Naruto: A Seer's Fable
Swanboy: Interesting argument, but I disagree that Anko's poisons would be ineffective or that Zabuza would know her tactics just because she's Orochimaru's apprentice. As you said her reputation was formed around her being the Snake Sannin's apprentice (i.e. use of snake techniques) and her skills as an interrogator.
n0mster: Alright, you've made a few good points but allow me to counter. While your argument about the Jamen no Jutsu working less effectively due to the mist makes sense, but I believe that that would only apply if Zabuza was a long distance away. Since he has to stay relatively close to her to attack, it allows the technique to be used as an effective defense. As for Anko managing to hit him, a lot of Zabuza's skill is based off his ability to hide flawlessly in the mists. Most of Anko's attacks came directly after he attacked, a time he'd be vulnerable to a counter, and I will repeat that most of those were minor injuries at best, scratches and minor cuts, he still managed to avoid most of the blows, but the minor ones were enough to start slowing him down.
Astelion: Interesting idea, perhaps in the future.
plums: Thanks, and I agree the Wave chapters can get a little…repetitive, but its still an important turning point. As for cutting it off, well I had a bunch of ideas and I wouldn't have been able to fit everything into a single chapter.
To everyone else that reviewed I thank you for your time and support.
Jutsu or Card
Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto or Fable, or anything other than my own original ideas for this story
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Chapter 15 Demon's Fall
(Bridge, Naruto and Haku's Battle)
"Shit!" swore Naruto as he once again leapt to the side, narrowly avoiding Haku's claw-like senbon as they ripped through the edge of his cloak. Ever since he'd managed to destroy two of her ice mirrors, Haku had been relentlessly attacking, not giving him a moment to try and form and charge his Kakyū (Fireball) technique again.
'This is bad.' thought Naruto as he once again moved to dodge, this time managing to completely avoid Haku's flying slash. 'None of my normal fire techniques can melt her ice, especially if it can resist the teme's Gōkakyū no Jutsu (Great Fireball Technique).' He'd only managed to learn a few Katon techniques from Anko so far, and none of them were as directly powerful as the Gōkakyū no Jutsu. While other similarly-ranked techniques were faster or more versatile, few could match the Uchiha's signature fire technique when it came to the power and heat of its flames; particularly in the hands of an Uchiha, whose natural fire affinity made the technique even more devastating. 'And my Ijiton techniques take time to charge in order to gain enough power to actually damage the damn things. Time she seems determined to not let me have.'
Leaping to the side to avoid another slash, Naruto forced his mind to calm and started planning. 'Alright think, if I can't destroy her mirrors then how am I going to beat this technique? I might be able to match her speed using Skill when she attacks, but even then I'm not fast enough to keep up with her when she moves between those mirrors. Since she's moving from mirror to mirror when she attacks, that leaves only a certain number of avenues she can attack from. Unfortunately since she shifts between those mirrors so damn fast, there's no way of telling where she's going to attack from next and she's moving too fast for my sensor abilities to give me anything more than a brief warning before she's right on top of me.' Whenever Haku demerged from her ice mirrors to attack, Naruto felt a sudden...shift would be the best word…in her chakra. It wasn't much, but it was the only thing keeping him from being ripped apart by his opponent's sudden attacks.
'If I could just slow her down for a second after she exits those mirrors I could beat her, but how am I going to…' a sudden bit inspiration flashed through Naruto's eyes as a small smirk appeared on his lips. 'It's worth a shot.' he decided as he reached toward his combat deck. 'I'll have to time this just right or its game over.'
Haku frowned as she watched her opponent while shifting between her mirrors. She was surprised that the blonde sensor had managed to avoid her attacks for so long; his speed and reflexes were quite impressive to say the least. 'Perhaps it's a part of the bloodline he claims to possess,' she thought absently as she moved between her ice mirrors, regaining her speed and finding the right angle for her next attack, before shaking her head. 'Now's not the time. Whatever he's planning I can't let him succeed. I will not fail Zabuza-sama.' with that though, the young kunoichi moved to her next mirror before launching herself forward in another attack, intent on stopping Naruto before he could utilize whatever weapon or tool he'd drawn from the pouch at his side.
'There.' thought Naruto as he felt Haku demerge from her ice mirrors. Bringing his arm up rapidly, Naruto sent a small tendril of chakra into the card he'd drawn before releasing his grip and letting momentum do its job. "The Dawn! (1)" he cried.
The Dawn was among the weakest of his cards, a simple one-star that was little different from a standard shinobi flash bomb when activated. But its low rank and relative weakness allowed Naruto to activate it with the slightest touch of his chakra, meaning it didn't require any charging time.
Mere inches above Naruto's head, the flying card exploded in a massive flare of red light, filling the entirety of the ice dome. The second the card left his fingers, Naruto had ducked his head and closed his eyes to avoid the worst effects of the flash, but he could still feel the sheer intensity of the flash trying to burn through his eyelids, though thankfully it wasn't strong enough to do any real damage to his sight. It was a risk, averting his attention for even a second in a fight like this could easily kill him, but it was a necessary risk for his plan to work, and, truthfully, he didn't have many other options.
Haku, on the other hand, had instinctively tracked the flying object her opponent had thrown into the air, thinking it was some form of attack. It was…just not in the way the ice-using kunoichi had expected. As intense, bright light filled the dome Haku let out a pained scream as it burned into her eyes. Her flight faltered, causing her to skid across the ground to a halt, as she lost control of her technique for an instant as her mind was overcome the sudden, intense pain of a thousand needles being driven into her eyes.
Still, Haku was a trained kunoichi, one taught and raised a man who'd mastered one of the most brutal and efficient assassination styles in the shinobi world. Even blinded and in pain, she still heard the rustling in the air as something appeared behind her, and the whistling sound of a weapon whipping through the air towards her head. She instinctively ducked, avoiding the blow, before springing away from the source of the two sounds, twisting in mid-leap while blinking rapidly to clear the spots from her eyes in hopes of catching sight of the one who had suddenly attacked her.
She wasn't surprised to find Naruto standing there, staff in hand and still extended from his last attack, the faintest sheen of golden sparks still floating in the air around him showing how he'd suddenly appeared behind her. He was already moving when she landed, lashing out with his strange spear-tipped staff, thrusting or slashing with either the blade or the blunt ring in a constant whirling dervish of strikes that kept the young ice-user constantly on her toes as she worked to dodge each strike in rapid succession.
"I'm not letting you get back to those mirrors again." growled Naruto as he moved forward and swept his staff out in another strike, forcing her back.
'Ah, so that was his plan.' Haku realized as she moved to dodge, letting a trio of senbon fall out of each of her sleeves and between her fingers again. It was a smart move; with an opponent trapped within her mirrors she had an undeniable advantage, one that would let her defeat opponents with far more power and experience. Haku on her own was a skilled kunoichi, Zabuza had placed her natural abilities at mid- to high-Chūnin already, but once she had an opponent locked within her hijutsu even a jounin would have trouble facing her.
Still that advantage became moot if she could not rejoin with her mirrors, a task that should be relatively easy considering they surrounded her and her opponent on nearly all sides. Nearly being the key word. Haku had already realized where her opponent was pushing her, the gap created when he'd first destroyed one of her mirrors. If he could force her through that gap then she'd have to cancel her technique and then reform her mirrors around them again. A task she wasn't sure she was up to. The fight with the two Konoha genin from before, while not particularly hazardous thanks to her speed and techniques, had been draining, since the two had proven far more able than she'd thought once they were trapped within her Makyō Hyōshō (Demonic Mirroring Ice Crystals) technique, a technique that on its own was quite draining to maintain for long periods, let alone when using several of its linked techniques like the Makyō Hyōhari (Demonic Mirroring Ice Needles) or Makyō Hyōkiri (Demonic Mirroring Ice Slash) which only enhanced the technique's drain.
She'd easily have put the Uchiha at high-genin, perhaps even low chūnin level. The other boy she was less sure about, but he was easily low chūnin if not higher.
Then Naruto had arrived, a person who, even through just their brief contact from before, she had come to like and who in turn had shown her a feeling of mutual respect. Even more so than the two other genin, he was someone she did not want to kill, not if there was any other way. He'd quickly shown himself to be even more dangerous than the two genin she'd faced before, capable of first partially blocking then completely deflecting one of her most dangerous techniques before actually destroying two of her mirrors, something that no opponent had ever done before.
In short, she was exhausted; her reserves were at the point where, if Naruto forced her beyond the reach of her ice mirrors, she'd be completely unable to create, let alone maintain, another one.
Gritting her teeth as another strike forced her further back; Haku was again forced to admire her newest opponent's abilities, which she would admit were almost a match for her own. Each of his strikes were designed to do one thing, force her back toward the opening in her technique, angled so that dodging to either side would result in a debilitating blow while leaving the back completely open. Deciding that she had to make a move, the young Hyōton user leapt backwards, putting her even closer to the dome's edge and surprising her opponent long enough to allow her to form a set of handseals. Even with her flagging reserves she still had enough to fire a few more low-level jutsu.
"Hyōton: Hakushō Hari! (Ice Release: White Crystal Needles) (2)" she called, forming her hands into a final seal. Instantly, dozens of large water droplets, seemingly condensed from the surrounding fog-enriched air, appeared around her before they began to shift, elongate, and harden, forming over a dozen half-foot long needles made of pure ice, In an instant the ice needles flew through the air, streaking toward Naruto and forcing the blonde shinobi to dodge out of the way or risking being skewered, dropping his staff as he moved.
He managed to avoid all the needles, but they were merely a distraction, allowing Haku to race toward the nearest mirror.
"Oh no you don't!" snarled Naruto as he rolled across the ground, forming handseals as he moved, before he landed in a crouch and stuck a hand into his kimono-shirt. "Karuta Jutsu: Gojuni no Utsu! (Playing Card Technique: Lash of Fifty-two) (3)" he cried, swinging his arm out as he removed it from his shirt, the deck of playing card now gripped in his hand flowing outward, forming a long, whip-like stream that streaked toward the fleeing kunoichi. The strand reached her when she was less than a foot away from the closest mirror, wrapping securely around her ankle before a swift and sudden tug pulled her off her feet, her hand futilely reaching out toward the mirror only inches out of her grasp.
"Got you!" smirked Naruto as red sparks suddenly began to swirl around him. "Kyōken! (Strong Arms) (4)." roared the blonde, his arms aglow with red light as he pulled the whip back with both hands. Haku's body jerked through the air as if she was suddenly being dragged by a team of oxen.
'Wh-What is this!?' thought a slightly panicky Haku as she flew through the air.
With another twist Naruto sent the whip, and the kunoichi attached to it, crashing toward the hole in the dome of mirrors. Haku could do nothing, still caught in midair and unable to move freely as well as completely caught off guard by her opponent's sudden surge in raw power, as she flew out of her dome, landing in a tumble after skidding and bouncing several dozen feet across the length of the bridge. Haku groaned as she tried to force herself back to her feet, mentally evaluating her injuries as she did so. 'At least a dozen major bruises, including several bruised bones, as well as at least one cracked rib and a minor concussion.' she groaned to herself as she quickly, if a bit wobbly, got back to her feat. "What the hell is he?" she mumbled to herself. First those golden sparks caused her opponent's speed to increase exponentially, then those strange jutsu he'd used, and now red sparks that augmented his strength.
She'd never heard of a technique or bloodline that did anything close to that.
As Haku finally regained her footing, she noticed a small object flying toward her. Body moving more on instinct than any actual thought, Haku's hand lashed out, launching a trio of senbon at the incoming projectile.
"Fate! (5)" Naruto's voice cut through the air, moments before the senbon connected, causing the card to erupt in a plume of smoke. The senbon entered the cloud a second later, only for a metallic chiming to echo through the air before all three exited the cloud at different angles, deflected by something metallic hidden in the cloud. Exactly what had deflected the needles was answered seconds later as a pair of silver chains, both stretching nearly six feet in length, erupted out of the enveloping smoke cloud like arrows shot from a bow. The two chains whirled and twisted around each other as they flew straight toward Haku, looking more like a pair of flying snakes than anything else.
Haku tried to move, tried to dodge to the side. But the concussion she'd received from her fall, mixed with the exhaustion from her fight with both Naruto and the two other Konoha genin, slowed her movements. The chains swerved as she moved, following her, before they split and coiled around her body, wrapping around her like a pair of constrictors, binding her arms to her side while pulling her legs together, forcing her into a painful fall back onto the surface of the bridge.
"Looks like I've won Haku-chan." stated Naruto easily as he approached the struggling kunoichi, shakujō recovered and braced against one shoulder. While the blonde's voice was calm, anyone could see the coarse tension still running through his frame, showing he was still on guard in case of another trick. It was almost impossible to be sure when a fight's truly over when dealing with shinobi.
'More than one idiot has gotten themselves, and, more importantly, their teammates killed by thinking they'd won when their opponent still had a trick or two up their sleeve.' Anko had drilled that into his head during their training, saying it was one of the most basic, and most important, lessons a shinobi needed to learn before they ever stepped foot on a battlefield.
Haku continued to struggle against her bindings for a moment, before exhaustion finally set in and she was forced to stop. "So it would seem." she agreed calmly, accepting her fate. "Very well, end it."
"End it?" responded Naruto curiously, a sly smirk on his face.
"Yes, kill me." she responded emptily, her voice as cold and empty as the ice her bloodline created. "I have failed in the purpose my master has given me. I have failed the man who saved my life and given me a purpose. Now I am nothing more than a broken tool. Death will simply be a mercy." Haku stated coldly as she stared emptily up at Naruto's blue eyes, which were eyeing her curiously.
"Are you sure this is what you want, that you want to die?" responded Naruto evenly, raising his shakujō slightly.
"Yes." she whispered, closing her eyes.
Naruto merely raised his shakujō up above his head before bringing it down and…
…smacked the top of Haku's head just hard enough to leave a painful lump.
"Not going to happen." stated Naruto easily as he leveled his shakujō back against his shoulders. "I am not going to just kill you Haku-chan."
"Wha-Why?" asked Haku, honestly surprised and more than a little bit confused by the blonde's complete refusal. Then again, the confusion could just be her concussion acting up from the blow to her head.
"Because you're the type of person I don't want to kill unless I have no other choice." answered Naruto simply. "You fight for someone else, not for any sense of personal gain or satisfaction, but for someone you honestly care about and respect. That's something I both admire and respect and I refuse to simply kill you because of it."
Haku simply stared at him for a moment, before her head suddenly lowered and her shoulders began to shake before soft, sad laughter started to escape her lips. After a few moments of sad chuckling she raised her head and looked back at the blonde with eyes that seemed to mix both a great deal of sadness and happiness. "It is a very strange thing," she whispered softly, "to hear my own reasons why I didn't wish to kill you being parroted back at me."
Naruto merely smiled down at the bound girl. "That just shows that you and me have a lot in common, Haku-chan." he answered simply. "You know, I'd really like it if, someday, you and I were comrades instead of enemies." he stated softly with a smile.
"As would I." answered Haku simply, returning the smile.
This warm moment was broken when a male voice suddenly roared, the tone a mix of pain and anger, from deeper down on the bridge.
"Zabuza-sama!" shouted Haku, new vigor rushing into her as she sensed her precious master in danger. Now panic and adrenaline can do amazing things to people. For normal people it allows them to draw on strength or speed they didn't know they possessed, for shinobi it allowed them to draw out even more chakra from their bodies. They'd collapse into unconsciousness and could even die from chakra exhaustion afterward, but it was definitely an edge for a shinobi that needed a sudden boost.
Haku used most of this newly drawn out chakra by sending a massive burst into the chains wrapped around her, molding it into Hyōton chakra as she did so. The chains creaked and groan as ice and frost began to rapidly cover their surface, the rapid infusion of Hyōton chakra forcing them to endure something very similar to being repeatedly dunked into a vat of liquid nitrogen.
Naruto felt the sudden surge, his attention instantly shifting from the direction of the shout and back to the bound kunoichi. His eyes widened as he saw the ice forming over his chains. "Haku wait…!" he tried to stop her, but it was too late.
With a surge of adrenaline-fueled strength, Haku pushed her arms outwards and the ice-infused chains shattered like glass, scattering across the floor before dispersing in dozens of small puff of smoke. Haku didn't hesitate for an instant, disappearing from his sight.
"Crap!" cursed Naruto as he darted after her, trying to catch up.
~~~ XXXXX ~~~
(Earlier, With Zabuza and Anko)
Zabuza growled under his breath, which was becoming more and more labored as he continued to fight and the poison that was coursing through his veins continued to ravage his body. Even now his limbs felt like they were covered in iron weights, his lungs were burning, and his vision was starting to blur. By now a normal shinobi would be on the ground, either already dead or simply unconscious or unable to move, but Zabuza was no normal shinobi. He had trained his body to a point where he approached the very limit of human capacity when it came to strength and endurance, and he naturally possessed a constitution that Haku had once described as simply 'inhuman.'
Still, it would not be enough. The poison was killing him and he knew it. But Zabuza wasn't the type to simply lie down and die. He would drag the purple-haired psychopath down to hell with him if he could, and, if he was extremely lucky, he might be able to find the antidote on her after he managed to lop off her head. No sane poison-user carried around something as deadly as this without also carrying the antidote. Too much risk of accidentally nicking themselves, a teammate, or a client.
Then again, the words 'sane' and 'Anko Mitarashi' didn't exactly go together.
Still it was his best bet, and the only one that had any chance of keeping him alive, so Zabuza was going full tilt. Even so, he was being forced to fight far more defensively than before, knowing a single nick from the kunai Anko was swinging would probably mean instant death. In his already weakened condition, a second dose of that venom of hers was a sure-kill, no questions asked.
The problem with that was that Anko was extremely hard to hit. Zabuza's style focused around single powerful strikes, strikes that were strong to cleave through steel with a single swing. Used in tandem with his mastery of the Muon Satsujin no Jutsu (Soundless Murder Technique) it allowed him to sneak up on opponents and end them with a single strike. It was a brutal and highly effective combination that had earned him his place as one of the finest assassins in Kiri's long and bloody history. When assassination failed or was simply not an option and he was forced to enter direct combat he was, while far from the most powerful of the seven swordsmen, still a fearsome fighter, combining his powerful weapon and an array of devastating Suiton ninjutsu.
Anko, while a skilled assassin in her own right, was no match for Zabuza in that regard; she much preferred letting her poisons and pets do the work for her in that particular regard. However, she was a very dangerous combatant, highly skilled in using both taijutsu and wielding several common weapons, with many of them coated in one of her poisons, while also possessing a wide array of ninjutsu, varying among her three trained affinities, techniques that worked with her summons, and several other forms of jutsu. However where Zabuza's style centered around power, hers centered on speed and agility, flowing around a target in order to strike with a sudden burst of speed and power.
That's where Zabuza's problem was. While no slouch in the speed department, most of his physical training had centered on enhancing his strength and endurance, not his speed. Zabuza's style had always centered on using his stealth and assassination skills to close in on his enemies to the point where they couldn't dodge his deadly blows, but with Anko's Jamen no Jutsu (Snake Mask Technique) negating his stealth it was nearly impossible for the massive swordsman to land a hit on the faster and more agile kunoichi.
That didn't stop Zabuza from trying though. The Kiri nuke-nin let out a frustrated snarl as he brought his massive blade down again, only for Anko to once more deftly dodge to the side with a slight roll, only to spring forward and back onto her feet seconds later, lashing out with her poisoned kunai and once again forcing him to leap away and dodge, not letting the poisoned weapon anywhere near him.
Anko grinned as she lunged after him. "What's the matter Zabu-chan, you're not afraid of a little scratch now are you?" teased the snake mistress as she twirled her poison coated kunai between her fingers before making another slash at Zabuza, who once again managed to dodge away.
Zabuza didn't answer, barely managing a low growl under his ragged breathing before he leapt away, putting as much distance between them as possible. Even as he landed on the very edge of the bridge, his hands were already in the midst of a chain of handseals. Anko's grin somehow widened as she instantly resealed her kunai back into her sleeve before beginning a set of her own.
"Suiton: Suiryūdan no Jutsu! (Water Release: Water Dragon Bullet Technique) (6)." roared Zabuza as water suddenly surged upward from behind him, forming a massive water dragon that barreled directly toward Anko.
"Doton: Dosekiryū! (Earth Release: Earth and Stone Dragon) (7)." called out Anko seconds later as the stonework of the bridge shifted beneath her feet, forming a massive dragon of stone and concrete that surged toward to meet Zabuza's water dragon, leaving great gouges in the bridge behind it from where the materials were torn away to fuel the jutsu.
Both draconic constructs roared as the impacted into each other, momentarily battling for supremacy. However, the superior weight and power of Anko's earth dragon, not to mention its elemental advantage, quickly overcame Zabuza's water dragon, shattering it into a massive spray of water that covered most of the surrounding bridge, before rushing toward the jutsu's creator. The stone dragon covered the final distance to Zabuza in an instant, slamming directly into the Kiri nuke-nin and splattering him…into a large puddle of water. The stone dragon lost coherence as it continued to move forward, quickly crumbling back into a large pile of rubble that fell into the waters below.
"Bunshin!" cursed Anko as she quickly began scanning the surrounding area, searching for where Zabuza had disappeared to.
While she was searching for her target, she didn't notice the pool of water behind her, which had formed when Zabuza's water dragon had been destroyed, began to ripple as Zabuza's massive form suddenly surged upward out of it, Kubikiribōchō already poised to swing.
Anko didn't notice the sudden presence behind her until it was too late, Zabuza's massive cleaver sword bisecting her at the middle…before both halves dissolved into mud.
Zabuza's eyes widened as he saw his target dissolve into a pile of mud, before the ground beneath him suddenly shifted.
"Doton: Saragi no Jutsu! (Earth Release: Snake Pit Technique) (8)" Anko's voice hissed from nearby.
Instantly, a dozen snakes, seemingly made of the same stone as the bridge, surged upward out of the ground, coiling around all of Zabuza's limbs and binding him in place before each head bit into one of his arms, legs, or shoulders; their stone fangs piercing his skin and sending surges of Doton chakra into his body, further locking him in place and causing a great deal of pain as small patches of rock began covering the areas around where the snakes had bitten into him.
"My, my, what a nice trick. Replacing yourself with a clone before using the Mizugakure no Jutsu (Hiding in Water Technique) (9) to hide yourself in your own attack just to sneak up on me." stated Anko as she seemingly emerged from the earth and stonework of the bridge a few dozen feet from Zabuza, her tone vaguely amused. "It's a shame I was ready for you to try something like that. You are an assassination specialist after all."
"Damn you." growled Zabuza as he struggled against the snakes binding him, but it was no use. The combination of Anko's poisons, the Doton chakra numbing and paralyzing his body as it was slowly being turned to stone, and the resilience of the snakes themselves left Zabuza unable to do more than struggle futilely against his bindings.
Anko pouted at the larger shinobi, though amusement still glimmered in her eyes. "Now there's no need to be a sore loser Zabu-chan. You've lost, I've won, that's just how the game goes." teased the snake mistress as she resummoned her envenomed kunai.
"This is no game girl!" snarled Zabuza as he continued to try and break his bonds.
"Life's a game Zabu-chan, and it looks like I've won." responded Anko with a grin before she darted forward, ready to end this with a final strike.
Seeing her coming, Zabuza roared as he continued to try and break his bonds. The sound echoed across the bridge, echoing with the pain and rage of one of the Kirigakure's finest.
Anko wasn't deterred by the nuke-nin's show of defiance, instead she readied her kunai and jabbed forward, intent on stabbing Zabuza through the throat.
The sound of a blade piercing flesh echoed across the sudden quiet of the bridge, but it wasn't the flesh Anko had been aiming for.
Standing in front of the bound nuke-nin was Haku. The envenomed blade was lodged several inches deep into Haku's upraised forearm.
"What the…" muttered Anko as her eyes widened in surprise as she momentarily studied the younger kunoichi standing in front of her, her focus so locked on her that she almost missed the girl's other arm, with senbon gripped like claws between her fingers, coming up in an attempt to stab her. Still, Anko's reflexes were better and her senses and instincts finely honed by years of battles. The older kunoichi easily leapt backward, dodging the blow.
Landing in an easy crouch she watched as the girl collapsed to her knees, obviously exhausted and the poison coating her blade already taking effect, only for her to try and force herself back to her feet. "Z-Zabuza-sama." the girl's voice was so soft that Anko was barely able to hear it.
"Haku!" snapped out Zabuza, his voice mixing confusion, surprise, and…Anko was fairly sure it was concern. This was certainly getting interesting. "What have you done you foolish girl?"
"I'm sorry Zabuza-sama, it looks like I've failed you." Haku whispered in response as her legs gave out again, forcing her back to her knees
"Anko-sensei!" Naruto's voice suddenly caused his teacher to momentarily turn her attention away from the conversation between the two to notice him rapidly approaching. "Sorry about that sensei, she managed to get away from me." he apologized as he came to a stop close to her.
Before Anko could respond, the dull sound of a pair of hands slowly clapping caused her to groan and slap her head. "What now!?" snarled Anko as she turned in the direction the sound was coming now. All these interruptions were starting to get on her last nerve.
As the clapping continued, the fog that had enveloped the bridge began to clear, Zabuza no longer able to maintain it in his state. There, standing near the edge of the bridge and standing at the front of an army of thugs, mercenaries, and bandits, was a man. The first and most noticeable thing about him was his short and pudgy build, standing only a few inches over five feet in height. He was dressed in an immaculate black business suit with a yellow shirt and purple tie, along with a pair of custom sunglasses that perfectly covered his eyes. His hair was a shade of pale brown and he had a small bald plate at the front of his brow and a short rat's tail mustache.
"Gatō." growled Zabuza. "What the hell are you doing here?"
Naruto's eyes narrowed. So this was the infamous Gatō who'd been terrorizing wave.
"My apologies Zabuza." stated Gatō snidely. "I was simply enjoying your little fight when an idea struck me. Why should I pay you at all? I mean you look half-dead already and I'm sure your little friends are tired as well. Now seems like a perfect opportunity to finish you all off and keep the money for myself."
Zabuza's eyes narrowed as he stared at the small businessman. "Are you double-crossing me Gatō?" snarled the imprisoned nuke-nin. Even bound, the sheer ferocity of Zabuza's tone caused the midget crimeboss to instinctively step back in fear, before he seemed to regain his bluster and adjusted his tie, clearing his throat as if nothing had happened.
"Now, now Zabuza." stated Gatō reassuringly, waving a hand dismissively as an arrogant grin appeared on his face. "It's only good business after all. You see, I can hire all these gentlemen here," he waved to the gathered forces arrayed behind him, "for a fraction of the money I was supposed to pay you." A thoughtful look appeared on his face for a moment. "Still, money is money so I'd appreciate if your lot could at least take a few of them down before they kill you. Think you can do that oh demon of the bloody mists." finished Gatō mockingly while his men laughed and chortled behind him, obviously thinking the entire thing was some grand joke.
Zabuza continued to glare at the assembled masses in front of him before a low, cold chuckle started to emerge from his throat. "It seems my contract has been cancelled." stated the nuke-nin professionally as he turned his head to regard Anko with a cold, even look. "It looks like we're no longer enemies Mitarashi."
"Hmm, looks that way." agreed Anko as she held her hands together in a single handseal. "Kai! (Release)" with that single command the stone snakes wrapped around Zabuza suddenly broke apart, dissolving into a mass of stone and rubble that tumbled to the ground around his feet. As the nuke-nin's body relaxed, the flecks of stone that had been covering his body flaking away now that there was no new infusion of Doton chakra to maintain their growth.
Naruto's eyes, which had widened in surprise when his teacher had released the dangerous nuke-nin, turned toward her.
"S-Sensei? What are you doing?" asked Naruto in shock.
"Take it easy gaki." replied Anko nonchalantly as she patted him on the head. "Now that his contract is over, Zabu-chan here doesn't have a reason to fight us anymore." she stated easily before her attention turned to the gathered mercs and their employer who were standing at the opposite end of the bridge. "Besides, we've got other things to worry about." she finished playfully with a smirk on her face.
Naruto still seemed a bit worried, but he nodded and reached into his combat deck and drew out another card.
"Oh, one more thing." added Anko as she suddenly realized something. Reaching into her coat she pulled out a small syringe and tossed it to Haku, who barely managed to catch it in her weakened state. "Afraid I only keep enough on me for a single person. So, I'll leave it up to you two to decide who gets it."
Haku merely stared at the small syringe for a moment before she smiled gently and placed it into Zabuza's hand. "You take it Zabuza-sama." she whispered softly.
Zabuza took the vial, studying it for a moment before turning his attention to Haku. "You sure about this girl?"
"Of course Zabuza-sama. My purpose in life has always been to serve you. Knowing that you will survive will allow me to pass on peacefully." responded Haku with a soft smile to the man who had given her everything.
"Hm, I really did find a wonderful tool the day I picked you up." stated Zabuza easily, before suddenly he shifted, jabbing the needle…directly into the side of Haku's neck. The young ice-user's eyes widened to a near impossible level as she felt the antidote surge into her system. "But this simply isn't your time girl."
"Z-Zabuza-sama..." she gasped out, not sure what was happening, before Zabuza's fist connected with the back of her head, knocking her unconscious.
Zabuza said nothing as he gently picked up the now unconscious kunoichi and carried her a few feet back before gently placing her on the bridge. He stared at her for a moment before he turned, picked up his sword and rejoined Anko and Naruto.
Naruto was staring at him in shock. Anko did so to for a moment before a grin inched its way onto her face.
"Well now, that certainly was surprising." stated Anko teasingly. "It looks like the Demon of the Mists actually has a heart after all."
"Shut it." growled Zabuza as he leveled Kubikiribōchō in front of his body. "I just didn't want to live in your debt Mitarashi, there's nothing more to it than that."
The lie was transparent, the harsh demon's way of maintaining his front.
"Thank you." stated Naruto, as he gave the older shinobi a short bow.
"Huh?" grunted Zabuza as he turned his attention toward the blonde. "What are you thanking me for boy?"
"For proving Haku right." stated Naruto simply. "She believed you were a great man, a man worthy of her respect and admiration, a man worth dying for. I am thankful she was proven correct." he started reaching his free hand for his combat deck, the other still gripping another card between two of his fingers, "I have a card that can remove the poison from your body, I just…"
"Don't bother." grunted Zabuza, causing Naruto's eyes to widen. "I'm already dead brat. Even if you have some way to remove the poison your psycho of a teacher," Anko merely smiled at the insult, "dosed me with, the damage has already been done. My body's running on borrowed time, and no amount of healing would be enough to fix it."
"I…I see." stated Naruto sadly. "I'm sorry."
"If you want to thank me brat, then keep an eye on the girl when she wakes up. I don't want her to do something stupid when I'm gone." growled Zabuza.
"You have my word." answered Naruto with a firm nod of his head.
"If you two are done, it looks like are friends are ready to play." interrupted Anko, causing both shinobi to turn their attention to the gathered mercenaries, who had apparently marshaled themselves and were readying to charge.
"I'll start." stated Naruto as he gripped the card he'd drawn when the mercenaries had first arrived, having been subtly charging it the entire time. He lifted it into the air, sending a massive surge of chakra to finish charging it. "The Wheel of Fortune! (10)." called Naruto as the card exploded in a massive flash filled with a dizzying array of colored lights. Many of the mercenaries cried out in pain, instinctively covering their eyes as the light burned into their retina. Blinded by the card's initial release, they were caught unaware when the attack came. Dozens of surges of light flew out of the dazzling flash, hitting mercenaries and thugs seemingly at random.
A red flash struck a mercenary causing him to burst into flames.
A blue one swept through a trio of gathered bandits, encasing them in ice.
A golden flash lanced through a pair of thugs near Gatō causing them to scream as golden electricity surged through their bodies.
A large green flash engulfed a near-dozen thugs, instantly causing their skin to melt and boil as if they'd been dunked in acid.
A flash of purple caught one mercenary in the chest causing him to quickly wither away into dust, while his partner was hit with a white flash that burned right through him, leaving a large hole gaping through his chest, while a third was struck with a burst of black light and simply fell forward dead.
One mercenary, who'd managed to avoid being blinded by the initial flash, witnessed a few of his fellows die from the strange lights and tried to the leap out of the way of an incoming shaft of orange light, only to be hit by a pale brown one, causing his body to quickly turn into stone before it broke apart as he hit the bridge's floor.
As the lights faded away nearly a hundred mercenaries, a full third of the force Gatō had gathered, were dead, their bodies, those that had survived the attack at least, lying scattered among their fellows
Naruto himself had collapsed onto his knees panting shortly after activating his card. Five-star cards, while incredibly powerful, always took a lot out of him, even with his unnaturally large chakra reserves. And The Wheel of Fortune was among the most powerful, and exhausting, cards he had. Combined with the draining fight he'd had with Haku only moments earlier and it wasn't surprising that he was out of breath.
Zabuza, who had watched the attack take place next to Anko, raised an eyebrow. "Not bad." muttered the nuke-nin, sounding vaguely impressed.
"Yup, my gaki has quite a few nifty little tricks up his sleeves." stated Anko proudly. "Shall we join the fun?" she asked happily as she pulled out a pair of kunai.
"Let's." agreed Zabuza as he lifted Kubikiribōchō. With a shared nod the two jounin charged.
It was like watching a pair of tigers running through a herd of sheep. The remaining arrayed thugs and mercs, who were still trying to recover from the sudden slaughter of their comrades, had no defense against the two jounin. They had come expecting to slaughter a couple of shinobi already on their last legs, but while Anko and Zabuza were both tired and damaged, Zabuza more so than Anko, the mercenaries had extremely underestimated the sheer power that it took to become a jounin.
Anko was amongst them in an instant, her kunai stabbing into the throat of a mercenary on either side before she spun, blood flying off her blades as they were literally ripped out of their target's throats, and delivered a vicious kick to the throat of another thug, collapsing his throat and forcing the man to his knees as he struggled to breathe. His struggle was cut short as one of Anko's kunai pierced the back of his head, killing him instantly. As several of the gathered men regained themselves' enough to move in and try to attack the sadistic kunoichi, Anko sprung into the air, soaring high above the gathered mercenaries who could only look up after her. It proved to be a bad move as Anko sent both kunai flying downward before going through a quick set of seals. "Kunai Kage Bunshin no Jutsu! (Kunai Shadow Clone Technique) (11)."
The air around the two falling kunai seemed to blur for a moment before hundreds of flying kunai filled the air above the gathered mercenaries. The men barely had time to widen their eyes and start screaming before the veritable rain of black steel hit them, lacerating their flesh and carving deep gouges into whatever armor they wore. When Anko returned to earth the majority of the kunai disappearing in small puffs of smoke as she landed, leaving the vast majority of the mercenaries who'd charged her dead, the last few clinging to life while their bodies bled out on the bridge. A nasty-side effect of the Kunai Kage Bunshin technique is that, when the kunai disappear, the wounds remain unchanged and, without the bulk of the weapon to at least partially halt or slow down the bloodflow from the wound, the victims bled out a lot faster. It was another reason she liked the jutsu so much.
Taking a deep breath and savoring the rich smell of blood in the air, Anko smiled. "Nothing like a little slaughter to make the day better." she stated happily to herself before she drew a new pair of kunai and reentered the melee.
While Anko was enjoying herself, Zabuza was reaping through the mercenaries with a cold professionalism, a target already on the forefront of his mind and everything in between them was merely an obstacle that needed to be removed. With every swing of his massive sword, at least two or three mercenaries fell to the bridge in pieces; heads, necks, arms, legs, and even portions of torso separated from the rest of their bodies with a single swing. When a group of mercenaries, each wielding some kind of spear or other polearm, tried to attack him from all sides simultaneously. Zabuza dodged by dropping into a low crouch and allowing the majority of the weapons to pass harmlessly over his head, blocking the only attacks aimed at that height with the flat Kubikiribōchō's massive blade. He then rapidly brought the blade up, knocking the gathered weapons up and throwing their owners off balance, before a massive, spinning strike cut all of them in half at the waist. As the bodies fell to the ground, Zabuza was already moving toward his target again.
~~~ XXXXX ~~~
Gatō gulped and started to slowly back away from the fight in front of him. No, this wasn't a fight; it was a slaughter, and not the kind he enjoyed.
"This isn't supposed to be happening." he muttered under his breath as he watched his men getting massacred. These pathetic shinobi were supposed to be worn out and exhausted from fighting each other before he arrived. The problem with that idea was that he'd sorely underestimated the power of the ninja he'd hired. Gatō had only worked with ninja a few times before, most in the guise of some legitimate business transport needing guarding or similar needs, which had only required Genin or the occasional Chūnin. Even then he'd never seen them directly in action, only hearing reports from his underlings; and a lot of that he'd dismissed either partially or outright as exaggeration or an attempt by the shinobi to get some form of bonus. The sheer fact that humans were capable of the kind of power the two battle-weary shinobi were wielding seemed completely impossible.
Even when he'd watched the two jounin fighting, with the majority of it blocked by Zabuza's damned fog, he'd always believed that he had the advantage of pure numeric superiority.
Unfortunately, when it came to ninja, quality always beat quantity.
As Gatō continued to back away, heading slowly and steadily back toward the rope ladder that lead to the ship he and his men had arrived on, a cold, demonic voice suddenly sounded from right behind him. Jumping and twisting around with a squawk of fright, and landing on his ass afterwards, Gatō was suddenly face to face with the Kirigakure no Kijin (Demon of the Hidden Mists), Zabuza Momochi, the man he'd just tried to stab in the back.
This could not possibly end well.
"Z-Zabuza!" squeaked out Gatō before he swallowed loudly.
"Hello Gatō." greeted the nuke-nin calmly, as if they weren't in the midst of a massive slaughter.
"L-L-Look Zabuza, I-I m-might h-have been a-a-a little ha-hasty in c-canceling o-our contract." offered Gatō shakily, before he gulped again and tried to steady his voice. "How about I pay you double, no triple, what I originally offered you, and all you have to do is let me go." he offered quickly.
"Hm." Zabuza hummed in though, as if actually considering the offer. The sound actually made Gatō believe that he just might survive this. "An interesting offer, but I'm afraid I'm going to have to refuse. I do have a counteroffer though."
"W-What is it." asked Gatō hopefully, thinking he may just have to pay a bit more. That was fine; any cost would be worth it to stay alive. He could always find some way out of paying it later after all.
"It's rather simply, all I want...," started the demon said before his blade seemed to shift, vanishing for a moment before Gatō felt a massive weight appear on his shoulders as his head was suddenly fitted into the circular hole near the end of Kubikiribōchō's blade. "…is your head!" he finished with a sadistic smile.
Gatō eyes widened, becoming easily visible behind his sunglasses. "W-Wait! Stop plegh!" screamed the minute businessman, only for his pleading to be suddenly cut off by his head being removed from his shoulders in a single jerk of Zabuza's massive sword.
"A bit of advice Gatō." stated Zabuza as he kicked the man's head away before collapsing to his knees, the poison finally becoming too much for him to take. "Never…double-cross…a…demon." finished Zabuza as his breathing became more labored until he was apparently fighting for breath. With a final breath, he collapsed face-forward onto bridge.
~~~~~~~~~~~~ XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX ~~~~~~~~~~
~~~~~~~~ Jutsu Identification ~~~~~~~
(1) The Dawn: 1-star utility card. One of Naruto's lower level cards, when activated the dawn detonates in a massive explosion of light, temporarily blinding and disorienting nearly anyone who is looking at it.
(2) Hyōton: Hakushō Hari (Ice Release: White Crystal Needles): C-ranked offensive Hyōton ninjutsu. The user gathers water from their surroundings, either a nearby water source or the air itself if it contains enough moisture, into a number of large droplets that are suspended in the air around them. The user then shapes them into large needles while channeling Hyōton chakra into them, freezing them solid, and then launching them at an opponent. The needles are fast and highly durable, making blocking and/or dodging difficult. Normal fire techniques of equivalent rank are unable to melt them.
(3) Karuta Jutsu: Gojuni no Utsu (Playing Card Technique: Lash of Fifty-two): C-rank, offensive ninjutsu. The user channels chakra into a deck of cards to link them together while sharpening their outer edges in order to form a roughly 16 foot, whip-like, extension of cards. This lash can be manipulated to the user's will by manipulating the chakra within the cards and can also extend up to twice its normal length.
(4) Kyōken (Strong Arms) - Undefined ninja skill. An ability based off the Strength aspect of the Archon bloodline. The user focuses on augmenting the strength of their limbs, usually their arms and/or legs, greatly augmenting the physical power of their limbs.
(5) Fate: 3-star utility/offensive card. A mid-ranked card designed to capture and/or contain enemies both in and outside of combat. The card produces a pair of silver chains that are used to bind an opponent, either binding their limbs together or binding them to a nearby object. These chains are highly durable, stronger than normal steel but not unbreakable, and they contain a minor ability to follow a target, though they can still be dodged with sufficient skill and/or speed.
(6) Suiton: Suiryūdan no Jutsu (Water Release: Water Dragon Bullet Technique) – B-ranked, offensive, Suiton ninjutsu. This technique shapes a large amount of water into a giant, powerful dragon, which hits the opponent with formidable might, dealing physical damage. The ideal place to use it is near a body of water, but if the user's skill allows it, it is possible to use it even in a place where there is none. The amount of water used will be in proportion with the user's skill.
(7) Doton: Dosekiryū (Earth Release: Earth and Stone Dragon) – B-ranked, offensive, Doton ninjutsu. A technique that gathers nearby soil, stone, and similar materials together and forms them into a single massive dragon that will then launch itself at a target, dealing considerable physical damage to anything it hits. Due to the nature of this technique, its power can vary greatly depending on the area it is used in and the materials available to create the dragon.
(8) Doton: Saragi no Jutsu (Earth Release: Snake Pit Technique) – A-ranked, offensive Doton ninjutsu. This technique channels chakra into the earth beneath an opponent's feet, shaping it and reforming it into a number of snake-like stone constructs. The constructs will then emerge from the ground, coiling around the target(s) of this technique. Once a target is bound, the snakes will then bite into an available portion of their victim's body and begin channeling Doton chakra into their bodies as a kind of venom. The Doton chakra will then cause the victim to turn into stone, the speed of the process based on the power of the victim and the jutsu's user.
(9) Suiton: Mizugakure no Jutsu (Water Release: Hiding in Water Technique) – C-ranked, supplementary Suiton ninjutsu. A technique that allows the user to merge with an existing body of water, hiding them from enemy detection. The amount of water needed for this jutsu to work varies depending on the strength and skill of the user.
(10) The Wheel of Fortune: 5-star offensive card. One of Naruto's most powerful offensive cards. When this card first activates it releases an extremely powerful flash of multicolored light, similar to a high-level flash tag. From this light, dozens of shafts and blasts of light in varying sizes and colors are released. When they impact these shafts have various elemental effects based on the color of the light. The exact dispersal of the colors, shapes and sizes of the blasts are completely random. While this attack is incredibly powerful, the user has little control over it once activated, merely being able to define a broad area the blast takes place in, making it extremely risky to use when allies are nearby.
(11) Kunai Kage Bunshin no Jutsu (Kunai Shadow Clone Technique) – B/A-ranked (dependent on number of clones produced), offensive shurikenjutsu/Ninjutsu/bunshin jutsu technique. The user creates anywhere between ten and a hundred shadow clones from one or more kunai to strike at an enemy. There is no need for preparations beforehand, like stocking up on kunai, yet since the shadow clones are real and not illusions, all the shadow blades that fly around are equally lethal. Because the clones form in just an instant, completely evading them is next to impossible.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
END CHAPTER 15
Thus ends the Wave Arc, things will quiet down next chapter as everyone gets ready to head home, though many of you can already guess what happens to Haku
I know a lot of people aren't happy about Anko's fight with Zabuza, saying she won too easily or that she wasn't injured enough. Well, in canon Anko's fighting abilities were never really shown other than her throw-down with Orochimaru, an S-ranked ninja that could take on Kages toe-to-toe and win. Also, the reason she wasn't injured is because I've always seen Zabuza's fighting style as a one-hit one-kill style, you get hit by him you're dead or at least out of the fight.