21) Battle of the Hidden Mist Village
Zabuza led the two teams from Konoha to the base of the rebels hidden deep inside the Land of Water. They had travelled non-stop for three days ever since they left Konoha. Team Seven was used to Gai pushing them to travel at the same speeds so they didn't complain at the otherwise brutal tempo Zabuza set. Once inside the Land of Water they slowed down only to avoid being seen by Kiri's patrols. Hinata's Byakugan helped them a lot here and they managed to avoid detection entirely and still keep up a high speed.
They arrived at a seemingly normal fishing village when Zabuza stopped them and approached a small fish market.
"Welcome, shinobi-san." The fishmonger greeted him, "How can I help you today?"
"I am in need of some fresh supplies." Zabuza answered.
"Anything specific you have in mind? The salmon is on sale today."
"No thanks, I'll take some tuna instead. My friend recommended the special tuna you keep in the back."
"Right this way," the fishmonger said casually and lead the team towards the back of his store where he quickly sent them down a hidden trapdoor that was hidden underneath a barrel of fishheads.
"Is this the entrance to the rebel base?" Anko asked curiously.
"Yes," Zabuza nodded, "in order to keep Kiri's hunters at bay we use a system of these hidden trapdoors to keep our location a secret. Only by telling the fishmonger the correct password are you allowed in. Otherwise you are none the wiser as to the true purpose of the shop."
"But how come the Hunter-nin didn't discover such a trick long ago?" Gai asked curiously.
"That's the beauty of it." Zabuza said smiling, "They are looking for ninja. Therefore they have several sensors amongst their tracking teams to find anyone with a well developed chakra-network as well as to discover any genjutsu we might use to hide our bases. However the man you just met earlier isn't a ninja but a simple civilian; he doesn't have any noticeable chakra for them to detect. Similarly the entrance we just took was hidden under a barrel instead of disguised with genjutsu. In a way our methods are too primitive for them to discover."
Gai chuckled at the genius behind the seemingly primitive method as the group went deeper underground until they finally reached a large open area. What once was a large underground cave was now filled to the brim with activity. Some of the guards looked up but went back to their duty as they recognized Zabuza. A few people greeted the swordsman as he walked through the camp towards one of the biggest tents in the middle. One of the Chunin guards went inside to announce their arrival and several moments later a young beautiful women with long auburn hair walked out of the tent.
"Hello there," she said, "I am Mei Terumi, leader of the rebellion. Is this the special ops unit you mentioned, Zabuza?"
"Yes, my lady." Zabuza answered with a small bow, "These are Haku of the Yuki-clan, Jugo of the Ryugetsu-clan and Mangetsu of the Hozuki-clan. The latter also is the wielder of Kiba, the Thunderswords."
Many surprised gasps were heard at that last name as the Hozuki-clan was once the biggest and most prominent clan in Kiri; they were one of the founders and even their second Mizukage was a Hozuki. Furthermore he was also one of the seven swordsmen, a group which even now was held in high regard.
"I see," Mei said, "and the Konoha-nin?"
"I met them in the land of Waves. I can personally vouch they are more than capable to infiltrate and take over the communications tower."
"Very well then," Mei said and turned towards Gai, "I will trust Zabuza's judgment. You have one day to rest and prepare yourself, the attack begins tomorrow at dawn. You are invited to the strategy meeting later where you will receive your orders."
"As you wish, Ma'am." Gai said with a salute and followed a Chunin who led them to their tents.
The next day:
Team seven was silently sneaking through the empty streets of Kiri on their way to their target. Once again Hinata's Byakugan helped them to easily avoid all patrols without problem. But even then they noticed there were less of those than expected. 'It seems their diversion worked and the bulk of Kiri's forces isn't in the village now' they all thought.
When they reached their target Hinata once again took a peak with her all-seeing eyes. Right now their were only three guards present in the tower but they knew that once the fighting started they would have to hold off many more who would try to sent a message.
Gai looked at the time and saw they only had twenty minutes left to capture and fortify the tower. With a quick handsign he have his students their orders. Team seven jumped out of cover and ran straight to the tower. The first guard, who was nearing the end of a six hour shift, was barely aware of what happened when Naruto jumped on him from behind and hit his head hard. He fell down without making a sound. Inside the tower Sasuke had subdued the second guard just as quickly while Hinata ran up the walls straight to the top. She reached the top floor and attacked the third guard before he had managed to sound the alarm.
With the guards tied down and out of the picture team Seven started setting up a barricade at the entrance. A quick glance at the time told them they had about ten minutes before the main fighting would start and they would need to hold this place and stop the enemy from calling reinforcements. After blocking the main entrance with a variety of stuff they set up a second perimeter for them to hide behind and from which they could take aim at those who entered through the door.
Meanwhile Gai went towards the cages with all the messenger birds and started the second phase of the plan. Normally he would just kill them and be done with it but Mei insisted that the birds needed to be kept alive for their own use in the future. They wanted to take over the village after all, not raze it to the ground. So instead he carefully mixed a paralysing drug in their food and water. Anko had personally created this drug the day before from a strong poison courtesy of her snake-summons. After checking that the drug worked and the first birds started falling asleep Gai went back down to help his students set up the defences. They only had a few minutes left according to schedule.
Meanwhile at the outskirts of town:
Zabuza looked around him at the battalion of five hundred soldiers under his command and inwardly sighed. Though the rebellion was quite large they did not have many experienced ninja in their ranks. His own men only counted fifty ninja and only five of those could be considered Jonin. The rest were mere samurai. And not the good kind like they had in the Land of Iron either, but regular samurai. Still the enemy also fought with only their Genin and a bare minimum of Chunin present as the main army was successfully lured away. So all in all the odds evened out somewhat
When the time came for the attack he grabbed his sword and raised it to the sky to rally his troops and on his command they all ran forwards towards the village itself. The patrols guarding the wall never stood a chance against the sudden attack and Zabuza's sword cleaved a path through their numbers. Their short initial victory didn't last long however as soon after several alarms started sounding all throughout the village and more and more ninja woke up and started joining the defense of their village.
Once past the gate Zabuza's army split in five with each of his Jonin leading one platoon towards a different part of the village to wreck chaos and confusion but above all keep the enemy occupied. He knew Mei's army would be doing the same thing right now and hopefully they would be able to distract the defenders enough for him and Mei to take out Yagura before too many people died.
Ten minutes since the start of the battle:
The members of team eleven were preparing themselves for the next group that would enter their tower to try and sent a message. After clearing the tower and putting all the messenger-hawks to sleep they too had put up a barricade to hold their ground until the battle was over. Less than three minutes after the first explosion rocked the city and woke everyone up a Chunin had already ran inside the tower to sent a message out. He was in such a hurry that he barely noticed the debris laying around and was completely taking by surprise as Haku used an ice-attack to flash-freeze him.
Two minutes later two more Chunin entered the tower and they fell to snake-bites in their necks. Anko had chosen a snake with a fast-acting but not lethal type of poison. The three unconscious ninja were currently stacked in a storage room until the fight would be over.
However things were about to become a whole lot harder since Kiri's Jonin-commander Ao realized the towers were taken and had actually sent a full force this time instead of just a single ninja.
Zabuza meanwhile had taken a small strike-team with him that separated from the rest of his invading battalion. In the midst of the chaos caused by the ten smaller troops who were taking over key positions all over the village he and Mei were heading for their main target: the Mizukage. Yagura had yet to make an appearance on the battlefield, something they both were very grateful for since the little man would be a very dangerous opponent even without the use of the three-tails sealed within him.
Five minutes later, after having faced only minimal resistance from unfortunate ninja who crossed their path, Zabuza's team met up with Mei. Mei had forsaken her usual attire which consisted of a blue robe in favour of something you'd expect on a samurai; with body armour, studded underclothes and protective gear on her arms and legs. She was also wielding a small ninjato for the occasion. Her normally wild auburn hair was now tightly held together in a single ponytail to not be in her way. She was dressed for war and Zabuza thought this new look was better than her usual attire.
The two nodded and then headed towards the Mizukage-tower without saying another word.
Fifteen minutes since the start of the invasion:
Team seven was now fighting for their lives trying to hold their position. After the first few attempts to sent a message failed the ninja of Kiri realized the towers were already compromised and had now sent a much larger force to take them out. The only reason they weren't already overwhelmed was that their attackers had explicit orders not to destroy or damage the tower for fear of losing all their hawks should the structure collapse. This included not using any damaging ninjutsu.
As such team seven had to merely hold their physical attacks off while they were free to fight back with all their tricks. Since they continued not killing anyone but merely knocking them out or putting them to sleep with more of Anko's poison the attackers weren't motivated to break orders the way facing deadly opposition would have.
Their tactic consisted of Gai and Sasuke using taijutsu to hold them back, Naruto then binded them with his chains to drain them of chakra while Hinata shot others with her bow. By minimizing the chakra she put in forming her arrows she was not only able to shoot a lot more than she usually could but it also insured the hits weren't lethal but still disrupted the chakra-network enough to make them lose consciousness for a few hours.
Under normal circumstances they would be easily overwhelmed on open terrain but since they positioned themselves right in front of the only entrance to the tower and barricaded the side completely they had managed to turn the enemies numbers against them in the confined space of the structure. So far they also only had to deal with Genin or the lone Chunin and they were more than a match for those. However their luck wouldn't last long when one of the Chunin managed to escape and get Jonin-level reinforcements.
"Lava Style: Lava Blob!" Mei said as she spit out a small projectile towards the front gates of the Mizukage-tower. The attack was pretty simple and primitive in nature., had it been water-based it would barely classify as D-rank. However as soon as contact was made the lava melted through the doors and destroyed all the reinforcement seals with barely any opposition. The real power of the lava-style was the almost nothing could defend against the sheer destructive power of the element itself. Where people could take a Water Dragon head on and still live or flare their chakra to guard against a Fire-attack and not be burned, they could not do that with lava. Any form of contact against even the smallest amount of lava was highly lethal. Similarly it could destroy all known materials and no amount of reinforcement seal could withstand an item being submerged in lava for any usable amount of time. Only a tailed beast was shown to be strong enough to withstand the stuff and even then it took massive damage.
Zabuza gulped at seeing the amount of destruction the simple attack had caused, 'I'm glad she is on my side. I hate to be fighting that.' he thought before grasping his sword and following his general into the Turtle's Den as the tower was called by the local population. He was surprised that Yagura still hadn't made an appearance in the fight. He knew the Mizukage was supposedly a shut-in but surely he should have made an exception when his village was under attack, right?
Ao was looking at the the thick mist of the "Hidden Mist Technique" that the rebels had used to hide themselves in. He noticed early on that the so-called invasion force wasn't acting like one. Rather than rushing and trying to overwhelm them in a blitzkrieg they had split up and were now holding onto several key points of the city. They were fighting for half an hour now and they still hadn't moved on from their initial position. And now they had even used the Hidden Mist Technique to hide themselves in and make it harder for the Kiri-nin to engage them. At least that was one problem he didn't have. Years ago he had implanted a Byakugan in his eye and now he could see through this mist clear as day. With Kiri's anti-bloodline campaigns he came close to being persecuted but eventually the Mizukage decided that his eye was not a natural part of his body and did not count as possessing a bloodline. Therefore he was allowed to keep it and since then he made quite the reputation for himself. Eventually he became Kiri's Jonin-commander and thus he was the one in charge until the Mizukage showed up. 'Speaking of which, what is Yagura doing anyway? Where is he?'
"Commander!" a voice caught his attention as he turned towards one of his lieutenants.
"Yes?" he asked.
"We have received news from the squad that was sent towards the communication towers, sir" the man said, "Both towers are still being held by unknown enemy forces and our troops did not manage to get in."
He cursed inwardly at the bad news and wished the main army was still here, he hated being stuck with a force of Genin and rookies to defend the Village, he wondered what the Mizukage was thinking by acting so recklessly based on nothing but rumours. "how many casualties did we suffer?" he asked
The young man looked at his report and seemed uncertain before shrugging and answering anyway, "According to our latest report we have no casualties. All our troops are still alive and unharmed, though many are unable to continue fighting due to heavy strains on their chakra-network."
He looked surprised at this report and wondered what it meant, 'no casualties, minimal physical damage, chakra-exhaustion... It looks like they went out of their way to keep our men alive and use non-lethal methods. But why would they do that?'
"There is something strange going on with this supposed invasion." he said, "And it looks like that tower is the best way to get some answers. I'll go there myself."
And with that he headed towards the Eastern communication tower where team Seven was stationed to see who was stopping his men from sending for help and to get some answer out of them about this pseudo-invasion.
Zabuza was breathing heavily as he knocked down the last of the Mizukage's guards with the flat end of his blade. Though the main force of Jonin was gone to fight the rebels in their fake hide-out the Mizukage had kept his own private guard behind. So while he and Mei approached the Mizukage's office they met with the four Jonin that were stationed in front of the heavy doors. A quick fight later and all four were taken out. They tried to minimize damage as much as possible but Zabuza feared he heard some bones breaking when he slammed one of them against the wall. Mei's fight was a lot more cleaner and her opponents were both unharmed after she knocked them out.
The two rebels steadied themselves and then opened the doors of the Mizukage's office to end their long rebellion.
Ao landed in front of the communications tower and approached the Chunin in charge, "What's the current situation?" he demanded from the young woman.
"There are four enemy ninja inside the tower, sir." the girl answered her commander, "Three are high Chunin level and one is a Jonin. They have taken advantage of the narrow corridor to reduce our numbers so we can't overwhelm them. We also tried sneaking around them through one of the various other entrance-points but every time we do so someone is waiting for us on the inside, as if they know where we will come from."
Ao nodded and then turned towards the tower, '3 high Chunin and 1 Jonin... I wasn't aware the rebels had more people like that. I thought all their known Jonin were seen somewhere in the village. Then who are these guys? Let's find out.'
He activated the Byakugan he kept hidden under his eye-patch to peek at the tower and to take a look at these mysterious ninja. He immediately spotted them and frowned at what he saw. He didn't recognize any of them, which already proved they weren't known missing-nin, but he did recognize the girl. More specifically he recognized that she too had a Byakugan, but unlike his own hers was natural, 'A Hyuga? No wonder sneak attacks don't work on them. She sees our men coming long before they suspect someone spotted them.'
On closer inspection he also saw one of the two boys had a Sharingan active. 'A Hyuga and an Uchiha? What are Konoha-nin doing here?'
He decided that the best way to find out was to simply ask them. After all they hadn't killed anyone so far so they weren't as hostile as he first assumed. Besides he was convinced he could defend himself should it come to a fight. So with that he walked straight in the tower with a straight pose to confront the Konoha-nin. As Ao entered the main hall he held his empty hands in the air as a sign he was unarmed and came to talk rather than fight.
With Hinata's Byakugan team seven already knew he was coming and waited for him on top of their makeshift barricade with their weapons ready. Gai raised his hand to stop his students from attacking the man. He had studied the bingo-book before and recognized the man before him as Kiri's Jonin-commander and an elite ninja. Though he was very proud of his team and their growth he also knew that this was one enemy they couldn't handle yet, so if he could resolve this without unnecessary conflict he would hear the man out. That didn't mean he would blindly trust him of course, even unarmed a ninja was still extremely dangerous. He should know, he himself specialised in taijutsu after all.
Ao stopped a good ten metres in front of the barricade and looked at his opponents with his one natural eye. Being convinced they truly weren't affiliated with any of Kiri's former bloodline clans he decided to take a small gamble and throw his cards on the table to see if he was right, "So do tell me, What exactly are Konoha-nin doing occupying my communications-tower?" he asked in a demanding tone.
Gai gave no signs of being caught of guard but inwardly he was cursing at being found out. They had very carefully removed all things that could identify them as Konoha-nin., he even ordered Hinata and Sasuke to wear sunglasses to hide their respective Dojutsu. But somehow they were found out anyway and now Konoha was identified as taking part in the rebellion. Still they had to say something so Gai decided to play it innocently for now, "Konoha? And what makes you think we are Leaf-ninja?"
Ao smiled inwardly as he realized his suspicions were correct. "Don't bother denying it. Where else would a Hyuga and an Uchiha come from?"
Sasuke and Hinata cursed under their breath that the enemy found out their true identity. They had been extra careful not to give it away by using clan-techniques or wearing their usual clothes but apparently they figured it out anyway.
"Anyway," Ao continued, "care to elaborate what is going here? Who are you working for? And what is their real objective? I know that the armies holding out in the village are only a distraction."
Gai was about to attack him when a sudden explosion drew everyone's attention. They heard the ninja outside screaming in panic as all hell broke loose around them. 'What the hell just happened?' they all thought.
Five minutes earlier:
Zabuza kicked in the door of the Mizukage-tower as he and Mei approached the small man sitting behind the desk working on some documents. Yagura looked up in surprise at the intrusion and frowned at seeing his door destroyed, "God dammit Zabuza. Why do have to make such a mess wherever you go? That door is coming out of your next pay check. Now is their something you wanted when you barged in without making an appointment?"
The swordsman blinked and then blinked again, at the unexpected response of the jinchuuriki and wondered if this was some kind of trick.
Yagura lost his patience at Zabuza's silence and turned towards Mei, "Miss Terumi, perhaps you can explain why you two barged in my office like this."
Mei too seemed to confused to react but quickly got to her senses and said the speech she had prepared ages ago for when she finally met the Mizukage. "Yagura. I came here in the name off those innocents you have killed to put an end to your bloody campaign against bloodline-users and to restore Kiri to its former glo..."
"What the hell are you talking about?" Yagura interrupted her, "What campaign against bloodline-users? Why would I want to get rid of bloodline users?"
Zabuza was getting annoyed at the Mizukage's games and was losing his patience, "Stop playing innocent! You know damn well what we are talking about."
Suddenly they heard laughter coming from behind the Mizukage as a vortex appeared behind Yagura's back and a man dressed in black robes appeared out of thin air, his face was hidden behind an orange spiralling mask that only revealed his right eye. "I'm afraid, Mei-chan, Zabuza-chan that good old Yagura here has not been himself these last few years. As far as he knows the bloodline purge never happened, nor would he ever dream of ordering such a thing. It took me a considerable amount of 'persuasion' to make him sign that order after all."
"Who are you?!" Zabuza demanded while pointing his blade at the masked man.
"You can call me... Tobi" Tobi said as he put his hand on an unresponsive Yagura's shoulder, "and this is my loyal puppet Yagura-chan."
Mei wasted no time and launced a stream of lava straight at Tobi's face but to her surprise it simply went though him and melted a hole in the wall behind him as he stood there unharmed. "tsk tsk tsk Mei-chan. That wasn't very nice now was it? Someone might have gotten hurt if you aren't careful" he said while laughing like a child at his own joke.
"You won't get away with this!" Zabuza yelled as he raised his blade and slashed at the masked man. Yet his attack also went straight through Tobi without any damage whatsoever.
"Almost got me, mister swordsman" Tobi taunted him. "But look at the time, I have to go."
With that the masked man disappeared in another vortex and reappeared behind the still dazed Mizukage, "But before that: here's a goodbye present from me." he said while placing his hands on Yagura's back and finally disappeared in another vortex while laughing.
"What was that all about?" Mei asked.
Before Zabuza could answer Yagura shaking wildly as large amounts of demonic chakra quickly leaked out of the seal placed between his shoulder blades where Tobi had touched him earlier.
"Oh crap." Zabuza said before turning around and running away dragging Mei with him, "We have to get out now!"
A large explosion shook the village as the Three-tailed Turtle quickly formed itself and burst out of the Kage-tower.
A/N: cliffhanger-no-jutsu. Man, I'm evil :p