Chapter 8: Where great jounin become exiles, flashbacks return with dreaded italics to accompany them and a slight hint of a yaoi scene for all the fans at home
She was behind them again. The whole team, as that is now what they had seemed to have become, flowed ahead of her as fast as they could. They were escaping, through the trees again. She was also bouncing through the trees at some time or another. She couldn’t remember where she was escaping from now, since she still felt quite groggy for some reason. After he had freed her, the jounin had instantly collapsed and had to be supported by two of the kids while the others tore through the guards, even the strongest man there hadn’t been a match for the young genin.
“Oi! Where are we heading?” One of the boys shouted ahead of them to the head of the group. He was from Danjuro’s team, and Sayuki realized at that point that she hadn’t learnt any of their names yet. It just hadn’t mattered. For reason it hadn’t dawned on the kids the severity of their situation. Their actions might exile them from their own village.
“Erm…good point.” Danjuro said after a few seconds of thinking it over. “I guess we can’t go back to the Village of Cloud, or even mine. The second the news hits that I killed the leader of the country and that Sayuki ran away, we’re both gonna be considered exiled.”
The word hit Sayuki like a jackhammer with a spiky tip through her ear. ‘Exile’. It was a word she never thought would be associated with her. She didn’t think it was possible. How could she, Sayuki, one of the greatest jounin of her country, be considered exile? She was too strong for that. She always viewed exiles as weak, for they gave into their desires and fell away from their loyalties. There was no way she could be weak.
“You’re far too weak, you know gal?”
“I said you’re far too weak. And you don’t pay attention either.”
“Come on Sayuki. Why don’t you try a little harder? You’ll barely graduate at this rate.” She looked up to see Megumi leaning down to face her, the twelve-year-old girl had that serious expression on her face again. It always made Sayuki laugh. “You need to be practicing at least as much as me to get a good mark.”
“I don’t want a good mark.” The short girl replied, smiling, as she continued to draw faces in the soil. “I want a bad mark.”
“What?” Her neighbour replied, astonished. “You’re crazy girl. Why on earth would you want a bad mark?”
“’Cause Megumi-san is in the middle of the class, and Yamato-san is at the top of the class.” She said, giggling as she went over her logic with them. “If I aim to be at the bottom of the class, then we’ll get put in the same team, right?”
“Well, I guess so. But that isn’t really the point, is it?” Megumi never understood obvious things back then. Back then, she only ever really understood one thing, or more reasonably, one person.
“Hehe, it is for me.” The little teenager continued to amuse herself with the ground, finishing the last of three little heads by giving it squinty eyes and a dour expression.
“Leave her Megumi, let her play in the mud if she wants. We need to practice henge no jutsu.” Yamato grumbled. Megumi spun round instantly.
“Ah! Coming Yamato-kun” As she ran off to catch up with their neighbour, Sayuki reached for her, wanting to talk some more to her friend.
She shook her head. Where had that thought come from? She hadn’t thought about her childhood in so long. She had almost completely forgotten she was like that. It was impossible to imagine now.
“Huh, we’re heading back to our village?”
“Quit whining.” Danjuro shouted back to the boy. “It’s the only thing I can think of right now.”
“I wasn’t whining.”
“Yes you were, you just didn’t know it. It’s like how your cat doesn’t know that he’s really a dog, and probably gay too.” Kiba went silent at this, unable to come up with anything in response.
“Is it okay to be heading back to our village?” Ino asked the man. As she heard the girl’s voice, Sayuki realized she hadn’t spoken to her since they met again. She almost felt sad about it. The only one that had really seemed to notice her was the little white-eyed girl, who she guessed to be Hyuuga Hinata of the famous Konoha clan. She hadn’t asked though, and she couldn’t bring herself to do so. It just felt wrong doing anything at the moment. The girl seemed to be staying near her, and somehow she could tell it was out of altruistic concern.
“You guys should be fine, unfortunately.” Danjuro explained. “When Raikage gave me this mission. He didn’t say anything about having you guys’ help. From what they can tell, you guys have just disappeared. If you get back to your village and nobody sees you with us, you should be fine.”
“If you two are considered exiles. Then you do realize we no longer have any obligation to continue this trip with you. In fact, it should be safer to split off.” Shino began to explain. Danjuro responded by aiming to kick the genin, only choosing to miss at the last second.
“Wrong!” He buzzed, “if that Takeda-chan is after your girlfriend back there, then it’s safer to stay with us until we get back to your village. We’ll drop you off at the gates and plan our next move from there. As much as I hate to say it, it’s our responsibility to get you back safely.”
“Girlfriend?” Shino repeated, quietly to himself.
“Why did he kidnap Hinata anyway? He’s a Mist Ninja like you, isn’t he?”
“Ya, he’s one of my ex-teammates back when I was a Genin. As for kidnapping the pathologically shy creature back there…To start war, I guess. Half a decade back, the Lightning country attempted to kidnap the runt. I heard that during the Exchange Program, the runt’s father insisted she be swapped from the Cloud village to the Mist village. Clearly, Hyuuga still doubts the Cloud village.”
“But, if we were going to the Mist village…”
A shot of realization came over Danjuro. “Of course. That’s why I was the only picked for that, specially picked for that. Mizukage-sama must of figured that I’d used this as an excuse to bunk off and sneak to the Lightning Country.”
“Not much of a jounin, are you?” Kiba deadpanned.
“But why would he want to start a war between two other countries.” Ino asked confused. Danjuro just stared at her, sighing.
“Because he’s evil.” The jounin stressed, as if the answer was obvious. “All Kage are, in my opinion. Mizukage, Kazekage, Tsuchikage, even Houkage and Raikage are evil, vindictive bastards, who’ll do anything to cash in on a quick buck.”
“I think there’s something wrong with your analysis. Like it sucks.” Ino pointed out crudely.
“Yeah right. What would you know? You’re just a kid.” He spun round to face those behind him. “Hey Sayuki, back me up on this.” Her name brought her back to reality. She had phased out again. It was a rare event that was becoming a constant reality.
“Huh?” She replied blearily.
“The Raikage’s a right bastard isn’t he? I mean, he even ordered me to kill you, just so Niro couldn’t get his filthy paws all over you.” The question washed over her, but it took her a minute to answer.
“The last Raikage wasn’t.” She stated. “He was the nicest man I ever knew.”
“I see no problem with her.” He stated to the jounin to his left. “She is quite playful for an eight year old girl.”
“Eight? Sir, She’s twelve, and a genin. Her behavior should not be playful. It should be serious!”
“Twelve..yes. That is a problem…” The old man took a few moments to think it over. “She should be at least two feet taller. It gives her a bad impression.” The man beside him fell over.
“Raikage-sama…” He hissed, getting back up. “She clearly has issues that will prevent her from becoming a skilled ninja.”
“Well, where did she graduate?”
“And how has she progressed since.”
“Nowhere. It’s like she hit her physical and mental peak at eight, and hasn’t done anything since.”
“Well, perhaps you can focus on that.”
“How do you mean?”
“Sometimes, an eight year old girl is a better assassin than an elite ninja of the highest caliber.”
“You mean, train her to maintain an innocent façade and then have her strike when the target’s guard is down.” In front of them in the field, they heard one of the girls giggle. She was the only one doing it. The other two were just eating quietly. They were underneath a Sakura tree, enjoying the spring blossom, at least Sayuki was.
“Something like that, yes.” Sayuki’s sensei sighed. This man never liked giving a definite answer. It was why he was picked for the position of Raikage.
“I’m not sure it is possible, Raikage-sama. She does her best to avoid killing at all times. She won’t even kill a simple rabbit.” The sensei’s voice was flustered now. This request for advice wasn’t being helpful at all. He hated the Raikage at times like this. He couldn’t wait to take the position in a few years. “Even worse, she won’t let the others in her group kill a simple rabbit. She tries her best to stop them.”
“Is there anything she is good at?”
“No!” The jounin shouted now. It didn’t alarm his leader at all, the older man just chuckled.
“Calm down man. Such anger isn’t good for a man your age. Let’s ask her herself shall we, at what she thinks of the whole situation. Sayuki-chan!” The girl turned at hearing her name, before shouting back for them to hold on a moment. She furiously worked at something she was doing on the picnic rug, before smiling and running up to them. The others followed her slowly. As she got up close to them, the Raikage heard the man next to him groan. In her hands were a huge daisy chain that she was making sure wouldn’t break as she ran up to them. She bowed childishly to the lord of their village.
“Good morning, Raikage-san.” The Raikage was about to respond, when the jounin corrected her.
“It’s –sama, Sayuki. Raikage-sama. He is your lord.”
“AH! Sorry, Sensei-san.” She apologized, grinning as she scratched the back of her head. He just groaned again as the Raikage kneeled down to talk to her, an action that he knew annoyed the jounin even more.
“Now, Sayuki-chan…” The lord began, before the little girl stopped him as she presented him with something. “What’s this?”
“A daisy chain, I made it for you.” The little girl replied happily. Unsure of himself for the first time in decades, the Raikage slowly took it off her and carefully put it around his head. The girl’s smile beamed even greater than before. The smile comforted him somehow, actually taking away any embarrassment he thought he might have.
“Thank you, Sayuki-chan. It is very pretty.”
“Now you very pretty.” They both laughed. Besides them, the jounin went into shock, as did the genin behind them.
“Anyway Sayuki-chan. I wish to ask you something. What techniques are you good at?”
“Erm…” she thought it over for a moment, giving it a lot of consideration, “I can do transformations pretty good.”
“I do believe Raikage-sama means something besides what you were taught at the academy. Something since the academy.” Her teacher informed her. She thought about it even harder, before responding.
“I can do a wind technique. Not very well though.”
“Really?” Raikage actually found himself a little surprised. “Could you show us?”
“Sure.” She replied simply, looking for somewhere to put her drink down. Around them, her fellow genin and jounin-sensei looked on confused. Evidently, they had no idea about this. Staying where she was, she squatted slightly and formed a few seals loosely.
“Kazeton: Cool breeze.” It was the lowest of the wind techniques, Raikage noted, simply designed to get the user used to using them. Even so, it was a technique reserved for Chuunin level. A moment later, the wind felt like it picked up slightly, but only if you were paying attention at the time. It couldn’t even be considered a cool breeze really.
“See, see?” She was answered by a light tap on the head.
“You moron.” Megumi replied. “That was barely anything. It might not have even been you that caused it.”
“Ow, Megumi-san.” She pouted. “That wasn’t nice.” Her friend ignored her.
“And you got the name wrong as well. It’s Fuuton, not Kazeton.”
“But Kazeton sounds cooler…”
“What does that matter? You got to get the technique perfect. That includes the name!” Sayuki pouted even harder than before.
“You need to relax a little more Megumi-san.”
“What? And become weak like you?” The older girl retorted, grinning to herself a little.
“Meanie!” The twelve year old stuck her tongue out at her friend, who just groaned in response.
“Grow up! The Chuunin exam is in a few weeks, and you haven’t gotten a chance of passing.” Sayuki appeared hurt by this, and did her best to hold it in. She failed, blurting her response out.
“I don’t care about the stupid Chuunin exam.” She started to cry and ran off. The other girl just watched her. “Stupid Megumi-san”
“Aw come on, Sayuki. Sayuki!” Now annoyed at how she had upset her friend, she went to chase her, stopping only to bow to the Raikage and her teacher. The boy did the same, remaining as quiet as always. The two remaining men stayed quiet for a moment as they watched them run off.
“You see sir? She is almost completely useless as a ninja.”
“Hhhmm, Megumi-chan mentioned the Chuunin exam. Do you intend on entering them?” The jounin composed himself on the question.
“Ah, yes. So far, the other two have been brilliant genin, especially Yamato. For a peasant boy, he has done far better than anyone else in his year and the two years above him. He is heading for great things,” as he remembered the point of the subject, he became flustered again, “which is why something needs to be done about Sayuki. She will become a hazard at this rate and…”
“I get the feeling…” The Raikage interrupted. “I get the feeling that young Sayuki-chan will be fine. She just needs to mature a little.”
“Fine? Mature?” The jounin repeated, finding himself falling into madness with those around him. “How could you think something like that?”
“Two things…” The Raikage stated, as he pointed towards the picnic, where a child sat, playing happily with her two quiet friends, any sign of tears now completely gone in such a short space of time. “One, the girl’s current enthusiasm and energy. And two,” he turned to walk away, “the tree.”
“Excuse me sir?” the jounin asked, confused and annoyed, not receiving an answer from the old man as he walked away. Realizing what he meant, he turned to look at the barren Sakura tree. It now looked like it belonged in autumn rather than the beautiful spring day, it’s leaves scattered around the field like a rug.
“You mean…” Raikage had disappeared. “Oi, Raikage-sama? Oi!”
“Huh? What?” Sayuki stuttered, as she snapped out of her flashback.
“I asked if you were okay?” Danjuro repeated, with a slightly cross look on his face. “What’s with you? You’re being weird.” Somehow, he caused her to laugh.
“What’s wrong with me? What’s right with me, you mean?” She answered grimly. “Everything turned around for me in the past month. No, the past two days. Dejiro’s dead. The country is owned by Niro…”
“Actually, he’s dead. I killed him.” The news didn’t seem to shock Sayuki at all, despite the huge political consequences it was probably having now.
“You say it so easily. You just took a life you know.” She was beginning to speak monotonously again.
“Ah, he was probably going to become a pedophile or something.” Sayuki became upset as he said this, and looked down to the ground, disappearing constantly from beneath them.
“There…there was a time, where I had never killed anyone, when I never wanted to kill anyone. It seems so distant now. What’s happened to me?”
“Oh, don’t go all angsty on me. We haven’t got the time. Just get over it already and realize you are who you are.” Danjuro groaned heavily. It was the first real groan she had heard all day. It sounded different to those she heard earlier.
“Oh shut up. What do you know about me? You’re just this annoyance that haunts me on occasions.”
“Something like that. I guess it’s one of the bad points about being your friend.” Sayuki grunted slightly. Ahead of them, all the kids instinctively quickened their pace, in case the woman exploded.
“You honestly consider me your friend now? I can’t stand you!”
“Ah come on. How long have we known each other?”
“Heh. Try fourteen. We met ages ago.”
“What?” She looked at him confused, honestly unable to remember.
“Yeah, we met back at the beginning of the chuunin exam, remember?” His head fell to one side, as his eyes started to focus on something far away…
“But seeeensei. I don’t care about this stupid exam.”
“Quiet Dan-kun.” His teacher shouted, full of energy. “If one is to be a man, then one must progress early in life, so that he can achieve many things. He must be a man of constant action, letting no one tell him what to do! And if a man is to progress, then he must pass the chuunin exam first time. Understand?” The man remained still with his already large chest puffed up.
“Well, I guess…” Danjuro stuttered. “But can’t we just go hunting again and show them how good I am at that.”
“Ha! I cannot decide the requirements of the exam. We must wait for instructions off the head of this village, the very respectable Raikage-sama.”
“But surely if you’re a man, then you shouldn’t be waiting for others to tell you what to do.” Danjuro’s sensei responded by kicking him hard in the stomach.
“Fool! If one is a man, he should be patient and willing to take orders.”
“Sensei, half of what you say contradicts itself.” The girl to their left stated. Danjuro looked to her, then quickly away, blushing slightly as he saw her face.
“That is irrelevant. I believe some training is in order!” He exclaimed sharply, standing up fully and pointing to somewhere in the sky. “Give me 100 laps of the village in your current gear. If you become tired before 90 laps, then I will make it 500. Now go!” He disappeared overdramatically.
“Yes sir.” The kids groaned as they began to walk off. As Danjuro pulled himself up, he slowly trailed behind his two teammates, the frying pan on his back slowing him down.
“Dan.” The girl ahead of him called. “I think you can take off the frying pan.”
“But sensei said all our kit. I don’t want him making me do anymore if he catches me without it.” He checked the straps around his chest, to make sure it was firmly in place.
“Why do you even have such a heavy thing anyway? I know you’re good at cooking, but you don’t need it that big.”
“It’s a good weapon I think. Even better than Sensei’s club.”
“But if you’re not going to see the stupidity of your idea, why not start with a lighter one at least?”
“No!” He shouted back, determined. “I want to get used to this as soon as possible, so I can use a heavier one later.”
“You want a heavier one? You’re insane.”
“You’re going to stunt your growth you know.”
“Guys!” the voice ahead of them brought them to attention. Their third teammate was looking at them now, waiting for them to listen.
“Don’t shout man. Geez, you’re so noisy.” The third teammate looked down slightly.
“…sorry….but…” To finish his sentence, he looked in the direction ahead of them. In a small park ahead of them were three kids. They seemed to be training.
“Ah…” Danjuro exclaimed, grinning slightly. “Good work, Takeda-chan.”
“Oi, Dan!” The girl shouted. “We probably don’t want to be starting any trouble now.”
“Oh come on Suzuki. Sensei wanted us to train. This’ll be more efficient don’t you think?” He didn’t wait for an answer and went on ahead.
“Sigh, we are sooo gonna get into trouble.” Although, even as she said it, she ran after him, Takeda followed behind silently.
As they reached the park, they realized it to be more a small patch of grass with a slide on it. On the patch were three children, who, judging by their forehead protectors, were Cloud Genin. Two were standing on their hands, slightly bent, in what was clearly a training exercise. The third had mud in her hair, and was now resting, moaning as she tried to clean herself up.
“Yo!” Danjuro said introducing himself directly to the ear of the boy facing away from him. He was suitably impressed where the boy didn’t jump as he planned.
“What?” Replied Yamato, swinging around on one hand to look at the person talking to him.
“The fuck you saying?” Danjuro said rudely, becoming offended for no reason other than to start a fight.
“Excuse me?” Said Yamato sternly, now partially recognizing this boy’s intentions. “Leave now.”
“What’s a ‘fuck’?” Sayuki asked anybody who was willing to answer. No one heard her.
“Oh no help me.” Danjuro started to say, as if he was the one being threatened. “I must protect myself.” He crashed his foot into Yamato’s ribcage, with enough force to dint sheet metal. Yamato grunted as he received the attack, but remained on his hands.
“What do you think of…” Danjuro started to say, but was attacked four times by the same foot halfway through, as it swung round it’s owner repeatedly. He fell backwards, as his lips started to bleed from cuts. The boy had clearly chosen to attack him lightly, rather than cause trouble later. Behind him, Danjuro cursed as he heard Suzuki start to laugh.
“Nice one Dan. You sure showed him.” She turned around to walk away. “Come on Takeda, let’s get some food.”
“…but.” He failed to finish his sentence. Later on they would pay by having to run 1000 laps. Danjuro got up and pointed.
“You fight well, Cloud ninja.” He stated, with an air of pride to his voice that would have impressed most lemmings. “I do believe you are worthy to be my rival. Interesting! I challenge you to a fight!”
“I refuse.” Yamato said simply, concentrating his efforts back on his handstand.
“What?” Danjuro replied confused. “You can’t refuse. This is a battle between men. A battle of pride. You can’t back out.”
“Fight Sayuki. She’s about your level.”
“Ahhh! Me?” Sayuki replied in shock from where she was sitting. She stood up, not looking nervous, but not looking excited either. Danjuro observed the girl for a moment. She didn’t look physically tough, nor skilled, and judging by her looks and reactions, she didn’t seem mentally prepared in anyway either.
“Does she have a hidden power?” Danjuro mumbled, trying to imagine what it could be. Somehow, it got him all excited. “Very well!” He proclaimed. “Let us fight!” He took a moment to reposition himself in the center of the small field as he waited for her to also get into place. In the background, a crash of thunder came from a distant sky. He jumped slightly at it, but also noticed that the girl did not. They both stood, as the rain increased, covering the area in a blanket of liquid.
“What are you waiting for? Start!” Megumi announced. She had dropped down from the handstand position to watch them. Yamato remained as still as before. With the announcement, Danjuro pushed himself off, deciding to adopt a boxing guard. Sayuki copied his movements lightly, although her stance was wider and her right hand was up front and pawed. She also didn’t bounce around like he did. He began to move around her, judging her distance, and testing his range with a few feint punches. Sayuki remained still as she watched him, not even blinking as he jabbed at her. Clearly, living in a country where thunder and lightning was a constant had got the girl used to surprises. He decided to test her reactions to an actual attack. He moved in for a simple one, two, feint then jab…
Sayuki woke up ten minutes later with Megumi watching over her. She had brought the old slide over to use as cover from the rain. Sayuki got up confused. Her nose had been bleeding.
“What the? Where did he go?” She turned to Megumi. She had that look on her face. It didn’t make Sayuki laugh this time.
“You got beat in one hit?” Her teammate shouted at her. “I can’t believe it. I thought you’d be able to take a few hits.”
“I…lost?” Sayuki whimpered ashamedly. The realization of loss came over her and she started to sniff a few times, before she burst into full-blown tears. Megumi almost stuttered in response to this but held in any emotion as she let her teammate cry.
After a few minutes, Sayuki turned to realize that Yamato was still in the handstand position, the other guy had gone somewhere. In his eyes, Sayuki couldn’t tell if it was compassion or annoyance. She looked shamefully at the clouded sky for a few moments, before she turned back to Megumi, a smile bigger than before on her face.
“Shall we carry on training?” She asked with a delight that shocked her neighbour and teammate. Megumi could only nod in reply as the girl rushed up next to Yamato and got into the position, a burning desire that couldn’t be explained driving her. All three students would remain there for the rest of the night, although Sayuki slipped a few times.
In the forest, now thirty kilometers away, the man finally got his arm free of the mud in which it was buried. He found it annoying that he had fallen asleep somehow during all that, but it seemed unavoidable. Grabbing hold of the ground that his body was encased in, he lifted himself up, pulling all nine feet of his body free from the mud. He turned to see where his target had gone, and disappeared in that direction.
“What are they doing back there?” Ino asked, as the group continued forwards in the direction of the Country of Fire. Behind them, the two jounin were doing nothing except moving forwards.
“Flashbacking. Can’t you tell? They keep saying ‘remember?’ and then go quiet for a few minutes.” Shikamaru pointed out, bored as ever, despite the potentially dangerous situation they were currently embroiled with.
“Everyone in the rooms fails.” The booming voice caused Megumi to stop screaming at Sayuki. From the other room, they all heard a loud groan that echoed throughout the building. Sayuki dropped to the floor with a thud as her teammate let her go. There were around forty-two people in the room they were in at the moment, all of them looked more shocked than they had ever been in their lives.
“If we stayed, we would have failed anyway?”
“Does that mean no one passes this year?”
“That’s so unfair.”
“Actually…” A man holding a clipboard said, loud enough to grab everyone’s attention in the small room, “it means that only the people in this room have passed.”
“Excellent. We made it pass the first test.”
As the mumbled confusions and cheered relief continued, Sayuki, Megumi and Yamato just looked on in shock. Somehow, they had made it, and it didn’t make any sense in Megumi’s opinion.
“Be thankful to the person in your teams who gave up. If it weren’t for them, you’d be failing right now.”
“Sa…Sayuki… passed us?” Megumi stuttered. Even Yamato seemed surprised at this news, they had had to practically guide Sayuki by the hand through this entire exam, now, she had left them through the final gate, it was beyond shocking, the boy just knew that it shouldn’t be allowed. Sayuki was reacting as usual.
“Yay! We did it, Megumi-san. Yamato-san. We passed. We’re gonna be Chuunin.” She hugged both her teammates together, and they did nothing to stop her for a change. They were both too thoroughly traumatized.
In the far corner, everyone stopped to hear various beating noises. Every group turned round to find a boy and a girl, pounding into another boy as hard they could, as they screamed at him for ruining this opportunity to them. The boy didn’t seem to mind though, being the only one who had heard the assistant. *cut?*
They were getting closer now. They had to be careful so that the group ahead of them wouldn’t notice them until it was too late. The two jounin had grim expressions on their face. They both knew they would be called upon for this sooner or later and they both knew what had to be done. As the sun began to dawn upon them, signifying the start of a new and terrible day, they sighed heavily in unison.
“It’s still gonna take five hours.”
It was Capture The Flag. The last part of the exam. Back then, people were promoted to Chuunin as teams. It wasn’t as efficient, but with the constant insurgence of war, it was common practice to get more soldiers promoted and into more dangerous missions where they’d be of more use.
There were eight teams left. All of them scattered across the playing field. Some had the advantage of high ground, some of water. Some were hidden in the trees and some were protected by heavy sands. No one team had any clear advantage over any of the others, since they also suffered from an equal amount of disadvantage. The test was simple though. Get another group’s flag over to your base and keep it there for five minutes to eliminate them from the test.
Yamato had whispered the obvious point of the exam at the start. It was not so much to try and be the last group standing but to show your strategic capabilities at attacking and defending, as well as the importance of working as a team. From their mountaintop, or hilltop as it more accurately was, the three genin began their plan.
“I’m not sure I can do this.” Sayuki said hesitantly.
“You’ll be fine.” Yamato reassured her, a rare event, solely necessary for making sure she would have the confidence to do it. “Just aim for the forest over there.” He pointed over to a small clump of trees, where they knew sat a team from Konoha.
“But didn’t you just say…”
“Just do it, now!” Stalling wasn’t something they could afford at this point, and he was annoyed that she was wasting time like this when they were going to be attacked in two minutes. Gulping loudly to herself, she formed the seals that she was slowly becoming more used to.
“Kazeton: Cool Breeze.” Focusing her internal energy, she manipulated the winds, as she desired. By the trees, a young one eyed ninja felt a calm breeze harmlessly pass over his masked face. Even Sayuki was confused at the point of this, until she heard a loud noise to her right. There , from the shifting sands, rose a sandstorm, rising high into the air and blocking the view of the Mist team that was situated there. All members of the Sand village had been eliminated by this time, so the Mist team had been unlucky enough to get placed in an area unlike their home ground. It was the nearest base, so it was logical enough to eliminate it first.
“Go! Go now!” Yamato ordered. He didn’t want to shout, but he knew Megumi wouldn’t be paying proper attention at the moment, surprised at what Sayuki had achieved and how he had anticipated it, despite having no coordination at all. She jumped down, allowing gravity to carry her down the steep hillside and allowing the momentum to take her on a full charge through the sandstorm, Yamato directly behind her as back up. In the middle of the grainy haze, she sensed something coming for her, and jumped to the side as she dodged two kunai. Somebody crashed straight into her, the tall guy from a few days ago. He did nothing as she kicked him in the crotch and continued to fall towards her, bringing her to the ground as the young kunoichi continued to struggle. Behind them, Yamato continued, ignoring his teammate’s distress to take the advantage. The two guards met him, the boy he had kicked the other day and a female. The boy went to swing at him, the metal rim of his weapon only just avoided by the cloud Genin. Bending back to avoid it, he turned it into a full handspring as the girl went for him, an axe kick to his stomach, again narrowly missing. The girl struggled to find his position as he fell through the think layers of sound that were still in the air.
“We’re from the hidden Village of Clouds, you know. On the top of the mountain, visibility can be as low as two percent. Navigating this is nothing for us.”
Ignoring his taunts, both Genin charged for him again, guessing his position from the sound of his voice. The girl went with two punches and three kicks, followed by four shuriken. The boy, judging the Cloud ninja definite location by where his teammate missed, appeared behind Yamato and deflected the throwing stars right back at him with his large cooking utensil. Yamato merely dodged them again, watching Danjuro as Takeda was thrown into his back and sent flying past them away from both bases, Megumi finally overcoming the large teenager.
“What?” Suzuki turned to try and look through the sand, a shuffling shadow sped past her. She cursed openly as she began to see their plans. They were using the weakest of their group to do the main task, knowing that she would be ignored to an extent, since she would be expected to stay in defense. Refocusing on the matter at hand, she watched as Yamato went to engage, his punch feinting her and following through, but with no damage. “Genjutsu?” Suzuki muttered, as the illusion continued to fight her to no avail. In front of her, she saw the other girl appear through the sand, just as the other girl ran past them both, holding the flag with the sand symbol on it.
“I’m not.” Megumi grinned, striking her fist through the girl’s face. The Cloud genin eyes widened as she saw the Mist ninja stayed standing, unmoving, before disappearing to the sands. Another shadow passed her.
“Sayuki, look out!” It was too late, she watched as the foreign girl chopped at her friend, slapping her away. The flag dropped to the floor, and was left there as Yamato rushed to defend his teammate. This time, with both of them real, the fight ensued for three seconds, before Suzuki grabbed Yamato by the neck and tossed him at Megumi. They crashed into each other head on, followed by the Mist girl as she rammed them both with a lifted knee to the peasant boy’s back.
“She’s…strong.” Yamato gasped weakly, as he tasted blood on his lips and watched it fall onto Megumi. Looking down at an unconscious genin, he felt something land on his head and slam into him again, and again and again and again. Five, ten times… He knew she wasn’t going to stop, even after he fell unconscious. As he reached the top of the hill, Danjuro observed his friend’s attitude in the battle below.
“Shit, she’s gone blood raged.” Danjuro noted as Takeda approached him, holding their flag. “Fool don’t bring it here. Take it back to our side!” With that, he grabbed the Cloud flag out of its post and went to run back alongside his teammate. Doing so, he watched his other teammate continue to viciously attack the downed genin. He wasn’t all that concerned. It certainly wouldn’t result in disqualification if she killed them and to try and stop her would probably get him killed as well. He just knew that their teacher was going to be very angry with them after all this for letting her go nuts like that.
Yamato awoke when his head bounced off the kneecap of somebody below him. Somehow her beating had actually managed to rouse him from his enforced slumber. He could still feel the pain she was giving him. Another five cuts… seven more bruises… a tooth was now broken. She seemed to be taking a lifetime’s amount of frustration out on him and she was doing it all with a fixed malice on her face. He stopped seeing anything as a stray punch landed between his eyes, rendering him blind momentarily as she dislocated his jaw. Then…it stopped.
Something splashed onto him. It brought his focus back, opening his eyes. The girl had stopped attacking him, and was now looking up to the sky, her eyes wide open as a small kunai stuck out of her throat, tearing her life-force away. She had the scared look of a child on her face, one who had realized that the game they were playing was a lot more serious than she first thought. She tried to look began her, which indicated that she was still alive for the next few seconds she fell onto him. She landed hard on him, he could tell she was dead, the look of absolute fear was imprinted on his mind for eternity. But it was foreshadowed by the expression on the face of the girl standing above him. Her hand frozen where she had stabbed the Mist ninja, her mind just acknowledging what she had done as her face screwed up and tried to collapse in on itself. As Megumi slowly woke up, the blood of the dead girl started to spread on her friend’s clothes, slowly covering the kanji on her *** as the short teenager began to shake in abject terror at what she had just done. Her two teammates looked up at her as she screamed loudly across the battlefield.
She had to know. She just had to, even if she wasn’t going to like the answer. Fuck! They were her friends. What were they doing with that woman? Had she made a mistake? No, she didn’t make any mistakes. Not any more.
The tree branch slammed into her path, taking her away from it and dropping her to the ground. As she looked up to the unmoving branch, she swore she heard it snigger at her.
“Fucking…fuck.” She got back up, and started to run again.
“Congratulations on passing. You’ve all done very well.” Their jounin-sensei applauded them. The three teenage chuunin stood to attention in behind him, now wearing the vest that symbolized their promotion.
“Yessir.” The three ex-genin replied.
“I admit you didn’t do as well I as originally expected, but in today’s world, we need more Chuunin than Genin, so we’ve agreed to promote you to Chuunin status. You should all be honored for this kindness.”
“Yessir.” The three chuunin replied. The elite ninja turned to look at them. He scrutinized each of them closely, looking at their eyes.
“Especially you Sayuki.” He said pointfully as he stared down hard at her.
“Yes sir.” She replied. Her voice stern yet monotonous, her eyes focused yet hollow, her back straight. He looked amused at this for a moment.
“I think Raikage was right about you, Sayuki. I think you will make a fine ninja, once you’ve matured.”
“Yes sir.” She replied. Her voice stern yet monotonous, her eyes focused yet hollow.
“You just need sharpening. And then you’ll make an excellent tool.”
The past, it stung her memories like a bee, trapped in her clothing for several hours and eventually pulling free before striking back for the time lost. What had made her remember all that? She had the feeling that if she tried to remember this the other day, she wouldn’t have been able to. That was her old life. Her new life started when she became a chuunin, where she became a tool for her superiors to sharpen and use, then put away until needed later.
Now that life was over as well, the days of endless playing in the muds and climbing up hills and feeling the beautiful wind that she could never get quite high enough to feel properly. She didn’t miss it in the slightest yesterday. Now, she felt the longing urge to return there forever. To bask in the eternal wonders of childhood. To…
“Uhhnn…” Her body gave up on her, missing the next branch and falling. Danjuro, who was still next to her, snapped to attention and dropped down with her, checking the area at the same time in case this was something more than mere fainting. The kids took a few more seconds to notice.
“Was she attacked?” Shikamaru called, concerned with getting ready to run away in the opposite direction. He watched as the jounin caught her seconds before she hit the ground before checking her once over for anything deadly sticking out of her.
“No, she’s fine. She’s just exhausted.” The group sighed in relief, dropping down to where he was holding her. Her head was slumped back, her arm dangling and drool was dripping from her mouth. She looked so peaceful for the first time ever.
“Come to think of it…” Ino pondered. “When was the last time she slept? Travelling to the edge of the country and back non-stop, the fight you two had, then having to prepare to be leave with that guy…”
“She’d probably have been fine, if it wasn’t for all the other screwy moments that she’s been happening.” Danjuro sighed and held her head up, almost too carefully. “To see my rival, exhausted like this…I should take advantage…” He pulled a small knife out of his pocket and raised it to her neck as the kids around him started to panic, pulling the weapon away as quickly as they could. “Fine. I guess we’ll rest for a short while.” “
“You three! Keep guard.” He ordered, indicating no one. Team Nine sighed, and started to secure the area.
“I can’t believe we lost track of them so quickly.”
“It’s your fault. You were supposed to be keeping watch.”
“But they just disappeared. How was I suppose to know they were using a summoning scroll.”
“Just use your eyes stupid!”
“Be quiet, you two. Just be glad we can still track them. It’s going to take several hours to catch up.”
“Where are they heading though?”
“They’re heading home.”
The sun was still out. It shined directly into her eyes the second she opened them, as if to deny her even the few sweet seconds between consciousness and unconsciousness. It was rare, for the Helios to be out this long over this many days in this country. The last time it rained even slightly was just before the Genin exchange program, where she was on top of the mountain, training as hard as ever…
The thought brought her out of her daze, and she bolted upright, ready to start her morning exercises. It was only then when she realized she wasn’t where she had woken up the previous morning, or three mornings ago anyway. She was in a forest, a bit too open for her liking, but considering the amount of people she was with, that seemed understandable. Scattered around the clearing, the kids slept peacefully with her. Two were missing, and so was that guy as well. She got up, and opted to take a walk to wake herself up.
What was he thinking anyway, that guy? A rival is a friend? It was stupid, she didn’t even view him as a rival. He was just another enemy, one of the many faces that came near her and tried to stop her mission. To be removed as soon as possible so that life can continue without change.
Except he wasn’t moving. He stayed in front of her and refused to budge even an inch. For every time she became stronger, so did he, creating a deadlock that could never be broken.
She looked at her surroundings. She had reached a small waterfall. It wasn’t uncommon to find such places of beauty, scattered round the country, but this was the first time she had actually approached one in ten years. She loved these as a child as well.
There was someone in the pool, whistling peacefully to herself as she lathered the warm water over her glistening body and through her long blond hair. As she became aware of the jounin presence, she turned around to face her.
“Ah, Sensei! Come on in, come join us.”
“Do you think we have time for this Itako?”
“Excuse me?” Ino had gotten closer now, and was looking directly at Sayuki. The jounin shook her head to dispel the memory.
“Ino…” The Leaf genin just stared at the woman in front of her, trying to figure out what she was doing. She seemed to figure it out and smiled.
“Do you want to join me? I don’t mind.” The young girl offered, jumping back and flowing through the water.
“…Sure.” Sayuki eventually said, unsure as to why she was so hesitant. A quick bath would probably be a good thing after a few days of no cleaning whatsoever. She quickly stripped off and went to get in when she saw Ino staring at her.
Sayuki might have once been considered to have a beautiful body. However, years of fighting and constant injuries showed up now more than anything else. She usually wore completely covering clothing. A green shirt, a yellow jacket that signified her position, beige combats, and a *** with the word ‘busa?’ on it. Now, as she removed these, Ino was shocked to find hundreds of scars spread round her body. Most were minor, slicing marks from kunai and shuriken that she hadn’t got out the way of in time, whelps from beatings that could never fully heal. The most distinct mark at the moment was the huge burn scar covering her left shoulder, which Ino recognized probably came from the oil attack from yesterday. Ino gasped slightly, trying to hold her reaction, as her ex-teacher stepped into the water and moaned slightly at the nice feeling.
“What did you think? That I would have beautiful firm skin like yours.” She almost found asking the inexperienced girl amusing and allowed a slight smile.
“I…er…well…” Ino stuttered, more than she had ever in her life. She almost felt envious, her one measly scar from when she cut herself in the kitchen four years ago paling in comparison. “Do they hurt?”
“…Sometimes.” Sayuki said sadly. “Some not as much as others. It goes away though, it’s just the mark that remains.” She sat down, allowing the water to cover her up to her neck, involuntarily moaning as she did, at the release of pain. “Although it’s feels real nice when I’m in the water like this.” Ino giggled slightly, causing the jounin to look at her critically. “What?”
“Heh, I think that’s the first time I’ve ever heard sensei sound that honest.”
“Huh?” The jounin replied confused.
“You never allow yourself to just…well, let your hair down and enjoy yourself.” Ino tried to explain, but the woman’s confused yet stern look made it difficult.
“I don’t have long hair.”
“It’s an expression.”
“Oh.” Sayuki thought about this for a moment, and figured out what the girl was trying to say. “I guess, when you get to jounin level…You never really find the times to enjoy yourself. Any spare time you have is for training, or just resting.”
“But surely a ninja needs to play as well…” Ino watched as the jounin started to move around, allowing herself to fully submerge and move to the middle of the pool.
“We…You…have plenty of time to play as children. Once childhood is over. You start getting on with your life. That’s what my sensei told me.” Sayuki moved towards the waterfall, allowing the heavy waters to fall on her head as Ino contemplated this.
“But what’s the point of life if you’re not happy?”
“Your happiness doesn’t matter. As a ninja, our duty is to the happiness of your country, to…” she trailed off in thought. Was she being a hypocrite, saying all this while the Lord of her country laid dead in a field somewhere, dead because of her? Ino seemed to realize this.
“Would the country have been happy…under that guys rule?”
“I’m not sure.” She turned around to hide her face, and Ino caught sight of the woman’s back. It wasn’t as bad as her front, but the wounds were still pretty heavy. But what really caught her eye was on the elite ninja’s left shoulder. There saw a beautiful tattoo of a large bird. A simple black, inscribed tattoo, but with an immense amount of detail to it. It was the same kind of bird that the kanji on the woman’s (skirt) represented. It didn’t look scarred at all. Sayuki noticed her staring.
“Oh this? This was a present from the previous Lord.” She stated, turning slightly to allow the young girl a better look. “He would have made the country happy. He could make anyone happy.” Ino noticed the upset look on the woman’s face, but she couldn’t understand it at all, the torturous feeling of losing somebody, knowing there was no way you could have known or done anything about it, but still, wishing you had been smarter enough to know, and to help them.
“Sayuki-sensei…” Ino said quietly. “You said earlier that, as ninjas, our happiness doesn’t matter, but, surely it would matter to our Lords.”
“Back home, Hokage-sama…Hokage-sama cares for all of us, more than we could ever know. He loves us, more than you think he could. He comes up to me and asks me how my mom’s flower business is going. He asks me if I’m still chasing Sasuke-kun, if…if me and Sakura have become friends again.”
“Our Lords and Leaders care about our happiness, even if they don’t look like they do. They worry about us and do what they think they can to help us. Even Raikage was like this, wasn’t he? He was going to have you killed by Danjuro so you wouldn’t be unhappy.”
“I think that’s going out on a limb.” Sayuki retorted, as she began to ponder its possibility.
“Your happiness does matter to someone. Everyone your friends with, even if you don’t realize it. That’s all friends care about when it comes to being a friend.”
“I’m not sure…” Sayuki began to say, when she noticed something, something far too subtle. She stayed still, only trying to discern it, not alert it to her knowing it was there. What was it? Only her instinct said there was something wrong, she couldn’t sense anything suspicious with her other senses.
“What is it?” Ino wasn’t stupid. She could tell when a jounin was being serious. She kept still as well, wondering if she should fake the rest a conversation while Sayuki tried to figure out what was wrong.
“Get your clothes on. We’re leaving.”
“Right.” Ino moved slowly, tactfully, as if she pretending she didn’t know she was being watched by hundred of guards. The two of them quickly slipped everything on, before aiming to walk over to where the group was.
They missed somehow.
“What?” Ino called out, as the mountainside stretched out around her, taking away the forest that had been there before and replacing it with thin air that fell for miles. Around her, Sayuki had ceased to exist and was replaced with a simple signpost, telling her that Heaven was directly in front of her. She stood confused. “Genjutsu?”
“Crud. They’re here.” Sayuki muttered, as the torch besides her gave out, filling the cavern with total darkness. Inside, all sight and sound disappeared, and it was hard to tell if one even existed. She shook her head, focusing on ignoring everything she could see, hear, smell, touch and taste. In this situation they would all be useless, even the wind was telling her lies. She had to trust her instincts
“Hhhmm, that’s weird.” Danjuro pondered, as his hand braced itself upon the frying pan. “I could of sworn I wasn’t in Hell a moment ago.” What was this? He was supposed to be one of the best trackers in the world. A genjutsu just couldn’t feel this real to him. Yet everything, the sounds of the wailing and damned, the visions of demons, stalking endless prey in the distance, the intense heat, everything told him that he was in Hell.
“I didn’t die, did I?” He had to seriously consider it, but nothing told him otherwise. He looked around and saw Kiba staring directly at him.
“Ah!” Kiba called out in shock, more surprised than he should be of the jounin presence right in front of his face. “What the…” He looked around. “What the hell?”
“I believe that’s pretty accurate.” Danjuro quipped, as he tried to find the gap in whatever illusion this was.
“How on earth did we get here?” Kiba asked, his anger hiding his fear.
“Beats me. I never did anything bad all my life.” The jounin said sarcastically, before ceasing to exist. Kiba wasn’t expecting this either, he didn’t fade, or even go ‘pop. He just stopped being there.
“What the helllllll?!”
“Did you hear that?” Shikamaru asked cautiously.
“Yeah, it sounded like Shino.” Shikamaru thought his friend’s comment over seriously. Would Shino ever scream, even in the worst situation? He dismissed it, not wanting to get too caught up in the illusion.
“Ey, Shikamaru.” He turned around. It was clear to him a lot of this was a genjutsu. It was troublesome, but he knew he just had to keep focused and not allow anything to catch him up within it. It should be simple enough, but breaking genjutsu was just too much of a hassle. He should probably wait until someone else did it.
“What is it, Chouji?” He turned around, swearing he had done it before. It was a girl standing there, with blond hair and pigtails and a goofy face that reminded him of a certain loud mouth. She was only wearing a thong.
“Do you like me?” She asked him sweetly, moving to embrace him, as he mind threatened to collapse at the thought of this girl’s… pressing into his chest. “…Because I really like you…” Shikamaru’s body kicked into instinctive mode and tried to pull away. “I know it’s… wrong for two boys to do…that, but if I do this…then we can…” Shikamaru screamed, pushing the girl aside and running away screaming.
She woke up.
She was in a desert, the white-eyed girl could tell this instantly. Nothing but sand in each direction, for miles around. The shifting winds bore into her, threatening to push her along, to take her away, yet her feet were still stuck to the ground with seaweed.
“What is this?” She tried to cover her eyes from the onslaught of desert, but there was too much of it. She tried to move, but the seaweed followed her every step and didn’t let her go. She activated her Byagugan, and could only see herself in the distant. “Is anyone there?”
There. Right there, she noted. There was somebody else, the jounin couldn’t tell who it was, whether it was one of her group, the enemy, or even just a large animal. She focused on it as hard as she could, to not allow them to disappear from her.
Hinata turned. Did she…just hear somebody? She shook slightly, feeling the fear wash over her like a bucket pretending to be filled with water, the feeling staying, even after it should have gone. She had no way of telling, she normally did, but now there was nowhere for her to focus, and she had no time to try and break the genjutsu.
“Chibiko! What are you doing with her?”
“What?” She spun round, tying to find her friend’s location, but no one showed. Was this also part of the illusion technique?
“I thought you were my friend, but now I find you’re her student. You stupid bitch! You told me you were a Leaf Genin!!!”
No…it was gone now. Was it just an illusion within an illusion? The feeling that someone was there, when in fact there was nothing. She shook her head once more, trying not to falling too much into all this. She needed to act now. Choosing a direction and closing her eyes, she ran, as far and as fast as she could. This technique could only cover a limited range after all.
“Where the hell do you think you’re going?” Hinata heard the voice again, but it was distorted, was it who she thought it was, or only another illusion. She heard it grunt to itself. “Guess I’ll deal with you then.” She thought she heard it sniff, but could only guess at it’s location.
“Oi! Look at me, all of you.” She heard glass shatter, and reality fall back into her life. Around her, were her teammates and fellow genin. The jounin were missing, although she had a feeling one of them was just here. Shikamaru was exhausted for some reason, and Kiba seemed to be relieved that it was cooler now. Akamaru was just barking everywhere.
Itako was standing above them all.
“Die.” She screamed and just down, pointing her polearm down at Ino, who was still trying to figure out if they were in the illusion or not. She only noticed the blind exile when Shino jumped to defend her, pushing the girl out of the way.
“What’s going on?”
“I am not aware.” Shino answered, pretty much confirming he was himself by his weird way of talking. They heard someone scream, as Hinata fell over near the point of the naginata.
“You fucking betrayed me bitch.” Itako stated, looking squarely at Hinata with hollow eyes. “I thought you were my friend, but you’re with that bitch who left me to die. I’ll kill all of you and teach her a lesson!” Waiting for no response, the young woman swung her weapon around her head a few times, before jumping at Hinata, intending to sever the girl at the neck. Hinata could do nothing but watch. Physically, she was far too slow. Emotionally, she was far too scared. Mentally, she felt lost as to why this girl was attacking her.
She stopped at the last second, and jumped away, as fourteen kunai embedded into the ground, cutting through her previous flight path. As she landed, she felt something else rush for her, a foot with orange striped padding came at her, she deflected it, but it’s owner was able to reposition himself and land softly. A final attacker came, trying to hit her with fingers. She evaded the first hand, but the second hand went to strike her eyes, only stopping when they failed to find their target within the empty sockets. She jumped back harshly again, high, landing in the tree where she had started. Three kids were now there, standing looking at her. One had the most amazingly stupid grin that Kiba had ever seen. One was a girl, with dango’s in her hair. The other had eyes as white as the girl behind him.
End chapter 8.
Ah, that felt a good chapter to write. Now I have to delete it and never do anything with it again, so the feeling stays with me forever.
I definitely feel with that I’ve become a more accomplished writer. The genjutsu trap session will hopefully come out as good as I intended it.
The Yaoi scene was instinctive, believe me. I didn’t plan to write it for several months…honest!!!
Although now that I’ve written it, I feel no reason to continue.