A/N: This actually came about because of the surprising lack of Kakashi gaiden era fics out there. I'll try to keep my updates regular to maintain the flow of the story. Pairings will be canon apart from very, very eventual ObiRin and KakaAnko. Romance will not be a massive feature though and it will be done the way it is in the anime
18/3/13 – Edited
3/09/15 - Revised Edited
Every child was told by their parent that they were special, unique, one of a kind. It gave them comfort: an anchor of purpose in world that grew steadily cold as they approached adulthood. Sakumo had learnt that no one of special. It didn't matter what nationality, race, class or gender you were. A steel kunai could still easily slip between your ribs. There was an ironic equality in death. Sakumo had realised it during the horrors of his ANBU days, after traipsing through the war torn land of Whirlpool. No matter how important you were, you would always end up dead with your body rotting away until even the mere memory of you was erased by time.
This Iwa nin was no exception. Like most of Sakumo's victims, he had no idea what had just hit him. The last memory he would ever have would be a white streak singing through the air.
In slow motion he stared down at his chest, in shock, and the white blade that pierced its way through his body winked back at him. Slowly, jerking his head upwards the Iwa nin's eyes met with his killer's; cold, grey irises with shades of sadness. Veteran eyes.
Blood began to fill his mouth and the blade was wrenched away. The Iwa nin collapsed to the ground and gurgled, "K-Konoha… White… Fang…"
Sakumo studied the dead ninja before him. The stupefied look of surprise on the man's face was far too familiar. What did it say about the world if a man was so used to seeing a corpse? He sighed and turned away.
Did he have a family? The question sprung up unbidden in Sakumo's mind. He shook his head, chiding himself for the rookie thought. It was easier to think of enemy ninjas as objects. Us and them. Machines. To think of them as real people with friends, lovers and family... That was fatal. Sakumo had seen too many young ninjas cry after their first kill. However, Sakumo's first kill was not the one that really stuck out in his mind.
"Captain," a voice said. Sakumo pulled his gaze from the dead body to see a young jonin standing before him. "Everyone's grouped in the location as you ordered."
"Good," Sakumo nodded, "Brief me on the details on the way there."
No, the two kills that still haunted Sakumo took place in the Second Ninja World War - he even remembered the weather. It had been one of those chillingly cold nights the desert was so famous for, the type of cold that could freeze and crystallise your very bones.
The first had been a sand ninja with blood red hair: an incredibly skilled puppet master. The battle had been difficult but eventually Sakumo had slipped past his defences to puncture the man's lung with the white light chakra sabre that he was so famous for. The next had been a woman who used extremely difficult wind techniques. Sakumo couldn't recall much of the battles. What he remembered the most had been the positions of their bodies as they lay dead on the sand. Hands outstretched towards each other, their fingertips barely brushing. It was then Sakumo had, with sick realisation, guessed they must have been lovers or even husband and wife. Sakumo had just orphaned any children they had.
"The scouting group returned with no losses," the jonin told him. Kenji. Abe Kenji, that was his name. Sakumo had always done his best to memorise his teammates names.
"Estimated numbers?" Sakumo asked.
"Around fifty," Kenji said. "Possibly more. Estimating from chunin to jonin in rank."
"How far from the border are they?"
"About ten miles." Damn. Sakumo's brow creased into a frown. Due to the treaty with Kusagakure, Konoha had been dragged into this incredibly complicated and dangerous mission. Iwagakure had been mobilising troops near the Land of Grass's borders, clearly readying themselves to invade. If the Iwa nins invaded the Land of Grass it could mean another unwanted war that Konoha would be pulled into. Sakumo's team had been sent out to halt the invasion. Not an easy task considering that his team consisted of only eight jonin including himself. Though Konoha did emerge victorious from the previous war, the village was still reeling from its losses. The sannin had dispersed, as Tsunade abandoned the village soon after. Jiraiya had also disappeared on his travels again. It was true that the village had the upcoming prodigy Namikaze Minato but Sakumo knew that the Third felt he was still too young to lead such a crucial mission.
Sakumo's jaw twitched slightly as he thought of Minato. Everyone praised of him so highly, but Sakumo could see nothing but Jiraiya in the boy. Even though Jiraiya was a good friend of Sakumo's, he did not want those negative influences around Kakashi or his student Kushina for that matter. Sakumo had seen far too many girls fall jealous and fight over Namikaze. However, the Third Hokage had insisted that since Sakumo hadn't found a suitable tutor for his son he had instead assigned Namikaze as his sensei.
Inwardly, Sakumo sighed. He sincerely hoped that his son would not turn out to be as perverted as Jiraiya.
"Captain," Kenji said. Sakumo nodded as they finally reached the huddled group of jonin.
"Uchiha Kotone and Hyuga Shirou are on watch," someone informed him. Sakumo nodded his thanks. After a brief talk with the rest the team it was clear that morale was low. But then it wasn't surprising, since they'd been living on nothing but soldier pills for the past few days. There hadn't been much action either, apart from the odd skirmish with the occasional Iwa nin.
A frown creased Sakumo's brow. Reaching into his pouch, Sakumo drew out a map of the Land of Grass. Near the borders, the dense forest disappeared into sparse grassland; not the ideal terrain for the ambush Sakumo had been hoping for. Taking an entire platoon head on would be suicide However… Sakumo knew that with his skilled team they would be able to prevent the Iwa nins from crossing the border and succeed in their mission. Behind his mask, Sakumo bit his lip.
"Captain!" Kenji grinned at him. He leaned over Sakumo's shoulder to stare down at the map, "So what's next?"
"Patience, Kenji," Sakumo told him. Kenji rumpled his hair and apologised. The boy was incredibly young in Sakumo's eyes. Barely turned twenty, he was keen for action and he clearly idolised Sakumo.
"I can't wait to tell my old team that I've been on a mission with Konoha's White Fang," Kenji said to Sakumo for approximately the ninety-ninth time.
Feeling slightly uncomfortable, Sakumo grasped his shoulder for a moment and reminded him, "The mission isn't over yet."
"Sakumo-san!" Someone cried. Sakumo narrowed his eyes as Hyuga Shirou ran towards him.
"Sakumo-san," Shirou gasped. "There are more Iwa nins. About a mile away to the east."
Sakumo's heart stopped. How did the scouts miss them? He frowned and drew out a kunai. Nicking his thumb on the blade, he sheathed the kunai and performed several seals.
"Summoning technique," he said hitting his palm on the ground. In a puff of smoke a small scraggy dog appeared.
"Yo, it's been a while Sakumo-chan," the dog said, quirking his head to one side.
"Take," Sakumo said. "How far away are the Iwa ninjas in the north?"
Take, an elder dog who was renowned in the summoning world for his sense of smell, tilted his head and closed his eyes. He took a long sniff before he replied, "There isn't an Iwa squad in the north." Take quirked a shaggy eyebrow at Sakumo. "It's a group of civilians."
Next to Sakumo, Kenji swore and the Hyuga jonin turned white.
"Good job," Sakumo said as he fought to maintain his face impassive. As long as he kept a calm pretence, the team should remain calm too.
Take nodded, "Good luck." The summon then vanished.
A group of civilians. Damn. Sakumo should have seen through that plan. Now the real force was less than a mile away. They'd most likely arrive in less than ten minutes... Not enough time for all of Sakumo's team to escape. Sakumo was not going to sacrifice his entire team for the sake of the mission. Though Sakumo knew the consequences if the mission failed, he did not believe in sacrificing human life for the 'greater good'. There was only one way for his entire team to escape alive.
"Kenji," Sakumo started, "I want you to follow this order through at all costs. Do you understand?" Kenji nodded at his captain.
"Take the rest of the team with you and return to Konoha," Sakumo ordered, as he ignored Kenji's protests. "Under no circumstances are you to follow me. This is a direct order from your captain. You know the ninja code." Sakumo grasped his shoulder and smiled, "Good luck."
With that, Sakumo ran off in the direction of the Iwa force. Inside his mind, he had already formed a plan. Clapping his hands together in a number of seals, Sakumo muttered quietly, "Earth style: Head hunter technique." He slipped beneath the earth, waiting for the enemy to come. It didn't take long. In a matter of minutes, Sakumo heard the first distant footsteps.
Focus… Focus, he thought as he waited for the right moment. There!
Sakumo's hands shot out from beneath the dirt, dragging down the chunin above him. The man gave a yelp of surprise causing his teammates turn, but they were too late. Sakumo jumped up from the earth and with one smooth movement he drew his blade, slashing a surprised ninja across the throat. Shurikens whistled past and Sakumo swayed to the side, narrowly avoiding one to his eye.
Spinning around, Sakumo rolled forwards to slam his blade into a third Iwa nin's belly. The man gave a strangled scream, clutching his wound but Sakumo ignored him. He could feel around fifty or so chakra presences surrounding him fast.
A kunai shot past Sakumo's head just in time for him to see the explosive tag attached. Sakumo dove forward, narrowly avoiding the blast. Another Iwa nin charged at him through the smoke and Sakumo parried the man's kunai. With a flick of the wrist, Sakumo slammed the White Fang into the man's knee causing the enemy ninja to drop his kunai. The Iwa nin groaned stumbling back and began to form several seals, but Sakumo was too fast. Scooping up the fallen kunai, with one clean sweep Sakumo hurled the weapon at the man's throat causing him to duck. He ran forwards and ripped out his blade from the man's knee to send it upwards into his unprotected chest.
Looks like I'll have to do that, Sakumo thought as another ninja rushed at him. He sidestepped the Iwa nin but suddenly grunted as he felt several shuriken hammer into his back from behind. Ignoring the pain, Sakumo twirled his blade in one hand and feinted to the right. The Iwa nin grinned and aimed his kunai at Sakumo's apparently unprotected left. Sakumo suddenly swayed to parry the blow and he grabbed the Iwa nin's arm, wrenching it forwards. Confused, the Iwa nin didn't have time to react as Sakumo rammed the white chakra sabre into his chest.
Five down. Only forty-five or more to go,he thought grimly.
"It's time for the great Konoha White Fang to die!" Someone shouted. A shuriken grazed across Sakumo's cheek and he scowled as he sheathed his blade. He'd never approved of great speeches in battles or the taunts enemies' give to each other. It was all rather petty in his opinion.
Ignoring the Iwa nin, Sakumo whipped out a scroll from his tactical vest and hurled it into the air. As the scroll unfurled, Sakumo wiped the blood from his cheek onto his thumb and smeared it across the scroll. A kunai slammed into his back and a groan escaped Sakumo's lips but he said in a clear voice, "Summoning technique: Earth style: Hidden fanged chains!"
Screams filled the air as kunai-ridden chains burst through the earth, impaling several unlucky Iwa nins. The myriad of chains wove their way around the enemy ninjas and at the outer edges of the circle Sakumo's faithful summons held the chains taut. The kunai winked in the sunlight and the deadly maze was almost as tall as the summoner himself. At the centre, Sakumo began to form a mirage of complicated seals as he forced all of his remaining chakra into his one technique.
"Water style: Water bullets!" Someone yelled. Sakumo was helpless to the attack as he prepared his technique. All he could do was brace himself as rock hard water pellets smashed mercilessly into his body. With his ribs shattered on one side, the sheer agony almost caused Sakumo to lose his concentration. Blood began to fill Sakumo's mouth, soaking his mask, but he pushed himself to the very limit as his body began to glow with the white chakra he's so famous for.
Finally, Sakumo was ready. There were sudden yells as the Iwa nins realised what Sakumo was about to do but it was too late.
"Lightning style: The last dance of the thunder pack technique!" He shouted, grabbing the chains. There's a blinding flash as a hundred wolves formed from lightning appeared among the chains. With a puff of smoke, Sakumo's faithful summons vanished.
The wolves started to dance in and out of the chains at a blinding speed. Screams ripped through the air as the electricity strangled the Iwa nins. Sakumo collapsed to the ground, his body jerking and several coughs racked through his body as the electricity stabbed at him. The dance was mesmerising as the white electricity killed fully-grown ninjas in seconds.
As soon as it started, the bright light from Sakumo's technique was extinguished. All that was left was the stench of burnt flesh in the air. The silence was so peaceful to his ears and relief swept over him. His eyes began to glaze over and he found his mind wandering over to his son; Sakumo's sole reason to keep living after his wife died. Regret washed over him as he realised that he'd never see Kakashi grow up.
Sorry… Kakashi… Sakumo thought as he stared up at the wonderfully serene sky. I won't… Be there for you… Please… Forgive me…