Igarashi Sachiko knew she was going to die today. It was not something that she feared as she had lived the life of a shinobi since before she was in double digits. However, she did fear for the life of her daughter.
She thought of her family. She thought of her friends. Mostly, she thought along the lines of This shouldn’t be happening.
The entire village was celebrating the birth of the Lighting Daimyo’s daughter. Little Igarashi Katsumi-hime came into the world screaming loud enough for everyone in the hospital to hear on a stormy late September afternoon and her parents couldn’t have been more proud.
The child was the result of a perfect political union between the new Daimyo of the Land of Lightning and the favorite niece of the Third Raikage. For such an important birth to be so soon on the heels of the end of the Third Shinobi World War was good for morale the advisors kept saying to the young daimyo, but he did not care. Hikaru was just happy that he was able to start a family with a woman that he had loved since they were teenagers.
They had met originally when she had been assigned to guard him on a standard escort mission him on a journey to Kirigakure. Ever since then, he had been immediately smitten with her especially after he witnessed her dispatch four armed bandits twice her size. He had begun courting her the summer after that and they were married three years later at twenty-two and twenty respectively. They had lived happily together for only about six months before all hell broke loose in the world.
That was when the Third Shinobi World War had started. Since his wife was first and foremost a shinobi, she was called back into Kumogakure to help her family strategize and, ultimately, fight. Hikaru did not see a lot of Sachi during the war but he did hear from her frequently in the form of letters. The letters were full of her special brand of humor and wit and he found himself needing them like he needed air to breathe or water to drink. He yearned to be by her side but he had his job to do and she had hers, especially after his father was assassinated and Hikaru himself had to take over as the daimyo.
Three years later, the war was over and Sachi was with child.
Theirs was a story of luck; Most political unions did not end up the way theirs did and Hikaru was thankful every day for it. She was his equal in every way and he absolutely adored her. He had been over the moon when he heard Sachi was pregnant and had been eagerly awaiting his child’s birth.
In preparation for their child’s arrival, they had hired Takanashi Akiko, the senior-most medic-nin in the city, to oversee the little princess’ birth. A wizened woman she might have been but her canny blue eyes showed her sharp intelligence and skill. She had shunshined in the morning Sachi went into labor with her young assistant Emiko right behind her. They began to unpack their materials and Hikaru was so stunned at their efficiency that he almost forgot his wife was giving birth to his child in the same room. He remembered when she accidentally used chakra-enhanced strength and nearly broke his hand during a particularly powerful contraction.
His wife stayed in this state long enough for Hikaru to panic slightly. He turned his silver eyes to the midwife worriedly. He paced and fretted everytime Sachi so much as flinched. She almost laughed at his nervous face as he asked her if she needed anything.
“What I need right now is for your baby to stop shredding my insides,” she hissed, grimacing at the latest bout of contractions. She threw her head back against the pillow and swore a blue streak to fight against the pain. Hikaru’s tan face paled at the sight. He mopped at her brow with a cool towel while she bit back the wild discomfort.
This went on for another five hours before what sounded like a battle cry came from Sachi. She began breathing heavily as she felt a large mass of something making a mass exodus out of her body and a piercing wail rang out into the spacious hospital room.
Igarashi Katsumi had arrived into the world and she wanted everyone to know it apparently.
The midwife and her assistant quickly measured the infant before passing her back to her mother to inspect. Sachi’s hair was plastered to her face as she looked into her daughter’s face lovingly. She looks like me, she thought as she examined her features. Sachi was not one for excessive emotions but after a ten-hour labor, seeing her perfect daughter, she promptly burst into tears. She was in the midst of tearfully counting fingers and toes when the door opened abruptly.
At the sound of Katsumi’s wail, Hikaru burst into the room, pale grey eyes shining. He had been sent out about an hour before because though he was the leader of the entire Land of Lightning, he was in a state of near panic at the sight of his wife in pain and though Akiko-sensei was a very patient woman, she only had so much tolerance. When he saw his wife, happily crying with a small bundle in her arms, and the midwife’s exhausted but proud expression, his shoulders sagged in relief. He seemed to remember himself soon after and walked slowly over to the bed. He placed a kiss on his wife’s sweaty forehead as he peeled back the blanket that had been obscuring his child’s face from him.
“Took you long enough,” Sachi teased, watching his face as he looked at their daughter for the first time. Hikaru might as well have been a million miles away for he did not hear his wife’s jab. He was focused entirely on his child.
He was greeted with the prettiest baby he had ever seen in his life (and he definitely wasn’t biased or anything). She was a beautiful mix of them both, having his strong chin and nose juxtaposed beautifully with her mother’s aristocratic bone structure, mouth, long lashes, and chestnut brown skin.
He let out a surprised laugh as he pulled away the blanket completely to reveal a shock of moon-white curly hair that mirrored his own. He planted a kiss on her forehead as well, feeling his eyes prickling with tears. The loud noise seemed to have startled the baby into opening her eyes to investigate. Staring back at him were the most exquisite gold eyes, eyes he’d only ever seen once. He heard Sachi gasp as she recognized the color as her own. She shifted her gaze to his as some of the happiness in her face was replaced by anxiety.
The midwife walked over to investigate and looked stunned. The woman nodded and walked out, ushering her assistant out with her.
“She inherited my eyes, Hikaru,” she murmured in the empty room, furrowing her brow. “We can protect her right?” Sachi asked her husband, helping the baby (their baby, they had a baby) latch on to her right breast. Her husband grinned at her in that boyish way of his and gave her a kiss that sent her worries hurtling out the window unmissed.
“With our lives,” he replied, placing a kiss on Katsumi’s head. Sachiko bit her lip worriedly. He noticed her anxiety and placed a hand scarred from mandatory weapons training gently on her face. “If they want Katsumi-chan, they will have to go through an entire village of shinobi,” he reassured her. “Also your family in Kumo,” he snorted, thinking about how excited their extended family was going to be.
A daughter, I have a daughter!
“That’s what I am afraid of,” she whispered. She frowned but did not bring it up again. For now, they could just be a normal happy family, enjoying having a baby for the first time.
Two weeks later, the village was in a state of celebration. Every time a new heir is born, the capital city of the Land of Lightning had week-long celebrations to commemorate the momentous occasion. Free food and drink flowed from every restaurant in the city as the citizens honored Katsumi-hime’s birthday.
Hikaru and Sachiko were sent gifts from all of the noble families in the capital and were showered with well wishes from the citizens. Sachiko was sent congratulations from her cousin A in the form of the largest stuffed rabbit in the world. B had sent a harried-looking messenger chunin who had read off a rap in the most dispassionate voice she had ever heard that sent her into a fit of giggles. She stifled her laughter and sent back her thanks. They had promised to come to see her and the baby within the next month or so.
They never got the chance to.
The night after the end of the festival, the compound was attacked.
It was an efficient invasion of their home that was made even easier by the surplus of civilians and the lack of shinobi due to the festivities. The best Hikaru could do was lead them towards a series of tunnels dug under the estate to aid in their escape. Sachiko had argued with him the entire way that he should come with them. He kissed her and told her that his civilian speed would slow them down too much.
Sachi felt her heart threaten to shatter into a million pieces.
His brown face was pulled into a scowl as the dying yells of their shinobi echoed down the passage, causing the small child in her arms to scrunch up her round face and cry. His expression melted into one of exasperated affection despite the grave situation. He kissed her and their beautiful child quickly before ordering one of the shinobi sent to guard her to barricade the exit of the passage under the estate with a quick doton jutsu.
As Sachiko sprinted forward into the dense forest ahead of her, she tried not to think about how her village was being razed. She tried not to think about how her husband was probably going to die. She tried not to think about how the shinobi tasked with guarding the daimyo’s wife were being picked off one by one as they sacrificed their lives for her and her daughter. She tried not to think about how when reinforcements came, it would probably be too late. She kept her roiling emotions at bay by thinking about her precious child who had long since stopped crying and just stared up at her with pale gold eyes. It seemed that even her infant knew how dire the situation was.
“Sachiko-sama, we are a quarter of an hour out from the nearest guard post,” her lone shinobi protector, Yu, said to her. They had started with half a dozen. She nodded and kept running, making sure to keep her chakra masked. If they could make it into Kumo proper, they would be safe. A and B would know what to do. If she just kept running, everything would be fine. She had never been particularly religious, but she found herself praying to every deity that she knew of for her daughter’s life.
The night had made the temperature drop dramatically. Autumn in the Land of Lightning was always rainy and cold, especially with only about a month and a half until the blizzards set in late November. Her silken nightgown was already soaked through with rainwater and torn, rendering it thoroughly ruined.
She had hardly had time to grab her weapons pack and throw on some standard-issue shinobi sandals before she was rushed out the door. She took a moment to curse her lack of time to prepare.
The nearest guardpost was only about thirty kilometers northeast, but those fifteen minutes could prove deadly to her baby if she got too cold. She gritted her teeth and picked up the pace, holding her baby tighter to her chest. She had to conserve chakra so she couldn’t keep them warm manually. They just had to hope for the best.
Their luck had run out it seemed when Yu cried out in pain a few moments later. She yanked out several senbon from her shoulder and snarled at their attackers, jumping in front of Sachi, tanto out. Yu opened her mouth as if to say something but never got the chance because of the kunai sticking out of her throat. Sachi was sprayed with hot sticky blood as she held back her cry of alarm. Yu was a good woman. She hadn’t deserved to die like that. None of the shinobi under her employ had deserved to die like they did. She clutched her child tightly and bared her teeth at the half-dozen masked shinobi that had dropped from the trees to surround her.
“I don’t suppose you lot will leave me alone if I ask nicely,” she drawled, trying valiantly to keep her voice from shaking with cold and adrenaline. Sachi knew she must’ve been a sight in her torn pajamas and wet hair. She held out her kunai defensively, feeling a fierce protectiveness well up in her chest. If I have to die now, this is a pretty badass way to go out. She smirked and held her ground.
“Igarashi Sachiko-sama. Hand over the child and come with us,” an operative in what looked to be a feline mask intoned as he stepped towards her. She backed up in response, keeping her eyes on the androgynous figure. She fought back a shiver and looked them in the face seemingly unafraid.
“Fat chance, Kitty,” she said as she launched her kunai at the operative's face. They sidestepped and darted forward, slashing at her with a katana that would have killed a lesser ninja. She jumped back and met their sword with senbon. While they were distracted by their crossed blades, she aimed a punch at the ninja’s face and frustratingly enough, they dodged that as well. At this point, a wet strand of dark curly hair had come out of its haphazard updo but she paid it no mind. She feigned left and gave them a kick that sent them flying back into a nearby tree.
Another burlier operative made an attempt to flank her. She whirled around and slammed her palm into their neck, causing them to stumble. She then was engaged in a quick series of taijutsu moves that made her wish she wasn’t still holding her child. Dodge, feign right, kick, slash, duck, she kept fighting through instinct, knowing that if she slowed down for a moment, Hikaru’s sacrifice would be in vain.
Her baby whimpered in her arms and she knew she couldn’t beat them head-on. She threw a bone-crushing punch and danced out of the way of her opponent’s kunai. She cried out as another operative came from below and nearly broke her right ankle before she did a quick kawarimi.
Time to switch tactics.
She grimaced, ignoring the pain. She jumped back and made four kage bunshin of herself and substituted herself with one of them before the smoke cleared. She surreptitiously made an extra clone and retreated into the trees. She began throwing poisoned senbon needles at the different operatives while they were engaged with her clones. With three of her assailants down for the count, she began feeling hopeful again. Heart, subclavian vein, internal jugular vein, kidneys, carotid artery, brachial artery, lungs, brain stem... She ran through different vital points in her head as her kage bunshin began to dwindle. She felt a prickling sensation on her neck and jumped off the tree limb she was perched on, swearing.
Sachi narrowly dodged a mass of flames that scorched the earth almost twenty meters below it. She ducked behind a towering oak for cover and listened for the originator of the flames. 'Damn,' she thought, closing her eyes and altering the flow of her chakra and directing it into her eyes. Asshole-san might actually kill me with that. When she opened her eyes once more, they had an odd glimmer to them, the previously plain irises now glowing with chakra.
It was at this point her baby started wailing in earnest. She groaned in her head, mourning her blown cover. One of the enemy shinobi took out the tree she was hidden behind with a powerful wind scythe jutsu. She darted left to avoid getting crushed by the traitorous foliage. She rolled quickly to avoid the rain of shuriken heading her way before one of the remaining shinobi darted in to attack her once more. While she danced around their attacks, she noticed a shinobi in the trees making hand signs. With her eyes, she could see trails of red chakra coming from his fingertips. She smirked and forced her chakra into his system through her eyes, disrupting the flow of his chakra, and stopping him in his tracks from creating those pesky fireballs.
However, her distraction costed her. Sachi forgot about the third shinobi who blindsided her with a brutal kick to the chest, knocking her backward, nearly making her lose her grip on her child. She recovered quickly, rolling to her knees in the icy mud and standing back up, but her one-handed taijutsu was significantly slowed down. She grimaced, feeling a few broken ribs and possible internal bleeding.
Her assailants seemed to have finally figured out why she was such a formidable fighter and kept their distance, sending jutsu flying at her while staying frustratingly out of her sight. She was going to lose this battle. However, so close to a guardpost would have the nearest ninja running to check out the commotion. If she could hang on for the next few minutes, she might receive reinforcements.
She scowled and flipped through a series of one-handed hand signs and whirled to face the ninja attacking her. She saw the trails of chakra with her eyes and quickly assessed the situation. She felt her chakra roil in her gut as she thought of the right jutsu.
Sachiko went through over a dozen handsigns quicker than lightning as she manipulated the rain around them to sharpen and fly at the enemy shinobi in an attempt to stop them. She heard the impact and grinned victoriously as she saw one chakra signature flutter and fade. Four down, two more to go. One of the remaining two shinobi came forward at her out of nowhere with a katana and slashed upwards at her and she moved flipped backward to dodge. Woah, that was an attempt to kill, she thought moving quickly from tree to tree, dodging their increasingly vicious swords strokes.
She admittedly got sloppy. Having spent so much time dodging them that she didn’t notice the paper bomb that was placed in her path until the last minute. Sachi turned her back to take the brunt of the explosion as she was blown off of the tree. She’d lost her grip of Katsumi in the chaos and cried out as she felt a searing pain engulf her back. As Sachi flew backward, she looked up at the night sky and at the raindrops falling.
She stopped falling suddenly, feeling the queer sensation of steel sliding through her gut. She screamed at the feeling before the blade slid out of her body. She crumpled to the ground, knowing that she couldn’t staunch the bleeding in time. She was no medic. Sachi looked up at the operative in a bird mask who was sliding his sword back into its sheath. She then looked at the shinobi in the wolf mask who was holding her baby in their cold grip.
Katsumi looked at her and gold met gold.
Bird crouched down to her and brought out a medic’s kit and cleaning a set of wicked blades. She then understood in her hazy pain-filled state what he was going to do. My eyes, she thought fuzzily. Canary-san is going to take my peepers.
Sachi knew then what she had to do.
She looked at her baby, her beautiful baby girl, one more time before taking out a kunai. Bird jumped back ready to defend but didn’t anticipate her next move. She deftly slashed the blade across her eyes, ruining them.
Black black black filled her vision (or lack thereof) as she bellowed loud enough for those bastards in Iwa to hear her. She dug the kunai into her eye sockets to further ruin their ability to steal her eyes and study them. She heard one of the operatives curse and she heard her baby start crying harder than she’d ever heard her. Part of her felt bad for it. Sachi dropped the knife with shaking hands, feeling too queasy to hold it any longer.
She rolled over and vomited into the grass. Her thoughts became progressively fuzzier. Oh shit, I’m dying, she thought as the sounds of them trying shush her wailing child faded. She turned her head to the noise and forced her lips to form words.
“F-Fuck you,” she stammered, spitting vile bodily fluids in their direction.
Igarashi Sachiko thought about a lot of things while she lay there in the forest in cold mud, feeling cold raindrops hit her face and her bodily organs shut down.
She thought about her family in Kumo and how devastated and angry they were going to be. She thought about her beloved husband who was probably dead right now. She thought about those bastards who had killed her and how she had expected to keep flipping the bird to the shinigami until the tender age of ninety, but would never get the chance. She thought about how dying at twenty-four was a lot younger than she had hoped for. She thought about Katsumi and how she would never get to see her beautiful baby girl grow up into the amazing young woman she was born to be.
She had never been a particularly religious woman, but she sent up one more prayer to protect her baby. Give ‘em hell, baby girl, she thought, grinning victoriously at nothing.
Igarashi Sachiko thought about lots of things until she thought of nothing at all.
Root Operative Sora did not like rain. As he flew through the trees, he tried to keep the sleeping bundle in his arms as dry as possible. The child refused to stop crying so he had put her under a genjutsu. He knew it was dangerous for children that young, but he could not risk getting found by Kumo’s border patrol who had heard the noise and come to investigate accordingly.
Danzo-sama is not going to be pleased when he finds out the woman died, he thought as he and his partner Akari closed in on the Fire Country border. The Kumo nin that would begin attempting to track them would not be able to follow them into a foreign country especially so soon after the war. He shrugged as he kept moving.
He'll have to be satisfied with one set of eyes.
Sora had not liked killing that woman and taking her child. Something about that seemed inherently wrong despite his teachings in ROOT. However, it did not matter what Sora liked or didn’t like. Danzo-sama wanted this particular kekkei genkai and this child was one of the last to manifest it. Danzo-sama probably wanted to indoctrinate this child into the system as well and harvest the fruits of her bloodline.
The infant stirred in his arms as he felt a twinge of something in him. Indigestion maybe? He kept that feeling away as he rocketed over the border. Within a few hours, the child will have been safely delivered to Konoha. It was not Sora’s problem to think about. Sora was not really supposed to think at all. But that twinge would not go away. Nevertheless, Sora kept moving, ignoring that nagging feeling in his chest. Maybe it was because he was cold. Sora did not like rain.