Naruto Copyright Kishimoto/Shonen Jump/Funimation
Soul Calibur Copyright Namco
Kingdom Hearts Copyright SquareEnix/Disney
"New Chapter you guys, the finale of the Yukie Arc for Hinata. We're so close to Chapter 40. So very close…"
Hinata: "What happens on Chapter 40?"
"We'll be finished prepping for Part 2, and taking the plunge to the Final Arc. Fun times ahead, folks. On to the Fic!"
"What? No, seriously: WHAT?" Kiba growled into Hinata's face after she explained what she'd just learned from Yukie's─ No, Princess Koyuki's attendant.
Doesn't he have any sense of personal space! Hinata asked herself as she stepped away, turning to the wall of the corridor the team was meeting in, partially so she didn't have to get another dose of dog breath, and partially because she had the overwhelming urge to smash her head against the wall from the insanity she'd been dropped into.
Not that she'd admit either reason.
"Turns out, our lead actress is actually the usurped heir to the throne in the Land of Snow. The ninja that came after us were here to capture her for some kind of crystal she has, so their leader can get some kind of treasure. Meanwhile, her attendant, Sandayū, wants her to go aid in the rebellion against the current government, which she has refused out of hand."
Kiba groaned. "So, when are we heading back?"
"Hm?" Hinata kept her face carefully neutral.
"Back. To Konoha. Obviously." Akamaru yipped in agreement.
"Oh." Hinata hesitated. "… We're not. They still want us on."
"WHAT! Who the hell do they think we are? We were already practically in over our heads BEFORE when we were just escorting her into a dangerous isolationist country and she was a famous actress, and NOW it turns out the dangerous isolationist government is actively hunting for us! This is WAY beyond our skills." Kiba was looking a bit more frantic. Neji and Mid were also frowning at the change of mission.
"Doesn't matter. We're still going." Hinata repeated, a little more firmly. A pipe was running down the wall Hinata was looking at, and she briefly pondered what sound it would make if she slammed her head into it.
There was silence for a few seconds, broken by a derisive snort.
"… I get you now." Kiba said. "Obviously you're scared to come back, your first mission a complete wreck!" Kiba's mouth formed into a snarl, not even hiding his building anger. "Yeah, I've seen it on your face. I smell your fear! So you've decided better to die trying than come home a disgrace and─" He ignored the glare Neji had sent his way. "─so you'll bring us down with you in flames, just for your petty Hyuuga pride? Cold as ice! Well, thanks for nothing, Captai─"
"Enough!" Hinata turned on Kiba, and Neji froze at how similar Hinata's tone was to her father's at that moment. "… You think I don't know how slim our hopes are? You think I'd let you all get into this mess if I could avoid it? I can't. We're stuck in enemy territory, our clients are in control of the ship and are heading deeper into enemy territory, any ships we come across are likely to be occupied by the enemy, and none of us know how to pilot a boat…
If Naruto or Riku-sensei were here, we could just open a portal back to Konoha, but…
… They're not.
"… So if you have a Plan B, color me interested."
She sighed at the still defiant look Kiba was giving her, but when he didn't answer, she continued.
"… This should have been your first A-Rank Mission, right Kiba?" Kiba nodded hesitantly, afraid to show weakness. "Want to know about my first A-Rank?" She paused. "It was just like this. Should have been a C-Rank, something came up, we pressed on under our leader's orders." Another pause, a long one this time. "I nearly died, and Naruto…" She shook her head, remembering the battle on the bridge, the bloodstains she'd seen in Naruto's clothes and on the bridge itself, the aftermath of the aura of the Kyuubi flowing unchecked... The assassaination attempt… the battle with Orochimaru… "Naruto hasn't been quite the same since.
"That was my first mission outside the village, and it all went so bad… So don't think I don't know how bad this could go. I do, and I wouldn't wish it on any of you, not for all the glory in the world. But we're stuck here now, and you're wrong about one more thing: This is NOT beyond our skills. Lady Tsunade chose us for this mission, even knowing that this sort of thing could happen, as it's happened before." She got up from the wall, and looked Kiba in the eyes. "I've chosen to believe in the Hokage that Naruto brought home."
Silence again. I've messed up, Hinata thought. No way he's going to respect my judgement. Absolutely no way. She turned about, walking down the hall to get some air. "Patrol the ship. We're close enough to the Land of Snow to suspect they'll try another attack. Dismissed." She gave the orders with as much authority as she could muster.
She shuddered as she stepped into the cold air on deck, and leaned against the railings. A few minutes later she allowed herself to sit with her back against them, Neji's judging eyes be damned.
If Naruto were here… She thought to herself again, We could just warp back to Konoha and ask for reinforcements. Or maybe he'd be able to lead this team to victory, he's always been the sort to boost morale. What would he have done in my place…?
She shook her head.
"No. I can't depend on him to get me out of every little thing. I'm a Chunin now. I have to get my team through this safely, with or without him around. In that, at least, I mustn't fail."
Kiba was aloof the rest of the voyage. He'd arrive at the meetings Hinata called, give one or two word answers to everything Hinata asked, and leave. To Hinata's eyes, every time she saw him, his eyes became more like the haunted gaze of the princess, as though they were resigned to death. Death on a hopeless mission… Just like the written exams' proctor had warned…
At least he's not arguing. That's the last thing we need, Hinata reflected as she finally saw The Land of Snow, 2 days after the attack on the iceberg.
"You know, you shouldn't mind Kiba. He gets like that." Mid leaned on the railings, looking in the same direction as Hinata. "He's a bit abrasive."
"I guess. Is he like this with Kurenai-sensei?"
"At first he was, yeah. He knew this was Kurenai's first genin team, and questioned her methods all the time… For him, it's all about earning respect."
"Then this mission's only going to get worse from here." Hinata sighed. "Cold as ice, afraid of failure… I haven't left the best impression."
"No one ever does. Give it time. He'll come around." Mid adjusted his glasses. "For what it's worth, you seem every bit as capable as Llednar believes you to be. You've got my back."
Hinata smiled. "Thanks… Oh, and Mid?"
Hinata managed to make her shudder at the title seem like just a reaction to the cold before continuing. "The crystal that the Princess has. Can you do something about it?"
"Of course, Captain. I am a ninja, after all. I'm sure I can fix something up."
"Good. And remember to keep it to yourself." Hinata paused at that, before continuing. "And when Neji interrupts you, let him know you're acting under my orders and to turn a blind eye, so to speak, and forget what he sees. I'm playing this one close to the chest."
Kiba sat in his room, ruminating on Hinata's words. "So… because the Hokage believes in us and she believes in the Hokage... She believes in us? Hmmm…" He petted Akamaru. "What do you think, boy? Is she any good?"
When the boats docked at the coast, several vehicles were already waiting to pick the crew up. Hinata surmised that this was part of the rebellion, and after a quick inspection of the caravan, boarded a carriage somewhere in the middle with her team. Mid gave a knowing glance to Hinata as he settled near a window seat, while Kiba took up the rest of the side, laying on the seats, Akamaru quickly dozing on his chest. Kiba and Mid likewise fell asleep shortly after.
"We'll stake out things in shifts," Hinata said, activating her Byakugan. The caravan was small enough that she could easily see everything that went on in every carriage, and in the forest surrounding them. "You should rest, Neji."
"… You're hair's getting longer."
"Hm? Is something odd about that?"
"You never used to grow it long. And around the same time that those other two rookies cut it short…" Neji's eyebrows raised in realization. "Ah, did Naruto say something about liking long hair?"
"W-what? No! I'm just…" Hinata frowned, looking past Neji, hoping for a distraction, any distraction. This was NOT a topic she wanted to be talking about with her cousin, let alone on a dangerous mission. "Just… you know… trying something new… Wait... Where the heck is─"
"Chunin-san!" The director's assistant slammed open the door, waking Kiba, Akamaru, and Mid with a start. "Yukie's run off!"
"Of course," Hinata sighed, not entirely unhappy with the revelation. "Alright, everyone. Use your radios to keep in touch, and inform me when you've found her. I'll keep watch on the caravan." Kiba grunted his begrudging assent, and Mid followed him out of the carriage, with Neji taking up the rear. Hinata sighed, heading outside, leaping above the caravan.
"Of course she runs. This shtick was old the first time she did this… What is she running from?"
"Father, where are you?" The girl asked, wandering through the empty palace.
"Koyuki?" Her father turned to face her. "Ah, Koyuki. Come closer, dear." She obeyed, walking into a room with eight mirrors all pointed to the center. A dim light revealed her father's gentle features, those mirth-filled eyes hidden by light reflecting of his spectacles. She stepped into the center of the mirrors. "Just like that. What can you see?"
"Father and me."
"Look carefully. You'll be able to see the future."
The girl peered more closely at the mirror in front of her. "I can't see anything."
"You will. When Spring comes, you will be able to see it."
Father, you liar… There is no Spring here. Just an endless, empty cold. Who would want to be a ruler of such a place? Only a fool…
Neji stepped carefully towards Koyuki, having found her laying down in the snow covered woods. "I've found her, Captain."
"Good," came a static-laced voice. "We've just moved through a cavern and are prepping for filming. Everyone, back to base."
"Right…" Neji disconnected from the radio. "How many more times are you going to run, Princess?" He stepped closer. "You can't change destiny by running from the truth. I know, I've tried."
He lifted Koyuki up, getting her to ride piggy-back, and made his way back to where the caravan was when he left. He saw the tracks of the carriages pass into a cave not too far from his location. He could make out Kiba and Mid inside the caves, following the trail, presumably to Hinata and the filming crew. "Destiny can only be made to change by fighting it. When it tells you to fall and take it like a dog, you have to stand where you are and say no." With that final word of advice, Neji rushed off, Yukie in tow, to the caves. "Hinata taught me that."
The caves were chilled with ice layering the caves' floor, though odd rails were visible beneath the surface. A long time ago, in a time where the Land of Snow was not so cold, water that trickled down from melted snow at the peaks of the mountains, slipping through cracks until they finally reached the caverns, forming a shallow layer of water that could reach one's ankles. So many were the cracks and holes in the ceiling that the cave would look like it were always raining. Hence it had been known as Haruame (Springrain) Caverns... until the Spring stopped coming.
Neji was just able to make out Hinata with his Byakugan when he noticed something else in the caves, sever kilometers behind him. The rails were melting, and he could see some kind of heavy machine heading… his way!
"Shoot!" Neji sped off, rushing for Hinata and the rest of the team.
"Hey, what's going on?" Koyuki asked at the sudden burst of speed. Neji ignored her as the ice below his feet started melting. He could see chakra flowing through the rails below the ice, and stomped his foot into the rails with every step, trying to disrupt the chakra in the rail, but there was far too much… "Must be hundreds of people pushing Chakra into them…" He picked up the pace, giving up on stopping the rails and focusing on getting out of the cave.
Miraculously, he managed to get outside and move off the rails minutes before the vehicle actually caught up with him. As it passed, Neji's eyes picked up hundreds of odd cylinders the likes of which he'd never seen before, filled with thousands of Kunai.
"… The hell?" He asked himself as it came to a stop. He could see Hinata in hiding, alongside Kiba, Mid, and a large number of other men, armed with katanas one and all.
"A sneak attack, eh?" Neji muttered to himself, as a voice boomed from the train.
"Koyuki, it's been too long…" The voice said, its source being a man in his early 40s. He wore a regal cloak hiding an even more regal kimono, far more extravagant than the clothes Hinata noticed the villagers wearing.
"So this is Dotou…" Hinata frowned at the hidden weapons of the train, turning on her radio. "Mid, you and I are taking the lead. You've got your Chakra Barrier working? You're going to need it. Neji, if you can, we might need you here too with Kaiten."
"Yes, I've got it," Mid answered, activating it in a dome around himself.
"Understood," came Neji's voice over the radio, hushed so as to not draw attention from Dotou.
"Hm?" The Inuzuka looked at her, eybrow raised.
"Stay behind us until I give the signal. That goes for the rebels, too. They've got one nasty piece of weaponry on that thing, and we'll block the first strike. It'll be on you to smash it by whatever means necessary."
"This is going to hurt…" Kiba muttered to himself.
"Not if we do our part right," Hinata replied. She turned to Sandayū, who was dressed in full samurai regalia. "Alright, begin the operation."
At his command, several large tree trunks were sent sliding downhill, slamming into the vehicle while also covering part of it with snow.
"Everyone!" Sandayū called out. "Our Princess is watching! Victory will be ours!" Hinata joined the charge that ensued, disguised like the men around her, who were keeping closely knit and letting her be near the front, in preparation for what was about to happen. Her eyes could make out Mid doing the same as her, and Kiba just behind her with a similar disguise. She narrowed her eyes as the compartments in the behemoth opened up, and several solid walls of kunai came flying at the army.
Hinata leapt to meet them, removing her disguise jutsu and immediately moving into her ultimate technique's stances.
"Shugohakke Rokujūyon Shō! (Protection of the Eight Trigrams Sixty-Four Palms)"
To her right, she could see Mid activate his Chakra Barrier as a solid wall in front of him, likewise guarding against the incoming attack. Thousands of kunai plowed into the techniques, and all of them were foiled. Hinata allowed herself to note the shocked look on Dotou's face as his part of the vehicle unhinged and beat a retreat, and as soon as the cannons ran seemed to run out of ammo, Hinata gave the signal. "Now, Kiba!"
"Way ahead of you!" Kiba roared, returning to his true form and letting Akamaru out from under his jacket. They jumped past Hinata, transforming into the same two-headed form that had saved them before. "You're finished! Jinjū Konbi Henge: Sōtōrō! (Human-Beast Combination: Double-Headed Wolf)"
Meanwhile, the men atop the vehicle who had been operating these cannons found themselves bombarded with feathers and Kunai fired from Hinata's Yoshitori and Mid's own Kunai shooter. Not that dodging these helped them, as Kiba's Wolf Tunneling Fang crashed into the vehicle, sending it off the tracks. Hinata smirked as her plan literally derailed the course of the battle, only to hear a scream from Neji's location. She turned and rushed towards Neji, who was engaging Fubuki as Yukie was being taken away by Nadare, who was making for a large, slow-moving flying machine carried by a balloon.
"Hinata, the Princess!" Neji called out before taking a punch to the face. Hinata nodded and rushed past the dueling ninja. Neji recovered, moving into Kaiten.
"Please, that won't work! What are you planning to accompli ─" The Kaiten picked up the thick clumps of snow about him, sending it directly into Fubuki, covering her with it. Neji's face took on a smug look as he moved onto the offensive.
"Captain!" Mid called out, running after the team, only to come face to face with the same large Shinobi that Kiba had fought earlier. He jumped back, firing a kunai at the man, who blocked it with his metal arm. "Looks like you're on your own…"
Hinata leapt from the cliff, throwing a kunai at the airship with ninja wire wrapped around the handle. It stuck into the side of the ship, and she used her momentum to swing onto the back deck of the ship.
"Hang on, Koyuki, I'm on my way." Hinata smiled, entering the inside of the ship, Yoshitori drawn. She scanned the ship with her Byakugan, and carefully avoided patrolling ninja, slipping into ventilation ducts and even the outsides of the ship to avoid capture, until she finally reached her target.
"… Once I've obtained the Kazahana fortune, I'll have enough power to overwhelm and conquer all five of the Great Nations…" Dotou bragged to Koyuki, only to be interrupted by a crash of glass.
"That's not happening!" Hinata called out as she landed on the ground, glass all around her, and she fired two shots at Dotou from the Yoshitori...
Only for them to be deflected by the same kind of armor that his top lackeys possessed.
Figures. Have to get close, he won't be able to stop me from running him thr─
Hinata's eyes widened as a foot slammed into the back of her head. The last she saw was Koyuki's passive face, as though she had expected this…
Hinata awoke hours later, in a cell in Dotou's castle. It was colder than anywhere else in the wintery region, and in the darkness she could still see the Princess, behind the bars of a cell right across from her.
"Ugh… So, what are you in for?" Hinata asked.
"Forgery," Koyuki spat. "Your doing, no doubt. Hmph." She looked at the cuffs holding Hinata suspended in the air in her own cell. "Serves you right."
"You too…" Hinata muttered. She was hurting everywhere. She remembered Llednar's words back in the Chunin Exams, Sasuke's Ferocious Lion Combo. How close had that kick been to killing me the same as that Genin? She started moving about, trying to get a sense of if any part of her wasn't working. No broken bones, nothing ruptured… I must have been one lucky girl… unless he intends to interrogate me.
"I guess you're right," Koyuki admitted. "I deserve this, dying here, in this worthless pile of snow with no hope of Spring. It's actually poetic, if you think about it."
"Spring?" Hinata asked, surprised to hear it brought up. "Is that your favorite season?"
"No." Koyuki shook her head. "… 'You'll see when the Spring comes, Koyuki.'"
"Father, what is Spring?" asked the girl in the mirror.
"Ah, that's right, you've never felt Spring, have you, Koyuki?" a bark of laughter, not unkind. "Koyuki, close your eyes. Try to imagine yourself surrounded with flowers… Isn't it beautiful? Now, try running through them. Can you do it?"
"Doesn't it make you feel warm and happy?"
"That is Spring, and if you never give up on the future… Spring is sure to come."
"Father used to say that… But this land has no Spring. My father died, I fled the Land of Snow… And I stopped believing." Koyuki buried her head in her knees. "Now, I'm always running, always lying to others, and even to myself. Figures that I'd end up being an actress, and figures I'd end up dying right back where I began, nowhere to run, and the truth right here in front of me. In the end, all you can do is just give up."
Hinata frowned. "I guess it's easier, giving up. That's how I used to think…" She summoned Yoshitori, grasping it as tightly as she could, and trying to cut through the chains. "Well, you told me your story, and I have nothing but time, so I guess I'll return the favor…
"I was born as the heir of the Hyuuga Clan, a 'Princess,' as it were… But my younger sister was always my better. She could outperform me in our fighting style, the same one I was supposed to embody the peak of. In fact, most of my clan could. I was always the weakest link. My father pushed me to improve, even as he tried to blow off the other's concerns… But I knew. I knew I was worthless… I had no place in this world.
"So when a ninja kidnapped me in hopes of harvesting my eyes, I was ready to accept it. I was ready to give up and die. But then…"
"Hey, girl! Get out of here. I'll hold him," called out a blond-haired boy, carrying a broken stick. His smile was impressive, full of courage and confidence. So unlike her own…
"Then I met Naruto. He saved me, not just from my kidnapper, but from myself! He gave me a place, a dream to fight for! I've fought long and hard, even when all hope was lost, even when it seemed like the whole world was out to get me, and good things have happened!" The chain she was cutting against was starting to give. A tag on the cuffs activated, and electricity rushed through Hinata's body. She cried out, but still kept cutting away. "M-Maybe something bad happens now and again, but you… Ack… you know what? When you give up, you lose those good things, too! Your hopes and dreams are gone!" Another wave of electricity washed over Hinata, and she felt her hair starting to stand on end and her vision starting to dull.
"Stop it! If you keep this up, you'll die!" Koyuki called out, panic rushing into her features. "Even if the electricity doesn't get you, they'll find you like this and kill you!"
"So what!" Hinata screamed as another shock wracked her body. "My dreams are worth dying for! Just as your father's were!" She gave a final scream as she broke the chains binding her, and she fell to the ground. "Ha… Ha… You see, not so tough…" She muttered, trying and failing to get up. "All I have to do now… is get us out of these cells…"
Hinata stopped moving, and the Yoshitori disappeared. Silence reigned, and Koyuki watched Hinata go still. Her thoughts were cut short by an explosion somewhere in the castle. There were sounds of activity all about the dungeons, and two shinobi eventually happened upon the cells with Hinata and Yukie. One of them, a tall, scrawny guy, stopped to look at Hinata's cell.
"Hey, wasn't she chained to the ceiling?" He asked his teammate, a short, well-filled out man.
"Yeah, I guess. What the heck is going on?" The short man walked up to the cell door, removing the tag locking the door, and stepped in. Koyuki's eyebrow went up, having been well-versed enough in movies to know not to check on a fallen prisoner, if the prisoner was potentially dangerous.
Sure enough, Hinata reacted to their touch with several well placed Jyuken strikes and Yoshitori feathers. She got up, dusting herself off and straightening her hair as she grabbed their keys and undid the shackles on her feet and wrists.
"Wow, I was just… just biding my time, d-didn't think they'd do something stupid like that." Hinata shook her head, stumbling a bit before jumping across to Yukie's cell and freeing her. The two nodded to each other, and began their escape. "I'm betting Neji and the others are the ones storming the castle, so I guess we just need to find them."
It wasn't long before they encountered the team, owing to Hinata and Neji both having Byakugan. They met just outside the dungeons, in a gloomy stone corridor.
"Hinata, it's good to see you're safe," Neji said. "I take it you were able to escape with no trouble?"
"Yes, thank you." Hinata smiled. Kiba coughed, looking rather embarrassed.
"Look, uh, Hinata… Sorry about earlier." He smirked. "Now, let's finish this mission and go home."
Hinata nodded and turned to Mid. "I take it you have the Hex Crystal?"
Mid blushed. "Yes, Captain. It wasn't too hard to make a fake and switch it." He tossed the Crystal to Hinata, who presented it to Koyuki.
"All yours," Hinata said.
"Thanks," Koyuki smiled, putting the Crystal around her neck. "For everything. Now, let's get moving." She ran past Hinata, turning left and right as though she knew the place. Hinata followed, and the team eventually found itself in what Hinata could only assume was the throne room. A single light lit up the throne, high upon many stairs, where Dotou was waiting. The grin on his face unnerved Hinata to no end.
"Good job… Koyuki." The Princess ran up to him, with Nadare's gang stepping to place between Hinata and Koyuki.
"No way…" Hinata muttered. "This isn't possible…" By the way she's moving, and the position of her hands… No… She isn't gonna…
"I don't know why you're so surprised." Koyuki laughed, winking to Hinata tauntingly. "I am an actress!"
She is. Son of a…
"And what an actress indeed!" Dotou laughed as Koyuki gave him the crystal. "Another great performance by the wonderful Yukie Fugi─" He gasped as a knife plunged into his stomach.
"Yeah, another great performance," Koyuki smirked, twisting the blade. "By the best actress in the world…"
"You wretched…" Dotou grabbed Koyuki by the throat, intent on crushing it. "You think you'll get away with this!"
"Princess!" Hinata gasped.
"No…" Koyuki gasped out. "I don't. But this way… I can keep fighting… Thanks to you, Hinata. I've finally stopped running…" She put all her strength into a final push, and both she and Dotou fell off the platform the throne was on.
"No, Koyuki!" Hinata called out, running past the enemy ninja, only to jump back, dodging Dotou's uppercut by a hair. "You… you bastard!"
Dotou removed his robes, and revealed another set of Chakra Armor, black this time.
"That's…" Mid gasped.
"Yes, Chakra Armor, and our latest prototype, too." He smirked, grabbing Koyuki, who gasped in shock, and started struggling against him. "Now, Yukie, let us go… beyond the rainbow." The roof crashed open, and a wire grabbed Dotou, taking him and Koyuki upwards. Hinata threw out a rope, which the Princess grabbed onto. As Dotou was pulled up enough, he launched out of the castle, artificial wings spreading from behind his back. As he began his flight, he noticed Hinata climbing the rope up to him, and laughed. "You think you can stop me? Let me show you how hopeless you are." He grabbed the rope, and cut it.
Hinata screamed as she fell to the ground, hitting several branches along the way. She quickly threw out the last of her Ninja wire, swinging from a particularly sturdy branch and landed relatively safely in the snow. She looked up as Dotou flew away.
"No… This is far from over…" Hinata said, getting up from her knees, before collapsing again. "… Damnit." She tried again, only to fall again a couple steps later. "Damnit. I can't give up… Not yet… I refuse to let it end this way…" She laid there a while, trying to collect her strength, when she heard the distinct sound of a motor. She looked up and gaped.
"Hop on." Said the director, waving a cone from his seat on a camera-mounted moving sled. His assistant was behind the camera, which was rolling. Hinata smirked, pushing herself up one last time, and getting on the vehicle.
After Hinata's exit from the castle, Kiba, Mid, and Neji brought the fight to Dotou's henchmen, causing a great deal of destruction in the sparse throne room. The fight eventually brought them out of the castle, and into the nearby forests. The sounds of battle between Sandayū's men and the grunts of Dotou's army echoed throughout both the castle and the forests.
Kiba dodged another strike from Fubuki as she flew past him, and Akamaru yipped from atop his head, eyes always on the Snow Kunoichi.
"Right... I gotcha. Mid! Now!"
Mid smirked as the large guy came rushing at him. He jumped over the snowboarding psycho, chiming in jovially from a branch: "Say, I don't think I know your name. Care to tell me?"
"It's Mizore, brat! Why ask now?" Mizore replied, looking back at the blond boy.
"Because I need a name to place on your grave." Mid replied as he pointed a strange-looking firearm at the ground right by Mizore. Five tagged kunai were fired out, one hitting Mizore's armor and the others surrounding the man. All five detonated at once, stunning Mizore and sending Fubuki for a whirl from her place in midair.
"Why you─" Fubuki started as she righted herself.
"Don't worry about him!" Kiba roared as he jumped out from behind a tree, and his Tunneling Fang hit her, sending her flying towards her reeling teammate. When they collided, something caused a massive explosion, and when the dust cleared, both Snow Ninja were down for good. "Whoa. What the heck was that?"
Mid adjusted his glasses. "Looks like the crystals on their tech don't react well to each other…"
A few kilometers away, at the base of a mountain bordering the forest, Neji stood off against Nadare, entering a Strong Fist stance.
"What's the matter, can't use your Gentle Fist, boy?"
"No, it's simply too good for scum like you, relying only on genius," Neji smirked. Plus, I want to try this out. About time, I spent 3 weeks training in green spandex for this… Now… FIRST GATE, OPEN! Neji flashed forward, dodging several ice jutsu from his opponent before kicking him into the air."You see, you're a one-trick pony! The moment I changed my strategy, your fate was sealed!" He leapt up behind him, grabbing him from behind and beginning to spin.
"Now! Kaiten Lotus!"
Neji pushed his chakra into the same way that he normally did for a Kaiten, increasing his spinning speed to a dizzying maximum. He released Nadare and launched himself away at the last second, as the still-spinning Nadare hit the snow, drilling past it into the ground, until he was up to his ankles in earth. "That was a technique that can only be mastered with a mix of genius and hard work," Neji reflected. "Though I'm most definitely never training with Gai-sensei again."
"I see, so we've come here after all, I guess…" Koyuki sighed. They were finally at the location of the final shoot planned for the film, the Rainbow Glacier. Eight giant glaciers, flat on the side directed towards a shrine in the center. It was the girl between the mirrors all over again.
Dotou placed the Hex Crystal into a tiny hole in the shrine, twisting it, and pushing it all the way in. The shrine began to glow, and lines of light reached ran across the ground to the Glaciers, causing them to light up, glowing with all their majesty. Dotou looked around.
"Where's the treasure? Where…" Steam began pouring out of the glaciers and the shrine, melting the snow and increasing the temperature. "A… Heat generator? This is the treasure of the Kazehane clan?"
"Fitting, isn't it!" Dotou turned to see Hinata incoming on the motorized sled, a large smile on her face. "It's what the Kazehane clan treasures most, after all…!" She jumped from the sled, running forward as the sled slowed to a stop. She summoned Yoshitori, firing several feathers at him. "A true Spring!"
Dotou deflected the feathers, forming handsigns as his face changed into a rictus of fury. "Hyōton: Kokuryū Bōfūsetsu! (Black Dragon Blizzard)" A black, serpentine dragon emerged from his hands, flying towards Hinata, who dispelled Yoshitori and began her Protection of the Eight Trigrams technique. The dragon clashed with the barrier, turning into an explosion.
"Hinata!" Koyuki cried out.
"Urgh!" Hinata slid back, falling onto her back. "Not what I had in mind…" She managed to get up, only to face Dotou's fist in her face.
"DIE!" Dotou crowed as he smashed her through the ice below her into the freezing water. "Haha! Stay dead this time, bitch!"
"Who the hell do you think she is?" called out another voice, rushing quickly towards Dotou. Kiba was running towards the battle, Akamaru running alongside him as a Beast Clone. "She's insane, and doesn't know when to quit! What makes you think you can change that?" He and Akamaru launched towards Dotou, spinning at high speed.
"Gatsūga! (Fang over Fang)"
Kiba hit first, a red glow at the tip of the Fang, neutralizing Dotou's own Chakra armor. Akamaru hit second, shattering the armor. Dotou hit third, his punches flinging both contenders across the field of ice.
"Too… too easy…" Dotou laughed as his armor deactivated. "Now, this ridiculous little farce is over!"
"Not quite…" came another voice as Neji appeared on the edge of the glacier. "You're forgetting one little thing."
"What?" Dotou half asked, half roared. "What silly little trick do you think will stop me?"
Mid adjusted his glasses. "The happy ending, of course."
"What happy─ Huh?" The water of the lake beneath him started to glow the same colors that the Rainbow Glacier was producing. All at once, Hinata burst out from directly under him, rainbow-colored chakra spinning around her.
"Yoshitori Ninpou: Chakra Shuuren! (Graceful Bird Ninja Art: Chakra Drill)" Hinata launched Dotou skyward as she landed on the solid ice, grimacing as her left leg stumbled a bit and her insides heaved. I'm on my last bit of strength… This has to end NOW. She spun Yoshitori around with a flourish, chakra and light energy flowing around it in preparation for another move.
"Well I'll be…" The Director muttered. "Rainbow Chakra…"
Hinata leapt up after Dotou, a trail of Rainbow Chakra following her every move as she thrust the rapier at every one of Dotou's Tenketsu. Neji recognized this technique as the same one Hinata had used before, against him. "Two Strikes… sixteen… sixty three. And now…"
"Genshuu: Godaime: Omnislash. (Limit Break: Fifth Generation: Omnislash)" Hinata sealed the final tenketsu before slashing past Dotou with Yoshitori. She landed in a kneeling positon, favoring her left leg, and a pillar of rainbow light erupted from where she hit the ground, engulfing Dotou and sending him even further into the sky. It took a minute for the deposed usurper to drop back to the ground, defeated. Hinata dispelled Yoshitori as the heat generator did its work, warming up the entire land for miles. She laughed. "There… There's that happy ending we've been looking for…" She collapsed into blissful unconsciousness.
"Believe in the future, and the Spring will surely come. What will you do, Koyuki, when that happens?"
The girl put her finger to her lower lip as she thought. "I'm going… to become a princess."
"What kind of princess?"
"Um… One who's strong… and kind… and fights for justice!"
"My, that's some dream. Keep fighting for it, Koyuki. Never give up, and one day, that dream will be a reality." The girl's father walked to the girl, placing a jewel necklace around her neck. "You can see her, can't you?" He looked into the mirror. The girl looked as well. "There's a beautiful princess standing right there in front of you."
The girl stared, and the girl in the mirror, older and wiser, stared back. The girl pouted.
"What's the matter, Koyuki?"
"It's just, there's something else I want to be."
The princess in the mirror smiled, tears welling up in her eyes.
"Really? What's that?"
The princess laughed, her tears streaming down her cheeks.
"So this generator isn't finished? So eventually everything will be back to winter." Kiba kicked at the ground. "That absolutely stinks!" The team was saying goodbye to Koyuki at the pier. They'd had one of Snow's messenger falcons deliver a summary of the mission change along with compensation for the rank's change to Konoha, and now that the team was rested and mostly healed, it was time to go home.
"Well, we are working on completing it," Koyuki said. "Just a bit of research will go a long way…"
Mid nodded. "If you ever need help with that, let me know. I do research all the time, one more subject won't hurt."
"It's a shame, though, that you'll have to retire from acting…" Hinata said before sneezing. She was leaning on a crutch, her ankle sprained from the last blow. The injuries, from the electrocution, the fall she had taken, and being punched through ice into a freezing lake, had left her feeling ragged and thankful for the relative calm of the boat ride back home.
"Oh? Who said I'm retiring?" Koyuki pulled out a script with the title "Icha Icha Paradise" on it.
"That script…" Hinata stared. Riku-sensei… Maybe I've been too hard on him. Leading others is harder than it looks. "You… ah… ah… achoo! You think I could get a signed copy?" Neji looked aghast. "I know someone who would LOVE to have one."
Koyuki smiled. "Sure. I'll have one mailed to you, along with an early release of the movie."
Hinata bowed. "Th… tha… ah… achoo!" Hinata pulled out a handkerchief and wiped her nose. "Thanks."
Koyuki bowed back. "You're welcome. Now, if you'll excuse me, I do have things to do. You take care." She turned and walked back to her carriage, only to be waylaid by a smattering of adoring fans.
Hinata smiled, pleased at the ending of another mission. She was going to enjoy seeing Naruto and Llednar again… though she wasn't quite as eager to see Riku's triumphant look when she conceded that he had it rough. Still, he deserved it, she supposed.
She turned to her team, a smile on her face. "And, CUT! That's a wrap, everyone."
Kiba groaned. "And here I thought we were gonna avoid that one…"
Hinata giggled, only to sneeze again. "Sorry, couldn't resist. Come on, I'll buy us lunch when we get back home…"
Naruto poked into Tsunade's office for the fifteenth time that week. Even though he was extremely far away from home, she'd come to expect the constant check-ins from the boy, asking whether he had clearance to head into the Lands outside his home. 3… she begun the countdown as the portal opened. 2… 1…
Naruto's head popped out of the portal. "Hey, Gran─"
"Actually, yes, you do." Tsunade preempted, looking up from the scroll she had just received from the new ruler of the Land of Snow, opening borders to the Land of Fire. "I just got permission from the leader of the Land of Snow to let Konoha Shinobi into their borders. Apparently we just did them some great service. Get moving."
There was a silence for a while, before Naruto nodded dumbly as he went back into the portal.
Coming out on the other side, he explained to the Tycoons that it was time to go, and they gave him a Chakra-powered boat to rush after him. Naruto got aboard, fired up the engine, and let loose.
"YAAAHHOOOOO! Look out, Land of Snow, cause Uzumaki Naruto is on his way!"
"Another mission, already? Why?"
"I thought you'd want in on this. Besides, you already have experience working here…"
Next Time on XIII Ninja: The Mysterious Maiden, Kidnapped, and The Return to Wave Country!
"Now, where is Gesthal?"
"Yay, new Chapter, Complete! Now to do a Pokemon Wizard Chapter. I've neglected it long enough."
"Speaking of… POKEMON BLACK 2 AND WHITE 2. A sequel. An honest-to-Arceus sequel."
"Uh, see you next time!"