The teleportation scrolls were produced and together, all the ninja moved back to the hidden leaf village. They appeared at the gate in bright sunshine. The time difference was strange; they guessed it to be late afternoon.
They were happy to home, even with the situation at hand. Sasuke hung back once more, unsure how he was going to complete his mission now. Being around Naruto had somehow made him act as he did when he was younger. He kept to the edges of the group as he worked out his dilemma.
The senseis paused in observation of the group and the city. Konoha seemed too quiet, not to mention the fact that no one guarded the gate today.
"I'll tell Tsunade we're back," volunteered Sakura, she leaped away to the tower. One of the shadow ninja spun to the north and stared directly into the trees, almost looking through them.
"The shadows are here," she sated. Everyone turned to look in the direction where the young ninja stared.
"Where?" Neji questioned, his eyes already switching to use his byakugan.
"Past the forest in a clearing four or five miles north of here," another ninja explained.
"How can you see them?" asked Lee, squinting.
"We can feel them," a boy stated. Sakura returned just then.
"Tsunade says-" she began to say.
"They've found the shadows. They're close Sakura," Naruto explained hurriedly, "we're going now."
"But she needs someone to relay the information we've learned," Sakura explained as Naruto pulled her wrist.
"Gai and I will take care of it," Kurnai stated.
"Lee, let us go give our reports to the hokage!" Gai called. Lee nodded sternly; he seemed to understand that his awesome skills in the taijutsu area would not be of assistance in this fight. They vanished. Kakashi and Asuma followed after their students who followed the shadow ninja. The ninjas lessoned in number as Chouji and Kiba were told to go back by Kakashi. He did not doubt their skill, but their attacks were not the best to face their enemy's powers with. The remaining ninja burst into a clearing and halted at the tree line.
"Remember, only chakra can touch them," one of the shadow ninja stated. Silently the new clan shifted into nothing more than shadows. The Konoha ninja stared at the spaces where they stood moments before and looked on, dumbfounded. It was not until Shikamaru felt a tap on his shoulder that they all realized the new clan had not left them completely. Noticing the numerous shadows that stood against the trees mixed with their own shadows they realized they had really turned completely into shadows.
Tenten jumped when she felt someone grab her wrist and open her fist, calming only slightly when she felt several kunai handles pressed against her palm. She looked to her shadow and saw another shadow next to it; she figured it was one of the shadow clan, standing beside her. She closed her hand, watching as her shadow grabbed the kunai, even though the weapons did not exist in the physical world. She watched as the others were given shadow weapons and well.
They remembered what they were told, that physical weapons charged with chakra could wound or even kill the enemy. Weapons seemed easy enough to make for the shadow ninja since they passed out four or five each to all the Konoha ninja and had plenty more for themselves. The presences in the field shifted and several ninjas felt tugs on their clothing, pulling them out to the center of the field.
"It begins," Asuma stated. The enemy had shown itself and their allies charged. It was all Naruto and his friends could do to keep up. With no physical drag, the shadows moved quickly across the grass. They made no sound to follow when they moved or with their attacks. Neji, Hinata, Sasuke, and Kakashi were the most suited for this battle, since with their eye abilities they could see some form of chakra the shadows were made of and not just the fleeting shadows.
Ino attempted a mind transfer, surprising herself when it worked on something that was only chakra, even though it was a sentient being. She kept up easily with the shadow clan once they recognized her chakra signature within the enemy. Shikamaru's shadow jutsu worked on the enemy as well; as he figured it work since it was a similar technique. Tenten took advantage of the captured shadows and vanquished them with her shadow weapons. Once she ran out of them, she only needed to charge her favorites with a little chakra for them to be just as effective.
Naruto felt several slices across his arms and face from near misses with the enemy. He was not as watchful as the others were. If they had been physical injuries, he would be bleeding, but he appeared to be physically fine. He had used all his shadow kunai, knowing he hit at least one when he went after two or three of them. Sasuke raced past him, the two nearly brushing sides as they passed each other. The Uchiha's eyes were swirling; it was hard to catch the shadows in his genjutsu, but when he did, it worked as if they were normal human beings.
Hinata screamed, drawing several looks in her direction. Sakura was at her side in a moment, along with Neji. Around them, the silent battle went on. It was impossible to know how many enemies they faced when their allies almost looked exactly the same. Neji looked down at his cousin with concern.
"What's wrong?" asked Sakura. The medic examined Hinata and found nothing unusual.
"The chakra pathways in her leg have been severed," Neji stated. He watched their shadows as Hinata curled up in pain. Sakura nodded and placed her hands on Hinata's leg. Her fingers glowed with healing chakra as she set herself to reconnecting the broken lines that fed chakra through the girl's limb. She could feel the clean cuts, almost as if the enemy had sliced through them with a sword or kunai. If the pathways to their hearts were cut, any one of them would die. She had no time to wonder if that was what happened to the sand ninja.
After a tense minute, Neji defending all three of their shadows in that time, Sakura finished and Hinata no longer felt any pain. The connections were still healing and raw, but they would survive the rest of the battle.
The others still moved in what appeared to be a one-sided battle. Shadows raced passed; they brushed up against the ninja's own shadows, leaving their arms or sides tingly with the touch of chakra. There was a slight difference to the shadows, just enough to tell them apart if they were not moving too fast.
Sakura spotted one of the enemies, the shadow not as long as her own in the setting sun, and aimed her last shadow kunai at its heart. The weapon hit home along with another from a different direction. She looked around for more. The field was oddly devoid of movement.
"They've stopped," Neji spoke. Sakura watched Ino return to her body and frown at the shadow beside her.
"You nearly killed me!" she gasped. The shadow she spoke to shifted back into physical form. The man wobbled on his feet and apologized to the blond girl profusely. She just made an 'hmpf' sound and crossed her arms. The field filled with human beings again, joining the Konoha ninja.
"They've been defeated," the eldest of the group announced. The shadow clan looked ragged and somewhat transparent as they grinned and let up a cheer. Naruto joined in, as did some of his friends.
"What about the rest of the clan?" asked Shikamaru, "did you find out if they have more ninja somewhere, waiting to exact revenge on us once we let our guard down? Or did you kill them all?"
"They have a stronghold in Stone," a small girl said. She clutched her wrist, ignoring the fact that it was broken. She didn't seem to care that her hair hung at odd angles as if half of it had been caught in the path of a flying blade. "We'll go there once we regroup."
"We'll help," Naruto offered. He rubbed his left shoulder to try and force the pained feeling he had in it away. Sakura made her way to him after she patched up Tenten.
They all seemed to have suffered minor chakra related injuries. The shadow clan had fared much worse. From what she could see, there were several broken bones and some bleeding to be stopped. It seemed the shadows could only inflict physical damage in their own world. The shadow ninja waved her away, saying they were fine and would get their own medics to look after them. Sakura shrugged and returned to her teammates.
"We won't need your help," one of the boys stated, answering Naruto's question, "we'll only need to relay the location to the rest of our ninja, and they'll join us. They've been searching for this since the clan left this land. Though, we appreciate your offer." The Konoha ninja nodded. Their mission was complete; their village was safe once more. They watched the shadow clan vanish into the forest and turned for home. It wasn't until they reached the front gate that they noticed someone was missing.
"What happened to Sasuke?" Ino questioned. Kakashi and Naruto cursed their lack of attention and searched the area.
"He's long gone by now," Neji added, scanning the forest, "there's no sign of him." Naruto cursed out loud and the others looked at their feet. They had let the Uchiha slip out of their grasp when he had been so close. Sakura calmed Naruto down as best she could as Shikamaru reminded them all that Sasuke had not been a part of their mission to begin with. Only the knowledge that they had prevented an all-out disaster from befalling their village let them rest easy as they went to check in with the hokage and return to their daily lives.
Sasuke marched into Orochimaru's chambers, his right hand clenched into a fist. The man watched as he threw open his hand and propelled what looked like nothing but air forward.
"The mission?" Orochimaru asked, looking at Sasuke with excitement.
"Successful," the boy stated. He turned and moved for the door.
"Where is the ninja?" Orochimaru questioned, his eyes narrowing.
"Right in front of you," Sasuke answered bluntly, "It's none of my concern if you cannot find what you've requested." He shut the door with a firm sound that echoed throughout the underground liar, leaving the room exactly the way he found it when he walked in.
Tada! The end! Did you like it? Was it worth maybe an hour of your time?
Did Sasuke bring him a shadow? Hmm…
I wish I had had the time a year ago to write this when I actually had great plans for it, but this is what it boiled down to. Sigh… oh well, I hope you enjoyed reading it.