Watching waves dampen the cliff with its foamy spit, she began to remembers her mother quite clearly. Her long silky black hair, the slippery feel of her kimono sleeves between Hanzo's fingers, a hearty laugh hidden behind dainty fingers, and a sparkle of mirth always present in her soft brown eyes. Mother would always tell Hanzo that she was named after her four times great grandmother, who was female but decide to don the persona of a man to take the clan back from her corrupt uncle. Thus Hanzo was given a ridiculously old and very masculine name. However Hanzo didn't mind it. She loved laying her head on her mother's lap while she listened to the stories of her grandmother's exploits. Sometimes mother would reach down and run her fingers through Hanzo's locks. Father, during his very slim moments of free time, would watch from the doorway, his expression gentle despite his usual strict posture. Everyone would always say that Hanzo and her mother were the spitting image of each other. Then Genji was born, and he was a mini copy of her father. A family of four, a clan of thousands. They should have known the dangers. When her mother died, a casualty of a bad blood between another clan, she promised to protect her family from everything the world threw at them, especially her brother.
Hanzo’s uncle spoke told her once, with a hand on her shoulder which she itched to throw off, and a cup of hard liquor burning her nostrils, "it was her free spirit that killed her. You best remember that girl." It was after their mother's funeral and when her father first started to resent Hanzo.
Soon her shared appearance to her mother wasn't cute anymore. It was uncanny and for her father a reminder of his failures. Meanwhile he treated Genji like a prince, daddy's little boy. When Hanzo was training, muscles burning and sweat dripping from her neck, Genji was getting ice cream and playing the newest video games. Hanzo did not resent her brother for that. At moments she couldn't even look at herself in the mirror without feeling the pang of loss. Instead of ignoring Genji she began to use her vigorous training in order to teach him. If she wasn't around to protect him then she would teach him to protect himself until she could find her. Genji was a receptive student, excited at the prospect of learning to fight while defying his father's wishes. He was always a rebel, even before his teens. At times Genji would get frustrated and start whining. At first she did exactly what her tutors would do, push him even harder and silently ignore his obvious struggles. But when that didn't work Hanzo realized that a kind and nurturing attitude was how the training would more efficiently progress. Small smiles and nods, extreme patience, empathy, patching him using his favorite hello kitty band aids, and a promise of treats after he finished. Genji bloomed under her care. Still as carefree as even but growing stronger each day. One day after a long session where Hanzo was teaching him to climb,
Genji decided to crawl in her lap and take a nap. Under his breath she could barely make out what he said, "mama."
With shaking hands and a heavy throat Hanzo began to run her fingers through his raven black hair. That was six years ago. Now she was eighteen, looking at the stone that she kicked off the edge get swallowed by the ocean. Her left arm and breast were covered in bandages, hiding the intricate tattoo that lay dormant for now. The skin felt numb, she was told it would pass once it healed.
“It was a great honor to receive the mark of the dragon," her father said to her as she lay shaking and sweating, wanting to vomit from the pain. "With that tattoo you will be able to fully harness the true power of the Shimida. The spirit of the twin dragons." Then he left, leaving her with strange people, a useless arm, and dizzying fever dreams.
When she recovered enough to move she went straight to her, what Genji would call it, her 'happy place.' Hanzo relished in the salty spray against her feverish skin. Her mother once told her that the rapid waters would grab anything and pull them down into it's depth less stomach. But if one was smart and kind, the ocean would become tranquil and serene. After the things she's done Hanzo wasn't surprised to see the ocean thundering ferociously
Behind her a familiar voice spoke. "I know father says you're to old for sweets buuuut." Thrown onto the ground next to her was a box of Konpeitō, the brightly colored balls of sugar a stark difference in comparison to the muted tones of the small enclave.
"You shouldn't speak to your elders like that Genji Shimada," she chided, wagging her finger toward his direction.
"So you DO admit to being old then," Genji retorted. He crossed his arms and grinned.
Hanzo laughed, grabbing candy and popping it into her mouth. "At least I'm not a child."
Genji frowned, almost pouting. He grabbed one of the small sugar crystals and sucked on it, leading him to open up his mouth to show her the disgusting mess of cornstarch and sugar. Hanzo recoiled, shutting her eyes at the sight. Laughter rung out from Genji's chest, and for a moment Hanzo reveled in the warm happiness that was breaking apart her melancholy. She smiled at her brother, it seemed like she only smiled when around him. Genji beamed back but then his mouth twitched downward.
His brows furrowed as he pointed a finger at Hanzo. "Is that...is that mother's furisode?"
Hanzo's gaze immediately went down, gazing at the deep sky blue sprouting a beautiful array of flowers. Shocked as she was she repeatedly looked down at the kimono and back at Genji. "How...how did you know this was mother's?" she asked aghast.
Genji spoke slowly, almost methodically as to not upset his sister. He did not remember his mother what so ever as he was only two years old when she past, but he knew Hanzo still had vivid memories of her. "I saw it in an old picture, before her and father got married."
The more Genji looked at her the more she wanted to squirm. Talking about mother was taboo in their family. People even stopped comparing her appearance to her mother’s, something which she was grateful for. That being said all of mothers things were kept just the way she left it, no one was allowed to touch or so much as breathe on it.
"Father wanted me to wear it for the ceremony," she informed Genji.
"Oh...ok," was all that he said in return.
Awkward silence hung in the air, broken only by the deafening sound of crashing waves. Hanzo did her best to remain impassive, she prayed that Genji wouldn't look too far into. Looking at Genji he seemed to deep in thought.
However his pinched expression suddenly melted into an impish grin. "So I was thinking of dying my hair green."
Hanzo sat upright, staring at her brother as if he was crazy. "You're going to dye your hair green? You'll look like a clown!" she said.
Genji shrugged, "well I already got the personality of one, might as well go for the whole package."
Hanzo shook her head, unable to dismiss her growing smile. "The other clan members will kill you," she warned him. "So don't some crying to me when they make you dye it back."
"Pshaw, they don't care about me, you're the one they're always mooning over."
Concern wiped away a portion of amusement. "Genji that's not true, dad cares about you. I care about you."
"I guess," Genji said as impassively as ever. "I mean I guess I'm lucky, you're the one who has to take over. That's pretty damn stressful if you ask me."
God it was. All of the lessons, the tutoring, honing her fight prowess until her fingers wouldn't move. Combat training would take hours with no break in between. She excelled in skirmishes especially when it came to the bow. Fighting helped her forget at times. Blood, sweat, and tears went into all of her work. It was the same thing over and over again. Before this she hasn't been able to visit the beach in months. The clan was molding her into the perfect leader while her father was also molding her into...someone else. She desperately wanted to spill everything to Genji. Cry on his shoulder and release all the pent of frustration.
"It's not so bad Genji," she said instead.
"Yeah I guess being head of a mega empire does have it perks..." he replied. "Anyways are you coming back to home base with me?"
Hanzo wanted nothing more than to continue sitting at the beach with her brother. Taking one last look at the stormy water she sighed. "Yeah let's go."
When both returned a representative pulled Hanzo away, ushering Genji away like a pigeon. She had to hold back the seething irritation at her brother being treated as such. "Hanzo the council would like to speak with you privately. It is urgent." An urgent matter right after the tattoo ceremony?
Hanzo swallowed back her fear and stood tall. "Of course, lead the way."
Upon entering the room the shoji door immediately closed behind her. Hanzo ignored the stoic presence of each member and took a seat. The room was very traditional, having cushions for seats and covered in tatami mats. A traditional room for a traditional family. The head of the council cleared his throat, preparing for whatever important discussion he had for her. Hanzo took a deep breath, waiting for the worst.
When the old man spoke it was a deep throaty grumble. "Now that you are eighteen there is another matter that needs to be attended to. You as the heir of our great clan must help it grow stronger. Our presence is not preceded by another other. In order to keep it that way there are certain measures we take. Most are in the form of agreements. A prominent family has asked for you to marry their heir in what is a most profitable arrangement. Your father and this council has unanimously agreed that this is the best course of action. Since you are now 18 it will not be long before you will bind yourself together, strengthening our clan and influence."
The numb feeling from her bandaged arm quickly overtook her whole body. This was what she had always been dreading. She was to be paired up with a male heir in union. A male. It was always an unspoken truth that she did her best to avoid until the last second.
"Do I even get a choice in the matter?" she choked out. Her words tumbled out hoarse and small. From beneath Hanzo's tattoo she felt something stir. A warmth spread throughout the entire muscle somewhat painfully. In her shock she didn’t acknowledge it, still reeling from the information of marriage.
The head council member looked down at her, it was almost patronizing. "To back out of this would be treason. Even speaking of it shames our name."
Trembling hands clenched her at her legs. With her head bowed down she forced herself to speak between clenched teeth. "You are right. I apologize for my impertinence. I will bring great honor to our family."
The head council member nodded in approvement, not showing if he knew she was actually being sincere.
"Then you're dismissed Hanzo Shimada."
In a robotic fashion Hanzo stiffly stood up and shuffled to the exit. When she went out into the hallway the stifling air evaporated just like that. With watery gaze she tried to navigate her way back to her room but ended up bumping into Genji instead. Her brother quickly caught her and pulled her up.
"Hey watch where you're..." Upon seeing her disheveled state Genji began rapidly looking her over. "Hanzo what happened? Are you alright?"
She nodded despite herself. "Yes Genji everything's fine. Now excuse me I have important business to attend to."
Somehow managing to wrestle herself out of his grasp she limped back to her room, locking the door before Genji could get to her. In a cascade of despair she fell onto the floor and cried.
The year finally leading up to the wedding was a busy one. Contracts were drawn up, rewritten, scrapped, and drawn up again. Visits to the Oda clan was what took up most of her time. She had to learn every name, every location of their numerous buildings, and act as respectful as possible to her new 'family.' Her fiance was the most severe man she had ever seen. 26 years old and already looking like a well oiled machine. During the obligatory dinners he only spoke business and barely gave Hanzo the time of day, which to be honest was perfectly fine with her. She could already tell it was going to be a loveless marriage. During these hectic months she barely saw Genji let alone speak to him. When she did see him he was shooting her worried looks. Each day sucked more and more out of her. The only solace she had was archery. Her training still continued despite the upcoming wedding. She wondered if it was unhealthy, imaging the practice target as her fiance's head. Towards the last days Genji grabbed managed to catch her, stopping Hanzo in her tracks.
"Sister stop this. I need to talk to you."
"So talk!" Hanzo snapped.
Genji immediately recoiled, hurt clearly evident. She too was taken aback by her tone. She hadn't yelled at Genji since they were both children. A cloud of guilt hung over her head.
"Genji I'm so sorry I'm..." she tried to apologize but was cut off.
"No, don't. Hanzo...are you okay?" Genji asked.
Once again her words were caught in her throat. Emotions she kept locked away, wanting out. She swallowed and smiled. "Genji I'm fine, and I like your hair by the way."
His hair was a grassy shade of green which looked surprisingly good. Confused Genji touched his hair, not understanding until it clicked.
A cheeky looked developed followed by laughter. "Ha! Told you I'd do it." Genji said gleefully.
"It suits you." Hanzo observed. "You definitely make the clown look work."
Genji, trying to look offended, couldn't help but laugh even more. Hanzo desperately wanted to join him, reveling in his laughter, but when she saw her fiance walking down the hallway she knew she couldn't stay.
"Genji I have to go but we'll talk later," she promised. Before he could reply she was already off, dutifully at her fiance's side.
The wedding was a solemn affair. She wore her mother's wedding kimono by her father's orders. It was a typical Shinto wedding between two would be heirs. She had prepared herself, going through every motion of the wedding. The sake was poured and sipped, though Hanzo had prevent herself from drinking the whole thing. When the priest offered Japanese evergreen as gratitude to the spirits who blessed the union, she cursed them with every fiber of her being. At last the rings were presented, and it was then Hanzo knew she would have to live with this. The festivities were lack luster. Faked applause and stoic expressions. It caught her off guard when Hanzo's father came up to her and hugged her. His warmth was foriegn, their contact usually consisting of brushing past each other in the hallway. However the hug lasted far too long, long enough to smell the hint of alcohol on his breath. Then he whispered something she would never forget. Her mother's name. The same warm feeling from before permeated her arm, however this time it stung like electricity dancing through her skin. Hanzo's father suddenly stiffened and stumbled back, a dazed look in his eyes. Holding arm against her chest Hanzo bowed toward her father to keep up appearances and then widely searched for Genji. Her heart was beating as fast as it would when she was training. Upon seeing his signature green hair she let out a breath she didn't know she’d been holding. He was leaning against the wall, looking incredibly bored but also staring daggers at her now husband. Seeing his sister made him light up, especially when she hugged him. His comforting presence was almost enough to block out the evening's events.
"Sis you okay?." He dropped his spying act to inspect Hanzo
She smiled up at Genji, tucking a strand of hair dangling in her face back onto her ear. Hanzo remembered why all of this was worth it. "I'm fine."
A couple weeks after the wedding her husband's father died. Hanzo didn't remember how he died, she was more concerned about one thing. It meant that she would not have to bear her husband's presence as much as she would have, besides the occasional quick fuck. He was now clan leader, and would have to do much more traveling. And since she was still being groomed to take her father's position she did not have to accompany him. The day when she put two and two together was the day her and Genji got ridiculously drunk.
Hanging out at the beach like before Genji began counting down to 3.
At three both downed an entire cup of sake in one go. It nearly burned her throat from the inside out but she was too drunk too care. It didn't mean she didn't cough her guts out. Once the coughing subsided the siblings looked at eachother and then laughed.
"Sis...I gotta....I GOT TO tell you what I did." Genji stuttered.
"Genji...tell me don't you fucking do," Hanzo said, laughing at her jumbled sentence.
Genji refilled his cup again and held out his hand. "Okay but this-THIS is gold. Now you need to listen OK?"
Hanzo reached for the bottle, going for the cup. Instead she ended ended up clumsily knocking her cup to the ground, watching it get swallowed up the the sea. Shrugging she undid the bottle and took a long swig. She couldn't wrap her head around why she was out of breath when she stopped.
Pounding on her chest a couple times, she let out a breathy chuckle. "Genji I swear I will listen. I mean it," she promised.
Her brother seemed relieved at Hanzo's assurances. "Okay so I was trying to hook up with this dude I met at the arcade. He was pretty damn hot. So I put the moves on him and we end up going back to his apartment. Now I'm looking for some condoms in my bag when I hear some random ass voice. Both me and the guy dipped into some sauce before so I was drunk as fuck. Scared that it was like some guy who wanted me dead I hid in a cupboard thing underneath the sink. Then the guy who I was planning on railing actually knows this guy. It turns out he's his fucking BOYFRIEND and I’m pretty sure they weren't in an open relationship. They start fighting because apparently arcade dude never cleans the bathroom and it's pissing him off. So while watching this fight i sneak off to the bathroom to try and escape through the window. Well before I went I decided to take a massive shit in the bathroom and didn’t flush as a fuck you to arcade guy and escaped through the window. Then I fell asleep in some back alley dumpster."
Hanzo groggily blinked, wrapping her head around the story. "Wow, that's fucking wild," was all she could muster.
"Yeah..." Genji replied. Watching the sun dip into the horizon Hanzo took another sip of sake along with her brother.
The years went on. It was almost like before she was married. She was training, teaching Genji, and honing her skills as a warrior. It came as a shock that on Hanzo's 28th birthday her father died. A deal gone wrong they said to an emotionless Hanzo and a crying Genji. All her life was leading up to this moment, ending at her ruling a vast criminal empire. It was then Hanzo resented the clan. She hated the clan and their attitude toward her mother, hated how they arranged a marriage with a hateful man, hated how her father saw her as a reflection of her mother, and hated how they treated Genji. The clan was controlling, conniving, full of evil souls who profited from misery. Holding Genji tight, feeling his tears roll down her neck, she knew an ember had been caught in the wind, becoming a flame. After hours of crying Genji finally wore himself out. He lay sleeping on her bed, like when they were children. His eyes were swollen and smudged with black makeup. The sight was more fuel to the fire. While walking to the kitchen for a glass of water she was hounded by a council member. It was only a matter of time before they would deem their 'grieving time' to be over.
"Hanzo Shimada, the council is in session and requires your presence," he informed her. A 'fuck you,' almost slipped from her lips. She managed to save it buy turning it into a cough. A repeated mantra helped her keep it together. 'This is for Genji.'
Same old council room, same old men give or take a few, same stupid cushions, and same crushing judgement. Hanzo's tall and graceful walk to her spot was not compliance, but that 'fuck you' she wanted to say earlier.
The head councilman cleared his throat and began. "As blood dictates you are now head of the clan. A prestigious title as such carries great weight. You will oversee countless transactions, billion dollar deals, and the inner working of the underground market. However before all that we need assurance. You need an heir."
Silence. Deafening silence. All of her previous bravado drained away. Another detail that she was keen on ignoring. Something that she dreaded most of all. She'd marry ten of her husbands if it met foregoing this.
"Usually this would mean your heir would be a result of you and your husband. However your legal binding as wife and husband is written in blood. If you have a child with him he also has custody of the child, which is an asset of the clan that we refuse to give. Our scientist have been working on a project, something that would make the child have just your genes, including a plethora of enhancements that were modified from the soldier enhancement program. We believe that while in the womb there will less chance of rejection and the child be more receptive to it, potentially making them even stronger. You will carry this child to term and inherit the Shimada empire once they are born."
Every survival instinct was telling her to run, to get away from these crazy old men. They wanted her to carry a science experiment, be their guinea pig. Worst of all she had no rights. She had to birth a heir in order to get all the privileges of head of the clan. It was then she was presented with two options. Leave but desert her brother or stay but be subject to the experiment.
Hanzo thought it was going to be a tug and war situation but the answer came to her quickly. "As you wish."
Later she'd notice that her tattoo was glowing an intense blue, barely contained from the inside of her kimono.
Syringes, pain, blood, pain, help, hurts, tubes, cold metal. In the haze of the operation she could swear she heard her mother's voice, comforting her throughout the whole thing. When she awoke she was lying on her bed like nothing ever happened. She scoured herself over, looking for any marks but found none. There was no evidence of the operation but somehow she could feel it. A weird sort of shift in her body that she couldn't explain. Anxiety lead to panic, having her tug at her hair, choking back sobs. Hanzo wanted to rip her hair out and maybe claw her skin off in the process. She couldn't stop trembling, she had something GROWING inside of her. There was a foreign object, siphoning off nutrients like a parasite. Hanzo thought it warranted a bit of a freak out. Did she want children one day? Yes but with a women and most definitely not a science fair project on steroids. They would raise their children somewhere nice, have a small house and in a safe neighborhood. Not this. Anything but this. Maybe she could abort it somehow, go to some back alley practice or something. However that would undo everything. The reason why she accepted was because of Genji. She had someone she needed to protect. Since her father was dead she'd have to more sacrifices. Hanzo would have to step up, abandon her comfort zone to make sure Genji would never have to leave his. With a shuddering breath Hanzo wiped away the tears sticking to her cheeks. For Genji.
When she told her husband that she was pregnant he gave her a small nod and then left for a business meeting.
When she told Genji he gawked for a whole minute. "Wait, you reproduced with that douchebag!?"
Hanzo didn't notice it but behind his back his fist was clenched, knuckles protruding out. She had so much she wanted to say as per usual, the most tempting one being, "I did this to protect you."
Like a shattered record she shrugged. "It could be worse brother."
The first couple of weeks were decent, she was confined to the manor and was banned from training, which would have been agony if Genji wasn't there to amuse her. He'd gossip, play games with her, and do generally stupid things to take her mind off it. It made everything somewhat bearable. But then the vomiting started. She knew what morning sickness was, yet this was more violent. Even worse was that it turned into a bloody soup of partially digested meals. Between constantly throwing up and the horrendous pain she stopped eating and drinking. Those months were a haze. She remembers being confined in a stark white room, tubes feeding throughout her frail body. There were more shots and more tests. Once she swore some of the doctors had to physically restrain Genji and kick him out. Her husband never visited, only sending a vase of a dozen roses that would mockingly sit near her bedside. During these drug fueled days she began to come to a realization. If she survived and the baby was born what then? A human weapon? A child doomed to feed an endless cycle? A guiltless being born into a pit of snakes? Born from desperation was a plan to spare them from the cruel world they were raised to serve. It was a chance for them to have a normal life, even if she wasn't part of it. Unbeknownst to her there was not one child but two.
Meanwhile the clan was getting desperate, and desperate men develop perverse ideas. Hanzo's health was failing, despite their state of the art technology and scientist they did not predict the pregnancy was going to be this dangerous. They faced losing a heir, and a billion dollar investment. So they began plan. More money, more favors, and more threats. Floating in a tank far below the manor was a figure, a spitting image of Hanzo. Their fears were vanquished when Hanzo began to recover. However the secret project was still active, just in case.
It took a good two months to get back to a state where she could walk throughout the hallways of the manor. Every step was bogged down by the growing weight in her abdomen but at least she wasn't dying. Genji became clingy, at her side almost always. It was endearing but also annoying. She had work to do, people to contact, and bribes to give. Hanzo promised to give her children a chance at the true wonders of life and she wasn't about to break it. At her seventh month it was hard to stand let alone walk. She took to sitting on the porch, watching the birds fly by and the wind brush past the grass.
It was during this that Genji strided in like always, plopping down next to her. "So how's it feel to be like, a mom and shit?"
Hanzo raised an eyebrow putting a hand onto her beach ball sized stomach. "And you're asking why...?" she trailed off.
Genji folded up his legs and tucked his chin on top of them. "Causssseeeee that makes me a soon to be uncle!"
A glimmer of excitement danced through his form, it was heartbreaking for Hanzo to see. He would only be an uncle for a few days, until that day arrived. Hanzo would have to let the prospect of being an uncle last as long as possible. Let him enjoy it while it lasted.
"Did you honestly just realize you were going to be an uncle today?" Hanzo questioned.
Genji pouted, going back to his original sitting position. "No, I'm just...I don't know, excited for you? if that makes any sense?" Hanzo shook her head, secretly delighted at his enthusiasm. It was nice, to pretend that everything would be alright and that she would be able to raise her babies. Then she felt one of them kick. It was a sort of tumble that left her slightly winded. Genji scooted closer next to her, noticing Hanzo's slightly pained expression.
"Did the babies just kick or something?" he asked her.
"One of them did, probably trying to show off," she replied.
A blush slight dusted his features, in combination with a sheepish smile. "Can I like feel them? Is that how that works?"
Hanzo couldn't help but laugh. Her brother was so clueless when it came to childbirth. "Sure Genji why not?"
He slowly and carefully put his hands on her rounded stomach. Another kick followed swiftly. Hanzo would never forget her brother's pure delight in feeling it as it was the last time she'd see him light up quite like that.
The birth was what she was expected, excruciatingly painful. She was with Genji when her water broke, she was fine but Genji just about fainted before realizing 'hey my sister is in labor, I should probably do something about that.' If she was going to be honest it was probably the most pain she'd been in. The contractions were insane, nothing short of agony. Hanzo was pretty sure she vomited as well. Someone was holding her hand during it but she had zero idea who they were at first. Genji? Her asshole husband? One of the doctors? No it was definitely Genji. She recognized the calloused but meticulously moisturized hands. In between flashes of suffering she could barely breath. The pressure was like being dunked all the way into the Mariana trench.
"Genji fucking Shimada NEVER GET FUCKING PREGNANT!" she screamed at the top of her lungs.
She could barely hear his response, something about that not being a problem. After who knows how long she was done. Covered in puke and sweat she held two beautiful babies. At that moment she fell in love. An emotion she couldn't entirely explain washed over her. Maybe it was just hormones but she couldn't stop crying. They were pink, fleshy, and gross yet they were hers. Beneath tears she beckoned her brother over. "Wanna hold them?"
Genji took them in his arms, cradling them like they were the most precious things in the world.
"What are you gonna name them?" Genji whispered as to not disturb them.
Name them? Truthfully she hadn't given it much thought. Should she even name them? In four days they would be...they would be gone. It would be unfair to them, she couldn't get attached to them no matter how much she ached to. Likewise they needed to be given a clean slate. Nothing could be linked to them and the clan. Not even their own mother. She started crying again, thankful that everyone assumed that she was just overwhelmed. In truth she was heartbroken.
Rubbing her watery eyes Hanzo gazed at both of them then back to Genji. "Give me some time. I'll have both names by the end of the week."
Her husband visited her a day after they were born. She would have to stay there for another day, bed rest. He stood there in a crisp suit and shoes that gleamed under the overhead lights. He didn't ask to hold them, not like Hanzo would let him. She had to bite back a scathing comment when he began looking them over like cattle, seeing if there was any imperfection. He nodded in approval when he found none.
"You've done well. They will make fine heirs." That was the last thing he said to her. He left shortly after.
Hanzo was glad they wouldn't have to have a father like that. In two days they would be gone. All of preparations came down to these final moments.
The group she hired was discreet, they left no tracks, no evidence, and no contacts. Hanzo didn't even know if they had a name. They would only contact her when they wanted to and made it very clear that after this she never heard of them. A shadowy organization that could have a single member or over a thousand for all she knew. They did their work quick and well. Fake dead bodies that made her squirm, streaks of blood, a sign of a struggle, all of it was set. Hanzo had one final goodbye to her children. Their squishy faces gave no recollection that they knew what was happening. They were pure, innocent. Each bundle of cloth held a human life, two living beings she nurtured for 9 months. Tiny parts of her spirit were dwelling within them, something that neither science nor religion could explain. She gave each of them a kiss on the head, having to wipe her tears from their faces. Hanzo's eyes were glued to the spot where they were carried out from. She never cried harder than during that day. The final piece to the plan, a vial of liquid that would make it seem like she was knocked out cold from the 'struggle.' She quickly drank it, falling to her knees and letting darkness take her.
Waking up was dreadful, the memories of yesterday still as clear as daylight. Her children were gone. Faces hovered above her vision, all familiar but only one that was comforting. Genji looked miserable, almost the same as when father died. He kept scrubbing at his eyes, which were bloodshot and swollen. She did this to him. In a sense she killed her children and maybe part of her brother as well. Both of them embraced each other, grieving for two little lives that were lost, though only Hanzo knew the truth. She thought she had done it, found the little loophole in the clan's request. Hanzo thought she could move on, continue building what her father left, and keeping Genji safe from harm. It sounded so easy in theory. In truth she felt herself crumbling from the weight of it all.
Wrapping her arms around Genji's waist she began to weep, pressing her face into his chest. They both stayed that way for hours, Genji only leaving when she passed out from exhaustion. After it was almost impossible for her to get out of the bed. Some days she would just stare out the window for hours. Nothing could reach her, food was a bland reminder of the reality before her so she stopped eating. Water and tea were the only thing she could bear to drink. She could tell the council was getting nervous, each time they came to visit she'd scream at them to get out, fighting back tears and a pulsing throb from her arm. Genji was the only one she would allow in and even that consisted of little conversation. She was adrift, trapped in some type of hell. Only through her brother's words was she coerced out of her anguish. Little by little she began to emerge back, though not quite the same as she once was. Slowly Hanzo began her duties as head of the clan. Without real vigor she performed what was asked of her, little things at first. Then one day another clan meeting came. Hanzo looked at her reflection in the middle, tired eyes and cracked lips. All of the color from her face seemed to have drained out over the years. A pale complexion and some gray hairs weren't that big of a deal, she wasn't a vain women by any means. What was really noticeable was that she could look at herself and not be reminded of her mother anymore. The beautiful sparkle in her eyes, much like mothers, clouded over. She wasn't sure how she felt about that.
Hanzo's hands clenched the outer edge of the sink, this would be the fourth council meeting in her life, for some reason the word 'final' sounded fitting. She didn't know what to expect, each meeting ended up breaking away piece after piece of her spirit. The only solace she could find was knowing any news they brought forth couldn't be worse than the last. She had already given everything her body could have offered. Unless they wanted her to give up her life, which she doubted, Hanzo could think of little else they wanted. A sad laugh fluttered from her dry lips, it was all so damning. The path she took was her own, doomed to misfortune. At least she had Genji. At least she had him.
It was Deja vu, sitting in the same cushion, with the same stares. Hanzo wanted this to be over the minute she walked in. The head of the council looked inexplicably the same, old but not ancient. He began speaking but Hanzo didn't bother listening, until she heard him say her brothers name.
"What about my brother?" she asked. The room began to grow bigger than it was actually was. Shadows stretched and the door seemed farther away than it originally was. Her head was spinning and she feared for her sanity.
The council man coughed before counting. "During your recovery from that heinous crime, involving the two heirs, your brother refused to take over your clan duties. His immaturity was more than disrespectful, bordering treason. Skirmishing his duties while you were in such a fragile state, the clan took a huge blow. We have discussed his punishment, the gods do not look kindly on those who abandon their family's honor, so neither shall we. Hanzo Shimada, by order of the clan we want you to dispose of the pariah, ensuring our honor will be forever unwavering."
Creeping ice encroached her heart, stopping it all together. White silence fell upon her ears, echoing his words again and again. ‘Dispose of the pariah, dispose of the pariah, dispose of the pariah, KILL GENJI.’ Fratricide, plain and simple. They saw her brother, dorky and flamboyant Genji as a threat. She almost wanted to laugh, laugh until chest heaved its last breath. They didn't know that the entire reason why she was still here was to protect him. She had to leave. Warn Genji and then leave. Her right arm began to burn, the skin crackling with some sort of energy. Everything she had done was for nothing. In the end she couldn't protect him. It all just...fell apart.
Suddenly she was overcome by pain, her arm was throbbing and searing hot. The council members had no time to react. Two giant dragons rushed forward, their gaping maws all consuming, giving Hanzo time to run. Scrambling throughout the manor she desperately searched for Genji, praying to the Gods that he was alright. Time was running short and he was nowhere to be seen. The staff were in disarray, she wasn't sure if any of the councilmen were left alive, however there was a sinking feeling in her gut that there were. Her time was almost up. She could already hear the stampede of footsteps from behind her. Heart pounding, sweat pouring from her brows, she took a sharp left hoping to lose them and stumbled into Genji's room. It was a mess, not from the commotion but because he was a generally messy person. On his desk was his calligraphy practice, piled under magazines. Hanzo shoved the magazines from his desk and scribbled out a note on the paper. Flipping it face down she opened the window, three stories up, the ground covered in foliage. Without hesitation she stepped out and clung to the walls moving passed various of windows. Her arms ached under disuse, sweat threatening to have her slip. Years of practice wouldn't let her. She continued on, reaching her room in relatively one piece. Slipping inside she grabbed the essentials, Stormbow, clothes, and some yen. Not looking back she opened the window, this time leaping to the ground and dashing into the night.
When Genji entered his home it was oddly quiet. All of the lights were off and he could see no one. It made him uneasy. Something was wrong. Using as much caution as he could muster he walked to his room, carefully avoiding the creaky parts of the floor. His room looked the same as always messy and thoroughly lived in, besides his katana Ryu-Ichimonji which was always kept in pristine shape, a gift from his father on his 18th birthday. Nothing was out of place except for a piece of parchment where his magazines were. Genji held in his breath, shakily grabbing the paper. Before he could turn it over he grabbed his katana and whipped himself around. In front of him was a figure obscured by darkness. They were dripping wet and covered in some sort of strange skin suit.
"Show yourself!" he demanded. Despite himself he was trembling, but remained resolute.
The stranger responded speaking in a hoarse yet strangely familiar voice. "Don't you recognize me?"
Stepping from the shadows was his sister. The same gossamer like black locks tumbling down her back, same piercing brown eyes, and same formidable appearance. Genji immediately lowered his weapon. There was no relief, just more questions that begged to be answered.
"Hanzo what's going on? Where is everyone?" he asked.
Hanzo didn't bother answering, walking closer and closer toward him. Genji took a step back, tightening his grip on his katana. Fear crept into his heart, she didn't look well. She was bearing her teeth at him like a feral animal. He barely had any time to block the incoming strike. The block left him winded and even more confused.
"Sister what are you doing?" he cried, dodging another strike.
Blood pounded at his ears, fight or flight beginning to force him into the offense. His sword thrummed with energy, each time they clashed a spark of green leaped through the air. This was a real fight and his spirit was getting hotter. They exchanged blows, Genji having to use the side of blade to parry a forward sweep. He kept telling himself to remain non lethal but the dragon burned in his chest. While he was battling Hanzo he was also battling himself. He couldn't harm his sister, no matter what his other half told him. When she went in for the kill he side stepped instead of going in for a counter strike. Whatever was happening maybe he could talk her out of it, change her- a sharp metal object pushed through his stomach, stopping when the tip broke through the skin on his back. Shock was quickly replaced with pain. He howled, gripping the wound as the sword slid back out. The wound gushed a waterfall of blood once the sword was out. His whole body was on fire, his sight fading in and out as he screamed. Genji crumpled to the floor, wrapping his arms around him and crying. Salt water mixed with blood, washing tongue in a putrid taste. It hurt, it hurt so bad. Another flash of pain, this time scraping up his arm. Genji couldn't scream, vomit scorching the inside of his throat. He could feel her continuing to strike at his bloodied form. After a while he couldn't feel anything but the pressure against his tattered skin. He couldn't tell when it ended, by then he had lost all feeling in his body. The last thing he saw was of his sister, plunging the sword into her throat.