Status: Check back on June 23rd 2014 for the second chapter!


01 - Storm

Another roar tore through the night sky, splitting everything that stood in its path. Summer storms were a common occurrence in the tropics. Squalls drenched the island of Kiawa from May to September, but this particular storm system took advantage of the hot ocean water that surrounded the island, growing into a typhoon. It began slamming the island in the late afternoon, and it was still coming in full force well into the middle of the night.

My efforts to block out the thunder were all in vain. The sound was strong enough to crack through my pillow that I buried my ears under. Even though the noise wasn't the source of my migraine, it certainly made the pain worse.

The pain in my head came from a unique kekkei genkai that I was unfortunate enough to inherit from my mother. Out of the many cousins of our generation, my twin sister and I were the only two stuck with this curse. Hanini and I were the very first in the family to receive formal shinobi training in order to control our power more easily. The training helped a little, but not very much.

This kekkei genkai, or the "Babakoto" as my family refers to it as, stores a massive amount of electrical energy in my brain. It isn't chakra, which is why shinobi training wasn't that affective. It is a completely different manifestation of physical energy that is borrowed from nature, specifically light from the sun. As a carrier of the bloodline, my skin is built to absorb the sun's heat energy. From there, it is sent to the brain to be stored, and then converted into electrical energy. Stories that were passed down in the family suggest that it had derived from attempts at sage power that never quite worked.

Like all powerful kekkei genkai, this one had several side effects. One of the side effects include irritation in response to continued exposure to external electrical energy, like massive storms. However, storms as strong as the one that night only occurred a few times a year on Kiawa. Not to mention, I was at sea level, as far below the clouds as I could be. So, my migraine that night wasn't nearly as horrible as it could've been. But, from the time I was six until I was eighteen, I lived in Kumogakure where my sister and I were trained to serve them.

Kumo was literally in the clouds, so the environment consisted of more negatively charged particles than most places. The negative particles would try to interact with my energy, triggering intense pain in my head. Originally from Kiawa, my body was not used to the environmental change and it never built up immunity to Kumo's atmosphere. I figured that leaving Kumo would cure me, and it did for a while. The migraines actually ceased all together for almost a year before they started up again.

Eventually, I fought myself out of bed to search for medicine. I didn't bother flipping on the lights so as not to put more unnecessary strain on my eyes. Instead, I felt my way around the house using the walls. Every now and then a flash of lightning lit the room, giving me enough indication of my path.

The power must have been out anyway. I noticed candles lighting the large living room rather than the lamps. The man I stayed with, Reiki, never bothered with candles when he didn't need to. The golden light tickled the wooden walls, too weak to even reach the ceiling.

Normally I had my own place to stay at, but I'd been staying at Reiki's for a couple of days. A couple weeks before the storm, I noticed that I was being followed by someone. They had to have been a shinobi of some sort because an average civilian wouldn't have been able to pursue me for so long. This concerned me since active shinobi were rare on Kiawa. I didn't bother them so that I could get an idea of what they were after. A week without confrontation, I stayed with Reiki to see if it had anything to do with him. If they weren't after me, they were most likely after him, and he couldn't defend himself against shinobi like me.

Reiki was a middle-aged man, and a distant cousin of mine somewhere on my great-grandmother's sister's side. Most wouldn't guess that he was capable of success in his laid-back sandals and long, unruly hair. However, he was one of the wealthiest men on the island, and he owned several local businesses, including vacation rentals and rum. He basically owned the island. He was kind enough to lend me one of his vacation houses in exchange for a reduced fee when I returned to Kiawa from Kumo. Just so I had something to do, I helped him run some of his businesses since they were growing exponentially all over the island.

I searched in the kitchen for my pain reliever. Instead, I found Reiki sitting at the table with a strange woman who I had never seen before. There were native Kians like Reiki who had dark brown skin, some as black as charcoal, and she was one of them. If it hadn't been for their lighter clothes and the whites of their eyes, I wouldn't have been able to see either of them. They both blended into the shadows flickering behind them.

Seeing the woman in Reiki's kitchen surprised me. It wasn't like Reiki to have guests besides me, especially not in the middle of the night. I only took my eyes off her to acknowledge Reiki, and then I proceeded to observe her. She seemed to study me in return. "Indri, what's wrong?" he asked upon noticing me.

"I have another migraine. I was just looking for something to take for it." Then, I bowed to the woman to show respect, despite my suspicion. "Excuse me for interrupting. I didn't know Reiki had company." She couldn't have been the one following me. I could tell she wasn't a shinobi by her scrawny physic. Even my body that was weakened from lack of missions was more muscular than hers.

"This is Kione," he introduced me to her. "She manages the berries that we use for the rum up in the mountains. Kione, this is Indira, the eldest of the twins I told you about."

Kione didn't give me time to speak. "It's nice to finally meet you, Indira. You've got the same pretty dark hair as your mother that I always envied. I didn't know wavy hair could be that smooth before knowing her."

Faking a smile, I simply thanked her and suggested that she use the same conditioner as mine. I reframed from questioning her in front of Reiki. It wasn't any of my business what she was doing here, at least not at the moment. I could get information about her out of Reiki when she was gone.

"Indri, can't you do something about the power?" Reiki asked me. "The generator's out."

Normally I would've replied to him with a snarky answer, but I held back my ill humor in front of Kione. "It'll have to wait until tomorrow. I won't be able to look at it in this storm."

I continued to search for pain reliever, trying to listen to their conversation. Even after I found it, I acted like I was still looking. All they talked about in front of me was rum, though. There wasn't much to listen to. Finally, Kione announced, "I'm exhausted. If you'll excuse me, I'm going to bed."

She retired into Reiki's room, which he had given up for her that night. When I was positive she was gone, I asked him as quietly as I could, "What the hell is she doing here? It's the middle of the night, and there's a typhoon outside."

"Don't worry about her." Obviously lying, he looked as if she had just asked him to kill someone. "She had some urgent business with me before heading to Tomonoura in the morning. The storm lightened up while you were asleep, so she was able to get here safely." Tomonoura was the only major village on the island, built by the mainlanders when they first settled on Kiawa. It was a huge tourist destination located only a few miles north of where we were. "Don't worry about her," he repeated himself.

"Well, let me know if you need anything," I offered him my assistance with a confident smirk.

"I've known Kione and her family since I was little, and she's one of my best employees. I trust her." Lies. "Besides, it's not like I got anything to be afraid of with you and your fancy powers around."

"I guess," I mumbled.

The medicine wasn't kicking in fast enough, so I picked a bottle of rum from the cabinet to help it along. "What the hell, girl!" he scolded me as if I was a child in his angriest whisper to keep Kione from hearing. "You're gonna kill yourself drinking like that!"

"Well, it hasn't yet."

My eyes snapped at him when he snatched the bottle from my hand. He was never the type to worry about what others did. It was odd seeing him act like this. "What's the matter with you?" he asked in an unusually stern tone. "You drink all the time, and what is it with all these drugs you've been taking?"

"They're not just drugs. I don't understand why you're so concerned about me all of a sudden," I defended myself. Originally I was trained in the medical arts, and I specialized in the development of antidotes and poisons since my medical ninjutsu wasn't the best because of my lack of chakra. Eventually, I made painkillers for my own migraines. They were a lot stronger than what any store will sell, so they worked much better. I actually made a notable profit off of them by distributing them under the market. I was always fascinated in what different substances with a little modification could do to the human body, particularly the venom of marine life. When I wasn't training, helping Reiki, or surfing, I was diving to study the biology of various plankton, jellyfish, coral, and many other species found in the ocean.

"You could be ten times the success that I am with your mind, but you have no desire to do anything besides drink and take drugs. Listen, I'm not going to be here forever. You're the only one I can trust to take over for me when I'm gone." I didn't like the sound of that. I preferred his lies and aggressive whispering.

After taking a few deep breaths, his voice softened when he offered me tea. "I'll put on some tea for you. It'll heal your head better than this."

I let him take away my rum since I wasn't in the mood for arguing. He kept talking while he waited for the water to boil. "Indri, what is the matter? Is it Nini?" Even though she was my sister, I made a disgusted face at the sound of her nickname.

"She's as good as dead to me. You know I don't bother with her anymore." The last I heard of her, she was back on Kiawa with a male acquaintance that was probably her latest lover.

"Does she still blame you for your mother's death?"

"Well she hasn't talked to me since she tried to kill me that one time, so I would assume she does," I replied in a sarcastic tone. When we were both only eighteen, our mother killed herself in Kumogakure. Kumo somehow linked her death with several others, all of whom I worked with on a mission the year before. They couldn't find the real culprit, so they accused me of the murders and labeled me a criminal. They also accused Hanini because they assumed she helped. Hanini didn't believe that I had actually done it, but she believed that I was somehow involved and hated me for causing her to flee Kumo and for being labeled as a criminal. Out of those who knew about the incident, Reiki was the only one who believed the full truth.

"So if it isn't Nini, what is it?" he pushed for an answer. "I can tell something's been bothering your thoughts."

He sat down quietly in front of me. I figured now was the best time to tell him about the shinobi following me with the storm keeping them at bay. "Reiki, there's someone following me."

"When did this begin?" He didn't seem very concerned about my safety. I liked to think it was because he knew I could take care of myself, not because he didn't care about me.

"About two weeks ago. That's why I've been staying with you the past few days. I didn't notice them today, though. Probably because of the storm." I played with the wax of the candle with my finger as I talked to him.

"Do you think it could be that you miss Hanini? Your mind could be trying to fill in the blank where she used to be, making you feel like there is someone watching you."

I furrowed my brows at his suggestion. "After almost two years? Really, Reiki? Besides, I was a jonin in Kumo. Do you honestly think I can't tell when someone is following me?"

"What do you want me to tell you, then?" he asked defensively.

"You asked me what was going on, and I told you. Someone's following me. There's nothing you can do about it."

"And you brought them here so they can spy on you at my house!"

"I don't know what they want, but they haven't done anything yet and they haven't seen anything important. If they want something, they'll come to me sooner or later. And if they did their job, they should know that they can't get to you unless they get through me first." By the time I finished, Reiki had made tea and poured it into two mugs. He also added a shot of rum to both of them. I smirked at his gesture, but he shrugged it off.

"Something like that wouldn't make you act so strange. Especially if you were such a high and mighty jonin like you say. There's something else bothering you." I didn't say anything. I simply took my tea from him and blew on it.

To be honest, I wasn't sure what it was either, but he was right. Maybe it was Hanini. Or maybe I was convinced that I would end up like Mama with the Babakoto inciting these migraines. Hopefully more time on the island would help. After all, I was forced to survive Kumogakure's environment for over a decade. It might take more time to recover. "It's nothing. I'm just a little weary from all these migraines I've been having."

"I'm worried about that guy outside my house!" I didn't reply. I simply allowed a dark silence to ring between Reiki and myself as we sipped our tea. "Well whatever you do, Indri, stay away from that Kione. She's important to my rum, but you don't need to get involved with her. She can be a bit aggravating at times. Also, try not to completely burn your sister's bridge. You might need her later on."

"It's a little too late for that, Reiki," I replied.
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Check back on June 23rd 2014 for the next chapter!