Chapter Six: The Call of Demons
"I want to know just what the hell is wrong with you that you didn't even report about you getting your son and staying here, Kushina. Do you know the nightmares of the security measures that are being enforced on your son? Oh wait, how about the time that I had to deal with all the section chiefs and that particular spat with the Kazekage? Don't even get me started on that one!"
Kushina had the phone in her hands away from her ears as far as possible while listening to Tsunade's rant. The mother of the heir apparent simply sighed and replied to her, "I didn't expect it too, Tsunade. I've made it clear to them before I left that I reported to the corps and I was ready to head out to find my son. I've informed them that I located Naruto and I'm going to get a hold of him the day I left. Now that they placed a bounty on my son's head, then Jiraiya's suspicions can't be written off that easy."
"I thought as much. At first, I just wrote it off as one of the pervert's excuses. But after thinking this through, I realized that it could have been all true. His suspicions ultimately have merit."
A pause was present in the conversation before Tsunade asked Kushina, "Do you know something about this? Ever notice some strange behavioural patterns concerning one of he elders, at least?"
Kushina gave an indignant huff at this, "Aside from them being total jerks, not that I know off. I don't know how the hell Minato managed to put up with them all his life."
"Are you absolutely sure about this? Because if you are, then the implications are terribly unsettling, it means that someone is controlling one of the noble houses." Tsunade asked. Her voice was grim. The more they thought about it, the more serious the situation turned out to be.
"I have an inkling suspicion, though. Out of all the heirs, Naruto has yet to receive the rite of succession. The ceremony is the moment where the entirety of the noble houses recognizes Naruto as not the heir of the Namikaze household but its formal leader." Kushina mentioned, melancholy making it known to her. How time flied so fast. She could still clearly remember holding her son with her arms when he was still an infant.
"What does that have to do with the desperate attempts?"
"The ceremony isn't just a recognition event; it's also the moment where Naruto and the Kyuubi's Jewel would have to be at its most vulnerable state. Because it is the moment where Naruto would try to subdue its power and reinforce the seal. By that time, Naruto would be placed alone in the room of sealing, where he's most vulnerable to be taken away."
"You're saying that whoever is after your son, will most likely strike during the rite of succession?"
Kushina affirmed her suspicions as she talked to Konoha's section chief, "That may actually be the case."
Kushina could hear Tsunade's exasperated sigh over the phone as she said, "Your kid is fine right now, right?"
At this, Kushina seemed to perk up as she said to the phone with a smile, "He's with his friends right now and having some sightseeing done. It's the most he has had fun for a long time. I've never seen him so active!"
"Kushina, you're being too lax with your own son's safety. The people I've sent to guard your son can't even qualify as good bodyguards probably except for one. Heck, they can't even be qualified at anything involving our work! Let me recall them and give you better bodyguards. This is your son's and the country's security we're talking about here!"
Kushina would have none of it, though.
"Sorry, Tsunade, I'm going to stick with what you've given me. They're a really odd bunch, but they've recently done wonders for my son. Heck no am I letting a bunch of stiffs go anywhere near my son! He already has a lot of them back home!"
The chief growled out in frustration at the Namikaze matriarch's stubbornness.
"Don't be stupid! Your son is most likely being chased down by the country's most viscous crime lords for all we know! There are already rumors flying around about that they're placing the boy as a bargaining chip to grab the Namikaze household's power! You can't possibly be putting the fate of your own son in the hands of my most dysfunctional team not with the current predicament!"
At this, Kushina shook her head and clicked her tongue as she lectured the section chief, "Tsunade, Tsunade, Tsunade, don't you know that you need to trust your people to get the job done from time to time? A bunch of misfits will turn to the most unlikely team given the right circumstance. Isn't that what happened to you three?"
"Yeah, and look where it got us now? One of my teammates is a world famous smut author while the other went bat shit crazy for some reason or another. Gee, I wonder how many wonders THAT will do to Kakashi's team?" Tsunade replied, sarcasm dripping out of her voice. Kushina dismissed it as just another moment where Tsunade was just venting her stress. Honestly, she wondered how long Tsunade got laid.
Not that she had a right to say something on the matter of course; but Kushina's last time with Minato was when after she gave birth to their one and only son.
"That's not the point, Tsunade. What I mean is that those kids grow better when they are faced with the most unlikely situations. Give them enough time, I'm pretty sure they'll impress you with their progress sooner rather than later."
"For your son's sake, I hope it's sooner rather than later, Kushina."
Kushina simply smiled, "Oh, don't worry about that. Besides, his bodyguards aren't the only thing that's keeping him safe. Now if you please excuse me, I need to polish something."
That something, Tsunade noticed, was probably Kushina's weapon, Yakumo Tatsu (Eight Clouds Rising).
Like Minato, Kushina was infamous throughout her career as a member of the corps. Kushina hailed from one of the Namikaze Clan's most trusted adjutant families. The Uzumaki was a clan of fierce swordsmanship and seals mastery, something they have gotten from the clan household itself. Kushina had a different style in holding her weapon as she was able to mix her swordplay with multiple elements and a very wild and unpredictable style of swordsmanship.
Along with her red hair, she had gained a fierce reputation within the corps as the bloody habanero. Something that brought chills down to the spines of her enemies during the days of her service.
Now, being a supposedly single parent, Kushina had no choice but to quit her job as a member of the force and had to raise her son without the doting and condescending eyes of the Namikaze Household's council. In all respects, Kushina was the closest thing Naruto had for a best friend. She watched her son grow alone and be labelled as the heir. She was her son's only lifeline for sanity back then, as the people from the house made their son pay the price of his father's disappearance.
But now that Naruto had friends he could get along with and skills to help him along the way, she could focus much more on something else.
And that something was getting rid of anyone who dares lay a foul hand on her son. Her only proof left of Minato's love for her as well as the boy she loved from the day he was born; Kushina would never let anything take away her son's happiness. Even if it meant going up against the very people that allowed shelter to her, being the wife of the Namikaze Head.
"I swear to you, son, I'll destroy anyone that will try to take you away from me."
With that, Kushina grabbed her Katana from her room and silently went to her private training hall to once more polish her skill at her already deadly swordplay.
With Naruto and the Others:
Many bystanders were staring at their group as they walked around the mall while they guide Naruto in his exploration.
"Wow… So this is a mall." He said in awe while looking upwards, a moment of childlike wonder escaped his face.
"There are so many things to see in here! I'm not even sure what to do!"
Seeing a boy wearing the traditional light blue kimono and a black Hakama underneath a navy blue haori was an uncommon sight around the people from the city.
"I knew this was going to be difficult the moment I saw his outfit." Sasuke muttered holding back an urge to grit his teeth in annoyance.
"It was either that or he wear the Showa era outfit." Sakura reminded but Sasuke didn't seem convinced at all.
"I could care less. He should know that we needed a low profile, and this is as low profile as a celebrity showing his face in broad daylight." Sasuke scoffed at it, forcing Sakura to glare at the Uchiha at his comment while Sai simply gave a creepy smile.
"It matters not, it's either that or it's the uniforms that we're wearing that seems to have the people staring." Sai commented referring to them wearing their standard issue Corps uniform making all of them stand out in the crowd, even Hinata wasn't safe from Kakashi's instructions.
"That lazy no good officer of ours wants us to act as decoys, I'll bet. He wants our enemies' attention be diverted away from the real members of the security team." Sasuke mentioned this as they watched Naruto enter the department store.
"Is it really? I don't see anything wrong with that. So far, it's been relatively peaceful and people have this non-verbal perception that they need to stay away from you guys." Ichigo mentioned this as Chad, Tatsuki and Orihime all nodded at the same time.
"I-It's because they work rather covertly without other people knowing. F-For all we know, they would have probably taken down quite a few bounty hunters just outside our field of vision." Hinata informed them causing Ichigo and Tatsuki to raise their visible eyebrow at this.
"Oh, you guys work like super spies, huh?" Orihime asked, doing her best imitation of a spy by hiding under a cardboard box that she just randomly found.
"Is she always this ditzy?" Sakura asked, watching Orihime coming out of the box and pantomiming her hands as if she was holding a gun.
"From time to time, she gets her dose of insanity this town is known for, but apart from that she's easier to hang out with than Keigo and the others." Tatsuki commented earning a smile from Orihime as if she was proud of herself.
"That means she's probably above Sasuke in terms of being sociable." Sai mentioned earning a glare from Sakura. The last thing they needed right now was dissent and she did not want to have another conversation involving insults and praise. She turned to Sasuke thinking that the Uchiha might be offended at Sai's words but surprisingly, he shrugged.
"I can't help it if I hate you all."
To the rest of the gang's response, they should have expected that answer from Sasuke.
Chad scratched his head at the Uchiha's matter-of-fact tone of answering, "Well, at least he's being honest about it."
Orihime raised her hand as she seemed that she wanted to ask a question, "If that's true, Uchiha-kun, then why do you continue to let us hang out with you and not go with the rest of the super spies?"
Sasuke merely raised an eyebrow at this and answered normally, "I have a lot of tolerance."
"That or he just likes to freeload. Kushina-san makes really good food and from what I can tell, you'll feel like you've been eating sewer water all throughout your life until you've tried hers." Sai mentioned, causing Sasuke, this time, to glare at their blunt companion while the others held a green face from Sai's comparison.
"So, what if I like her cooking? You'd be missing half of your brain to dislike what she cooks up." Sasuke defended.
"Now that got me curious. Maybe we should pay Naruto's place a visit next time just for the food." Tatsuki mentioned this, half joking, half serious.
"I bet Luffy would be endeared with that idea." Chad commented earning nods from everyone else.
"Speaking of which, that guy couldn't come today, any of you know why?" Ichigo asked while the rest of the members shrugged.
Naruto had just exited the store with a goofy smile on his face while all the saleswomen were telling him that he was an idiot for entering one of the changing rooms while a person was indecent. He apologized with an abashed tone of voice after that when he heard about the gang's topic went to Luffy.
"So how about we go and visit him then?" Naruto asked, an excited look that could tell he really wanted to do it told them that they almost felt like they didn't have a choice.
By this time, Sakura grabbed her teammates and huddled together to talk about their game plan.
"I refuse to follow that idiot's whims any longer! From what I can remember, Luffy usually hangs out by the old docks downtown, you know that place right? That simpleton would be throwing himself to the wolves if it happens!"
Sakura knew that part of town as the lawless area, or at least, a despot of people trying to run away from the law. Their branch claimed no jurisdiction there but she was pretty sure that majority of the area is owned by either a politician or a wealthy businessman. She forgot but it certainly doesn't erase the fact that it was a perilous location.
She wondered how Luffy and his crew manage there.
"The boss surely likes to put on a bold move even though he prides himself in being subtle." One man said, reading several papers that told him about their current fugitive, the daughter of Arabasta's CEO.
Another voice, this time that of a woman, chuckled as she stared at the picture of an aqua haired girl and one that resembled the heir of the Namikaze household, "Two clan heirs in the same span. Ambitious but admirable, Mr. Zero does what he does best, taking and monopolizing opportunities."
The other chuckled as well as he continued, "He assigned him to capture the heir, huh? Not exactly someone I would want in a retrieval mission. He has a lot of 'accidents' anytime the boss wants him to be his errand boy."
"But he knows more about the corps than any of us here so I can at least add a stipulation to get the clan heir here without as much as a mangled limb here and there. If I was Mr. Zero and if I were about to tangle with the Corps, I would put my investments on the person who knows more about it than I do. You need not to worry, Mr. Five." The woman mentioned.
"You worry too little. Demon has a mean streak as a member. Whatever job he's usually involved in, there's got to be some form of casualty. He's dangerous like that. People of his kind are better off locked up in an asylum. Sometimes I worry about your trust in the team, Ms. Valentine. Demon would most likely be a threat to the boss after he gets what he wants."
"And that is?" The woman now identified as Ms. Valentine mentioned with a smile, either fully aware of their current situation or she was completely lost.
"It's money that he wants, the greedy bastard. Boss must like to keep him because he works efficiently. But aside from that, one of them would discard each other given the chance." Mr. Five mentioned this as he tipped his sunglasses down and looked closer at the picture of their target.
Poor girl had the gall to infiltrate their group while Mr. Zero already knew who it was. It never became apparent to her that they were just egging her on and their plans were never really true when they talked about it in front of her. They were simply after her from the start.
"Do we have a lead for the girl?" He asked and Ms. Valentine gave a smile, "Yes, we've managed to find her in the lawless part of town. She was seen with an unusual pet that we can tell is a moose."
"There is a moose in Japan? Are you serious?" Mr. Five asked incredulously while Ms. Valentine gave the man a copy of a shot of their target indeed with what looked like a moose with a red top hat.
"Yes, our scouts say that they saw her just a last afternoon as they were strolling around. Apparently, she was saved by a group of ruffians that just started and subsequently ended a gang war just a few months ago. Details are vague since there weren't any concrete statements about just who or what the group is, but they tell us that they were 'freaks'."
"Freaks, eh?" Mr. Five mused out loud before grinning slightly.
"Ms. Valentine, I think it's time we take a visit to Ms. Vivi and her little friends."
A smirk escaped his lips as he said those words.
To think that a small group of misfits had a sense of understanding with each other that so few people ever have was somewhat of an oddity for everybody else.
Even for Vivi, she found it completely unbelievable just how these people could stand being with one another everyday despite their squabbles and petty arguments that led to either bruises or a severe contusion with both requiring a trip down at the doctor's room.
She didn't even want to THINK about what the Doctor was, she was already confused enough.
"Luffy! If you come into the kitchen and ask when is your next meal one more time I'll smash this frying pan on your face!"
Vivi had to stop her thinking for a moment as she saw Luffy running away from Sanji who was carrying over his head a frying pan and a skillet.
"Man, I can't find a decent bed in this dump." Another voice decided to make his presence known as the man with the green hair walked over to Vivi's side with an expression that told him he was drowsy.
The green haired teen looked over to her with that fish eyed expression and asked her, "You there, you know where some of the beds are? I'm kind of feeling sleepy right now."
Vivi then pointed wordlessly to the small ward that the honest-to-goodness reindeer for a doctor uses when treating his patients, which was constantly used more often than not because of countless injuries that this ragtag of misfits and sociopaths constantly had to go through just by being around one another.
She couldn't help but feel somewhat sorry for the cute animal.
Her thoughts were suddenly cut off once more when she saw Zoro heading to the opposite direction, Vivi, curious enough, just had to ask.
"Where are you going, Zoro-san?"
Zoro turned back to her and answered Vivi's question as if it was rhetorical, "To take a nap of course. I'm going to that ward because those guys are too noisy."
Zoro pointed to Ussop who was looking like he was tinkering something then to Nami who was reading a book.
"Uh, you're pointing at the wrong directions." Vivi kindly corrected Zoro who growled at the girl's statement.
"Don't tell me where I should point, lady! I know where I'm going!"
To that, Zoro once more went to the opposite direction to where Vivi pointed.
'You don't even know where you're going!' Vivi mentally screamed as Zoro went to who-knows-where.
She heard a scream and something hitting flesh inside and immediately turned and saw Luffy's head planted to the floor while Nami was carrying a broken bat.
"You're too noisy, be quiet." Nami replied in a flat voice as she went back to her book while the Moose-Doctor was attending to Luffy's wounds.
"Aren't any of you going to stop Zoro and lead him back here?" Vivi asked while all of them, even Luffy whose head was being excavated by the Moose-Doctor, shrugged.
"He'll find his way back. He's just too prideful to admit that he has problems with directions." Nami replied while flipping through the pages, Vivi had a bead of sweat at the back of her head as she looked at orange head and then to the rest of the misfits.
"Marimo has tendency to get offended when people point out his shortcomings be it directly or indirectly. It's just one of his many ugly personalities." Sanji mentioned with disdain as he was going back to the makeshift Kitchen that Ussop had built.
"And you don't?" Ussop mumbled while rolling his eyes as he read some schematics that Vivi was sure that involved the entire warehouse.
"Oh man, I'm hungry again. Sanji! Is it meal time yet?"
"SON OF A BITCH, LUFFY, I TOLD YOU IT'LL BE READY WHEN IT'S READY!"
She had to stifle her laughter slowly. Because even though they might be a bunch of no good misfits, even though they show that they were showing that they hate each other, she could tell that they understood one another, that they could tell how each other behaves at one point and the next. She couldn't exactly tell why, but being around these people sounded fun.
Her momentary bliss was cut short when she heard something outside, something other than what she had come accustomed to inside. It was different yet all the same. It was then that a thundering sound, shaking the earth and making it seem like a giant somehow stepped near. The deafening sound occurred just to the entrance of the small warehouse, where Zoro was very close.
A sudden chill crawled up in her spine, as something made her want to throw up.
No, it was them! It was the agents! They found her! They were going to take her away! Every single one of the people here will die just so that they could get to her!
She had to run, get away before they could do anymore damage to these people that were kind enough to take her in! She had to run for their sake!
Her panic suddenly came to a stop when a hand touched her shoulder.
"Are you okay?" Luffy asked to her, and Vivi's thoughts changed from her panic to worry.
"Get away from here! There are people after me! People with connections! If you stay with me now, you'll only get killed!"
Luffy looked at her seriously and then upwards to where Nami was who was holding her head, but seemingly looking at the entrance and completely focused of the task at hand.
"Two people, a man and a woman, they're outside intimidating Zoro and making a mess of things outside. Be careful, they're just like the rest of us."
Luffy only gave a single nod before turning back to Vivi.
"Stay put and don't go anywhere, you're safer here than outside." Luffy said in a serious tone before walking outside, holding with him, Zoro's three swords that he uses in combat following Sanji, hands in his pockets and a stick of cigarette in his mouth.
"You people have no idea who you're dealing with! You'll die!"
Luffy simply turned back to her as did Sanji, the two of them merely gave a grin at her while Sanji replied,
"I think it's them who should know who they're dealing with. We took down a Warlord of the Underworld after all."
"No, you should run! You people definitely won't survive!"
"And then what?" Luffy asked the girl as Vivi promptly kept quiet.
"Do you think it'd be safer just because you manage to get away? The more you try to run, the worse it will get. So that's why, whatever it is you're thinking right now, throw it all away. Because you won't be able to say anything that could convince me with my mind made up." And with that, the group leader and their cook walked away while Ussop grabbed her and escorted her along with Nami to one of the warehouse's safest areas, namely, the underground shelter.
Outside, Sanji, Luffy and Zoro were staring at two people, a man and a woman, as Nami had mentioned, standing right in front of them. Smoke and dust billowed between the two as the wind carried it away, revealing a portion of their hideout was struck down with the two watching casually at them.
"I expected a little more out of the group that took down one of the Warlords. I didn't think that they looked like THIS." The male spoke as Luffy, Zoro and Sanji's face turned into a scowl.
The woman simply giggled at their expressions as she said while twirling her orange umbrella, "Come now, must you people give us that face? We should be the ones feeling angry here. After all, you have something that belongs to us."
Zoro seemed to scoff at it as Luffy handed him over his swords while tying up his bandana on his forehead.
"I ain't interested in your hobbies, lady. Now scram before I chase you off our property." Zoro mentioned this as he drew his swords just after putting one between his teeth.
"My, my, a brat and already acting like an old man. I pity the day that you get to have children." The lady commented, earning a smirk from Zoro.
Just then, Zoro dashed at the duo like a shark sensing prey. The swordsman leaned closer down to gain more momentum as he charged at his first likely target, the guy who was disgustingly picking his nose.
The man simply pointed to Zoro who was dangerously getting close to him and aimed his booger at the swordsman and flung it with his finger. Not fully understanding what the gesture had meant, but decided to act nonetheless, Zoro crossed his right leg before his left causing him to spun, gaining much needed space to dodge and countered with swords, already in mid-swing of a horizontal slice and cleaving the offending projectile with the sword in his left hand.
The projectile was divided into two while the other fell down just behind Zoro, the other hit the roof top of their hideout, both exploding and causing Zoro to lose his balance while another booger was aimed at his face.
Zoro cursed as he was suddenly left exposed to the sights of the man with the shades, the swordsman knew that the man's target was his face. The shot never came though, as Sanji had immediately jumped at the chance to kick the man's arm that sent the disgusting projectile upwards and then following it up with another kick, this time straight at the man's chin. The agent barely dodged the blow as Sanji's foot grazed the man by the cheek but quickly drawing blood. Sanji landed down on the ground crouching as Luffy appeared from behind, ricocheting himself at the assailant head first.
Luffy literally flew to the agent at impossible speeds while he shouted, "Gomu Gomu no Gattling!"
His rapid fire punches easily appeared as he neared the agent. Sanji was quick to jump to his left as Zoro went to the agent's side, intent on taking him down or at least immobilizing him for Luffy's attack.
The agent cursed.
He had never expected this group to be able to put up a fight like this one. As he was about to brace himself from the swordsman and the berserk fist fighter, an umbrella suddenly interrupted Zoro's swing and an intercepting kick straight to Luffy's face skidding the boy on the cement floor.
Surprised by the umbrella's sturdiness, Zoro jumped back before another strike was about to be made at him. He glared at the person who had stopped his attack midway and dropped his stance.
"Oh, you didn't forget about me did you?" The woman asked, opening her umbrella once more and twirling it before setting it on her shoulders.
The man beside her simply turned his head in disdain and the female agent sighed, "Must you be so prideful, Mr Five?"
The man, now identified as Mr Five, replied, "I had them, Ms Valentine."
"Getting almost pummelled and sliced to bits doesn't sound like you were in control, Mr. Five." The woman replied, clearly joking, as she was chuckling at the event earlier.
"They caught me off guard, I guarantee you that it won't happen again." Mr. Five mentioned this as he picked his nose once more and this time, he aimed it at Sanji.
"I underestimated you lot. I thought you were all people that are in above your heads to think you could take two agents of Baroque Works. I guess I didn't take you all seriously, for that I must apologize." Once he was done rolling the offending projectile at his hands, he aimed it at the cook in training.
Just then, the man's projectile flew at a speed faster than it was before, and this time, Sanji was the one caught of guard.
Sanji was sent flying back from Mr Five's direct hit to his chest spewing Sanji's blood from the wound he received.
Luffy looked in horror and watch Sanji struck down by the projectile and falling down on the ground in a pool of his own blood. Luffy turned his vision back and saw the man aiming for him this time.
"Onigiri (Demon Slash)!"
A streak of aquamarine and white had almost sliced him in to ribbons as Zoro appeared just in front of him, with his blades dangerously close to cutting him down. But it was Zoro's attack was blocked in mid swing by the appearance of the lady in orange with her umbrella. Zoro cursed inwardly and resorted to another technique.
"Tatsu Maki (Dragon Twister)!"
Zoro spun. His powerful swing caused an updraft of wind from his surroundings as the woman was sent spiralling upwards with a powerful gust of wind in the shape of a spiralling dragon with the lady losing her balance, she was sent flying away from the swordsman as he went for the agent next.
"Now you've pissed me off." Zoro said those words with a cold tone. As if his words chilled the very earth itself.
"Gomu Gomu no Rifle!" a spinning extending arm zipped its way to Mr Five who had once more barely dodged the blow and hitting a small rocky area, crushing it to dust from Luffy's attack. The agent turned back to the black haired youth and no longer was it a face of determination; this was a face of rage.
Such an attack was unforgivable. These people will pay!
As Luffy retracted his arm back, his other spinning hand already on the launch, his rage was like a raging fire that felt almost impossible to quell.
Luffy jumped when he saw the agent jump from his place. The rubber boy spun in mid air, rolling forward like a baseball slamming on to the agent. Latching on to his opponent, reeled his head back in quite a distance stretching back to impossible lengths that astonished Mr Five.
"Gomu Gomu no Kane!"
Luffy's head snapped back as he saw the boy's head crashing to his face at an impeccable speed.
Mr Five felt his word spinning as he was suddenly slammed with an obvious headbutt that he couldn't exactly react to. By now, he felt himself being mercilessly thrown on to the ground when his legs were harshly grabbed. The concrete floor cratered from the force of the throw and from his weight. Trying to get a sense of where he was and paying attention around him, Mr Five felt two strong and blunt sensations on his abdomen and saw Luffy already pulling his legs back. He was about to get up when Luffy was about to perform his rapid fire fisticuffs while descending to him like an unholy bomb intent on wiping him out.
Luffy never did manage to connect though, as an orange meteor suddenly intercepted him and sending both it and Luffy down to the other side of the area as a small explosion took place around it.
Luffy could feel a crushing weight threatening to tear his body apart as he was sent down to the floor that gave in from the force of the impact. Above him, the female was standing. Her orange stiletto shoes were stepping on his abdomen as she was smiling down at him mockingly.
"Ah, I always did have a sense of accomplishment when I take people by surprise." Ms Valentine commented as she looked down at Luffy who could only glare at her as his mouth seeped with blood from the force of her attack.
"Nothing personal, Mr Rubber, but you forced our hand." With that, Ms Valentine folded her umbrella and out of the tip of her accessory popped a single pointed blade.
Her pleasant demeanour turned deranged as her smile became twisted, crooked and homicidal. Luffy could only watch as she raised her umbrella with the tip pointing down at his head but was suddenly stopped by three swords that blocked her from killing her target.
Zoro interfered with the killing blow and dashed at the woman who by now jumped back at an incredible distance.
'Is this lady the same as Sanji? That's some considerable airtime only Sanji could pull!' Zoro thought in surprise as he ran at the woman with his hand swords now just above his mouth.
"Tora Gari (Tiger Hunt)!"
Zoro slashed down, intent on taking this woman down but was suddenly struck from behind by the other agent. Zoro flinched from the blow, but still, he kept his stance while he charged at the other agent. As he neared his opponent, Zoro let go a pair of powerful downward slashes that the lady easily avoided but not before swung the blade in his mouth sideways to deal a light cut on the lady's abdomen that had barely gotten out of that attack alive.
The lady stopped and looked down on her orange tank top, taking note of a small drip of blood falling as Zoro was suddenly pounded once more with another set of explosive boogers that made him lose his balance this time.
Burned and wounded beyond what many humans would consider, Zoro managed to still stand at that and turned back at the man with a very dangerous look in his eyes.
'You damn pest! I'll take care of you first!' Zoro thought as he shifted his target from the woman that looked like she was shocked at first, thinking that she wouldn't do anything threatening to him for a while. Zoro ran at the man and jumped in midair, his blood spilling on the ground as he did so. He spun wildly as he approached the black man with the sunglasses who was now grabbing small marbles from his pocket. With a wide grin coming from his face, Mr Five began flicking them at Zoro continuously as the swordsman began thrusting his swords multiple times.
"Yasha Garasu (Yaksa Crow)!" Zoro shouted, hitting the marbles with the tip of his sword in a continuous display of thrusts and spins. The marbles exploded and sending out countless shrapnel around them as it pierced Zoro's skin and cutting him as he persevered with his attack as smoke soon surrounded his form.
Zoro burst out from the smoke, bloody, burned and cut. The only thing recognizable left with him was his aquamarine hair as his whole body was battered. Still, he persevered and continued his thrusts at the male agent that was trying his best to evade most of his attacks that were now noticeably slower than a few moments ago.
With a thrust to the abdomen that Mr Five evaded by bending back slightly, Zoro saw his chance and immediately charged in with Oni Giri.
It was not to be though, as pain coursed through him like never before on his lower torso. He looked down and saw a pointed object protruded from Zoro's abdomen stopping him from ever cutting down Mr Five. Turning back, he saw Ms Valentine with a dishevelled look on her hair, breathing heavily and a scowl that was worse than anything he could see in a woman. Her arm was outstretched with her umbrella pointing towards him.
Ms Valentine mercilessly yanked her umbrella out as Zoro fell down on his knees. He could not speak, too surprised by the sudden movement that the woman had did.
Zoro looked up, his attention focused on someone that called him, he saw Mr Five pointing at him and finally firing his projectile at him as it exploded just right at his face.
Zoro fell down backwards, his swords falling down from his grip as he was struck down without remorse.
He couldn't scream and he couldn't feel anything. He couldn't tell just how much he was bleeding, but he could feel that something was shaking him furiously.
'I'll get you back for this.' Zoro said it as his last thoughts before fading to black.
Mr Five watched in subtle amusement as Ms Valentine kept kicking the downed boy with a furious look on her face.
To make her bleed like this, to make her take her job seriously was infuriating for her! This boy deserved every beating that he could get from her!
"Stop it, Ms Valentine. We have a job here."
As if a switch had been turned, Ms Valentine stopped and turned to the warehouse, but not before giving the half dead boy another kick as his blood stained her stiletto shoes.
As they were about to enter the warehouse, a stretched leg swept both of them from their feet and the wind was knocked right out of them.
They crashed to a nearby dumpster and looked at the source of their hindrance. It was the black haired boy, looking at them with much contempt.
"You're not taking a step in Merry any further!"
Stunned by the boy's sudden attack, they were both unprepared as Luffy began charging at them while he spun his right arm before stretching it.
"Gomu Gomu no Pistol!"
The arm stretched at impossible lengths and going by far as fast as its name implied. Both Mr Five and Ms Valentine dodged the blow as the metallic container was left severely dented by Luffy's attack. Seeing how devastating Luffy's blow was if they were to be hit, Mr Five charged at Luffy seamlessly as he cocked his fist back and was about to punch Luffy in the face while Ms Valentine bounded from her place and bounced off a wooden pole to jump high.
As Luffy reared back, dodging a punch from the male agent, he ducked from another punch as he stepped back. Leaning back and letting a fist sail past, Luffy was quick to jump back when he saw his assailant's arm descending at him. Mr Five's fist collided with the concrete floor and it exploded in a loud boom sending both him and Mr Five flying away from each other.
It was then that Ms Valentine descended to her like a rocket from above at mach speed. Luffy rolled away and stretched his right leg upwards this time and quickly slammed it down on his opponents that were already scrambling away from his attack.
"Annoying little insect, isn't he?" Mr Five asked adjusting his sunglasses taking out another marble to aim at him.
"We've wasted too much time here. I say we end this now, wouldn't you think you Mr Five?" Ms Valentine asked while the black man simply nodded.
"You'll pay for hurting my friends." Luffy only replied as he reared his arms back. They'll pay for what they did to Sanji and the beating that Zoro took from them, they'll pay for threatening them, for making light of their skills and finally, for trying to destroy their hideout.
"Gomu Gomu no…" Luffy leaned forward, stretching his arms back to the maximum. It was then that he was peppered by multiple tiny explosions sent to him by the black man and shrapnel found its way embedding on to Luffy's skin. The black haired youth flinched as he felt the pain coursing through him like a thousand needles were prickling him.
Still, he persevered and lashed his arms forward with as much power as he could while bracing for the recoil.
"Bazooka!" His arms shot straight and true, finding its way to Mr Five at impossible speeds. The rubber boy's reach was not enough however, as Ms Valentine literally dropped on him from the sky and smashing Luffy once more to the ground before she jumped away. Luffy cringed in pain as he fell down. He looked at the woman and defiantly, he fought back. Luffy grabbed the woman's leg and swung her at her fellow agent at front. The man simply stood there as Ms Valentine careened at the man. With smirks sporting their faces, the two collided. But neither of them was harmed as Ms Valentine collided with Mr Five. Luffy's eyes widened at that as Mr Five and Ms Valentine stood up, perfectly fine.
"Surprised? Don't be, it's just our abilities." Said the blonde woman with a smile as she jumped on Mr Five's shoulders, who had been simply adjusting his sunglasses. The man had barely flinched from the act as Ms Valentine stood erect on his shoulder.
"Don't assume that just because you have powers, you are unbeatable. People like us, who dwell within the shadows, have organizations and small groups that make up the heart of the Underworld's society. Unfortunately for you, our organization, the most secretive and arguably the most dangerous have crossed paths with you. You have something with us that we need, badly. To refuse us is to stir trouble with us."
The man grunted as he said to the leader, "Amateurs, all of you. You don't even know who you're facing with. I admit that more than once you caught us off guard but this time, this all ends here."
"Don't count on it!"
With a shout, two streaks of blue and black slammed both agents as they were sent flying from where they were and crashing into different parts of the area.
Luffy looked on in surprise, as Naruto and Ichigo appeared just in front of him, while for more appeared just behind him.
"More nuisances…" Mr Five felt frustrated at that, just how many more of these insects were willing to pop up just so that they could stop them?
Uchiha Sasuke's eyes shifted and turned blood red and three black tomoe began encircling the iris as he stared at the black man that was picking his nose.
"Big words coming from a man with worse habits than a hobo, I bet the suit is just a rental that you probably stole." The Uchiha said with a smirk, he was hoping he'd get a rise out of this guy. The man simply raised an eyebrow and scowled at the Uchiha's remark.
"I'll have you know that I bought this for three hundred thousand yen."
"It doesn't excuse you from looking like a homeless bum." The Uchiha mentioned in a condescending tone as he grabbed a scroll from his pocket and unsealed its content, revealing a chokuto and a small standard issue Glock-17 pistol.
"You okay, Luffy?" Naruto asked, offering a hand to help the black haired boy to get back on his feet. The ring leader of the Strawhats gladly took the blonde's hand and asked him with a smile.
"What are you guys doing here?" Luffy asked and Ichigo simply replied, "Naruto wanted to see what you were up to since you couldn't come to his invite today. We know you wouldn't miss a free meal for the world so we all thought that you had something to do. And wouldn't you know it? We find you here at your own place picking a fight and getting your asses kicked by these clowns."
To this, Ichigo hefted the gigantic blade on his shoulders and pointed to the duo in front of them.
"I think that boy deserves a medal for being so insulting despite his cliché line." Ms Valentine said and Mr Five nodded and flung his rolled up explosive booger at Ichigo. Sasuke was quick to intercept the incoming projectile with his gun and the bullet met its target head on causing a small explosion happening in the middle.
By this time, Sakura was now tending to the downed members of the Strawhats and Sai was already starting his drawing techniques. Naruto stopped him, however.
"Sai, get Orihime and the others out of here, and if possible, Luffy's crew. Things are about to get ugly here."
"Damn that stung like a bitch…" Zoro mentioned as he cradled the now closed wound on his abdomen courtesy of Sakura's healing jutsu. She turned to the other member, downed but he was looking like he was still conscious. His pain threshold must have been enormous to have endured the pain for as long as he had.
Sakura turned Sanji over and began doing her work, all the while Hinata kept close watch of the agents that were approaching them slowly.
The woman turned her gaze from the pink haired medic to the spiky blonde boy that was staring at them both with a wary but intense gaze.
"Mr Five, isn't he…?" As if reading her mind to her question, Mr Five answered at once, "It is as he is described from the news, blonde hair, blue eyes and three distinct markings on each of his cheeks. Ms Valentine, I think he have found two of Mr Zero's targets."
"Shall we usurp Demon's job then?" She asked, hoping that the man's answer was a yes out of the unimaginable accomplishment this could mean for their organization like taking down the corps or even better, submitting them to their will.
"I'd like that." He responded as he ran at the group and taking out some small marbles from his pockets letting them all fly at once. Sasuke watched them all with his eyes as they all seemed like molasses to him. They were all slow in his perception and quickly, his eyes darted left and right to the sight of the marbles flying their way towards them. Sasuke reacted and began blasting every marble he could see with his gun. Each shot, precise and each shot, timed perfectly.
Jumping up, Mr Five fired more of his projectiles at the group that Sasuke kept blocking with his gun.
It was then that Zoro had appeared behind the smoke. Looking like he was given his second wind as Mr Five noticed the shit eating grin that was plastered on Zoro's face.
Zoro spun in mid air once more like a mad top and began thrusting with his three swords as Mr Five was left vulnerable. Mr Five twisted and turned as he was swept by Zoro's attack before being sent back to the ground, courtesy of Kurosaki Ichigo slammed the flat side of his blade at Mr Five's abdomen.
The agent flinched as he got up. Frustrated at how much his ranged attacks were useless right now, Mr Five quickly got up and brought out a .44 calibre six shot revolver. He took a deep breath and began breathing deeply into the small cylinder and aimed his pistol at the smoke that was clearing. He held the wrist of his right hand with his left for support and began firing away at the group that dared to defy them. Bullets were once more released from Sasuke's pistol, intercepting faced Mr Five bullet for bullet. Behind him, was Zoro who was charging with his upper torso leaning forward.
The Uchiha said to the swordsman, "I can predict most of his movements and his projectiles with my ability, if you want him taken down for good, you'll have to listen to what I say and strike him from there."
Zoro raised his eyebrow at this as he saw the Uchiha firing his handgun and slashing down the balls of compressed explosive air with his chokuto that got too close to them. Those bullets were hard to dodge and almost impossible to counter! The only reason that he had slashed those projectiles earlier was that he knew were the bastard was aiming and that was too obvious with his finger flicks! But with a gun, that was different. And that difference became huge if your reflexes weren't as good as the guy before him. You were dead if you charged head on at the agent.
It was why Zoro was willing to follow instructions right now. As long as he could get the final hit in, then it was fine.
Naruto performed a familiar technique as two clones popped in existence. The first one jumped and used a midair roll as the second performed something different this time as he was enveloped with smoke. The original then caught the first clone that was rolling in mid air and threw it just above Mr Five and Naruto reached for the plume of smoke that covered his clone and from the billowing covers of the haze that covered his clone, out came a giant four bladed object sickle like in appearance, the size of a child and rotating like the rotor blades of a chopper. The force of the rotation gave off small gusts of wind around him as he let the metallic weapon fly from his hands and straight to the blonde's target. The Shuriken screeched in midair as it flew, changing its pattern of flight vertically as it went past Zoro and Sasuke while they dashed at Mr Five.
The agent raised his eyebrow at this and jumped, letting the object pass by him not noticing the clone that Naruto had was flown earlier. Mr Five realized his mistake too late when a clone had struck from above with an axe kick to the man's face that sent him straight to the ground with another clone from before, the one that changed into that giant four bladed weapon earlier, intercepted him and kicked him back towards where Sasuke and Zoro where.
"Get him." Was only Sasuke's command as he performed a reverse somersault and landed on the opposite side, Chokuto ready as Zoro was already in his favoured stance.
"Oni Giri (Demon Slash)!"
"Chidori Gatana (Sword Chirping of a Thousand Birds)"
In a flash, both swordsmen sliced through the agent whose momentum was stopped in midair as he was struck.
Naruto then created another clone and held on to Luffy as he stretched back. Ichigo jumped hefting the giant blade above his head as Naruto threw Luffy towards where the orange head was and allowed Luffy to use the flat side of his blade like a platform as Luffy stepped on it in reverse before making a leap towards the bloodied Agent.
"Gomu Gomu no…" Luffy stretched his arms back before letting go a series of rapid fire punches downwards.
Mr Five's eyes widened as he saw the descending boy with the straw hat going crazy and pummelling him hard on the ground.
All he could say before being enveloped in a sea of black and blue was one thing.
At the same time with Sakura and the others:
When Sanji was completely healed, he noticed how he felt better when the pain vanished from his body. He looked to his right and saw his pink haired angel touching where it was most painful. A touch of the girl's hand and Sanji was sure that he had died and gone to heaven.
"Beautiful angel with the rosy pink hair, where have you been for all of my life?" He asked and the pink haired girl looked thoroughly confused at that.
"Hey, snap out of it man! We have job to do and it involves taking that lady down!" Sakura pointed to the floating woman who was twirling her umbrella in midair while Hinata kept a close watch.
"If I take it down would you promise to give me a kiss?" Sanji asked earning a look from Sakura that screamed bloody murder if he asked anymore questions that bordered on harassment.
"Get her or I'll snap your spine like a twig." To emphasize her point, Sakura grabbed a small lead pipe from somewhere and twisted it like a pretzel.
With that Sakura gave a nod and grabbed Sanji by the collar before tossing him straight at the female agent head first.
Seeing as the blonde cook was making a rocket line to her at breakneck speeds, Ms Valentine couldn't react in time as she and Sanji collided at each other head first before falling on the ground.
They crashed seconds later with a clearly dizzy Sanji fighting to get up and stumbling more than once before finally regaining his composure.
As he shook his head, he immediately noticed that two girls were already upon the female agent as they went after her with a myriad of attacks reaching from punches to palm strikes.
Sanji now decided to join the fight as he felt he shouldn't leave it to his female companions to do all the work, it would be bad for him.
He jumped, as high as his legs can take and quickly saw his opportunity with a quick positioning from mid air, Sanji suddenly connected his right foot on the girl's abdomen.
And his opponent sailed to the opposite warehouse, getting through a thin wooden wall and then crashing to some old grimy cargo boxes of unknown contents. Hinata and Sakura weren't done yet as they charged inside once more with Sanji following suit.
Inside, Ms Valentine cleared the smoke from her face as she coughed vehemently. Her wardrobe, now dirty and some parts of the clothing were in tatters, was now unrecognizable she trembled in fury and gritted her teeth. These people were becoming too meddlesome and too annoying for her taste.
As she was about to stand, the sound of a woman shouting from above snapped her out of her thoughts. She looked up and saw a girl with pink hair diving at her head first with her fist drawn.
"Oukashou (Cherry Blossom Clash)!"
Ms Valentine stepped back and watched in both astonishment and fear as the ground underneath Sakura's fist as the earth splintered and an uneven landscape formed from her attack. She stumbled but did not fall, it did not, however, guarantee her safety as another girl appeared from the smoke and hit her square on the abdomen with a palm strike.
Pain coursed throughout her, like a hundred needles being pricked mercilessly as she stumbled back, her knees weakened from the blow and blood seeped from her mouth as she was pushed back in shock. The indigo haired girl didn't stop though as she performed a graceful spin and another palm strike, this time, she gathered enough chakra and force that it sent her flying back once more.
"Hakke Kuushou (Eight Trigrams Air Palm)!"
The wind palm sent her sailing past the cargo boxes and out through the other. She had no time to adjust her weight in the battle because three supposedly famished hyenas went after her like she was a dying buffalo. She tried to stand, thinking of a way to counter attack but she knew she had none. She was outnumbered and out-manoeuvred by a bunch of amateurs that certainly brought her irritation to surface.
It was then that she realized that she and her partner reached too far for their objectives. They had grasped too hard, and now, they had just been defeated and in the worst way possible, by a couple of brats with a team from the Shinobi Corps backing them up.
It was here then, that Sanji had landed in front of her, with a regrettable look on his face before planting his feet on her face and knocking her out.
Later that afternoon:
Sai had the guarded most of their companions without a problem. It was just sad that he couldn't personally join the fight due to the heir's absolute orders. But he supposed he could give the boy credit. He knew that he needed at least someone to guard the people who couldn't fight or are too weak to fight. Naruto perhaps knew that he couldn't put all of his eggs in one basket and decided to at least have one more for back up.
Now he was at the side of his protectorate once more watching the weird rubber guy shaking hands with both the spiky blonde heir and the orange head as he said his gratitude to them.
"Does it really have to turn out this way?" Naruto asked the group's ring leader while Sanji nodded.
"Yeah, if we were discovered like this then that means that it's likely that they'll come after us again here. We're moving to a different place until we're on the low profile. El Capitan isn't too keen on releasing the babe with the blue hair anytime soon." To this, Sanji pointed to Vivi who could only wave nervously at them while Luffy was nodding beside Sanji.
"T-Those people are after me and Luffy-san has agreed to help me in uncovering Mr Zero and his cronies. I can't involve you all in my problems, I'm sorry." Vivi stammered as Ichigo simply clicked his tongue at that.
"That means you probably won't go to school for the next few days, huh?" The orange head asked and Luffy nodded once more.
"Until we can resolve the issue, it can't be helped." Nami mentioned as she looked sadly at their messed up hideout and cried once more when she looked at Luffy's rich friend. Sanji couldn't help but cry as well albeit for different reasons.
Vivi, Zoro, Chopper and Ussop all looked at the duo with a bead of sweat at the back of their heads while Luffy was laughing.
Zoro then turned his attention away from the group and looked back at the two agents tied up and unconscious.
"What about them?" He asked as Sai answered.
"They'll be submitted for interrogation. From what we can discern, they were also after Naruto-sama as well."
Zoro looked at Naruto who was laughing nervously, "Must be tough being a rich kid, huh?"
"I don't even know how to answer that." The spiky blonde commented as he once more shook Luffy's hand.
"Take care, all right? I hear this part of town can be pretty dangerous." Naruto said once more as Ussop agreed but assured him.
"Fear not, Namikaze-sama. For I have made such preparations in case an event like this was to occur." Ussop then pointed to a highly customized RV that had a crossbones design with a straw hat by the window.
"I've fitted that thing with so much tech it would probably take me a whole chapter to describe it! Though I think I still need to look over at the designs. Although my genius is unparalleled, I am not but a simple human needing more help in this expertise since my specialty lies more in chemistry and physics than engineering and electronics." Ussop mentioned this as many of them stared at the long nosed member of Luffy's crew noting how obnoxious this person was.
Orihime was looking quite impressed at the big vehicle as her eyes sparkled in wonder for the long nosed genius' handiwork.
"Does that thing come with an interplanetary restricted turbo booster?"
Everyone stared at the red head at this with a bead of sweat on the back of their heads. Luffy was looking at Ussop with the same sparkle in his eyes as if it was real. Tatsuki gave a sigh as she shook her head at this.
"We were watching MIB last night and you can guess what's going on in Orihime's head lately."
To this, they watched as Orihime wore a pair of sunglasses and looked like she was grabbing something from her boobs forcing Sanji to have hearts in his eyes while most of the male population within the group blushed and with many women sighing out of exasperation.
Things were back to their incoherent but mundane days again, for now.
On the way to Konoha Branch, Corps Wagon:
Mr Five and Ms Valentine were apprehended, they were defeated in the most humiliating way for their organization. They looked solemn, perturbed and even horrified. They failed, and failure in Baroque works was not an option. It was only met with one thing and that was…
Mr Five and Ms Valentine froze; they had heard the voice of this person before. And a visit from one of THEIR members meant one thing.
They were about to die.
Looking up, they saw their executioner. They saw a rather tall man, hands crossed and sitting upright. Behind him was a rather large blade that was bigger than a man and could probably cleave this entire vehicle in half with just one swing.
"So you're demon, right? How exactly did you get in here?" Mr Five asked as Ms Valentine looked horrified, too scared to even utter a word.
"Bravo, right you are, Captain Ahab. And I got in here because I'm a master in Muon Satsujin. A style passed on from the Kiri Branch of the Shinobi corps in striking in complete silence. Heck, I could probably kill you two right now without you even knowing it." Demon said mockingly as he chuckled when Mr Five didn't even laugh. Was this the effect of despair? Was it to feel so powerless to their inevitable fate?
"So, I suppose Mr Zero assigned you for this." Mr Five mentioned and looked at Ms Valentine, trying to keep her emotions in check as Demon stood up from his chair even though it was moving.
"No, well at least not yet, but I'm sure he'll get the message in time. That is, if it even gets to him. I was here first after all and that watcher of his is still nowhere in sight." Demon said this as Mr Five and Ms Valentine looked at Demon incredulously.
"You two lost the moment that you thought that those brats were the only ones fighting. It's a mistake anybody could overlook unless you have good enough intelligence about them. It's why I never acted on the heir's group for days. That and Gatou is a damn moron who doesn't know the meaning of the word subtlety." Demon mentioned as he touched one of the tin walls of the car.
Ms Valentine scowled at this, "You knew that they were accompanied by the corps?"
They did not know this! Such vital information not being relayed was nothing short of betrayal!
"Yes, but 'Mr Zero' neither knows that little information nor should he be aware of that fact. Because to his understanding of the situation, the missing princess of the Arabasta company and the Namikaze heir are totally different problems that we have to deal with. That and I specifically told him that I'll do this mission under my terms. You two should have known that the Namikaze brat is my target, or did you forget the memo?"
To this, Demon sighed as he hefted Kubikiri Houcho above his head.
"Forget it, you two should just come with me and we'll deal with the Namikaze heir first before we deal with that princess."
To this, Zabuza cleaved a large part of the right wall of the wagon and turned back to them.
"So what's it going to be, folks? Either you come with me and seek a better option than your boss or being buried six feet under by some random shmuck with a weird superpower?"
The two former agents of Baroque Works looked at each other and said to the man, "Isn't that obvious?"
To be Continued…
Took me a while to write this, I can probably guess that you know why. Anyway, here's the chapter and obviously, the next chapter should be about Naruto's storyline. Be warned that it's not what it's supposed to be since Naruto has never met Tazuna and that Zabuza is after him and not the bridge builder.
Kushina has a fight debut next chapter, yey! Also, Chad and Orihime are going to play significant roles soon along with that other Sasuke.
Till then, RnR, readers!