Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto

Chapter 4: Ambushing and the Setting of the Sun

~xXx~

(Northern mountains, Uchiha domain, Uchiha camp)

Waiting and watching in silence. The second group of warriors, of both Uchiha and Inuzuka, were still at the Uchiha camp waiting for the signal to begin their attack. The sound of silence was radiating through the forest with an unnatural presence…

The first onslaught had not yet begun…but it was only a matter of time…

Kiba fidgeted impatiently as he growled,

"When the hell is he going to blow that damn horn? I'm going to be grey n' old before Fugaku decides to signal for us! The old fool-"

He was interrupted from his little rant by an Uchiha warrior - who looked to be around the same age as Kiba – as he cut in defensively,

"Don't you dare speak such words of disrespect of the Chief Fugaku! He's ten men more than you! You flee bitten mongrel!"

Kiba clenched his teeth and literally growled,

"What was that? How dare you speak to me like that! Is that really any way to treat a comrade? Did no one ever teach you to show respect to the Inuzuka clan, boy?" His voice rising as his anger grew.

The Uchiha visibly bristled, putting his hand on his sword's hilt,

"Come over here and say that!"

Kiba, also grabbing the hilt of his sword, crouched slightly with Akamaru standing next to him now growling with his hackles raised,

"No problem you little shit!"

Growls and sneering could be heard from the remaining Inuzuka clan members who were evidently backing their kin, while some of the young Uchiha's comrades stood behind him – backing him up. Tensions that had been growing ever since the battle plan had been commenced were suddenly exploding as the pent up emotions began to loose control; such things were bound to happen when warriors were worked up and ready for a fight.

Before either could lunge an attack Sasuke's authoritative voice brought Kiba and the Uchiha warrior's advances to a sudden halt,

"Enough. Save your energy for the real battle." Silence went through the group as all eyes went to the future leader of the Uchihas,

"It's petty to fight amongst yourselves, especially when you're comrades. So put your differences aside, we all have to fight alongside each other as we face the same enemy."

With that Sasuke turned to face the direction where the enemy's camp was situated, confident that the two young men would now cease their pointless bickering.

It seemed to cool the atmosphere immediately. Both men removed their hands from the hilts of their swords and proceeded to turn away from each other – although both did glare angrily at one another before turning away as if they would still quite like to pummel the other if they had the chance.

Kiba walked over and stood beside the young Prince of the Uchihas, folding his arms. Akamaru sat faithfully by his feet as always. Kiba gruffly mumbled to the stoic Uchiha,

"Could've let me at him just a little Sasuke…just a few little cuts here and there just so he knew his place wouldn't hurt anyone you know, could have at least allowed me that!"

Sasuke smirked, "Oh? And what makes you so sure it wouldn't be you with all the cuts here and there so you'd know your place?"

Kiba answered by raising one of his eyebrows and smiling, an incredulous expression,

"Ya serious?" Sasuke gave no answer except to continue smirking.

Minutes passed, minutes that seemed to drag by like years, a life time of waiting. The men and women waiting for the signal were uncontrollably fidgeting; many shifting from foot to foot unable to stand still. The air was filled with apprehension, along with worked up emotions.

And still there was no sound what so ever coming from the valley below…so the attack had not happened yet…what was taking so long?

The uneasiness Sasuke had felt earlier was still not distinguished, playing heavily on his mind. Yet he tried to push it away. He had to stay focused. Everything depended on precision and a cool head…

Time ticked passed and still no sound came from the valley. It was hard to tell if it had truly been a long time or if they were all feeling impatient, meaning the time was going slower…

And then, suddenly, there was a thunderous roar followed swiftly by a chorus of equally fierce yells and shouts…it had finally begun…

Kakashi looked at Sasuke and Kiba, cocking his head to his left to look at them sideways,

"Well, sounds like they've charged."

Kiba rolled his eyes, "Thanks for stating the obvious…" Akamaru gave a bark of agreement.

It wouldn't be long now. Sasuke could feel his warrior instincts crying out from deep within…the bloodlust building as he subconsciously psyched himself up as he thought of all those killed, wounded, all who were effected by the Land of Fire scum. How they came to their land and wanted to take it for their own, for their selfish evil king! How dare they…

Adrenalin was already building. His body was quivering with anticipation. Nerves mixed with crazy, unexplainable excitement were clustered together in the pit of his stomach; blame the adrenalin for that…The cruel and strange unexplainable feeling that a warrior tends to feel right before he charges…exhilaration. The thrill.

Again, possibly something to do with the adrenalin rush…

The silence was thick, the air pulsing with poised readiness…

Suddenly, the whole group whirled around. Swords and other weapons held defensively. Ready to block and strike. The Inuzuka wolves were low to the ground, bearing their teeth threateningly, deep rumbling growls coming from them.

Someone was approaching from behind. All were ready to attack whatever or whoever it was…Was it a Land of Fire soldier? Were they being ambushed from behind? Or was it some forest creature unintentionally teasing them?

The leaves of the trees, branches and thick bushes rustled and moved as hurried noises came from behind. To the group of warriors surprise it was a female voice that called suddenly from within the dark camouflaged forestry,

"At ease! I am a friend!"

A flicker of recognition passed over many of the faces of the shifty warriors, faces from both tribes. Kakashi's face was the most surprised, horrified and down right angry; the combination of all three was an almost comical thing to see! He asked the voice that had came from the dense and dark forestry, uncertain, like he was hoping the answer would be a resounding 'no'…

"Hana..?"

As soon as the name left the safety of his lips a giant wolf came leaping from the darkness with an Inuzuka woman wearing the traditional dress of the Uchiha women, riding upon the she wolf's back.

Hana was panting slightly as was the large grey and white wolf she was astride. Her hair that was in it's usual ponytail was looking a little misshapen from her speedy ride through the forest, the odd bits of leaf and twigs settled in between the strands of hair.

"Hey sis!" Kiba casually greeted with a little wave as if he and his older sister had simply bumped into each other by chance and that Hana had not just suddenly turned up right before a huge battle.

Kakashi, on the other hand, frowned as he angrily asked,

"What the hell are you doing here woman!" Although worry was plainly heard in his voice as he stepped forward so he was right next to the huge she wolf which his wife was still sitting on,

Hana looked down at him, her bright Inuzuka marks on either side of her cheeks, red marks brightly showing on her clean skin - completely different to the group of warriors whose faces were mucky from days without washing. She opened her mouth to speak but was interrupted by an uncharacteristically upset and concerned Kakashi,

"I mean, God dammit Hana! You're five months pregnant!"

"Kakashi,"

"What the hell are you doing? We're about to commence a dangerous, full on attack,"

"Kakashi,"

"You should be at home! Staying safe and minding our son and looking after the one that's not even born! Not out gallivanting on your huge-"

"Kakashi!"

"-Wolf in the middle of a war zone! For goodness sake woman what's going through your head! This place is no place for a pregnant woman-"

"Oh Kakashi! For goodness sake let me speak!" Hana finally broke into Kakashi's 'protective husband and father' rant, with a frustrated and truly Inuzuka yell. Kakashi looked rather indignant but nonetheless he stopped talking.

Hana continued, her words rushing out like a wild waterfall,

"I was outside of the village doing some foraging for Belsaphairy Berries, Rin needed them for a poultice for one of the injured men from yesterday that had been taken back to the village. When I was searching I came across a large group of Land of Fire soldiers-"

"Dammit Hana!-"

"Let me finish Kakashi!" – She growled at her husband who frowned in answer – "I left Hazuki," referring to the panting wolf, "Hidden in the darker parts of the woods while I went and got a closer look," – she ignored the grumbling of Kakashi as she said that – "Hidden, I listened into what the Land of Fire bastards were talking about..."

Frowning she continued, her voice strained with near desperation,

"They're going to ambush! They guessed your plans! They planned to pretend to not be ready, act like they were still sleeping, knowing that our people would attack! They were ready for us!"

Suddenly, the distant shouts and cries of war coming from the enemy's camp sounded louder and far more ominous…

"They worked out that we would send a second attack, trying to ambush them but all along they knew! They have halved their people and they were the ones I was listening to! They're planning on ambushing our people as soon as you all go down there! You'll be surrounded!"

She finished, her hands clenched into fists around Hazuki's grey fur. The huge she wolf whined as she felt the anxious mood of her mistress…

A deadly silence fell on the group of warriors. A different silence to before, before it had been tense, yes, but now…it was heavy. Thick. Near painful. They knew. The enemy had somehow worked out their plan, or if they had not worked it out, they had certainly planned an excellent way to counter their tactics; fight back by using the very same methods…

Kiba broke the silence, his teeth clenched together has he hissed the word -

"Shit!"

Sasuke's gut was doing some nasty twists. Why, why, did his bad feeling have to be correct? Kakashi glanced towards Sasuke, his eyes portraying the same thoughts as the young Uchiha prince's...

The white haired warrior was leaning on the large wolf, his hand gripping Hana's leg, as if he were afraid it was the last touch he was ever going to feel; as if she would disappear if he released his hold; as if Hana was the last piece of reassurance in his life…His other hand went to rest on Hana's belly, feeling the curved bump of her pregnancy beneath his fingers. She placed her hand on his as they looked at each other, silent words passing between them both…

A shocked stupor proceeded to overwhelm the group at the words Hana had spoken, lasting for a mere few seconds, as the group could do nothing but to let the devastating knowledge crash down on them.

Though a sound brought everyone back to reality with a sudden pull; the sound of a lone Uchiha horn, calling for its comrades…

Fugaku had made the signal.

And as soon as the sound was heard, it was like all the warriors were shaken from their stupor. Released from their daunting thoughts. Kiba unsheathed his sword whilst asking, eyes wide with fury and wildness at the thought of the Land of Fire people closing in on the Uchiha warriors, on the Inuzuka…on his mother…

"So! What are we going to do?"

Well. One thing was for sure. Leaving their people to fight the Land of Fire troops, to face death alone, was certainly out of the question. Sasuke and Kakashi shared a look that spoke a thousand words. Kakashi nodded to his student before taking the initial lead,

"Hana, go to the Inuzuka village! Get as many Inuzuka warriors as you can and then bring them here…" He glanced around at the many watching faces of the tribal warriors as he continued,

"…The battle will be bloody. And I do not know how many will survive…but I do know one thing. We will need more help or there will be none of us left…So ride and ride fast!"

Kakashi discreetly squeezed Hana's hand before she turned. She and Hazuki ran full pelt into the darker parts of the woods, the dark green of her dress's skirts and the black of her cloak flying in the breeze her and her wolf created as they speeded away…

As soon as she disappeared into the forest like she was apart of the very trees, Kakashi turned to the warriors, looking at Sasuke once again. It was his time now, so he spoke,

"We have no choice. We can't just leave them down there to be slaughtered…"

"Hell yeah we can't!" yelled Kiba brandishing his sword aggressively (Akamaru barked in agreement with his master) Sasuke continued,

"So. We'll go down there…and even if we charge to our deaths we will take as many bastard Land of Fire soldiers down with us!" he yelled while unsheathing his sword. He was greeted by angered and fired up warriors, thirsty for the enemy's blood,

"Now that's what I'm talkin' about!" Shouted Kiba, whooping and howling along with the Inuzuka warriors, all of which were stomping and growling ready for the fight that was to come…

Sasuke yelled encouragingly, fiercely, a blood cry, lifting his sword above his head. He was answered by more cries of war form his comrades…

The sounds of the Uchiha horn could be heard being blown again by Fugaku…

Once…

The yelling, growling warriors all lined up…

Twice…

Sasuke yelled, "On my command!"

Thrice…

The thudding, beating of dozens of scared, thrilled, blood thirsty, adrenalin pumped hearts were beating like the drums of war beneath the rib cages of the standing at the ready clan warriors…

The horn continued to be blown; desperately, the second onslaught was needed…

"CHARGE!"

And they charged. Running down the slope; stealth thrown out the window leaving brute strength and speed in its place.

Sasuke weaved through the many trees. Ducking under branches and leaping over bushes whilst yelling; a loud fierce noise coming from deep within his chest. The need to; fight. Protect, kill. So strong it was near unbearable…

It took seconds to reach the clearing, the valley where the enemy had been camping. The crowds of warriors fighting were a mix of colours. The greys, blacks and beiges of the Inuzuka and the dark green, brown, black of the Uchihas attacking courageously at the red, black and gold of the Land of Fire soldiers…

The second group of Inuzukas charged ferociously forward with their loyal wolves beside them bearing their teeth…along with the Uchihas who sprinted into the valley, swords raised, cries of war emitting from them. No fear showing and yet bringing fear so easily to others…

Charging in, Sasuke swung his sword above his head, bringing it down powerfully with amazing speed and accuracy- a lethal strike. He found himself in the centre of the battle already. Quick slashes with his sword to the oncoming foe. Bringing down many with his precision and deadly skill…Hot, crimson liquid splattering his face as the dirty blood of the fire nation became a new and ominous presence on his skin, clothing, the ground beneath his feet…Red, thick, rivers of death. The smell of iron a disturbing stench throughout the air…yet it was a smell he was used to.

He lifted his sword to block a muscled Land of Fire soldier. With a few strong, quick practiced movements it did not take long for Sasuke to bring the enemy soldier to the ground. The Uchiha heir leapt over the lifeless body, lunging himself at another armoured Land of Fire soldier whose living breath was so much more of a threat…Each opponent killed was left to become apart of the growing mound of bodies on the ground; both friends and foes…

Attacking again and again and again…Defending, stabbing, cutting, hitting, blocking, attacking…

Sasuke was in combat with another Land of Fire soldier. The young Uchiha was finding him a difficult opponent, tricky. With dismay Sasuke saw from the corner of his eye another soldier coming at him from his left. Sasuke couldn't block, if he did the other enemy soldier would bring him down…no time…can't dodge…can't block…shit…He was going to get a massive blow to the side when-

"ARGHH!" the enemy cried out in shock and pain as Kakashi stopped his sneaky and cowardly attack on Sasuke; the man now lay dead on the ground, his blood pulsing from his unmoving form…

Kakashi was beside Sasuke. Both were fighting as a team. One backing the other up…

A short distance away Kiba could be seen fighting like a wild and fierce animal. His shouting and yelling could be heard as he cut down one soldier after another. Each fallen enemy was one less person keeping him from fighting alongside his mother; whom he was trying to reach.

Another loud voice came through the throng of war cries and death,

"TOOK YOU BLOODY LONG ENOUGH!"

Shouted an angry Obito as he blocked a Land of Fire troop's attack before viciously kicking him in the stomach which propelled the soldier backwards to land flat on his back. Kakashi sufficiently cut the throat of yet another enemy, blood over spilling, he yelled back,

"Now now! Don't get your panties in a twist! We're here now!"

Obito dodged another attack, shouting crossly, "Oh! How gracious of you!"

It was incredible to hear someone actually chuckle in a time like this but that was exactly what Kakashi did as he cut another opponent down with ease…

"MOM!" yelled Kiba as he swung his sword, the stomach of his opponent bursting out upon the ground with disgusting clarity, the man screaming in pain and anguish as Kiba left him to run to his mother's side.

Tsume, covered in the scarlet evidence of her killings so far, punched the man she was fighting in the face before spinning around, bringing her sword out and around to make a strong, harsh, impact on his already bloodied body…he fell to the ground unconscious. Her large wolf, Kuromaru, was lunging himself at unsuspecting Land of Fire soldiers bringing them down with ease; growling as he ripped their delicate skinned throats, his dark grey and white fur now a thick and sticky mass of dripping red…

Kiba was beside his mother. She was furious…

"Those fucking bastards!" She yelled as she mercilessly cut the man she was fighting, her jagged edged sword meeting his flesh, wounding him badly. He fell to the ground screaming and riving in pain - floundering in his own blood… She continued angrily, taking her fury out on idiotic Land of Fire men who decided to try and take her on,

"The bastards pretended to be asleep! While all along they were waiting! DAMMIT!" she cursed as she brutally maimed another enemy who dared to cut her shoulder…he did not last long after he did that...

Kiba, attempting to keep up with is mother's furious attacks, shouted back,

"We're going to be ambushed mom! Hana found us and told us – SHIT!" he ducked as a Land of Fire soldier swung his sword, narrowly missing Kiba's head. Kiba swung his legs with all his might, knocking the soldier out from his feet making him an easier target...Leaping to his feet he shouted whilst making brutal attacks on the man,

"We're going to be outnumbered!" He brought his sword down on another enemy, blood caressing the edges of his sword, "YEAH! Take that YA CUNT!"

"Where's Hana now?" Tsume yelled to her son, who answered whilst blocking another attack, grunting slightly under the strain,

"She's getting help!"

He shouted, still blocking the larger man. The huge Land of Fire soldier pushed down with his sword onto Kiba's…Kiba began to buckle under the man's immense strength…so he made a move that was admittedly dirty and underhanded but nonetheless effective…The young Inuzuka lifted his furry, boot covered foot and kicked the larger man right in the balls, effectively enabling him to get the upper hand. Tsume saw her son doing this, laughing she shouted,

"That's my boy!"

Shouts. Roars of war. The Uchihas and Inuzukas are in much trouble as the second group of Land of Fire troop's attack; Just as Hana had said they would. Blood defiled the earth in large, unnatural amounts, covering the ground with its iron infested smell and colour of death.

The two clans fight, bravely, fiercely, as the second horde of enemy attack in overwhelming numbers. However, the Inuzukas and Uchihas are holding their own, even as the enemy close in all around them…

But who should come screaming through the trees out into the battlefield? Yes, help arrives as more Inuzuka come charging through the trees into the clearing. Hana had done well…

Tsume raises a clenched fist and shouts in her tribal cries to her people, welcoming them to the bloodbath and thanking them at the same time for their presence.

So they have help. But the Land of Fire numbers are still many. Too many…The warriors fight bravely on as the sun rises higher into the sky as the day continues…

Sasuke curved his body, swinging his sword from his right with powerful force, hitting the side of the man he was fighting. A pained yell from his opponent. Another attack from the Uchiha prince. Swift and accurate. And then a heavy thud as the man hit the ground with a howl…

Sasuke, panting, was already blocking another attack. Hardly anytime to breathe! His sword was dripping thick scarlet tears as the blood of the day immersed its sharp edges.

The battle was long. It had been going on for hours. The sun was rising high into the sky; an obvious sign that midday was nearing. Sasuke's aching muscles screamed at him to stop. But stopping would be pointless and stupid. Stopping would make him vulnerable. Stopping would kill him. He might as well stab himself through the heart with his own sword if he stopped.

No. Stopping was not an option.

Although his muscles hurt, Sasuke was used to it. He had fought many battles. Some short and fierce, others long and strenuous. Either way he was a seasoned fighter. He knew how to deal with tedious things such as aches, pain and exhaustion. He remembered his first battle - he could hardly hold his sword by the end…Now, his arms were strong and muscled and he felt confident in his movements.

Adrenalin, pumping through his body, also helped to still the pain from his mild wounds, aching muscles and tired body…

Another swing with his sword, another enemy falls…

Since more warriors of the Inuzuka clan had arrived to help, the Uchihas and Inuzukas had been fighting there way through the thick masses of Land of Fire soldiers, trying to reach the forest edge where they could retreat…they had been attempting to do this for hours. The enemy seemed to be appearing in unending numbers! Where were they all coming from!

Kakashi had long since left Sasuke's side - as soon as more Inuzukas arrived to fight alongside their comrades he had left to fight beside another…Kakashi had first looked enquiringly at Sasuke, as if he needed the young Uchiha's permission to leave…Sasuke raised his head to look through the crowds of fighting warriors to see the reason to why Kakashi should suddenly have that expression of horror and unease…Sasuke soon saw the reason.

There was Hana, with her protruding five month pregnant belly, fighting as fiercely as any other less pregnant Inuzuka warrior; her wolf growling and snarling as intensely as her owner. Sasuke nodded at his old teacher, understanding. Kakashi sprinted off towards his wife; obviously he had not expected to see her there in the centre of the battle…but Inuzuka women were certainly renowned for being feisty…

Kiba still fought beside his mother and still cursed loudly, crudely, as he made his deadly blows. His war cries echoing around the clearing as roaring growls, showing his teeth like a feral animal. He, in a way, mirrored his loyal wolf Akamaru, who tore at the opposing enemies who charged with their weapons raised. Tsume was still violently fighting; a bringer of death as the crimson coat of pain covered her clothes and skin as it spurted from the falling enemy soldiers…

Sasuke brought his sword round again bringing his opponent down with the thorough blow…As the enemy soldier hit the ground with a sickening thud and crunching of his armour rubbing together unnaturally the sound of an Uchiha horn could be heard through the chaos…

"PULL BACK!" shouted a red faced Fugaku, before blowing the horn again and then calling to the Uchiha and Inuzuka warriors, "RETREAT!" – Continuing to blow the horn and motion with his sword towards the trees – "PULL BACK!"

Sasuke threw himself to his right, dodging an attack, whilst bringing his blood covered sword around with deadly accuracy…

Uchihas and Inuzukas, after hours of fighting their way through the hordes of Land of Fire soldiers, were now close enough to push through and retreat into the nearby forest's edge…if they could reach the dark location of the trees it would be easier for the two mountain tribes to disappear into their well known country, escaping, surviving for another day…Although it was not in their nature to run away - today it was certainly necessary…

Charging forward Sasuke began to rush towards the forest edge which he had been slowly heading towards ever since he had become immersed in the battle. Dodging attacks and countering them…always attacking and defending as he made his way towards the trees which were the safe haven his and the Inuzuka people were reaching out for…

"RETREAT!"

That word sounding around the battlefield again and again as Fugaku called to his and Tsume's people. The musical war cry of the Uchiha horn echoing around the blood covered clearing…

Obito - being of a high ranked and older warrior with a kind nature - bent down and grabbed the arm of a staggering young Inuzuka warrior; the older Uchiha lifted his sword to defend himself and the wounded clansmen he held onto, "Keep going!" he yelled to the wavering young Inuzuka, his weight shifting onto Obito heavily…Obito grunted under the extra weight. Yet he still rushed forward, half dragging the injured Inuzuka, his sword still protectively raised. Heading straight for the cluster of tall thick dark trees – a life source of their people…

"RETREAT!"

Yelled a thunderous Tsume as she fought her way towards the forest edge, Kiba beside her fighting just as strongly. All around Uchihas and Inuzukas rushed suddenly forward, all in the same direction, towards the trees…faithful wolves ripping and tearing at the enemy troops, blood splattering upon their pine smelling wolf pelts…

Kiba cut yet another enemy down. Breathing heavily. Heart pumping. From the corner of his eye he saw something in motion that twisted is stomach sickeningly; he had no time to react quickly enough to stop the blow his mother received,

"MOM!"

He shouted as he saw a Land of Fire soldier get an unexpected upper hand on his mother, as he brought his heavy framed sword down upon Tsume's right shoulder…If it had not been for her quick reflexes - as she managed to half blocked the blow - her arm would most likely have been severed from her body…

The heavy blow had brought her uncontrollably down to her knees. The Land of Fire soldier lifted his sword above his head with speed; ready to bring it down upon the Inuzuka leader. Tsume breathless and dazed from the tremendous blow as blood spilled from her wounded shoulder; her head spun. Her blood was spilling from her wounded shoulder in blood pooling amounts…She tried to grip her sword, realising the immediate danger she was in. The wound to her shoulder rendered her arm useless. She could not grip the hilt of her sword. No time. The enemy was bringing the sword down on her–

WHAM!

The land of Fire soldier went flying as an angered, desperate, Kiba lunged himself at the unsuspecting man; his sword flying from his hand as they both hit the ground. Struggling on the muddy blood covered soil Kiba wrestled with the large Land of Fire enemy.

The soldier managed to pin Kiba to the ground. Kiba growled from anger and strain as he tried to keep the other larger man off himself. The soldier was pushing down on him. The tip of the soldier's painfully sharp sword was centimetres away from the young Inuzuka's throat. Kiba attempted to reach for his dagger but in doing so the Land of Fire soldier was able to push down, almost reaching his delicate Adam's apple…

"Dammit!" he hissed through clenched teeth as he replaced his hand, pushing the Fire Nation soldier, who's face showed utmost determination…

Akamaru, sensing Kiba was in danger was trying to get to him but he was suddenly faced with countless enemies, a wall of Land of Fire men blocking his way towards his master as they knew one less wolf tearing their men's throats out was one less well done…

Kiba's arms shook as the tip of the soldier's sword carried on moving forward as the strength of his opponent began to overwhelm him…

Just as Kiba thought he should probably start praying to his God, the man pinning him down suddenly stopped his pushing down with his sword as his eyes widened horrifically. Kiba raised an eyebrow, slightly bewildered. The soldier blinked a few times as blood began to spill from his mouth in scarlet drizzles; dripping down to rest on Kiba's cheeks and nose. Looking down the young Inuzuka saw the reason behind all this; the tip of a sword protruded from the man's chest…his body went limp as he his eyes closed, he groaned and slumped forward.

Kiba rather disgustedly shoved him off, grabbed his sword from the ground where it laid and got to his feet. His mother faced him, looking pale from loss of blood, swaying slightly on her feet; her sword was in her left hand, covered in fresh red blood…

Kiba rushed forward to steady her, before continuing to fight his way through the crowds of oncoming enemy, staying incredibly close to his now uncharacteristically vulnerable mother. She was able to block some attacks by raising her sword with her left hand, though, being right handed and weak from loss of blood she was at a disadvantage; her son stayed by her side, protecting. They made their way towards the not so far off forest edge…

Akamaru finally arrived by Kiba's side again, his tongue lolling out the side of his mouth, his tail wagging slightly. The obvious signs of sticky blood from the foolish soldiers who had slowed him down when he had been trying to reach Kiba, resting on his nose and around his mouth, his black nose barely visible through the red…still standing close by his mother, vigilant in his need to protect, Kiba raised an eyebrow at the large white wolf,

"Oh. Thanks buddy, you know you being late nearly killed me just now!"

Akamaru didn't even whine in response for an apology as he dived passed Kiba, with a huge growl, pouncing on an enemy soldier who had been trying to sneak attack his beloved human from behind. Kiba blinked before actually laughing as he thought how Akamaru had possibly just saved his life,

"But you always know how to make it up to me!"

The forest's edge, closer and closer…

"RETREAT! PULL BACK!"

Hana and Kakashi fought together, making their way towards the forest's edge; Kakashi fighting viciously, with protective valour.

Nearing the forest…will they be able to retreat?

Not far from the battle, a group stand; to the side; watching.

A smile caresses the face of one who has ulterior motives. Not there for the battle, not there to fight for his country or his king. He's there, watching, waiting, for himself. For his upcoming moneybags that he can't wait to weigh down his trouser belt…

"Un…So they think they can run?" The blonde slave trader says in an amused manner, half murmuring to himself, half to the small group that accompany him. He received evil chuckles from his underdogs who sat or stood around him...

"Well, well…I do believe this must be our cue…" he said as he stepped forward…

Deidara and his group of slave traders stand watching the procession of war - waiting for their moment – hidden in the dense undergrowth of the forest. From hours of staying in the same place they finally move, sensing their silent signal; it was time for their part in this tale…they make their way from their hiding place, sweeping out like darkly cloaked phantoms, coming up behind the unsuspecting and retreating clan warriors…

Some of the Inuzuka and Uchiha warriors had reached the forest. The booming call of the Land of Fire general echoed around the clearing as he told his troops not to enter the forest…they had obviously learned after thirty years of war that the Inuzuka and Uchiha could kill them all by using the forest against their enemy; a Land of Fire soldier does not want to be in a forest surrounded by northern mountain tribesmen that they cannot see…they would be picked off one by one.

Blood and mud covered Sasuke's body from head to toe. He and the final surviving Uchiha and Inuzuka were sprinting forward…they were nearly in the forest…Sasuke only had a few metres to go and he would be in the safety of the trees…

The young Uchiha prince, however, suddenly found himself hurtling forward - hitting the ground with a shattering thud. He gritted his teeth. What the fuck just happened?

Trying to move, to get to his feet, he realised something was wrapped tightly around his legs. Turning to look, his hands digging into the soil beneath them, he saw why; balos. A contraption made from a piece of long hide with two ball like objects – made with layers upon layers of hide, making them circular – on either end. It had been thrown, spinning through the air, and had wrapped around his legs which had caused him to fall…Frowning Sasuke hurriedly reached for his sword, realising the great need to escape and get into the safety and darkness of the forest…for he had heard of what kind of low life being uses such devices to catch fellow humans…

Cutting himself free he got to his feet. He had planned to carry on making his way to the forest but found himself uttering a quiet curse as he found he was surrounded by several Land of Fire soldiers…Six. To be precise, six soldiers surrounded him in a confining small circle…

Shit! Mentally chastising himself for being so foolish as to not realise in time that he was being cornered…Sasuke braced his legs and gripped his sword, crouching slightly, ready to fend off any attack he was bound to receive at any second…

After Deidara had made his deal with the general of the Land of Fire soldiers, the general had went over the plan with his troops. Deidara and he had discussed and decided that when the Uchihas and Inuzukas made for their escape, the soldiers aim would change. They would not aim to kill…but to capture. Even if the general's men did not agree with this, as surely some wouldn't, they could not argue as they had no right to go against their general's direct orders; the penalty of doing such a thing is possibly an execution.

So as soon as the tribal people made for their retreat, the Land of Fire soldiers immediately started to knock out the opponents they fought…and catch the fleeing Uchihas and Inuzukas…while the slave traders joined them, greedily picking and capturing the warriors they could see would fetch handsome prices at the slave traders market in Konoha City…

Kiba and Tsume, along with their two wolves, had made it to the forest and were presently already disappearing into the thick and dark forestry with the rest of the Uchihas and Inuzukas who had reached the safety of the underbrush…Looking back, Kiba expected to see many disorientated Land of Fire bastards who could no longer see nor follow them into the forest, knowing they would be incredibly vulnerable if they did follow pursuit (they would have to be plain stupid to enter the forest after the mountain warriors...)

However, the Inuzuka was surprised to see most of the soldiers weren't even thinking of the clan people who had reached the forest's edge…in fact, to Kiba's horror, they were too busy trying to stop the few Inuzukas and Uchihas who had not reached the forest's edge! Not killing but rounding them up, herding them like animals…capturing them. Binding unconscious clansmen with chains…

Searching the crowds of Land of Fire troops, remaining Uchihas and Inuzukas who were desperately trying to get through the masses of enemies who were suddenly trying to ensnare them…Kiba saw the evident reason to all this strange behaviour as his keen Inuzuka eyes spotted a blonde man, smiling indulgingly, calling out directions with a greedy glint in his eyes…dressed in the traditional clothing of a human-merchant…

"Slave traders!" Kiba exclaimed to himself, spitting the word through his teeth as if it burned his lips…Slave traders in the mountains! Capturing his and Sasuke's people…how dare they! Anger and disgust built up inside him like a vile taste in the back of his throat…

"KIBA!" shouted a fellow Inuzuka behind him, motioning with his hand, "We must leave! Come!"

Kiba continued to look into the valley where there were crowds of people he knew…could he leave them to face their fate? Leave them to face the slave traders alone? Could he live with himself if he left them? It was then that he made a decision…

"Look after my mother!" He yelled as he passed a semiconscious Tsume, dreadfully pale, clutching her bleeding shoulder, to his fellow Inuzuka warrior. The warrior could not stop the young Inuzuka as he turned,

"KIBA!"

He yelled as he watched the Inuzuka leader's oldest son run back towards the battlefield, right back into the death and destruction which he could surely not survive…back into the hands of the vindictive slave traders…

Kiba, not knowing why he was so stupid as to do this, let his strong legs carry him back right into the bloodied valley. The same valley he had been fighting to get out of…he could not really explain. All he knew was even if he were to die he could not just let the mountain people who were left behind to be alone and face their fates...He had to help them…

He did not fear death. In fact it was something he knew would come, whether it be that day or one later on, was just one thing that added to the adventure; death, also, is one of the biggest adventures a man can go through…

However, he could not foretell what would happen to him. He did not see it coming and perhaps if he had he may not have went back down into the valley of blood and death and human betrayal…

Reaching the clearing, but before stepping out, Kiba crouched behind a bush and surveyed the happenings in front of him; accessing the situation. He suddenly heard a quiet whine behind him and the warm breath of a familiar canine,

"Akamaru!" he whispered as he turned to see the white wolf, who was lying on his stomach, looking lovingly up at his master. Kiba, knowing the dangers that he was willingly putting himself through, was not exactly eager to bestow these same dangers on his old friend. Clasping his hands on either side of Akamaru's face he whispered, his voice thick with emotion and meaning,

"No boy." He said firmly, "I need you to go with the Inuzukas…I need you to look after my mom, ok?" The wolf whined softly, pushing his nose forward, understanding but unwilling. Kiba pushed him gently,

"Go! Look after my mother! Do this for me boy!" they shared a look and whether it was Kiba's commanding voice or something in his eyes that told Akamaru that he must go was not clear; whatever passed between master and animal friend, it made Akamaru turn - with a sad expression - and run back into the thick and dark safety of the forest; to where Tsume and the rest were heading towards refuge.

Kiba felt sadly alone now that his comforting friend was no longer with him but he knew it was better this way. It, in a way, comforted him to know Akamaru would be safe with his clan…Kiba's mind briefly thought of the possibility that he may never see his wolf companion, his mother, his clan…again…

Shaking his head he turned to face the scene again deciding what would be best to do…there was no time to worry over such matters when there was business at hand, he had to focus…Kiba was planning his next course of action when he saw a familiar Uchiha surrounded by several Land of Fire soldiers…

Six large Land of Fire soldiers surrounding a lone Uchiha; a young Uchiha with a fierce, stubborn, glint in his dark as night eyes…

One of the Land of Fire soldiers tried to make a grab for Sasuke, who successfully dodged and attempted to strike out with his sword. The soldier was quick on his feet, however, managing to dodge his attack.

From this attack the six soldiers must have realised that Sasuke was a fierce and strong fighter who was not going to go down easily…So they, overwhelmingly, all began to make their way ominously towards him…

The fact that they were all moving towards him all at once, ganging up, angered Sasuke. Fucking cowards…he angrily thought to himself. He held his sword up, gripping the hilt with both hands.

They'll have to kill me before I'll ever become a slave…He thought to himself, meaning every word as he clenched his teeth, ready to go down fighting…

There was a sudden interruption as someone shouted,

"YAAHOO!" Sasuke was shocked to see who he saw leap into the circle that had tightly formed around him. The fur cloaked Inuzuka had jumped into the circle and was swiping a viscous blow at the Land of Fire soldiers, who were closing in on Sasuke, causing them to dodge it – backing off slightly for a few seconds. The new arrival now stood beside Sasuke, who said a little disbelievingly,

"Kiba?"

"Ha! What an entrance right!" The fool… thought Sasuke but he couldn't deny he was please to see his old comrade. Smirking he replied as they both shifted so they were back to back, swords raised,

"So…thought you'd come fight beside my side huh…"

Kiba grinned as he glared at the enemy soldiers, who were carefully approaching again, swords out and ready…

"Too right! I'm not about to let you have all the fun!"

Sasuke's dark eyes watched the Land of Fire bastards on his side, the circle around him and Kiba becoming smaller and smaller as the enemy came closer,

"Hn…Well, Kiba of the Inuzuka, are you ready?"

Are you ready…are you ready to fight? That would be the obvious meaning behind that question…but the deeper meaning would be…are you ready…willing…to die?

Kiba wolfishly smirked,

"I was born ready!"

Two young tribal men stood, back to back, ready to fight, ready to die side by side in flames of glory…

The clearing was basically empty of Inuzuka and Uchiha, except for the large amount that lay dead on the ground and the small amount that lay unconscious ready for the slave traders to cart away…the rest had successfully made their escape into the forest where the Land of Fire troops could not follow…

Sasuke brought his opponent down. Raising his sword he fully intended to bring it down on his enemy. Kiba could be heard growling and grunting, the clash of his sword as he fought alongside Sasuke. They were actually getting the upper hand of the six soldiers they were fighting…perhaps they would make it to the forest after all..?

Sasuke, as he started to bring the sword down with speed and power, felt a quick, sharp pain in the side of his neck. It caused him to pause…

He blinked, not understanding why, but in that split second he suddenly felt incredibly dizzy and disorientated…tired even…no…exhausted…a dreadfully unnatural exhausted…

His body felt numb. He heard a dull thud and a clang as his sword slipped from his hands. His hands were limp, prickly pins and needles biting away at his fingertips. His version was blurring…

He staggered. Knowing he must fight…but where was his sword? His hands felt like they were twice the size they actually were, clumsy, swollen even…why were there muffled words drifting through his mind…like people were speaking around him but he could not define the words being said…he felt so tired…

Sasuke tried blinking. Tried to get his sight back to normal but all colours seemed to blur into one, mixed together confusingly. He tried to step forward but was surprised to find he couldn't as he had fallen to the ground; he hadn't even noticed. But now he lay on his side, trying to move his legs and arms, attempting to get to his feet…though it seemed to be getting him no where as he remained lying on the slightly muddy earth; the dark substance of wet soil soaking through his clothes, something at present he did not register as his mind tried to focus…It was like his brain was struggling to tell his body what to do but his body would not or could not obey properly…

His eyes unfocused as he tried to stay awake. The Uchiha's hand reached out onto the ground, searching. Searching for his sword? Sasuke wasn't even sure anymore…but perhaps there were some strong, primal, subconscious instincts telling him to find his sword so he could protect himself…his clumsy, drowsy, hand did not find the familiar, comforting hilt of his sword however…

Sasuke glanced around, his world spinning as his head pounded. He saw Kiba lying on the ground, attempting to get up as he was also on the ground…clumsily trying to rise. His face looked just as dazed and unfocused as Sasuke's…But then, Sasuke found himself unsure of the fact that it actually was Kiba…was it Kiba? Sasuke found it hard to tell, everything looked so blurred and unclear…he was so dizzy…he just wanted to close his eyes…

A blonde slave trader saunters over, confident in his movements…arrogant even.

Deidara walked over to where Kiba and Sasuke lay, looking disdainfully at the six soldiers who he deemed practically 'useless',

"You see. You were here for a good while - I was watching - getting no where with these two," – He motioned to the two drugged figures on the ground – "in fact, they were beating you…and it only took two little sleeping darts to beat them."

The blonde slave trader smiled as he fingered the pipe he held in his hands, the pipe which he had blown the two sleeping darts from,

"Technology really is an art, no?" He commented cheerfully. The soldiers he spoke to discreetly glared at the slave trader as he made his way over to the black haired Uchiha. Deidara noted that the Inuzuka warrior was now unconscious, giving into the powerful tranquilizer dart's substance that had entered his body; rendering him unconscious.

But this one…He thought as he crouched to get a better look at the still conscious Uchiha…This one was fighting very hard to stay awake…

Deidara studied the Uchiha, noting his muscled build and his good looks; he was also evidently strong willed judging from how he was fighting the sleeping drug. That could both be a good and bad thing...Good because he was strong; people love strong, good looking slaves. Yet it was bad also because it probably indicated he was going to be a trouble maker…either way, Deidara smiled as he whispered,

"You, my man, are going to fetch a high price. Un, yes! I can tell!" he finished patting Sasuke's grimy cheek; similar to how a human would pat a dog although they would probably be nicer to a dog…

Sasuke was fading. It was hard to see. He could see someone standing over him…someone blonde? He heard an unfamiliar voice as he said something his sluggish brain could no longer understand…His instincts were telling him, somewhere deep at the back of his mind, telling him to fight. Hi body was aching to fight. He felt fierce and angry. If he could move his body Sasuke would have lashed out at this stranger, especially when he dared to pat his face! Although Sasuke could not be sure this stranger had touched his face…He could no longer feel his face as his body seemed to shut down. Did the stranger touch his face? Or did he imagine it? What was going on…he felt sick. Dizzy. Tired…Oh so tired…

Sasuke closed his eyes, darkness taking him, as he blacked out…

~xXx~

(Land of Fire, Konoha City, the palace)

Sakura stood leaning on the rail of her bedroom's balcony, her chin resting on her right hand. Sighing as she gazed out over the many colourful houses of the city, looking out towards the far off hills to which she had never been to; very much how she had looked longingly out of her bedroom window that very morning.

It had been an uneventful day. She had been to the library in the morning and at first that had proved to be rather exciting. But after reading the scrolls – the few she could find - over and over again, the information already placed in her photographic memory, the initial excitement soon faded away.

Then she had left the library to return to the dining room to have lunch with her mother who had another one of her headaches to which she tried to drown with Sake (Sakura doubted how that would help but one does not argue with the Queen…) Kurenai had also been there which had been pleasant because Sakura got on well with her brother's kind wife. Sakura's little brother, Konohamaru, came into the dining hall keen for his meal, covered in dirt from his adventures out in the courtyard (God knows what he had been up to…) their mother had scolded him for arriving for lunch with smudges of soil all over his clothing and face. Of course, much to Sakura's disgruntlement, Sai had come for lunch to wet his whistle and fill his stomach after a morning of battle practice…

After lunch the pink haired princess had spent the afternoon painting meaningless pictures of boring landscapes, the people featuring in them nothing but strangers she had seen in passing on market days, their faces both memorised and created from her own ingenuity. She also did some sewing work sighing now and then unable to concentrate fully as her mind still wondered…All afternoon she would pause and ponder about possibilities. Other countries, with other people, with other worlds; her mind was still so curious. But Sakura concluded in a depressed fashion that finding out more about the neighbouring countries was something unlikely to happen as she had read all the scrolls. She supposed she could go to the large City library but she doubted there would be any information that would be different from what she had read today…still surely it wouldn't hurt to try..?

Now, the end of the day was nearing. Sakura watched as the sun began to set, disappearing down into the horizon, like the earth was meeting it; swallowing the sun into its deep embrace.

Sakura absentmindedly decided to go to the city library one day soon…it couldn't hurt to have a quick look…maybe she'd find out something new.

As the sun carried on sinking into its nightly slumber, Sakura mused to herself about how a person could be doing something somewhere and how another person, a total stranger, would be doing something completely different or maybe even something very similar…

Thinking about that subject in that context seemed very confusing, she thought as she frowned slightly, thinking. Basically, the meaning of it was really, hundreds of different things happen all the time, all at once, and you may never know about all the other happenings that go on around you as you only know what is occurring in your own world.

For example, Sakura logically thought, a woman in the Land of Fire could be giving birth to a pair of twins right now and then in say, the far off South Islands, a woman of the same age (perhaps older or younger, these matters never followed rules after all.) could be burying her newborn twins.

Sakura often wondered what was happening to other people when she was carrying out her own daily proceedings. What were other people doing while she painted her pointless paintings? What were others doing while Sakura bathed in the sun every morning, was there someone else out the doing the same thing, thinking the same, feeling the same? Or was there someone out there fighting a blizzard whilst wishing there was heat to melt the icicles forming on the tips of their eyelashes? Was there someone out there thinking the same thing as she; what are others doing while I am doing this?

She sighed. Perhaps it was stupid. She began to think maybe she should just keep her head in her own world and stop fussing about others…but then, her boring tedious life would drive her crazy if she didn't have her imagination!

Sakura straightened her back as she watched the sky turn to deep reds, oranges and yellows as the sun carried on setting. The end of another day…Sakura vaguely noticed how the red of the setting, burning sun, could perhaps be compared to blood…

The thought sent a shiver down her spine as the sun finally and fully set…

~xXx~

(Northern mountains, Uchiha domain)

A sickly…bumpy…swaying motion…

Sasuke's eyes flickered open. His head ached as it thumped, pounded. His brain feeling like it was vibrating painfully against his skull. His vision was blurry, irritatingly unfocussed.

He was lying on his side. The feel of rough wood rubbing against his cheek…Sasuke's senses were not to their usual height, his body feeling oddly numb and heavy. He thought he could feel heavy, cold, metal chains locked around his wrists…trying to lift his head to look around the unfamiliar, swaying room, he found he could not lift his face off the floor as his skull felt as heavy as led…So Sasuke kept his head resting on the splintered wood, only his eyes searching the wooden room…

The light was bad and his eyesight kept loosing focus, colours – of what little there were – were mixed and changing unnaturally…but from what he could seehe gathered that there were several forms huddled up, lying all around him…humans? Sasuke assumed so. But frankly, his head was aching so bad, dizziness reigning king in all his senses, he actually found he didn't care if they were humans – fellow comrades even - laying around him or some random vicious animals that would like to eat him…Right now being eaten would be rather welcoming as his head pounded as if he had spent the night indulging in the finest brews of Sake in the northern mountain tribes…

The young Uchiha blinked, trying to focus. It didn't work. His stomach swirled sickeningly and the swaying of the strange wooden room made him feel even worse…Darkness, he could feel, was starting to seep back into his world…

Unable to raise his head Sasuke lifted his dark eyed gaze, his mind subconsciously trying to find the one comforting thing he could…they settled for a tiny square window, blocked by metal bars…

Through it Sasuke could see the last ruminants of the day (swaying, moving, as if the small wooden room he was in was…moving?) as the sun made the final motions of setting into its slumber…

Sasuke tried to stay awake but he was unable to control the darkness that clouded his world as he blacked out once more…

~xXx~

A/N: Wow! That was a long chapter…

I would like to state that the 'Belsaphairy Berries' that Hana referred to were berries that I made up (just in case you start going about asking, hey what are Belsaphairy Berries? Haha xD) but you probably guessed that they were made up :)

And also, in the anime/manga Hana Inuzuka has three dogs called the "Three Haimaru Brothers" however, I decided to have the wolf she was riding in this chapter a female. Whether or not Hana has more 'wolves' and whether they are female of male, well, you will have to wait and see ;)

Oh, and if you're wondering how Hana knew about the battle plan the Uchihas and Inuzukas had come up with, Rin sort of knew the basics of the plan and had told Hana. So yeah, that's how she knew.

Well, I hope this latest chapter was alright :/ I hope it wasn't confusing or anything! I tried very hard but I'm not sure if I succeeded…if you did not enjoy this chapter that much please don't stop reading as I hope you will enjoy the next chapter more! The next one should be more in my comfort zone lol…

I apologise for any spelling and/or grammar mistakes.

Thanks for reading! Please leave a review :)