I had to write this after the finale, to explore how it would have gone down with Shard. I enjoy the idea of Catmum royally kicking butt. I also have this idea that she's got pretty fierce claws and knows how to use them.
It was still there.
Her steps silent, she entered the deep cavern where the gnarled stump sat, a withered reminder of a time when this tunnel had been exposed to the light. Fifteen years ago, there had still been traces of green on it. It was from those shoots that she had cultivate the tree that now grew in her home. But now it was withered. Lifeless.
Slowly, she stripped out of her obi and kimono until she stood in her juban, and stared down at the wraps on her hands. She had scrubbed well when she had returned home, but she could still feel the blood beneath her claws, and so she had slipped away from the victory celebration, seeking a channel for the torrent of emotion within her.
"Why must you persist in this insanity?"
"Because you let Hamato Yoshi take you from me! And then I bear the double humiliation to find you would pretend to be dead rather than be with me once he was gone!"
Her lip had curled back in a snarl as she tugged her blade free. Even his words felt like a violation. "I was never yours!"
Slowly, she began to move through the forms, attempting to clear her mind. Clean, precise, she struck at the withered trunk as the scene played over and over in her head. She had worn the dark abaya she used for scavenging runs, which at the very least gave her more freedom of movement and was far less conspicuous, and it had hidden her. Mostly. But when she had cast aside her headscarf and he had seen what lay beneath and called her hideous. And stillhe persisted.
Her breath quickening, her strikes became looser, blunter, angrier as she faced her memories yet again.
"If you defeat me, you will have nothing!"
She had meant it. But his laughter then had chilled her. She had never heard anything like it from him. Not when he had called her friend and she had cared for him as a brother. It was a laugh filled with hate. And with vile secrets.
"Yoshi took something from me. As you then took my pride. So I took something from you both."
A ragged breath burst from her as she struck, over and over. Her claws had come out then. That was the worst of it. For in that moment, there had been hope. He had taken Miwa, but she was alive. As long as there was that hope, she could defeat him. She could find her child and put her family back together as it always should have been.
Foolish, blind hope. But then, she had always looked for the bright side of things. How was she to know?
She should have known. The Shredder specialized in taking the light from her life. Yoshi. Miwa. April.
The forms were long gone now. Low, gutteral growls tore from her throat as she clawed at the gnarled wood and it broke into splinters beneath her talons. As the Shredder's armour had torn beneath them. As his flesh beneath that. Until a sword had barred her way.
"That cat is Tang Shen!"
Fool that she was, she had a brief moment of joy as the truth hung like a shining star between them.
Yes, my beloved child, your mother is here!
But only seconds later the joy was extinguished as Miwa… as Karai… rounded on her with undisguised loathing.
"Father told me what you did! You let us think that Hamato Yoshi was the traitor all these years, but it was you! You would have killed me and my father so that you could be with Hamato, rather than have me live to know your shame." The child's eyes — familiar, beloved eyes — narrowed as she braced for the killing stroke.
"Well, now I return the favour."
Her daughter, her precious one, the light of her life, tried to kill her. The web of lies Saki had woven lay so thick around her that Shard knew no words she spoke could have reached her baby girl. And so she had fled, like the coward Miwa branded her, rather than have any more of her blood stain the child's blade. For now that she knew the truth, Shard could not raise a hand against her.
Sagging to her knees, she looked at the devastation she had wrought. The hapless tree stump lay shattered and in pieces, but the horrible, screaming rage within her was spent. She could return now, to the smiling faces of her children, radiant in their celebration. She could resurme the mask of their serene Sensei, and keep this terrible truth inside until she could figure out a solution.
And there would be a solution. Now that she knew her daughter was alive, there was no power on this earth that would keep her from trying to get her back.