear trailing down his cheek displayed his inner turmoil to the world. As his old mentor and predecessor slowly approached him from behind he brought his hands together to begin the sealing.

"What're you doing here, Saru-jiji?" He asked, panting slightly.

"Are you sure you have to do this Minato? You know very well that I could take your place." He asked over the sounds of the crying child.

Minato's hands hesitated for a moment, tempted, never taking his eyes from the bundle of cloth and infant in front of him. Then his eyes hardened and the Fourth Hokage of Konohagakure slammed his hands together to begin the fateful sequence of seals.

"No. Sandaime-sama, when I took this hat from you I promised with everything that I am that I would protect this village with my life. This sacrifice will fulfill that vow."

"But -" The Third cut himself off realizing that he would do that same in the other man's place. Bowing his head slightly, he nodded, and then made to speak, but before he could Minato instigated his last conversation.

"Saru-jiji." He swallowed harshly, "Kushina..." he trailed off.

"You already know the answer to that, Minato."

Blinking furiously, his lips tightened harshly and then relaxed a tad, knowing that he'd soon be with his beloved red-head again. He then nodded and made one last request; "Take care of her old man."


"My daughter. The one I will seal the Kyuubi no Kitsune into."

Surprised, Sarutobi couldn't help but ask, "I thought you two were going to have a boy."

Laughing harshly, as Minato's hands began to move, he replied, "We did too. I suppose it might be better this way in the end." Casting his gaze down to land on the now quiet child, he smiled slightly beneath the girl's solemn gaze. "I love you my daughter, my legacy. No matter what you do in the uncertain future, you are the true hero tonight, Namikaze Uzumaki Noriko. Make sure they know that too old man."

"Yes, I will."

Minato made no indication that he had heard him as he finally completed the sealing. Staggering over to his now dead wife and silent child, with his last strength he gathered he still quiet baby in his arms and pressed one last blood-stained kiss to her forehead. He whispered it on his last breath to them both, "I love you."

After a minute or so the soon to be reinstated Sandaime Hokage, Sarutobi Hiruzen, moved forward to pick up the only living being besides him on the battlefield. Holding the girl gently his eyes softened as he watched the baby begin to cry for a mother and father that would never answer her tears again. Gently running a few fingers through the tuft of blond hair on her head he patiently waited for the infant to calm down. Once she was reduced to mere sniffles, but was barely awake, he spoke.

"You will have many hardships laying in front of you, my dear. I will do all I can to help you on your journey. But first," he sighed, turning to meet the many familiar chakra signals dashing towards him, "I suppose we must go back, Noriko."

~ Author's Note ~

*walks out onstage to much applause* 'Ahem,' The inspriation for this story hit me over the head with a sledge hammer after I finished uploading the latest chapter of 'This Time It's Real'. I really couldn't resist. I know that it seems rather generic right now but be patient with me. As indicated in the title this story will be more of a prequel than anything else. It will follow canon relatively closely, with some major twists that will be made quite apparent in the next chapter. From what I can esimate this will be quite long. I won't say anymore than that. *grins evily*, I guess you'll just have to read and find out!*wink*

*curtain closes*

~ Aljan Moonfire ~

P.S. Oh! *sticks head out from behind curtain* and don't forget to review! *retreats again*