Kyubed: Shinobi's Revenge on Naruto

Part 45

The Whirlpool Mission.


Hinata Hyuuga stood on a hillside with the full moon high above her. A breeze was blowing through the long grass in the valley that surrounded her. The blades moved like water, giving the appearance of an ocean before her. Whirlpool had always had a chaotic landscape. The country had large valleys that were often battered by high winds and tornadoes. The landscape was rocky, and while long grass grew on any open ground, its roots dug deep into the gravel that made up most of the ground. It was difficult to walk silently in Whirlpool, but not impossible. The unique ground gave rise to a system of springs that dotted the landscape as well. When the moon was shining right, it was difficult to tell where the waters began and the grass ended. While the water was prized throughout the world, it was dangerous as well. The pools often had powerful currents that gave the country its name. There would be no travel for them that night. Even her eyes could not distinguish a clear path.

She didn't need to turn to see behind her. A large tent was set up in a small grove of trees at the top of the hill she was standing on. Inside was their mission, a Nobleman from Grass country. He was to be guarded, and brought to the capitol when the other ninja finished their mission. No one knew anything about what that mission was except maybe Kurenai, and she wasn't talking. The only thing she knew was that there were two Jounin level ninja operating within the borders. They would be given word when their part in the mission would begin, but she doubted the Jounin would show up personally to tell them. It would probably be a coded message.

The girl froze and narrowed her eyes. "Who goes there? I can see you quite well. Identify yourselves." She had a kunai in her fist and took a step back.

Two men approached. "We need to speak to Kurenai. Our mission is complete, but there are...complications." One of them stepped forward and put up his hands with a grin on his face. He was wearing a Leaf forehead protector and a Jounin vest. His companion was as well, and they both looked rather nondescript. Black clothes and short black hair. The pair weren't related, but had a small frown on their faces as they spoke. "What's this I see?" Their chakra was a deep red in color, and much weaker than most people. She almost backed into her instructor.

"What is it? Why are you here? We weren't supposed to meet." Kurenai narrowed her eyes at them.

The one closest to the two kunoichi nodded. "Yes. The mission was a success. There's something we need to discuss before you begin your mission."

"I don't like this," grumbled Hinata as she frowned at the pair. "Something is wrong, their chakra...seems strange."

Kurenai glanced down at her. "Well, what is it?"

"It's not for the ears of a Genin," replied the one at the rear. "I'm sure you understand."

Kurenai balled up her fist and frowned at Hinata. "Go into the tent and stand guard. Don't let Odiri out of your sight, no matter what."

The girl frowned at that, but nodded. "Yes, Kurenai sensei."

The two Jounin approached a little more, but still stood about five feet from the woman and neither one tried to flank her. They crossed their arms. The more forward of the two watched her go. "Cute kid. Hyuuga, huh? Bet she would have done well."

His companion nodded. "Yes. We succeeded, the Royal Family is dead. Kotoga wanted to be rid of them to begin with. They were getting uppity and annoying."

Kurenai gasped. He was suddenly standing next to her with his arm around her shoulder. "After we completed our assignment, we were captured."

"After we were turned by Kashimiro Kotoga, we were quite willing to tell him about the details of our little plan." His friend was on her other shoulder as she missed slashing the other with her weapon. "At any rate, we're to deliver Odiri-samma to him. So he can be used as a pawn, just as the previous royal family was used. It will keep the other countries happy, and keep things as they are. After we're finished here, we're to return to Konohagakure and find out who put us up to this."

His companion nodded. "I suppose we're fortunate it wasn't Idan. He would have just killed us very slowly."

Kurenai tried to jump back away from them, but found the appeared next to her and gripped her arms as they pulled her into the trees around the campsite. Her eyes were wide with terror as the pair opened their mouths much wider than they should have been able to. Two inch long fangs protruded from their exposed gums as the now red eyed creatures bit down into her neck. She gasped and struggled as she looked up at the moon. A single tear fell down her cheek as she felt herself grow cold. "I...I'm sorry, Sarutobi." She slumped down limp on the ground as the two Jounin released her and wiped their mouths with their hand in the same manner.

"Don't forget, there's still more. Odiri is only for Lord Kotoga," growled one of them as they looked down at her.

Hinata and her two ninja companions rushed out the front of the tent. "This way!" cried Hinata.

They had heard the struggle outside, and Hinata noticed the pair grabbing Kurenai and pulling her away from the tent. The woman told her to go inside the tent because she knew Hinata could still see what was going on. It had happened so fast that they couldn't react fast enough. The trio slid to a halt in front of a horrifying scene. The two creatures were dropping Kurenai's body to the ground. One of them spoke and the group of genin all took in what was said as their eyes snapped onto him.

"Let's have some fun. These brats can keep us busy for a while." He spread his arms and roared as his face became inhuman. His fingers elongated and turned into claws, and a pair of two inch fangs were bared at them.

The girl gasped. "What? No!"

Shino was silent, but clearly shocked.

Kiba was looking on with his faithful companion at his side. "N-no way!" Akamaru was growling with his hair bristling up. It was quite a bit more threatening than it was when he was a pup considering his shoulder was as high as his master's hip.

The things stalked towards the children growling and hissing as their arms changed into wing like appendages while their faces became even more inhuman.

Hinata staggered back a single step. "It... This is not... They are not like him." She could still see their chakra, it was thin and red, but there. She was confused and afraid. Her mind stopped and she froze. Both her companions were in a similar state of non movement and the beasts were taking their time and stalking around them. The trio was back to back and the things circled around them, growing closer with each pass. "I can't be afraid. I can't be afraid. I don't want to be afraid of him anymore. I can't. I won't die like this. I must be able to face him."

Kiba and Shino actually turned their heads a little. She'd spoken the last two sentences out loud, and it was not a shaky or timid voice. She had a stern expression on her face, and her tone had dropped quite a bit.

One of the things hissed in amusement and spoke. "It seems one may still have some fight left in her. The others are frozen in terror."

"Not really," growled Kiba. "We're just pissed off about what you've done, and we're thinking about what we're gonna do about it, right Akamaru?"

The dog gave a growling bark and snarled at the things.

Shino turned his eyes towards Hinata. "Are you all right?"

She shook her head. "No. I've just realized how weak I've become. How can I fight something I'm too afraid to look at?"

The boy turned his eyes towards the two somewhat confused looking monsters. He had small jars in his hands and popped the cork off one. "Overcome that fear."

She smirked and closed her eyes. "Right." In her hands were two wooden kunai with silver cores and tips.

Kiba chuckled. "Hold your breath Akamaru. I know you don't like this, and we're all gonna need a bath later." He opened his coat and threw a small vial onto the ground at his feet. A yellowish vapor escaped and surrounded the trio. The vampires put their claws up and backed away looking irritated by the cloud.

"What is this?" snarled one of them.

"It's garlic gas," replied the boy as he held his nose. "We'll stink for three days after this, you jerks. You just fucked with the wrong team, you blood sucking leeches."

"They intend to fight? Good," replied the other. "Much more fun this way. What can a couple of Genin do against us?"

Hinata spoke up as she stepped forward and put an open palm strike into the creature in front of her's chest. It flew back and bounced off a tree. She curved up her fingers and waved him towards her. "I'm not going to fight you. I'm going to kick your ass."

Kiba choked and his head turned to look at her. "Huh?"

Shino waved his arms and a black swarm crawled out his sleeve and into the bottles in his grip. They flew out of the opening and swarmed the other creature. It shrieked in pain as small red welts began forming all over it's body. The wounds started to smoke as he thrashed against the insects. "What is this? Bugs?"

"Yes, each one holding a small drop of sacred water. It has been blessed, and is quite effective against your kind." Shino turned to look at the other one as his swarm returned to him. The Vampire behind him was melting away as if he'd been dipped in acid. His skin slumped off along with his muscle, only to form pools of slightly gelled liquid that further consumed the remains. "Interesting that this training has proved useful. I didn't really expect it."

Hinata kept her eyes closed, using the monster's chakra lines. The girl was waving her weapons around in a rather rigid looking movement.

Kiba looked on in confusion at the scene. The vampire was moving at a high speed. Much more than she should have been able to handle. However, she was doing something that very much confused him. It was a traditional dance, her weapons where the wards would normally be. He recognized it, and it was a bit embarrassing. Hinata had insisted that they train in an old form of dance for exorcism. She'd been doing it her whole life, it was something of a tradition to have girls learn traditional dance in some of the more prominent families. Many parents forced it on their daughters in the hope it would make them more attractive to those sorts of families when they got older.

Men, as a rule, did not do it. It was considered unmanly.

Kurenai had given in rather easily. Probably because she thought it was funny, but also because the dance training also helped with chakra control. The two kunoichi were also forced to swear an oath never to reveal that they had been trained in traditional exorcism dance. Shino had stood with him in protest, each citing 'it's a guy thing' for their reason for opposition to the idea. The compromise had been reached after Kurenai explained that any other form of such training, which they were required to complete, would be done in the most painful way possible.

Hinata loved the training. She had always enjoyed the dance, as it brought back pleasant memories of her youth. Hyuuga girls performed the dance as a part of formal celebrations within the clan, and everyone knew Hinata was the best of them. Her mother had been in her own day as well, but it was a thing for young girls to do and they had grown out of performing the dances. Kurenai was also familiar with the dance from her own days as a young girl, but Hinata was better. The Hyuuga took such tradition more seriously than most families who did it.

Shino and Kiba both looked surprised. Her movement was a bit faster paced than it normally was, but it was unmistakable. The thing clawed and slashed at her, but always missed despite a much higher speed.

"Little brat, how are you doing this! I'll drain you dry!" It snarled and lunged at her.

The girl opened her eyes and gave it a hard looking stare. "For Kurenai-sensei, I banish you."

The thing snapped at her with its jaws, but her weapon had pushed through his chest and into his heart. The area around it turned gray as an orange light formed inside it's chest. The creature backed away, becoming a cloud of ash in about two seconds. The girl relaxed her arms and gripped her weapons. "It seems we will be very dusty when this is finished."

Kiba gasped. "What? Are you crazy? We've got to get out of here. We don't have a Jounin, and we can't protect this guy in a place like this." He calmed and looked serious. "Look, I'm not saying we abandon him, but we should take him back and get some backup here. This is too much for us."

Shino looked over at where his master was lying on the ground. "We finish the mission."

The other boy looked over. "Right. I wasn't thinking. We can't let that be for nothing." He sighed and hung his head. A few tears fell down his cheeks, partially from his overwhelming emotions, and partially from the gas he'd released. It was mildly irritating to humans. "So, now what? Did you see those things? We're probably going to die here if we try to complete this mission on our own."

Shino nodded. "For this, I'm willing to accept that."

Hinata glared at them both. "We have to finish her."

Both boys looked over at her. "Huh?" said Kiba as his mouth hung open. "What do you mean?"

The girl walked over to their instructor's body and fell to her knees at her side. She placed one of her weapons over the woman's chest. "Kurenai-sensei. I'm sorry."

"H-hey. What are you...?" said Kaiba with a shocked expression.

"Don't be," replied the woman as she turned her head. Her features became cruel and she grabbed the girl by the back of her neck. "Thank you." Her fingers slipped away from Hinata. The girl had her weapon buried in her chest. She was burning away as the other had, but much slower. "Tell Asuma, I'm sorry, and I love him. Get out of here, go back to Konohagakuri. That's an order." She slumped down as she seemed to shatter into dust.

Hinata sniffled and rubbed at her nose. "It's too late for that."

Kiba growled and looked down at the still growling Akamaru. "You heard her. We've got orders. We should get going. That slug, I bet he slept through the whole mess." He looked over his shoulder to the tent.

Shino gave a sigh. "He's right. It's time to go. Now that we have orders, we should follow them. It was her last to us."

The girl shook her head. Her hard expression hadn't wavered, but tears poured down her cheeks. "No. I mean while this was happening, we were surrounded. There are many, closing fast."

Shino and Kiba became alert immediately. "How many?" asked Kiba as Akamaru started to bark and look about the tree line.

"About twenty, we need to get to the tent quickly. They're circling Odiri, not us." The girl turned and started rushing towards the tent with her weapons ready. Both her teammates followed in the same manner. "Get him out quickly, we don't want to get caught inside the tent. They could just bring it down on us and trap us."

Shino nodded. "Then we should not enter, but protect the entrances. Akamaru should go inside as well, he's not suited to this enemy. We don't know what might happen if he's bitten."

Kiba lowered his eyes a little, but nodded. "You're right, but I'm less effective without him."

Hinata gave a firm nod. "So, we have our plan then. We should form a triangle around the tent, so each of us can see two of the others. If one of us goes down, we'll have to consider retreat. That means one of us will have to go inside and try to retrieve Odiri while the other covers him. Then try to break the line together and escape."

The shorter boy snorted at that. "Huh? I guess that works. What's gotten into you?"

"I don't know what to think of Uzumaki anymore. He is not one of these creatures, though he is born of darkness. I cannot say I trust him, and I think he's a monster of some kind, but I've read his book," replied the girl. "You should have studied more, maybe then you might have understood some of it."

Shino gave a snorting laugh. "I think I kind of like her like this. It is odd though." He spoke to Hinata without looking at her. "You should know we'll be keeping an eye on you. You are acting strange."

"Jerk," grumbled Kiba as he took up his position. "Akamaru, into the tent and protect Odiri. Don't let anyone touch him but us."

The dog hung his head and put his tail between his legs as he trotted inside the tent. He lay next to the cot where the man was lying on his side and snoring a little. He was a thin young man with golden curls of hair and a thin face. A small black dot was present on his cheek below his thin and curled mustache. The dog lay on it's side where he could see his master through the flap. He shifted and barked quietly under his breath as he looked on.

"Sorry, pal," grumbled the boy. He felt awful, but had seen the point. Akamaru might do more harm than good in a situation like that. He was a little worried about how long the dog could hold out before he charged in despite his command to stay. If he got in too much trouble, Akamaru would come. That worried him as much as it comforted him. He glanced over to his right and looked at Hinata. The girl had a serious frown on her face and didn't look the slightest bit afraid anymore. The girl was far from devoid of emotion though, there was a fire burning in her eyes that wasn't there before. She was alert and calm despite what they were facing. All of them had weaponry that would kill these things. Hinata had forced it on both of them, and she always carried spares in case they forgot or lost them. She wasn't forceful, bit it was hard to say no to her anyway. "Huh. Who would have thought I'd be grateful for it?" He could see their eyes in the trees surrounding them. The ninja were stuck in the forest until daybreak. Outside of the woods the tall grass would spell a death trap for them. "We're going to have to hold out here all night, aren't we?"

Shino's swarm was already surrounding him, and he was holding vials of liquids in his fingers. "I'm afraid so. It isn't safe to wander about the grasslands even without the threat the Vampires present." He was also aware that Hinata had saved their lives that night. While he and Kiba were both well armed, she was a walking arsenal against such evil. He wasn't sure, but just before the attack came, he thought he saw her crack a small but dark looking smile. No one who survived that night, ninja or vampire, would soon forget it.

Hinata drew first blood. She began to dance and closed her eyes. It was different than the one she'd used before, it kept her around a central point on the ground. Seven vampires swarmed her at once, she seemed to already be out of the way of their claws and stabbed at them when their attacks left them exposed with a set of silver kunai. Kiba and Shino were both using weapons with silver etched onto the blades, but hers were pure metal weapons. The creatures turned to ash immediately in the wake of her attacks. She put a stab under the arm and into the rib cage of the first one to attack, the next tried to tackle her and she put one weapon into its forehead to stop its charge and released the first weapon from its skull by putting the other into his chest. She turned in the same motion and pushed both weapons into the chest of one that tried to jump on top of her. A moment later she moved at high speed between two of them and their heads fell off on either side of her.

Shino was having little difficulty defending his position. His insects kept the path forward barred and lashed out at any that neared. He had already liquified three of them, and a fourth stood snarling and hissing at him alone. The wall shifted and two of the monsters screamed in rage and pain as they fell down on either side of him. The things could sprout wings and had tried to swoop down into him. It did leave him with a bit less protection ahead of him and the grounded vampire tried to charge. It wasn't a very smart move, as the swarm left the two monsters on the ground and surrounded him. Shino was exposed for a moment by this as his swarm finished the creatures off. He could incapacitate them easily, but it took a while to kill them. He noted that his bottles were half empty. No more of the things were moving on his position, but he could not leave it unguarded.

Kiba wasn't sitting idly during all of this. The monsters were fast, but his gas bombs kept them from rushing him. They could get through it to him, but it slowed them down a great deal and was painful for them to try. The garlic gas was a lot more than a mere irritant to them. Their flesh bubbled and blistered if it came into contact with it. He gripped his silver etched kunai in his grip and frowned. "Come on, let's finish this quickly."

There were only four of them, two were on the edge of the gas cloud, and it was starting to fade. He had to be careful, he only had a few more of those bombs. The effects didn't just go away when the gas faded. They were having trouble focusing on him and staggering a bit. He rushed the pair who looked the most damaged and they roared at him. The boy didn't stop and used two hands to thrust his kunai into the chest of one of them. He turned and kicked the other in the chest before back handing the same weapon into its heart. The third snarled and backed away, but he simply tossed the weapon and it went right through its chest.

The fourth grabbed his arm and the back of his head. He used his free hand to pull another weapon from his belt, but wasn't fast enough. The creature clamped down on his arm with its mouth as it started to burn away.

His eyes went wide as he fell to the ground on his knees clutching his arm and found himself looking at a bloody stump. He screamed and fell onto his side next to a pair of thin pale legs. He was gasping and turning white. Hinata was at his side and was wrapping a belt around his severed arm. The boy's eyes wandered as she did this and he looked confused. A bloody tanto knife was lying on the ground next to her. It had the Hyuuga seal on the handle.

Hinata pulled the boy to his feet roughly. She dragged him towards the campfire outside the tent, picked up one of the logs, put her knee across his chest and a stick in his mouth. Kiba got wide eyed as the girl took one of the burning logs out and pressed it firmly against the open wound. His screams renewed and tears poured from his eyes as she did this. After a moment she stopped and examined the wound before taking her leg off of him. She reached onto her side and pulled out a pouch. He looked on in silent horror as she began sanitizing and dressing his severed arm.

" cut off my arm?" He was pale and sweating.

"Yes," replied Hinata simply.

"You're tougher than I thought. I'd have passed out by now," commented Shino. "Since you've abandoned your post, I suspect we are currently vampire free?"

The girl looked very focused and serious as she tended to Kiba. "My eyes aren't as good as Neji's, but there are none nearby. There may be more out in the grass, we can't let our guard down."

"Where's Akamaru?" grumbled Kiba as he looked around.

Hinata gave him a small smile. "I threw a small gas pellet into the tent before this started. He's fine, but he's sleeping. He'll wake up with Odiri in the morning. I didn't want the noise to wake Odiri up and have him wander out here in the middle of it. I know you wanted Akamaru safe, he'll be fine."

"Thank y... Wait, you cut off my arm." The injured boy let his head fall back and he scowled.

Hinata gave him a shove in his chest. "What? You'd rather be a Vampire? You saw what happened..." Her eyes became glazed over.

Kiba grabbed her shoulder. "I know. It sucks so I'm giving you a hard time about it. I owe you, but I'm not gonna let you forget it anytime soon either." He actually smiled a bit. "Got anything in there to knock me out?"

She smiled at him in a faint and somewhat lost manner. "Yeah. I put it on your wound. At least you don't have to suffer with the horrible taste."

"Good," muttered the boy as his eyes started to close. His arm was numb by that point and he could feel the pull of the drug drawing him into sleep.

"Not really," replied the girl after he passed out. "We're in real trouble. Shino and I might be able to repel another attack, but...then what?"

Shino nodded. "We'll be fine. Between your eyes and my insects, we shouldn't be surprised. This worries me though. Kurenai's last words were for us to abandon the mission. I do not look forward to relaying her message to Asuma, but I feel it is something we should do."

The girl hugged her torso and shivered. "What's our plan then?" She didn't look afraid, just a bit disturbed.

"Well, we go back the way we came. Odiri shouldn't be that hard to convince. There are no bodies here, but we don't need to explain the particulars. We've lost our Jounin to an attack, and we were ordered to return to Konohagakure. That's all we need to tell him." Shino gave a small sigh. "We'll have to be careful, but I think we can make it."

Hinata looked at the tent. "We won't make it. Not for three nights. I don't have enough gas to keep Akamaru knocked out. He'd have been in that fight if I hadn't done it. If we lose Akamaru, I'm betting we'll lose Kiba. It's a three day trip, and there's no guarantee they'll respect Whirlpool's borders."

The ninja arched his eyebrow. "What do you suggest?"

"The one who can do the most damage remains. I'll distract them while you get Odiri and Kiba back to Konohagakure." The girl looked over at him. "It's the only chance we've got."

"We're not leaving you here alone," said Shino as he puffed himself up and looked stern.

"I don't plan on dying," replied the girl. She looked away from him.

"Y-you're serious aren't you?" Once again he was surprised. "What's gotten into you?"

The kunoichi looked at him. "I'm afraid that I'll spend the rest of my life in fear. I can't do that. I'll keep them distracted, make a big mess, and meet up with you back at the village."

He didn't look impressed. "How do you plan on doing that exactly? Just a moment ago you were saying we wouldn't last three days."

"No. All of us couldn't hold a defensive position for three nights in this place. You and I would likely have survived, but we'd lose everyone else before we escaped." She looked thoughtful. "I should be able to stir up trouble and keep them occupied for a bit."

"You're pretty confident. It's really weird, but I can't say it's not an improvement. I have to admit though, it's got me a little worried. Since when are you this cocky? Take these things on alone for three days?" Shino actually raised his voice a little. "Who are you kidding? I saw what you did, but it wasn't that impressive. We don't know how many of these things there are."

The girl nodded. "In order to end this, I only have to kill one. Trouble is, he's likely to be hard to get to."

"Huh?" Shino was confused out of his rising temper. "What do you mean?"

"Destroy the one who made a vampire, and you destroy all those he has made. It becomes something of a chain reaction if you kill the right one. A few of his older and more powerful children might survive, but it will clear up an infestation if there is one. We may have slain quite a few tonight, depending on how many this group has turned." Hinata glanced at him. "I found it in an old scroll about Vampires. It's been accurate up to now. At least I know Uzumaki isn't a vampire. He's different from these things somehow. There are scrolls for all sorts of things in the library at the Academy. Werewolves, Kappa, Dragons, Demons..."

Shino turned his head away from her. "Dragons? Do you really think we might run into a dragon?"

"Are you going to tell me you still don't believe in monsters?" she replied dryly.

He hung his head a little. "You've got a point."

"You've gotten pretty talkative," commented Hinata.

"You've gotten pretty brave. I'm not leaving you. You're not in your right mind, and I'm not so sure you won't go back to how you used to be once you're off on your own." He looked at the treeline.

The girl frowned at him. "I won't. I'll make them suffer, for Kurenai sensei."

He saw the anger in her eyes. "Even more reason to say no."

"You've got no choice," she replied. "I'm going the other way tomorrow. You've got orders and you can't follow me. Kiba won't make it, he's injured. Even with Akamaru helping him out, he can't get Odiri to the border. He needs help escaping more than that Noble does. You do your duty."

"Revenge won't bring her back," said Shino as he became firm again.

"I'm not doing it for revenge. I'm angry at them, but you and I both know damn well that the two of us are the only ones with any hope of surviving that trip. It's the only way to complete our mission. You haven't got enough blessed water left to do it yourself. There was a temple in that last town we passed through, get more from there before you pass. I'm sure they'll oblige you as much as you wish. I'm going, you're not." She walked away from him and looked out into the night for signs of trouble.

Shino was frustrated. She was right, there wasn't much he could do. "You realize you're going rogue? Hinata, you could get into a lot of trouble if this goes wrong. You might even become a Missing Nin."

She glanced back at him with a stern look on her face. "I don't care. I'm looking out for my team." She turned away. "Stop looking at me that way. I know you want to do it yourself. Don't think I don't know I was just the one who said it first."

He nodded. "It's surprising. It's got me a bit worried. If one of us is to die, it should be me. Like you said, I'm getting low on blessed water. I may only be of limited use. We'll have to survive at least one more night to make it back to that town."

She didn't look at him again and scanned the trees. "See, there's the problem. You know you'll die. Besides, you are better suited to defend against them than attack. I killed more, but none of them got close to you."

"And you don't?" he replied.

"I told you already, I don't plan on dying." She put her hands behind her head and looked up at the stars. "That makes me the better choice."

"I'm not sure if I believe you, but it worries me either way," Shino gave a small sigh. He wanted to say more, but left it at that. She seemed to want solitude. He could understand that, they had both lost someone important to them. Kurenai was dead, and it hadn't quite sunk in for any of them yet. He found himself having to force his eyes away from that part of the forest. It would be dangerous if he lost track of himself looking at it.


"I see," Odiri had a frown on his face. "So, we are to return to Konohagakure? Our mission has failed?" He was a tall thin man with blond hair and a small curled mustache. He looked very serious, the most any of the young ninja had seen him. He had been kind of a pain before. He was unused to the outdoors, and prone to complaining. He also talked quite a bit, most of it bragging about places he'd been and comforts he had at home. He had just woken up, Kiba was sitting with his good arm around Akamaru's neck. The dog kept trying to put his nose into his stump, and he had to push him off to keep him away from it. The animal whimpered a bit, and the Nobleman smiled at him. "Chin up. We'll be all right."

The boy was on mild painkillers. "I'll be fine. Just, don't bug me. I'm in a bad mood because of it."

Shino gave a sigh and shook his head. "We'll be leaving shortly. The sun is up, and we'll be safe enough till nightfall. I'm afraid we won't be getting much sleep. We can't travel at night, but we must be on guard. That is the most likely time for an attack."

Hinata was standing next to the flap of the tent and looking out across the grass.

Kiba noticed it and frowned. "Whats with her?"

Shino looked away. "Don't worry about it. We've got a long trip."

The injured boy frowned. "Hey. It sounds like you don't want to say something. What's up?"

"I'm not coming with you," replied Hinata simply. She didn't look back at them and seemed calm.

"What?" said Kiba and Odiri at the same time.

Shino crossed his arms. "We won't make it without a distraction. Hinata and I talked about it last night. I don't like it, but she's right. We've got to leave someone here to try and keep their attention while the rest of us slip away. They'll be after us when night falls again."

"We can't leave her!" snarled Kiba as he jumped up. "It's not the ninja way to leave people behind."

"Yes it is," replied the girl simply. "We do what we must to complete our mission. Kurenai sensei's last order to us is to return to Konohagakure with Odiri. We won't make it if we try to hold out for three nights. They will wear us down and kill us one by one. This is our only option. As ninja, we must do our duty. Mine, is to remain behind and keep them away from you as best I can. I've got the best chance of surviving and making it back on my own out of the three of us."

"It sounded like you planned a bit more than that," replied Shino with a small snort.

"I cannot bear such a shame! I shall not leave without this young lady! Do you have any idea what people would say if they found out I left a teenage girl behind in a place like this?" Odiri was wide eyed and slack jawed. "You must return with us, one of the others should remain if that is our only course."

"Yeah, kind of," muttered Kiba in a sort of half agreement. Akamaru barked and wagged his tail violently.

"I'm not asking permission," replied the girl as she walked out. "I'll see you back in Konohagakure. There's no reason for me to wait any longer."

"Hey! Wait!" cried Kiba as he started after her. He almost ran into Shino.

The taller boy adjusted his glasses. "Heh. She's gotten interesting. It's a shame she's leaving now."

"Get out of the way!" snarled Kiba as he waved his arm at him.

"No. I like this as much as you do, but Hinata is the one with the best chance of surviving. My supply of blessed water is getting low, I wouldn't last long enough to do us much good. You've lost an arm, and Akamaru is useless against this kind of enemy." He looked at the exit. "Hinata stays, I won't hear any argument from either of you. If I have to tie him up and drag him by force, I'm taking Odiri back to Konohagakure."

The Nobleman looked frustrated and crossed his arms. "It seems I have been forced to abandon the young lady. I'll have no part of any blame if anything happens to her."

Shino scowled, but the man couldn't tell because of his glasses and coat. "Your honor will remain intact. I'm the acting leader of this team for now. It's my decision, and I'll take full responsibility."

Odiri still didn't look pleased, but relented. "Very well. I'll not hear a word of this spoken to anyone else. Abandoning a girl in a place like this? It's shameful!"

Kiba was snarling a little, but was getting annoyed with Odiri as well. He was more worried about covering his ass than he was about Hinata. He had little doubt that if the man ever spoke of it, he'd be telling others they had to beat him and tie him up to get him to leave the poor girl on her own. He looked at Shino. "I don't like this. Hinata is acting weird, I don't like just leaving her."

Shino nodded. "I know. We've got no other choice. She made it clear that she was leaving whether any of us liked it or not last night. There's nothing I can really do to stop her, we can't carry her back by force. We'll have our hands full as it is. She refused her orders and we must still follow them."


Tayuya scowled at the boy in front of her. "What?" She was wearing an apron and had a serving tray in her hands in a small restaurant on the main street of Konoha.

Sasuke was sitting in one of the booths with his hands folded in front of his face. "Shouldn't you smile at customers?"

The girl leaned in and pointed at his face. "I hate you. I'm only here because I have to be. This is my 'work release job'. I can't quit, and I also can't get fired short of burning the place down. Then I'd be back in my cell at least, so I'm considering it. What are you doing here again? Thinking of having my ass mounted on your wall?"

He shrugged and turned his eyes towards her. "That's not a bad idea. You are my first catch, even if you are a bit small."

The redhead snarled. "I knew it. You're just here to stare at my ass again, you pervert. Stop dropping by."

"I was coming here long before you showed up," replied the boy. "They make good tea, and the gyoza isn't bad. It was better before you started working here because it was quiet."

The owner walked up with a smile on his face. He was a kind looking old man with a balding head and a thick bushy mustache. "Ah. Sasuke! It's been a while since I've seen you. How are things?"

The boy nodded at him and didn't smile. "I've been working a lot lately."

The man nodded. "Yes. We're all quite proud of you. Not the boy who used to come up here and eat his own weight in dried squid snacks anymore eh?" He gave a chuckle and walked away.

Sasuke looked annoyed and a little flushed.

Tayuya had an evil smirk on her face. "So, let's say two hundred fifty bags of dried squid then?" She pulled out her notepad and looked ready to take his order. "Would you like that to go? I'd like that a lot more, because you'd be fucking gone."

"Just some unsweetened cold tea, to go." He glanced at her. "I've got the day off today, so if you sweeten it just to be a twat, I'm going to sit here for a good long time and drink it. Get it right, and I'll just leave."

She narrowed her eyes at him. "You're a prick. Take your stupid order and get lost."


Sasuke Uchiha was leaning against a wall with a small frown on his face. He was in the shadows of Konoha with his unsweetened iced tea in his hand. It was his day off, and he just wanted to be out of his home for a bit. He did it on occasion, and used the opportunity to train his stealth skills. He was out of sight but just off a main road, people were walking by and chatting. He half payed attention to what they were saying. There were a couple of people talking about the Hyuuga having difficulties with the Hokage over something. No one seemed aware of exactly what, and it was mostly assumed that the clan had a bit of difficulty adjusting to the new Hokage. It seemed to be settling down, and people were relieved by that. It was the only thing that had caught his attention for a time, but a group of three men started by. One of them was a Hyuuga, and he had a large grin on his face that seemed unpleasant. He was the tallest of the three and had long dark hair that hung to the middle of his back. All three of them were dressed in police uniforms.

"I'm going to make that bitch squeal. Heh." commented the Hyuuga as he appeared to be boasting with his friends. "I'm so lucky to have gotten this assignment."

The other pair looked a bit nervous about that. One of them was a blond man who had a smirk before his friend's comment. The other was a short man with short cut black hair and a stocky build. The shorter one spoke up. "I don't know about that. I mean, you could..."

The Hyuuga gave a snort. "Get in trouble? The bitch is a prisoner of war. I can do anything and no one will care."

The blond man nodded. "He has a point. I say she deserves it. Sound scum."

The shorter man cocked his head and gave a small sigh. "I see. I heard she was one of the ninja who attempted to assassinate the Hokage. I suppose there's no harm in it. I met her once, and she's a real bitch too. That mouth of hers was downright unladylike."

The Hyuuga looked pretty smug about it. "Yeah. I'm the one responsible for keeping an eye on her. I say the word, and they'll lock her back in a tiny cell. I've got my own personal toy for a while. If she resists, I'll kill her and say she tried to escape."

The Uchiha boy narrowed his eyes. He'd kept up with the conversation from behind, following after them as they walked by. He'd heard enough and let them go. A moment later he was leaning against the wall again as before, he sipped at his tea again and scratched the side of his head. After a moment of thought he shrugged and sipped at his drink, continuing to watch people go by on the street.


It was early evening. Inside a small run down shack in Konohagakure a rather unpleasant scene played out. "You heard me bitch. Take your clothes off. Now. You want me to throw you into a cell?"

Tayuya scowled as she stood up and glared at the ninja before her. "No." The pair were facing off in the small shack the girl now lived in. "I'm not going to do that." She was by a small wooden table in the main room, there was a small bedroom and another door to a toilet and small shower behind her.

"We'll see," said the Hyuuga with a scowl on his face. "I'll get what I want. I could just kill you, say you were trying to escape and I caught you in the act. It would be easy, and no one would question it."

The girl shrugged. "Go ahead, fucktard. I could care less. You think I want to live in this little slice of fucking hell you've given me? Fuck off. Kill me and be done with it. I'm already dead."

The man snarled. "You bitch. I'll make you show some respect!"

"I wouldn't recommend moving, if you want to keep your head." A soft voice spoke up as the man froze in his tracks. Sasuke was standing beside him with his sword across the man's throat.

A little blood dripped down the man's throat and he backed away with wide eyes. "Who? ANBU? What are...?" He narrowed his eyes. "It doesn't matter. This is police jurisdiction. You've got no say in the matter." He stood up tall and frowned at him. "You should leave now. I could have you in chains for what you have done as it is. Assaulting an officer and interrupting the performance of his duties."

Tayuya was standing behind her chair and gripping it, her face had gone red and her eyes bloodshot. "What the fuck are you doing here? Asshole! Get lost! I don't need your help!"

"Shut up," replied the boy in a calm and quiet tone. "I'm not here to help you. I overheard what this coward was planning while he was running his mouth about it on the street."

She seethed and seemed to grind her teeth as she became angrier. "So fucking what? I told you I don't want your help. Let him kill me! It will be a fucking relief!"

The man smirked at the young ninja. "You're not wanted here. Get lost. There's nothing you can do, even as an ANBU, you can't touch me. No one will believe you if she doesn't speak up, and I doubt that will happen. She's pretty angry, maybe she even wants it? What do you care? Isn't part of your job killing Sound Ninja?"

Sasuke shook his head. "Actually, I do have the authority to kill you. I am a hand of the Hokage. I have more than enough to justify my case. I would have to report my reasons to her, and that would be the end of it. I'll remind you she's a woman and doesn't approve of this sort of behavior at all."

The man snarled. "What? Boy, you don't know what it is you are messing with. I'm on the police force. We look out for our own." He took a combat ready stance and narrowed his eyes. "If you fight back, it will only add to the charges against you."

Sasuke shook his head. "Well, there is that. Plus, my team has had issues with the Hyuuga recently. Wouldn't want to compound the problem." He rubbed on his chin.

Tayuya tossed a plate at him and the boy ducked. It was metal and bounced off the wall behind him. "Yeah. So get lost, you fucking pervert!"

Sasuke cocked his head at that. "I think my old boss was a bad influence on me." He couldn't honestly deny that charge as he'd ended up at the Fox Den after overhearing the plot to try to calm himself down a little and mull over what to do about it, if anything.

"You're not taking me seriously?!" roared the man in anger as he realized the ANBU wasn't paying attention to him.


The man froze as men started to walk into the room from the door behind him. The chief of police was glaring at him with the Byakugan in a very stern look. "I think I've seen about enough." He turned to Sasuke. "Thank you for bringing this to my attention." He then looked at the man again and gave a cruel looking smirk. "I just saved your life. He was right, he does have the authority to eliminate you without involving us, and if he had we never would have found your body."

"S-sir!" stammered the man in shock. "I...I..." He had gone very pale and closed his mouth to swallow hard.

Sasuke started to walk away. "Well, I'll let you handle it then."

"I didn't want your help!" snapped Tayuya at him.

"He's a bad cop, and I want him off the streets of Konoha. This is my home, and I can't trust scum like this to protect it." He passed the Police Chief and walked into the night. "I could give a shit about a bad tempered brat like you."

"Fucking prick!" snarled Tayuya. "Stay the hell away from me!"

The Police Chief frowned at her. "You should show more gratitude."

She scowled at him. "For what? He's the reason I'm stuck here like this in the first place. You want me to thank him for capturing me? Fuck off old man. I'd rather just have you assholes execute me and be done with it."

He sighed and shook his head as the men with him took the stammering soon to be former cop into custody. He turned and left the home. "Why not just end it yourself?"

She turned her head and glared at the wall. "I'm too much of a coward."

The man nodded. "Maybe that's how you ended up here? You shouldn't blame us for that."

Her head snapped around and the door closed just in time to have a vase shatter against it. "You prick!"


"What the hell are you doing here?" Tayuya scowled at the boy standing in her doorway the next morning. It was nearing afternoon, but he'd woken her up anyway. Her new job kept her up late and she slept through most of the day. The prisoner was not very pleased at having an early visitor as it was. Who it was just made things worse.

Sasuke looked annoyed. "You're my prisoner. When I got rid of that cop, responsibility for you fell into my lap again. I have to keep an eye on you until the mess is cleared up and they can assign someone else to watch you. Shouldn't be more than a few days or so."

"What?" said the girl as her eyes went wide.

"Relax. I just have to pop in sometimes and make sure you're were you're supposed to be. I don't plan on talking to you if I can help it." He crossed his arms and didn't look pleased. "It's annoying, and my job takes up quite a bit of my time. I don't like this either. I might not have done it if I'd realized how much trouble it was going to be."

"In other words, you'll be popping in all the fucking time, staring at my ass, and watching me shower and shit, while stroking your tiny deformed penis in the dark where I can't see you?" She looked livid.

He seemed to think about that. "Yeah." He nodded and shrugged. "It's only temporary. I'm going to make sure someone else gets stuck with dealing with you as fast as I can manage, believe me."

She slugged him across his jaw. "No way! It's not worth it! Kill me, because I'm not going to stand for it! I'll kill you if you don't!" She screamed and dove at him.

"Do you ever shut up?" he groused as he sidestepped with his hands in his pockets. "It sucks for both of us. I don't like you either. You're a foul mouthed bad tempered twat."

"You're an emotionless dip shit and you look like a friggin girl!" she responded as she dove at him again.

He grabbed her wrists and pulled her arms up to catch her as she dove. "Knock it off, will ya?" He craned his neck as she attempted to headbutt and bite him. "I'm just gonna go until you calm down. Later."

She jerked one hand free from his grip and snapped at his face with her teeth. Sasuke couldn't dodge in time and she clamped down on his bottom lip. His grunt of pain was muffled by her face as she managed to get her other hand free and push against his shoulders. Her teeth scraped against his lip as she pulled back, but nothing came off. He was left with a bloody lip and a surprised expression on his face. He'd actually gotten off easy considering what she'd done. "Ouch!" He cried after she pulled away with an angry snarl on her face. "That hurt you cunt!" He had managed to get a hold of her wrists again and she pulled and tugged lightly to try and free her hands again. "You bitch, you bit me!"

Tayuya jabbed her head at him again and stepped on his foot as she did so, preventing him from backing off to dodge. His grip had gone loose again and she pulled her hands free, wrapping them over his shoulders as she turned her head a little. Sasuke put his hands on her sides and didn't push her off, mostly because she had her tongue in his mouth.

The girl broke off and snarled again. "Did you like that? Because it isn't..."

He put his finger over her lips and looked at her with a bit of a daze in his eyes. "Look. I've got a thing for red hair, so just shut the hell up and keep going." He kissed her again.

She broke off and turned her eyes away from him with a blush on her cheeks. "Fair enough. I'm not a virgin. Don't go expecting me to be all giggly and shit. I can tell already you're going to be a shitty lay. I'm just horny, so don't go thinking..."

"My old boss owns a brothel," he replied with a shrug. "I get services there for free, whenever I want."

"What?" The girl got wide eyed. "No way you're a bigger slut than me!"

Sasuke leaned in and whispered into her ear. "That sounds like a challenge."

She narrowed her eyes and dug her nails into his back as she bit into his shoulder a little. "Oh, it was, lightweight." The started ripping each other's clothes off as they stumbled towards the bedroom.


Sasuke froze up for a moment as he walked out of the girl's home or prison, depending on the point of view. It was late, and the only person on the street was a shadowy figure leaning against a lamp post. "Naruto." His eyes went a little hard.

The figure turned his head and seemed amused. "I'm not going to scold you, don't worry. Though, considering the circumstances, it could be trouble if word got out."

"I'd vouch for him. I hate his guts, but it would be more trouble for me to get involved with something like that. I'm in no position to..." Tayuya walked out and seemed to realize they were both surprised. "I'm a trained ninja too you know. My chakra might be sealed, but I'm still not stupid, or weak. I noticed him stop outside suddenly."

Naruto nodded. "My point exactly. You're in no position to vouch for him. The Hyuuga might not take it well. We don't need to be stepping on their toes." He seemed amused as he settled back down to leaning on the post. "You two do make the cutest couple. Just be aware of what you might be doing to yourself, Sasuke. I think you can stay out of sight, but don't get caught this way again."

Tayuya's eye twitched. "What the fuck did you say you little..."

Sasuke crossed his arms and turned his head away. "Do you have a point? I can handle myself."

The hooded ninja chuckled. "Yeah. I wanted to talk to you. I could care less about this, I'm just offering a little advice. There are people who would welcome the chance to accuse you of the same crime you prevented earlier. Try to avoid giving them the opportunity. As for why I'm here? I want to talk to you, about Itachi."

Sasuke's eyes went dark and he scowled at him. "What's to talk about?"

Tayuya was annoyed, but seemed to realize that she had no reason to be interested in the conversation and went back inside her home. "Don't hang out in front of my place," she snapped at them both.

Sasuke and Naruto looked back at the door as it closed and started walking away down the empty street.

The hooded ninja kept his voice down and his head low. "Plenty. You can have him, but he's involved with something that effects Shadow Realm. That's stepping on my toes." Naruto glanced at his former teammate. "I want you to keep me informed about anything you might find about him. I'll return the favor. I've been hearing things about this 'Akatsuki' but nothing that can tell me who they are or what they are doing. I've learned a little though, it's supposedly a group of very powerful missing nin. I found mention of it in the intelligence we gathered from Orochimaru's base. I'm pretty sure that Orochimaru was a member of this group, but he attacked Itachi and was expelled. Since then, your brother has been partnered with Kisame Hoshigake, one of the Seven Swordsmen of the Mist. There are several other teams and they travel in pairs. Also, I've heard they are unusually diverse for a terrorist group. The members are not from a single country."

Sasuke seemed to calm a little. "Isn't some of that classified?"

Naruto hung his head a little. "My loyalty is not to Konohagakure. Besides, you're an ANBU and my tattoo doesn't seem to think telling you is off limits." He rubbed at his arm a little as he said it.

The dark haired boy gasped. "Wh-what?" He balled up his fist and stared him down. "That's treason. You..."

His former leader shook his head and chuckled. "Don't be stupid. I'm my own side in this. I have been since I signed my life away to Tomamo. I'm not committing treason because I'm the leader of one of Konohagakure's largest allies. I'm not a Konohagakure ninja anymore. I'm training this team, and then I'm finished. I won't be remaining here in the village. Though, I'm not planning on sitting on a throne and kicking my heels up either."

"You're going rogue? You'd be a missing nin if you did that," Sasuke seemed almost amused and a bit cocky.

"Huh? Nah. No way I'll end up a missing nin. We'll be seeing each other around I think, if only when I come back to visit. Part of it is being a diplomat after all. Tsunade doesn't want to upset us, we're useful allies and I have a particular attachment to this place. It is home after all. Not to mention, I've got a good political relationship with the Damiyo."

"I think I get it," Sasuke seemed to think for a moment. "You've been talking about this with her, haven't you?"

The blond seemed to think on that. "Pretty much. Something is going on that's bigger than Orochimaru could handle. He got in over his head, tried to screw them over for his own benefit and got burned. Your brother and his partner are currently the only real leads we've got right now. I'd also like to put this situation with Sound to rest before I get too far into that if I can. Tsunade knows I can't stay if I'm going to be king. She hasn't said anything so direct, but I'm not stupid and I've caught the hint. We're too useful and powerful as allies to not just let me go, and we have a common enemy. I don't think this Akatsuki group is going to be received well by the Ninja villages, they're considered a terrorist group by pretty much everyone from the sound of things."

"What is my brother involved with?" asked Sasuke.

"I just spent the past couple of minutes explaining to you that I'd very much like to hear that myself. If you find anything out, let me know." Naruto hung his head a little.

Sasuke narrowed his eyes a little. "Next time just say so."

Naruto gave a small sigh. "I did, but apparently the blood you were using for your penis a few minutes ago hasn't arrived back to your brain yet." The blond popped his arm. "That good, huh? Weird. She's bitchy and has a nasty temper. Not to mention, she's a prisoner of war, and that's risky. Seems like the sort of trouble you'd avoi...never mind. I almost forgot who I was talking to for a moment." He chuckled and looked up at the stars with his arms crossed.

Sasuke shrugged. "She doesn't talk much, she's direct, likes to be left alone mostly, and she bathes regularly."

Naruto cocked his eyebrow and leaned back. "Been keeping an eye on that have we? Don't think I haven't noticed you've developed a taste for red hair. I expect you'll be doing it again then?"

"Yes. I'm pretty sure I will." He shrugged at him, he was also a little annoyed. He seemed to catch the hint that Naruto was telling him, 'I shouldn't have been able to catch you like this, you should have known better' by teasing him about it. It was a bit annoying. "I screwed your Aunt."

Naruto cocked his head. "Huh. She must have been pretty hard up. She kept trying to have lesbian sex with me in Kumogakure. I got the impression she didn't care much for men at all. Her little girlfriend was fun though."

Sasuke pulled his head back a bit in surprise. "Wait. You stole your Aunt's girlfriend?"

The blond shook his head. "More like 'borrowed'. She was trying to use her friend to help seduce me a little as well, so she kinda asked for it. To be honest, the impression I got is that the entire political scene pretty much works that way normally. There was quite a bit of screwing going on in that village, some literal, some not."

Sasuke seemed to understand the reasoning. "Oh. I guess I see what you mean." He seemed to drop the subject immediately after getting a grasp of it. "So, what does that make us exactly? Last I checked, you were still a Leaf Jounin."

His former team leader looked up at him with a dangerous looking smirk. "Shadow and Fire are allies, but I am the King of Shadow Realm. I cannot split my loyalty. I'll not harm Konoha or Fire, but I will not choose them over my people. However, at the moment, I am still a Konohagakure ninja. I will remain one until I leave the village for good."

Sasuke frowned at him and nodded. "Heh. So that's it. Hokage figured you out and booted you off the team?"

The blond nin nodded and seemed amused. "That's about the size of it, yeah."

The dark haired nin glanced over his shoulder at his former boss. "What's Shadow Realm's interest in my brother? I get why you're after him. You specifically said Shadow Realm has an interest though." He didn't look back as he asked.

Naruto cocked his eyebrow a little, perhaps he was paying more attention than he'd originally thought. He knew Sasuke wasn't really stupid, he did get the top grades amongst the boys in the class. He also knew him well enough to realize that little detail wouldn't have caught his attention normally. "I've reason to believe they were after the Queen. I want to find out why. We're less interested in Itachi than we are in this organization he's in. Like I said, you can have him when you're ready. I need to know what he was up to, and what it has to do with my wife."

Sasuke seemed surprised. "Huh? Why not let them have her? I mean, she is a giant monster who tricked you into marrying her. You have to protect her son and all, but why save her?"

The blond cocked his head. "She's a total babe. Seriously, mega hot. Being evil just makes it better. I'm not so bad off with this deal as a lot of people seem to think. Plus, she can do this thing with her tongue..."

The dark haired boy seemed to think about that. "I guess that's a good reason. All right, I'll keep you informed if I find anything out. You seem to know a lot more about it than I do. Thanks for the info." He put his hands in his pockets and walked away. He frowned a little as he found himself strolling alone. "He's right. I can't get caught, at least not anytime soon." He glanced over his shoulder and didn't have a hard time admitting to himself that he was indeed going to do it again. She wasn't all talk and knew what she was doing. He could tell she was enjoying it, but she didn't smile. He found that appealing for reasons he didn't fully understand.


Shino frowned as he looked at Kiba. The boy was struggling to his feet, covered in sweat, and gasping for breath. His wound wasn't infected, but he was severely weakened. He'd lost a bit of blood and was still adjusting to the loss of his arm. Akamaru whimpered at him a little and sat down.

They were in a small town inside a temple. Shino had filled several containers with blessed water. He was now lugging around several gallons worth. "Kiba, get back in bed." They had spent a couple of hours there with the priests of the temple. They were glad to help and were familiar with the problem that plagued Whirlpool. It was clear they wanted the group gone before nightfall.

"Huh? We've got to get moving. We can't..." growled the boy as he leaned against the wall.

"You're too weak to continue. You're staying here," replied Shino before he finished.

"What? No way! I'm..." Kiba raised his voice but couldn't yell.

Shino looked at the worried priest. He was a bald old man with a beard in a simple brown robe. "You'll be fine with him. They are after the man I'm guarding and won't bother with him. Take care of him until he's well enough to return to Konohagakure."

The priest gave a small frown but nodded. "I understand."

"Don't be stupid I'm..." grumbled Kiba as he staggered forward.

Shino shoved him in the chest and sent him back into the bed. Akamaru ignored it and panted looking passive. "Shut up. You're slowing us down. I can defend the two of us long enough to make it now that I have enough water. You're a dead weight right now. You'll stay here."

Kiba floundered in the sheets and ended up on his knees on the ground. "How dare you! I'll..."

His teammate looked down at him through his sunglasses. "You're no good to us dead, Kiba. Right now you're no good in a fight and you can barely walk."

He pounded his fist on the ground and sobbed. "I know...but..."

Shino gave a sigh. "I understand, and I know you do as well. Stay here. Once you are well enough, return to Konoha. I'll be there when you arrive. Our mission comes before our pride."

The dog trainer didn't lift his head up, but gave a solemn looking nod. "Y-yeah."

Shino turned away. "I'll collect my other companion and be on my way. Please, take care of him."

The priest helped the boy back into the bed. "Don't worry too much, it shouldn't be more than a few days. Whoever dressed your wound knew what they were doing. I doubt you have to worry much about an infection."

"It was the same bitch that cut it off to begin with," grumbled Kiba irritably as he let the old man help him.

That got an odd look from the priest. "Well. I suppose it could have been worse. Trust me, infection is not the way a young man like yourself should like to die. There is no honor in it, and it is very slow and painful."

The young ninja looked at his stump. "Yeah. I'm grateful."


Hinata looked down at the street with a cold stare. Behind her the moon was rising over the ocean of grass. She was on the edge of the broken capitol of Whirlpool. It had once been a grand place, but now it was a shithole. Spread out before her were a thousand broken down hovels, taverns and shops in disrepair, and empty broken streets full of garbage that had not seen repair in many years. She was under a cloak that blew in the wind behind her. The wind was strong, but it didn't stray too far from her body because it was weighed down by the arms hidden within it. The inside was covered in small compartments and loops for various weaponry. Every Konoha ninja owned one, though most used it as little more than protection from the weather.

In the daylight hours it was a haven for missing nin, criminals, and scum. In the evening, the streets were barren. She was on the roof of an old inn just inside the gates to the capitol. She had bought a room inside, but wasn't about to stay there. Several of the patrons had given her looks that made it clear that she wasn't safe there. There was little doubt someone would come sneaking into the room looking for trouble in the night. In a place like that a young and soft looking girl traveling alone was a target too good to pass up.

She didn't care. She wouldn't be there and she was not there to bring law and order to criminals and perverts. She hunted something much darker that night.

Her face betrayed no emotion as she looked out over the streets in her cloak. She knew why they were all but empty. She could see them, her eyes were more than those of the peasants who hid in their homes and the thugs that cowered in the bars and inns. They were in the shadows, marked by their red chakra. Hunting in the darkness for any who might stray into the night.

There were about fifteen around the entrance to the town. It was the place where unaware travelers were most likely to appear. She didn't know their habits and didn't understand that, but realized that there was an unusually large grouping of them around the outside of the inn.

"Best get started then," she jumped down to the middle of the street and landed in a crouch in the center of a large grouping.

They all noticed her at once and looked surprised as she stood up in the middle of them. The things circled and began to close in around her.

The hood cocked a little and she put one of her arms up opening the cloak. "Could we get started. It's a long night, but I don't have that much time really."

"Who the hell are you?" growled one of them as it backed away looking cautious.

"Just some kid," replied another.

One of the beasts sniffed the air. "She smells young and sweet. Rare."

"How lucky for us," agreed another.

"A bit small for all of us though," growled one of the larger beasts.

Hinata was motionless through all of this. "Are you finished talking? If you're so hungry, come and get me."

The cautious one backed away further as the others moved in. "Hunter," it muttered as it slipped away.

The rest roared and became more monstrous in appearance as they moved in ever closer to the girl. It was obvious that they though she was unaware of what she had encountered.

"Not so brave now are you?" chuckled one of the things as leered at her through its fangs. It's face had become wrinkled and inhuman looking.

"Brave?" she asked as she turned her hood towards it. "I'm getting impatient. You're all too slow and this is taking longer than I wanted it to."

"I don't sense any fear, something is..." muttered one of them.

"Yes, you are all within the field of my Hakke," replied the girl. She bent low and spread her arms with a kunai in each hand. "It is already over."

One of the vampires gave a small gasp. "What?" The girl became a blur of motion and bounced from one monster to the next in an explosion of chakra driven movement. When he looked down at his chest he saw a delicate hand smudged with ash gripping a kunai knife that was driven into his chest.

"And so it begins," she said as she pulled her hand back as he vanished and crumbled into a pile of smoldering dust. She turned and looked towards the palace at the center of the broken city.


The palace throne was lit by torches hanging from the wall. A pale skinned man with long dark hair sat with a bored expression on his face. The body of a young woman crumpled to the floor before the throne. Her skin was tight and she looked almost mummified. He looked no more than fifty and had a goatee that brushed the top of his chest as he lounged in his seat.

A figure who stayed out of the torchlight as he walked onto the worn red carpet in front of him spoke up. "Killed another have you? I halfway expected you to make a pawn out of this one. She was prettier than most."

The figure on the throne gave a snort. "Too many mouths to feed as it is. Tell me, Idan, do you grow tired of this existence?"

The man in the shadows growled a little. "I didn't come to have a boring conversation. You've got a problem. A hunter, unusually powerful."

The vampire didn't look worried. "So go and deal with er then. I'll not be bothered."

The shadow gave a rough snort. "I'm not your subject. We're partners. Deal with it yourself." He hefted a weapon over his shoulder. "I only came to warn you because it was the last request of this one before he died." The shadow's arm moved and a head rolled into the torchlight. It was a vampire head and looked horrified.

"Must you do this to my children?" grumbled the seated vampire.

"Like you said, too many mouths. It's not like a lazy old fart like you cares anyway. Listening you talk about how fucking boring everything is bores me even more."

"You'll understand soon enough," grumbled the vampire. "Such slaughter loses its entertainment value after a few centuries. I'm opeful you'll get more creative soon."

"I'll kill you before you get to see it," grumbled Idan as he turned away.


Hinata opened the twelve foot doors before her with a simple push and walked forward with a frown on her face. Two sets of armor clattered to the floor in her wake as they became filled with ash. She walked forward and looked around. She was covered in dust and a small cloud was produced by her cloak with every movement she made. "I did not expect to make it this far in only one evening." Her eyes settled on the throne.

"I probably should ave said something to my guard. Owever, I was too lazy to bother." The thing on the throne stood up and dusted off its long dark cloak. "I ad a meal this evening, but it was smaller than usual. I suppose I could go with a snack."

Hinata narrowed her eyes and set herself with her weapons ready.

Behind her was an open balcony with a man seated on the railing looking on. He was ignoring them and looking up at the moonlight with some sort of weapon over his shoulder.

"Idan, you are not going to join us?" asked the creature.

"Fuck off. Deal with it yourself," grumbled the man as he continued to look up at the sky.

Hinata glanced over her shoulder and frowned a little. His chakra wasn't normal, but it wasn't like that of a vampire either. She would have to be wary of him. "I've come to destroy you."

"Yes. I know," the monster rolled his eyes and looked unconcerned. "You are stronger than most. I see that. A shame you ave overreached. I am more than nine undred years old. You ave come ere to die I am afraid."

Hinata charged and slashed at him. She hooked her leg into several kicks and sliced through the air trying to hit him. He dodged with no real effort and didn't move much. He took a few steps about, but remained in near the same position.

Hinata growled and backed away a little. She wasn't expecting it to be an easy fight, but he wasn't taking much effort to dodge her. She took a deep breath and closed her eyes. "I can't be afraid. I must win!"

"You will die," said the old vampire with a heavy sigh. He didn't look very interested in the fight.

The girl set herself and moved her arms forward in a slow motion. "I shall destroy you."

"I doubt that," replied the man. "An exorcism dance? It as been a few years." He waved his hand to becon her forward. "Come then. We'll see ow well you can dance."

She moved towards him with the precise motions of years of practice. Time slowed down as she spun and waved her arms through the motions of the dance. The vampire arched and stepped aside as she moved through where he was, always one step ahead of her dance.

He looked interested after a moment. "Such skill. I've not seen such a dancer in a undred years. You are to be commended, but it is not enough."

The girl gasped and her dance ended. "You think not?"

The creature's fangs grew longer. "I'm afraid not. It grows late, and I must..."

"Yes. I know." She stepped back and put the index and middle fingers of her right hand up in front of her face. "You are within my seal, monster. I bind you. I banish you!"

The monster looked down at his feet. "I see." There were white glowing lines on the ground and he was in the middle of a mystic circle. He screamed as a pillar of light enveloped him and flexed his claws.

The thing growled as it stood before her looking monstrous. Two large wings spread from its back and its head no longer looked remotely human. Beams of light were binding its hands, neck, legs, and wings from the outer edges of the circle. "Impressive. The morning is still two ours away, and you do not ave the strength of will to old me that long."

She frowned at him and kept her hands up. "We'll see."

"This grows annoying. Idan, do you intend to do nothing but watch?" It looked back and saw the man on the balcony was gone.

Hinata gasped and took a staggering step back. Her eyes were wide and shocked.

Three blades were jutting from the vampire's chest from behind it. A younger man with gray hair was standing behind him with a look of rage in his eyes. "How many fucking times do I have to tell you? My name is Hidan you blood sucking leach!" He pulled the weapon out of the monster and hacked at its neck with his tri-bladed scythe. The thing's head rolled away and landed at Hinata's feet.

She scowled at him and readied her weapons. The vampire burned away between them.

He looked at her and gave a chuckle. "I suppose I should let you go this time. After all, I could never get that bastard to stand still long enough to kill him. It was nice of you to hold him down for me." He turned away. "Fuck. I hate leaving survivors." He started walking away and looked over his shoulder at her. "If we meet again, I'll kill you. Normally I would anyway, but he's been getting on my nerves for a long time. I have no choice but to be a little grateful this time. Fucking demon hunting bitch."

Hinata wasn't sure what to say or do. The man was less than human and evil, but he had just helped her out. She looked at the vampire's remains and then turned her eyes back at where he had gone. "I suppose I should say the same then. Until next time." She had a feeling she wasn't strong enough to take him yet anyway.

She walked over to the balcony and looked up at the moon. She did not believe that she would have been strong enough to hold the creature until morning. It had been a rash mistake on her part and she would have been destroyed before then. "It seems I have much to learn."

With that, Hinata put her leg on the balcony railing and looked up at the moon for a moment. She looked back over her shoulder at the pile of dust the monster had become and then down at the silver kunai in her grip. "For Kurenai sensei." She closed her eyes and turned to walk out of the palace again.

She paused as she looked over her shoulder back into the throne room as she walked through the doors again. "Demon hunter? Am I?" Her face became conflicted for a moment and then relaxed. "So be it." With that she vanished into the darkness again without another word.


Naruto was balanced on two stacks of bricks with one hand holding a book that he was reading. He was holding himself above the ground and seemed to be putting no effort out to do it. His students were grunting and groaning around him. Each holding themselves up in a push up position by balancing on top of small stacks of bricks. Beneath each of their bellies was a candle that kept them locked in that position. "Ten more minutes to go." He said lazily as he scratched at his ear.

The trio was covered in sweat. Hanabi was scowling and had her teeth clenched together. Konohamaru looked used to the exercise, but not comfortable with it. Midori was glaring at the back of her instructor's skull with bloodshot eyes and a strip of duct-tape covered her mouth. She growled at him as he gave them an update on how long they'd been at it.

The Jonin hadn't even started teaching them about sealing their chakra. Konohamaru already knew how, but the other two weren't developed enough physically to start. They were in shape as Genin ninja of course, but it would take much less time to teach them to move again if he got them into better shape first. He seemed to notice the two girls were a bit annoyed at him over the exercise. Hanabi didn't look upset, but it was clear she didn't like her position much. "You know, this is how I learned. I won't ask you to do anything I'm not willing to do myself. I'm using the same training methods my masters used."

"Masters?" asked Hanabi as she arched her eyebrow. She struggled for a moment to keep herself upright but regained her balance.

"Yeah. I've studied under three great Masters, and well, several super perverts. That training was a little different though. You should know of Kakashi, you've probably heard of Jiraya the perverted Senin, and I'm afraid I can't tell you much about the others. They don't like it when people talk about them." Their instructor nodded and seemed cheerful.

Midori was glaring at him and looked like she'd be muttering expletives at him if she could. She was in fact, but it was muffled and silenced by the tape over her mouth. Exactly why it was there. Naruto was quite pleased with himself for thinking ahead that way.

"Time is up." Naruto glared at the candles and a small light formed in the back of his irises. A small breeze put them all out and the trio of students slumped to the ground with shocked expressions on their faces.

"Whoa! Awesome!" muttered Konohamaru.

Midori ripped the tape off her mouth and gasped. "How did you do that?"

Their leader blinked and cocked his head. "It's useful for putting out candles and lighting campfires, but that's about it. I couldn't teach you how to do that."

Hanabi gasped. She didn't know much about what happened between her father and her new master. She knew something was going on between them though. She did know her father wanted her to be on the team with him. "A new...eye?"

Naruto chuckled. "No. It's nothing like that." He gave a small sigh. "I've learned a little magic. It's no big deal. I have a lot of chakra, but very little magic potential. I can learn a few small tricks like that, but that's about all."

Midori frowned at that and didn't look to trust it much. Her mouth was a bit red from removing the tape. "Magical potential?"

Naruto nodded. "That's right. Families that specialize in Genjutsu techniques tend to have high magical potential. There are a lot of genjutsu techniques that use a lot of magical energy."

The Hyuuga girl looked confused. "You mean chakra?"

Their instructor shook his head. "No. It's different. You can use chakra to manipulate magical energy. The kitsune do this naturally for example. They don't use much chakra for their tricks and illusions. It's mostly magical energy, which is why their illusions can't be matched by human Genjutsu. Many Genjutsu techniques use chakra to manipulate magical energy to create an illusion. It's one of the reasons ninja with lower chakra are often so good at the school. Usually there is a balance between the two, those with less chakra potential are more able to use magic."

The brunette girl scowled at that. "I've never read anything like that. You just made that up."

"I believe him," said Konohamaru as he looked at her. He didn't seem upset about it.

"You would," grumbled the irate kunoichi.

"There are a lot of things in the world you won't find in that library," replied Naruto with a casual looking shrug. "It doesn't really matter if you believe me or not. I'm good at finding things out."

The girl narrowed her eyes at him. "Oh yeah? What's fifty percent of fifty?"

Naruto blinked. "Huh?"

Konohamaru hung his head. "Uh oh."

Their instructor looked annoyed. "What do you mean 'uh oh'?"

The irate brunette kunoichi smirked. "Stop acting like you're so great at everything. You're not you know."

Naruto frowned at her. "So? I never said I was. What's your point? What have you got that I can't do?"

"I can tell you the answer to that problem," Midori gave him an evil smirk. "You suck at math."

Naruto narrowed his eyes at her. "Now look..." He glanced over at Konohamaru and noticed him stifling chuckles. "What is it?"

He looked away as he pulled his hand off. "She's totally right, bro-sensei. You're horrible at math. I failed every math test I took when I studied with you."

Their leader stiffened up. "So? I'm not an accountant. I'm a ninja, your superior, and your instructor." He growled a little and turned away from them. "All right. You all know what's next. Time to work your abs to muscle failure again." That would make him feel better. "Come on, only a thousand crunches to go, and then we can have lunch."

"Great going," grumbled Hanabi as they all started getting on their backs.

"Like we weren't going to do this anyway," replied Midori.

Konohamaru gave a heavy sigh. "I hate to say it but she's right this time, Hanabi."


Naruto had frozen in place and had his eyebrow cocked. He was holding a folder that the Hokage would treat like a dead racoon and hand it off as soon as she could. Probably to Shizune, as she stopped by to clear off the corner of the woman's desk where such busywork piled up. It was just a training report, they hadn't taken a mission that day. Genin didn't always get an assigned mission, there were stretches of several days mixed into their schedules for training purposes. Naruto had noticed that his schedule included a few more of those days than most Genin teams in the near future. The scene was not unusual, with the exception of the blue haired woman standing beside his boss's desk.

Umi smiled and waved at her nephew. "Hey."

"Um, hello. Didn't expect to see you again so soon." He shook himself out of it and seemed to brush it off. He didn't bother handing the report to the Hokage and just put it in her pile on the corner. He'd noticed she didn't like to touch training reports with her hands if she could help it.

His aunt turned away and walked towards the door. "Well, I won't keep you any longer. I'll catch up with you later, Naruto. I'm sure we'll have plenty of time to talk."

He looked towards the woman behind the desk and found her looking at him. "Well. I suppose I should tell you that she's your next assignment."

"Huh?" muttered the boy as his eyes went blank.

The Hokage looked a bit more somber than normal that day. "Don't worry, you're on defense this time. I know you can handle it, and it will be good for your team. It's a C ranked mission, the first one for you and your team."

"What are the details?" he asked as he relaxed and crossed his arms.

"Well, I'm not handing it over to you until tomorrow. It's still being processed. Basically you're to try and make sure things go smoothly in Whirlpool. The team that went there before succeeded, but the price was high. Kurenai was killed, and Hinata is missing. We presume she's dead, but if you can find any information about what happened to her we'd like you to investigate. It was a mess, but the danger is largely passed as I understand it. The people aren't exactly upset with the fall of their government, but..."

The boy gave a nod at that. "Asuma isn't going to like that."

"He's been informed," replied the woman. "I'm giving his team a few days off so he can recover. He tried to talk me out of that, but we're not at war right now. I can do without him for a few days."

"I'll have to offer my condolences when I see him again," said the boy as he looked at her. "There are probably a few groups who won't care much for someone who isn't them sitting on top. Probably just thugs for the most part. As for Hinata, I'll keep my ears open. Hanabi may be of use with that. She'll know her sister, and may notice something I wouldn't." He paced a little as well. "Who are we protecting?"

"Lord Odiri and his Ambassador. You already know one of them," she sat back in her chair and seemed to think on it. "Shouldn't be too much trouble. The window of opportunity is small in a situation like this. Once things settle down a bit, Odiri should be safe. Whirlpool hasn't had ninja since the last great war, and there isn't much incentive for the other clans to take action against it. Having things settled quickly and one more chaotic region stabilize is good for everyone. Water Country is a good example in recent times."

"Not the friendliest place though. Some might think of it as a poor example," replied Naruto. "Ninja combat may be unlikely, but it is also very possible. There are a lot of missing nin in the country. The chaos there made it something of a safe haven for them. Are you sure you want a Genin team on this one? I'll take any work you hand me, you know that. Still, this doesn't seem like the sort of situation where we should be collecting a C ranked rate. Umi isn't paying herself this time, no need to give her a break on the price. I don't mind handing this off to a team with more experience at a better rate. These kids are still green."

Tsunade gave a nod. "All right. You're half right at least." She belted her head against the desk. "I suck at this job. She talked me down." She scowled as she furrowed her brow and started grumbling unpleasant things about a certain old man. "I'm giving it to you anyway. You've got personal ties to this."

He looked away. "All the more reason for me to worry about it. I'd like to see my aunt again, but I can't let it distract me if I'm working. I'm a poor fit for this job, even if the team could do it." Umi did have a way of throwing him off and keeping his attention.

She leaned forward and chuckled. "Yeah. I know. Look, one of the reasons I'm sending you is because of this situation with Hinata."

"She thinks I'm a vampire. I may not be the best choice for that either." He hung his head as he realized he wasn't going to talk her out of it. "Hanabi may be useful, but I'm not so sure Hinata will react well to me being there."

She frowned at him and nodded. "Yes, well. You are to relieve Team Kurenai of their duty. It's time to bring them home. We've lost a lot in completing this mission."

"Yes, I will," he replied. He gave a small bow and turned to leave her office. The mission rubbed him wrong on some level. Tsunade was handing him this because it was his mess, and she wanted him to prove he could clean it up. He wouldn't have said a word if it had been his old team going with him. The genin would make things a little more difficult though. Not impossible, but he had to consider their inexperience in his plans now. He wasn't planning on failing of course, but it would take a little more thought than it might have before. He was going to have to handle the bulk of the work himself, all he'd done thus far was physical training to prepare them for the more advanced training he'd be giving them. That was a bit annoying.


Naruto strolled through a small temple in Whirlpool with his hands behind his back. The rest of his team was on the way to the palace already. He turned down a long hallway and walked through a door on the right and into a medical facility. He paused and looked around for a moment. "Kiba, Akamaru, I trust you're recovering?"

The boy had a frown on his face and was sitting with the curtains shading his features with his hood pulled over his head. "Yeah. They want me to stay another two days. I think I'm strong enough to make it back on my own. How is everyone?" He gave a humorless chuckle.

The Jounin remained serious. "Hinata is missing. She's disappeared."

The hooded boy seemed to relax as Kiba got a somewhat serious expression. He still looked weary, but certain. "She's fine. Well, not dead anyway." He looked at his only hand. "I'm pretty sure." He didn't really know how he knew that, but it was a strong gut feeling.

"Then she is a missing nin," replied Naruto simply. "I doubt she'll be classed as a criminal, but she's considered rogue at the moment. I'm not sure how that might play out to be honest. I hope she returns soon."

Kiba nodded and Akamaru gave a whine and put his head on his paws beside the bed. "And Shino?"

Naruto gave a reassuring nod. "He logged the report with the Hokage. Odiri now control's Whirlpool. Your mission succeeded."

"At what cost?" growled the boy angrily.

Naruto didn't respond for a moment. "I didn't know Kurenai. I'm sorry for your loss, and I'm here to pick you up."

Kiba looked confused. "Huh?" He tried to scratch the back of his head with his stump and winced a little. "Hey. I can make it on my own. I didn't need an escort or anything."

The hooded ninja shook his head. "No. I mean you've been temporarily reassigned to me while my team and I complete our mission here in Whirlpool. When we're finished you'll travel back with my team to Konoha."

The dog trainer cocked his head. "Say what?"

His peer in age and not in rank simply shrugged.

Kiba scowled. "Wait. If that's true, you'd have a signed order from the Hokage. I want to see it."

Naruto actually seemed to cheer up a little. "I don't need one. I'm an ANBU captain and a Jounin. I have the authority to do it on my own initiative."

The boy scowled at him and put his feet over the side of the bed. He looked groggy, but seemed to be coming out of it. "Don't you have a genin team or something now? You're a former ANBU."

"Who says we leave the ANBU when we take genin teams?" replied the hooded boy simply as he leaned against the wall. "That's just a rumor, isn't it? Or is it the other way around? Hmmm..."

"Asshole. Fine. Anything that's not just sitting here in this bed. I'm sick of it." Kiba lurched to his feet and stretched. "Ugh. I'm stiff as a board. I've been in that bed for a week." He popped his back and grunted. Akamaru was panting at his side looking a bit lazy himself. He'd been up and about as much as he could of course, but the first few days of his stay he could barely stand. He was able to move about more, but still wasn't fully recovered, and it was obvious.

Naruto uncrossed his arms and cocked his head. "Hey. I can help with that actually."


Kiba was leaning against the wall outside the room he'd been staying in. Some very loud yips, growls, and snarls were coming from inside. Naruto was leaning against the other side of the door with his arms crossed. Kiba was feeling much better and seemed to be fully awake. He did look a bit worried though. "Wow. Me...and my dog?"

The hooded ninja gave a small shrug. "Well, she is a Kitsune."

Kiba had gotten quite a massage from the violet haired girl Naruto had summoned. He was still feeling a bit flushed about how it ended. Naruto had abandoned the room and he'd found him leaning against the door as the girl transformed into a fox and started doing things to Akamaru that were making things a bit uncomfortable. He tried to shoo her off of him, but Akamaru had growled him off. He'd just ended up leaving and leaning against the wall with his temporary boss. "What's that mean?"

The other boy realized his companion had no experience with the foxes. "This sort of thing is normal. Just, don't worry about it."

The genin looked over his shoulder with wide eyes at some of the noises that were coming from inside the room. "Are you sure she's all right? It sounds like Akamaru might be hurting her..."

Naruto cocked his head. "Nah. Those are good sounds for a fox."

Kiba scowled at him. "That's just weird man. I don't even want to know how you know that."

The jounin chuckled. "Yes. Well. It sounds like things are winding down."

Akamaru and Kira trotted out of the room, shook off their coats, and walked over to their regular companion and sat down looking pretty calm and relaxed on the whole. Akamaru thumped his tail on the ground and looked up at his master seeming to ask for further instruction.

Kiba gave a small sigh and looked at his temporary boss. "So, now what? I'd better not get in trouble for this when we get back."

Naruto nodded. "You won't. Come on, you know a lot more about this place than I do. I had to ride here in a carriage for diplomatic reasons. I didn't get to see much of the land, and I need you to fill me in on the lay of the land around here."

The genin shoved his hand into his pocket and gave a snort. "All right. Just don't expect me to do too much. I'm not used to my hand being gone yet. It damn near killed me, and I'm not at a hundred percent yet. I could have made it back on my own fine though. It's not that difficult a trip." He got a dark look in his eyes as he said it. "Hinata...she'll be all right?"

Naruto gave a shrug. "I can't say what will happen to her. I suppose it will depend on what she has to say if she ever returns. I'm not sure how the Hyuuga will take this. She's a member of the main branch, and they may not take having an unprotected set of Byakugan eyes outside of their control very well. I think the clan will at least attempt to capture her and bring her back if nothing else. I suspect the Hokage will not get involved unless they fail several attempts to retrieve her. If nothing else she has time. She's not been branded a criminal yet. I'm hoping we can find her first. Maybe clear this up quickly and quietly."

Kiba narrowed his eyes at the boy. "What do you mean 'clear this up'?"

"I've got no orders to hurt her, or capture her. I am to attempt to make contact, and if possible convince her to return with us or on her own. It doesn't matter which." Naruto seemed to understand his suspicion. "Don't worry. I'm not here as an assassin. I've got her sister as a genin on my team, and I have diplomatic ties to Whirlpool already. Contacting Hinata is a secondary objective. I'm here to protect the stability of Whirlpool by keeping Odiri alive long enough to cement his claim and take control." He glanced at the genin walking down the hall with him. "I like to complete secondary objectives. It's an obsession really. I think you'll be of use in that. She's not very trusting of me. I'm a bit worried she might not take my presence well."

The genin chuckled. "Yeah. I can understand that. You seriously creep her out."

The blond nin nodded. "Yes. Exactly. Having you with me, as well as her sister, may help with that. It might even be best if I keep out of it and let you and Hanabi be the ones to contact her."

Kiba looked a little suspicious, but nodded. "I guess." He was feeling much better being on his feet. Getting a good rubdown had helped too, and he didn't mind the finish. Having her go for his dog right after was a little strange, but he wasn't upset about it. Akamaru looked pretty mellow and passive. He wasn't all right though. His teacher had died, he'd lost an arm, and it didn't feel much like a victory to him.

Naruto glanced at him. "Don't worry. I'm not planning on running you around with my team. I might ask for a hand, but you're mostly on the sidelines for this one."

"I'm not weak. I'll be fine," growled Kiba. He was still a bit sensitive about his missing arm and noticed how Naruto had put it. He wanted something to do, something to take his mind of things for a bit. He decided to just let it slide and see how things went.

"No, but you are injured. It's going to take time for you to adjust and recover. I'll keep you busy, but my team will be taking care of most of the work. I'm supposed to be instructing them after all." Naruto slapped him on the shoulder and lead him through the temple's hallway. "Relax. It'll be nice to see someone else stuck with the grunt work for once, won't it?"

"Har, har," growled the boy. He wasn't feeling bad about it all, and it would be nice for someone else to take care of most of the boring work for a change. Akamaru trotted up beside him looking pleased and relaxed as they left. He made a point of stopping to thank the old priest who had cared for him and his dog, and with that they went on their way.



AN: Due to the amount of comments about it, I feel I should add a comment here. First of all, not only is Naruto married to a giant monster, but he's also the ruler of a large group of spirit beings who have magical powers. Kitsune are a form of monster themselves. Not to mention if you consider the nature of some of the members of Akatsuki, a few of them are real monsters as well. Orochimaru created zombies, Sarutobi summoned the Monkey King, Naruto is full of Gods, Demons, immortals, and monsters. Vampires may have been unexpected, but are hardly out of place.

Also, no one has mentioned anything about vampires to Naruto at this point. All he knows by the end of this chapter is that Kurenai's team succeeded but barely survived the mission, she died, Hinata went missing, and Kiba was severely injured. That's all he really knows about what happened so far.

Some people are commenting on stuff I edited and fixed a couple of hours ago.