Hey! Welcome to a new chapter of Sounding in the Dark. The responses from last time were staggering to say the least, thanks so much for your support! Sorry that the update has taken so long; I really don't have an excuse for it...
Anyway; you know, as much as I love yuri it's very hard to write. I wanted to get a bit of Sakura/Ino fluff in here and there between the blood and gore (which you all love) and it just took a bit (a lot) of time to write...anyway; read, review, and enjoy the next-to-last chapter of the Wave Country Arc!
"Rawr, baby; very rawr." demon-ish speech.
Big thanks to my new beta, JohnnyG, for letting me kill so much of his free time. Kudos to him for cleaning my style up.
Disclaimer no Jutsu: I don't own Naruto so do sue me! Ha, I go against the grain, baby. Really, though, don't sue me.
This chapter is dedicated to the one Steve Irwin. R.I.P., mate.
Chapter 11: Wave of Worry
Kakashi was caught like a rat, literally. The black kitsune had its ethereal fangs buried deep in his shoulder and what was more, they burned something fierce. The black wisps of dark chakra flared as the beast growled into the Jounin's shoulder, baring more of it's teeth. Red eyes bore into the Jounin's own as flashbacks from the Kyuubi attack assaulted his scenes. The pure killing intent the creature was giving off was threatening to overwhelm him. Kakashi knew he had to do something drastic if he was going to save his arm.
"Raikiri!" Kakashi yelled for the third time in the battle as his free hand sparked to life. With an electrified thrust, the giant fox recoiled with a sharp yelp as it's head was torn apart by the unstoppable attack. With as much energy as he could spare, Kakashi leapt back, away from the headless apparition.
Ino helped Sakura to her feet, ready to carry her away from the bridge if it came to that. Kakashi landed near the pair completely out of breath, bleeding from the deep wounds in his shoulder, rendering his left arm useless. Even more, he was sweating profusely and looked ready to pass out at any moment. As it was, the copy-nin had to cover his Sharingan and use a piece of rubble as a crutch to hold himself upright.
The black fox staggered on it's feet as all watched in wordless abatement. Black wisps of chakra started to wind around a center point, drawing into something as if it were a fog that wouldn't release whatever was emitting it. Gradually, it started to form a human-like shape and a flash of spiky, white hair appeared from the top of the shroud. A light-red colored arm raised out of the black chakra and drew into a fist. That motion caused most of the chakra to recede, leaving the figure in clear view.
"N-Naruto?" Tayuya questioned as she ventured over to him.
The...creature...before her only bared the slightest resemblance to her partner. The boy's hair had grown long in the back and now ended at his hips. His skin had changed as well; what was once a normal skin tone had shifted to the same hue as her own. The two most striking changes, however, were the slitted, yellow eyes and the twin white horns that curved over from the top of his head and followed the cascading white hair down, ending near the small of Naruto's back.
Naruto's eyes snapped up and met Tayuya's. Several long moments passed before his lips curled up into a grin that was accented by his new angular teeth. Overall, the elite Sound-nin looked very much like something that crawled out of hell. "Tayuya-hime, how's the new look?" he asked in a slightly deeper voice, but still carrying the same joviality of the Naruto she knew.
The cursed kunoichi smirked back; of course the idiot wouldn't change too much attitude-wise. "Pretty good, but still not as nice as me."
"Heh, you may be right," Naruto admitted as he twisted around to get a look at his new form. "Nice, nice...I like my fox form better, though."
"Is that what that thing was?" the girl asked. "What the hell did you do?" she demanded, making sure to keep an eye on the Konoha-nin's further down the bridge.
The white-haired Oni shrugged. "I have no idea. I just felt a pull from my chakra and that's the form that popped out. You won't believe what it's like, Tayuya-chan!" the demonic boy stated with a lopsided smirk. "What I really want to do, though..." he turned towards the group of Leaf shinobi, "...is see what this body can do."
Tayuya mirrored her partner's sentiments. "Yeah, these shits have been breathing way too long. We need to finish up here and get back to Oto so we can use the other guys as practice dummies. Think you can finish this up before we have to change back?" she asked with a raised eyebrow. "Orochimaru-sama said it's not good to stay in these forms too long."
Naruto's answer was just a simple wave. "Kakashi's half-dead, Sasuke is no match for us even when he's at one hundred percent, and the girls will probably take off at the first chance since they're smarter than the other two." He laughed. "Our mission is to take out the old man, though. He's probably in the village by now so we can't waste time here."
"Whatever, dumbass," Tayuya growled. "Let's just get past this trash and get that old geezer."
With that said, Tayuya started to draw more chakra from her new reserves. Naruto smiled fondly at her before starting to do the same. Twin black wisps of chakra started to form under his feet along with a small tint of red. The two spots split and moved away from each other as Naruto's eyes bled red. The four dark shadows of chakra started to lengthen and grow until four ethereal legs surrounded the boy.
Tayuya caught on to what was happening and put some distance between herself and her partner, slightly jealous of the sheer power he was radiating.
Further down the bridge, Kakashi narrowed his visible eye at the forming shape of the same black fox he had just dealt with moments ago. "He takes one of my Raikiri, doesn't even bat an eye at it, and he can reform that chakra-shroud with a single thought." the Jounin appraised. He spared a glance at his students and felt a shiver go up his spine; they would not survive if they challenged Naruto in this form.
"Sasuke, Sakura, Ino!" he called out. "Get to the village and evacuate Tazuna-san and the villagers. I'll try to stop them here but in case I can't do it you all have to take charge of the mission."
Ino and Sakura nodded while Sasuke could do little more but glare as he couldn't speak due to a broken jaw. The long-haired blonde helped her friend up and together the two kunoichi broke into a run towards the other end of the bridge. Sasuke moved as swiftly as he could and managed to keep up with his teammates.
Tayuya narrowed her eyes at the retreating Genin. Turing towards the kitsune apparition, which still unnerved her quite a bit, she pointed at the trio. "They'll try and hide the target!" she hissed. The Demon Fox snarled in response and started walking towards Kakashi at a weary speed.
"Oh, so you did feel those attacks since you're being a bit more careful, huh?" the copy-nin mused. He snapped the top to his hip pouch and pulled out a small bag. A small blue pill slipped out into his palm. "It's a good thing the Nara clan makes these available to Jounin..."
The black kitsune narrowed it's eyes; that wasn't a standard soldier pill. Tayuya seemed to notice it as well and shot the beast a sideways glance.
"We have to end this quick since these bodies can kill us if we stay level two for a prolonged period of time," she reminded him. The massive fox gave her a small nod before bursting into a fury of motion, charging the Jounin.
"Here he comes..." The copy-nin pulled down his mask enough to slip the blue Houren pill into his mouth. Pain laced every nerve ending in his body as he felt his nutrient reserves being converted into chakra. The weight of exhaustion that dissipated upon eating the pill was more than welcome, however. Running through a set of hand seals, he aimed to knock Naruto out of the fight long enough to deal with the kunoichi. "Suiton: Suiryuudan no Jutsu!"
The water dragon rose from the ocean below the bridge and swept over the one-tailed Kitsune like a living tidal wave, capturing the fox in it's watery jaws and sending it over the side of the bridge. Tayuya cursed under her breath and brought her weapon to her lips. Before she could play, however, several kunai were sent at her from the copy-nin to interrupt her Genjutsu.
The cursed girl batted the steel weapons away and braced herself for a fight when she observed Kakashi barreling down on her.
Kakashi veered off his line of attack as the section of bridge in front of him literally exploded from the bottom up. Concrete and steel pushed their way upwards as if a hellish garden of modern art were springing from the ground at an impossible rate. As the rubble settled, the looming form of a one-tailed kitsune glared at the famous copy-nin.
"Pressure bullet, huh?" Kakashi deadpanned. The red eyes of an enraged Jinchuuriki glaring at him was the only response he received.
The fox growled in annoyance; how the bothersome Jounin recovered so quickly was something he didn't understand. The fact that he almost harmed Tayuya fueled his bloodlust even more so than being knocked into the water. Craning his massive head to the side, the Jinchuuriki motioned that the redhead should go past Kakashi and go towards the city.
Tayuya suppressed the urge to kick the massive projection in it's head. "I'm not your damn support on this mission!" she growled. "Why don't you go deal with the brats and leave this shit to me?"
"Because you're almost at your limit," Naruto replied in a very growl-like voice. "We'll work together to get you around him but then you finish the mission while I deal with him. I'll come help once he's gone, promise." the fox growled. Naruto even gave her a tooth-filled smile in his new form.
The kunoichi smirked back, her confidence back in full-force once again. At an unvoiced signal, the two demonic Oto-nins rushed a very worried Kakashi...
"What the hell was that thing, Ino?" Sakura asked as the pair ran towards the city.
The long-haired blonde grimaced. It wasn't a matter of what it was; rather, who it was that she found difficult to answer. "He...was an elite Oto-nin." she answered. It wasn't a lie, only vague. Ino hoped Sakura would be too distracted to question farther.
Sakura nodded, much to Ino's relief, and looked back at Sasuke. The boy's jaw had stopped bleeding but it was obvious by his lack of dialogue that he could not speak. Well, that's what the two kunoichi's guessed since the Uchiha wasn't all that talkative to begin with.
A loud explosion from behind them only served to increase their speed in earnest. They had to get Tazuna out of the city or maybe even Wave Country if he was to survive.
'I hope Kakashi-sensei makes it out of there in one piece...' Ino thought. Speaking of their team leader...
"Sakura, who's in charge now?"
The pink-haired girl blinked. That was a good question. "Um...well...Sasuke-kun? He is the strongest one here." she noted.
Ino grimaced; her friend was still extolling the Uchiha right after he got his ass handed to him; unbelievable. The blonde decided to go with logic Sakura couldn't deny.
"He can't really give orders like he is now, Saukra." Ino deadpanned. The raven-haired boy managed to grunt in objection but soon piped down upon feeling the agonizing waves of pain that action caused. He settled for glaring a hole in the back of Ino's head.
There was silence for a few more moments before Ino decided to take a chance and voice her opinion. Making sure she didn't meet Sakura's eyes, Ino started. "I think you should do it, Sakura."
"Me?" Sakura sounded surprised. "I'm not the leader type, Ino," she argued.
"You're the smartest person here and you've seen more of what the Oto-nins can do. If they get past Kakashi-sensei you'll have to tell me what to do," the blonde reasoned.
Sakura still looked hesitant but several more explosions from behind solidified her resolve. "Alright, lets get to Tazuna-san and take him to the wharf. We'll grab a boat and head towards Hidden Mist."
Ino blinked. "Hidden Mist? Why should we do that?"
"Because it's the last thing those two would expect us to do. They will assume we, being new Genins, would go straight towards land and the safety of Konoha," Sakura explained. "Also, they were working with Zabuza, a criminal from that village. They won't risk a war with Mist just to get at us."
Ino nodded, impressed. "That's pretty good, Sakura. The big forehead is useful after all!"
Sakura glared at the other girl but remained silent. Sasuke suddenly turned sharply and drew a kunai. The other two stopped on a tree limb several feet away.
"Sasuke-kun?" The Uchiha held up a hand to stop Sakura as he started to move his other hand in odd movements.
Ino narrowed her eyes at the signs. It was the ANBU code that Iruka had made the class memorize at the Academy. "One person...moving quickly from the...south," she translated.
Sakura's face turned grim. "It's either Kakashi-sensei or one of those Oto-nins."
Sasuke did a few more signs before leaping off into the dense forest. Ino had to hold back Sakura from going after him. "Don't, Sakura!" Ino shouted, keeping a firm hand on her friend's arm. "You understood him just as well as I did, he's going to buy us some time!"
"How can you say that!" Sakura wheeled around to face the blonde. "He might get killed! Don't you even care, Ino! "
The blonde flinched at the tears forming in her friend's eyes. "He knows what he's doing, Sakura," she mumbled, not convinced in the least. If she were being honest, Ino would have to admit the boy just over-estimated himself and was going to get his ass beat. "Anyway, we have to get to Tazuna-san!" she reiterated.
Sakura seemed to think the same as she was reluctant to continue on. Ino finally had enough and physically lifted the girl bridal-style and continued on.
"Ino!" she screeched, kicking her feet helplessly. "What the hell are you doing?"
"Well, you weren't being cooperative so I decided to help you along, wide forehead." Ino smirked with more nonchalance than she felt; the blonde only hoped Sakura would think her blush was from so much running.
Being honest with herself, Ino wasn't exactly sure why she had scooped Sakura up; the pink-haired girl wasn't dumb enough to chase after Sasuke at that moment, but that still didn't stop her body from just reacting. It was an opportunity to get away with something like this and have a semi-reasonable excuse to do it.
Sakura stuck out her lower lip and glared at Ino. This was the second time she was in Ino's arms like this. The first time she had imagined Sasuke being the one to hold her, but this time she couldn't slip into that fantasy since she was very much aware of what was going on.
Gradually, she stopped putting up a fight and resigned herself to being carried around by her friend. To her surprise, it wasn't all that bad and she actually found herself leaning into the golden-haired girl. Of course, the pink-haired Genin fervently told herself the only reason she was allowing this to go on was because she was still recovering from the battle with the red-haired Oto-nin.
Another large explosion in the forest behind the pair let them know that things were heating up behind them. Luckily, the two were out of the forest now and just coming into the town. To their surprise, Tazuna was standing atop a cart and seemed to be gathering people to him in the town square.
"Are we just going to let someone come in and destroy our last hope?" the old man yelled from his vantage point. A crowd was starting to grow, some of them calling him a fool, most brandishing pitchforks calling for a united defense.
Ino leapt building by building and, in a feat of acrobatics, landed next to the startled construction master. The motion was so hectic, that Sakura 'eeped' and gripped Ino's neck with her arms, almost chocking the poor kunoichi.
Tazuna blinked; it wasn't every day two teenagers jump from the top of a two-story building. When they started to yell at one another, the blonde one about almost getting strangled, he remembered their names.
"Ino! Sakura!" he said in sudden recognition. "Did you win? Are Zabuza and the others gone?" The crowd also seemed to listening intently for the answer, ignoring the oddness of the scene for the moment.
Sakura released her hold on Ino's neck and, with a strange pang of reluctance, hopped out of the blonde's arms. "Listen everyone," she started, addressing the entire crowd. "The Oto-nin's hired by Gatou are much stronger than we originally thought, we have to evacuate the entire town before they get here!"
The people in the square starting to murmur amongst themselves; even Tazuna looked doubtful. "The entire town? Are you certain? There are only four of them."
Ino shook her head. "It's only two of them, I didn't see Zabuza or that other guy." At that, some of the people in the crowd started to cheer, much to the two Konoha-nin's alarm.
"You don't understand! That Oto-nin with the white hair has a summoning contract, he could level this place!" Sakura argued.
"That's right, and he's also got some weird chakra thing that turns him into a giant fox! We don't even know if Kakashi-sensei will be able to beat him!" she yelled to the people.
When yet another explosion rocked through the forest next to the town, all eyes turned towards the plume of dust in the distance. Then...someone screamed. This setoff a chain reaction ending with everyone present trying to flee all at once.
Ino and Sakura looked out over the swell of people with a mortified expression; it was hell below them. As more explosions sounded, the crowd became even more reckless in it's attempt to disperse.
From his makeshift podium, Tazuna was yelling at various workmen, who were doubling as his crowd control, to get the people settled down but to little effect. Fortunately, the helpers soon gave up on trying to calm the crowd down and instead focused on just getting the people out safely.
"Well...that could have gone better," Ino admitted as she and Sakura looked out over the now empty town square. Several carts of goods were overturned with their products strewn about.
Tazuna nodded, still a bit numb from the scene he had just witnessed. Sakura turned and grabbed his arm to snap the old man out of his shock.
"We have to get you out of this city!" she hissed.
Ino also snapped to attention and whipped out a kunai. Sweeping her eyes over the vacant streets, she especially watched the approach from the forest. Now that there were no people around, the three of them were sticking out like a sore thumb.
Sakura, sensing Ino's distress, not-so-gently pulled the old man along with her despite his complaints at the treatment.
"Be quiet! You need to leave before those two Oto-nins get here!" Sakura argued when the man's resistance picked up.
"I can't leave my family!" he protested, still digging his heels into the hard stone of the street. "We have to make sure they left the city before I'll go anywhere, I'd rather die than leave them!"
"That's good since you'll be dieing right here. No regrets on sentiments unfulfilled."
All eyes turned towards the rooftop above them where a redheaded girl was glaring at them. It took Sakura a moment to place her face without the horns and red skin. "You..."
Tayuya smirked; such an effect she had on people. Almost faster than the two Konoha kunoichi's could follow, Tayuya was several paces to their front with her flute already fidgeting between her fingers.
"What did you do to Sasuke-kun?" Sakura demanded as she took up a defensive position in front of Tazuna. Ino mirrored her action and pushed the man further back.
The Oto-nin chuckled, ignoring the pain in her chest. She had been forced to disengage her second-level curse shortly after the fight with the pompous Uchiha so her current chakra reserves were almost non-existent. That didn't stop her from bluffing her opponents, however.
"You mean that whiny bitch I busted up at the bridge? I can't believe that shit thought he could actually beat me. It's a good thing he's not in any condition to register pain because I'm sure his jaw would give him hell right about now." Tayuya smirked.
Sakura let out the breath she had been holding. So, Sasuke was still alive? That was one less thing to worry about in her opinion. "Tazuna-san," she started, not taking her eyes off of the enemy kunoichi. "Ino and I will keep her busy while you get your family and get out of here. No more heroics!"
At the order, the old man nodded and made a break for safety. Tayuya growled at the action but before she could make an offensive move, she had to dodge a kunai aimed for her head.
Ino's eye twitched as her blade sailed harmlessly through a sea of red hair, missing it's target. "Still got some fight left in you, huh?" she asked, obviously eyeing the nin's current state.
"Don't think for a second you can win." Tayuya snarled. "You shits are no match for me no matter what form I'm in."
Seeing that the redhead was all business, Ino motioned for Sakura to try and get on the other side of Tayuya. After a small nod of agreement from her teammate, Ino was running towards the tired Oto-nin.
The assault caught the redhead off-guard; she had thought they'd try and run. Tayuya quickly brought her flute up to block Ino's kunai stroke and used her free hand to block Ino's side kick.
Sakura, seeing an opening, shoulder tackled the Oto kunoichi sending her sprawling on the cold cobblestone. Tayuya gathered her wits enough to roll to the side to avoid Sakura's follow-up heel drop and quickly spun her body so she could sweep the pink-haired girl's feet from under her.
The maneuver would have worked if Ino hadn't slammed her foot down fast enough to block the move. Sakura sent Ino a small smile in thanks before the two Konoha-nin took up a defensive position back-to-back to cover each other's defenses.
Tayuya was on her feet by this time and quickly put some distance between her and the two kunoichi. Looking at how they were looking out for one another, she growled low in her throat. "You shits..."
"Heh, I think you should give up now," Ino stated smugly.
"Without that freaky seal you're not much, huh?" Sakura observed, genuinely surprised with how they were dominating the fight. She also found she worked well with Ino and made a mental note of that for the future.
'Damn! Where the hell is that bastard, Naruto!' Tayuya snarled mentally while using this little break to keep the blood down her throat; it wouldn't be good to let her opponents know she was so damaged. 'I stayed in the second level too long...'
Tayuya, for once, didn't have a scathing comeback to shout at her opponents as she couldn't waste valuable time catching her breath with talking. Looking at the confident faces of Sakura and Ino, the older girl had to wonder if she looked like that all the time.
'Oh well, I better at least be standing when that idiot gets here or he'll never let me live it down.' With that thought in mind, Tayuya drew into a offensive stance to meet her attackers head-on...
Kakashi leapt from his concrete perch as it imploded in a shower of stones. The bridge was marked with potholes and there were downed pillars everywhere; the copy-nin used one of these as cover as he started another jutsu.
"Kirigakure no Jutsu..." The hidden mist jutsu intensified due to the already foggy atmosphere of the bridge and Kakashi faded from existence.
The cursed kitsune growled in annoyance as the gray mist settled over the battlefield. His long tail swished angrily, trying to bat the jutsu away to little effect; it was chakra-imbued mist, after all.
Kakashi was already out of the mist before Naruto could even begin to fathom a plan. Jumping off the bridge to the water below, Kakashi ran though a large set of hand seals while trying his best to ignore the burning pain the Houren pill was causing him.
"Suiton: Daibakufu no Jutsu!" Since he was closer to the source of his ammunition, Kakashi didn't waste very much chakra summoning the massive blast of water. It ripped through the underside of the bridge with the screeching sound of metal being twisted by the massive cyclone of water.
The assault continued until a geyser of water erupted from the mist still clinging to the top of the bridge. With the damage sustained before the attack, the supports for that section failed and a 100-foot block of bridge collapsed into the water below.
Kakashi narrowly dodged the falling rock and debris from where he was standing. He even had to make a break for the remaining part of the bridge to avoid the wall of water that sprung from the impact. Seeing the destruction, he sighed deeply. "Well...Tazuna isn't going to like this."
Kakashi watched with a mix of disbelief, horror, and annoyance as the form of a now humanish Naruto water-walked out of the cloud of dust that had shaken loose from the assault.
The white-haired demon was bleeding from several places and was looking quite pissed, his former smirk gone. The thought that the boy was no longer thinking of this as a game was a small victory for the Jounin, however.
"So...ready to give up, Naruto?" Kakashi asked, trying to keep the pain the Houren pill was causing him out of his voice.
Naruto bared his impressive array of teeth in a growl. "My mission isn't finished," he snarled. "And I have to get back to Tayuya-chan! Zankuuna!"
The sudden blast of air caught Kakashi sleeping and he had to somersault in midair to keep from falling into the water. The cursed boy didn't give him much reprieve as Naruto immediately pushed the attack. With the added strength and speed boost his opponent gained from activating his seal, Kakashi was finding it difficult to stay in command of the taijutsu battle. Having to conserve his chakra made this even more difficult.
Finally, Kakashi pushed his young opponent back enough to make a break for the tree-line. As it stood, he had no chance of overpowering the boy in a wide-open space. Choosing the forest was his best chance at quickly killing his opponent, so Kakashi abandoned his former position and darted into the trees.
"Coward!" Naruto growled. The transformed Oto-nin quickly gave chase and followed his prey into the dense foliage.
The more experienced Jounin schooled his body to silent running as he darted through the trees. He could hear Naruto tearing a swath of forest behind him so he picked up the pace a bit.
Rummaging through his weapons pouch, he pulled out wire, explosive tags, smoke bombs, and several flares; his entire stock of supplies.
"If this doesn't get him..." Kakashi let the sentence hang. If his trap didn't work he would simply have to wait Naruto out until he couldn't use his seal. "Of course, there's no way of telling how long that will take." He sighed.
"Kage Bunshin no Jutsu!" Five Kakashi clones popped into existence a few branches over from the Jounin. He had to be careful to manage the amount of chakra he put into the jutsu; it was a precious thing to him at the moment.
Sending an unvoiced order, the clones nodded and hopped off towards the direction of the bridge. Kakashi watched the little pack of Jounin's go before exploding into action himself, setting up a large-scale trap; all the while praying to whatever powers were out there that the clones could keep Naruto busy for a few minutes...
A decoy. In the shinobi world this effective tactic could employ a vast majority of things: a helper animal, a tossed weapon, a feint attack, or even a bunshin. This was the lesson being discovered by a certain white-haired demon as his clawed hands crushed the windpipe of yet another Kage Bunshin.
"That's number four..." Naruto growled in annoyance. He was sporting a few cuts and bruises from the continuous battles but nothing serious; he was more angry than tired.
'I don't have time for this...' he thought as his yellow eyes scanned the forest for the real Kakashi. Suddenly, Naruto leapt into the air as a hand erupted out from the patch of ground where he had just been standing.
The discovered Kakashi just barely avoided the air blast as the hole he had dug exploded from the pressure. The silver-haired Jounin didn't even pause to look back at his opponent and instead started making his way through the thick forest.
Naruto leapt free of the dust cloud his attack had generated, looking for his target. A flash of silver caught his eye and the cursed boy zeroed in on his fleeing opponent.
The chase dragged through the forest for a few hundred feet leaving a swath of destruction in it's wake. In his current situation, Naruto was in no mood to play this professionally; his teammate could be hurt or worse...no, he shook that thought out of his head. It was something the white-haired boy didn't even want to consider.
The Kakashi clone looked back at the marauding human weapon behind him. When the other clones were destroyed, all according to plan, the real Kakashi gained the information they had witnesses as an early warning system; now that the second to last clone had been destroyed, the finishing touches on the trap should be finished. In fact...
"...about time you showed up, Naruto," another Kakashi droned from a treetop perch several yards ahead. To his pursuer's irritation, it was done without the Jounin even taking his eyes off of the Icha Icha Paradise book in his hands.
Naruto's eyes narrowed as the clone he had been chasing disappeared in a cloud of smoke. "I didn't want to kill you but you're costing me time! Why won't you all just give up!" he snarled.
That actually made the Jounin take his eyes off of his reading material. "A Konoha shinobi never leaves a mission unfinished as long as he's alive," Kakashi stated with a slight edge to his voice. It softened as he went back to reading. "You would have known that had you stayed in the village."
"Yeah, stay in the village so I would stay weak, so I would be hunted by the villagers!" Naruto yelled. No matter how much he wanted to hurry, this had to be said. "And for what? What the hell did I do to deserve it!"
Kakashi's visible eye widened and he looked down at the boy with pity. "You mean you actually don't know? Orochimaru never told you after all these years?"
"You know nothing! He took me in, made me strong, gave me a family! He wouldn't keep anything from me!" Naruto snarled.
Whatever response Kakashi could have come up with was forever lost as Naruto launched a Zankuuha blast at the tree the Jounin was sitting on. When Naruto watched the man turn into a cloud of smoke, it was already too late.
The swift mule kick the real Kakashi planted on Naruto's back sent the surprised boy flying forward into the forest. Several strings were tripped by his body as he landed and rolled on the forest floor.
The last thing Naruto saw was the shrinking back of Hatake Kakashi as the pre-made clearing he had been kicked into came alive with the explosion of over a hundred special demolition tags. The resulting firestorm carved out a crater in the forest for several hundred feet.
Setup wise, the plan was quite simple; have several clones buy enough time for the real Kakashi to dig out a large pit and fill it with layer upon layer of Jounin demolition tags. A few trip wires and a hasty Kawarimi no Jutsu with the surviving clone put the Jounin in the perfect position to ambush his less-experienced opponent.
"Still, he didn't deserve the life he was dealt," Kakashi decided from where he had stopped running from the blast. "If only things had worked out better for him, maybe making it into the Academy..."
The Jounin sighed, showing every year of his relatively young age. "Was Naruto destined to die at the hands of the people that were supposed to protect him from birth? I can't blame this on ignorant villagers, though..."
That one, bellowing voice caused Kakashi's mind to effectively shutdown. It was the voice that haunted him from over 12 years past, the voice that disturbed his dreams more often than even Obito's...the voice that took his teacher away...
Slowly, Kakashi's gaze rose from the base of the still-smoldering forest to high above the tallest trees...
"Explain to me again why we're dragging her along with us," Ino demanded for the fifth time in as many minutes. Currently, an unconscious Tayuya was ridding piggyback on the disgruntled Yamanaka.
Frankly, it was getting on Sakura's nerves and the pink-haired girl let her teammate know. "So we can take her back to the village to interrogate her! Oto attacked us, Ino-buta!" Sakura explained herself yet again.
Both girls looked to be in no better shape than the Oto-nin they were 'escorting.' Sakura was walking with a visible limp and Ino was wincing each time she shifted weight on her right arm. Still, she continued on; Sakura was the current leader, after all.
At least the townspeople had done their part. For the first time since arriving in the town it was quiet. Not a beggar or street vender in sight.
"I guess Tazuna-san had more pull than I thought," Sakura mused aloud.
Ino had to agree. "The old man had to have his uses, I guess." Shifting the weight on her back, the blonde's natural instinct to complain kicked once again. "Where are we going, anyway? Do you even know, forehead girl?"
Sakura's teeth clenched at the insult to her intellect and her forehead. Despite the confusing nature of their 'friendship' Ino still managed to get on her nerves; it was a unique quality the Yamanaka had.
"Ino!" Sakura growled. She stopped in the street and spun on her heels, intent on launching a witty comeback. "You...you...what the fuck is that?"
The blonde blinked once...then again. "Wow, I've never heard you use language like that Sak-urk!"
Sakura painfully wrenched Ino's head around and almost caused her friend to topple over, passenger and all. Before she could start complaining again, however, she caught sight of what the other girl was staring at.
"...the fuck is that?" Ino parroted as she too saw the large column of smoke rising from the forest. It was the most massive thing either girl had ever seen.
Then, the wave hit them.
The pure, unrestrained malice that assaulted their senses was enough to cause both girls to crumble to the ground like dolls that had their strings cut. The rage was a tangible thing, clinging to their bodies like morning mist, filling their minds with cotton, and causing all of their muscles to spasm out of control.
"I-I-I-In-Ino..." Sakura fought with everything she had left to simply not lose consciousness. It was unlike anything she had ever experienced. Whatever the invisible force was, it made her want to run until her legs broke from the strain.
Ino was no better. For the first time in her life she felt completely powerless. She felt like a rabbit in the jaws of some wild animal as her body squirmed uncontrollably. Forcing her eyes to move under her own power, she could only shift her gaze over to the tree-line several hundred feet away. The large, furred, red leg that was towering over the trees only added to her distress.
Tayuya's body, which had rolled off of Ino's back upon the chakra wave hitting them, now started to react subconsciously. Her mind released adrenalin into her system to stir her conscious mind to some form of action. As it was, the Oto-nin could only part her eyes slightly.
Her captors were in much the same state as herself; laying on the ground seemingly unable to move. 'Serves the bitches right.' She managed to insult them even in the position she was in.
The more aware she became, the more motor control she regained. Forcing herself to move, she managed to get into a sitting position. Immediately, warning bells sounded in her mind as her near-depleted chakra system started picking things up; more precisely, the killing intent in the air.
Unlike the two Konoha kunoichi, however, Tayuya had been in the presence of the Snake Sannin for extended periods of time. As such, she was able to fend off the effects of the malevolent chakra to a certain extent. Still, she was forced to use her hands as a way to catch herself from simply collapsing to the ground.
"W-what...the f-fuck-k..." Tayuya gasped. Everything around her screamed for her death and her vision started to drown in a red haze. It was a surreal feeling; being completely covered in such evil chakra. This was unlike anything Orochimaru could do, she realized.
She shuttered when the voice exploded into her ears. Ino tried to say something, or perhaps just scream, but it came out as a sickly, gurgling noise; the extra amount of fear in her eyes conveyed more than any words could at the moment, however. Tayuya almost didn't want to follow Ino's eyes, fearing what she would see. Still, the lure was too great and soon the girl found herself staring at the towering visage of the most famous being in the world: the Kyuubi no Kitsune...
"What...the hell..." was the first thing Naruto chose to say as he slowly regained consciousness. He spit out a mouthful of water upon sitting up in whatever place he was in. It was pitch black and his eyes had trouble adjusting. Wherever the place was, it was huge. The room was at least the size of the main hall back in Oto.
A dim red glow from the walls provided a bit of light now that Naruto's eyes had adjusted a bit. He scanned the room until his eyes settled on one side. There was something odd about the wall there but he couldn't quite make it out.
"It could be a way out of here...wherever 'here' is," he decided.
Walking towards the odd wall, the boy had a growing sense of dread about his possible escape. Now actually at the 'wall,' Naruto could see that it wasn't a wall at all; it was a massive gate.
"Damn it, when I find Kakashi I'm going to rip his spleen out for putting me in this place," the boy promised.
The gate reached far up into the murky shadows obscuring the ceiling from his gaze. Naruto then noticed the state the bars themselves were in. The bottom part of the gate was bent outwards as if something very large tried to push itself out. A tiny piece of paper on the middle of the structure was lightly singed.
Naruto looked back to where he had come from to see if there was anything still alive with him. He couldn't see anything but the walls seemed to be glowing a brighter red than when he first woke up. Of course, this could just be due to his eyes adjusting. The boy disregarded the strange lighting conditions and focused his attention on the warped hole in the steel bars.
"Nothing lost, nothing gained, right?" he asked himself. Still, he hesitated to venture into the darkness. The stray thought of Tayuya fighting on without his promised support flicked on the edge of his mind. "No...I've got to get out of here," he stated with a deep breath.
No longer with any doubts, the white-haired boy took the first of many future steps into the large cage before him; thoughts of a certain redhead driving him onward...
And I think I'll call it quits right there for now. I know it seems like one cliffy after another with this story, but I have trouble ending a chapter any other way. Anyway, next chapter will be the end of the Wave Arc for Team Seven, Naruto, and Tayuya. What will happen? I don't even know! See you guys in a month or so!
A condensed version of the Zankuuna. Shot from the mouth of Naruto's Kitsune-form, the bullet acts more as a localized area of high pressure that destabilizes upon hitting a solid object.
Kage Bunshin no
Jutsu (Shadow Clone Skill)
A Jounin-level forbidden jutsu that splits the user's chakra into equal pieces to create solid clones. If a user with large chakra uses this skill, their clones can do small jutsu independently of the original body as the clones themselves have an inner chakra system.