Hey guys! Sorry it took so long to get this out but I've been busy. I knew it would be long but not this long. Also, I fucking hate FF's doc manager as it messes up everything giving me extra work. Anyways, enjoy my friends.
Chapter 3: Conflicts Part 2
"Are you absolutely sure?" repeated Tsunade into her shortwave radio.
"Hai Hokage-sama! The Kazekage, his siblings and his student have been taken out by an 8 foot tall skeleton swordsman! I can't confirm if they're alive but he picked them up and is heading towards the village!"
"Alright. Do not engage this skeleton swordsman and return to the village immediately."
When the sentry terminated the radio on his end, Tsunade dropped her mic and fell back into her chair. She was both stunned and mortified. What was going on? A skeleton swordsman had taken out the Sabaku clan and the Kazekage's apprentice? If what her sentry was reporting was true, where did this creature come from? Was it a new member of Akatsuki or was it something else all together? It could possibly be another one of Orochimaru's creations but her spies had confirmed he was dead, slain by his own student's hand. Whatever the case may be, she knew she had to be cautious but needed to act immediately. She knew exactly what needed to be done.
"Shizune!" she shouted. Her first apprentice quickly entered the room with a clipboard clutched to her chest.
"Hai Tsunade-sama!" she answered.
"I needed you to go to the Radio Tower and tell our operators to send this message out to all of our teams and sentries in range. 'The Kazekage and his men have been defeated by a monster swordsman; an 8 foot tall skeleton. Return to the village immediately. If you encounter the swordsman do not fight it. Make sure it's not following you before you return to the village.' Wakata?"
"Hai!" replied Shizune scribbling the message down on her clipboard before running to the Radio Tower. When she was gone Tsunade fished out one of her secret bottles of sake and took a swing from it directly, as she prayed everything would be alright.
Shikamaru groaned in boredom after letting off a huge yawn. He hated patrol duty as it was but loathed it even more when he had to do it with his teammates present. At least alone he could find a nice tree to doze in. This was especially annoying for him as Choji would have no problem letting him have a quick nap or let him watch the clouds, but with Ino, it was all work no play; even though she was not the hardworking type either. He sighed again and looked up at the clouds wishing he could be free like them. But then something caught his eye. The clouds were darker than they had been the last time he checked, and they were not dark as they would be when it was about to rain. They were giving him a bad feeling.
"Oh stop complaining" snapped Ino placing her hands on her hips.
"The only one complaining is you" he muttered under his breath.
"The only one who should be complaining is me! I was supposed to be on a date with a very cute boy today and instead I had to go on this ridiculous patrol! I mean really! Why today of all days!?"
"What did I just-"
Before she could scold him some more, a voice came through her ear piece causing her to listen it intently. As she listened to the message being replayed to her, her face changed displaying confusion and concern. This caught Shikamaru's attention. Were the clouds' warnings coming true?
"What did they said Ino?" asked Choji.
Ino let her hand slowly drop from her left ear with a very worried look on her face. "The Godaime Kazekage…his siblings and his student…were defeated by an 8 foot tall skeleton swordsman."
"N-Nani? They were defeated? By a skeleton?" repeated Choji in disbelief.
"Hai. It sounds crazy but they're serious. They're even ordering us to come back to the village. I guess that's good news for you Shikamaru, we get to go back early."
Though normally Ino would be correct about Shikamaru's reaction to early relief, at that moment he was far from happy. Sabaku no Gaara, the former Jinuchuriki and current Kage of the Suna had been taken out in an instant by some creature? How was that possible? But that wasn't the big issue for him. What worried him more than he had ever been was that his siblings and student were with him. That meant Temari had been attached as well. Was she alive? Or had this skeleton swordsman killed her along with her brother? The very thought made him sweat and for the first time in a long time, he prayed to the gods she was alright.
"Anyways, we need to head back" urged Ino, "Tsunade-sama herself has labeled this as S-level threat."
"Aa…" replied the lazy shinobi, clearly distracted due to his worry. But before he and his team could head back to their village, two figures emerged from the brush.
"Excuse me, do you know what direction is the village of Konoha?" asked one of them. She was a tall attractive young woman in her late 20s with shoulder length black hair. She wore a yellow sleeveless shirt and a pair of purple pants that reached all the way to her calves. She also wore a simple belt around her waist, and purple high-heeled sandals along with an oddly shaped white hat. Shikamaru studied her carefully before answering rather hesitantly.
"Hai…you just keep heading East till you reach the main road and follow it to the village."
"Ah yokatta…" said Chopper relieved. "I'm glad the information was correct."
Due to his rather unexpected entrance and ability to speak, the Konoha shinobi stared at the little reindeer confused.
"What…is that thing?" asked Choji.
"I don't know but it looks cute. Is it a tanuki or some sort of summoning beast?" wondered Ino.
"I'm a reindeer you human idiot!" he snapped back at them.
While the good doctor reacted the same he always did when meeting knew humans, Shikamaru studied him intently. This little talking reindeer creature was not a summoning beast; he was most certain of that. If it was a reindeer like it claimed to be, why was it not on four legs? Or even shaped like a true reindeer? No this creature was something else entirely. It made him wonder where it came from as such oddities were not that common until just recently. This made him think even more intently on the subject. Could this creature be somehow connected to the skeleton swordsman that attack Temari? If it was he would make it tell him everything it knew for it might mean the difference of life and death for the Suna kunoichi. First he had to bait it.
"Reindeer" he said getting Chopper's attention. "Do you know an 8 foot tall skeleton swordsman?"
Immediately Chopper's face lit up. "Mm! That's Brook! Have you seen him? Ah I'm glad!" he said with joy. Shikamaru's face quickly darkened.
"This 'Brook' friend of yours attacked and possibly killed some friends of ours along with a powerful political leader" he said coldly displaying a face he had never shown before; eyes filled with rage. "You are now under our custody as will return to us to Konoha for questioning."
Chopper covered his mouth realizing what he had just done and turned to "hide" behind Robin who was still calm and even wore a small smile on her face.
"We'd rather not" she said crossing her arms across her chest. The Shinboi stiffened as it looked as if the woman was about to attack, to which Shikamaru prepared to use his Kage jutsu to pin her down. But he and his teammates could not see what was coming and it was far too late to run. "Dieciocho Fleur (18 flowers)" she said. Suddenly 18 arms began to grow from the bodies of the young shinobi, six for each of them which grabbed and disabled them by placing them into a powerful hold. Robin let her real arms fall to her sides and walked past the shinobi with Chopper right behind her. She looked to her left as she noticed the confused and angry glare Shikamaru was giving her. The reply she gave him was one he expected.
"Nice meeting you, little boy" she said smiling. Though her taunting angered him greatly, at the moment she smiled and said those words, for some reason he saw Temari and knew she too would say something like that to him. He wanted to shout, he wanted to know is she was alright but was too shocked from the strange ability this woman was using. He wasn't sure if it was the fear that was getting to him but he was almost certain that these arms were not a genjutsu but in fact real, which was like no Kekkei Genkai he'd ever seen or heard of. He tried again to speak but Robin had more to say.
Her arms tightened their grip causing the backs of the shinobi to snap loudly knocking them unconscious before letting them fall to the grass covered forest ground. Robin began to walk towards the direction the boy with the ponytail had pointed out but stopped when she realized that her companion wasn't following.
"Is something wrong?" she asked.
"How could you Robin?! Breaking their backs! They're only kids!" he sobbed.
"I snapped all their vertebrae simultaneously but did not break them. It caused the joints to send a jumbled mess of signals to the brain causing them to overload it and make them faint. They are in no serious pain. They will only be sore when they awaken" she explained wiped the sweat from his brow and let out a sigh of relief.
"I was worried for a moment. In that case," he fished out a vile of clear liquid and three syringes. "I'll give them each some painkiller so that when they wake up they won't be in to too much pain."And with that, the two pirates made their way to the village of Konoha, leaving the young shinobi to sleep in the shade of the large forest.
"Don't eat me!" cried Usopp covering his head in fear. It was too late for him; he was going to be eaten by monsters. He began to pray like a madman hoping by some miracle he would be saved whether it be by his friends or by an act of a higher power. However, his so called imminent demise did not come.
"I thought I heard someone" said a voice, clearly that of a young woman. Usopp opened his eyes and saw three people emerge from the woods. The one who had spoken was the young woman with brown hair tied into two buns and a large scroll on her back. To her left was a young man with very long black hair and oddly colored pale eyes. To her right was another young man wearing green tights and had short black hair with matching but very large black eye brows.
"Who are you?" asked Usopp.
"We're shinobi of Konoha. I'm Tenten. This is Lee and Neji" explained the young woman. "And you?"
Now that he was calm he straightened himself and replied proudly. "I am the brave Captain Usopp! I have sailed all over the world conquering sea after sea, defeating monsters and men to quench my never ending thirst for adventure!"
The shinobi blinked at his introduction. "If you're a Captain then where is your ship?" asked Lee.
Usopp snapped out of his nostalgic daze and realized he was right as he remembered what had happened to the Thousand Sunny, her crew and himself.
"That reminds me, where exactly am I?" he asked.
"You are currently at the Northern Border of the Land of Fire" replied sniper frowned at the name of the country he was in as he had never heard of it before. But since he had never ventured into the Grandline before joining up with the Mugiwara Kaizoku-dan he wasn't all that worried about where he was. There were many places he had yet to explore and he was certain his friends were not far from his current location. First things first were to find a way to reach them.
"Where is the nearest major town?" he asked them. "I've been separated from my friends and I need to contact them."
"The major village in this country is the capital Konoha 20 miles to the South-East. That's where we're going right now. We can show you the way" said Lee.
"Ah arigatou!" he said thanking them just as the shortwave radio Neji was carrying began to sound. He pressed the earpiece closer to his ear as the great distance between Konoha and their current location made the voice of the operator rather faint. This caught Usopp's attention.
"Suge! That must be very small Transponder Snail" he said genuinely impressed. However this cause both Lee and Tenten to give him puzzling looks, showing they had never in their life heard of a transponder snail. When Neji had finished listening to the message being relaid from the village he looked at Usopp with a serious look.
"Usopp-san…" he said stoically, grabbing the young sniper's attention. "Would you happen to have seen or know a tall living skeleton wielding a sword cane carrying an umbrella and a top hat?"
Usopp immediately smiled. "Ah that's Brook! He's the musician on our crew! Why are you asking? Have you seen him somewhere?"
Neji glared at him with icy eyes filled with malice. "This 'Brook' friend of yours just attacked the Kazekage and his family."
The brave warrior of the sea froze realizing his big mouth had said something that would most likely get him killed. As the abnormally large amount of sweat began to bead and pour over his body, he tried his best to avoid any conflict.
"Di-Did I say I knew him? H-Ha ha ha ha! Th-That was a mistake I don't know any living skeletons! They don't exist, d-don't be silly! That's a pretty bad lie!"
Despite his efforts Usopp could clearly see that his saviors had now turned hostile and he had to act quickly to save his skin. He plunged his right hand into his messenger bag fishing out one of his smoke bombs and smashing it on the ground causing a large smoke screen. As the shinobi gagged on the smoke Usopp ran as fast as he always did into the forest praying that he would have enough time to escape. He could feel his heart pound in his ears as he ran; too afraid to even look over his shoulder as he could hear nothing else. Unfortunately due to his panic he wasn't watching where he was going and collided hard with something that felt like an average sized tree knocking him to the ground.
"What did I just hit?" he said rubbing his head looking up. What he saw made him jump up with joy. "SANJI!"
"Oh Usopp" said Sanji nonchalantly.
"I'm so glad to see you! You have to help me! There are three guys trying to kill me after they found out what Brook did to-"
Unfortunately for the young sniper, his pursuers were already upon him egger to capture him for questioning. But despite his luck he was grinning. 'Yosh' he thought happily, 'Now with Sanji here to protect me, we can get back to the others and figure out what's going o-'
"What do we have here?!" asked Sanji with hearts in his eyes. He twirled over to Tenten and took her hand with the other at the small of her back. "You are very cute mademoiselle! How old are you?
Usopp immediately fell onto his back realizing Sanji was acting just like he always did with a women present. Lucky for him he managed to regain himself and began to snap his comrade from his ero state. "Oi Sanji! Snap out of it! She's the enemy!" he shouted angrily. When he didn't back off, Neji decided to intervene.
"Get away from her!" he shouted angrily striking at the blond cook who jumped back to avoid the attack which finally brought him back to a more sober state of mind.
"Oi oi friend. I'm trying to talk to the lady. Back off."
"I return the warning to you…friend" growled the normally stoic young man preparing to strike again but was stopped by Lee.
"Are you a comrade of Usopp-Senchou and the swordsman Brook?" he asked politely.
"Senchou? Ah I'm the cook. He's the sniper and Brook's the musician."
"I see. I'll fight him" he said cracking his knuckles. "Please fight Usopp-Senchou if you would Neji-san. I feel that this cook is more suited for my style of combat. I'll end it shortly."
Though Neji wanted to take a piece or two out of Sanji he decided to take his teammate's advice and faced Usopp, also planning to end the fight quickly.
"End the fight shortly?" repeated Sanji lighting a cigarette. "You're talking a big game aren't you Freaky-Eyebrows?"
'Like you're one to talk about weird eyebrows' thought the others in unison.
Both Neji and Lee took a fighting stance and expected their opponents to do the same but Sanji merely stood there puffing on his cigarette while Usopp stood with his knees shaking. Tenten was watching from the side wondering what would the outcome be. She had confidence that her teammates would win but their opponents were giving off odd auras, as if they had experienced things that they never could. It was that feeling that intrigued her. But of course, she could not foresee the outcome that would soon unfold.
In the blink of an eye Lee and Sanji charged at each other, unleashing a storm of kicks causing a large gust of wind when their legs finally connected. The two kenpo fighters were taken a back for only a moment to admired each other's skill before returning to a furious fight where the naked human eye would have trouble following. This greatly amazed the other Shinobi as no had been able to fight with their friend on par with the only Shinobi skill he could master. Usopp on the other hand was only surprised that Lee's legs hadn't been broken with that initial strike. Sanji would surely have fun. Unfortunately for Usopp, Neji was now over his amazement and returned his attention to him. He activated his Byakugan and saw that the young sniper's Chakra points were still dormant and saw there was no need for him to use his Kekkei Genkai.
"Please surrender" said Neji deactivating his Byakugan. "There is no chance of you winning this fight."
"I refuse!" shouted back Usopp, reaching into his messenger bag. "I am a proud warrior of the sea! Surrender isn't an option!" He raised up his slingshot drawing it back to his anchor point and let fly his payload. "Tamago Boshi! (Egg Star)"
Neji swiped away the small object back the recoiled when his smelled what he had just swiped away. "R-Rotten eggs?" he gagged, "What kind of warfare is this?!"
"The special fighting style of Captain Usopp, Usopp Tactics!" he said using his rotten egg distraction to load up another Star. "Namari Boshi! (Lead Star)" he shouted letting the pachinko ball fly right at Neji. The stoic shinobi managed to dodge the attack as he was uncertain of what other tricks Usopp had up his sleeve, but was unable to dodge the second shot that hit him square in the forehead. The sniper grinned at his successful plan but was soon recoiling in slight confusion as Neji appeared to be unharmed. It appeared that the young man's forehead protector had done its job.
Despite the fact that Neji was unharmed, his pride was not. He had underestimated this Usopp character due to his inability to use Chakra and had been made a fool of. He knew that the sniper was at an advantage at range and decided to turn the tides and fight more on his own terms in a close quarter battle. He knew he was losing face by activating his Byakugan to fight such a meager opponent but he could now afford to lose his honor along with his pride. He would end things now.
He launched himself at Usopp landing a solid strike on his chest that should have knocked the wind out of him. Instead Usopp managed to recover in midair and threw a handful of caltrops at him forcing Neji to shield his precious eyes. The Hyuuga was now out of mercy and reactivated his Kekki Genkai. Usopp frowned with concern.
'What just happened with eyes?' he asked himself. 'There are veins across his face. Is this some kind of weird Devil Fruit ability?' Though unsure of what Neji was doing exactly, Usopp knew it could not be good and reached again into his bag to defend himself. Neji attacked once again with a palm strike aiming at the Chakra point at the centre of his right pec. But to his anger, the attack was blocked. Usopp was holding an oddly colored seashell full of holes in his left palm effectively blocking the attack. Neji struck out with several more strikes that were to his frustration blocked as well. Usopp, being the man that he was, could not hold back a grin at his enemy's confusion. As a sniper, Usopp knew that hitting a moving target was far harder than hitting a stationary one. One had to aim where the target was heading rather than where the target presently was. Over the years his sharp eyes could not only judge distance, but speed and angle. He knew where Neji attacks would land before they did. Unfortunately, his skill would soon be over matched.
"Joukenho: Hakke Sanjoni Sho (Gentle Fist: Eight Trigrams Thirty-Two Palms)" said Neji coldly. Before Usopp knew what was going on, the stoic shinobi began another round of attacks. The sniper managed to block a handful of them but they were coming at him faster and faster with every swing. Despite their speed however, he knew they were very very precise attacks. When they reached their mark, the young pirate let out a shout of pain causing Sanji to spin round with a worried look on his face.
"Usopp!" he shouted trying to run to help his comrade but was stopped by Lee. "Don't get in my way Shitty-Eyebrows!"
"Their fight is already over" he said calmly, "Ours is not."
"Kono yaro…" growled the blond.
"Sanjoni Sho!" shouted Neji hitting Usopp with the last wave of palm strikes. Usopp fell to his knees with his head hanging; out of breath and in a great deal of pain. Neji, who was still hunched over in his final stance was close enough to the sniper to speak directly into his ear. "I am giving you one final chance to surrender. Do not try my patience."
Usopp was breathing heavily but winced every time he did. The pain from Neji's attack felt like a much more precise version of the recoil of the Impacto and Rejecto Dials. But unlike the recoil that only affected his arm, this pain was all over his body. He looked at the ground with his blurry eyes. It was certainly due to the pain and he would most likely past out because of it, and become a prisoner of these strange people. Was it alright to give in to the pain?
But at that moment, he heard his own words echo in his mind.
"That's why I decided to go out to sea! I want to laugh 'til I cry, too! But if I don't fight with everything I've got, there's no way I deserve to be on the same boat as them! There's no way I can laugh with them!"
'That's right…' he thought grinning. 'Why the hell am I thinking about giving up? They wouldn't forgive me if I did. I am…I am…'
"I am Captain Usopp…" he said aloud causing everyone to look at him. "I am the sniper of Monkey D. Luffy, Captain of the Mugiwara Kaizoku-dan. My bounty is 30,000,000 Beri. I was born on Syrup Island and left my only home to sail the seas to be a proud warrior like my father Yasopp. And proud warriors of the sea…" He lifted up the Impacto Dial and placed it on Neji's face. "Don't give up!"
With the last of his strength, he hit the apex of the Dial and released the built up energy hitting Neji with such force he slammed into the ground out cold. The others were stunned.
"N-Neji!" shouted Tenten.
"Neji-san!" shouted Lee.
"Way to go Usopp!" cheered the cook grinning.
Tenten ran to the side of her fallen teammate and checked if he was still alive. To her relief he was still breathing and showed no signs of potentially fatal wounds. But his face was covered with blood, along with his forehead protector lying next to him revealing his caged bird seal. She touched his cheek gently almost afraid his delicate looking face would shatter if she touched it too hard. A pair of warm tears fell down her cheeks as she looked at Usopp with eyes filled with anger.
"I will make you pay!" she shouted, her anger surprising all who were present. Realizing he had no other choice, Usopp forced himself to his feet and bolted for the safety of the forest with the angry young woman right behind her.
"Matte Usopp!" shouted Sanji trying once again to help his friend but as he did before Lee would not let him leave until their fight had concluded. He sent a kicked that missed the cook's the nose by mere millimeters. "Damn you Shitty Eyebrows!" he growled. 'Kuso. I can't waste anymore time here. Usopp is hurt pretty badly. I need to get to him before that pretty mademoiselle kills him.'
Usopp was already quite deep in the forest by this time. Though his upper body was badly damaged from Neji's Jyuuken, his legs had enough strength to carry him more swiftly than the average man. Beneath his feet he crunched and snapped twigs and rotting bark that was undoubtedly giving away his position but could not be heard for the pounding of his heart filled his ears. He quickly hid behind a large tree with his back resting on the trunk to catch his erratic breath and figure out a plan of action.
'Think Usopp! Those three are all close range fighters. As long as I maintain my distance I'll be alright. Can I even draw my sling shot? Ai! Kuso it hurts even to move my arms. I can't tell what hurts more, the Impacto Dial or that Neji guy's attacks. I have enough strength for one shot at most; I have to make it count. But it shouldn't be that difficult. I grew up in a forest like this. This is my element. This is my victory!'
Confident with his plan, the young sniper peaked over the side of the tree to see Tenten had already caught up with him.
'Too close!' he shouted in his mind. His confidence was now draining and being replaced with panic. 'Kuso kuso! I'm gonna be killed! What am I going to do now? What would Sogeking do? That's it!'
Tenten's eyes darted back and forth trying to spot any signs of the sniper. Though she knew her angry was making her act erratically and frantic, she wanted to get her hands on Usopp and make him pay for what he did. She had never felt this angry before and wanted to let it out before she exploded.
"Whom are you looking for my dear?" said a voice. Tenten looked up to see a man wearing a sun like mask and a red cape around his shoulders standing on a large branch in the trees. "Good day. My name is Sogeking."
"You! Usopp! I'll make you pay for what you did to Neji!" she shouted grabbing her large scroll with one hand, her rage reaching its boiling point.
"You are mistaken. Usopp-kun went that way. I am his friend Sogeking" he said but Tenten was not convinced. He took a closer look at the young women placing his left hand under his chin like he was deep in though. "This Neji-kun, you are in love with him."
The Weapons Mistress' cheeks immediately began to burn at his statement. "W-What are you saying?!" she shouted with a great deal of panic, far more than she planned on displaying. She felt her heart racing causing her to question why on earth she was reacting like this but knew very well why. Unfortunately for her, Sogeking knew as well.
"These eyes of mine see far more than targets" said the sniper tapping his cheek right below his left eye. "They see into the hearts of men and the dreams they hold. For you, you've been hiding it for a long time indeed."
Tenten's cheeks somehow managed to burn even brighter as his words spoke true. Her embarrassment and temper was now at its maximum and now Tenten was no longer acting in a disciplined manor. She roughly pulled off her large scroll and threw it open.
"Sogu: Tensasai! (Manipulated Tools: Heavenly Chain of Destruction)" she shouted. From the scroll erupted a sea of shinobi weapons from small Shurikens to large Shurikens to swords to daggers to kunai flying in all directions. This took Sogeking by surprise. His conclusion that Tenten was not a range fighter was false but he took solace that she was not a very accurate one. In fact, he did not have to even move from his perch.
"Throwing your weapons aimlessly is pointless and a waste of good tools. From one ranged fighter to another, you should take great strides to making every shot count." Sogeking fished out his sling shot once again and placed a pellet into the pocket and brought it full draw. "Especially when only one shot is needed. Hissatsu: Firebird Star!" he shouted letting the projectile leave the pocket and open releasing a large fiery phoenix at the young women, engulfing her in flames. She screamed out in pain but luckily would not be in pain for long as Sogeking jumped out of the tree and hit her on the head with his hammer knocking her unconscious into the pool of water at her feet, extinguishing the flames.
"I apologize" he said pulling her out of the water so she didn't drown. "I don't like fighting women or causing harm to those who are not enemies, but you left me with no choice. I hope you and your friend have a happy future together."
As Sogeking finished saying his kind words, Sanji and Lee burst into the clearing still fighting fiercely. But it all came to an abrupt stop when they saw the defeated Tenten at the feet of the masked warrior. Sogeking was expecting Sanji to congratulate him on his victory but the cook had a different view of the matter.
"What have you done you shitty bastard!" he shouted kicked the mask clean off Usopp's face. "How dare you strike such a lovely woman?!"
"O-Oi Sanji! She was trying to kill me!" he said defending himself.
While the pirates bickered, Lee stood there in both shock and anger. How could this be? Both Neji and Tenten had been beaten by that man who called himself Usopp. He seemed so weak but he succeeded to take them both out. The image of their blood covered faces was vividly present in his mind and was causing his own blood to boil. For the first time in his life, he felt rage burning inside him. Sanji felt the young man's anger and looked over his shoulder; Lee's eye flashing with flame.
"Looks like this one is gonna fight to the end" he said. Usopp let out an exhausted sigh and fell to his knees.
"I can't fight anymore! So tired!" he groaned. The adrenaline was wearing off and the pain from his fights was resurfacing.
"Relax. I'll take care of him" replied the cook lighting a cigarette.
Lee reached down to his shins and began to remove his weights knowing he would have to fight at full strength. This caught Sanji's eye.
'He wears leg weights? That takes me back. When I was a kid the old man made me wear those to train my legs. Looks like this one really is a notch or two above the others.'
Sanji's reminiscing was cut short as Lee began to move in for his attack. He leaned back to avoid it which was a very wise move as Lee sent a kick at the cook's head. The kick came so fast it was as if he vanished into thin air along with a good chunk of Sanji's cigarette. This made him frown.
'Bastard's fast' he thought. He quickly brought up his left shin to block a second attack but was then hit with a punch straight in the gut. The blond clenched his teeth as he could feel two of his ribs break but was not given time to recover as Lee struck him in the face.
"Yaro…" growled the cook letting fly a fury of kicks as fast as Lee's. The young shinobi dodged them but took great care in analyzing the power of his opponent's attacks.
'Fast and strong" he thought as they barely missed his cheeks. 'If I am hit but by one of them I would be finished. This man is like nothing I've faced before. Other than Gai-sensei and myself, no one fights primarily with taijutsu.' He then realized that Sanji was forcing him into a corner and leapt out of the way giving him at least 10 to 12 feet of distance from the cook.
"Your name is Sanji correct?" he asked.
"Aa. What's yours Fuzzy-eyebrows?"
"Rock Lee" he said proudly. "Even though you and your companion have beaten my friends, I am enjoying this fight immensely. I have never had such a fight like this before. Thank you the experience."
"Ho? To be honest Lee, you're the first guy I've fought that's been this polite. And I've fought a lot people."
"That I can see" he said with a smile of admiration. He felt foolish for losing his temper so easily when anyone could see they truly did not want to harm him or his teammates. "I do not know why you're comrade attacked the Kazekage and his men, but if he is as admirable as you and Usopp-san, then I suspect it was a misunderstanding."
"Then why are you fighting us?"
Lee looked at the blond with a serious face. "I swore an oath years ago that I would serve my village and nation even if it costs me my life. Because of that oath, I must fight you."
Sanji sighed and cleared his throat as he had eaten the other half of his cigarette thanks to the loyal shinobi. "It's annoying, but I really can't help but respect that."
With that the fight resumed. Lee began to run around Sanji with lightning speed that made him look like there was more than one of him. The cook tried to follow him but his eye could not catch up with Lee's ridiculous speed. This was just perfect. How was he supposed to fight someone who he couldn't even see? Then it hit him.
"Oi Usopp!" he shouted.
"N-Nanda?" replied the sniper currently awestruck by the spandex wearing ninja's abilities.
"I need you to shoot a smoke screen at me!"
"Don't ask just do it!"
"Y-Yosh!" replied the sniper fishing out Ginga Pachinko and another smoke pellet. Despite the pain his was in, he drew his sling shot once again. "Kemuri Boshi! (Smoke Star)."
The smoke pellet landed just where it was aimed and began releasing its contents as soon as it hit the ground. Soon the whole clearing was covered with smoke giving Sanji only a few moments to locate the speedy ninja.
'Where are you?' he thought squinting and holding his breath. Then from the corner of his eye he saw movement and knew what it was. Remembering his fight against Hakaba no Absalom, he knew if he could find at least the general location of his enemy he could hit him. In this case, Lee was trying to escape the smoke screen. But Sanji was one step ahead of him.
"Collier Shoot! (Neck Shoot)" he shouted jumping in the air and aiming a powerful kick at Lee's exposed neck. Miraculously, Lee managed to turn in mid air to face the incoming attack and used his forearms to block the kick similarly to the peek-a-boo boxing style. This however proved to be a poor decision. As Lee had realized previously, Sanji's kicks were not ones to take lightly and that taking one head on was suicide. Right now was a perfect example of that consequence. Lee could feel the power of the kick travel through his arms, back and chest. Both the Radius and Ulna bones in both his forearms were broken along with both Humerus bones fracturing. He could feel pain in his shoulders and was very certain he could feel his lungs and heart begin pressed against his ribcage.
The force of the blow was of course strong enough to send Lee flying out of the smoke screen and crash back first into one of the surrounding trees. He fell to the ground groaning in pain but managed to stay somewhat on his feet and keep his head up to see a small flame appear in the slowly dissipating smoke.
"You did well" said Sanji taking a drag from his cigarette. "But I've fought against fighters like you that are ten times as strong. Give up"
Lee merely laughed sanding up straight ignoring the pain and his labored breathing. "As I said before…Sanji-san…I swore to fight till the end…" 'My arms…' he thought. 'I can't use my arms! All I have left are my kicking techniques and Sanji-san is clearly superior in that field. His style is like my Goken (Strong Fist). But his is on a whole different level. I've lost…'
"Oi catch Eyebrows!" shouted Usopp throwing something at him. Despite his broken arms, Lee managed to catch the object with his right hand and realized it was a wine bottle. "Namari Boshi! (Lead Star)!" Usopp sent a lead ball at the young martial artist aiming right at the bottle causing the wine to cover Lee with some of it entering his mouth and making him choke.
"Yosh here we go!" cheered the sniper preparing to ignite the staggering shinobi but Sanji stopped him as he noticed Lee was acting strangely. He was swaying left and right with red cheeks like a drunkard and was grinning like a fool. Before the young pirates could figure out was wrong with him, he charged them at full speed. The sniper and cook managed to dive out of the way but were left speechless as Lee continued to run until he reached the edge of the cliff and fell right off it. Usopp and Sanji stared at the direction the shinobi had run for a few moments before looking right at each other with faces that asked one and the same question: what had just happened?
"W-What was that?" asked Usopp not sure if he should be concerned for Lee or laugh his ass off.
"I have no idea. What did you make him drink?" he asked picking up the label of the now shattered bottle of wine. He froze when he saw what it was.
"YARO!" she shouted smashing his foot right on Usopp's head. "This was an expensive dessert wine I bought in Water 7 for Nami-san and Robin-chan! Who told you that you could use it?!"
"But Sanji! I needed a bottle of alcohol for my arsenal and I was out!" he said once again defending his actions but all this did was make Sanji dig in his heel more.
"Baka! You of all people should know alcohol needs to be 80 proof to burn. This wine was only 11!" he growled. 'Matte…' he then thought suddenly. 'If it was only 11 proof, why was that Lee kid acting like he had been drinking all night? Is he a feather weight? Not that surprising with his baby face. Wait…this reminds me of something…but I can't remember what…'
He wanted to think more on it but decided it was best to move on. "Anyways, did you happen to find out where the nearest village was from those three?"
"Hai. That way" he pointed South-East.
"Yosh let's go" said Sanji letting his injured friend ride on his back and began to run quickly towards the village of Konoha.
"Yummy!" said Luffy with his mouth full of ramen noodles. There wasn't much meat in the dish but it was the best ramen he had ever eaten. Hinata was sitting to his right and couldn't help giggling at his antics. She was used to strict and polite table manners all her life and was happy to see people eat regularly with apatite. It also kept her mind off being betrothed to a man she did not love.
Swallowing loudly, he turned to Hinata. "I forgot to ask; where am I?" he said.
Hinata blinked surprised by the question but politely answered. "This is Konoha; the capital of the Land of Fire and the most powerful hidden ninja village."
"Hmm" hummed the pirate drinking the remainder of his broth. "I still don't know what I am but I'm sure I'll find my crew sooner or later" he said not all that worried.
"A. I'm a captain of a ship and I've been separated from my crew. I don't know where they all are right now but I'm sure they'll turn up. We've been through a lot so I'm not worried. I can feel their ok." Luffy then began to tell Hinata tales of his wild adventures with his crew, somehow (surely by accident) not giving away he was a wanted pirate. He told her of his battles with Buggy, Kuro and Krieg. His fight to rescue his navigator from the clutches of Arlong and how he saved an island nation from an oppressive king to get that same navigator to a doctor. He told her how he and his crew fought to save the Princess Vivi from the Sea Warlord Crocodile and his friend Robin from the World Government with the help of a perverted Cyborg. To top it all off he told of how he flew to a world above the clouds to battle a god and how he gained the crew member named Brook who was a living skeleton musician who burped, farted and asked for panties.
To anyone else who heard these tales it would all sound like madness and ignore them but not Hinata. She was truly amazed by his tales and could tell by how he spoke and the look in his eyes that they were true. She didn't know where Water 7, Impel Down, Thriller Bark or Alabasta were or what were Devil Fruit, Dials, Sea Kings or Cyborgs, but she was too blown away to ask or even care. Were there really such things outside of this country? She never left it even on missions but was now amazed as it was far more vast than she ever imagined. She was about to ask if there were more stories when a familiar voice sounded behind her.
She looked over her shoulder which caused her heart to stop. Right in front of her was her beloved Naruto. Her heart began to kick into over drive at his smile and was so happy to see him, but also felt cold sadness, as she remembered she was now engaged to another man.
Naruto on the other hand did not notice her turmoil as he was far more interested in the man sitting next to her. He looked odd with his straw hat. That couldn't possibly be her fiancé could it?
"Ohaiyo. My name is Uzumaki Naruto" he said decided to be polite regardless who the young man was.
"I'm Luffy" replied the pirate who was more interested in his ramen.
"Oh Naruto! About time you got here" said Teuchi, the owner of the stand. "This guy has been telling some of the craziest stories. On top of that he eats even more than you do!" the old man jabbed his thumb at the stack of bowls being washed by Ayame, Nishi and Matsu. The young woman of course was grumbling on how she had just come back from a trip and she already being put to work.
The blond merely squinted at the pirate captain before seating himself at the bar and ordered his regular servings of ramen. Hinata, sitting at her left could do think but stare at her bowl terrified to make eye contact. Unfortunately, Naruto was curious about her relationship with Luffy and leaned in to whisper in her ear. "Ne Hinata, is that your fiancé?"
This made Hinata jump as not only was he so close to her but that he knew of her future husband. She tired her best to remain as composed as possible to answer but before she could speak Luffy turned to look at the blond.
"Fiancé? Me?" he asked.
"N-N-No he i-isn't!" she stuttered. "I-I haven't m-met my f-f-fiancé yet." The words were painful to saw but she knew they needed to be said.
"You're getting married?" asked Luffy.
"H-Hai. I am part of a c-clan and am i-its heiress" she explained painfully. "I must m-marry a worthy s-suitor."
Luffy thought about for a second. For some reason hearing about fiancés and people how did not want to marry bothered him. It reminded him of something recent that left a bad feeling in his chest. What could it mean?
"That's stupid" he said finally.
"Same here" added Naruto finishing his first bowl. "You should marry who you Hinata!"
The young heiress looked up at her beloved and wished so desperately to do just that. But she knew she could do nothing. "A-Arigatou but I'm alright. M-more importantly, should we help you find your crew Luffy-san?" he asked.
"He nodded and thanked her and was about to left when Teuchi grabbed his arm. "Chotto matte bozu!" he said strongly. "I let you eat a lot because I wanted to keep hearing your stories but that doesn't mean the meal was free. 1600 Ryo."
"1600 Ryo!" shouted Naruto (a/n: a little over 200 USD). "Where do you put it all?"
"My stomach" replied Luffy not sure why the ninja asked such an obvious question. "Sorry oji, but I have any money. Nami never lets me have any unless she distributes it personally."
This made the old ramen-stand owner flinch as 1600 Ryo was a lot of money but likeable Hinata stepped in and paid the bill for Luffy. She suggested that they should look around the village to see if any of his crewmembers had arrived or is any travelers had seen them. Luffy thought it was a good idea and let her lead the way. Naruto, with nothing better to do, decided to help out, as he knew it would be better than lying around his apartment. Unfortunately for the trio they were in the wrong place at the wrong time and a certain orange-haired young woman passed through the great gates of Konoha with a caravan of traders.
Hope you liked that. Chapter 9 of A Princess Amongst Thieves will now be in production. It is going to massive! New characters will be introduced and secrets will be revealed! Don't miss it! Also, you can follow me on Twitter and Facebook. Cheers.
Next Chapter: Beware, beware the Straw Hats They Come.