It was raining again. It was always raining in the country. She was alone again, but she was beginning to get used to the loneliness. After the first great ninja war, her mother and father had left the comfort of their travelling caravan and settled themselves into a small village on the outskirts of the Fire country. They had been fine. Like nothing would ever change. Oh but how it did.
Her mother was the one to break the peace. She said she was bored of her father and how he was always away at work earning a pittance just to keep them alive. She was bored of their small town and missed the excitement of meeting new people, seeing new sites and always being on the move.
So she left him.
Akira was just 6 at the time. When news finally reached them of her father's suicide, her mother was broken and wracked with guilt. She moved them back to their old house in an attempt to feel closer to her husband, but after 3 long weeks of fighting her drunken tears, her mother's lifeless form was found with her face buried into the pillow, clinging onto a single photograph.
Akira had snuck away long before her mother's body was discovered, hungry and confused. Wandering alone she reached the hidden Waterfall village where a kind, elderly couple took her in.
She grew up there, happy and loved by her adoptive parents. Although she knew she could not stay with them any longer. She was 16 and they had little money to feed themselves let alone her. So she moved on.
Moving through the hidden villages, she acquired short part-time jobs in order to feed herself and pay for a roof over her head each night. Sometimes she had no choice but to sleep out under the stars, but it didn't bother her too much.
She began to teach herself how to defend herself, and as the years passed she discovered her Kekkei Genkai and learned how to harness her chakra. The people she met were fascinated by her strange talents and word soon got around about the Sheado Kioku. Bearing in mind all this was self-taught, so she was by far the strongest ninja in the land, but she got by.
So here she was again. 20 years old and hopelessly wandering onto the next village in the hope of one day finding her purpose in life.
The night was falling thick and fast, so she found herself a hollow tree and unravelled her sleeping bag beneath it. She didn't remember much about her parents, but she remembered their warmth, especially on nights like this. Her blue eyes were dull and glazed, tired from her long day of travelling. Slowly, she let her lids slide shut and she listened to the pitter-pat and the rustling of leaves in the gentle breeze.
As she drifted in and out of sleep, she was suddenly aware of 2 other presences standing above her on the branch of her hollow tree. She snapped her eyes open, careful not to move her body and startle them. I'm being silly. Surely they mean me no harm. I have no enemies that I know of. She shook her head at her immediate response that they meant trouble.
She was about to shuffle out and ask them if they were looking for something, when one of them spoke.
'She's close, I can sense her chakra. It's faint but it's here,' A calm male voice echoed down to her ears.
'Which direction?' The second voice was deeper and rougher than the first.
'I'm not sure, it's only a faint trace,'
'Come on, Itachi. We'll check below the trees,' the second voice was already descending as he finished his sentence.
Horror rippled through her and she held her breath and sat up. She scrunched further into her tree as slowly and silently as she could, still not breathing.
'Wait, I sensed her chakra move,' the one called Itachi spoke quietly.
'Is she running?'
'No. Just shifting slightly… Over there,'
Her eyes wide with fear, she stared hopelessly at the hole in front of her, praying that nothing would block the light. A twig snapped behind the tree she was sat in and she moved her eyes away from the gap to glance behind her.
Suddenly, something grabbed her ankle and dragged her out from the hollow. Yelping in surprise, she clamped her eyes shut tight thrashed her limbs in panic.
'Hey I found her! Bloody feisty one this…' The rough voiced male was now dangling her upside down by her left ankle like a fish caught on a line.
'Kisame, put her down, we're here to negotiate not kidnap.' Itachi sighed, walking over to the pair.
Kisame growled and opened his palm, letting her drop to the floor in a squirming heap of arms and legs. 'Damn, Itachi you ruin all my fun!'
'W-who are you? Why were you l-looking for me?' Akira finally managed to string together her question as she stood up slowly, watching Kisame warily. They were both wearing long black cloaks with high collars and strange red clouds printed on.
Itachi spoke up. 'We're from an association of rogue ninja called the Akatsuki. We're here to make you a proposition.'
'W-what kind of proposition?' She eyed him suspiciously. He had raven black hair and blood red eyes that almost seemed to be staring into her soul.
Before he could answer, Kisame cut in with a toothy grin. 'Basically, you either join us or we kill you,'
'What?!' She blinked.
'Kisame!' Itachi growled, clearly becoming irritated. 'What he means is, if you join us we can offer you a place to stay, shelter from the elements and food on the table. In return you work for us and help us achieve our ultimate goal.'
'Which is?' She'd regained composure now, but her eyes still flitted between the two, watching their every move.
'Can't tell you that I'm afraid darlin', you gotta give us an answer first! Ain't that right, Itachi?' Itachi nodded once.
'Alright. Well I guess I'll go with you for now since it doesn't look like I'm getting a choice in the matter…'
Kisame slapped her hard on the back. 'That's the spirit! Right, finally we can get back to the base. I'm starving!' The two males started to move away from her, until Itachi paused and looked back over his shoulder at her.
Akira wasn't sure what had just happened there, but at least there was food and somewhere to stay. She picked up her backpack and jogged to catch up to them. She began to wonder what her new 'home' would be like and how many other members were there in Akatsuki?
She supposed she shouldn't judge the group just yet from only this one meeting. After all, how bad can this group be? She thought positively.