"Speaking in a foreign language."
Disclaimer: Masashi Kishimoto owns Naruto and all the characters from the anime and manga. The Stargate franchise is owned by MGM. Please do not reproduce this story without the permission of the author, huntsvilletiger.
Author's Note: My old job was downsized right before Christmas (nice timing, huh?), but I found a new job after the first of the year. The good news is I'm getting paid more, so I no longer have to live like a starving student, and I'm also doing some serious resume building. The bad news is I'm now limited to doing most of my fan fiction writing on the weekend because I'm working more than double the hours I was in my old job and trying to get up to speed on a bunch of new software and projects while still taking college classes.
So, I'm giving you guys a mini-update (Mini for me, anyway. It's still over 4800 words.) to tide you over while I finish working on the other scenes, including the Sasuke-Sakura showdown I previewed last chapter. The rest of the chapter will be done as soon as I get a free weekend to finish it.
This is an experiment. If I get a lot of obnoxious complaints about me not showing something or how short the update is, I'll make you wait for the complete chapter next time. If you like having shorter chapters I might consider writing shorter ones from now on with the occasional long chapter mixed in.
And because I know someone will ask, yes, all of this stuff happening on Naruto's world will come into play with the events happening back at the SGC with Naruto and Hinata. I'm using a parallel story structure. Think Lord of the Rings with Frodo and Sam's quest to destroy the ring while everyone else is fighting Sauron's armies. (Not that this story is going to follow the plot of Lord of the Rings.) This is why it sometimes reads like I'm writing two separate stories. Eventually, the two story lines will intersect in a BIG way. And yes, there will be times where the focus will be solely on the Naruto and Hinata side of the story
Chapter 5: Lost Souls, Part 1
Shino approached his downed teammate, who Akamaru was circling while letting out occasional whines of distress. "Are you injured?"
Kiba glared up at Shino for a moment before growling through teeth gritted in pain. "Someone just dropped a building on my damn foot! OF COURSE I'M INJURIED!!"
A hand clamped down over Kiba's mouth from behind. "Yell like that again, and your foot will be the least of our problems," Kakashi warned. The jonin's eye darted in the direction of the battle they could still hear being waged a short distance away and then scanned the banks of the canal searching for anyone who may have spotted them. Fortunately, no one seemed to have heard the outburst.
Seeing Kiba's chagrined expression after being reminded of their situation, Kakashi removed his hand from the teenager's mouth.
He glanced down at Kiba's trapped right foot. The appendage was firmly wedged between two large slabs of steel reinforced concrete from the collapsed tower. The only good news was the debris trapped between the two slabs had created a narrow crevice, which prevented Kiba's foot from being completely crushed. At least they wouldn't have to do a field amputation.
After several failed attempts to pull Kiba free or lift the top slab with Shino's help, Kakashi tried to think if any of the thousand plus jutsu he knew might be able to do the job. He quickly nixed most of the techniques in his arsenal as being either too likely to cause further injury to Kiba or too apt to attract unwanted attention. He briefly considered using a variation of 'Doton: Shinjuu Zanshu no Jutsu,' but he wasn't sure the jutsu would work with concrete. The steel rebar in the slabs ruled out even an attempt. He definitely needed to work on developing a ninjutsu for similar situations after they returned to Konoha.
In the meantime, he settled on a more primitive solution. "Shino, find something sturdy we can use as a lever." While the chuunin searched, Kakashi rolled a large stone from the fallen masonary over to the slabs trapping Kiba to serve as a fulcrum. Shino returned a few seconds later with a length of three-inch diameter steel pipe.
"Perfect," Kakashi said, as he wedged one end of the pipe into the space separating the two concrete slabs with the stone acting as a pivot point three feet from the edge of the top most slab. "Kiba, it's going to take both Shino and me to lift this. You're going to have to pull yourself out from under the slab on your own."
"Akamaru can help. Here, boy." Kiba grabbed onto the massive dog's collar. "I'm ready when you are."
"Okay. On three," Kakashi responded. He and Shino anchored their feet to the ground with chakra and gripped the pipe. "One. Two. Three. Lift!"
The pair strained to hold the weight of the reinforced concrete slab up as Akamaru dragged his master free. As soon as Kiba was clear, they carefully lowered the slab back down to avoid creating too much noise.
Kakashi knelt down and began a simple diagnostic jutsu on the young Inuzuka's foot to determine the extent of his injuries. He silently said his thanks that his old genin squad teammate, Rin, had taken the time to show him some elementary medical techniques shortly before her death. The knowledge had proven to be a lifesaver for himself and his fellow shinobi a hundred times over in the years that followed.
He often wondered about the kunoichi's out of the blue decision to give him lessons in medical jutsu. At the time, he remembered getting the odd feeling Rin didn't expect to be around for much longer and wanted to make sure he could look after himself when she was gone. If that was truly the case, her decision was one of uncanny prescience.
Kakashi couldn't see how she could have predicted her own demise, though. Her death was the result of a random peacetime accident. She, along with several other medical ninjas, had responded to a cave-in at a coalmine a short distance from Konoha. As the senior shinobi present, Rin elected herself for the dangerous job of making a final sweep of the tunnels to ensure they hadn't missed anyone while the other medical ninjas tended to the injured miners. A massive explosion occurred, and the rest of the mine collapsed, killing Rin. The investigation that followed the accident determined that a pocket of natural gas, which in its unrefined form is colorless and odorless, was released by the initial cave-in and ignited by either static electricity or a spark from a damaged electric light.
When Kakashi returned from the solo mission he had been on and learned of Rin's death, he'd been convinced there was more to the incident that the investigation indicated. Too many details of the official report didn't make sense. Rin had been taught the Kage Bushin no Jutsu by their sensei's wife. Why didn't she send a shadow clone instead of venturing alone into the unstable mine tunnels? Uzumaki Kushina had created the technique specifically for scouting hazardous areas, after all. For that matter, why'd she feel the need to make another sweep of the mine in the first place? She should have been able to tell if anyone was still trapped inside from the status board at the mine entrance the miners used to keep track of who was down in the mine in case of just such an accident.
Kakashi frowned. 'Then again, the Third could have been right when he ordered me to stop investigating on my own what happened. Maybe I really was trying to see an "underneath-the-underneath" that wasn't there.'
After Obito died, his relationship with Rin had become increasingly strained. He couldn't reconcile the promise he made to protect the girl his best friend loved with the fact he was starting to fall for her. So for years, he pretended he didn't know how Rin felt about him and that he didn't feel the exact same way about her. He'd figured eventually she'd move on, fall in love with someone else, get married, and have the big family she always wanted.
Sure, watching the woman he loved with someone else would be difficult, but he'd finally be able to protect Rin the way he'd promise Obito with a guilt-free conscience. Plus, he'd get to play the role of the cool uncle to her kids and spoil them rotten. The plan was nearly perfect. Too bad the universe abhors perfect plans almost as much as it does a vacuum.
Just as it seemed the medical kunoichi was getting close to giving up on him, Kakashi slipped up. He stupidly confessed his love for Rin while trying to gently let down a member of his ANBU squad who'd developed a crush on him. How was he supposed to know Rin could hear the entire conversation from the next room through an air vent?
She confronted him about it while he was packing for his mission a couple of nights before her death. He tried to claim he didn't love her and had just said that to avoid hurting Yuugao's feelings.
It was a perfectly believable lie in Kakashi's opinion. Uzuki Yuugao was not only a trained assassin but also had an affection, which bordered on unhealthy obsession, for all things sharp and pointy. Any man with a shred of common sense would be wary of crossing the woman. All Rin had to do was ask the last drunken moron at Ryusaki's who'd made the mistake of trying to cop a feel. The man was easy to find. He was six foot seven inches tall and answered to the nickname Stubby.
Believable or not, Rin didn't buy the excuse for a second. She yelled that he was full of shit, punched him in the face hard enough to make his trademark mask useful for something other than a charming fashion statement while the bruises healed, and then ran out of his apartment in tears.
When Kakashi got over the shock of Rin actually hitting him, he went looking for her but was unable to find her. After reluctantly concluding she probably needed some time to calm down, he decided to wait until after he returned from his mission to try to talk to her again.
He did a lot of soul searching during the long journey to Marsh Country to and from. Deep down, Kakashi knew his actions, or rather his refusal to act, had hurt Rin deeply. By the time he reached the gates of Konoha again, he'd resolved to apologize and explain his feelings to Rin.
But by then it was too late. He'd knew it the instant the Third greeted him at the gate wearing the same face he'd worn the day Kakashi woke up in the hospital and was told his sensei had perished saving the village.
Kakashi blamed himself. He couldn't discount the possibility that the pain he'd caused had distracted her at a crucial moment. More than most, he knew how unforgiving their chosen profession could be. The smallest mistake or lack of focus often meant the difference between life and death.
Kiba looked up, surprised to see the green glow of a medical jutsu coming from Kakashi's hands and worried by the expression on what little he could see of the distracted jonin's face. "Give it to me straight…it's bad isn't it?" He waited with bated breath for the answer, having already convinced himself that every bone in his foot had been pulverized and he'd never walk again.
Kakashi scowled annoyed by his own lack of focus. He redirected his concentration on interpreting what the jutsu was telling him. Two of the metatarsals, the long bones in the foot itself, were broken. The two bones had nice clean breaks with no fragmentation and would be relatively simple to heal. Kiba also had a number of fractures of the tarsus, the cluster of bones that made up the ankle joint, which were an entirely different story.
If they were back in Konoha or had a medical ninja with them, Kiba's injuries wouldn't be a problem, but the bones there were too small and tightly clustered and there were too many bone fragments for Kakashi's limited knowledge of medical jutsu. The first rule of medical ninjutsu Rin had beat into his head was to do no harm. If he tried to heal the breaks, he might accidentally fuse together something that wasn't supposed to be or damage the nerves or blood vessels potentially crippling Kiba or making amputation necessary.
Since there was no danger to Kiba's life and little risk of permanent disability, the best course of action was simply to immobilize the ankle and foot until they could reach someone with more medical expertise.
Unfortunately, Kiba's foot and ankle were already starting to swell. They'd have to get his sandal off before it started cutting off circulation. There was only one surefire way to accomplish the task without moving the injured ankle. Kakashi ended the diagnostic jutsu and whipped out a kunai. "We're going to have to cut it off."
Kiba's eyes locked onto the kunai. He could tell it was one of Kakashi's older ones. The cutting edge of the blade was jagged and nicked from heavy use but still serviceable. The chuunin's jaw dropped. All the color drained out of his face, his eyes rolled back into his head, and he fainted.
Shino sighed at his teammate's unexpected case of hypochondria and Kakashi's complete lack of bedside manner. "Perhaps you should have specified that by 'it,' you were referring to his footwear and not his foot."
Kakashi shrugged. "At least he'll be quieter this way." The jonin nodded his head in the direction of a small wooden structure that had miraculously survived the destruction by virtue of being built underneath the overhang of the main platform above. "Help me move him inside that shack. Hopefully we'll be able to find something inside to make a splint out of."
After picking the lock, they discovered the shack was actually a combination of workshop and storage shed. A workbench and tools hung on the wall dominated the front room, while the backroom of the structured was filled with coils of rope, boxes of machine parts, lumber, and the various sundry items necessary to maintain and operate a marina and the watercraft it serviced. They laid Kiba down in the backroom behind a large crate where he'd be concealed for view. Kakashi cut off the teen's right sandal. He decided to conserve his chakra, he had a feeling he was going to need it, by waiting to let whoever they found to heal Kiba's ankle take care of the broken bones in his foot as well. Shino pulled out a smelling salt capsule and crushed it under Kiba's nose.
"Damn, that stuff is strong," Kiba groaned as he came to. He waved his hand in front of his face trying to clear the air of the pungent ammonia scent. "I think it burned off my nose hair."
Shino shook his head. It was the same thing Kiba always said when Hinata fainted and they used the smelling salts to wake her. The quiet kunoichi had gotten much better about fainting, but considering what happened when she ran into Naruto for the first time after his return to the village, Shino had decided to add the salts to his normal supplies for their previous mission with Team Kakashi. He never dreamed he'd have to use them on his other teammate.
Kiba looked relieved, if somewhat embarrassed, when he noticed his foot was still attached and saw the sandal Kakashi had sliced off laying a short distance away. He gave a silent nod of thanks to the jonin and his teammate for not saying anything about his fainting spell but missed the sly smile hidden behind the collar of the latter's coat. The bug user planned to bring up the incident later, preferably when he could retell the story in front of Kiba's family, the rest of Team 8, and all their friends for maximum effect. Shino still owed his teammate for switching his spray-on deodorant with a can of bug repellant the week before. Oh yes, revenge was a dish best served cold…and publicly.
Kakashi got the two chuunin and one ninja dog's attention. "Okay, I want you three to stay here. If you don't hear from me within a half an hour, start making your way back to Konoha on your own." Kiba started to object, but Kakashi cut him off. "That's an order. If neither Jiraiya-sama nor I survive, somebody still needs to report back to the Hokage what's happened."
He reached into his backpack and pulled out a pair of two-way radios, which he thankfully hadn't had time to unpack after their last mission. He handed one of the radios to Shino. "Keep that on. I'll be maintaining radio silence to avoid detection, but if I learn something important or need to give you a warning to run, I will contact you. If you do have to escape without me, stay out of sight and steal the first boat you come across. Right now their security is in shambles due to the battle, but it won't take their shinobi long to regroup. When they do, they will probably clamp down hard on travel. If you aren't across the border before that happens you'll be trapped here."
Kakashi got up to leave. "Hopefully, I'll be back shortly." He tilted his head slightly and smiled beneath his mask in an attempt to lighten the heavy mood of the two chuunin. "Try not to let any more buildings fall on you until I get back." Kakashi vanished in a swirl of leaves.
Kiba watched Shino finish splinting his injured ankle and foot. The young Inuzuka grinned at his still crouching best friend and sometimes rival. "So, we're going to wait, what…three more minutes before going after the bastard?"
"Five," Shino answered while making a final inspection of his handy work. "Kakashi is no doubt adept at detecting when he is being followed."
Jiraiya sank into the depths of the lake. He was going to lose consciousness, probably for the last time, within the next minute or so from shock, blood loss, oxygen deprivation, or some combination of the three. Yet, he couldn't wipe the satisfied smile off his face. His death would be a shinobi's death. He'd held on to the bitter end and hopefully given his protégé the key to defeating Pain. He just hoped that he'd be able to watch the teen he loved like a grandson change the world he was leaving behind from wherever he ended up in the next. 'Make me proud, Naruto.'
Through his fading vision, he saw an angelic being descending toward him. A light from above silhouetted her, masking her features but highlighting her lithe form. He reached out to her with his remaining arm to welcome his fate. The heavenly creature responded in kind. Their fingers intertwined, and she gently pulled him toward her.
When the angel's hand tenderly caressed his cheek out of sympathy for the ordeal he'd just endured, Jiraiya's smile took on a more perverted hue. 'I wonder if the angels have their own hot springs in heaven?' He rested his hand on the small of her back and savored the feeling of silky smooth skin where the angel's top had ridden up. His hand ventured downward across the waistband of her pants and over the curve of her firm buttocks. He squeezed. 'Niiice!'
The angel's whole body went ridged. The sannin's mind, befogged by lack of oxygen and demented from decades of perversion, wrongly attributed the reaction to orgasmic bliss. 'Hehe, Jiraiya, you dog, you,' He chuckled to himself. 'Even as a spirit, you've still got…"
Kakashi swiftly ran along the top of one of the large sewer pipes suspended between the columns supporting the streets and buildings above. The hundreds of massive columns combined with the pipes, cables, and steel supports snaking every-which-way gave the dark and damp underside of the city all the ambience of a concrete and steel Forest of Death.
'The dangers are a bit different, though,' Kakashi wryly thought as he deftly leapt over a rusted through patch in the top of the pipe to avoid taking an unplanned, not to mention smelly, dip. Considering how deep inside enemy territory he was, he would have preferred stealth to speed, but based on what he'd seen a few minutes ago, Jiraiya couldn't wait.
During a lull in the fighting, Kakashi had briefly returned to the main level and scaled one of the taller buildings in the area to get a fix on the sannin's location. There were no signs of the combatants, and the city was eerily still. What he did see was evidence of a kage-level battle of epic proportions. Scores of buildings had been reduced to rubble, sections of the platforms under them had collapsed into the lake, and heavy pieces of industrial machinery weighing tons each had been torn from their mounts.
The only sounds to be heard had been the wind blowing between the towers and a strange rhythmic noise not unlike bullfrogs singing coming from somewhere deep inside the maze of metal and concrete pipes running under the city. Then the odd noise stopped.
The silence lasted only a couple of minutes before the side of one of the larger factories almost a mile away from his lookout spot exploded. Kakashi caught sight of Jiraiya being forcibly ejected from the industrial labyrinth inside. The masked jonin paled when he counted six shinobi wearing Akatsuki cloaks emerge from the newly created hole to continue fighting the now obviously injured sannin.
Konoha had accurate intelligence indicating that, including Orchimaru, there had never been more than ten main members of Akatsuki. The Leaf and Sand had already taken out three Akatsuki, and Orchimaru parted company with the organization a decade earlier. There should only be six or seven Akatsuki left, and none of the six he'd spotted appeared to be Kisame or Itachi, both of whom Kakashi knew to still be alive. Had Akatsuki somehow replenished their ranks already? Now that was a scary thought, especially if the new recruits were even close to the same level as their predecessors.
Kakashi shook his head. No, there weren't enough S-ranked missing nins out there for so many to have joined Akatsuki in such a short amount of time without someone noticing.
That was how Konoha had first learned of Akatsuki's existence, after all. There had been more than a few attempts perpetrated either by missing-nins or unaligned ninja clans to trick the shinobi nations into fighting one another. After one such incident nearly lead to an all out war between Kumo and Iwa, the villages started quietly sharing intel on threats to their mutual security.
In fact, Jiraiya was one of the chief facilitators of the flow of intelligence between the villages. While no one doubted where the white-haired sannin's loyalties lay, his reputation as a man of his word, which was something of a rarity in the cutthroat world of the shinobi, was enough for him to be trusted by all the hidden villages on matters that did not directly conflict with either his sense of ethics or allegiance to Konoha.
When the shadowy organization first began recruiting powerful missing-nins, the news didn't take long to reach the sannin's ear. As of a couple days ago when Jiraiya had last reported to the Hokage, there had been no such rumblings coming from the intelligence agencies of any village.
The only other likely explanations Kakashi could come up with for the six shinobi were some kind of high-order clone jutsu or puppets, although neither really fit what he'd seen from the tower. Jiraiya's opponents seemed far too powerful to be mere clones, and they'd moved far outside the range a puppeteer, even one as skillful as the now dead Sasori of the Red Sands, could control a puppet.
That only left some unknown sort of jutsu, which, given all the imaginative ways shinobi had found to manipulate chakra over the years, could mean just about anything.
Kakashi slowed down when he saw that he was finally nearing the location where he'd last seen Jiraiya and the six enemy shinobi. Up ahead, the sewer pipe curved around the perimeter of a closely packed cluster of columns supporting some particularly heavy structure above. Each of the reinforced concrete columns was larger in diameter than the largest Fire Country oak Kakashi had ever seen. A reinforced-concrete buttress rising from the lake bottom encircled the cluster, forming a narrow ledge at the waterline. If the sunlight coming from the far side of the cluster was any indication, the battle had collapsed part of the city into the lake. The sounds of fighting had worryingly ceased again. Was he too late and the battle was over, or were Jiraiya and the Akatsuki merely stalking each other again?
Kakashi came to a complete stop when movement beneath the water's surface caught his eye. The outlines of two people could be seen swimming toward the ledge. Or rather the smaller one of the pair was doing a sidestroke while dragging her unmoving companion. As they drew closer to the surface, Kakashi could make out a long mane of white hair trailing behind them. He flattened himself against the top of the pipe and suppressed his chakra.
As he watched, a woman wearing a Rain-nin rebreather mask pulled herself out of the water and onto the ledge while keeping a firm grip on the man she had been towing. It was difficult to tell with the mask concealing her face, but she appeared to be in her twenties or thirties. Her clothing was an odd match to her choice of gear. She was dressed in a pair of civilian style brown pants and a dark red shirt with a brown bag slung across her shoulder rather than the quick drying tan jumpsuit most Rain-nins who specialized in aquatic infiltration tended to wear.
She started pulling Jiraiya out of the water with surprising ease given the difference in their sizes. A second rebreather was strapped to Jiraiya's face. From what Kakashi could see of the sannin's injuries, he was frankly amazed Jiraiya still had need for the device. The sannin's left arm was severed between the elbow and shoulder, his right shoulder appeared to have been run clean through by something, his back was a bloody mess with a number of obvious wounds, and he looked as if he'd suffered a beating worse than the time Tsunade caught him peeking at her in the hot springs.
Having decided he needed to act before any of the kunoichi's friends showed up, Kakashi pulled a kunai from his holster and jumped down to the ledge. He landed directly behind the Rain kunoichi with nary a sound. She was on her knees and too focused on pulling Jiraiya the rest of the way out of the water to detect his approach. Or so he thought.
Just as he was about to drive his kunai into the back of her skull, she spun around and drew her own kunai in one lightening quick, fluid motion. Simultaneously, they tried to grab the wrist of their opponent's weapon-bearing arm.
Kakashi was surprised by the kunoichi's speed and the way her taijutsu mirrored his own, but his sharingan eye gave him an edge in reaction time the woman couldn't hope to counter.
He sidestepped to his left and avoided her attempt to gain control of his weapon. He then pivoted on his right foot so he was slightly behind and to the side of the still kneeling kunoichi, shifting his kunai to his left hand with practiced ease as he moved. He grabbed her wrist with his now free right hand and pressed his thigh against the back of her arm, attempting to lock her elbow joint in place and gain control of the limb.
His sharingan saw she was about to pitch forward a split second before it happened, but what he couldn't see was her feet, which he was standing directly over. When she fell forward, she started rolling onto her back while sweeping his feet out from under him with her left leg and hooking her right behind his knee.
Kakashi stumbled trying to regain his balance, but the kunoichi grabbed onto the arm he'd been attempting to restrain her with and pulled him down with her. She aimed her kunai at his heart, all but guaranteeing he'd impale himself on the blade.
As they tumbled from the shadows into the light, Kakashi saw the kunoichi's strangely familiar brown eyes through the rebreather mask's goggles. They widened, not from fear, but recognition when she got her first clear look at her attacker. She yanked her weapon out of Kakashi's path. In return, he stopped mere inches shy of ramming his own kunai into the side of her neck.
"Drop the kunai and take it off. Take off the mask," Kakashi ordered. Most of the people who knew him would have been shocked at the tremble in the voice of normally glacially cool jonin. But even Sharingan Kakashi could be rattled when brought face-to-face with an apparition.
The woman let the kunai slip from her hand. Shakily, she reached up and loosened first one then the other strap securing the rebreather firmly in place.
Too impatient to wait for her to finish on her own, Kakashi released the last two straps himself. Short chestnut brown hair cascaded down around her face as he pulled the mask away. Kakashi felt like the breath had been knocked out of him as the familiar features of a face he hadn't seen in over a decade were revealed. He reached out and gently touched her cheek, as if to reassure himself that she was real and not some figment of his imagination.
End of Chapter 5