Please feel free to comment on this little plotbunny, leaving me any tips, feedback, and if you desire it to continue(: woodlandfairykirk

The world seems to believe that good and evil are as distinct as white and black. But when the sky fades into a scarlet red, it becomes apparent that all the paths that lead from here to there will eventually give in to complete darkness. And so, it seems that in this cruel, cruel world, in the end it makes no sense but to fight through the night rather than wait in futile for the sun to rise up once again.

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A girl trudges forward through muddy marshes. Long blades and stems gently flit across her pale skin. The pouring rain gives her solemn expression the impression that tears of sadness drip down her face. She notes that she has not shown such weakness since what seems like so long ago. Years ago, she may have walked this same marsh, making obnoxious squelching noises with each step, as if the metal headband around her forehead was immortal, everlasting. But her world is different now, and she is stronger, and so she glides silently through the icy rain as if being pulled by the strings of a puppet master.

Even though the masked man follows her, always just barely out of her range of sight, she is wary. She cannot yet afford to waste extensive amounts of chakra or her already lacking stamina as the lands ahead are full of missing-nin and rogues. Her stomach growls alarmingly and she promises to dart ahead at full speed the moment she catches sight of her destination. The dampness in the soil slowly rises with each hundred meters, relating directly to the hope blossoming within her. The grey sky only serves to elongate the passing time, for it seems to never change from the dull clouds that spill icy tears. She shivers, as out by the horizon, specs of a dark grey begin to flit out under the cloud cover. She blinks, sending chakra into her sandaled feet, thus causing her to almost imperceptibly rise higher on the water. With a deep breath, she finally breaks into a run, seemingly skating along the surface like a fast-paced water bug, her long cloak flaring out behind her like a cloud of smoke. The grim men and women who work the fields at the outskirts of the city glimpse red clouds, naively determining it to be a trick of the rain.

٭

She wonders why the village—ominous, dour, grey—was not named the Hidden Storm Village instead of its gloomy, unthreatening counterpart. High, gleaming towers reach toward the heavens and disappear into its folds. Oddly enough, the eeriness only further heats her determination. She has traveled much farther than ever before, bravely deserting the land that is always gifted with sunshine for a village that though darker, gleams with the strength of unwavering steel. She is certain that the storm of her soul would fit smoothly into this world, unable to destroy the unwavering foundation. Of course, just as suddenly she realizes—standing immobile in the torrid of people—that she has no utter clue her further destination within this city of tears. She searches, but in the midst of people in the square—she seems to be the only one with an advanced chakra system. She wonders how this village keeps order without the constant watch of ninja. In her own experiences, the moment the ninja of a village fall to either enemy or corruption, leaving the villagers to their own freedom, the entire structure of the village erupts into flames, bringing down all the people within it. But maybe, fire cannot start in this place, as damp as it is.

Sighing, she strides toward the protection of the covered stalls that line the marketplace. Outside, the rain dims her senses, but directly under the dark tents, the enticing smell of food reawakens her empty stomach. She has hidden the symbols that decorate her borrowed cloak; however, the vender behind the stall eyes her with distrust. To him, the times when orphan children would steal the limited supplies of food still leave their mark on this uninviting place. He calms almost immediately though, as she gives him a gentle smile and pulls out a great bag of currency. She points toward a heap of steaming buns, and receives ten, plus two extras as a mark of his approval, in exchange for a few coins. She devours the food immediately, but it does little but teases her raging hunger. As she eats the warm, sticky bread, she stares intently at an intricate paper angel that hangs from the corner of the stall, protected from the weather.

"She is our angel," a nearby customer discloses, "An angel that protects this village."

Her lips turned slightly upwards as she nods. In her head she muses, Gods—these pure, virtuous beings—do not exist. And humans with the powers of a god learn to protect only themselves. The wind gently sweeps her inverted cloak upwards, exposing a poisonous taste of red.

٭

The kunoichi takes note of an odd concentration of chakra that randomly disappears and reappears like the mark of a ghost. She determines it to be a signal from her scout, and following his messages, finds herself led into the heart of the village, where the crowd of villagers dim to nothingness and the towers seem to grow higher until they vanish from this realm altogether. Her stomach contented for the moment, she finally notices how the streams of rain that graze her skin seemed to hold the slightest hint of unnatural chakra. Odd. She continues through the maze of pipes and buildings until the pathways connect into one path leading just around to the side of the largest tower she has seen yet. Far above, an orange-masked man watches her from a wing that hangs out of the tower, acting completely oblivious to the freezing rain that coats his black ninja wear and bare arms.

The girl examines the massive onyx door that stands portentously ahead, reflecting her dungy appearance back into gleaming brown eyes. Unexpectedly, the door opens noiselessly before she even has the thought of knocking (but looking back on the experience, she would note that it would be quite odd to have to knock to enter the headquarters of an evil organization). And with no hesitation, the small girl walks through the entrance to be met with the varied stares of the current members of the secretive society, each ranging from pity one would feel for a nearly drowned kitten to complete disinterest. But each face was analogous in holding a graveness that could only equate to death. Though she was a teenager, nearly sixteen to be exact, she nearly let out a physical sign of relief when a tall, rigid woman of stunning features parted the judging semi-circle of men and grabbed her hand, leading her into the depths of the large, impeccable headquarters. The pierced woman's words echo in her head: Welcome to the Akatsuki.

She is taken up many a winding staircase and brought through a bland, unfurnished hallway, finally ending up within a grand bathroom. The violet-haired woman pushes her through the entrance without uttering a word, shutting the door with regal grace. The petite, soaked kunoichi examines her surroundings for a moment, taking in the great marble sinks and gleaming mirrors that completely surrounded her. She questions why room had no windows, no comforts, only the cold sense of detachment. Eyeing the black ninja outfit that hangs vertically from a rack across the shower, she strips off the bags of currency, ninja gear, and icy clothing that cling to her body. She places her soiled clothing within a basket that sits in the corner of the room, with the exception being the long cloak given to her at the beginning of her journey. She soaks quickly in the shower's warm water, her heaven coming swiftly to an end in her haste. Dressing quickly, grabbing her gear, and throwing now gleaming brunette hair into a braid, the kunoichi slowly walks towards the only entrance and exit of the room, testing the closed door. It opens silently to her surprise, leading back into the once empty hallway. A boyish looking man with a golden-red mess of hair and matching colored eyes awaits her with a beautiful face of boredom. She tilts her head at his presence but is answered indifferently with a lovely view of the man's back.

He leads her further down the hall, giving her the feeling of being an innocent rabbit blindly following a hungry fox to his den. The black cloak she wears as a sign of acceptance as a potential member feels foreign on her body, only emphasizing that she does not yet belong. The darkened hallway gives way to an odd square of light just across the entrance of a room. Her guide turns the corner, disappearing from view. She finds that with her entry into the new room, she is no longer alone but once again the center of attention of the menacing members of the Akatsuki. She tentatively walks toward the kitchen, where the pierced woman from before stands, pouring soup into a bowl. A wave of eyes follows her figure as she moves towards the elder woman's safe haven. Her tongue waters as the grim kunoichi gently motions for her to have the meal. Still starving from weeks of travel, she does not even bother to check the soup for any poisons.

"Tch," the red-headed man who had been her guide grunts.

A glowing blonde by his side on the couch in the room adjoining the kitchen nudges him in the ribs, causing a hollow noise to echo. "Eh, Danna! You're not the smallest anymore, un!"

The red head eyes the insane looking blonde. "Brat," he counters.

A rough silver headed man with only a cloak and pants on tilts his head and narrows his eyes. "So, who's the bitch? Thought we were fucking done with this whole new members shit."

The said girl watches the conversation blankly from her seat on the high polished table.

"Looks like a little guppy to me, skinny and weak," a great blue man adds to the open discussion, shrugging, "But I guess she won't be the only prissy in the house."

"Doesn't matter to me," a man with a mask and odd eyes announces, "as long as she brings in some cash."

The blonde folds his arms and grins, a gleam in his brilliant blue eyes. "Fifty that she won't make it a day, yeah," he notes while tossing a bunch of coins to the masked man.

"Seventy that she'll fucking eat shit in the hour," the silver haired man replies, toying with a silver pendant as he hands over his share. "Too bad too, the bitch would have been a great fucking virgin sacrifice."

A betting circle is born. The senior kunoichi sighs.

"Twenty that she'll live a week," the boyish redhead mutters. He soon speaks up louder, "I want her body if it isn't destroyed. She would make a great puppet for infiltration missions, being so plain and innocent looking."

"I'll give the little one two weeks, for a hundred," the shark-like man bet, giving a sharp-toothed smile at the girl, as if he was sticking up for her and not betting when she would hit the sack.

All the spectators of the event suddenly turn towards a long-haired man who sits silently next to his great shark of a partner, waiting. He blinks his red, polished eyes slowly as if carefully contemplating his words, but remains silent.

The young kunoichi and subject of the bets finishes her soup with a big gulp and strides toward the collection pot as the others are focused on the tired looking man with dark tear troughs. Reaching into her pocket, she withdraws great cloth bags, each filled to the brim with coins of various colors. Placing it with the other stacks of money, she then turns to be in full view of all the men and gives a determined smile.

"I will not only survive, but become an official member within the week."

The elder kunoichi frowns from the kitchen. The man who seems to be collecting the bet money fingers the currency with enthrallment.

A black and white plant-man suddenly comes out of a large, spiky plant that lines the wall. "Leader-sama requests the presence of the potential member. Looks pretty tasty, that one, lots of crunch." Just as quickly as he had appeared, he and his abnormal deep green appendages blended right back into the foliage.

Clenching her fists with nervousness, the kunoichi takes calming breathes, ensuring herself of her strength. As she departs, only soft clinking noises can be heard as the masked man with random stitch patterns on his body counts the coins he has collected.

Traveling upwards to the heavens, towards the office of the leader, the young kunoichi recalls how no one has asked for her name since she has arrived. She gives an insignificant smirk at the thought: how at the moment she is the ignorant pet chicken that is not named as in time it will become dinner. Glancing at the gracefully straight back of her guide, the only woman she has seen since arriving, she continues up dozens of spiraling staircases, wondering if there was an easier way to travel about this large building. Her questions go unanswered.

After reaching the final staircase, she is led to a great glass door. Her beautiful chaperon blinks emotionlessly and swiftly disappears in a vortex of colorful paper. Clenching the soft fabric of her cloak, the girl presses through the doors, entering a room filled with books of all shapes and sizes. Delicately stepping about the maze of literature, the girl follows the repetitive sound of rain. She turns onto an open grey overhang that gives a lovely view of the entire village, a view that a human can only imagine a god could see from his glorious spot in heaven.

Her awe is pierced with an arrow.

A man with dozens of piercings and purple rinnegan eyes steps out from the corner of her vision, asking with a gravelly voice, "Only those who have felt true pain can understand true peace. Do you understand, child?"

Dark eyes look downwards, becoming enshrouded in shadows. She nods her head, unable to speak within his godlike presence.

"Very well. If you wish for entrance into the Akatsuki, you must prove your strength. You will fight one of the members until either of you die," he orders.

Her mouth opens and closes. Taking a moment to inhale, she gives a forced smile as a reply.

"To have the support of Madara Uchiha," he considers, "what is your name, kunoichi?"

"Kaminari," she whispers.

A bolt of lightning flashes, illuminating the room just as a crack of thunder shakes the heavens.

٭

She is honored to have had met the infamous leader of the Akatsuki and lived, but as she begins her travel from the highest point in the building to the training center far below the earth, she questions her luck. Stopping at a landing—the twentieth floor notes a dim sign—she peeks her head over the railing to peer down the dark hole that is encircled by spiraling staircases. She shrugs, attempting to ward away the jitters any human would have at the thought of a free-fall, and swiftly whips herself over the bar and plunges into the blackness with no apparent end. She concentrates her chakra toward her feet and legs, creating a soft lavender glow. Her heart pounds viciously, and each moment seems to pass slower than the next. She hits the ground with eyes pressed shut, feeling a tremor of force ripple through her legs. Her long eyelashes flutter slowly, opening to be met with the faint shifting of candles down a long passage. Following the directions of the leader, she moves stealthily through the narrow hall, noticing the large concentration of chakra that surrounds her at every side, as if wishing to consume her. She snaps out of her reverie as she comes upon the training room entrance, finding a muscular man in a spiral mask waiting casually by the door. She bows humbly, handing him the cloak that trails behind her, which he whips on in the moment she blinks. He steps forward, bending to place his mouth near her ear.

He whispers smoothly, "Do not be afraid to let out your demons, the one strength that is purely yours."

She nods, ready for once to fight for herself rather than to meet the expectations of others.

Like the figure of a ghost, a nearly silent "I will be watching" drifts in empty space.

٭

She is in wonderment. The training center, impressively large, looks like a garden out of a fantasy: flowers of all shapes and colors, trees grazing the black ceiling, and a steady stream plowing through the room's center. Chakra fills the air, in abundance not only outside of the walls but within. Based on the power that is nearly tangible in this room, she deduces that she is within some sort of natural chakra hot spot, where all chakra seems to collect and cause all life in its proximity a boost in power.

With eyes quite sharp for a ninja, she picks out all the ninja that line the walls, awaiting the upcoming battle. Leader-sama and the masked man stand stoic on a high ledge that guts out from the shimmery black walls, giving a complete view of the arena. The others are similarly spread throughout, adding a hint of red clouds to the plain walls. Neither she nor the spectators miss that every Akatsuki member is present, an unusual circumstance occurring only one in a blue moon.

"Kaminari," her name rings throughout the room, spoken as if by a divinity, "who do you choose to spar with?"

She spins around the room, contemplating each member available. Immediately her masked guide, the godly leader, and the violet kunoichi are set aside as choices due to their powerful auras that hint that they would likely be equals in battle to a demon, no less. She wonders the strength of the others, from the crazy religious man to the indifferent boyish ninja. She deems the silver man with a dirty mouth and his partner unfit to show off her strengths with finesse. In truth, Kaminari questions the sharpness of the giant multi-bladed scythe the half-naked member hauls around and the function of the stich marks on the money man that literally crawl across his skin. She moves to the next pair. The blue shark man has an abundance of water based chakra, great for her final attack but worrisome to her other skills. His slim partner with the obvious red doujutsu has a grace that seems out of her league (and to be honest she has respect for him, being the only regular member that did not bet on her death). Her heart lightens at the youngest looking pair, the bored redhead and the impulsive blonde. The childlike redhead seems to hide deadly secrets, looks as if he would play with prey then gives them a poisonous bite of death. She shivers. Her last option seems to be the hotheaded and cruel blonde, seemingly the youngest and least experienced. Of course, to be a part of Akatsuki means to be one of the most dangerous missing nin of all the Hidden Villages, and a shortage of experience does not change that fact.

In the second before she makes her choice, the chosen ninja jumps down from his ledge to land under the shadow of a great white tree, fire blazing in icy eyes. She watches closely as independent mouths on each of his hands seem to chew a substance he holds in a pouch on his hip. He grins wildly as the girl disappears from clear view, preparing to watch his movements and determine his strengths.

Above, the sweet-looking redhead groans imperceptibly.

"Katsu!"