Naruto © Masashi Kishimoto
Scroll 15: Tempest
Neji could only breathe a sigh of relief when he reached the sanctity of his rooms within the manor. His private quarters within the Hyuuga complex were the only parts he felt secure enough to sleep almost deeply and have privacy. However that was all. He didn't trust his clan as far he could throw them.
As was expected the interrogation of his duties outside of Konoha had been grueling…as was the frustration. The elders skirted the borders of public knowledge and outright treason.
Neji hated the debriefings within the most, because his only defense was his vow of loyalty and secrecy to his Hokage first, Konoha second, and Clan third. And yet the clan nobles kept pushing.
If the arrogant and prideful blood limit wielders kept pushing then Neji just knew. He knew that it would only be a matter of time for the Hyuuga clan.
Just like the Uchiha.
A thunderous crack roared over Konoha, reverberating in the various bones of all who heard it. Instinctively the ninja ducked or flattened themselves on the ground. Silence reigned for a moment before one by one the various Konoha ninja looked around and then up.
Several of them fell over with cries of surprise and awe. Rotating in the atmosphere just above building tops was a stretch of sand. More than a few ninja found their noses within touching distance of mineral grains as they stared wide eyed from the flat of their backs from where they dove on the roof tops.
The sand began breaking apart and flowed back towards its source. Many eyes caught sight of the Kazekage as veritable cyclone spun lazily around him before he dispersed it with a wave of his hand. Before they could comprehend the meaning of what just happened, another explosion forced their attentions back towards where the front gates used to be. However most just stared at the decimated remains of what once was the great wooden doors rocket skywards in a mushroom shaped cloud before stone and wood shrapnel rained down upon the besieged city.
When the dust cleared and impact crater emerged.
And in the center…
…Was an orange haired man.
"Impeccable timing as always."
Gaara's slightly irritated greeting reached his subordinate's ears, causing the man to grin as he landed. The young Kazekage barely noticed as the blonde was crouching next to him, a knuckled fist on the ground in a traditional salute.
"Well you did make it easy." The Black Ops Commander straightened in a relaxed stance. His foot was still slightly tingling with the force of the impact with Pein's head. The young Kazekage spared a glance at his battle partner and was slightly relieved to see him suited to come. Though, he noticed, the blonde wasn't exactly equipped with weapons above the standard pouches either.
The light heartedness vanished,"Kazekage-sama, your orders?"
Before Gaara could reply, a building went up in flames and exploded. Both men snapped their heads in that direction. The air filled with the screeching of a flock of birds and the heat of wind enhanced flames flared over the building tops.
"Pea-brained idiot." The curse had the Kazekage and Anbu Commander start slightly. Neither had heard the Godaime Hokage come up behind them. Granted they weren't completely ignorant of her presence as it was the top of the Hokage Tower and where the most important officials were for the ceremony.
Aside from the Suna entourage, there was a squad of Anbu and the Hokage herself. The rest of the officials must have run for cover when the attacks first started. Gaara had opted to stay behind as a defensive measure. Behind them, Gaara spotted what looked to be a seal array of some kind. Knowing the woman, it was probably a reflexive measure.
The blonde over-looked the newest ninja in favor of addressing her counter-part. "It seems our newest inaugurate has taken the defense of Konoha a little personally, would you mind lending a hand in retrieving him?"
The slight snarl in the undertone when she mentioned the Uchiha was not missed by any present.
Gaara didn't even have to say anything when Naruto responded, "On it Boss."
The other nin in the Suna contingent rolled their eyes at the young commander's antics. Naruto sprung off the roof top and landed with practiced ease on the building across the street. The Anbu turned and called back to his kage.
"Be ready to catch," the man saluted cheekily before speeding away.
Tsunade raised a brow at the younger Kage. Gaara just shook his head slightly and readied his sand.
Knowing Naruto, he had to be ready for anything.
As he watched his superior speed away, Kankuro couldn't help but mentally add, 'and then the monsters come out to play.' The rest of the entourage seemed to echo his thoughts.
Uchiha Sasuke, newly instated Rokudaime Hokage of Konohagakure no Sato was beyond livid.
He had been played like a fool. His intentions exposed for the world to see, not that he cared. And besides he highly doubted any of the Leaf shinobi were within the surrounding area anyways. Especially, after he unleashed his variation on the Chidori. Unfortunately the offensive strike seemed to have no effect whatsoever on the bounty hunter.
And the worst of it was that his pride was being ground into dust with ease by a ninja he considered his inferior. And the only one who looked at him as though he was a waste of space and time.
He made to charge when all his movement froze. Kakuzu blinked.
Konan made her way back towards the tree that held Nagato. She was more than a little worried about him. That technique only further aggravated his already deteriorating constitution. She just hoped she made it back in time.
No one should have to die alone.
Sasuke felt something tug at his collar forcing him to tear his sight away from veiled nuke-nin. He turned his head to the side to get a good look at his interfering captor. The ninja had his hitai-ate cloth encompassing his head and, most poignantly, is eyes. The Sand symbol was standing out from its etched place on the metallic plate.
The newly instated leader narrowed his Sharingan eyes, fury mounting. Another insult to his pride. Who did this cripple think he was to interfere in a kage's fight? He moved to demand an answer from the foreign nin, allied or not, when he felt something slapped over his mouth. Whatever it was, it was heavily chakra laden and his jaw muscles instantly contracted, freezing his ability to talk.
A gloved hand had a firm hold on the Uchiha while an exact duplicate of the ninja had his back to the pair, a few sealing kaifu in the grip of on of his hands. A solid bunshin. Instantly the Uchiha's sharp mind put the pieces together. His mouth and body were frozen because this man most likely used the seal on him.
"I'll take it from here, Hokage-chan." The almost jaunty greeting took a moment to register before Sasuke's temper reared its ugly head.
His glare, though, was interrupted he found himself jerked up off the ground and airborne within a moment. In a beat he realized that he'd been thrown, like a sack of trash. The Sharingan eyes morphed into the Mangekyou Sharingan.
He would teach the fool a lesson. That the ninja was from Sand was even worse. They were weak, needing Konoha to throw them the backwash to stay alive. He would have to do soething about that once he was free.
The Uchiha's brooding was interrupted suddenly when his body struck something grainy in a mid air collision, knocking the wind out of him. He didn't have time to process it wrapping around him before whatever had him jerked the ninja down, causing his head to spin and bile to rise in his throat, only to be jarred when his body smacked onto a flat surface…and bounced a little.
The moment Sasuke finally regained his equilibrium, he found himself looking up, dumbfounded, at the mirth filled eyes his predecessor and the stoic Kazekage.
The Fifth had wondered what exactly their allies had in mind when the blind ninja hopped away. Oh, she knew who he was. Who wouldn't? Especially since he was dressed in much the same way the rumors had described. Perhaps she might have been the only one taking Hyuuga Neji's reports seriously, but even she had wondered about the man.
Now she knew. As was commonly said, seeing was believing. And the man she saw, just by his movement alone never mind the rest of her short time within his presence, was definitely skillful and charismatic. She wondered in that same moment, where exactly Gaara had found him, because the darkly clothed Suna nin was an asset.
But the moment she saw something in the telltale white Hokage robes, singed and frayed on the ends, rocket towards them all she could do was blink. Only to be caught by a rather large patch of sand and summarily cocooned in the medium and then dropped, with a thud, right on the roof top where he'd abandoned them earlier.
Tsunade all but smirked at the way her successor was being treated.
"Well, that's effective." She eyed the cocoon. "But will it hold him?"
The elder kage couldn't help the grin that blossomed over her features. Gaara, used to Naruto's antics, was hardly surprised that both blondes reacted the ways they did.
"If it keeps him from getting in the way, then so be it."
"Let me out!" the newly minted Hokage demanded, struggling (unsuccessfully) against his restraints. Never mind the fact that all they could hear was muffled growls. Gaara's sand smothered his face fully, only leaving a nose hole.
The Kazekage sent a deadpan look over to the sandy bundle, "No."
Giving the unconventional restraint a final onceover, Tsunade returned her attention to her village, paying a little extra attention to the area Sasuke had been previously launched from. It was strangely silent.
"He'll be fine, right?" Gaara didn't need to be told twice who 'he' was.
"Unfortunately?" The Kazekage didn't need to see her response to know he'd elicited a raised eyebrow from the woman. The redhead kept his almost unblinking gaze fixed on the point where his Black Ops commander had disappeared.
"Unfortunately." The younger kage confirmed almost…agreeably, "He's a cockroach, no matter how many times I've tried to squash him, he always crawled out of some hole, somewhere, and returned to annoy me."
The medic just stared at the young man for a long time before returning her gaze to Konoha's horizon. That had been the most she'd ever heard the younger man talk, and never with a hint of ironic humor.
Apparently Suna had changed more than she'd thought.
Satisfied that the Uchiha was out of the way, Naruto's clone dismissed itself leaving the Anbu and the Akatsuki to each other. The nuke-nin looked at his opponent disbelievingly. Had Deidara been there, he'd have been, no doubt, laughing his ass off at the entirety of the situation.
Kakuzu tilted his head to the side. "Well that was…different."
"I tend to think outside of conventional methods." Naruto jested, though his tone was slightly chilled. The Akatsuki showed no external signs of the internal disturbance he felt when the ninja opened his mouth.
"But tossing around the Hokage like a rag doll?" Something must have shown in his tone because the Sand ninja had the gall to smirk him. Had Kakuzu been prone to letting his temper get the best of him, no doubt his black tendrils would have mummified the blind ninja in a flash.
For his part, Naruto just shrugged. "Gaara has him. And hime was in the way."
The Akatsuki had nothing to reply to that, because it was, well, true. "I see."
There was a long moment where neither party felt inclined to speak. So they both just took their time analyzing the other. Naruto knew who he'd been dealing with the moment he'd caught Sasuke. Kakuzu's chakra readings had been off the charts for a moment before he'd clamped down on his output and hid his signature.
They had also almost clashed before, though he'd avoided confrontation by getting to his mark before the nuke-nin and Naruto highly doubted the Akatsuki remembered his signature either. He'd bet a month's earnings on that.
The bounty hunter, for his part, pulled out the bingo book and began lazily flipping through. It wasn't until the very end where he paused and read the description.
"The Maelstrom." Teal eyes slid up from the page and pinned the blind commander. "Second highest bounty to ever be offered, matched only by that of Konoha's Kiroii Senkou."
Naruto's only answer was to slide into a defensive stance.
Konohamaru landed a good distance away from the crater. In his rookie years he would have gone forward and risked making sure the ninja or whoever he was, was dead. That was then. This was now.
…And he wasn't stupid.
Behind the young Sarutobi, Hyuuga Neji and Hatake Kakashi landed with equal amounts of caution and curiosity. All had similar thought going through their heads.
What just happened?
They knew the Kazekage had done something, the sand had been a dead giveaway. However the second explosion was unexpected. Add to the fact their opposition just disappeared somewhere right before whatever the sand shield protected them from.
And the imminent detonation that left more than a few ears ringing.
All three Jounin observed what was left of their main gate. Ninja that strong don't usually fall with one hit…no matter how much they wished for it.
All of them were keenly aware that had Gaara not acted when he did, Konoha would have been wiped clean off the map. None of them held the illusion that that attack, whatever it was, was aimed at utterly destroying their village.
And the scariest part was that it would have succeeded too.
Taking charge of the scene and being the senior most field agent on hand, Hatake Kakashi made his decision. With him were two very powerful Leaf ninja he knew he could count on, which said a lot as he rarely had faith in his own.
"Sarutobi-san, survey the surrounding area for further signs of the invaders. Hyuuga-san, with me." Grunts of acknowledgment were all that met the copy-nin's ears before he shunshined away.
The silver haired ninja expertly dropped onto the edges of the crater where, he assumed, was the main perpetrator of the attack. The man currently crevassed within the center of the crash site had short, spiked hair. A vague thought whispered a reminder of his student long ago.
And the hair was orange.
Whoever it was, he could have passed for an adult version of Naruto...with a lot of piercings. And that thought drew the elder man up short.
The Hyuuga arrived a moment after and almost froze. Only years if intense training separated him from making a rookie mistake. That and he knew, for a fact, what the current Naruto looked like. A man with a passing similarity wearing an Akatsuki coat only reinforced his conclusion. Neji had also had almost the exact same thoughts as the silver-haired Jounin when he beheld the nuke-nin.
Both were too preoccupied to notice the silhouette slink up behind them.
The shadow blurred as it lunged at them, out of the corner of their eyes, causing both Jounin to react just in time before the ledge, where they had been, exploded. The ground rocked with the force of the impact. A sinister looking metallic…something…waived back and forth.
And it had a serrated edge.
Neji and Kakashi both readied themselves to dodge for their very lives. Neither was equipped to fight a bladed enemy.
The bladed 'tail' whipped forward.
A clang resounded through the air that caught almost every shinobi's attention.
"Hello Ugly." Konohamaru snarked at the Asura Path, "I had hoped to never see your mug again."
A/N: To Jeice2003: To clarify your question, no. Shino and Konan do not have anything prior to their confrontation. I meant for it to shadow their confrontation in the Manga (all one page of it).
As for Iruka coming off callous. Yes, that's intended. However he is tactical in his approach. He needs information and the only way to get it was to let others rush in. He read the situation, noted that his interference would have hampered more than helped and steered clear.
Also this is Hidan we're talking about. As arrogant as he comes off, the man is S-class for a reason. Iruka just honed in on and exploited his weakness. Just like any ninja would.
To clarify what exactly Gaara did, he saved Konoha from being nuked in much the same way he saved Suna, a rather larger sand shield. Hence all the ninja were staring at the sand. I'm sure you would too is you suddenly found you a ceiling (of sand) and realized that you were this close (squinting through thumb and forefinger) to being squashed like a bug.
What did Naruto do? He appeared next to Gaara, who created a sand platform for him and disguised the ninja amidst his sand storm.
So when Pein threw the Shinra Tensei, he was not expecting an attack, Naruto got the jump on him and gave him an (massive, chakra enhanced) Axe Kick (to the head) that rocketed him right into Konoha's massive front gates, hence the crater and the mushroom cloud.
How could he hit Pein if he was blind? Simple. He can pinpoint and sense chakra, so he knew where his target was (imagine a black background with a human shaped silhouette of light). It's a reverse of his other technique which is to saturate an area with his chakra so he 'sees' the opponent's silhouette (shadow) against a highlighted background.
Now that kick has a two-fold purpose. One was for obvious damage and disorientation (possibly a one-hit K.O.) and two, to insult him in a subtle manner. In Asian cultures, the soul is believed to rest in the head and it is considered very insulting to pat a child (or anyone) on the head because of the importance of the spirit housed there. So if just patting a head is insulting, then how should a deliberate kick be construed?
Ah yes, Iruka-sensei. Had seen maybe two or three ficts in the past where he is featured as more than just your average-joe, nice-guy Chuunin. Two of the ficts featured him with Anbu level skills and never really took the time to become a Jounin. The third…was an AU about the misfits of Konoha becoming a team and Iruka had the starring role (you might know it: Will of Fire by Mystic Dragon). I enjoyed those characterizations very much.
Now for over-hyping him in Blind Sight…not really, he's just more…ninja-esque. That said, keep in mind that we are also talking about 13-15 years in the future from canon. People can change and become more skilled if they work hard enough.
I never said he had the brute force strength like Naruto, Neji, or even Kakashi. I think I highlighted deception and trickery, hence why he beats Neji, period.
LJ 4/9/10, 6/19/10