Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto.

Playing the Role of the Byakugan Princess

The Land of Rivers Arc

Chapter forty-six

A sharp pain throbs in my head as I pop open my eyes. The last thing I remember is a hard blow to my head and then everything grew dark. As I glance around at my surroundings, I realize everything is pitch-black and a dreadful feeling overcomes me.

When I got hit in the head, did I somehow lose my eyesight? Have I became blind?!

Panicking, I quickly activate my Byakugan. To my left, I notice one familiar heat of chakra: Shikamaru's. I sigh in relief at his presence until I realize I am laying in a bed and he's laying right next to me. We are both on our backs and his right arm is resting on top of my left one, fingers barely touching mine. I feel my face grow red due to our close proximity and so I shift my attention to my surroundings. The room is a tiny one with no windows and containing only one bed and a toilet, which indicates to me that prior captives that had stayed here didn't stay for too long.

I extend my vision to the outside of the heavy door that blocks our chance of freedom and gasped. We were deep underground and our room is just a mere dot out of the numerous of other rooms and hallways that filled wherever we were. I sense many people with very low levels of chakra wandering the hallways, possibly on guard, or hanging out in various rooms. Someone is even standing outside our door.

My breath hitches at the sight of the guard and flashbacks of my last advanced mission zoom through my mind.

I got... I got kidnapped... again!

They're going to... they're going to...

I deactivate my Byakugan and close my eyes. Taking deep breaths, I try to compose myself.

Calm down. This is a different mission and a different situation. You're not alone this time. You have Shikamaru with you. You can rely on him. He's your friend; he won't let anything happen to you.

You can't afford to screw up another mission. You're not a leader this time, but you still have people depending on you and watching you.

You can do this, Hinata.

Calm down and keep assessing your surroundings.

Reactivating my Byakugan, I expand my vision higher and three people with high-level reserves of chakra catch my attention. They don't belong to the four Shinobi that were following us earlier, but still look threatening. They are all wearing different colored robes and have a headband wrapped around their forehead with the same symbol that the stalkers had. Out of the three presences, one body of chakra overwhelms the others greatly and I take a mental note of it.

I stretch out my vision just a bit further and I finally find an exit leading to the outside.

So, we are really deep underground, but why would anybody create such an elaborate base like this underground to begin with? And, I see no sign of Sakura and our client so I'm hoping they've somehow gotten away. Most likely, my Shadow Clones have already poofed away once I went unconscious so I can't recall their memories.

I hear Shikamaru's body shift as he grunts and I quickly jerk my arm away. My quick movement startles him and he open his eyes, shoots up, and jerks his head around. "W-where am I? Why is everything so dark?"

"Are you okay?" I ask him.

Shikamaru jumps from the sound of my voice and leaps out of the bed. "Hinata, is that you?" he asks after a moment of silence.

"Yeah, it is. How's your head?"

He rubs it. "It's sore, but I'll live. Where are we? I assume you've already scoped out the place?"

I shrug, even though he can't see the gesture. "I really don't know. From what I have gathered with my Byakugan, we are locked in a small cell in a hideout underground that is heavily guarded. Higher up, there are really large chakra presences that we should avoid at all costs because I don't have a really good feeling about them."

"Are those guys that we caught around?"

"I only did a quick sweep of the place, but I didn't see them anywhere. Sakura and Sadao are missing, also, so I'm just hoping that they weren't captured like us." I look around the room once more. "Our backpacks and weapon pouches are gone so we are not armed."

"No problem," Shikamaru says. "I've already came up with a plan to get out of here."

I let out a sigh of relief. "I'm thankful for your 200 IQ score. Alright, what's the plan?"

My teammate holds up a finger. "First off, let me tell you about the plan on how to get out of this cell."

"Oh, so you have two plans!"

Shikamaru goes over the first plan with me and then we begin to go through with it. I cross my fingers together to create two Shadow Clones and then I have one of them use Transformation Jutsu so she can transform into Shikamaru. The clones go sit on the bed while Shikamaru and I go over to the cell door and start banging on it while shouting. From the other side, I notice the guard glance back with an annoyed look, but ignores us. We keep on at our antics and the guard grits his teeth. I decide to officially set him off by getting into an offensive stance and beating rapidly on the door with my Eight Trigrams: Sixty-Four Palms.

The guard finally spins around and messes with the door's lock. I nudge Shikamaru and we run up the walls and stay upside down on the ceiling just as the door slowly opens. Light floods in and I rub my eyes as they sting.

"Stop making so much damn noise, brats!" the bandit yells as he barges in, wielding a machete. He shifts his eyes around until he spots my clones and glares at them. "Oh, you're gonna act like angels, now?"

The guard continues to curse and walks towards our clones as Shikamaru silently weaves hand signs. He takes advantage of the light coming from the hallway and connects his shadow to the guards feet, preventing him from moving. A thin shadow splits away from the main and slithers into the guard's pocket to grab the set of keys halfway hanging out and tosses them aside.

"W-what the hell is going on?" the guard questions. "Why can't I move?!"

Shikamaru and I drop to the ground, causing the guard to fall to the ground and then abruptly gets up when we stand up.I hurry over to retrieve the keys. I head over to the door as Shikamaru tiptoes backwards and then he undoes his jutsu and quickly runs out before the guard can realize he's free and chase after us. I slam the door shut, lock it, and give Shikamaru the keys so he can keep a hold of it. I get rid of my Shadow Clones and then we creep down the hallway, my Byakugan aiding us, as the guard complains and bangs on the door loudly behind us.

We barely make it to the end of the hallway when a loud crashing noise startles us from behind. We both turn around to see the guard stomping out of the cell, his machete glowing with chakra.

Well, that's not your average machete.

We sprint down the rest of the hallway, take a left, and then stop to press ourselves against the wall. I watch the guard barrel down the hall, quickly getting closer to us, and I begin charging lightning into my fist. Shikamaru watches in amazement as the blue chakra grows, crackling loudly. When the guard nears the corner, I pop out in front of him and extend out my fist. Rays of lightning shoots out of it and dances towards the guard. He stops in his tracks and slashes his machete through the lightening, but nothing happened and he gets shocked. His body trembles for a second before he falls to the ground, slightly charred and temporarily paralyzed.

"New jutsu?" Shikamaru asks.

Triumphantly, I nod. "It's called Lightning Release Bullet: Powerful Breath and it's a long-range jutsu. It's nowhere near perfect, my distance being only six feet, but it's doing the job for now."

After checking to make sure our fight didn't attract any backup, as we continue our way while Shikamaru mumbles to me his second plan. As I use my Byakugan to guide us, we stealthily make our way through the hideout. We stop in the shadows here and there to avoid being seen. My hopes rise when we find a staircase and begin to ascend them. The higher we go up, the better chance of getting out of here! We reach the top of the stairwell and bend down before we round a corner and halt. A couple of guards are conversing just on the other side of the wall, not appearing they are going to move anytime soon. Like the first guard, they're equipped with machetes.

"We are going to have to ambush these two," I whisper. "There is no away around them without being detected."

He nods, brings his hands together, and two shadows shoot out, attaching themselves to the guards. We emerge from our hiding spot and I quickly approach the men to assault them from behind, making sure I only hit the chakra points to restrain them. Then, I land one final blow to knock them out, Shikamaru releases them, and we rush off again. We go up another staircase and take a right down an empty hallway.

"This has been too easy, so far," Shikamaru suddenly tells me. "This is such a huge hideout with many people wandering around. You would think they would be trained for a situation like this, but we're just knocking them out and coasting on by."

"Yes, we are almost out of here," I told him. "Just another right at the end of this hallway and then a left and-" I stop as I notice the three chakra presences from the upper floor start to make their way towards us. "Three men are heading our way so be prepared. They'll be coming from behind."

"You and your Shadow Clones are going to be the distraction until I can catch them in my jutsu," Shikamaru quickly tells me and I nod in understanding.

I create two Shadow Clones, while Shikamaru tucks around the corner to hide. They turn down our hallway and I see that one of the men moves further ahead from the pack. Before I can react, he moves his hands together at a blinding speed and a large gust of wind blasts out of his mouth. It sweeps down the hallway, causing all four of us to tumble around and my Shadow Clones poof away. The razor sharp winds intensify as the men get closer and several cuts develop across my body and through my clothes. I crash into a wall and Shikamaru falls shortly after, landing right on me. Then, the wind abruptly goes away and we are surrounded by the three men.

"Damn it," Shikamaru mumbles as he rubs his head and rolls off of me.

I sit up and observe our new enemies. They all look pretty similar, short spiky blond hair with small dark eyes, and they are wearing different colored capes over their clothes. The two taller men are wearing a red and silver cape while the shorter one is wearing a green one.

Hypothesis: They are brothers with a weird sense of fashion.

Even though they have us surrounded, they don't have any weapons pulled out to threaten us with or standing in an intimidating manner. Actually, they look a little confused, as if they don't want what to do with us.

"I suppose we shouldn't be too surprised that a couple of Shinobi brats from Konoha escaped from their cell," the man wearing the silver cape finally says, eyeing us up and down.

"Yeah, we aren't used to having Shinobi locked down here," the man wearing a red cape adds and then flickers his eyes over to the two guards. "Although, why are a couple of Shinobi beating on some civilians?"

"I don't consider people carrying around weapons 'some civilians'," Shikamaru remarks.

"You two are civilians of Konoha yet you're Shinobi with the power to wield ninjutsu and other incredible nonsense."

Well, he's not wrong.

"Where are we at, anyways?" I question.

We are underground, so why are there "civilians" here? Also, they just straight up told us that they aren't used to capturing Shinobi, so maybe they aren't that strong. If we play our cards right, maybe we can overpower them and escape.

Red Cape snorts. "Yeah, like we'll tell you that."

The green-caped man shoots me a sudden flirty look and a chill travels down my spine. "Don't worry your pretty little head. If you just remain a good girl and not act out, then maybe we'll cut our playtime short with you and set you free."

The red-caped man rolls his eyes. "Man, get your head out of the gutter. Do you really want to mess around with a child? Has it been that long?"

Panic rises up within me and I shoot up to my feet, ready to fight or flight.

No... no! Get away!

I will not be taken advantage of again!

My sudden movement startles Green and Red Cape and they take a step towards me, but Silver Cape extends out an arm to halt them. "Enough, Kimidori and Usuniku. That girl is not to be treated in such ways so get that thought out of your minds. You know why she's here."

The two men shift backwards and nod. "We know, we know, Komurasaki-sama."

Bullshit. They would attempt to have their way with me if he wasn't stopping them.

Komurasaki focuses his attention on us. "Obviously, you two know that we can't let you free right now so let's avoid a fight and just come with us back to your cell."

"And, you know that we aren't going to willingly get ourselves locked back up," Shikamaru retorts.

"If we battle, you can't beat us," Komurasaki calmly states.

If he's saying that because they outnumber us, then I can use my Shadow Clones to increase our forces. However, I don't think he means that and is hinting that they're genuinely more skilled. They are older than us, so that may be true, and then you add in experience…

"Can we settle on a compromise, then?" Shikamaru asks.

Damn, he's come up with another plan already? That's what I was trying to do, jerk.


"We already know that we are somewhere underground and your comrade mentioned that there are civilians living here so this place is more of a village than a secret base," Shikamaru continues. "What do you want with us? You have already taken our things so why don't you just let us go?"

Something catches my eyes and I expand my vision towards my teammate and notice his flack jacket is in his lap, hands buried underneath.

Did he slide it off during this conversation? Maybe it flew off during the wind attack.

Sneaking a closer look with my Byakugan, I see his hands are clamped together, creating the Rat sign, and I am suddenly aware of the shadows slowly trailing away from his body. They have traveled up the wall behind us, through the ceiling to make their way to the opposing wall, and are now, creeping up on our enemies.

Oh, I understand what Shikamaru is doing: he's rambling so they can stay distracted until the shadows trap them.

"Damn, just shut up!" Kimidori snaps. "We're not answering your questions or compromising with you. You come with us or we will take you by force!"

"He wasn't asking you the questions, so how about you shut up?" I reply.

The green-caped man casually looks over at his leader. "Can we go ahead and just knock them out? They are starting to piss me off!"

"We haven't done anything!" I shout, still stalling for Shikamaru. "You're the ones that captured us in the first place! We should be pissed off more than anyone!"

"Calm down," Shikamaru mumbles, playing along. "We're still at their mercy."

Kimidori smirks. "You're damn right! So, how about you listen to your friend and be a nice, quiet little girl."

The shadows are just inches away from the men.

I arch an eyebrow. "Bite me."

My comment wipes the smirk from Kimidori's face as a scowl replaces it and he lunges towards me. At the same time, the shadows connect to his feet, along with his brothers, and he isn't able to move.

"W-what the hell is going on?!" Kimidori yells, struggling to move.

"Sorry," Shikamaru says as he stands up. "If our questions can't be answered, then neither can yours."

Komurasaki glances up. "We're under his jutsu. Look at the shadows."

"Sneaky brat," Usuniku grumbles, gritting his teeth.

Shikamaru turns to me. "Shadow Clones, now."

I press my hands together and two clones appear by my side. We each run up to a man, with me standing in from of Kimidori. Activating our chakra scalpels, we get into a fighting stance before charging forward and rapidly striking our opponents body. "Eight Trigrams: Sixty-Four Palms!"

That's what that sick asshole gets for making such lewd comments towards me!

"I would love to stick around and see what the three of you are up to, but we'll be going now," Shikamaru tells the men as he retracts his shadows.

I glance over at my clones. "You two watch over them until we escape."

They nod and we start to walk away until I hear Kimidori snicker. "Heh, you're not the only one who knows how to create clones."

I widen my eyes and whirl around just in time to see Kimidori and Usuniku turn into mud and melt into the ground while Komurasaki's body splashes into a puddle of water. Expanding my vision, I scan over the hideout for any sign of the men, but they're nowhere to be found.

"They're not in the base. Those really were clones," I inform Shikamaru. "I don't see them outside, but they could be out of my visual reach."

"Let's just hurry and get out of here," Shikamaru says. "They're probably on their way now."

We dash towards the exit, not caring to be sneaky anymore. The guards, or I supposed civilians, we pass gawk at us as we rush by, but they make no attempt to stop us. The entrance comes into view after we round the last corner and something pops up in my vision that stops me dead in my tracks. I grab Shikamaru's arm to prevent him from running further and he gives me an odd look.

"What's wrong? Do you see something?" he asks.

"The rooms on this hallway are filled with a variety of many weapons, some that I've never seen before," I explain.

"Takumi Village was known for their weaponry," Shikamaru says. "I wonder if some of its civilians retreated here for a new life. Being underground allows them to hide from the victims they still from and run a new "village" without having to pay taxes and worrying about other affairs."

"This place is huge though," I point out. "They certainly can't only live off the items and food they steal. What about the times where they can go days or weeks before spotting another traveler? It all determines what the traveler has packed on them, if it will even help them survive or not."

"I'm sure they don't just target people that travel near their base. Those four guys we came across earlier have the capability to hunt for miles and miles away from it for things of value. The weapons they were equipped with were definitely not just for show."

"That's true, and we ended up being their targets. But, why capture us? Why not just steal our stuff and leave?"

Shikamaru shrugs. "Because we are Konoha Shinobi with a client that just inherited a large fortune? You sensed they were following us, but who knows how long they were behind us before you noticed. They could've overheard our client talking; he wasn't exactly the quietest and more reserved person."

I nod. "They could've overheard him and decided to split us up so they force him into giving the inheritance to them. I don't see him or Sakura in this base with us so they have to be elsewhere."

"Let's go find them."

We hurry down the hallway and burst through the entrance. Nightfall welcomes us as we walk out of the cave, but the moonlight illuminates the darkness, helping us view our surroundings. We are in a forest, so hopefully not to far from the trail we were on, and I can hear the trinkles of a stream nearby. Over to our left, an area has been cleared out for three decent-sized gardens containing almost ripe vegetables. Protecting the gardens is a wooden fence covered in barbed wire and the scarecrows that stand in the middle.

Well, I guess that answers our question of how they can survive.

"The entire forest is wavering," I inform Shikamaru as I scan our surroundings. "It's very disorienting. I think it's under a genjutsu."

"It could be so outsiders are deterred away from this cave," Shikamaru says. "It might be best to stay here so we won't get lost." He beings to weave hand signs. "Earth Style: Hiding Like a Mole Jutsu!"

The ground below him turns into fine sand and he burrows a hole into the ground. When he's done, the hole seems deep and wide enough for the two of us to fit in comfortably. "Alright, now create two Shadow Clones and transform one of them into me." I do as he says. "Good. The plan is for us to hide in the hole while your clones cover it back up. Then, they'll act as decoys until those guys come back. When they do come, you'll tell me and I will burrow towards them so I can grab their ankles and yank them underground. From there, we can interrogate them."

"That sounds good to me."

We crouch into the hole and my Shadow Clones bury us before positioning themselves in front of the cave entrance. The small space and lack of air bothers me for a moment, but being able to see above ground with my Byakugan helps me feel less claustrophobic.

"I hope Sakura and Sadeo are alright," Shikamaru says after a few minutes of silent. I keep my vision on our surroundings, but I shift my focus to my teammate. "I'll blame myself if something bad happens to them."

"I'm sure they're okay, Sakura's a tough girl," I reply. "Even if something did happen, it wouldn't be your fault."

Shikamaru sighs. "I'm this mission's leader; I'm going to feel responsible."

"Are you feeling guilty about the whole situation?" I ask. "Because-"

"It isn't my fault. I know," Shikamaru interrupts. He goes silent, probably deep in thought.

I ponder within my own thoughts, debating whether to comfort Shikamaru or just allow him to vent, when two figures burst through the disoriented tree line. It is Sakura's clone, and she is being pursued by Usuniku. The red-caped man catches up to the clone and punches it, causing it to dissipate into an explosion of cherry blossoms.

"Argh!" Usuniku growls. The cherry blossoms dissolve and he jerks his head around. "Damn it! She led me here, again!"

"I believe Sakura is nearby," I tell Shikamaru and quickly update him.

"Hopefully that means so is Sadeo," Shikamaru replies. "And, that they're both safe."

Usuniku snaps out of his confusion and notices my Shadow Clones. "I almost forgot about the two of you. This is your last chance to go peacefully back into your cell before we have to use force!"

"We?" one of my clones quip. "I only see you here."

"Yeah, probably the weakest one of the three, too," the other taunts.

A look of anger flickers across Usuniku's face before he shakes his head. "Unlike my brother, I'm not as easy to rile up. He weaves hand signs. "Fire Style: Twin Flame Dragons!"

A flamethrower expels out of his mouth and splits into two as soon as it does, taking the shape of a dragons. The two flame dragons shoot towards my clones, and they jump out of the way. The dragons follow them and collides with the clones, immediately engulfing them within its flames. This causes the Shadow Clones to poof away, and Usuniku quickly dispels his jutsu with a puzzled look.

"Did they disappear into the cave?" he wonders to himself.

He takes off towards the entrance to check and that's when I signal Shikamaru he's coming. He waits until he senses the enemy's chakra and then reaches up to grab Usuniku's ankles. He pulls the man downward and I quickly dig out of the ground to confront him. Before he can say anything, I jab two fingers on a chakra point in his neck, rendering him unconscious. Shikamaru covers up the hole and he finds a new spot for us to hide, and I have the Shadow Clones cover up the hole once again before they run off to stand near Usuniku's head.

"Wouldn't it be nice if Sakura's Clones kept coming through here and we can just knock out the rest of the brothers like this?" I ask Shikamaru as I scan our surroundings.

"It could happen. From what Usuniku said, it sounds like Sakura is the one behind this genjutsu."

"She's probably hiding somewhere in the forest with Sadeo and is distracting the brothers to keep from being found. But, she can only do that for so long before she exhausts her chakra."

"Which makes me wonder how long has she been keeping this up," Shikamaru says, concerned.

He has a point. We were knocked out for awhile before we woke up, considering it's nighttime now. If she's being hiding within a genjutsu for that long, her chakra reserves are definitely running low. If she recently escaped their clutches, which may explain the reason why there were clones watching over the underground base, then she should be fine.

Four more figures appear in my vision and I'm expecting it's the two brothers chasing two more of Sakura's Clones when my heart drops. It's the two brothers chasing Sakura and Sadeo.

"Shikamaru," I grunt, quickly explaining what's going on. "What do we do?"

"Just stick with the original plan," Shikamaru mumbles, but I can tell by the look on his face that he's trying to formulate another plan.

"Hinata! Shikamaru!" Sakura calls out in a mixture of relief and desperation. She is breathing heavily and her skin's pale. She's at her limit. "Help us!"

One of my Shadow Clones goes towards her, but Kimidori grabs Sadeo's arms and pins him down as Komurasaki lifts his hand and a massive wave of wind expels out of his mouth. It sweeps the area and knocks Sakura and my Shadow Clones down, causing them to poof away. Shikamaru curses, signals for me to stay, and then begins digging underground towards the brothers. He stops just below Kimidori's feet and pulls them underground. Kimidori yelps in shock and let's go of Sadeo. However, he quickly recovers and kicks Shikamaru's face before pulling himself back up.

Dazed, Shikamaru shakes his head and clasps his hands together. His shadow chases after Kimidori and connects with his body, preventing him from moving. Komuraski notices and directs the gust of wind towards his brother. The wind seeps into the hole and rattles Shikamaru, causing him to lose his concentration. His shadow disappears and Kimidori picks up Sadeo and runs towards the cave entrance.

I prepare myself to pull him under when the sigh of Usuniku's head stops him in his tracks, just a few feet away from where I'm hiding.

Damn it… so close!

"He's supposed to be the smart one. How did he fall for their tricks?" he asks, shaking his head.

Chakra suddenly flood his right food and he stomps through the ground. The force from the impact exerts itself in my direction, destroying the ground as it went, and I hurry to climb out. The force hits me before I can and I'm thrown around like a rag doll within my hiding spot. Then, everything starts to crumble around me and I feel like I'm being buried alive.

Infusing lightning chakra through my body, a large chakra emits out of my tenketsu points, pushing the debris away from me. Most of it spills out of the now open hold and I quickly crawl out, gasping for air. I notice Kimidori running towards me and I shift the lightning chakra into my fist.

"Lightning Release Bullet: Powerful Breath!"

I thrust my fist out and lightning channels out of it, heading towards Kimidori. He side steps out of the way and I release the round of lightning that I was storing in my other fist. Kimidori smirks and holds Sadeo in front of him. Cursing, I quickly alter the lightning's course and it hit the ground instead.

"You better be careful or you'll harm our little moneymaker," he taunts, chuckling.

"I-I'll give you money if that will c-cause you to leave us a-alone," Sadeo stutters, body quivering in fear.

My heart wrenches for the usually happy go lucky man and I narrow my eyes. "How do you know about his fortune?"

"Some of our men overheard you all talking as they stalked you," Kimidori explains, smirking. "You know, it wasn't really smart to brag about your inheritance like that."

"Kimidori, stop messing around and finish them off," Komuraski says as he walks towards us. He's carrying an unconscious Shikamaru and Sakura over his shoulders.

His Wind Release Jutsu must be super strong in order to knock them out like that… damn this is getting bad for us!

"N-no need to do that!" Sadeo pleads. "I just said I w-would give you everything if you let us g-go!"

"So you can go off to report everything back to their village so you come back with reinforcements for your fortune?" Kimidori scoffs. "No, thank you!"

Sadeo's lowers his head. "F-fine."

Sadeo suddenly pulls an explosive tag out of his pocket and slaps it on Kimidori's face. Startled, the green-caped man let's go Sadeo and he runs towards me. As he does, the explosive goes off just as Kimidori peels it from his face and tosses it aside.

I widen my eyes. "You're not a Shinobi. How did you do that?"

"Sakura gave it to me for protection," Sadeo explains as he gets behind me. "She said it will go off five seconds after I attach it to my enemy, giving me time to get away to avoid the blast."

I glance over at Sakura's unconscious body and frown. "So, she's done a good job protecting you without us."

I'm proud of you, Sakura. Now, don't worry. Leave the rest to me.

Both of my fists glow with blue chakra as I charge up the lightning within them. With a shout, I clasp them together and thrust forward. Lightning races out of my fists and shocks Kimidori. His body shakes for a few seconds before he collapses on the ground paralyzed. Half of his face and his left arm is badly burned from the explosive and my lightning jutsu only made his pain worse.

I focus my attention towards Komurasaki and create two Shadow Clones to back me up.

I have to fight him carefully. I'm beginning to run low on chakra and my eyes are stinging from overusing my Byakugan.

"Let me and my friends go!" I yell. "If not, at least set them down so you can fight me!"

This man is the strongest and the most tactical among his brothers. His brother referred to him as a leader earlier.

I have to play my cards right.

Komurasaki shakes her head and leans my teammates against a tree. "I never wanted things to get this far. I knew I should've told Hōki to send you all back."

"I remember you saying you're not used to having Shinobi as captives," I say. "Why even bother with us if that's the case?"

"The plan was to lock up the three of you and my brothers and I would've watched over you personally while our clones threatened your client of his fortune. We wouldn't actually hurt him; we never hurt our victims."

I grit my teeth. "So, you just kidnap innocent travelers, lock them up, rob them, and then release them without a single scratch? How kind of you."

"I'm only doing what's best for my village," Komuarsaki tells me, narrowing his eyes. He pulls back his palms and a ball of wind begins to form in each one. "In order for it to prosper, your client's assets is the key."

"Sadeo, get back!" I order. My Shadow Clones and I wave our hands around. "Protective Eight Trigrams: Sixty-Four Palms!"

Sadeo runs towards the cave's entrance as a barrier of chakra protects me and my Shadow Clones. The two balls of wind collides with my barrier and bounces back towards Komurasaki. He releases a large gust of wind from his mouth to overpower the balls, and that, too, hits my protection. However, part of the wind sweeps upwards and over the barrier, attacking us. It slashes through my skin and rips open my clothes, but one of my clones goes up in smoke as the other one and I stand our ground to keep our chakra moving. I briefly notice my clone in squirrel from scurrying up a tree before shifting my attention to Komurasaki.

"Your jutsus are useless compared to my defense!" I taunt, keeping the enemy's focus on me.

Komurasaki pulls out a kunai and flings it to my squirrel, causing her dissipate. "So is your tricks."

Damn it! He's observant.

Suddenly, my other clone goes up in smoke and my chakra barrier fades away. I drop to my knees, huffing as I deactivate my Byakugan.

I'm...I'm almost out of chakra. Using that new jutsu over and over again really drained me. But, I can't give up yet! I've been in worse situations before! I just need to think of something!

"Hinata's tricks do get old after a while, but mine's a classic," a voice behind Komurasaki says. I squint my eyes to see Shikamaru standing behind the enemy. "Shadow Possession Jutsu complete."

Relief overwhelms me and that gives me the motivation to get back up and run after Komaurasaki. The silver-caped man struggles to move and turns towards Shikamaru, a ball of wind forming in his palm. Before he can attempt an attack, I dive in between them and strike his chakra points. I jump backwards and sink to my knees again as Komurasaki falls over.

"I... I thought you were knocked out," I say, trying to catch my breath.

Shikamaru shrugs. "I faked it. I was waiting for an opportunity to take out the King."

I chuckle. "This… this isn't a game of Shogi, Shikamaru."

"You guys like… Shogi?" Komurasaki asks, weakly. He coughs and smiles. "My son and I play that whenever we get the chance."

Shikamaru and I exchange glances.

This guy has a son and he's done all of this just to improve his dwindling village.

Is he really a bad guy?

"Where did you place our backpacks?" Shikamaru questions. "I need to heal my teammates."

"They're… they're in a storage room," Komurasaki replies. "We haven't searched through them yet since we had our hands full chasing the girl and your client. The room is near-"

"Daddy! Daddy!"

I turn around to see a little boy wearing a silver cape running towards us.

"Please! Please don't kill my daddy!"

Great, now the son is here.

Taking Komurasaki and his brothers into custody is going to be a little more difficult than I imagined.

Author's Note: I hope you enjoyed this chapter!