Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Summary: After failing to bring Sasuke back, Naruto disappears. Five years later, the Sound tries an open invasion of Konoha one more time.
R&R! Your reviews will determine if I even bother uploading Ch.1
The night was balmy, but not enough so to need a jacket or cloak. The patrol at the south wall was bored. The two chuunins were close to either falling asleep or going crazy from all the random noises coming from the woods. Both of the young men were new to the patrol, both had just passed the Chuunin exams only three months before. One stopped and scanned the dark forest that started just a little more than twenty yards outside the gate. He couldn't see much, the sky was heavy with clouds and it was also past midnight. Not the best time to be using one's eyes. Maybe if they had an Inuzuka or that lazy Jonin. Karashi or whatever the hell his name was.
"Yo! Keitaro! See anything?" his partner called to him. The other man started at the sudden loud noise before rounding on his companion and friend,
"I don't see anything you jackass!" he yelled, "Next time don't sneak up on me like that!"
His buddy snickered, "You call yourself a Chuunin? Damn dude, you're gonna get killed if we ever go to war!" the first ninja rolled his eyes before replying,
"I seem to remember scoring higher that you during the exam, Tora!"
"Yeah, in a proctored test. Whatchya gonna do when the Sound invades again?" That was only a half-joke. After the fiasco during the exam nearly seven or eight years ago, the village had lived in constant, but hidden, fear that the sound would try again. Then again, most shinobi slept with weapons out of habit, so this paranoia wasn't exactly logical.
An unexpected, ominous, rustling in the trees not too far from the Chuunin's position made the two men jump and reach for their kunai and shuriken holsters. Tora made a gesture and their Jounin commander was at their side in an instant.
"Report," he ordered curtly, staring out at the dark blur that were the trees. His pale lavender eyes were trying to pierce the gloom without much success at all.
"Hyuuga-sama, we heard a rustling in the bushes," Keitaro said softly.
"Animal," the nobleman snorted dismissively as he turned to leave. 'Damn these newbies,' he fumed to himself, 'overreacting to a squirrel or something.' The response from the one called Tora stopped him,
"Sir, it was no animal."
"You're sure?" the Jounin asked, pausing almost in mid-step, looking over his shoulder at the two lower ranked ninja.
"Positive sir. Tora's specialty is tracking and target acquisition," the other, Keitaro, if the Hyuuga's memory served, broke in, "You won't find a better tracker outside of the Inuzuka's, sir," at a cold glance from the Jounin, he stammered and hastened to add, "meaning no offense to you, Hyuuga-sama!" as he waved his hands in panic. A hand silenced them both. The forest had gone dead quiet. The kind of quiet that made your hair stand on end. Not that the Jounin's long hair could have done it. The upper-ranked shinobi relaxed, closing his eyes, focusing charka along the pathways leading to his lavender orbs.
"Byakugan," he muttered, his eyes snapping open, the veins very prominent on his temples. The forest went from an inky black blur to standing out in cold, white and black relief. He could see everything, the individual pine needles and leaves, the inner coils of the animals living in the forest…wait; there was a blank spot. His eyes couldn't penetrate it, no matter how hard he tried. It was as if he had never even activated his kekkei genkai. He only knew of a select few with that ability. And only one who could readily fool his keen eyes, but now was not the time to be thinking of Ranmaru.
"There's something out there," he said softly, more to himself than the two other shinobi with him.
"N-Neji-sama?" one of them spoke timidly, "Sir, is anything wrong?" Both jumped when the Jounin spoke up, much louder that he had before,
"Get ANBU," he snapped out, "Tell them we have a possible hostile at the south wall."
"SIR!" both chuunin chorused, and fazed out of his sight. The dark spot once again riveted Neji's attention, and he, the genius he was, began to analyze it.
The whatever-it-was was roughly man-sized and shaped, and that was all he was able to get out of just watching. He could tell it was living, but that was a given. It moved. Yep, definitely live. The Hyuuga watched as the black blob advanced on the wall one slow step at a time. His pulse began to speed up; Neji could feel it pounding against his ribcage. A twig snapped in the forest as the thing continued its advance through the undergrowth. Soft footsteps reached his ears next. They came from behind him, and there was only one pair, but they were soft and stealthy.
'Finally! ANBU is coming,' thought the elite ninja, relief flooding his system. Reinforcements were coming. He was confident in his taijutsu skill, but he really didn't want to tangle with something that could shut down his bloodline with so much ease. The blob suddenly sprinted at the wall. Neji cursed fluently and launched a volley of shuriken at the intruder. The fact that the thing's shadow rippled as it ran didn't escape the Hyuuga, who knew the thing was wearing some type of covering, probably a cloak of some kind.
Akatsuki? No. Naruto wasn't there any more. He had vanished four years ago, after he couldn't bring back the Uchiha. Neji didn't know why the cloaked missing-nins wanted the loud blond so much, but Naruto had told him that the mysterious organization wanted him.
Neji's eyes widened as the blur threw something at him. It wasn't a half-assed throw either. It had deliberately aimed the projectile at him. Whatever it was was soft because the shuriken lodged in it. The next moment, the object blocked his vision and he was forced to quit focusing on the shadow in order to keep himself from being clobbered by the thing. By the time he had caught the fabric wrapped missile and gone back to staring out into the night, the shadow had gone.
'Who was that?' he wondered, deactivating his bloodline, 'and what did they throw?' Now his attention shifted to the bundle he held. As Neji turned the thing over, he began pulling out the throwing stars that had lodged in the fabric and contents. After the last one had been pulled out, Neji noted that the burlap (he had identified the rough cloth as he pulled out the stars) had a dark splotch on it.
"Hyuuga-sama?" a low voice interrupted. Neji turned to regard the cloaked and masked protector of Konohagakure.
"Where are the chuunins I sent to retrieve you?" he questioned with his usual icy and indifferent tone. The ANBU gulped and hesitated. It was well know that the cold Hyuuga, barely twenty, could be well on his way to being a captain in the ANBU now, but he had declined time and time again to continue on with Team Gai.
"I told them to stay put sir," the ANBU muttered, "They told me about the menace, and I figured that they might get in the way if things got hairy."
Neji nodded his approval, "Good. I don't want them to see this," he waved the bundle to illustrate his point, "I don't have a good feeling about it."
"What is it, sir, if I may ask?"
"I don't know. We're about to find out though," responded the jounin as he began to unwrap the strange present. Once it was fully open, Neji still couldn't make out the dark shape in the middle of the burlap. He felt a bit apprehensive though. It didn't take a genius to recognize that the dark splotch he had noted earlier was, in fact, a bloodstain. An old one, but a bloodstain nonetheless. When the moon came out from a brief break in the clouds, the pale silver light illuminated the object. Then something amazing happened. Neji Hyuuga yelled.
"GET THE HOKAGE!! NOW!!"