Welcome back to Team Seven Brats! This is chapter seventeen, also part V of Konoha's Not-ANBU!
~ Recap ~
Sakura heaved in a deep breath, trying her hardest to keep her breathing even while being completely silent at the same time.
She cursed. Yamato was right about the lower levels being harder. When the frick did they add random booby traps? What were they keeping on the lower levels?
The pink-haired girl's calculating eyes dart back and forth. She could try and run for it, but that wasn't the best idea. Staying here was ideal for her health and staying alive in general, but she had to get the mission done. Something was being kept here, and she was going to find out what it was.
Unfortunately, there was a gigantic animal in the same room, its slobber getting all over the floor and the loud breathing sending shivers down Sakura's back. It was right there. In front of her exit. Not to mention, there were dead bodies all over the floor, some were just skeletons, others were decaying rotting bodies. What happened in here?
The chunin slowly let out a shaky breath, before forcing her shaking hands to move.
A large bullet of water shot out of Sakura's mouth, nailing the animal in the head. Oh, well, one of its heads. The kunoichi distantly remembered something about a three-headed dog guarding the underworld or something, and she was positive that this three-headed dog was the one guarding her only exit. The one she had entered through was now gone, vanished. The girl didn't even sense any chakra from the door, but it was now gone as if it was never there in the first place.
It was like the lower levels were changed to a labyrinth. A live one too.
The dog reared onto his meaty back legs, and Sakura's blinked, taking in its size. It had to be at least as big as a full-grown bear.
She weaved in between the legs, channelling chakra into her fists and lashed out, her fists gracefully landing exactly on the targeted spots. She could hear the cracks and snaps of the bones shattering, and just managed to shunshin out of the way as a pair of jaws came snapping after her.
The chunin exhaled, blowing a floating strand of hair out of her face, making sure that it didn't obscure her view, especially when she wore a mask.
The girl's hands blur together as they made seals. She bit her lip. Jubaku Satsu.
Sakura wasn't sure that a genjutsu would work on a three-headed dog, but it was worth a shot. The dog spun around, all three heads drooling on the ground, the disgusting saliva flicking everywhere. But the small chunin was nowhere to be seen, completely gone. Sure it was dark and barely visible in the room, but the dog had an extremely good sense of smell, as all dogs do.
And there was no trace of the pink-haired girl.
The dog barked.
A tree came out of nowhere, shooting up, wounding around the three-headed monster's legs, locking it in place. The trunk thickened behind the large animal, the growth not stopping, even though almost half of the tree's limbs were being torn off by the pure strength the dog was using.
Sakura appeared from inside the tree, green eyes somewhat alit with fire.
"Sorry," she muttered.
A green light coated her kunai that she clutched tightly in her hand, and she plunged the weapon into the dog's body. Her arm, wrapped in a protective armour of chakra, shot through the animal's body with such strength and precision, that as soon as her body stopped moving, she knew that she had hit the spot she was aiming for.
The dog grumbled, before falling flat on its face, with Sakura's balancing herself daintily on the back of the monster's spine, yanking her arm out at the same time.
She admired her kunai for a moment, looking at the green light around it with interest. She had been taught by Himari about some sort of 'chakra scalpels', which only injured the internal organs, not the outer ones. Things like skin and hair weren't harmed as the chakra scalpel was inserted into the body, but anything past the outer layer was seriously harmed. Without the right treatment, the wound would essentially be permanent.
The Haruno had only been thinking fast, coating that very 'chakra scalpel' foundation around her kunai because she knew what the three-headed dog's heart was too far away just to reach into the body to hit. It seems like she found something new. Himari definitely would hear about this later.
"Stop dozing off," the girl suddenly reprimanded herself, shaking herself out of her daze. "Just keep going."
She still froze there, glancing down at the dead large body underneath her.
Sakura gulped, before wiping her slightly bloody right arm on her uniform and leaping off the body to get to the only visible door. She yanked open the door, forcing it open with a little help from her incredible chakra control, prepared herself mentally-
-but was not prepared for what was inside.
Of all ages, varying from younger than Sakura herself until what she thought looked like Kakashi's age.
They all shot up, weakly, getting into defensive positions. Sakura's inner sensei startled awake, and she found herself thinking, what is that form? Their feet are too close together, arms are way too flimsy and their fists are shaking! But aloud, she managed to make her voice soothing and calming, as she said, "I'm not going to hurt you."
They all froze, stiffening.
Sakura narrowed her eyes, before weighing the pros and cons of taking her mask off. She might not be as good as Naruto or Yugao, but her sensory abilities weren't bad either. She could sense their chakra had been attempted at refining it, but it wasn't right. It was like they worked so hard to do something with the chakra coils and snapped it along the way.
"Come here," she whispered, opening her arms, "I'll take you to safety."
None of them moved. All of their eyes were trained on her mask.
She sighed, before slowing reaching up to her mask, noting how they all froze, before taking it off gently, letting it fall away from her face. Almost all of them relaxed, except for the older ones, that looked about the same age as Kakashi.
"You're one of them..." A woman croaked. "One of the prodigies..."
"No," Sakura shook her head gently and slowly, "I'm definitely not a prodigy. I'm not from here."
"What are you?" A man snarled.
Sakura smiled warmly. "I'm part of Konohagakure."
Then the woman suddenly leapt forwards, engulfing her in a hug. The shinobi, having crouched down in a defensive position, staggered back slightly, before managing to regain her balance quickly. The woman was sobbing, and Sakura started to panic a little.
"I am so happy to see you-"
"Oba-san," Sakura said softly, "er, I'm not sure what you're doing, but I need to get you lot out of here."
A girl walked up to Sakura, touching the kunoichi's knee. Sakura gulped. The girl looked about eight, max. "You're taking us out of here?"
Sakura steeled herself, before nodding. "Yes. Now please, tell me, do you have any training?"
"They tried," the man said tiredly, slumping to the ground. "We...we tried our best to keep up. But then we didn't pass the exams, so we were tossed down here. No food, no water. The only way we were let out was to beat that monster outside."
The woman let go of Sakura, giving the girl a rough shake. "Did you face him? Did you face Uchino?"
Uchino? Sakura took it as a name for the three-headed dog. "Yes. He's dead. Please, we need to go. I'm on a time strain."
"We can take care of the kids," A teenager said curtly, but shot Sakura a dirty look. "Go. Do whatever shit you need to do."
The woman beside Sakura flinched, opening her mouth to reprimand the boy, but Sakura held up a hand and levelled his glare with a blank stare of her own. "Are you sure? I will force you all out of this dangerous place if I have to."
"Oh?" The boy snapped. "You're what, five years younger than me?"
"Age doesn't matter," Sakura says.
"As if. The younger, the better, was it?"
"No? Where did you get that from?"
"Say, just because you're younger-"
Sakura was getting restless. She had no idea how the others were going and didn't know if Yamato was already expecting her on level two. She was under time pressure. She had to get out of here.
"I said," Sakura emphasised, a little of KI leaking out, "I need to get you out of here. You're on level one of the while building, or maybe the basement. There are other levels that need to be cleared for safety, so I will resort to physical ways to get you out of here."
The boy smirked, getting into a defensive position. "Go for it. The only reason I'm down here is because I failed the poison test. I was the top of the defence class, I'm warning you-"
Sakura shot forwards, whirling around with a roundhouse kick.
No one reacted.
She was too fast for them.
Although she did place chakra on the bottom of her feet, a lot of her physical aspects and training were displayed there as well.
She didn't even huff, just stood over the slumped unconscious body of the boy with a blank face. "Are we good? I must get you out of here."
"We're too wea-"
Sakura hauled the boy's arm over her shoulder, and to her surprise, he was terrifyingly light. "Follow me. Grab the kids."
All of those under the age of the teenage boy shrank away from her, but the rest of them complied and grabbed the children and followed the shinobi out of the room. She sent out waves of her chakra, managing to sense a static Yamato above, who was just standing there, kneeling on the ground, a hand placed in front of him. No one else was nearby. He must've finished the rest of the level already.
She placed her mask back on, before spiking her chakra in an elaborate pattern, and Yamato's signature started moving not long after.
They were only there for about fourteen seconds before large wooden branches came shooting down, latching onto Sakura's waist, delicately wrapping around the unconscious boy's torso as well.
Sakura looked up to see a hole - most likely forced by the Wood Release - and a glimpse of Yamato's mask before the man nods, and she heaved a sigh of relief as more wood branches came down and wrapped around the other people in the room, before they were gently hauled up.
The first thing Yamato did was check up on Sakura. "That was extremely dangerous."
"Sorry," Sakura breathed.
"Don't say sorry," Yamato instructed, looking her over for wounds. "That can't do anything. Why didn't you call for help?"
Sakura frowned under the mask. "You were fighting at least seven samurai so I thought you'd be busy."
Yamato sighed, before glancing behind him. All of the other people you had rescued was there, all of them shaking and looking in wonder as the wood branches twisted and retracted into Yamato's sleeve. He raises his eyebrows, not that anyone can see. "Who are they?"
"There was a three-headed dog guarding a door, so I killed it, and they were behind the door," Sakura informs him.
Yamato glanced at the man, before kneeling in front of him. "Hey, there. The name's Hawk. Can you please tell me about the reason why you were down there?"
"What about the upper levels-"
"Raven and Viper are there."
"As I've said, there are many well-guarded things on the first floor. This is one of them." Yamato turned to the man again. "Can you tell me anything?"
The man opened his mouth.
"Who are you?"
The large fat man pushed up his tiny sunglasses. "I'm here to offer you something."
The man flinched. "What?"
The man, by the name of Chiziwa, with no last name, was sitting on the ground, outside of a house. He was using the small coverage the roof gave him since it had rained last night. Chiziwa couldn't remember the last time he had a house to return to, the only thing he could hold onto was his burning hatred for his father, who tossed him out like he meant nothing.
"I said," the fat man sniffed, "I'm here to offer you something."
"What is it?" Chiziwa said weakly. He hasn't had food for weeks, and the only water he got was rainwater.
"Join me." The man shifted around in his expensive suit. "Join me, and if you pass, you'll have the best life ever."
Chiziwa was naive.
He knew that.
But he joined this man, who then introduced himself as 'Gato', under the belief that maybe, just maybe, he could have a stable life.
And he was wrong. Chiziwa now had two people to hate, his father and Gato.
"Subject two-oh-one," a samurai called, "come on out here, you piece of trash."
Chiziwa moved silently, stepping out of his cell. His arms were grabbed roughly by a samurai, his wrists being tied together with rope behind his back. The samurai grabbed a tuff of his hair, before dragging the man down the hallway. Chiziwa was used to it. It was time to start classes, wasn't it?
It was always self-defence.
"I want you going through your katas at full speed!" A woman was bellowing. "You've had three days to learn them already, get your asses into those forms or you're not worth all the money Gato-sama spends on housing and feeding you!"
It hasn't even been two minutes before a child, no bigger than ten, collapsed. No one dared to stop, still rushing through their katas, the instructors whacking them mercilessly when they saw one wrong form. Chiziwa's eyes widened as he realised he knew who the child was. It was a girl who had smiled and greeted him the first time he was brought into the tower building. Her name was...Un? Ah, yes. Then her classmates were Deux, Trois, Quatre and so on. He remembered thinking that it sounded vaguely like a foreign language, but he wasn't educated enough to know if it actually was.
"Take her to the room," the woman instructor spat, kicking Un in the ribs.
Another instructor nodded, picking up the girl like a bag of potatoes and stomping out of the place.
Chiziwa winced. He glanced over quickly but made sure to snap his neck back in place, or he'll be the next one to disappear. No one knows what happens to the people who were taken into 'the room'. Only that they never came back.
"Trois," he hissed, "shut up."
"UN! UN! UN, I PROMISED TO PROTE-"
The boy was killed on the spot. A simple blade to the forehead and he was silent. He swayed a little, before falling flat on his face. Everyone stiffened, but kept going. You could also smell fear in the air, which was something Chiziwa learnt to get used to.
"Oi," the woman growled, nonchalantly tossing up another identical knife in her hand, "do I need to make it double speed?! Get to work!"
"As you can see," this time it was a young man teaching, even younger than Chiziwa. "This is labelled cyanide. This is a lethal poison that binds iron to blood, stopping the oxygen flow through the veins. It's very useful. There are very small amounts of it in fresh produce like apples. I want you to make hydrogen cyanide. Go wild."
No one moved.
The man sneered. "Did you not hear me? Make hydrogen cyanide!"
Everyone scrambled to move after that. No one knew how to, of course, but this was a normal thing inside class two now. What Chiziwa thought was awful was the fact that if you made it too fast, you'd be suspicious. If you didn't manage to make it, your chances of dying during class was higher.
Chiziwa knew nothing about poisons. There was also the lingering fact that if you did something wrong and ingested the poison yourself, you'd die.
But there was that newbie who did, but knew nothing about the unspoken rules.
"Finished," She said confidently.
The teacher snarled again. "Get to work! Jeez, you group of uneducated brats!"
He stalks up to the woman's table, and Chiziwa noted she was one of the oldest there. Maybe she had some inside knowledge on poisons. Chiziwa bowed his head, his hands shaking as he fumbled around with the plastic beakers. Glass was too expensive, and if you broke it, it could be used as a weapon.
"Where are the safety equipment, huh?" The woman challenged. "To work in a lab, you need to be safe!"
The man barked out a laugh. "Oh? She's annoying."
"Me?" The woman said, and it was her last word, as a katana came out of nowhere and sliced her in the neck.
The teacher smiled at a samurai, who simply bowed and walked back to his post, his blade dripping blood. Chiziwa kept his head down, making sure that he didn't look at the woman whose corpse was just lying on her station, blood leaking onto the ground.
Even her partner who was sharing her station didn't even look at the bleeding dead body. No one did.
It was only for fifteen minutes. In complete silence. If anyone was heard talking, they were either gone or dead, depending on the surrounding samurai's mood.
It was perhaps the simplest class. No instructor. Just supervisors. You picked any weapon, the same one each time was ideal, and practised. There was no one to guide you, and it was a common belief that Gato couldn't afford more instructors.
Chiziwa was always the one with nunchucks. Mostly because he was part of the batch where they came in with the most people, so all the people who ran to get weapons first got the better ones, and he was just there, twirling his nunchucks awkwardly, not knowing how to use them.
There were always new people. It was weird if no new people showed up each day, because it was always frequent when new people were lured into the idea of having a 'better life', then ending up a guinea pigs for Gato. No one knew what his end goal was.
Chiziwa's worst class. He's surprised he hasn't died yet.
Complete bullshit. Who wants to learn about how plants use photosynthesis to grow? But this was where Chiziwa overheard some information. That they were training not for Gato, but someone who Gato was supplying.
Who wanted people trained? Was this man trying to create an army?
"Did you hear?"
"Gato-sama's boss came to visit him today."
"Gato-sama has a boss?"
Chiziwa's thoughts exactly.
"Yeah." The man lowers his voice. "Apparently we're training these people because Gato-sama gets stuff in return. I think he sells the trainees."
"Sells them? Those useless things?"
"That's why we're training them."
Chiziwa's throat went dry. So even if you passed the exams you'd still be sent to a new-
The worst class.
Almost everyone who was picked for these 'classes' didn't even know what chakra was.
And it was the class where the most people were taken away.
"Muster chakra into your fucking fingertips!"
Oh. And it was with the worst instructor. Even worse than the self-defence one.
"IT'S NOT THAT FUCKIGN HARD, JUST FU-"
And it was the class Chiziwa was kicked out, sent to 'the room'.
He couldn't exactly remember how long he'd been inside, but he was always like a father to the children inside. To say he was surprised when the top of the self-defence student, Vignt, stumbled into the room, barely making it past Uchino, cursing Gato and his goons.
But he always held out. So many of the reckless ones darted out the door only to be killed and eaten like food.
When the door opened from the outside for the first time, the first thing he thought was-
-there's another victim-
-but then a girl appeared, her arm covered in blood, and the obvious stains of her wiping her arm on her white clothing was glaringly obvious.
The first thing she said?
"I'm not going to hurt you."
"They're..." Yamato trailed off. "Sakura, can you deal with them?"
The pink-haired girl salutes. "Yes!"
The girl darts forwards, two kunais already spinning in hand, surprising all of the non-shinobi as she diligently captures the incoming threats in a genjutsu and spins around, slitting their throats. Anyone with refined chakra was a threat, and no one was going to be spared. Not while there were people that needed to be protected.
Yamato turns to the man. "What's your name?"
"Now tell me, are they training you just to sell you off later?"
"...I just said that?"
Yamato sighed, just as Yugao shunshined to his side. All of the 'trainees' jumped, scrambling as far away as possible from the purple-haired woman. She didn't bat them an eye, shifting her bear mask on her face. "Eh, we finished."
"Did you?" Yamato glanced back at where Sakura was still fighting whirling back and forth. "Take these hostages out of here."
Yugao squinted. "Look, Rabbit-"
Yamato arrived just in time, wrapping Sakura in a cocoon of wood before launching forwards, his free hand making seals. A long tendril of thin water shot out of his mouth, zipping towards the samurai at an alarming speed, cutting sharply through their bodies.
He stood over the dead bodies, eyeing them carefully. Pulling out a set of shuriken, he nailed them all in the heart once more before releasing Sakura from her cocoon.
"I am so-"
"Are you alright?" Yamato cut in. "You did well, for someone based on strength rather than speed."
Sakura blinked, before bowing. "Hai."
She looked behind him, only to see everyone gone. "Er, why is no one there?"
"Yugao took them," Yamato nods, "and we need to get going. I've cleared the second floor, so let's go up to the third."
"Y'know," Kakashi muttered, drawing a seal on the ground using his black ink. "I think I made the mission out to be worse than it actually is."
Himari glanced over at him from where she was copying his seals. "Not really, taichou. It is extremely dangerous, especially with samurai."
Kakashi sighed, flexing his fingers slightly as he took a short break from drawing. "Really? We're just setting up a trap. Nothing much."
Himari raised her eyebrows. "Taichou-"
The silver-haired jonin raised a hand suddenly, and she cut off instantly. The man open his left eye tentatively, scanning the area with the red pupil. Then he closed it, before nodding at Himari. The woman shunshins away, leaving no trace of her, and Kakashi starts making seals.
Two patrolling guards come stalking down the hallway, and let out a surprised yelp when they see Kakashi standing there.
The shinobi eye-smiled. Narakumi no Jutsu.
They all froze.
The experienced ninja shot forwards, a kunai in each hand, slitting the two throats with ease.
Just as he had hauled the bodies out of the way and to the side, Urushi appeared, silently running down the hallways towards his master. Kakashi glanced up, having smelt the familiar dog, before raising his eyebrows at the ninken.
"Hmm?" Kakashi ruffled his dog's fur.
Urushi barked lightly. "Hyena's finished the seals."
"Good." Kakashi stands up properly, before biting into his thumb. "Kuchiyose no Jutsu."
A poof later, the whole group of ninken were there, and Urushi happily mingled back into the pack. Kakashi pet them all shortly on the head with an eye-smile, before getting serious. "I want you all to go down that way, turn left, go down a two flights of stairs, and wreck havoc inside that lower level. Got that?" Kakashi instructed.
All of them cocked their head to the side.
Kakashi sighed. "Light, light, sunset two, eta at sunset two." Left, left, down two, confusion and havoc at down two.
Pakkun snorts. "Just say that, pup. Let's get going, guys."
"Understands code but not Japanese," Kakashi muttered.
"But isn't code in Japanese?" Biscuit pointed out.
"Technicalities," Kakashi dismisses, "go on. Have fun."
They all nod before bolting down the hallway to the left. Before they could disappear out of earshot, Kakashi called, "lock without a key."
Pakkun glances back. "Got the key, kid."
It was a thing Kakashi and his ninken did. A 'lock without a key' needed a 'key', which was what the ninken would say after they've completed their part of the mission. It was almost like wishing luck, except wishing luck was almost as if you weren't going to see them again. Saying that you needed a key meant you expected them to come back again, which was developed while Kakashi was in ANBU, with Bull, the large black dog, coming up with the idea. It stuck ever since.
Kakashi watched the dogs disappear past the corner before he turned around to check over the seals. If this went to plan, then getting Katsumi Chikylu off her daimyo throne was going to be much easier than anticipated.
Afterall, Chikylu was a paranoid woman who didn't trust anyone but herself.
Even her own small force of police.
Okayyyyyy...I'm sorry this update was later in the day but I was busy preparing for stuff and assessments soooo-
Anyways, thanks for sticking by me and I hope you like this chapter! Right now, schoolwork is piling up this week and because of Covid my teachers think I have more free time than I actually do, so now school things are getting into my writing time. Sorry about that, but I'll try my best to get the updates on time!
Thanks for reading and reviewing!