Chapter seven: Where rivals are discussed, main characters are zombies and enemies use mushrooms in ways never thought possible
“Chibiko!” Itako shouted, as she ran through the forest. Behind her, Chibiko’s teammates followed as fast as they could. Ahead of her, Chibiko moving forward as fast as her kidnapper could. “Fuck shit.” The exile gritted her teeth as she tried to push her legs harder. She was never any good at tree hopping. She had a lot of experience at it, but the kidnapper ahead of her clearly had a lot more.
Whoever it was, they were fast. She only had a ten second gap behind them, yet they were already two kilometers ahead of her, the graceful pressure of their feet gliding across the trees registering as a heavy drumbeat in her ears as she continued along as fast as she could. It wasn’t going to be fast enough, she would just have to hope that she could keep track of them until…
“Finally!” She shouted, holding her position on a tiny branch, as she allowed the others to catch up to her. She focused a little harder as Kiba, Akamaru and Shino caught up to her. Kiba was panting.
“Why’d you stop?” He asked, more than curious as to why he had been following a blind girl all this time they had been trying to find their friend. The only reason he hadn’t done anything to complain was simply because Akamaru hadn’t. The dog was panting a lot heaver than everyone else, but he seemed sure the girl was heading the right way.
“That bastard’s stopped.” Itako replied simply. She was checking carefully now, for something she might have missed, something that might prove it to be a fake of some sort. She found nothing.
“Come on.” She shouted to the others as she started off again. Shino was about to protest in favor of a plan, but she gave him no time. Neither did the others as they pounced off as well.
What was going on? The insect carrier wondered slightly. Why had all this happened?
L…l…let me go.” Hinata mumbled weakly. It was hard enough for her to speak usually, but at the moment something was flowing through her body that prevented her from even moving. Her mind numbly guessed it must have taken her a full five minutes just to try and say what she had just mumbled.
“Sorry.” Her kidnapper replied, although she didn’t hear it. “I… can’t.” He went silent as he dropped her down softly on the ground. Whatever the man was planning, he intended to do it here. Crouching down, an action that still kept him as tall as Hinata standing up, he dropped his large bag down onto the floor and started to rummage through it. As she looked on, Hinata could barely see, the poison flowing through her veins was starting to numb her primary senses. The man looked familiar, his face as impassive as before as he searched through his bag. One eye hidden by his hair, the other, with scratch marks going through it. Well-muscled cheeks that didn’t suit his dour expression and a missing ear. She knew it, but couldn’t place it.
“Please hold still.” He requested politely, as he lifted a pair of succors* out of his pack. Even with the numbing sensation flowing through her body, Hinata understood their purpose immediately. As a member of the oldest clan in Konoha and possessor of a unique bloodline, her and the rest of her siblings* had been constantly warned of such situations. She started to cry, but she was unable to feel the tears as they fell down her numb cheeks. She hated herself for being so stupid as to allow this to happen. For once, she had wanted to show herself strong in one of these situations, and not make a mistake. Now Kiba and Shino would be in trouble because of her. Even worse, a war might start out because of what this man was doing. The thing that she found getting to her the most though was being unable to gain her father’s approval, or never having encouraged Naruto openly. On the outside, the tears flowed like a river.
“Um…” Her assailant mumbled as he watched on, preparing to perform the operation. “Don’t…cry.” For some reason, Hinata couldn’t help but find his words reassuring…
“W….W….Wh…Who are you?”
“…Yatsuhara… Yatsuhara Takeda.”
“Screw this.” Kiba cursed to the world. “This is taking far too long.”
“We have no choice if we are to rescue Hinata.” Shino stated. “At least this woman has a stock of their location.” To be honest, he did as well. The female bugs he kept on his nakama at all times were doing their own job of tracking down his companion. They weren’t quite as accurate as Itako was being though. He also knew that both Kiba and Akamaru would have Hinata’s scent. In a way, choosing to kidnap Hinata right near them had been an incredibly stupid thing for the kidnapper to do, giving their specialties in tracking. Regardless, he felt it best to keep his abilities quiet for now. He didn’t fully trust this Itako yet. She could actually be with the kidnapper.
“I mean, I got an idea.” Kiba shouted to his teammate, as he noticeably slowed down. “Oi, Itako stop for a moment.”
“What?” She said ahead of them, finding herself instinctively obeying as she allowed them to catch up. As he reached her, Kiba pulled out a small bag from his coat.
“Right, soldier pills.” Kiba confirmed. “I figure whoever we’re about to meet is probably strong. These should give us the stamina to keep up with him.”
“Then shouldn’t we take them right before we get there?” Itako asked, confused.
“Well, they also help against extreme motion sickness as well.”
“Motion sickness…why would we…”
“Just take one and trust me.” She couldn’t see it, but she guessed he had a more than serious look in his eyes.
“Well…all right.” She flicked the small black pill into her mouth. She barely felt anything, but she knew that she would have an extreme amount of stamina when the time comes. Shino took one as well, as did Akamaru before Kiba himself finally popped one into his mouth.
“Yosh. Everybody hold on tight. I’m about to do something extremely stupid that’ll get us there in no time.” The two other humans grabbed on without thinking, as Akamaru hesitated before finally crawling into the survivalists coat. As Kiba slapped his hands together, Shino finally figured out what he was about to do.
“Wait, you do not mean you are going to…” Kiba just grinned at his teammate as Itako hugged them both, extremely confused.
“Too late now, Bug otaku…Ninpou…”
“Everything is as you requested Niro-dono.” The Raikage stated, taking a step back to bow as they stood by the gates to the village. Around them were around twenty men, none of them ninja, all servants of the new lord of the country. “Although I would suggest waiting until morning before you leave.”
“Your concern is unnecessary, Raikage-dono.” The new lord replied. “If I leave now, I will be able to reach Oyakotsu in two days for the Coronation. I am the guest of honour after all.”
“Ho ho ho. I guess you are right.” As the shinobi laughed, he hid his face behind his long sleeve. Niro allowed himself to laugh as well, wincing in pain slightly as he did so. Raikage noted this, the man’s eye was still giving him a little trouble.
“So…where is Sayuki-dono?” Niro asked, looking round. “I still haven’t met the girl.”
“I asked her to retrieve the sealing scroll before she left. She should be…ah, here she is now.” To his side, the female jounin landed in a crouched bowing position. She had already landed with her hands lifted up, a red scroll on top of them. She kept her eyes to the ground as she did so, saying nothing. Niro was a little shocked, still unused to having people appear in front of him without warning.
“That is the scroll, Niro-dono.” The lord collected himself, before clicking his fingers, and a man to his right, of a massive build walked up and retrieved it. He appeared tentative at first, as if fearing the scroll might explode, before walking backwards until he was behind his lord. “It is simple to use, and will activate automatically once opened. Just make sure she is the person nearest to it at the time.”
“You mean…make her open it up.”
“That is correct.”
“So…it’ll be like she’s sealing her own fate.” Niro had an amused expression on his face as punned.
“If that is how you wish to phrase it…”
“It is. Superb.” He said, as he approached Sayuki and made her stand up. As she did so, he couldn’t help but notice that her eyes were distant, her face expressionless. “Ah, that look of despair, beautiful. I hope that bastard’s crying in hell knowing what’s happening to you.”
Sayuki remained still, as if she didn’t hear him. Niro poised himself to remain calm. Were he torturing her, he would perhaps try to shake a response out of her, but to him, she was just an end to a mean.
“Have you said your goodbyes?” He asked politely. She didn’t answer him. He looked at her to try and grab her attention, before turning back to the Raikage. “Have you done something to her?”
“She is still mourning I believe.” Raikage stated, keeping his head down as he spoke. “She will probably be fine before the sealing.”
“Excellent. I want to see her reaction as all of her abilities are taken away.” As the short man let his desires slip, he quickly recomposed himself and faced the Raikage properly. “Well Raikage-dono, with this, I believe the negotiations are complete. Welcome back into the Country of Lightning.”
“It is an honour sir,” the Raikage said, bowing completely this time, “to serve a united country. I thank you for giving this old man an opportunity.”
“I will call upon you when needed.” With this, Niro turned and walked into the carriage that his entourage surrounded. Sayuki followed, as mindless as before. As they left, he found himself keeping his eye on Sayuki. She stood as straight as always, as tense and alert as always. There was no change in her at all. Why then, did it remind him of another time, before she had changed so much.
Finally, after everybody had left and all was silent, he stood back up, and turned to a shadow, who appeared behind him.
“Was everything prepared in time dear?” The shadow made no reply, but he seemed pleased about something as they walked away, arm in arm.
As she sat on the rooftop, appreciating the coolness of the night, highlighted by an empty sky with only the moon for company, Ino sighed deeply. She had no idea what her group was supposed to do now. Sayuki had disappeared after she left the group, as had the other jounin and now, Shikamaru and Chouji were sleeping peacefully in the hotel they had rented, leaving her alone. It briefly entered her mind that Kiba and the others had disappeared, but for all she knew they had been thrown out of the village.
Her mind strayed to her temporary teacher, as it had several times that night. It still doesn’t seem fair, even when I think about it hard. Sure, I can understand ninjas having to follow orders and work for anyone who pays them, but to have to work for an ex-enemy, as a servant, for as long as she lived, with her techniques sealed, it’s just stupid. She fell back against the rooftop and stared at the moon.
Is that what it means to be a shinobi? Sacrificing everything about yourself just to please your superiors? It’s horrible. I guess that Konoha is a lot calmer than other places, and such dumb missions aren’t always necessary. Well, I guess there’s some, but I’d prefer a mission with death than being made some pervert’s servant all my life.
And why is Sayuki-sensei allowing this? She just obeyed without question. I could never do that! Giving up all that I am…it would mean giving up Sasuke-kun. How could that bitch be so passive about this! She appeared so dominant and superior when we had first met, now it’s as if a mirror reflecting perfection had been chipped slightly, distorting the whole image.
Her thoughts stopped in place for a moment there, as she was distracted, like they weren’t expecting the girl to use such a metaphor. The moon had disappeared from her view, and she found a shadow standing in front of her, looking up at what she could no longer see.
“Yo,” greeted Danjuro.
“Oh it’s you.” Ino replied, rude enough to hide the shock of him appearing from nowhere. She didn’t know who this man was really, and although he had provided amusing company earlier on their trip to the village, she just wasn’t in the mood now. “What do you want?”
“To look at the moon.” He stated, sitting down next to her, with no real intention of leaving. She wondered if she should. From what she could tell by his earlier, completely irrational kicking of Shino, the man was dangerous to be around, but simply leaving might be enough to set him off.
“It just lords above all we who hide in the shadows.” He said quietly. It took her a moment to realize he was still focusing on the moon. “Like the ultimate guard sentry. Just waiting for you to turn round and shout ‘I see you’ before trying to stab you with it’s spear. There’s nothing we can do about it. It’s always watching us, the only time we can hide is when the clouds block it.”
“Riiight…” It was the only answer Ino could respond with. He almost appeared upset for a moment.
“Pfft…no one ever understands me.” Clearly, it was the only answer anybody could ever respond with. She grew annoyed for a moment.
“It’s not that I don’t understand you. It’s that I don’t want to.”
“Oh.” He went quiet at that, and Ino actually felt herself feeling guilty about it. Clearly, she was the first to go beyond the ‘usual’ answer. She surprised herself as she began to move the conversation on.
“I suppose you’ve come to mock someone about Sayuki-sensei.” She wasn’t in a good mood about the teacher herself, she found. Her prior image of her had been scattered to the winds, if there were any today.
“Well, that was partially on my mind,” he said, now coming out of his childish sulking, “but actually I’ve come to request your help in something.”
“Huh?” She was partially offended by this, but also curious. She gave a look at him, encouraging him to go on. He was about to say something when he stopped. She watched his face as he tried to go over it, clearly having difficulty in asking something of someone else.
“I need some advice.” He lied completely. “What do you think a rival is?” His mind screamed at him instantly for chickening out, then stopped as it realized what he had said, and the girl’s reactions.
The blond haired beauty instantly found thoughts of a certain wide headed girl spring to her mind. She instantly knew how to answer and quickly stood up to face the jounin.*maybe include something more here to imply a distance in time*
“An enemy!” She shouted aloud, full of excitement. “One who you fight against for everything and one who you fight everything for!”
“Fight… everything for?” Danjuro looked up at the girl confused.
“Of course. Of course, when one has a rival, one has to prove they’re better at her at everything, , but if someone else beats you to it, then you won’t have a chance to, so you have to make sure rhey stays safe.” Danjuro had the strangest feeling that she wasn’t taking his view into account anymore, but still wanted to know. He stood up to continue the talk.
“You could beat the person who beat them?” Ino seemed to take a lot of offense to this comment, and kicked the jounin square in the balls for it. As he lunged forward slightly, she grabbed him by the hem of his shirt.
“NO, no, no! Are you crazy? If I allow someone to beat her, then what was the point? Sure, I’ll be one step closer to Sasuke-kun, but I’ll never live with myself knowing that it wasn’t me who took her down, that it was some self obsessive bitch that spends all her time, concentrating on her freakin’ make up. I have to be the one that beats her when the time comes. Even though they’re nakama, even though they’re family, even though they’re your bestest friend in the whole world, if they’re your rival, then you have to be the one to defeat them, and when you do, Sasuke-kun will finally admit that it’s you that he likes!!!”
“Sasuke-kun will…like me?” Danjuro stuttered, his face becoming sparkly with joy as this revelation. He shook his head to dispel the most unique thought he had ever had and reflected it over for a moment. He let his sadistic grin pop up on his face. “I get it.” He affirmed, standing back up properly. “I know exactly what it is now.”
“You…You do?” Ino stuttered back. “Know what?” She asked critically, partially forgetting what she had been shouting about as the adrenaline wore off.
“Ya. I understand perfectly.” He turned back up to stare at the moon, as if to say ‘so what?’ and stab it through it’s neck. With more confidence, he asked her, “Can I ask for your help on one more thing, the thing I was gonna ask in the first place?”
He had waited for her, she wasn’t sure why, but he had waited for her to stop crying. She hadn’t grown used to the numbing sensation at all, and it was still clouding all of her senses, but she knew that’s why he hadn’t done it yet. He simply sat, holding the blank in his hand and watched over her. He even waited a few minutes, as her nose stopped sniffing and her eyes stopped being sore.
But now she had stopped, he clearly intended to get on with his original task. He got back up, and walked over to her, holding her by the forehead, as he aimed the blank for her eyes. She could barely see him, and she felt like she might cry again. No…I can’t let myself. She tried at that point with all her might, lifting her right hand up. It moved slightly, bit by bit, but it was getting there. He hadn’t even noticed. As it reached his neck, she felt something on her, and she knew she had failed again. “Sorry.”
“So you should be!” A voice echoed through the area, as trees ripped apart and the ground shook. The man stood back up and looked in the direction it was coming from, far too fast for him to notice until it got close, and now far too close that he could properly avoid it without the girl getting harmed. The nine foot tall man pushed Hinata out of the way and tried to move himself. The mini hurricane came through the trees and got him in the back, knocking him over the girl as he dropped the blank.
He looked on, slightly confused, as the hurricane turned into three humans. As they stopped, the middle one grinned.
“Yeah! Told you I could get us there faster.” He was answered by a punch to the back of the head.
“You fuckwit!” Itako shouted, before moving groggily from side to side. “Some proper warning would be nice.”
“I gave you the pills. You should be fine.” Itako looked frustrated, and she could tell that her eye sockets were bleeding again.
“They hardly helped, shit… fucker. I rely solely on my ears to get around most of the time. I can’t even tell where the enemy is right now.”
“Over there.” Shino said simply, who clearly hadn’t been affected at all. By merely stating it, Itako could tell where he meant, and she turned to face him. “He is the one our temporary sensei referred to as Takeda-chan.”
“Ah…Chibiko!” She was finally able to sense her new friend and the man standing in her way. “Who are you, you bastard. Give Chibiko back.”
“I have been ordered to take her, but…” he said monotonously. The group stared at him as he failed to finish the sentence. It sounded weird, it wasn’t as if he had stuttered more as it someone had lent on the remote control and turn him off without knowing.
“Buuut?” Takeda stared off at the space behind them for a moment, like he was unaware of their presence.
“I will have to kill you.” Regardless of how he was trying to say it, it came out more as a direct threat than finishing his last sentence, a threat that Kiba instinctively took seriously. He took a quick step back, before charging forwards.
“As if we’ll let you.” In just one second, Kiba covered the distance between him and the man, and punched him directly in the jaw with a left hook punch. Takeda didn’t move, and Kiba felt his knuckles crack slightly. “What?” Before the boy could even fall the five feet to the floor, the man had picked him up and threw him into the wall of an old, broken down house that was nearby.
“Kiba!” Shino shouted for his friend, as he prepared to issue orders to his soldiers. He didn’t get a chance.
“You bastard!” Itako shouted besides him, her nausea now completely gone. Again, the girl screamed, completely forgetting any form of plan as she pulled her naginata out. The bronze shined against Takeda’s eyes, somehow reflecting the moonlight into them and forcing them to close, as he was slightly dazzled. Shino noticed it all as he noted the effectiveness of the girl’s attack. Somehow, the naginata had been able to blind the man, and her screaming voice was knocking his ears off. To top it off, the girl disappeared for a split second, before appearing behind the man. “Eat shit and die, mothafucker!”
He did neither.
“I see.” Shino said calmly.
“That….won’t work.” The man said as he turned to look at her. She was more concerned for where she had struck him. Her naginata hadn’t gone into him. In fact, it had bent. She knew it wasn’t that hard to bend the sheet metal that her weapon’s end was made out of, but she at least figured that he should have been cut before it bent.
She didn’t have time to think about it any further than that, and he threw her body against the side of a tree. The air jumped out of her lungs in one fast motion, and she slid down the tree. Convinced that she was no longer a threat, he turned to Shino.
“Your muscles have been well trained it seems.” Shino stated simply, as he continued to assess the situation. “However, that will not apply against me.” As he finished speaking, he raised his arms up, and Takeda watched with an emotionless expression as he saw thousands upon thousands of small insects, their loud buzzing filling the air as they flew over to their enemy. The kidnapper made no attempt to move but simply watched the creatures as they swarmed his body. He felt each one land on him in turn, covering his entire body all at once, before going to bite him.
They immediately exploded off of him, rising in the air and flying back to Shino as if they were running from the apocalypse. Shino didn’t understand at all as they all flowed back into him. He didn’t get time to either, as the jounin appeared next to him and punched him in the stomach. As he lay across the man’s arm gasping for breath, the insects relayed information to him.
“Mushrooms?” He said confusedly. He hadn’t intended for them to attack the muscles. His orders were to pierce the skin and push their way in, attacking him internally Now, they were telling how bad the man tasted, sort of like mushrooms.
“The taste… is really bad.”
Sayuki was walking. The three guards behind her couldn’t tell if she had even realized it or not. Knowing that she was to be seen as a mere servant, they had attempted to talk to her. One of them had been kind and polite, intending to make a new friend, and when she didn’t respond, his less than polite friend had tried. This had led to an argument from the polite one, who argued that he shouldn’t approach woman that way. He friend had just laughed this off, before stopping as they realized that she had done nothing still, except walk. Now the third one was trying his charm. Believing himself to be the most handsome of the three, he began the process of trying to seduce her.
“Hissatsu: Pretty boy flash.” He said, with the demeanor of a slug who had looked at a flower and believed it to be it’s reflection. Moments later, he found no choice but to step to the side when Sayuki didn’t stop. He felt as if he was being pushed away by her mere presence. His friends stopped arguing to burst into laughter.
“Stop!” Ordered a voice from the front of the group, and the three soldiers tried to look as far up the road as they could to see what was wrong. As they did, they saw a man jogging down the side of the road to them.
“Oi! What’s up?” The rudest member of the group called out to him as he went past. His destination was clearly the carriage behind them, where their lord sat.
“The river’s flooded, and the bridge is out.” The man explained, panting slightly.
“What? But it’s been dry for days.”
“Even if you say that, it doesn’t change anything. Let me…oi!” They turned to where he was facing. Sayuki had not stopped walking, and appeared to be headed to where a horse was standing. They watched, bewildered as she walked directly into it. The horse clearly took offense and kicked it’s legs back as the men turned their eyes away from what was about to happen.
A loud whinny later, before silence, followed by gasps from others nearby that forced them to look in morbid curiosity at what they expected to be a bloodied corpse. The men were amazed to see that the woman was no longer right behind the horse, but on top of it instead, as if the road and the horse’s back were at the same level. She walked as blindly as she did before, falling off the horse like she had just taken another step. She carried on walking, as uneventfully as ever.
“What…What was that?” The younger, more polite guard asked aloud. “The horse definitely kicked her…”
“What’s going on out here?” Came a voice from the carriage. The guards turned around, doing a mental double take as they saw Sayuki assist Niro out of the carriage. It clearly wasn’t necessary for her to help, but Niro grinned as she did so. “Ah…Thank you servant girl…what did you say your name was?”
“Sayuki.” She answered plainly, not even looking at him. The mouths of the guards dropped in shock.
“Ah…Sayuki, that isn’t a very entertaining name. Let’s give you another, let’s see…” He seemed to muse it over in his head for a few moments, before clicking his fingers. “Gomi. You’re name is Gomi from now on. Understand Gomi?”
Sayuki didn’t respond.
“Gomi?” He said, with a fixed grin. “Gomi? Oi, listen to your master.”
“Yes sir.” She responded blandly. Niro lifted his hand up, intending to strike her, when the messenger stepped forward, remembering the urgency of his situation.
“Niro-sama.” He cringed as his lord struck the woman, before turning to him.
“What is it?”
“The bridge over the river is out, sir, that is why we have stopped.”
“So, just walk through it.”
“It is chest deep sir, we would have to secure some of the cargo and your carriage if we were to attempt it.”
“Pfft. How annoying.”
“The navigator at the front has suggested that we use the ninja lady…” He looked towards her. She was as she was before Niro had slapped her, a red whelp was across her face. It was really beginning to freak him out.
“Well then I suggest you secure the valuables as you said.”
“But sir.” The man stuttered. It was a weird night already, and thing were beginning to feel weirder.
“Secure the valuables, soldier.” Niro repeated, intentionally showing anger.
“Yes sir.” The man saluted and ran off to the front, passing the order around as he did so.
“Hmph. Imagine it, using a servant for something more than her basic duties. It is being mean to the servant, forcing them to do something they can’t. Isn’t that right girl?”
“Yes sir,” she said. He grimaced slightly. Somehow, the girl was getting to him. He pulled himself back into his carriage.
“Stand there until the group starts moving again.” He ordered.
She would do so, and react to nothing for the next two hours.
“Fuck you!” It was her forth charge now. At this point her naginata had been uselessly tossed to the side, as her rage took over for the broken weapon. Yatsuhara Takeda responded in the same way he had for the last five minutes now, letting her attack connect, this time a kick to the groin, followed by grabbing her and throwing her away. He didn’t seem at all concerned with ending the fight.
“What’s…what’s with this guy?” Kiba asked, panting away, as Akamaru barked angrily at their opponent. “He doesn’t do anything. Wait…could he be?”
“He is not a bushin. You do not need to worry about that.” Shino stated. If it was a bushin, it was an extremely elaborate one, but his soldiers had already detected a blood flow within the man in the moment they landed on him, which was enough for Shino to consider him a threat. Despite this, he had no idea how to combat him. By staying on the defensive, the kidnapper made most offensives seem futile. Kiba had already tried to attack with Akamaru three times already, and he simply caught the both of them. His bugs also proved incapable of attacking him, whatever his body was covered with was apparently toxic to the bugs, and already half of them had crawled into his deepest recesses to heal from the small amount they ingested.
Itako wasn’t proving much help either.
“You bastard!” She shouted again, charging as blindly as the last time. He didn’t get this girl. Was she a ninja from the Cloud Village? He couldn’t determine her level at all. By her age, she was probably genin, but by her level of awareness, especially without her eyes, he figured her to be chuunin, yet her level of skill showed less than an academy student, which was it?
She went for him again, this time changing the pattern by leaping for his face. Swinging her legs over the rest of her body, she landed with one hand on his head and the rest of her held up in the air. “Got you!” She stated, as she swung her free hand down towards his face. He caught it, but then visibly lurched back on reflex. In the girl’s hand, a kunai had appeared, seemingly from nowhere, aimed straight for his eye, he had no choice but to stop it.
Seconds later, he had grabbed her other arm, before swinging round and tossing her in the direction of Kiba, who tried to catch her, only to get slammed back into the tree himself.
“You dumb idiot!” He called out to her as she got up to face her opponent again. “We’re all gonna get killed if we keep charging him. We gotta come up with a plan.”
“Be quiet.” She commanded, stopping him from talking for a second.
“No, we can’t just keep on charging. I say if we attack all at…”
“Quiet Kiba.” Shino stated, walking up to them, with his back to the opponent. He faced Itako straight on. “Do you have a plan?”
“Heh. Something like that.” She said, grinning to herself. “I need you three to distract him at the same time. Do whatever you can. Then I’ll take him down.”
“That’s your plan?” Kiba questioned her. “It sucks!” Itako turned to face him, eyeballing him with a blind face.
“Just do it.” She commanded, her face freaking him out now that he knew she had no eyes, yet still feeling like she was staring into his soul. He calmed down for a moment.
“All right, all right, but I’m gonna haunt you when we all die.” Before Shino could say anything, Kiba stood in position ready to attack. “Let’s go, Akamaru.” He called out to the canine, who barked in response. Kiba brought his hands together and formed four seals. “Gojyu Ninpou!”
This technique was never for him, Shino knew that, and could instantly figure his friend’s strategy, however Itako cooed in appreciation as Akamaru disappeared and was replaced with another Kiba. To her, it was still clear which was the real Kiba, even with their smells being similar, the look on Akamaru’s face still seemed to be that of a dog, even on a human face. Suddenly, the two started running.
“Ninpou:Tsuuga!” With that, the two beast fighters started to spin. It was the same technique he had used earlier, Itako noted as he spun like a drill, ripping chunks out of the ground as he span towards his enemy, the Akamaru-Kiba close behind him. She observed as they went to attack from both sides, narrowly missing the opponent as little as they could without touching him.
“Seems they noticed it too.” She stated calmly.
“Right, he only attacks the second he is touched, unless it is of a definite threat.” Shino assessed. It seemed true to this point. “He keeps his calm to a point, assessing the enemy as it comes at him.” The kidnapper was still just standing there, looking forward. It was like he hadn’t even noticed Kiba, like he had no reason to. As the two spun around him however, his field of view got cut off more and more. It was getting hard to see.
He went to grab one, right as it skimmed his cheek. It probably wasn’t intentional, but keeping control for that long of such a chaotic technique wasn’t entirely possible for the small dog. As Takeda squeezed, Akamaru let out a loud whine, before turning back into his dog form.
“Akamaru!” Kiba shouted out, concerned for his life long buddy. He didn’t get time to do anything else, as Shino appeared in front of the distracted jounin and fell on top of him, disintegrating into a thousand bugs. Not being one to shout out techniques, Shino merely faded away, but it was enough to finally knock the jounin down to the floor and it was all Itako needed as she finished her technique.
“…no jutsu!” As she cried out her attack, everything froze. Kiba felt like he was being suspended in mid air. Around him, the air felt like it was turning blue and white and pink and purple and green and black all at the same time, yet he couldn’t distinguish if anything had changed or not. He felt the urge to vomit, brought on by both the hairs on his nose feeling like they had all been pulled out at once, and needles being shoved through his eardrums. He started to feel an uncontrollable urge to sneeze, a sneeze that would never come.
“What…is this?” The kidnapper asked aloud, as he felt the same sensations that Kiba was going through. It was like nothing he had ever felt before, the world had been turned upside down but everything was still the same. He was grounded, yet felt like he was going to rocket into space any moment now. He couldn’t understand it at all. At that moment, although he couldn’t tell when, he heard a scream that penetrated his eardrums yet refused to vibrate them. The girl was coming at him again.
”Got you!” She shouted, as she went to land on top of him. Despite whatever was going on, he was still focused enough to react. He lifted his arm up and depressed something on his palm. Itako sensed in horror as a stiletto appeared from within his forearm, sticking out to land where she was. With her current trajectory, they both knew there was no way she was going to move. “Shi…”
The hidden spike moved out of the way at the last second, a sixth body getting in it’s way, allowing Itako to strike as intended. Without missing a beat, the girl landed on top of him, kunai appearing from her hands at the last moment to strike him, both under his left armpit and right hip. She slammed them in all the way, intending to cause as deep a wound as possible in the little area she had to go in. Before she would finish, both weapons wouldn’t be seeable from the outside of his body. The grown man opened his mouth to cry out, but nothing came. He slumped down on the floor, apparently dead.
“Kawarimi?” Kiba shouted, expecting to see the man disappear in a puff of smoke to be replaced by potentially anything.
“No… he won’t.” Itako said simply. “We both knew that wouldn’t work, so he didn’t try it.” As he finally landed, Kiba noticed that whatever feeling he had felt earlier was completely gone. Just what did she do?
“Chibiko!” Itako called out, snapping Kiba back to reality. He finally saw where his friend had been during all of this. Somehow, the girl had managed to grab the man’s arm, just before he had struck Itako, possibly saving them all. The older girl placed Hinata in her lap, as she checked her friend over.
“How is she?” Shino asked, appearing from nowhere.
“Just unconscious. Seems he did something to her, the bastard.” Itako sat quietly for a second, as she nursed her friend. The others got up and stood over her, Kiba holding a bruised Akamaru. A moment later, Hinata woke up and groaned a little, getting up.
“What…what happened?” She mumbled weakly, before noticing everyone was around her. She squeaked a little, and blushed slightly.
“Hey kid, you saved me.” Itako announced, hugging her new friend. Hinata squirmed slightly in her grip, not used to being hugged.
“I…i saved you?” Everything slowly came back to her, she was still numb but she could remember most things, even the man’s apparent kindness. At least, it felt like kindness. Could it not be seen as sadistic to let someone cry for so long, yet still intend to kill them? She whimpered a little at this thought, before tears started to flow again. Itako brought her friend in for a closer hug.
“Oh come on kid, what’s wrong now?” Hinata actually felt entrapped by her friend’s caring hold. She usually cried on her own, away from others. She wanted to push away, break free and just get away from them all.
“I…I put you all…in danger. The guy kidnapped me so he…so he could take my eyes.”
“What?” This caught Kiba’s attention too strongly. For a while now, he and Shino had been secretly warned by their real sensei, of the possible problems that working with Hinata might have, but he never figured it might happen. Itako didn’t understand fully, not knowing anything of the Hyuuga legend except the important bits. She was about to suggest something when she noticed a presence behind them.
“Look out!” She tried to warn again. The genin turned round as the man stood there again, still clearly bleeding from where he had been stabbed. He groaned loudly, almost zombie like as he took another step towards them.
Behind him, they saw another figure.
An extremely loud ‘clang’ later, and the kidnapper had been replaced with a giant frying pan. Standing in front of them was their temporary jounin-sensei, looking slightly amused with himself. “This moron’s pretty much invincible. You wanna do it like this.” With that, he lifted the frying pan over his head again, revealing the head of Yatsuhara Takeda sticking out of the ground, still conscious and still expressionless. A second later, Danjuro brought the pan down heavily again, and didn’t bother to lift it up.
“His body’s worse than a rock you see. So it’s better to attack the weaker surface, and trap him in it, in this case, the ground.”
“You. What are you doing here?” Kiba asked confused.
“D’uh. You’re my precious students, I can’t let anything happen to you, plus I still haven’t cooked your little dog.” Kiba’s face went white at the prospect. “Oh, poor little Akamaru-chan looks injured. Shall i…”
“No!” Shouted Kiba, pulling the dog away from Danjuro’s evil clutches. As he turned around to keep his best friend away from the enemy, he noticed Itako had disappeared. Hinata seemed to have dropped back into unconsciousness.
“Huh? Where did she go?” Shino spun round at this comment and appeared shocked. The entire area felt like she had never been there. Even in the distance, Shino could feel no trace of the girl.
Who was she? She seemed to fit in the group so quickly. It almost felt like she was one of us. And her abilities…she was strong, yet weak. That technique as well, and how she did she managed to stab him. Did she figure out his weak points, or get lucky.
“Where did who go?” Danjuro asked confused, looking around to see if he could figure out whom they meant. “Well, never mind. Listen, I got a favour to ask of you all. If you help me, I promise not to saw your legs off tonight like I originally planned…”
Kiba groaned. He was never going to like this guy.
Two and a half miles away, a girl sat in a tree, panting with exhaustion. Something had gripped her heart, and she had done her best to pull away from it, traveling as far as she could. She dropped her body loosely from the tree, landing in the shrubs to fall asleep. As she fell unconscious, the question that had been entering her head for the past minute entered her again.
“He has her smell all over him. What’s with that, and he’s friends with Chibiko. I don’t understand.”
They had stopped for a while, the prospect of walking another twenty miles soaking wet with no sunlight to dry them out had proved too daunting for Niro’s walkers, and his advisor had suggested a short break before anyone had started to complain, but then Niro had another idea.
She still hadn’t done anything that didn’t otherwise suggest her to be a puppet. Other servants had tried to speak to her, guards had tried to come on to her and a dog had tried to play with her, all with no effect. It had caught the attention of some of the higher ups within Niro’s traveling party, but even they were currently engaging in hushed whispers as to whether it meant she was being disrespectful or if it was just her way of performing duties. So far, she hadn’t actually done anything wrong, just been unsociable to the point of creepy.
“Niro-sama.” His second advisor called out, as the overweight man pulled himself out of his carriage. He had a large grin on his face and seemed much more relaxed than those around him.
“Yes, my dear fellow,” he said with enthusiasm, “what can I do for you?”
“It is about the new servant, m’lord.” The advisor began, somehow gaining a bigger smile from the new sovereign by merely mentioning her. “Her current…attitude is beginning to upset people it seems.” Niro looked over to the shinobi, who was standing straight, as she had done most of that night.
“I see no problem with her. Servant girl! Come over here a moment.” Sayuki moved to him instantly, the advisor gasped a little in shock, as his eyes failed to register her speed. “Now, girl. The advisor here has spoken that your attitude has been upsetting others.”
“Yes sir.” Sayuki replied monotonously.
“You wouldn’t be…trying to annoy your superiors would you?”
“No sir.” Sayuki replied monotonously. During this time, the advisor seemed a little panicked. He pulled Niro to the side for one second, as far away without upsetting the lord himself.
“Your usual act aside m’lord, myself and the other advisors believe that it is a risk to have someone who was close to the previous lord running lose like this.”
“B’ah. She is a ninja. She will do her job as told. It doesn’t matter at all that I killed Dejiro. Raikage-dono had guaranteed her cooperation.” The three of them failed to notice Sayuki’s finger twitch slightly at this comment.
“Regardless m’lord. It is felt by myself and the other advisors and even the other ministers, that perhaps we should use…the insurance that we have now, before problems arise later.” Niro appeared to take a moment to consider this.
“Yes. Yes, I don’t see why not. Best to be safe, although I can’t imagine her doing anything any time soon. Yes, let us perform the sealing.” The advisor showed clear signs of relief.
“Also m’lord. It has been brought to our attention that the sealing requires a few moments. During this time, the woman might become… less compliant with our intentions.”
“Are you saying we hold her down while we do this? Surely that will make things worse.”
“I’m saying that perhaps we should bound her down.” He moved closer to his lord to whisper. “Now, we have some chains.”
“Chains? Why do we have chains?” The advisor looked confused about this for a moment.
“They’re your chains, sir. Remember?” Niro thought about this for a moment.
“Oh yes, of course. Well, do whatever you think is necessary advisor. To be honest, I’m a little tired. Call me just before you start. I shall be resting. Big day when we get back.” He symbolized this with a yawn, before moving back towards his carriage.
“Of course m’lord.” The minister quickly hurried off to get the chains. Within the next ten minutes, the woman would be no threat at all to them, and he could finally relax. He didn’t know what it was, but something about her told him that he was going to die at any moment.
They’re going to do it you know. They’re going to use the sealing scroll.
Doesn’t it bother you, the years of training, all that hard work? Gone. Forever. Sealed in a piece of paper that will be thrown to the fires as soon as possible.
It is as the mission states. I will follow orders.
That’s not what I ask you. I said, does it bother you?
There is nothing to bother.
Well, if you insist. And just when you were starting to enjoy yourself again, playing with the kids. Maybe after this, they’ll let you play in the mud as well. That was what you always liked to do.
Is this really the best way for you kiddo? Dejiro may be gone, but you’re still alive. There’s no need to kill your spirit now that he’s gone.
I have no spirit. I am just a tool.
Oh? What’s a tool doing with a rival? Aren’t you going to miss fighting him again?
That idiot? He’s the one thing I won’t miss.
Or is he the thing you’ll miss the most? Admit it, you loved those fights. Acting like you were superior, laughing when he did something stupid. The times you spent with him are almost exactly like the times you spent with Dejiro.
What? No, they’re not!
Really. I seem to recall every time you squared off against him, after you healed, you would run off to the mountains to try and improve yourself. Make yourself stronger, so you could beat him. Every time, ever since the beginning.
Who are you anyway?
And yet, even now, you never have, and he’s never beaten you either. Because each and every time you try and get stronger, he’s doing the exact same. That sounds like a rival to me. That sounds like spirit to me.
And yet you’re throwing that away, just to try and prove a point that you don’t really believe in. That you’re a tool, who just exists to do jobs and look strong, who’ll just follow its owners orders mindlessly.
You’re not a tool. You’re just a little girl, hiding behind an excuse.
Around her, all heads turned to face her, shocked at her outburst. The one she recognized most was Niro’s. She went to step forward, and instantly followed with a struggle. Something was holding her legs and arms down. She pulled on them heavily, but found herself unable to break away. A few feet away, she heard an old man whisper something to Niro about being right.
Looking down, she heard a rattle. Chains surrounded her, and she found a wooden block between her legs, trapping them together. She nearly fell over just looking at them. There was another block trapping her arms as well, secured behind her back. A few feet away from her feet, she saw a man, holding a red scroll. Her eyes became large as she realized what it all meant.
“No!” She screamed out, struggling futilely against her bonds. “No!”
The people around her looked fearful. They knew she was a ninja. They feared her escaping from the bonds and killing them all, as the myths suggested. Niro stepped forward.
“Do not be alarmed men.” He warned them. “Ninja’s require their arms near each other for their techniques to work. There is nothing she can do to harm us.”
She wanted to shout something, to prove him wrong, to show him that she could perform seals with one hand and rips them all to shreds with winds that could cut through oak, but nothing came out. There was nothing to come out. For the first time in years, she felt inferior and for the second time ever, she felt bad about it.
“Perform the sealing soldier.” Niro commanded. She watched as one of his many soldiers stood up and walked over to the scroll. Despite the warnings, the man was still too apprehensive to get near, and took a few seconds to grab the scroll. She hung her head loosely in defeat. She couldn’t think of anything, if only she had more time to prepare, but unfortunately she knew how that scroll work. It would happen automatically. All he would have to do was open it.
The man showed a little more confidence now. Her giving up providing him with the he needed to start. He got closer to her, until he was right by her feet, and placed the scroll down. Cutting the small seal, he whipped it open instantly and looked on astonished at the strange markings within the paper that he had never seen before. He marveled as he witnessed ninjutsu technology for the first and only time, before his chakra was ripped away from him, providing the energy necessary to perform the summoning technique.
“What the…” Niro cried out, as the area was engulfed in smoke, clouding the vision of every man in the air. Several of the men coughed and passed out, the poison absorbing some of their energy as well, although not as much as the man whose life was just taken. Stepping back as necessary, Niro peered through the dust and smoke to try and keep an eye on Sayuki. Instead he saw chubbiness, and shiny hair, and white eyes, and sunglasses, and a dog, and a bored expression. In the middle of them was a man with well-defined muscles and a frying pan.
“D…Danjuro-san?” Sayuki croaked, as her body resisted the toxins in the air.
“-San? You haven’t called me that in decades!”
“What? Who are you? What’s going on?” The ninja ignored all of Niro’s blabberings as she looked around. There, close together, huddled up for whatever reasons, were the six kids, all along for the trip.
“Sayuki.” Danjuro said, looking in front of them to keep an eye on the guards. “I have figured it out, what a rival is.”
“Huh?” She murmured. She was feeling woozy. The smoke clearly had a lot of other toxins in it. She heard a man scream, and jump forward. Danjuro slammed his frying pan into the man, sending him flying.
“A rival…is someone who you can call a friend.”
End chapter seven.