Author's Note: I'm now obsessed with Angel Beats! It's amazing on so many levels! ^_^ So, here's Shiina's backstory thing, spoilers from Episodes 11 + 12, if you squint. This was inspired mostly from the manga. A few errors were brought to my attention, but they're fixed now :3
How shallow-minded. You really expect me to tell you about my life and why I ended up here? It's none of your business. But... None of us have much time left. We'll all either be obliterated or consumed by the shadows. Maybe I could tell you. It might be nice, letting someone know the hand God dealt me. I suppose that makes me shallow-minded too.
I was born a long time ago, in a Japan so different to the one you and the rest of the Battlefront knew. All was in ruins as the noble families armed themselves in a bitter and bloody struggle for power. Countless children were abandoned when their parents pledged to fight and die for the nobles' shallow-minded cause, or their villages destroyed, caught in the conflict between opposing armies. I don't remember which group I fell into, but I couldn't have been more than seven when I was living on the streets.
Life became a learning process. I never bothered with begging; people barely had enough to support themselves. If you can't sleep warm, at least sleep dry. Any illness out there was fatal. Stealing was the only way to get by, as long as the golden rule was followed; never get caught. More than a few thieves looking for some food ended up a few fingers short. Most importantly, the streets taught me the code I carry to this day: Speed and stealth above all else.
In the next four years, I changed drastically. Gone was the defenceless girl who struggled for survival, sobbing at the loss of her parents. She had hardened into a shadow, silently thriving and living only for the present. The past was unchangeable and the future undetermined. Only the shallow-minded could claim otherwise. I even shed my name, the ghost of my old identity lost like ashes in the wind. I was simply Me, until Keyoke-sensei found me.
Keyoke was of the Minawabi clan, a family deep within the Great Struggle for Control. He was the younger brother of Lord Yenko, and a very cunning man. Under Lord Yenko's instruction, he recruited kids like me, gifted in the art of survival and with no-one left to miss us. We were offered what we all longed for; a chance to show the world our worth. Who among us could have refused that gift?
There must have been five hundred of us in the beginning, no older than thirteen. Our new "home" was a barren warehouse at the edge of Minawabi territory. The only furnishings were the countless thin mats lining the floor to give us some protection from the rocky ground while we slept. Keyoke-sensei divided us into twenty five squads of twenty, and stripped all those with names of their identity. We were to be named according to squadrons. As the seventh member of the third squad, I became known as C7*.
It soon became clear what the Minawabi had planned for us. We were trained brutally, be it under the harsh July sun or in the freezing white plains of December. We would spar for hours on end, be forced to run for miles at a time while bloodhounds raced at our heels. Those who refused were swiftly... "educated" by the few Minawabi soldiers under Keyoke-sensei's command. Our bodies became masses of aches, bruises and scars, our hands perpetually calloused from the near-constant handling of weapons. We were conditioned to be apathetic, no longer aware of right and wrong. Isn't it obvious yet? We were being moulded into killers.
I believe I was fifteen when we were first called into battle. The moon cast a silver, almost-magical glow as the sentry on duty sounded the warning horn, alerting all to the enemy presence on the border. Running a hand through his dark green hair, Keyoke-sensei's eyes seemed to glint with anticipation. He whistled shrilly twice, rousing us from our slumber. With a smirk, he watched as we fell into the ranks instinctively and he offered us a simple speech.
"The enemy threatens our border. It's time to prove your worth. Squad C, deal with them and protect Minawabi honour! Leave no survivors!"
The battle was anything but honourable. The "enemy" we faced was nothing but a roving group of bandits, not a single warrior among them. We hesitated for a moment, but they spotted our approach. Mistaking us for a band of travellers, they surged forth. They never stood a chance. We sprinted to meet them, sliding our weapons from their sheaths with practised ease. My heart pounded in my ears and everything seemed to slow. I could see helpless people being struck down by my comrades, their blood shining sickeningly in the moonlight. An enraged cry broke me from my shocked daze.
I turned to see a figure leaping towards me, face twisted into a hate-filled snarl. I quickly ducked under him and unsheathed my small blade in the same moment. Instinctively, I drove my blade upwards with shaking hands as he flew over my head. I could feel the sticky warmth of his blood flowing onto my hands, the sick scent invaded my nose as he fell to the ground with my knife embedded in his chest. He gave a short scream and fell silent. His eyes stared unseeingly at me, his face gone slack with the pain of his death. As the adrenaline faded slightly, I could he was only a boy, likely the same age as me.
Trying to bury the guilt of the moment, I crouched and gently closed his eyelids. Muttering apologies to one who would never hear them, I drew my blood-slick knife from his chest. The battle still raged around me, my moment of crisis unknown to those I called my "allies". I sighed, resigning myself to my fate that night. Through the clash of steel and cries of terror, one member of Squad C died along with around 50 bandits. At least 6 were by my blade.
We wearily trudged back to the warehouse, barely noticing those who walked alongside us. My face felt sticky with the mix of the blood of my victims and the tears I unknowingly shed for them. Keyoke-sensei waited at the sentry post for us with two guards, a proud look on his face. He ignored our blank stares and began to speak.
"That experiment went perfectly! Our forces routed them here before schedule, but you're more than ready to face enemy troops..."
I grew deaf to his words as realisation dawned on me. A feeling began to rise in my guts, something I hadn't felt since the day I lost my parents. Pure, unadulterated rage. My hands began to shake and tears ran freely down my blood-stained cheeks. Clenching my jaw, I leaped towards him with a scream of fury. I managed to land a punch to the bastard's jaw before an elbow struck my nose, the cartilage breaking with a sickening snap. I groaned slightly as the guards held my arms in a vice-like grip, my blood staining the sleeve of one of them. I hung limply in their grasp, but raised my head to look the shocked Minawabi heir in the eye, glaring at the sorry excuse for a man.
"You bastard! They were innocent people! How could you send them to their deaths like that? Who are you to decide who lives and dies?! You think there's "honour" in training kids to slaughter defenceless people?! How shallow-minded are you?!"
Keyoke grimaced and risked a glanced at his troop of children. Their rigid stance remained unchanged, but we could both see the change in their eyes as they contemplated my words. He quickly regained his composure and focused his steely grey eyes on me once more. He twisted his lips into a sneer and signalled to the guards holding me.
"Disloyalty in my ranks will not be tolerated, C7. Guards, execute her as an example to the others."
I was shoved to the ground harshly, the dust of the ground filling my mouth. One of the soldiers pinned my hands behind my back and forced my head firmly to the dirt. I turned my head to the side and looked at my squad, pleading with my eyes for one of them to help me. They looked on impassively, uncaring to my fate. Allies? I should have known they were worthless. The last thing I saw in that life was the glint of moonlight hitting off the second soldier's blade as he swung the blade to decapitate me.
So, that's who I was. The orphan-turned-killer, the killer-turned-traitor. Now that you know my story, I can't help but ask. What's yours? Wait, did you hear those gunshots? Only someone shallow-minded would go racing to help those idiots. So, are you coming to help or what?
*C7 is what Shiina called herself before Yuri dubbed her Shiina, seeing as the translation to Japanese for C7 is "Shii-na"
Hope you liked it :D