Chapter nine – Where the big fights begin, and the mysteries unravel to the point where you can’t put them back together again.
It was the beautiful morning after the passionate night. The two of them had been awake for a while now, but laying down in bed like this was just much more refreshing, like a long deserved break after working with the kids for so long. They were clutched in together, enjoying the feel of each other’s presence, as the sun joined them to provide more warmth.
“We really should be getting up you know?” Kurenai stated, having no intention of doing so just yet. “We may not have the kids at the moment, but there are still things we could do.”
“Heh. I can think of a few myself…” Asuma commented, getting a quizzical look from his lover.
“Again, but we just…” The male jounin started to laugh to himself.
“Well, it wasn’t entirely what I thinking. I was planning on their training course for when they get back. Chouji really needs a helping hand.”
“How do you think they’re doing at the moment? They have a week left, I hope nothing bad happens.” He could tell by her voice that the woman was dropping off again. He was half tempted to fall asleep himself, he took his cigarette out and placed it on the side, before pulling the covers up over both of them.
“I’m sure they’ll be fine.”
“Neji…Oniisan?” Hinata said slowly, more out of shock than her usual stutter. “What…What are you doing here?” Her white eyed, extremely serious cousin didn’t appear to look back at her, but the girl knew he was staring at her, his Byagugan allowing him to see almost all around him.
“We were sent to act as bodyguards in case anything went wrong, Hinata-san.” The girl next to him replied, when the male genin failed to answer. Hinata didn’t recognize her, or the black haired boy, but she guessed they were on Neji’s team.
“Bodyguards?” She said quietly. The young girl figured it made sense to an extent. The Branch family was supposed to be guardians of the Head family, but why had they sent Neji out? He seemed far too young for this, although she hadn’t seen or talked to him properly in a few years now, she figured such a job for an older, more accomplished member of the Branch family.
“Hinata-sama.” Neji called out, grabbing her attention. “We will get you out of here now. Be prepared to run.” He stated it simply, as he eyed the attacker. He noted her eyes were bleeding under the bandana. If he remembered right, she was technically blind. “It appears I made a mistake in leaving it up to you to rescuing her the last time. You are clearly insane.” He told her, shocking the girl behind him, as she realized the possibility of how long they had been near.
“Fuck you!” Itako screamed, slamming her elbow directly into his forehead. The eight surrounding genin watched in horror as began to Neji fell over slowly, before speeding up and flying into a nearby tree, breaking it in two.
“What the?” Tenten screamed out. “How did she…” She judged the overall speed. The girl was definitely a little slower than Lee, and Neji could handle his speed easily. What did she miss? She looked over to her comrade, who lay there unconscious. “Dammit…”
“Tenten.” Her second partner called out, breaking her chain of thought. “You see to getting Hinata away from here.”
“Lee.” She replied, temporarily impressed at her comrade’s bravery as she could tell what he was implying.
“I shall buy you some time.” He turned to her, and flashed a nice guy pose, his teeth ‘ting’ing in the wind. She was annoyed, but impressed at his confidence. It was short lived.
“Lee, look out!” The boy in the green suit turned just in time to see Itako swing her weapon at him. He ducked down to avoid it, initiating his own counter attack by swinging his foot upwards. It connected with the girl’s chin, or at least he thought it did, but seconds later, her knee propelled itself into his stomach, knocking him flying as well. Tenten and the others watched him fly away.
“Damn it.” Tenten muttered, pulling out six shuriken and slipping them between her fingers. Judging by the girl’s speed, she would have no time to properly reload. She knew she would have to make these eight attacks count. The attacker was ignoring her now, and going for Hinata again, cursing her head off. Tenten had judged her next position, and tossed two shuriken, one in the path of her attacker, and one in the predicted path where the girl would jump to avoid the first one. The girl disappeared, as did both shuriken. It took the Leaf genin a second too long to figure out what had happened. She turned around and threw three more shuriken, in an attempt to block the two that were now being thrown right back at her. All three missed again, and she was only able to avoid two more of them, the third one embedded itself into her left arm. She cried out in pain, as her legs gave up on her. She saw the girl continue to fall at her, with nothing she could do in time.
“I see. It’s like that, is it?” He was looking at a tree. He couldn’t see any tree, or feel it, or even taste it even if he bit the air in front of him, but he knew that, here in Hell, there was a tree right in front of him.
He pulled his fist back, aim at where the tree should be, and slammed his fist forward, full speed, full strength. The punch was executed flawlessly, he felt the muscles meet no resistance, and the air flowing down his forearm. If was as if he had hit nothing, his skin showed no sign of tear, and his muscles weren’t bruised.
Yet his chakra had had to fill a small gap.
“What an amazing genjutsu.” He said aloud, as he tried to feel his arm for anything out of the ordinary. “It covers everything, even hiding the fact that my hand is probably bleeding.”
He looked around the immense landscape. The screams of the damned, the wailing of demons, Hell was still presence and Hell seemed to have no intention of going anywhere. “Still, it was already obvious that it was a genjutsu, otherwise I’d be seeing pretty angels and other tasty morsels.” He brought his forefingers together and formed one of the oldest of seals. “Kai!” He used his chakra to try and dispel as much of the illusion as possible, but he barely felt it budge. He tried again. “Kai!” The moment he finished, he knelt down and tried to grab the earth, hoping to find grass, but instead only finding dark asphalt.
“Man, this is annoying. Do I just wait until it goes away? I’ll be dead by then.” He was pissed, he didn’t usually ever have problems with genjutsu, the only time recently was that one jounin back when he was fighting his rival. Who was causing this anyway, he thought to himself? The last thing that he remembered was scouting the area, but if that were the case, the person would have to be at least twenty miles away for him not to notice them. His eyes grew wide in realization. He knew what he had to do.
He ran, it didn’t matter where, as long as he kept going in the same direction. As he did, he brought his hands back together to form the seal, chanting the release technique as he moved along. It makes sense, if the one doing this ain’t too close, then there must be at least small weak points in the illusion. If i can find just one. He stopped, as the genjutsu closed in on him again, his dispel technique still proving ineffective. Something had just flashed to him for a moment. There was someone there, they were sitting on the ground if he felt it right. He tried again. Yes,definitely somebody. They disappeared again, the genjutsu quickly filling in any gaps it could find. He moved in their direction, he couldn’t tell if they could see him or not. It didn’t matter, he just needed another pair of hands for what he wanted to try. Releasing his chakra around him again, they were getting closer, yet not moving.
A demon passed him by, asking him if he had any money for bus fare. He resisted the natural urge to cook it on the spot. He lunged forward, guessing where the person was, and tried to pick them up. He couldn’t tell if he had succeeded or not, it certainly didn’t feel like he was holding anything. He just hoped for the best, and started running again, keeping his legs moving as fast as possible in any direction. He traveled a mile in two minutes, going faster than humanly possible. He figured that had to be enough. He just hoped that whoever it was hadn’t tried to wiggle away from him. He landed in a lava pit and submerged down for infinity. Here, he could hear the scream of thousands who had fallen down here by accident, those doomed to spend their eternity burning a death that would kill anybody in an instant.
It was getting repetitive, and if he wasn’t careful he might get noticed, but he performed the release technique again anyway. He sensed them clearly for a moment, the person was still with him. Still sitting, like they hadn’t even noticed. He couldn’t tell who it was though. He sat down directly behind them, and did the technique again, getting ready to see their arms. He got them, they were on the person’s lap. He grabbed them before the technique disappeared, noticing the other person squirm as he did so. He hoped they would understand what he was trying to do as he positioned his fingers in a certain way and hoped that this wasn’t just some forest boy who didn’t even know ninjutsu. One last time, has to work. The demon caught up to him, exhausted and out of breath, telling him he had dropped his wallet.
“Kai!” He shouted loudly, immediately feeling the chakra of the person in front of him as the wall around them evaporated and shattered, the noise that was made was terrible, and the demon looked very pissed off. He realized he was looking at Sayuki’s back.
“Woah!” He muttered, jumping up and away from the woman. She turned around and looked at him, a mixture of shock and anger in her face, as if she didn’t know what to expect yet ready to kill it all the same.
“Oh, it’s you.” She said simply in the end.
“ ‘Oh, it’s you?’ Is that all you have to say?” Danjuro said mockingly, as he pretended to look hurt. She had stopped paying attention and began looking around. “Where are the children?” She asked, looking at him.
“How would I know? I’ve just been ignoring a denizen of the neatherrealm that looked that a super hero for the past ten minutes.” He looked closer at her, she seemed a little worried, hidden by a layer of stern pretense. Isn’t she going to learn already?
“We need to get moving. During all this, I sense someone very dangerous. If she’s not here, then she’s probably going after the kids.”
“Someone dangerous? Like who, did they set up this genjutsu thing?” She had already began to hop up the mountain. He followed her as the conversation continued.
“I’m not sure if she could. She’s not dangerous to us, but the kids won’t stand a chance at all.”
“Who is she?”
“She is…she was my pupil.”
“Ah, I see. That crap.” He said honestly. “More mental burden. Are you going to be okay?” She paused in thought for a moment, as he watched her think it over.
“I don’t know.” She said sullenly. “I can’t be what I was as a child. I can’t be what I was as an adult anymore. IT confusing, and there’s a lot of conflicting thoughts in my head. I just don’t know what I can be.”
“Pfft.” The male jounin seemed to laugh with himself at that comment. “That’s easy. Just be yourself.”
They just weren’t moving! Her feet were usually so easy to control, she didn’t even think about it half the time, but now, when it truly matters above all else, they wouldn’t shift. Why? She had been struck in the arm, but she couldn’t feel anything below her waist. She struggled futilely one last time, before the naginata went to strike.
“Meat Tank!” They both heard someone scream. The girl twisted out the way again, as a huge ball rolled straight through her intended path. Tenten looked in on in morbid shock, as the ball stopped its own movement and repositioned itself to attack the girl again, rolling around a few times on the same spot before charging off again. It took her a few seconds to realize that it must have been one of the genin. She felt someone pick her up from behind, and move her away from the current battlefield.
“You’re Tenten, right?” Ino asked. “I remember you were in the class above us.”
“Yeah, Ino, isn’t it?” Tenten found herself slightly embarrassed by being rescued by a group one year younger than herself, but it couldn’t be helped. Ino nodded.
“What is going on here?”
“We figured you might know more than us.” Tenten began, as they landed next to Shikamaru and Kiba. Shino had moved forward, but seemed hesitant in attacking. “From what we thought, this girl was a friend of Hinata’s or something. She helped Shino and Kiba save her from a kidnapper yesterday.”
“A friend?” Ino said shocked. “But Sayuki-sensei said that she was an exile from the Cloud village. Why would she help Hinata?”
“I don’t know, but now she’s attacking us for some reason and she seems focused on Hinata.”
“She seems angry.” Shikamaru stated, actually slightly frightened. It was bad enough when girls were ‘normal’ around him. When they were angry, all he wanted to do was run.
“Get lost already, you freak!” Itako shouted, using her Naginata as a bat to ricochet Chouji away. He slammed into where Shino was, but the boy simply disappeared into a hoard of bugs. She tried to watch him, but was honestly confused for a moment as she failed to pinpoint his location. In truth he was nowhere, he only existed as thousands of insects for that one moment, but the moment he wasn’t, he was right behind her, and she was on him.
The naginata stabbed through his left pectoral muscle, penetrating his heart. Itako ignored it of course, her raged filled brain at least active enough to recognize kawarimi as it happened. She finally figured him to be next to Hinata, and charged that way again. As she approached him, he stepped to the side, grabbing her naginata, except it wasn’t there anymore, the staff part slammed into his jawbone, knocking him down. The girl followed through her attack and kicked him in the stomach, any feelings of companionship she might have felt now gone in the winds.
“Shino!” Hinata called out, still uncertain as to whether she should be fighting or trying to calm Itako down. Whatever the reason the girl was attacking, it was certainly a misunderstanding, and she would hate to see anyone get hurt just because of that. She stepped forward as the blind girl went to attack the boy again.
“Huh?” The exile hadn’t been expecting that. Her ‘friend’ now stood in front of the boy, with arms outstretched, as if to block Shino from any more danger.
“Pl…ple…ase stop this… Itako-san.” She said weakly, with fear evident in her voice. The blind girl just stood there for a moment, whether she was looking at Hinata in her own way was impossible to tell, then she started to shiver, brimming with anger.
“You’re afraid of me…Chibiko?” Itako questioned, rage evident in her voice. “Of me…I thought we were friends?” Hinata could only look on, not knowing what to say.
“First, I find you standing with that woman, being a teammate of that woman, betraying me, and now you’re scared of me…it doesn’t make any sense. Were you trying to trick me?” Hinata stuttered, saying nothing in the end. She didn’t know what to make of the older girl in front of her. She was the one not making any sense, yet, she felt like the girl would be crying, if she had the eyes to do so.
“Screw you.” The exile went to straight out stab the Hyuuga girl with no warning. The movement was swift, and it was only by Shino taking the weight from under Hinata’s legs that caused her to fall over, away from the attack. It had been a desperation move though, and they were now both on the floor. The girl went to stab them again.
“Tsuuga!” Kiba had finally reacted to the idea of both his comrades being dead and moving automatically, allowing his body to spin round at intense speed, covering the distance to his friends and causing Itako to jump out the way at the last moment. As she landed, he stopped his technique just a few feet away from her.
“Calm down girl. This is crazy.” Simply asking her to calm down seemed to have a slight affect. “We’re your friends.”
“No you’re not. You can’t be.” She stated. “I realize it now. I was a fool to have tried to be friends with you.” She ran at him again, disappearing at the last second to strike. He blocked her with his arm, and watched as Akamaru tried to ram her in Goyuju form. The dog missed yet again, as the battle continued.
“What’s with this girl?” Ino stated, as they found themselves watching from a distance, the girl didn’t know what she could do at the moment, as she watched the one fighting her friends, grabbed one of the Kiba’s and throw him into Shino, who had just gotten back up again. Both fell down unconscious, the dog reverting back to his natural form as he did so. “I can’t believe we’re losing against an angry kid!”
“Well, she is older than us.”
“That shouldn’t make any difference. We’re more focused at the moment. We should easily be able to take advan…” Tenten pushed her away at the last second, as the naginata went flying in their direction, Kiba having successfully disarmed it.
“More focused, huh?” Tenten said smiling as she looked down at the girl. “Doesn’t look that way to me.”
“Be more serious.” A voice called out to them from behind. They turned round to find Neji waking up, his wounds not as bad as originally thought. “In this situation, if we are not careful, we might really die.”
“Well, what can we do?” Ino cried. “She’s too strong. She’s dealing with all of us easily.”
“We need to attack all at once.” Shikamaru said simply.
“I don’t think piling on is going to work.” Ino said annoyed at her friend. Shikamaru just closed his eyes, trying hard not to get too annoyed himself. He began to explain further.
“She seems to be able to sense our attacks the second we do them. I’m guessing she has a high level of awareness.”
“What, but she’s blind.” Ino pointed out untactfully.
“Even so, she has managed to follow you all the way from the Hidden Village of Clouds.” Neji stated. “She was also able to catch Tenten’s shuriken and throw them back at her in an instant. She is more than just blind. It is almost like her lack of eyes make her ‘see’ better.”
“So it’ll probably be best to attack all at once and cover more areas than she would be able to handle. It might be time to use that combo we’ve been working on.” Chouji wandered up to them, feeling slightly nauseous.
“That will not be necessary.” Neji said, grabbing everyone’s attention. “I shall handle her alone.”
“What, you can’t possibly.”
“You are all too weak. Six bugs such as yourselves cannot defeat a raging bull.” Shikamaru instinctively raised his hand in front of her to prevent Ino from shouting at the pompous genin. He thought it over. The older boy was right to an extent. Could they defeat something of this level? Did they even need to bother? It was all too troublesome, but they at least had to subdue or escape from her. They might be able to stall until the jounin come back. Their substitute teacher had been able to fight her without problems the last time, but how long was she going to take?
He stopped in thought and looked round the area. Chouji was stumbling to where they were standing, Shino and Akamaru were out cold and Kiba was fighting an unarmed Itako and yet still losing. As far as he could tell, the illusion had been dispelled, unless it was exceptionally good and this was all in his mind. Even though it was gone from here, he had a feeling that the jounin were still stuck in it somewhere. For that matter, what broke the illusion anyway? He composed his thoughts, all that didn’t matter unless they beat the girl. He went to complain out loud, when he heard a groan. Tenten was poking her teammate.
“You’re still groggy Neji. Rest a moment.” She stated, slightly amused at her friend’s weakness, as the lightest tap brought him to his knees. She turned back to the others. “Try that combo you were talking about, while he recovers.” They heard a groan behind them. “And do it now, that boy’s unconscious!” They all turned round to where she was looking, finding Kiba slumping to the floor, the only sign of life being a small grumble they could hear. The psychotic teenager turned once again to her target, uncaring as to whether the boy lived or died, still as uninjured as before all her attackers tried to get her.
“Crap. Chouji!” He called out to his nakama, who was already way ahead of him. Bulking up with baikan no justu. The boy charged blindly at his opponent. In truth, Chouji was more scared than anyone else here. He didn’t know how he had done so well so far without falling. He thought he was to be the first person to get taken out.
“Get lost fatty!” Itako shouted, tapping his side. Despite his extreme anger, the boy could do nothing as he found himself mysteriously propelled across the forest clearing.
“Aikijutsu!” Tenten muttered under her breath, as she prepared to run off to protect him. Figuring the girl was going to strike back. She was stopped by a hand in front of her.
“Wait.” Shikamaru insisted. “The reason we’re doing so badly is because everyone just keeps charging in. It’s how everyone keeps getting injured, including yourself.” Tenten looked down to her arm, the adrenaline was hiding most of the pain, but it looked a lot worse than it was.
“It’s because we don’t have time to do anything else. That girl intends to kill us all.”
“Just hold back. When I say, attack with your strongest weapon. You do have one, right?” Tenten just looked at his face, surprised to see it full of conviction, despite having done the least out of all of them so far. She nodded slightly. “Good. Ino?”
“Ready.” She said, as she netted her fingers together and joined her thumbs, creating a hole between her hands that lined up with the exile. Itako caught a glance of this, and recognized the move somehow. “Ninpou…”She was too far to do anything though, she started to run at the girl anyway. “Shintenshin no jutsu!”
Itako’s body stopped running and cringed slightly, awaiting the inevitable unwillingly. As she stood not knowing what was going to happen next, she heard the girl slump to the floor, before disappearing from her senses, suggesting she was unmoving and unconscious. “She missed?” Itako thought, knowing it shouldn’t have been impossible.
In her rage filled mind, she wsung her head round, she sniffed the air ferally, growling to herself where she didn’t get anything. Her ears pricked up, but they heard nothing except the breathing of everyone nearby from the boy on the floor next to her to the birds miles in the distance. Everyone around her was wating for something, but she couldn’t tell what. It was like being at a party with something written on your face. You knew there was something up but couldn’t even begin to tell what. IT was making her angrier, yet her instinct told her moving would be dangerous. The girl had done something, but she needed to know what before she could strike next.
Something shifted behind her. She turned round to meet it and found Kiba standing there, about to stab her with a sharp item. She gasped a little, before dropping on her knees, avoiding the unconscious boy’s strike. She slowly began to figure it out, as he swung at her three more times. He wasn’t moving as he had before, resorting to knife attacks and simpler kicks. Before, his fighting style had been more savage, like a brawler mixed with a wolf. This had to be the girl, somehow controlling his body, fighting with her own style. What did it matter? She was still a lot faster than either of them.
She grabbed the foot at it swung for her head, and immediately lifted it high, testing the limits on the boy’s flexibility. He gave out s it went past his shoulders, surprising the girl as she fell over with it. As she tried to lift herself off the floor, Ino cursed. Getting used to a new body in combat was too much of a bad idea. Kiba’s natural flexibility was a lot less than hers. She looked up to see the older girl just standing there. She grabbed the boy by the neck and lifted her up, beginning to squeeze the life out of her. Ino panicked, half of her wanted to release the technique and return to her own body, but the other half was concerned for Kiba, who she would leave unconscious to die if she left. The only choice she was left with was to fruitlessly pound against the girl’s arms. Itako responded by squeezing harder, and Ino felt death coming on.
Then, everything just seemed to stop.
They had gone quiet at the last conversation. Only the birds chirping in the hot sun filled the air. He felt very unsocial, despite the overall danger of what was happening, he felt like he should be talking. This was a brilliant opportunity to get to know the woman he had been obsessing over for so very long. He aimed for some kind of basic conversation.
“So, whose this girl then?” He asked simply.
“She was my student three years ago.” Sayuki began, clearly waiting for him to ask so she could answer. “I didn’t want children then as much as I didn’t want them now. They were just an annoying burden that Raikage…sama put on me.”
“Itako was…it’s kind of hard to describe. She was goofy looking, with these big, thick lensed glasses, yet she was popular with all the kids her age…”
“…and bottom of the class. Is that you three?” She looked at the three children in front of her. Forehead protecters tightened securely round their heads, tighter than was needed. A clear sign of a rookie.
“Yes miss.” The three children called out. She could tell by their reaction. They were glad to have her as their teacher. She had become known as one of the stronger in the village, and now she was going to lead them. It was the complete opposite for them.
“Right. Your first mission begins tomorrow at nine o’clock. Get some sleep and some food and meet me by the Ishida residence. You’re to weed the garden. Dismissed.” Sayuki went for the door, leaving three confused genin.
“Excuse me, Sayuki?” She turned round to face the girl positioned at the bottom of the class. She looked as annoyed as the jounin felt.
“What is it?”
“Is that it? Don’t we like, get to know each other and stuff?” She stared at the thick rims that covered the girl’s eyes for a moment, an expressionless look on her face.
“I do not wish to get to know you.” The jounin replied simply. “There is no need.” She turned to walk out of the door, stopping one final time. “And lose those glasses. Things that big will get in the way.”
“Ah I can’t.” Itako said, her high pitched voice annoyed the ears of the jounin. “I can’t see a thing without them on. It’s okay, they’re hooked behind, so they won’t fall off.”
“Whatever.” Sayuki replied one last time, then disappeared to prevent further conversation. Itako looked pissed, as the two boys behind her seemed to celebrate.
“Wow, she’s so cool.” One of them commented. “I can’t believe she’s our teacher.”
“She seems a little stuck up though.” The other one stated.
“Fool. She’s just being stern. It’s like tough love and all that.” As the two carried on talking, Itako swore under her breath, releasing the humiliation. After a moment, she thought of something, and began to grin.
“Looks like we’re going to have to do a little initiation ceremony for our new jounin.” She grinned evily, feeling an incessant need for revenge flow through her. The boys behind her just looked on nervously, as they felt a passion flow through the girl.
“What…What is this?” Itako growled as she felt herself no longer able to squeeze against the boy’s throat, her hands released their grip slightly, not dropping the possessed boy, but not killing him either.
“Phew, that was close.” Shikamaru sighed in relief, as he get his hands in a particular position. “It looks like I was right.”
“Huh?” Tenten looked around, not sure what was going on. “What just happened?”
“Heh. It seems she’s brilliant at sensing where people and thing are all around her, and with your speed, you react just as fast, but you’re not like those with Byugugan. You can’t sense chakra, and you can’t sense things without physical form.”
“What the fuck?” She struggled futilely, her body wasn’t doing anything she said. She kept trying nonetheless. Why couldn’t she move? She began to scream inside her head, as she pounded upon this invisible cage. The scream manifested itself outside as a loud growl, shocking the two remaining genin. Shikamaru tried to remain focused.
“Which means, above all else, it’ll be impossible for you to sense where shadows are.” He grinned and sat down, and she found herself copying his movement. “The Kagemane no jutsu worked perfectly.”
“Kagemane?” Tenten muttered to herself, as she watched the girl continue to struggle as hard as she could, her body listening to nothing her enraged mind was saying. Shikamaru turned to the remaining player on the field.
“Use the technique now.”
“What? But she’s caught.”
“Unfortunately, we can’t just catch her. It’s why I didn’t have Ino just possess her with Shintenshin no jutsu. When this wears off, she’s just going to attack us again. You’ll have to do something to her that mans we can escape.”
“Well…fine.” Tenten acquiesced. She pulled the scroll out firmly. She didn’t want to take any chances with this girl. She didn’t really want to have to kill her, but she didn’t want to risk the girl escaping and fighting back. “To think Ino would use the boy as a weapon like that. Impressive.” As if reminding him, Tenten watched as Shikamaru began to make certain motions, positioning himself, and thus Itako, to throw the unconscious Kiba, as well as the unconscious Ino out of the way. She landed about ten feet away.
“Is that enough?” He asked the girl beside him.
“That’s fine.” She stated. She planted the scroll in the ground, and kneeled down by it. She was a little against doing this. She knew she would need this technique in a month’s time when the chuunin exam took place, but it was unlikely there were any participants here anyway besides herself and her team. She braced herself and formed the seals, observing her target the whole time. The girl was screaming louder and louder, than a cornered wolf that was refusing to admit capture, believing it could escape if it just snarled loud enough.
With the first half of the technique complete, Tenten picked up the scroll and jumped high into the air, spinning around her body as she didn’t so before letting it go. The symbols were incoherent, even to her, but she knew enough to start the technique. From the puffs of smoke that began appearing, weapons came. A kunai, a shuriken, a stiletto, bladed nunchaku, needles, then more and more, she couldn’t really count them. They stayed in the air with her until they became uncountable. After three seconds, the summonings stoped, and she braced herself one last time.Would this be the first time she would take a life?
“Ninpou: Senbun Ryuu!” The sharpened objects threw towards their target, whom was too busy trying to free herself from her imaginary prison, that she was only just able to notice the swarm of daggers. She struggled harder and harder, growling louder and louder. The first wave of ten approached her and she seemed powerless to stop them.
“Zanshin!” Shikamaru retracted in shock as he felt his shadow return to him of it’s own violation, just as the thousand dragons technique found it’s target, slamming into the ground and bringing up dust that soon covered the entire area. Gravity finally noticing her, Tenten fell to the ground, landing safely, before being kneed in the chest by Itako.
“What the?” Tenten gasped, as the knee winded her. She looked directly at the girl, now straight in front of her. She had only one small scratch on her bare left shoulder. “Impossible…how did you…” she didn’t get time to finish, as she unhooked from Itako’s flying knee, the girl swung around, using the momentum to crash her fist into the girl’s face. Tenten took the blow full force, and just fell into the ground, totally knocked out. Itako watched her for a few moments, wanting the girl to stand up again. When she didn’t, she started to walk up to her, intending to finish it.
“Kagemane no jutsu!” She heard him and stepped to the side, looking in his direction with a stern face. Shikamaru just grinned, having aimed for the direction she was standing in the first place. Then, she stepped to the side again, and he readjusted his shadow to reach her, the he had to do it again, and again. For every direction he went she seemed to respond, avoiding the shadow again and again. She slowly got closer to him and when she was near enough, jumped at him with a flying foot kick. Still stuck in his own technique, Shikamaru couldn’t break away in time, and soon felt her foot connect with his face, slamming him straight into a jutting rock. The boy was instantly knocked cold.
As the forest clearing became quiet, Itako looked around at the one person left standing. She was sitting down on the floor, checking over her unconscious friend. She stalked towards her, as Hinata caught sight of her, instinctively whimpering to herself as she did so. As the blind girl approached her, Shino, slightly conscious, went for one last attempt, and tried to grab Itako. It was a pointless action, the girl simply avoiding it and stamping on his arm. Hinata gasped as she heard it break, before her once friend kicked him out of the way.
“Why do you make me do this Chibiko?” The girl above her asked. “I didn’t want to.”
“I…er I mean…” Itako didn’t give her chance to answer. Grabbing the girl by the collar of her hoodie, she lifted her up and above her, staring at her once again with hollow eyes.
“It’s because you had to be placed with that fucker teacher of mine. The stupid bitch who’ll do anything for her country. Even leave her own fuckin’ students to die.”
The man was laughing at her. Her! That wasn’t how it was supposed to go. As she pulled her glasses off, now being unable to see even with them on, she saw the fuzzy outline of her jounin sensei, with what she guessed was an extremely pissed look on her face. Besides her, the man didn’t seem to have any intention to stop laughing.
“What was this about, you stupid little girl?” The jounin sensei asked her. Itako looked emotionally wounded as she wiped the gunk off her forehead. It had cost her a fair bit to get this amount of cheap oil, and now she was paying for it again. She started to walk off as the man sighed to himself, his laughing continuing regardless.
“Where do you think you are going?” Sayuki called out to her as she tried to leave. Itako froze, an edge in her teachers voice that she had never heard before, grabbed hold of her brain and held it there in fear.
“Ah, leave off her Sayuki. She was just trying to play a joke on you. All kids do it, it’s sort of like they’re way of wanting to be friendly with you.” She recognized the man now. How could she not, even without paying him attention a moment ago, he was still famous across the entire country, especially since he ruled around a quarter of it.
“Deji-kun!” Dejiro stated, an insistent edge in his voice. She watched as her teacher blushed slightly, his authoritative tone contrasting with the childish request.
“Deji…kun.” She cleared her voice and continued as usual. “I have been ordered to protect you at a time when your life is supposedly at risk. Events such as these are dangerous. For all I know, this girl is actually a assassin for somebody and was working on distracting me. She should be glad I didn’t respond by killing her. Instead, she is just covered in oil.” Dejiro looked slightly annoyed now, but not as bad as Itako.
“You’d…You’d doubt your own student?” She questioned, trying to hold back the wave of emotion that was pushing into her easily. “I hate you!” The girl screamed loudly, her voice echoing around the village square, before running as fast as she could. Sayuki didn’t seem the least bit concerned. She looked at her lord with a faint smile, which dimmed instantly when she saw his face.
“What is it?” She asked confused, as he looked at her with a grimace for the first time.
“She is supposed to be your student, Sayuki.” He explained. “One who is meant to learn off you and be respectful of you. Like this, she will only hate you.”
“Are you saying I should have let her get away with that?”
“Well, not entirely, but you shouldn’t go as far as to say you might have killed her like she was a common enemy. You should go and apologize.”
“She’s worse than a common enemy,” Sayuki muttered, “she’s a rookie, and a kid too. She’s even worse. She’s the last of her clan and everything, and she’s supposed to have one of the strongest bloodlines in the village, but she’s the weakest child I’ve ever met.”
“We were all weak once Sayuki.”
“I’m going. I’m going.” Sayuki whined, as she stormed off after the girl. “Take care of things, Yamato.” She said to the invisible entity hiding in the shadows.
“What?” Was the girl speaking nonsense? She couldn’t tell. She couldn’t do anything. She felt so weak, at a time where she had told herself to be strong. Everyone else was down, she needed to be the one to rescue them, but she couldn’t.
“I’ll show her. Let’s see if she remains as fucking stoic when she finds a bunch of corpses.” Hinata watched as Itako’s hand was engulfed in smoke, a small knife appearing there slowly afterwards. She shook in fear again, as her eyes were brought up close to the knife.
“I’m sorry Chibiko. I truly am.” Chibiko closed her eyes, as her hands dug in deeply to the hand holding her.
Neji dove into her, as hard as he could, pushing all of his weight against the older girl, knocking her to the side. She fell, dropping both the knife and Hinata. Hinata fell down, and quickly shuffled to get back up. Neji was standing there, in a stance unique to the gentle fist style, ready to fight.
“Hinata-sama. We will have to fight her together if we are to beat her.” Neji stated simply. He was confident of their abilities. As two members of the Hyuuga family, even if they were children, they would be able to handle this raging bull. He waited for her, keeping his eyes on the blind girl as she picked herself up, expecting Hinata to prepare her stance as well. He glanced over when she did nothing, remaining just as apprehensive as before.
“What are you doing?” He asked her harshly. “This is a fight.”
“I don’t want to fight her Neji-niisan.”
“She’s my friend.” Hinata tried to explain. “She’s just confused, that’s all.” In response to this, Itako got up and launched herself at the shy girl. Neji quickly intervened, batting Itako’s fist out of the way, but missing her foot. It kicked into Hinata’s stomach and knocked her away. The girl’s efforts then refocused onto the boy’s and he had to dodge three attacks from different sides, before finally back flipping out of the way.
“Why can’t you just fuck off? Itako screamed, having enough of the boy’s presence. She charged blindly at him again, and he prepared himself to fight her off.
“Byagugan!” As she approached him, she disappeared, appearing behind him. His eyes noticed immediately, and turned to block her first kick. She swung through, twisting her body to attack with a back fist, which was subsequently blocked and followed through with a second punch, which Neji harmlessly ducked under. Neji countered, opening both palms and moving to push them into her stomach, assaulting her chakra source. She twisted to the side just as easily as he did a moment ago, avoiding the first attack and sensing his second attack, a hook kick to her intended destination, she stopped herself mid twist and allowed herself to fall to the floor.
“Interesting.” Neji mused quietly, as he realized their Taijutsu skills were equal. Itako didn’t stop to comment and moved towards him again. He decided to opt for something different, and let her get close. Her attack was too simple, but he guessed an effort to avoid it would result in a stalemate again. His Byugugan meant he could now see at her level, thus she wouldn’t be able to counter his counter successfully like the first time. However, it did mean that the way they were continuing, it would be a battle of attrition. As she reached for him, he started it.
“Kaiten!” He shouted, as he let his chakra flow from its pores, he knew she couldn’t sense it, since she failed to see Shikamaru’s shadow earlier. He watched as the wave of chakra hit her. It wasn’t as fast as he liked, but he knew enough of the technique to spin a small amount of chakra round his body. It slammed into her again, she stayed standing, and he began to walk forward to allow the wave to hit her again.
“Zanshin!” He heard her cry, dodging the wave of chakra almost instantly and stepping through it, kneeing him in the groin as she got close enough. He gasped at this, and felt his knees buckle, feeling an explosion of energy coming from himself as she went for the next blow, a carefully aimed kunai in her hand.
“Kaiten!” He shouted again. This time, chakra flowed through every part of his body and he was able to spin it round successfully, much more successful than before. It now no longer left a gap that she could fill but swarmed round him entirely. She jumped out of the way, waiting for him to finish.
“I see now.” He said, remaining calm, as the energy disappaited around him. Despite his outward appearance, he was a little confused. In that one second she hit him, he felt like he had grown a little. His chakra could leave more places than just his hand, and he could see her chakra clearly. He had just become stronger somehow and understood clearly. “That Zanshin you shout about. I know what it is.”
“So…you guys hated each other.” Danjuro commented, the only real thing he had learnt from the story so far.
“Actually, after Dejiro’s little lecture, we started to speak and…well I guess it’s because of Dejiro, he always had a weird effect on me, but we actually became reasonably friendly. I mean I was still her teacher, and she disliked a lot of the things I did.”
“Like…” Danjuro was loving this to an extent, pumping information out of somebody who was so willing to talk. All he had to was have her admit a weakness, like being allergic to vinegar or something.
“The main thing was that I always followed orders without question and tried to teach them the same thing. It seemed such a necessary thing for a ninja, but she was always questioning it. I suppose I could sympathize some of the time, like when I killed that ten year old sand ninja, but she just hated the following orders in general thing.”
“She was probably a girl that liked her freedom and was beginning to realize that she might lose it.”
“Ninja’s aren’t free…There is no alternative to that.” Even as she said the words, the jounin found herself doubting them for the first time ever. What Ino had said to her was shaking her up further. She felt her spirit was about to explode from her body and get away.
“So, what else happened? It doesn’t seem like the story had a happy ending?” Despite their conversation, Danjuro was still being as alert to his surroundings as always. He had found the kids, and know of them seemed dead. They could wait until he had the full story.
“Itako did something unforgivable two years ago. Something that could never be let go.”
“What? She run away or something.” Sayuki grimly shook her head.
“Much worse. She…killed her two teammates during a mission.”
“What!” Danjuro was truly shocked. Despite the world of espionage they lifted in, killing one’s comrade’s was an extremely rare thing, and possibly the most unforgivable thing a ninja could do, especially one’s direct teammates.
“I don’t fully know how it happened myself. I wasn’t there at the time.” Sayuki’s voice had lowered in tone, her eyes hidden under her hair. He could tell just by looking. This was her secret shame she was about to tell him.
It was a C rank mission. Their first as a team. It was nothing to her, but she had to force herself not to just complete it by herself. These missions were for them. To teach them, whilst she stayed on as supervisor, ready to help if they requested, or stand in if they screwed up.
There should have been nothing to it really. They had to retrieve a scroll containing information about supply routes from Rochester to Kabule. The mission effectively had no danger in the slightest, and she wasn’t expecting any. They reached their location without problems. They met their contact perfectly, and got the scroll without any problems She even let the children have the night off when they had successively got what they were looking for. She kept hold of the scroll, just in case.
It was nighttime when things started to go less than perfect.
She had returned back to their hotel room after training hard and eating her fill. The three genin were currently running round town causing havoc and mischief the way kids do. Maybe she was feeling lazy, but she hadn’t lectured them or told them that their time would be best served training or anything. Maybe she had just wanted to get rid of them for a short while. She may have been on terms of respect with them, but she still couldn’t get rid of her deep-seated feelings about children. She just couldn’t help hating them, even if only a little, even the mature ones, and especially the childish ones.
All thoughts of the children disappeared when she opened the door to the room. The place had been ransacked. There was no mess and, to the untrained eye, no real proof to the claim. However, it was simple to tell. One of the curtains had been pulled open. Ginji’s bag was on the floor next to hers when it had been by his bed earlier. The cupboard was open just a little more than it should. It was enough for her to tell somebody had entered to look for something, before fixing it up and leaving quietly.
It was all too obvious. They had to be after the scroll, for whatever reasons, and if they weren’t here now, then they must have gone for the second weakest target that might have the scroll. The children. As she rushed out the door, she confirmed that she still had it on her.
It took her but moments to rush out into the rain and reach where the kids were. How they had gotten into the forest was a mystery, but she never even asked herself the question as she got there. She found her body skidding to a halt as her eyes and ears took in the information. To her right, she saw the corpses of Ginji and Ban, two rookies, one friendly and one serious, now each nothing, ever again. To her left, a man she didn’t recognize, he was dead on the floor as well. Whether he was the man in question she would never truly know, only circumstantial evidence would be left by the end of the night, and nothing to prove his, or the Hidden Rock villages involvement.
And in the middle was Itako, on her knees, as the heavens covered them all with its glory. It took Sayuki a few moments to realize that the girl was bleeding heavily from her face, a large gash, caused from a knife wound, covered both her eyes. The girl was screaming louder than anything she had ever heard, her arms and clothes were covered in blood. The man had no blood on him, his cause of death being a snapped neck, but the boys were covered in it.
She stepped towards them, and she saw the blind girl trun towards her.
“Keep away!” She screamed. “Before falling down into tears. “Just keep the fuck away.”
“So, she killed her partners?”
“I didn’t want to believe it, and the obvious thought was that he killed them, but she ran away immediately after…and I was too shocked to follow. After the matter was looked into, it was discovered that the man was the chief of the village that we were staying at, and considered highly respectable. It seemed unlikely that he was responsible, and there was no real proof at the scene either.
“Despite it being obvious?”
“He was a retired ninja from another country, but that was the only thing. It wasn’t considered enough to prove anything, yet there was plenty against Itako. That night, villagers reported her getting into an argument with the boys. They left, and about fifteen minutes after, she stormed after them with ‘a crazy look in her eyes’.”
“But never again afterwards, ey?” Sayuki just stared at him, annoyed.
“It was decided that she must have gotten into some childish fight and, ‘in a state of emotional hysteria’, attacked and killed her two teammates. Then the chief, who was supposedly on a nightly walk, must have discovered them, and so she killed him as well, taking him by surprise in some way.”
“But surely, if he was a ninja….”
“Like I said, I don’t know the full answer myself. I doubt I ever will. But, after that, even if politics did get in the way and they were looking for some way to get him off the hook…” She paused, causing him to look over at her. She clearly blamed herself for the whole ordeal. It wasn’t a case of feeling bad for Itako, but more causing problems for her country. “Itako has since killed everyone that has gone after her, and reported to have killed many others. Seeing her since, it seems like she’s gone insane. She’s also been reported to make friends, and then kill them as well.”
“Sounds like a bad girl.”
“Please, Danjuro-san. Be serious. If she has gone crazy, like the reports said, then she is more than likely to be feeling extremely offended by the presence of my team. The idea that she has ‘been replaced’ is probably more than enough of a reason to kill them all. Both my team, and yours.”
“What the fuck are you talking about?” The girl shouted at him, tired from the wave of chakra that had just slammed into her and having to use her secret move in such a confined situation.
“Your Zanshin. It increases your awareness. It allows you to see chakra like I can, and it’s also what enabled you to see that boy’s shadows.” Itako looked more annoyed than anything else at his explanation.
“I didn’t see them, you whore. I’m blind.”
“For your information, Zanshin raises all my remaining senses to the optimum level. It’s not a case of seeing the shadows. It’s just I could feel the heat, and where it got cool, I guessed there was a shadow.”
“You guessed the location of the shadow from the temperature change?” Neji replied in shock. “Impossible, it must only decrease by the smallest of fractions. To be able to do that must require…”
“Shut up already, stop analyzing the fucking situation and deal with it.” He expected her to charge again, instead she stood straight up and brought her hands to get. He only saw one seal, her hands being quicker than his eyes fro the briefest of seconds. “Deal with this! Hijutsu:….”
He felt the sensations immediately. His eyes were suddenly assaulted by hundreds of images. Those right next to him, and those ten kilometers away. Five small birds behind her merged with a family of squirrels to his right and the blades of grass beneath him clashed swords as they blew into each other constantly. He threw up. His mouth futilely trying to catch his excretion as it felt to the floor, his body doing the same. “What…What is this?”
“This…is what I feel all the time. A small portion of a curse that I bare. The nausea, the sickness, the completeness of vertigo that shouldn’t be there. The only way to escape from it is to rip out your eyes, like I did. The eyes are what make the move deadly.”
“Eyes are nothing more than electronic sensors. They report the outside world to your brain in the form of electronic impulses. For you, I imagine that the flow is faster, and the sensor more widespread. Hijutsu… disrupts that flow by attacking all of the senses, sending them slightly off balance.” He saw her grin, and he saw her burst into tears. “It fucks with your mind more than any drug could, and it’s what I feel every second of the day.” Was she next to him? He couldn’t tell for a moment. He felt like something was going to explode again. “It must be quite painful for you, especially with your eyes. It affects everyone in the current area. Even those asleep.”
The world started to spin and scream around him, with no answer and no questions, a constant drum beat, tap water and shifting sands. None of it made sense. He heard a bird start tweeting in her hand, and the noise of something being summoned in the distance. Then it all stopped.
“Don’t worry.” She said mockingly. “It’ll only last a few seconds more.”
She swung the knife for his neck, finally glad for it all to be over. He caught it easily.
“What?” He disarmed her a second later, before patting both hands into her chest, winding her and knocking her back. He stood up with a malicious grin on his face. “How did you…”
“How did I want? Break your childish technique? It’s just a form of genjutsu. An effective one, but useless against me. I can sense all the chakra in my body the way you can sense everything around you. It is a small matter to fix it.”
“Mothafucker.” She went to move at him, but her legs gave up on her. He had done something else.
“And now you are in the center of my circle.” He brought his arms together in front of him, before rising them above his head, breathing deeply in, than exhaling as he brought them down.
“Gentle fist style: 64 hit super combo.” He dove at her paralysed body.
“Two!” A strike to the left shoulder. A strike to the right kneecap. His fingers tapping her in places she couldn’t understand.
“Four!” Her right temple. Her left shoulder again. Two in her right bicep.
“Eight” Three to her chest. One to her right thigh. One to the left ribcage. One directly underneath her solar plexus. One to the right ribcage and one under hear chin.
“Sixteen.” He poked her in the right arm, the right shoulder twice, she felt something on her spine and then she couldn’t hear anything. Her chakra was being blocked somehow. Is that what he was doing.
“Thirty two!” His hands were becoming a blur now, both in reality and to her senses. She stopped being aware of the things around her, even after her hearing came back, below that of a normal persons.
“Sixty-four!” She heard him cry out one last time. As she was struck in innumerable places, the force of all thirty-two strikes caused her to lunge back, before falling over. Neji looked over her as his body calmed down and breathed heavily. The area around him returned to normal, though there was still a metallic taste in his mouth.
“Itako!” He heard a cry behind him, as Hinata ran towards the fallen opponent. She knew she was being upset over nothing, the sixty-four hit super combo would only cripple her for a short time, but Itako didn’t know that. She hoped that, during this little time, she could resolve the misunderstanding. Neji grunted in contempt as he went to lie down next to a tree. The fight had taken a lot more out of him than he would like to admit.
“Itako!” The blind girl lifted her hand out, trying to find where the voice was coming from. After a few seconds of frantic searching, Hinata grabbed the hand and held it close.
“Itako.” She began crying for her fallen friend. “I’m sorry Itako. I don’t know why you were angry at me, but I didn’t want you angry at me like this. I want to be your friend Itako, not your enemy. I don’t care what’s gone on between you and….”
“Chibiko…” Itako interrupted weakly. “Speak up girl. I can hardly hear you.” Hinata looked at the girl. Her eyes were bleeding heavily, and her lower lip was quibbling. It was like she was crying as well. Neji interrupted.
“All her tenkentsu are blocked.” He explained from where he was sitting. “Her senses rely on a steady flow. She should be back to normal in about a day.” He wasn’t entirely relieved that she was still alive, but there had been no real reason to kill her, subduing her would do.
“I see.” Hinata said simply, not even aware that she hadn’t stuttered in a while now. “I guess I should check on the others.” She began to stand up. “Wait here, Itako-s…” Itako convulsed, her body acting like it had been stabbed in the back. Her arms and legs began to dance uncontrollably and her head shook around forcibly. “What?”
Neji looked up, surprised too at what was happening. He brought his Byagugan back up and scanned the girl. As he saw her chakra dancing around, he understood immediately.
“Her chakra is trying to bring itself up to its natural level. However, because of her bloodline, her natural level is beyond the tenketsu and out in the open environment, which is what allows her to sense things so effectively. With the tenketsu sealed…” He stopped, Hinata wasn’t listening to him, she was with the girl again, trying to figure out a way to save her. She watched in horror as the girl’s left shoulder exploded, chakra visibly coming out of it at an extreme rate. Her kneecap did the same.
“Itako!” Hinata screamed, as several small explosions started to happen all round her body. Soon there was a fountain of chakra just pouring out of her with no respite. Hinata asked Neji to do something, but they both knew there was nothing to do.
Soon, the girl was dead, a bloodied mess of her former self.
“Urh…what on earth…” Shikamaru complained as he pulled himself up. Ahead of him, he could see the three ninjas. Only one was standing. Neji began to walk away.
“You need to strengthen your heart Hinata-sama…” He told her simply. “You are weak.”
End Chapter nine
Urgh, this was such an annoying chapter. Making a Taijutsu fighter fight scene is really hard, especially when she doesn’t really have a style. Sorry Rock Lee fans for taking him out so early, but I had to remain in context.