Chapter 68 – The Sound Calamity
Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto. If I did, things would go wrong. Horribly, horribly wrong.
Even in times of war, matters of the heart are not far from mind. When Ino told Kiba the act that she wasn't able to have children, the Inuzuka shinobi did not take it well. He consulted with his cousin, as Ino did with Sakura, but at the end of the day it was clear that they no longer loved each other. They decided to split up. On the other side of the spectrum, Sakura and Lee faced their own issues. Sakura found herself constantly experiences nightmares of her time as Iceheart for the Quiraji, while Lee seemed to keep seeing her as the enemy soldier that had killed him. Despite these issues, Sakura sent Lee on a quest for a rare plant, and on the journey back he found several various notes sending him to different locations around the village. At the last location he found Sakura waiting for him. In an emotional moment, she proposed to him and he accepted without hesitation.
Some battles are won even when they are lost.
Some battles are won before they are fought.
In war, both are necessary.
Yet true victory lies in not fighting at all.
Neji read over the passage in the tome several times; it seemed fitting for what was about to happen to his village. With a slow considering breath, he closed the book and pressed his fingers together. He'd been taught as a Hyuuga to wait for the enemy to make the first move and react to that, but as the Otokage he couldn't afford to be so patient. One single mistake could mean the ruination of his village and his people.
Death was approaching at a rapid pace and not for the first time he lamented the fact that he didn't think they were fully prepared. If it was possible to truly be prepared.
Now it was a matter of waiting.
A Fine Day for a Battle
In any regular day in the Land of Rice Fields, the weather around the village of the Hidden Sound was carefully regulated by its shinobi to both conceal its position in the middle of an open field with dense fog. Unless they knew what they were looking for, enemy forces always seemed to just miss it.
On this day the sky was as clear as it could possibly be and the path to the village was as open as it was ever going to be. It was as if the heavens themselves had indicated that today was the day that the young village was to fall.
The clear green fields of the Land of Rice Fields were anything but peaceful like they normally were. It seemed to herald a new wave of bloodshed that threatened to overwhelm the land once again, just as it had when Orochimaru had taken control.
The thundering sounds of armoured boots hitting the grass was deafening in the nearby areas, scattering any wildlife and peasantry that thought themselves foolish enough to glimpse the massive army.
It was something that could only be achieved by military might like the land had never seen. Giant war machines shook the ground with each movement of their wooden wheels, destroying the brush underneath with no slowing of pace.
An army of tens of thousands had mustered against the village of Otogakure, preparing themselves for a short siege and sweeping victory. Any student of warfare knew that to take a castle that was reasonably defended would require a ten-to-one number advantage to be successful, yet the Quiraji knew they vastly outnumbered their foe by more than needed. The chakra sensors had informed the commanders that at most there were less than a thousand chakra signals within the village interior and absolutely none outside of it.
Even with their shinobi tricks, this looked to be an easy battle for the Quiraji force.
It was clear that the Otogakure shinobi hadn't expected them to find their village so quickly. They'd attacked their forces relentlessly for years, conducting hit-and-run attacks that had set them back at every turn, but they'd made a critical error when they'd thwarted their war effort in the Land of Lightning.
The Quiraji scouts had discovered that one of the shinobi attackers had been injured while on the run from their advance forces. Her wounds didn't seem too severe, but she'd been left behind by her comrades. Easy pickings for their scouts.
Through her interrogation, they were able to discover the village's position and move against it in no time at all. Within a week of their retreat from the Land of Lightning, they were ready and willing to lay siege to their next foe. The only more hated enemy in the Quiraji army were the shinobi from the desert country; they were relentless and refused to back down from a fight.
The shinobi guerrilla tactics would no longer work; the Quiraji had them exactly where they wanted them.
Or so they thought.
With little to fear from such a distance away from the village, the Quiraji soldiers slowly got into proper formation and waited for the orders to attack. Unlike the previous soldiers the Quiraji had used in their war with the shinobi like the converted shinobi, these were normal soldiers; prone to fear and anger and everything else war brought forth. They were heavily trained and hated their shinobi foes with unbridled fury. It was their pleasure to bring death and destruction to their enemies.
Each soldier wore a set of dark brown armour with strips on their shoulders which served to designate each squad from the other. Unlike their specialist troops like the Red Warriors or Black Robes, they were not directed associated with any of the Four. They were the standard troops; mainstay of the Quiraji army. Swords at their sides and bows over their backs, the Quiraji soldiers were trained to kill shinobi.
The average Quiraji soldiers were the equivalent of between a Genin and a Chuunin in fighting strength, with a standing immunity to genjutsu and many different types of ninjutsu. They'd proved themselves a formidable foe to all shinobi they'd fought so far.
But Neji had accounted for almost everything in the coming battle.
Unknown to the Quiraji forces, there were a number of invisible lines across the grassy fields that had been set up by the Otogakure shinobi. They were marked with chemicals that only the defenders could see from their far away position within their village. They didn't mark with chakra because they knew it would be negated the moment the Quiraji arrived. Their tactics fighting against the enemy were vastly different from when shinobi once fought shinobi.
They had to be.
Almost an hour after arriving within view of the shinobi village, the Quiraji army was finally ready to begin their attack. Their plan was simple: bombard the defenders with their siege weapons once they were in range and then overwhelm with superior numbers.
That was the plan at least.
With a proud roar that only soldiers could produce, the Quiraji began their march towards the Hidden Village of Sound. The sounds they made dwarfed those made when they'd arrived, with the soldiers roaring compounded with the crushing of the grasslands underneath their boots.
It wouldn't take them long to get to the wall and inside the village.
The moment a Quiraji soldier's boot crossed that line however, the first casualty of the battle took place. The first of thousands.
A small patch of grass came apart in the middle of the front group of Quiraji soldiers that had stepped on the unfortunate marked location, revealing a small contraption that shot up to the soldier's waists. It wasn't much larger than a clenched fist, with tight wrappings keeping the contents within.
Before the soldiers could react to its appearance, the contraption exploded.
Tightly bound clumps of shrapnel shot around in a wide circle with such a force that they took limbs from their sockets and heads from shoulders in an instant, despite the thick armour of the Quiraji soldiers. The first bomb took out a half dozen soldiers in an instant, mostly through glancing blows. It had not been as effective as intended when it had been buried.
But there was more than one bomb buried in the fields of Otogakure.
The Quiraji army hesitated momentarily at the activated trap, surprised that they hadn't sensed its presence. It had never occurred to them that the shinobi had means of fighting them that didn't involve the one thing the Quiraji didn't have access to.
But that proved to be a bad decision as dozens of traps along the invisible line they'd crossed shot up from the ground seemingly on their own and exploding in the same manner. They'd been planted to shoot up in sequence with the assumption that the Quiraji would be cautious after the first, and Neji's assumption had been proven correct.
Within seconds of the battle starting, hundreds of Quiraji soldiers had lost their lives while still a full half-kilometre from the main wall of Otogakure. The Otogakure shinobi hadn't even fired a shot.
However the enemy of the shinobi was quick to adapt, having realised that if they turtle up into small groups the shrapnel did significantly less damage. They didn't bring shields to defend themselves, having come to the Land of Rice Fields purely for the purpose of offense, but their armour was thick enough that if they covered each other's weak points they suffered barely a quarter of the casualties they had earlier.
Even though they continued to take casualties with every step, the Quiraji army moved forward at a quick pace towards Otogakure. After the first hundred metres the number of explosives that had been hidden underground withered to none, having already reaped their toll. The first line of Otogakure defence had taken out a fifth of the attacking army and barely made a dent in their attack.
When they'd attacked Kumogakure for the second time, the Quiraji army hadn't bothered to construct siege weapons. The Hidden Cloud village was situated among large mountain ranges that made bringing in catapults and bolt throwers almost impossible. The battles against those shinobi had been hit-and-run tactics with small forces that barely registered on a large scale, yet until they'd been thwarted by the Otogakure interlopers they'd been on the verge of breaking through.
The flat plains of the Land of Rice Fields were a completely different battlefield. On the road between countries, the Quiraji engineers constructed a variety of siege weapons to obliterate the shinobi village that had plagued them since its creation. They'd discovered that their target was protected by massive walls that couldn't be taken by regular means.
But things were not going to be so simple for the invading force.
Unfortunately such machinery is cumbersome and takes large amounts of time to get into proper position. Despite being far away enough from the shinobi village to be out of range of their longest range weapons, the Quiraji siege weapons fell under attack in similar manners to their front line soldiers before they could be set up.
As the large wheels moved over the grasslands, crushing the dead bodies of the Quiraji soldiers underneath, a new type of trap was activated. The weight of the machinery was far greater than the individual soldiers could ever achieve and the moment they came nearby one of the traps the grass began to part once again.
This time the ground collapsed underneath them into large pits with hundreds of poison-covered spikes. They had been dug deep enough that the siege engines slammed into the sides of the pits, breaking them apart and rendering them unable to be retrieved by the surrounding soldiers.
The engineers that were accompanying many of the siege engines suffered similar fates, the ground collapsing underneath their feet and sending them straight into the pits with their creations. Some of them were only scratched by the spikes within the pits, but they were too deep to be climbed out quickly. From those scratches, the engineers died slowly and painfully with their machinery.
Of the one hundred siege engines that attacked Otogakure initially, only one in ten made it within range of the wall to begin the bombardment.
The Quiraji army suffered horrendous casualties in their efforts to get in range of the shinobi village; a reasonable general would have retreated at the first set of traps and rethought the attack strategy. They could have reduced their casualties significantly by sending in sweeping teams and removing all the traps in the surrounding grasslands before attacking the village directly.
But Neji's forces knew that the Quiraji had an almost single-minded obsession with the destruction of their kind, combined with an overwhelming arrogance that was born through a continuous series of flawless victories. No amount of casualties would be enough to satisfy their bloodlust, particularly with the amount of taunting and damage his people had done to their war efforts.
As they set up their surviving catapults and bolt throwers, the Quiraji army stared at the wall with hatred in their eyes. The traps from underneath the ground had subsided completely, though they'd yet to suffer anything from the village itself.
It was clear the shinobi were ready for the attack; there were archers positioned all along the wall. The chakra sensors that had accompanied the army had confirmed that there were hundreds of chakra signals just on the first wall alone, though they seemed to be concentrating their efforts on the main section that was being attacked. They appeared to be waiting for them to come into range.
The Quiraji army were allowed a small reprieve from attacks while they got themselves ready for the main part of their attack; the commanders spreading out their army to attack every section of the wall at once. Even with the casualties they'd suffered on the path to the village, the commanders were confident in their ability to take the village.
There was a temporary lull as the defenders waited for their enemy to come fully into range and the attackers waited for the shinobi to reveal their main defences. It lasted far longer than the army was comfortable with; it was becoming clear that the shinobi had nerves of steel.
Eventually the Quiraji army became impatient and the commanders ordered their soldiers to attack with impunity.
From all four sides of the walls, the village of Otogakure came under siege.
Despite the fact that there was only one path up to the front wall to the entrance that had been covered over and built up with the rest of the wall and no other easy means of accessing the interior of the village, the invading army was confident in its ability to break through and destroy the shinobi within.
But Neji's forces weren't going to let the army attack without follow-up attacks. Their retribution was by no means complete.
As the Quiraji soldiers charged towards the wall with the same roar they'd given during the first charge, a large collection of weapons activated at the same time. With no indications from the ground, the attackers were not prepared for the loud whistling sounds that sounded all around them.
Some of the more observant Quiraji soldiers glanced up into the sky, only to see a dozen large balls of metal flying towards them that looked eerily similar to the bombs from earlier. Like the trained warriors that they were, the Quiraji soldiers immediately made efforts to shoot them down with their ranged weapons. They also once again turtling up in an attempt to minimise their casualties.
However that was the last thing they should've done.
When the balls of metal were pierced by arrows or destroyed by thrown blades that pulled them apart, they popped like balloons to release a strange green fog that spread across a large section of the front wall attacking army. They did their best to avoid its spread, but the green fog was so wide that they couldn't help but be enveloped by it.
Initially it seemed like there had been some failure with the gas that had been sent against them. For several minutes there didn't appear to be any effect whatsoever. The attack continued unabated, with the siege weapons finally set up for attack and the soldiers edging closer to the wall. Things seemed to be looking dire for the defenders.
That was when they began choking on their own breath and collapsing onto the ground with no wounds to show for their suffering.
This slowed down the assault right quick.
Every single Quiraji soldier that breathed in even the tiniest amount of poison gas perished, while those that had been spared were forced to move over or around their dead comrades. There was no time to mourn their dead or even slow down the assault on the shinobi village. There was no telling when the next barrage was going to rain down on them.
Yet it was only when they came within a hundred metres of the wall that the defences kicked into overdrive.
In perfect synchronisation around the village turrets appeared from underneath the ground near the walls and took aim at the charging soldiers. They waited for only a split second to instil the necessary fear before spitting out massive quantities of kunai directly into the Quiraji force.
Sheer quantity of weapons made up for the lack of accuracy; the force of the blows knocking many struck soldiers off their feet while others screamed out in pain as they were taken by the weapons in their faces. They were less deadly than the poison gas and the underground traps, but it was enough to batter back the Quiraji invaders a half dozen times.
For minutes the turrets churned out projectiles, killing wave after wave of Quiraji soldiers. Some of the more courageous soldiers were able to push through the flurry of death and destroy the turrets with thrown explosive materials, but the Otogakure weapons ran out of ammunition long before all of them were destroyed.
The Quiraji soldiers only hesitated for a moment after the turrets were rendered ineffective, but their commanders made it clear that retreat was never going to be an option. They climbed over the bodies of their dead comrades once again and continued their charge towards the village.
Despite the horrible casualties they suffered on the way to the wall, the Quiraji army was able to reach the Otogakure wall with a vigorous fighting force. They had no real means of penetrating the wall besides their siege weapons at the front, but they were determined to kill any shinobi they could get their hands on, even if it meant firing up into the village blindly.
Unfortunately for the Quiraji, there were no shinobi manning the wall of Otogakure.
Flexing his many fingers tentatively, Kidomaru breathed out slowly and calmed himself down. It would be easy to let things go too quickly and spiral out of control in their current state, but he had to be patient. Most of the outside traps and defences were motion-detected and would activate on their own, but it was by his hundreds of web threads throughout the village that much of the defences would attack the invading Quiraji soldiers.
It was his duty and his duty alone to defend the village.
He hadn't believed that Neji's plan was going to work, but after seeing the efforts the Quiraji were going through to take the village it was clear he'd underestimated his leader's ability to read the enemy's actions. Even after so many years, the Hyuuga still impressed him. He'd definitely made the right choice following him.
Using sealing techniques they'd learnt from Orochimaru's efforts and some created by the Otokage himself, they'd set up a defensive grid that made it look like the village's defences were run by its shinobi army, loading and reloading the long range weapons and catapults, despite the fact that the village was entirely empty except for him. It played off of the Quiraji army's obsession perfectly.
Kidomaru wasn't the type to go down with the ship though, he wasn't that selfless. He had every intention of doing as much damage as he could possibly do, then leaving.
But he'd volunteered to control the defences on his own purely because he recognised how much more devastating the defence would be with him at the helm. With only the automated defences, he didn't think they'd get even half the casualties they needed to cripple the Quiraji army.
He had no intention of dying with the village, but he took pride in the fact that his efforts were systematically crippling the Quiraji army with no lives being taken in response. It was the perfect form of defence.
A loud crash drew his attention to the eastern side of the village, where he could see that a large hole had been created from a Quiraji barrage that had broken through the wall. Clearly they'd gotten inventive with the explosive material he'd seen earlier. It was frustrating, but it reminded him that he shouldn't underestimate his enemy.
He picked up three of the web strings he'd dedicated to that section and, like a puppet master, expertly took out the invading soldiers with torrents of kunai and short blades from fixed positions before using a small amount of explosion tags to plug the hole with rubble.
Kidomaru was a perceptive shinobi; it came from being a patient hunter. But his concentration was so focused on commanding the defences of his home that he didn't notice the Quiraji assassin that was slowly creeping towards him. It silently crept into range and pulled out a long sickle from its back.
One of Kidomaru's fingers twitched at the last moment as the assassin stepped on one of the defensive webs he'd placed near his position, but it was already too late as the sickle came screaming towards his neck, aiming to remove his head from his shoulders.
The blow never fell.
Just before the blade could touch his neck, a figure appeared from the side and hurled a massive axe at the assassin, catching him in the chest and sending him flying backwards before pinning him against a nearby wall. The figure leapt over Kidomaru's head and pulled out a large spiked gauntlet before smashing in the assassin's skull, killing him instantly.
Forgetting his command over the defences for a moment, Kidomaru leapt to his feet and a pair of his hands shot forward to grab at his assistant's shoulders.
With a furious look on his face, he began to shake the figure violently, "WHY THE HELL ARE YOU HERE?! I TOLD YOU TO LEAVE! YOU NEVER PAY ANY DAMN ATTENTION WHEN I TELL YOU TO DO THINGS!"
With her face permanently stuck in a smirk from the scar on his lips, Tenten's eyes shone with amusement at his furious expression. Despite being in his iron grip, the ex-Konoha kunoichi was able to lean forward and gently kiss him on the forehead affectionately.
"Nice to see you too, dear."
Kidomaru stared directly into her eyes and had a very rough conversation with her without words in a manner of seconds before sighing loudly and letting go of her shoulders. There was just no arguing with her.
"You are one pain-in-the-ass woman, you know that? I've known some stubborn people…but I swear you beat them all!"
Tenten chuckled and retrieved her axe from the Quiraji assassin; it was her favourite. "The other assassins have been taken care of. You concentrate on the defences and I'll do what I do best."
The arachnid-like shinobi shook his head before picking up his web threads with his fingers; there was no talking to her when she was like this. He knew she probably figured since she created most of the weapons she'd have to be there to make sure they work, but she would have to know that the likelihood of escape was quite remote. Especially if the Quiraji were already on the verge of breaching the village already.
Nevertheless, he was thankful she was here. It's nice to have company in times like this. Though if she died, he'd never forgive her.
Out of nowhere the entire village was rocked by a loud explosion that shook the tower the two Otogakure shinobi were standing on, threatening to through them into the village beneath. Both Kidomaru and Tenten turned to see a giant gap in the main wall protecting the front of the village.
"What the hell hit us?" yelled Tenten loudly, their ears still ringing from the explosion.
Kidomaru ignored her question and manipulated his fingers expertly. Despite the gap, there was still only a small ramp that led into the village, meaning the Quiraji soldiers were still being bottlenecked by design. However the bombardment had taken out a large majority of the forward defences and traps, including a number of the interior catapults, meaning he had to send most of his attention to the areas he could defend properly.
Seeing that he was going about his business, Tenten decided that her efforts were best directed at taking out the Quiraji soldiers that had broken through the village. With a large collection of weaponry at her disposal, Tenten relished the opportunity to test out some of the weapons she couldn't fit into traps. It was rare for her blood to be up this much, but she felt the same as when her father had been killed.
But this time, there was no regretting the slaughter that was to follow. This enemy deserved what was coming to them.
After breaching the main wall's defences, the Quiraji army flooded the village with soldiers. They seemed determined to overwhelm the defenders through sheer weight of numbers, but that only made them more susceptible to the innumerable traps and pitfalls that had been placed throughout the village by its phantom defenders. The fact that the chakra signals all around them were fakes and the bodies set up to represent shinobi weren't real didn't appear to bother the Quiraji soldiers at all. They were completely preoccupied with dismantling the automatic defences and defending themselves from deadly traps.
From a long distance away, Tenten took out Quiraji soldiers left and right with her throwing weapons, while Kidomaru was ruthless in operating the defences with his web strings.
Over five thousand soldiers had died on the path leading up to the main wall of Otogakure. Between the first and second walls of the shinobi village, it took another three thousand lives just to come within a stone's throw of the secondary interior wall.
Both Tenten and Kidomaru had stopped counting the number of Quiraji soldiers they had killed throughout the battle; it became almost a dull routine. Tenten would throw a collection of kunai, followed by more kunai, rinse and repeat. Kidomaru would activate dozens of remote aerial traps to release bombs of shrapnel over the enemy forces, followed by enclosing areas and flooding them with poisonous gas.
It was horrific to experience, but they were committed to the defence of their village until the very end.
The floor of the village, as with the buildings within, had been meticulously designed by Neji's forces for a defensive effort exactly like this. In their calculations, they'd figured that an attacking force would need nearly twenty-to-one numbers to take the village, and they'd be crippled in the process.
However so would their own forces and Neji was never going to accept such loses.
The stone floor of the village had been rigged at specific intervals just as the grasslands around the village were. When a Quiraji boot stood upon the wrong stone, a trap was activated. Many of these traps were simply spike traps that shot up out of the ground and impaled them from the bottom up.
It was not a pleasant way to die.
However some traps were much worse.
A group of ten Quiraji soldiers made their way around one of the stone buildings and into the gap between two buildings towards some of the more centralised parts of the village.
Upon reaching the middle of the gap, the motion sensors kicked in and the explosion tags at the base of the buildings activated, sending them crashing into the Quiraji soldiers in-between. This was not enough to kill the soldiers outright, but Kidomaru was watching the trap activate and sent a single poison bomb from the catapults into the rubble.
The soldiers died slowly, choking on their own breath.
While within the village, without shinobi to kill, the Quiraji soldiers decided that the only thing they could do was destroy everything they could with what they had on them. They were wary of the traps that were taking a significant toll on their force, but the random placements and chaotic nature of how the Otogakure shinobi had set up their defences was slowing their progress.
Once they'd breached the village they took out their fury on the siege weapons that had reaped such a terrible toll on their forces, but when it became clear that there were no shinobi manning the weapons they began searching the village for whoever was organising the defences.
Kidomaru and Tenten's position atop a tower was slightly taller than the other buildings in Otogakure, with such a slant as to be able to see the whole village at once. It was here that they continued to kill Quiraji soldiers with abandon, though with Tenten's ranged weapon attacks it became clear that their position would not be safe for long. Their enemy was not so stupid as to not be able to recognise where the attacks were coming from.
The main group of the Quiraji army poured through the breach in numbers neither of them could believe; they seemed to not be deterred from their attack by the deaths of their comrades. With that in mind, the most casualties they could hope to take would be there.
Tenten threw her largest weapons straight into the clusters of soldiers while Kidomaru focused the manual traps and defences on that location. They took a terrible toll on the Quiraji soldiers with no sign of slowing or losing focus.
There was too much at stake.
With their attentions focused on the major breach, the two Otogakure shinobi didn't notice a small group of Quiraji soldiers climbing over the walls on the western side of the village. With so many places to concentrate on at once, they'd missed the climbing ladders that had been placed on the walls after the automated defences had been taken out. With no shinobi manning the walls they scaled them with little resistance and moved towards the tower the two of them had situated themselves on top of.
They still fell prey to the traps that were set up within the village interior, but the Quiraji army was highly adaptive and were already sussing out the patterns of what was booby-trapped and what wasn't.
Clearing a path at the front of the village, the army flooded inside and attacked with unrelenting fury, even though there were no flesh and blood enemies in range for them to kill.
A group of three Black Robes walked through one of the breaches and armed their gazes straight at the Otogakure's hidden position. Their chakra sensors had finally worked out the difference between the faked bodies and the two shinobi that were physically in the village interior. They knew where their targets were.
Before Kidomaru or Tenten were made aware of their presence, the Black Robes collaborated their efforts together and sent a giant fireball of spiritual energy straight at the tower.
With his third eye expanding his vision significantly, Kidomaru was able to catch the smallest of glimpses of the fireball that threatened to overwhelm their position. With lightning fast reflexes and a wide range of vision, Kidomaru was one of the fastest and most adaptive shinobi in their village.
Yet he barely had enough time to grab Tenten by her shoulders and throw her off the tower before leaping off himself. Many of the larger scale traps were threaded directly to that position and would be lost without his direct control, but they had no means of stopping such a large attack without preparation first. All they could do was fall.
The fireball just barely missed them as it enveloped their position and destroyed the top half of the tower in a giant blaze.
The two Otogakure shinobi fell to the ground quickly, but Kidomaru was already in the motion of shooting a web thread to a nearby building and grabbing Tenten close to his body with a pair of his arms and swinging the two of them around to land in an open area. They hadn't been expecting their tower to be destroyed so easily from so far away, but the appearance of the Black Robes was always going to be a risk. They couldn't account for everything the Quiraji could throw at them.
Letting her partner keep her safe, Tenten tossed away one of her bags that had caught the tail end of the blaze and ran a chakra-covered hand along one of her arms. She stared down at the three Black Robes that had attacked them and pushed her arm in their direction.
She grimaced under the pressure as the seals activated on her skin and her arm became covered by a large cannon that pointed at her enemies. With a large amount of chakra flowing through the weapon, she fired a wide energy blast that evaporated the Black Robe's position entirely. She knew that the Quiraji soldiers had a strange immunity to most chakra-based techniques, but her cannon shot superheated the atmosphere around them, cooking them in their skins. She was glad it worked the way she'd designed it.
The recoil of the cannon shot threatened to break her shoulder as it fell apart off her arm and dropped to the ground while Kidomaru swung them around on his web threads. It hadn't taken too much of her chakra to use, but she'd only had time to construct it for a single shot.
Finally the two of them landed on the ground softly, in an area that hadn't been swarmed by Quiraji soldiers just yet. Kidomaru immediately turned in concern for her safety, but Tenten waved him off and pulled out her next set of weapons.
Their position had already been compromised.
Having been forced into the open, both Kidomaru and Tenten were giving their all to taking out as many Quiraji soldiers as possible. They'd been given explicit orders by Neji to pull out if the situation got too hot like it had, but that had quickly become an impossible option as the village was surrounded on all sides. The Quiraji would take the village; there was nothing they could do to stop that now. Any chance of saving the village had been lost once the wall had been breached. Kidomaru had warned Neji that they had to expect more siege engines than they'd prepared for, but time had run out before they could lay more traps.
It had been a delicate balance of power, intensity and inciting the army to attack the village.
Otherwise they would never be able to destroy the Quiraji army in the fashion they'd planned. It was a bold and decisive plan, but Kidomaru knew that they'd only killed about half of the invading army so far. Their plan to cripple their main army would only work when over three quarters of their soldiers lay dead on the field and their spirits crushed underfoot.
Only then could the tides of war be turned into their favour for shinobi everywhere.
A small group of Quiraji soldiers came from around their position and readied their weapons to attack. It was clear that the deaths of their comrades had enraged them to the point of fury, but if anything it made them more dangerous. Both of them knew that fact intimately.
"Can you cover me?" asked Tenten, jumping back to stand behind her partner.
Kidomaru nodded and began chewing a large amount of webbing in his mouth. As the Quiraji soldiers jumped forward to attack them, he spat a wide-spread web that pinned them against a nearby building wall. Not wanting to waste chakra creating his own blades, Kidomaru turned back and reached to Tenten to grab one of her scrolls. He needed every little bit of chakra he could spare.
The female blacksmith was rapidly writing seals on a long scroll and didn't even notice him taking the scroll; she was trying her best to remember the sequence she had to write. When they'd been blasted off of the tower overlooking the main section of the village, one of her main scrolls had been ruined and she figured now was the best time to recover the technique before they were swarmed.
Throwing kunai at strategic locations to kill his earlier trapped prey, Kidomaru turned his eyes to their surroundings. There were a thousand things happening at once, but he had to pick out the problems that could be resolved immediately.
It appeared as though the Quiraji army were swarming the village like it was a raid; they'd adapted very quickly to the fact that the village was somewhat lightly defended with only the two shinobi within. They would have required more complex tactics if there were more defenders, but Kidomaru had told Neji that he alone was all that was necessary. Tenten was an added bonus; one he was grateful had decided to tag along.
Preparing himself from another attack, Kidomaru could hear the soldiers converging on their location. It was clear that they'd surrounded the entire village and there was no way for them to escape without significant risk to themselves.
Besides, he refused to leave the job half-done. It wasn't game over just yet.
"You ready yet?" he asked impatiently, wary of what his partner was preparing.
Tenten finished her stroke and wrapped the scroll around her arms, "How many are coming?"
"Enough to be concerned," warned Kidomaru, preparing new liquid from his mouth into sharp blades.
The ex-Konoha kunoichi turned on her feet to see large groups of Quiraji soldiers converging on their locations, roaring obscenities and hurling ranged weapons at them. She trusted Kidomaru to be able to intercept the projectiles, which he did with ease.
With her face permanently stuck in a smirk, Tenten felt it suited the situation as she waited until there were enough enemies in range before running her hands over the length of her scroll and leapt high into the air.
Underneath her, Kidomaru stole a glimpse upwards to satisfy his own perverted amusement before clutching his arms tightly into his chest and making sure he was as small as possible while being directly underneath her. If he didn't produce the smallest shadow possible, he'd suffer the same fate as the Quiraji would.
The Quiraji soldiers moved to attack her in the air, but never got the chance as Tenten used her upwards momentum to spin rapidly in the air. From within her scroll, Tenten took all the weapons that she'd stored within her smithy and began throwing them so quickly that her hands were like a blur.
Hails of kunai, shuriken and every weapon she'd created shot towards the enemy soldiers with deadly precision, taking the soldiers in the gaps in their armour near their necks or arms, or bypassing the armour altogether and attacking the face directly. Her spinning motion allowed her to strike in a complete 360 degree circle, taking out scores of soldiers at once.
Tenten threw the weapons on instinct, striking at anything in range. Any projectiles that were thrown at her in response were easily deflected by the larger weapons that she threw in response. Within seconds, the attacking force was reduced to nothing.
However she wasn't going to let it end like that. As her spinning began to slow, she was able to pinpoint sections of the village that were full of Quiraji soldiers searching for anything to attack. Having run out of regular weaponry, Tenten's chakra allowed her to access the more experimental weapons that she'd created in her spare time. With characteristic precision, she threw as many bombs as she could into the clusters of soldiers before her momentum finally gave up and she fell to the ground.
The explosions rocked the area around them, confirming to her that they'd landed on target as planned. Her feet landed softly on the ground and she felt the urge to take a dancer's pose to suit the situation.
Having gotten out of her way, Kidomaru shook his head in response to her attack. It had been impressive for sure; she'd taken out a good hundred or so soldiers within seconds.
But there were thousands of Quiraji soldiers flooding the village and they were running out of chakra.
He went to make a sarcastic comment to her, but he could feel a terrible presence just beyond the bodies of the soldiers around them. His hands tightened around all six of his blades; something was coming straight for them and it gave him a terrible feeling in his gut.
Tenten had noticed it as well and placed her hands at her side; ready to take out any weapon necessary for the approaching enemy.
They watched as a single figured walked into view, taking his time as casually as if he were walking in a garden. He barely seemed to acknowledge their presence; though they both recognised who he was.
If they hadn't been warned by Naruto, they'd never have known he was around. But without a doubt, the man approaching them was the recently revived leader of the Quiraji army; Sensou.
Unlike the reports he'd been told about the Quiraji leader, Kidomaru was surprised to see that despite the battle, the red-eyed warrior wasn't wearing armour at all. Instead he wore a long flowing blood red coloured robe that would have suited a monk on pilgrimage rather than a general on the battlefield.
Not that it made him any less intimidating.
Sensing a chance to end the Quiraji offensive by cutting it off at the head, Tenten summoned a sword from her side to her hand and shot forward to attack him. The man they knew as Sensou didn't appear to be armed, but he also didn't appear to be concerned at all that the Otogakure kunoichi was attacking him.
Sensou looked like he was taking a casual walk in the park as he avoided Tenten's attack, moving just enough to make her strike air. Before Kidomaru could warn her, the Quiraji leader reached up with a bare hand and gently placed a finger in the middle of her forehead.
Under other circumstances it could be seen as a compassionate gesture, but it was anything except that in Kidomaru's eyes. He could see the malice and hatred in the Quiraji leader's face.
Tenten's body went rigid at the touch and her hands dropped to her sides. Sensou pulled back his hand and took a casual step back with a knowing look, placing his hands in his sleeves. With suspicious hesitation, Tenten turned around slowly and shot towards her lover like she was pleading for help.
Kidomaru wasn't one to deny her and opened up his arms to embrace her. However at the last second he caught a glance of her eyes that told him it was dangerous and forced him to jump back to a cautionary range away from her.
In those few moments, Tenten's steel-grey eyes had changed to a full blood red colour, the same as Sensou wore on his robe. From the terrifying look on her normally amused face, it was clear something else was going on. Something that certainly wasn't Tenten.
From the red glow in her eyes, it appeared that Tenten was no longer in control of her body. By the simple act of touching her, Sensou seemed to have taken over her completely. He didn't even bother giving the Sound shinobi a second glance, turning to give orders to the Quiraji soldiers that had begun to gather around him.
"Tenten…you don't have to do this…" warned Kidomaru, but it was clear that she couldn't hear him anymore. He watched with despair as his lover reached into her jacket and produced a black scroll that she held tightly in one hand. Kidomaru had no idea what could possibly be contained within; he never paid attention when she talked about anything that he wasn't interested in. He was just really good at faking it.
But he knew Tenten better than anyone and even when under enemy control she wouldn't hold back.
As a couple they generally didn't fight. They barely even quarrelled. Their relationship had been built on mutual attraction and the need for companionship during dark times.
Nevertheless, Kidomaru was no fool. He knew not to mess with Tenten.
Jumping back and summoning up large amounts of chakra into his hands, Kidomaru swung himself back to a nearby building wall just in time to avoid a large slicing attack from a giant shuriken in his lover's hands. He knew she was able to summon almost every weapon imaginable and it was clear that they were all at her disposal as she hurled the giant shuriken at his body before flicking her hands across the partially opened scroll on her arm, summoning up a pair of throwing axes.
Kidomaru used his web threads to launch himself over the thrown shuriken and used a pair of his hands to run through a long set of handseals. He glanced down at Tenten to see her throwing axes hurtling towards him at top speed. It was only by instinct that he was able to harden his face with golden plating from his sweat glands in time to prevent his face being torn apart by the axes.
While recovering from the strikes, Kidomaru could see his partner preparing her next set of weapons to attack him with. Tenten stared at him without blinking through those eerie red orbs that had been planted in her face, serving to bastardise all the features he found beautiful in her.
Feeling anger quickly flooding his body, Kidomaru's second set of arms completed their set of handseals and he took a deep breath inwards.
As Tenten began to jump into the air to attack him with a long spiked trident, Kidomaru spat hundreds of little spikes from his mouth straight at her. They were each poisonous enough to take down small animals, if a shinobi took enough of them they'd be paralysed for a long period of time. He hoped to be able to take her from Sensou's control without hurting her too much.
But Tenten wasn't so easily taken down. She spun her trident in her hands so fast that it parried every single spike that would've hit her fell away harmlessly. Her momentum in the air was halted by the motion though, giving Kidomaru enough time to swing around to her side and spit out enough sticky material to make six spikes, one for each hand. If he was fighting a short range fighter he'd bring out his bow and pick at them from a distance, but Tenten's specialty was mid to long-range, the same as him.
If the enemy was going to use Tenten's abilities and knowledge, then he had to fight unexpectedly.
She twisted as she landed on the ground and hurled her trident at him, while flicking her wrists to collect a large amount of shuriken before rapidly following them behind. It was clear that she wasn't going to hold back at attacking him from range, but as the trident slammed into his chest and pinned him to the wall, he wasn't going to go down so easily.
The Kidomaru she had struck slowly sunk into the background as it became clear he'd switched places with it, but before Tenten could look around for where he'd ended up, Kidomaru dropped from the air behind her like a spider and drove two of his spikes into the backs of her legs.
The ex-Konoha shinobi made no sound at being attacked, dropping her weapons and shoving her body forward to force him to let go of his spikes. She flipped forward and landed with her front facing him, not showing any evidence of the damage she'd taken. Kidomaru hated that he had to attack her further, but Tenten was a relentless kunoichi even when she wasn't trying to brutally kill him.
She went to move her legs forward, but the spikes had pierced through her muscles and held her in place. Despite being under enemy control, it was apparent that Tenten still held her determination for victory, as Kidomaru watched in horror as she unravelled a scroll completely over her arms and pressed her hands together into a handseal.
The arachnid shinobi swore loudly upon recognising what she was about to do, jumping forward with his spikes in hand. She needed time to activate the explosives on the scroll, and Kidomaru was quick enough to get there in time to stop her.
However there was only one way to stop her completely, one that he knew would remove her Sensou's control. He knew that she wouldn't have wanted to remain in such a state. He also knew that the Quiraji leader's control was likely such that it couldn't be removed in a short amount of time.
Seeing no other option, Kidomaru shot forward and used two of his curved spikes to wrench her hands out of her handseal. One of his other spikes severed straight through the scroll and destroyed the connection between it and her chakra.
His final spike stabbed straight into her chest, piercing through the armour she wore like it wasn't there.
Kidomaru gave her an apologetic look as he drove the spike into her chest further. He could feel that he'd pierced her heart; the irony wasn't completely lost to him. As her face fell towards him and her scroll fell uselessly to the ground, Tenten's eyes blinked and for a split second she was back to her normal self.
Her eyes showed great confusion at why she was in so much pain, but two of Kidomaru's arms wrapped her up and pulled her into a loving embrace.
"I'm so sorry…" he muttered quietly. Before he could say anymore, he felt a strange sensation in his chest, something he hadn't felt in a long time. The strength in his body seemed to disappear and his arms fell limp around his lover's form. With the close contact he could hear that Tenten's heart had stopped beating; she was gone.
Kidomaru tried to move her body to the side so he could sort out what was going on in the village, but with Tenten's limb body on top of his he found that nothing seemed to respond to his commands. The strange sensation in his chest had grown to encompass his whole body; the last piece of his strength was used to press his muscles into opening up the third eye on his forehead.
Looking over the balls of hair on his lover's head, Kidomaru felt an overwhelming sense of dread as he saw Sensou standing over the two of them. The Quiraji leader stared down at the Sound shinobi with disinterest in his red eyes before pulling out the sword he'd used to pierce through Tenten's body and strike at Kidomaru's heart.
The last image the arachnid shinobi saw was the look on his enemy's face and the corpse of his lover on top of him.
Sensou only waited a moment to give his victim one final moment before sweeping downwards with his sword and severing Kidomaru's head through his lovers. They made a nice pair of noises as they struck the stone ground.
The Quiraji leader paused to regard their bodies for only a moment before flicking the blood off of the sword and sheathing it at his side underneath his robe.
A loud buzzing sound began to echo from around the Quiraji leader's position. He glanced around with a heavy set frown before tearing open the air at his side and leaving the half-destroyed village. The soldiers around the area seemed to start to panic, but an order came down the ranks from their commanders and they began to flee the village in record numbers.
They didn't have enough time.
At Kidomaru's death, a single web string that had always been attached to him was severed, sparking a chain reaction around the village. Within minutes the traps around the exterior of the village and along the standing walls activated.
The failsafe would do the job they could not.
The explosions around the village compounded into a single massive explosion that encompassed the entire village and annihilated everything inside into ashes. The sound would have been deafening to any that could hear, but the Quiraji soldiers that made it out of the blast radius were still knocked unconscious by the blast wave and sheer heat of the explosion.
Kidomaru and Tenten's bodies burned away in a fitting display of defiance that would've made them proud.
It had been a final measure, but Otogakure's final act was one of stubborn refusal to accept defeat. They weren't going to let their enemy continue to dictate the terms of the war.
The shinobi world had only just begun to fight back.
The army of tens of thousands that had attacked Otogakure had been reduced to less than two thousand in a single day's fighting. Despite losing the battle, Neji's defenders had given the shinobi world a chance to win the war.
The village of Otogakure had been built to bleed and destroy armies. Every aspect had been designed to kill soldiers on a large scale, but at the end of the day the battle had been lost. Though they had slaughtered so many of the Quiraji soldiers that their standing forces couldn't possibly fully recover, both Kidomaru and Tenten had given their lives for their village and their people.
The battle for Otogakure was over.
If anyone is wondering, there'll be an explanation as to why Dosu's group wasn't present for this battle. All I ask is for patience. I'm a sneaky bastard, don't fear.
This chapter was both easy and difficult to write. I wanted to keep the fact that it was just the two of them defending the village for as long as possible.
This might sound twisted, but there is a kind of perverse pleasure to killing off characters in particularly brutal ways. In times of war they would most certainly die like here, but of course Naruto is not at that level of gore. Though I could have sworn it would have been earlier in the series. Anyway.
Please review and tell me what you think. I try to take each review into account, and believe me I read them all. Tell me what can be improved, what you liked, what you didn't, everything. I'm a writer so I'm always open to criticism.