Heroes Old and New
It was a dark night, the clouds in the sky threatening to open up with a torrent of rain at any moment as three ninja, two of which were still dressed in their disguizes as civilians ran through the Fire Country forest, pushing as hard as they could to reach earth country, and absolutely terrified of the spector that seemed a very vision of hell itself chasing after them. Blindly they ran through the underbrush, having learned the hard way after losing two comrades that tree hopping to escape was an even worse idea. As they ran, an ear splitting howl rang through the surrounding the forest, causing them to stop cold, sweat running down their faces as they reached a small clearing. "Where did it come from?" One of the nin dressed in civilian clothing asked, tembling in fear.
"I don't know." Replied the other, looking around frantically.
The final nin, who was dressed in a jonin uniform and had an Iwa headband tied around his left arm got into a defensive stance. "I don't know either, but it's paramount that the two of you get back to the village with the information that our master had us get." He said, pulling out a handful of Kunai.
"R-right." the first said, starting for the opposite side of the clearing with the second, only to stop cold as the clouds moved just enough to allow a sliver of moonlight to bathe over the clearing, revealing that they were surrounded on all sidedby thousands of shadowy figures at the edges of the clearing whose eyes gleamed red and blue in the moonlight.
"DAMN! WE'RE SURROUNDED!" The jonin exlaimed, just as the moonlight vanished, plunging them into darkness again. Seconds later, the terrified screams of dying men echoed through the forest, scaring off a few flocks of birds, and causing the ears of a certain white dog to perk up as he and his master did patrol duty.
"Akimaru? What's the matter boy?" Kiba asked, reaching down to stroke Akimaru's bristling fur. Akimaru barked in reply, indicating that he didn't know, but had heard something in the distance. "Well, we'll inform The captain as soon as we're finished. They'll send a party to investigate tomorrow I should think." Kiba replied with a smile, scratching Akimaru behind the ears and giving him a biscuit before they continued on.
The next day dawned bright and sunny, the exact opposite of the night before. Hanuro Sakura, getting ready to start the day, looked out into the plaza square, where they had erected a statue in honor of Naruto Uzumaki, who had sacraficed his own life a mere half year before to stop the Kyuubi, who had managed to excape from his containment within Naruto's soul and, in the battle that followed, managed to destroy nearly an entire sector and had slaughtered over a hundred civilians and shinobi. Somehow, Naruto's own inner self managed to emerge from the seal that was supposed to have kept Kyuubi contained and had battled the demon to the death. A pang ran through Sakura's heart as she remembered Naruto's last words before dying in her arms. "We will see eachother again some day Naruto, I promise..." She said silently, bowing her head. Looking up a few moments later, she saw a teen sneak up to the statue, a can of spray paint in his pocket as he looked around, then pulled it out and shook it. 'HEY YOU TWERP! LEAVE THAT STATUE ALONE!" She snarled, tossing open her window and throwing a block of wood that she kept for just such occasions at the teen, clonking him in the head. she then jumped out the window, a broom in hand, and ran over, repeatedly whacking the boy over the head with it. "YOU DISRESPECTFUL PUNK! YOU SHOULD BE THANKING THIS STATUE EVERY DAY! IF IT HADN'T BEEN FOR THE MAN THAT THIS STATUE HONORS WE'D ALL BE DEAD BY NOW!" she ranted, chasing the boy down the street, beating him over the head.
"Oh yeah? Well if he hadn't have been around in the first place, then that would have never happened!" The kid retorted, disappearing around the corner of a building, sticking his tounge out at her as he did so.
Sakura huffed as she turned around an walked back, her broom casually slung over one shoulder. As she neared the statue, she saw Kakashi standing in front of it, looking up into the smiling face that would forever be etched in stone. "How is it that there are still people who don't see Naruto as a hero?" She asked, walking up beside her former sensei.
Kakashi sighed as he pulle out a hankerchief and wiped off what paint the delenquint had gotten on it. "There are some people in this world that are just ignorant, and would rather believe what they want than what is true. What's important is that there are those of us who understand the truth." Kakashi replied casually, tossing the napkin into a nearby trash bin. "A report came in earlier." He said after a few moments silence. "Apparently there was some sort of commotion in the forest last night, and when a squad went and investigated earlier this morning, all they could find was a clearing full of blood and gore, along with an Iwa headband that was tied loosely to a treebranch, and a few strands of hair. The analisys said that the hairs were fox like. It seems that the ghost of Kohona has struck again." He said.
"What do you think it could be?" Sakura asked, surprized at the news. there had been several similar events in the past few months, and they all involved ninja from other countries and missing nin, but no Kohona or Suna nin nor civilians had been attacked, nor seen what had committed the attacks.
Kakashi shrugged. "I don't know, but whatever it is has given us quite a rep with some of the other nations. Some are crying foul, that their nin were coming with good intentions." He replied casually.
"What about that one man from Grass that was missing an arm and seemed on the verge of insanity? Did Ibiki get any information out of him?" Sakura asked, looking at Kakashi.
"From what we could make out, he was attacked by a demon in the forest while coming here to spy on us, and then started screaming about glowing eyes before passing out, then dying from all the blood he'd lost." Kakashi replied, whipping out his ever trusty Icha Icha Paradise.
"Did he mention the color?" Sakura asked, pointedly turning away as Kakashi started reading.
"As a matter of fact he did. He mentioned red and blue. Anyway, I've gotta go, I've got a mission." Kakashi said, patting Sakura on th shoulder before disappearing in a swirl of leaves.
Sakura sighed and went into her apartment to get ready for her rounds at the hospital.
A few weeks later found Sakura in front of Tsunade's desk, along with Hinata and Rock Lee. Tsunade closed her eyes and entwined her fingers, leaning"It's been over six months by now and though we are all still grieving, We are still pretty understaffed after the Naruto/Kyuubi battle, and I need you three to deliver some documents for me to the Kazekage. Can I count on you?" She asked.
"H-hai." Hinata replied, bowing her head at the mention of Naruto as the others nodded their heads in acknowlagement.
Tsunade nodded, picking up a sealed file, handing it to Sakura. "I don't expect for you to have any trouble. But if you do, don't think to hold back. You have full authorization to kill." She said before closing her eyes again.
"Yes mam." Sakura replied quietly, following Hinata and the unusually quiet Rock Lee out the door. A few moments later found the trio standing in the street. "It shouldn't take too long for us to get ready, so I'll meet you guys by North Gate in an hour, ok?" Sakura asked.
"Yes! And if I am not there on time, I'll carry you both all the way to Suna and back!" Rock Lee exlaimed, giving the sweat-dropping girls a thumbs-up before disappearing.
"So an hour then." Sakura reaffirmed, looking at Hinata.
"H-hai." With that, both girls disappeared as well.
A few hours later, and the trio were well on their way to the Wind country, walking along one of the wider roads. "Ahhh, it shall be good to see the Kazekage again! ever since the removal of his demon, I heard that his violent tendacies are even less than what they were after Naruto showed him the flames of youth!" Rock Lee said, putting his hands behind his head.
"Bu-but w-wasn't Gaara th-the one who nearly k-killed you?" Hinata asked in surprize, looking at the green-clad shinobi.
Rock Lee grinned. "Yes he was. But after his defeat, he changed his ways for the better. I decided not to hold a grudge, for it would be neither productive or good for me. I chose to forgive Gaara instead, especially after he saved when I went to help on the mission to retrieve Sasuke." He said.
Both Hinata and Sakura looked down, the memories of that day still too vivid for their likes, Hinata remembering watching in horror as Kakashi brought in a nearly dead Naruto, and Sakura remembering that last night with Sasuke. They were brought out of their reverie though as Lee leapt in front of them, a look of consentration on his face as he looked around. "Lee, what's wrong?" sakura asked, surprized.
"I... sense something amiss." Lee replied, his eyes darting around the landscape.
A moment later Diedra and a clapping Tobi appeared, dressed in thier Akatsuki garb. "Verry good Lee-san! As I would expect from one of the people that I've made it my personal goal in life to one day meet and defeat!" Tobi exlaimed.
Diedra sighed and smacked Tobi over the back of the head. "Listen brats, we need some information about a member of your village, but all of our spies have died in mysterious, yet gruesome fashions. Normally I wouldn't be so blunt, but I'm beginning to lose my temper, and I'm sure that non of you wish to die today." He said.
Sakura growled in anger, remembering Diedra from when she helped to rescue Gaara. "If your looking for Naruto, then too bad! We won't tell you anything!" She said, pulling on her gloves as she prepared.
Diedra grunted in annoyance, reaching into pouches at his sides as Tobi got into a taijutsu stance, looking intently at Rock Lee, who glared back. "All we wanted to know was if the jinchuuriki were still alive or not, because we good some rather disquieting news that he was dead." Diedra said, his hands still in the pouches.
"Why should you care anyway?!" Hinata suddenly cried out, activating he Byakugan as she glared at the duo.
"It's because we had big plans for the kid!" Tobi exlaimed, only to be kicked in the ass by Diedra. "Ow! What'd you do that for?" He whined.
"We are not to talk of our plans to the enemy!" Diedra shot back, then sighed again. 'Sorry, but it seems that you've gotta die now!" He exlaimed, whiping his hands out, sending clay birds flying at the Kohona nin.
Rock Lee got in front of Sakura and Hinata again, raising his arms up to shield them from the attack, only to have an orange blur blow by, nearly knocking him off his feet. Looking up, he saw the orange-haired newcomer take in a disproprtionally deep breath, then release it all at once in a deafening, chakra filled roar that destroyed the clay birds before they even got close.
"What the hell was that?" Tobi asked in surprize, unable to see through the dust that was kicked up by the explosion.
"I don't know, but keep on your gaurd." Diedra replied, watching the dust cloud intently. No sooner had the words left his mouth than something short from the cloud of dust, moving so fast that his eyes couldn't hardly track it. "What the hell?" He asked in surprize. "Behind you Tobi!" He called out in warning as the shadowy figure materialized behind the masked man.
Tobi whirled around in response, just soon enough to block the vicious swipe at his gut and leap back to Diedra's side. "Is this the ghost of Kohona?" He asked in surprize.
Diedra shrugged in response. "In any case, we got the information that we came for, withdraw!" He ordered, reaching into his pouch again and pulling out more clay birds that he flung at the figure, causing an explosion three times the size of the first one.
Sakura in the others covered their noses and mouths, shielding themselves from the second explosion just as the dust from the first cleared away. "Hinata! Whose in that cloud?" She asked, turning to her teammate.
In response, Hinata focused her Byakugan so that she could see the bluury figure, then promply fainted, Rock Lee catching her before she could hit the ground. "WHo is it?" Lee asked, looking at the quickly disappating cloud with Sakrua. Both of their eyes went wide as a brisk wind came through and blew the dust away, revealing the shadowed figure within.
With a gasp, Sakura fell to her knees, her eyes brimming with tears. "Is it really you?" She asked, trying not to faint herself.
There, in the crater from the explosion, stood none other than Naruto Uzumaki himself, thought to have been dead from his battle with Kyuubi.
AN: Depending on the response to this, I may continue it, or it may end up a one-shot. It's up to you, the readers, to decide!