Fate Chaos and Plans – Chapter 22
Send in the Constructors! I want those bastards dead NOW! I'm sending everything I have at you! EVERYTHING!
— Handsome Jack, Borderlands 2, during the "Bright Lights, Flying City" mission
And there's my door.
Finally... the mist had begun to break.
Gatō had been waiting, oh so patiently for this. A grin positively oozed its way across his face as he adjusted a pair of sunglasses.
In all honesty, Gatō would have to admit that this wasn't his usual modus operandi. Well... okay the exploitation and betrayal of missing-nin certainly bit certainly was.
But then -ohhhh BUT THEN!- of course, that little fuck went and made it personal when he broke his arm! The peasant had dared to touch him! HIM! An example WOULD. BE. MADE.
So… now he was going to sit back, relax and watch the show as his men impaled the both of them. Even better, he'd made an exception to his normal frugality and sent a couple of his best men to bribe Zabuza's other subordinates with a simply ridiculous amount of money.
Ahhh, the look on his face when he sees his own men… Damn, I should've brought a camera.
Of course, he may decide to kill them later anyway. After all he though, mirth positively radiating from him. You can't trust a man who would sell out his own boss now, can you?
And no, he hadn't failed to grasp the hypocrisy of that thought. Just, oh you know, a reason to care.
If Gatō was poor, people might have called him less charitable names like 'evil' or 'depraved'. Hey, maybe even 'crazy!' And, who knows, perhaps behind closed doors that's exactly what some people did call him. But, since he was ludicrously -insurmountably- wealthy, whenever he was addressed, he was addressed by the title of 'sir'.
Or they'd regret it.
"We're moving in" he declared. "He's either going to be dead or done when we get there. Kill whoever's left standing and– oh! And bring the bridge builder's head. Intact if you can. I think I'll have it paraded around town when we're done." That ought to remind those peasants why defying him was an… inadvisable idea.
Some of the men chuckled while others relayed the orders further back, out of earshot. "I've always loved a good parade" one chimed, much to the amusement of others.
Ahh, good people.
Gatō, followed by his entourage of a hundred-and-fifty or so men, docked at the end of the bridge, which, he noted, was dangerously close to completion.
Note to self: put in an order for some explosives.
He sauntered towards the quickly dissipating mist, leisurely of course. It simply wouldn't do at all if were unable to enjoy Zabuza's decapitation on account of him being winded of all things. If the men found his pace disagreeable, they didn't speak of it. That was smart of them.
Finally, figures came into view.
Oh, and what a special view it was. Zabuza had been worth every penny Gatō wasn't going to pay.
Bloodstains positively littered the area, mixing with pools of water unbecoming of recent weather. A severely wounded Zabuza stood over the easily recognisable bridge builder, the old man reduced to his knees. Sadly not literally, but 'hey', the day was still young.
Ahhh Tazuna; Gatō had almost forgotten about him.
The assassin's apprentice, Haku, stood off to the side, not wounded, yet obviously exhausted. His posture positively radiated fury as his men came into view. Oh how Gatō wished he could see the expression on that face.
"Ah," he began, addressing the so called 'Demon in the Mist'. Pah! More like 'Baby Demon'. "I see you've finally managed to do your job" he mocked, glancing around at the carnage approvingly.
"Gatō... " Zabuza's voice rasped. Anybody worth their salt would know what this was.
"The other shinobi? I presume you've taken care of them?"
The swordsman's posture remained stiff as he released an exhausted grunt. "They're dead, but I'm more interested in what the hell it is you think you're doing"
Showing none of his concern, "Mhmm?" Gatō asked, mock confusion saturating his voice, before he 'regained his thoughts'.
"Ah yes, of course! Bad news I'm afraid. It turns out that I was never going to pay you" he gestured behind him. "Instead, these gentlemen here are going to kill you, finish off the accursed bridge builder and maybe raid the village if I'm in in the mood to let them. So sorry about that."
There was a moment of absolute silence before-
"You're turning... on me?" Zabuza asked slowly, almost disbelieving.
Then, looking significantly less tired now, the revolutionary sighed, his expression morphing from shock to... amusement? "What an idiot" he announced to the man he'd been holding at sword-point.
That... wasn't how these things usually went down... Then again, he usually hired the ones who called themselves 'Choo-Nin'... whatever that meant.
"Too stupid to live" agreed Tazuna with an expression sporting far too much barely tempered rage to belong to an elderly construction worker.
"Kai," Haku announced, his tone mimicking the other two.
And then, in but a moment, all that gore that'd previously littered the environment just... evaporated. The majority of Zabuza's wounds faded as he dropped the last of, what was now quite obviously, the facade of exhaustion. Then, as if that wasn't bad enough, three more figures just seemed to just… appear. Two adolescents and one adult. All three were wearing headbands with those stupid little insignia things. More shinobi then.
T-This... isn't going to plan.
"You called it" Zabuza conceded to the bridge builder, who by this point, was obviously not the bridge builder. The man's form shimmered and shifted as he turned into yet another shinobi. He had shoulder-length wild dark-brown hair and sported a ragged black cloak.
He was also very very drenched in blood.
"Yea", he confirmed, his voice holding not the slightest inflection of… any kind of emotion really, as he flexed the metal gauntlet attached to his right arm. Oddly enough, the gauntlet was spotless.
And just like that, Gatō's day went to shit.
"I think I can help with that"
Haku snapped his vision outwards. He could technically look both ways at once but that was somewhat disorienting and-
Oh well that certainly does not bode well at all.
Gōzu was just standing there, a reasonable distance away from the dome but well within earshot and-
That was a LOT of blood he's drenched in. There was no Meizu either, which triggered alarm bells for anyone who even remotely knew the pair. Except that definitely was him despite the fact that he was supposed to be staging a home invasion.
"Explain" he managed, still keeping an eye on his two captives, one of which had just pulled what he considered to be a rather poorly acted gambit. If, and that was a big if,there were indeed any mercenaries, then the Hyūga had never thought that they were with them to begin with.
Unfortunately, he'd be completely right. If (again, big if) there were indeed hired swords lying in wait, then they probably weren't friendly. And now Gōzu was here which really didn't seem like it was going to help matters.
"You can drop the jutsu." The demon brother practically snarled as he spoke. Either that or something was interfering with his mask. Although the only thing Haku could possibly think of would be…
Shaking off that rather unpleasant idea, Haku began explaining exactly why he wouldn't be doing that. "Zabuza-sama requires that I remove them from the battle in order for him to properly focus on bypassing the j-"
"-No." Gōzu interrupted. His voice held that chilling edge that Haku hadn't heard since that mission in Yu No Kuni after Meizu had tried to-
"-Gatō isn't paying you" the Chūnin continued, again cutting off Haku's train of thought (an interruption for which he was quite thankful). "The Genin's right too. Got no idea how he knows but yea, hundred-and-fifty or so waiting for whoever's left standing to finish*aghh*-"
Gōzu began coughing –almost chocking- before he took – Ripped - off his breather mask with reckless abandon, the straps holding it in place snapped like twigs.
Haku wished he'd been wrong. Oh why couldn't he have been wrong? There was indeed something interfering with Gōzu's mask. Somehow, after being exposed to what must have been an... unpleasant amount of blood, it had worked its way into the mask's air filters which were designed specifically to deal with toxic air and as such, were in no way prepared to deal with liquids of any kind, let alone something as viscous as-
Haku imagined that had… not been an enjoyable experience for the wearer. Although he couldn't fathom why he hadn't removed the mask before now.
As Gōzu tossed the it to one side before wiping what looked like a spray of blood from his newly exposed face, Haku realised that while he'd seen Meizu's face once in Yo No Kuni - not thinking about that right now – he'd never actually seen Gōzu's. Surprisingly enough and entirely against Haku's expectations, the face under the mask, once Gōzu's sleeve had wiped the blood away, was...
Bangs, stained with red as they were, framed an angular face which held no scars, tattoos or anything else of note for that matter. He looked a tad bit familiar though. For a moment Haku wandered if his real face might be in a bingo book of some kind.
"Please explain" Haku asked after recovering from the shock of the... unmasking. Thankfully, the two Konoha Shinobi remained still within his jutsu, eying the demon brother, trying to figure out if his presence was a good thing or not.
Gōzu's expression glazed over and, for a moment, it seemed as if he was going to stay like that. Then, his eyes snapped up. "Couple of Gatō's men showed up at the target's house just before we did. They tried to turn us by promising cash."
Haku snorted, which an odd feeling was considering the nature of air within his mirrors. As if they could turn Zabuza-sama's subordinates with simple promises of wealth-
"Meizu said yes". Gōzu turned away
Haku's eyed narrowed behind his mask. He suddenly he felt rather cold. Zabuza-sama knew hiring them was a risk. But then they'd abandoned their own village with them. So why? Why now of all times?
"I dealt with it" Gōzu rasped, and for a moment it looked as if he was going to elaborate. But, then the words just seemed to die on his lips before he could even make them out.
"Whose blood is that?"
"Like I said, 'I dealt with it'." The words barely managed to escaped the Chūnin and before Haku could push further-
"Anyway" he continued- and there was that edge again. "The two swords Gatō hired turned out to novices at kenjutsu." He allowed a snort of amusement which Haku doubted was entirely genuine considering...
"-Not that good though. Two Genin burst in and took them down." He paused for a moment before- "*Pfft*, they were probably meant to ambush us instead". And there was that -coldemptydevestated- amusement again. "They even managed it before the third one showed up".
"Where are they now" Haku asked, almost certain this 'third' was the Genin that 'Kakashi of the Sharingan' had ordered back to the house.
"Still at the house". Gōzu shrugged, "As least as far as I know."
Haku took a deep breath (still feels odd) before deciding.
Well then, there's no point delaying any longer is there?
Stepping out from a mirror, he felt the drain on his chakra ease as he dispelled the jutsu. The ice mirrors lasted a second at most before shattering all at once, causing his two opponents (former opponents, he supposed) to recoil in surprise. As frozen dust shimmered, floating through the air Haku turned to regard the two.
"It would seem like our battle is over".
The two nodded somewhat cautiously before the blonde snapped out of his silence like he'd been in a trance. "Wait… what? What just happened?!" The blonde yelled and- dear lord he's loud!.
"Their employer has turned on them and as such, they no longer profit from killing Tazuna." Neji elaborated. As the blonde let out an 'ohhhhh', the Hyūga turned back to Haku. "We should tell the others".
Haku agreed. They'd already wasted enough time playing into Gatō's hand.
"No need" said Gōzu, gesturing towards two figures emerging from the mist.
Haku turned sharply, finding himself in the presence Zabuza-sama and Kakashi.
"How did you-" Naruto began.
"The Hidden Mist jutsu restricts the vision of everyone in the vicinity, including the user", Zabuza interrupted. "I rely on sound to navigate the battlefield." He huffed. "we stopped the battle the moment Gōzu confirmed that Gatō had gone and voided our contract of employment."
Haku abruptly found his feet to be intensely interesting. He was glad his mask was still intact considering he was probably blushing furiously. Of course he knew about Zabuza-sama's abilities, he'd just thought that their battle had moved significantly further away from them and- oh dear, now he was going to get another lecture on the nature of a shinobi as a tool for killing- and he heard me telling them my entire life story while I was supposed to be killing them didn't he?
The bemused expression Zabuza-sama sent him that quite clearly said 'we're going to be having a talk later' pretty much confirmed that.
Although, why would Zabuza-sama keep my fight within earshot while fighting a jōnin? It didn't make any sense.
His inclined his head towards Kakashi. "Our fight's over… unless you wan't to keep going?" He joked… hopefully. Sometimes even he couldn't tell.
Kakashi, for a moment (to his, Gōzu's, Naruto's and the Hyūga's great distress) looked like he was considering it. "Hmmm, Thanks for the offer, but we're just here to protect the bridge builder."
"Hey wait!" Naruto interrupted (again). "What about all those guys that you were talking about!? Huh?"
"That's your prob-" Zabuza-sama began before crossing his arms.. "-wait. Actually... this might be salvageable."
Haku could tell, even with all those bandages, that he was smiling.
Kakashi watched on as Gatō's expression transitioned in accordance to how totally and utterly screwed he was. His aloof confidence at the beginning, morphing to panicked confusion as blood and gore vanished from sight (probably not for long). Finally, came furious desperation in the face of overwhelmingly clear odds. For all that the man had apparently discounted shinobi abilities, he'd still gone out of his way to purchase overwhelming numbers and attempt to buy out Zabuza's subordinates from under him. That was all done in expectation of them being heavily wounded and even more heavily fatigued.
So yea. This wasn't going to last long.
Zabuza's plan had admittedly been a good one.
Pretend we barely lost, leaving Zabuza and his apprentice exhausted, spruce it up with a bit of area-of-effect genjutsu, dispel the Hidden Mist jutsu, lure them in then take them out.
'Then, profit' apparently. Although Kakashi still didn't know how they planned to go about doing that.
Shikamaru, once brought up to speed, had been left in charge of the bridge builder, who after being informed of exactly what the 'plan' was, had immediately elected to be taken home, or as he'd so nicely put it; 'away from these crazy people'. Kakashi of course, had no idea who he could have possibly be referring to.
Gatō snapped back to attention. "W-what are you idiots waiting for?!" he barked out. "Its just a few exhausted shinobi. Kill them already!"
In a testament to how incredibly ignorant and bottom of the barrel these two-bit thugs were, they actually complied.
Despite the booming shinobi trade, ordinary mercenaries did find business within the elemental nations, usually as long term muscle considering that keeping a shinobi on for extended periods of time could be well... rather costly. Well, unless you were the Fire-Daimyō, in which case you kept twelve on retainer.
That said, any hired sword worth their salt knew the golden rule:
'If you want to down a shinobi then you'd damn well better hire another one'.
Of course, Kakashi had to admit, the sound of one-hundred-and-fifty sets of weapons being drawn/deployed and/or otherwise readied... could really be been intimidating.
You know, if he wasn't a jōnin.
A quick glance at his two Genin in attendance however confirmed that they weren't taking things... quite as well.
Naruto was by far doing best out of the two. After pulling -yanking- out way too many senbon for him to still be conscious, he'd begrudgingly accepted medical ointment from Haku who was apparently 'glad they no longer had to fight'. Ten minutes later and he was practically fine. His wounds looked like they'd been healing for days. Naruto chalked it up to the ointment. Kakashi had a... different theory.
The team knucklehead wasn't all that scared either. Although Kakashi supposed that numbers really weren't going do much in the way of intimidation. Not when the one you're trying to scare could magic up a small army into existence with one hand-sign. He was pissed thought. So angry that it was only when he they made eye contact that he was sure Naruto wouldn't actually charge head first into a plethora of goons that were just dangerous enough to be a threat to the Genin.
Then there was Neji. The Hyūga was, without doubt, the worst off. His battle with Zabuza's apprentice, while yielding very little physical damage, had left him completely exhausted. He'd even deactivated his Byakugan and didn't look like he'd be turning it back on any time soon.
It was the Hyūga's mental state however, was what Kakashi was most worried most about. His deactivated eyes were darting from place to place, never settling on a single target. It occurred to him that the removal of an ability which allowed one to detect threats from any and all directions during a time when threats were about to come from every direction... yea, Kakashi could see why that could be a bit stressful for a Genin, one year veteran or not.
Pfft, like 'one year veteran' is even a thing.
Placing a hand on the boy's shoulder, an act which judging by the jolt of shock could've ended in sensei-homicide, the jōnin smiled though his mask. Hopefully it was the kind of expression that said 'not to worry. Sensei's here'.
At least he really hoped it said that.
And apparently it did. Neji's shock melted into understanding as his breathing became steadier, his expression hardening.
Well, that's one crisis averted.
A cursory glance at Zabuza confirmed that the freelance assassin was in much the same position as him. Largely superficial injuries and a bit low on chakra, but fine considering their opponents.
The apprentice/self-proclaimed tool/whatever he was called in relation to Zabuza seemed to be having the same problem as Neji. He was hiding it better, but Kakashi could still tell that he was running low on chakra.
Gōzu, the surviving Demon Brother looked physically fine once you realised that most of the blood on him wasn't actually his. What gave him away were his eyes. They were locked onto Gatō with rampant killing intent.
By all rights, once Gatō went down the rest should disperse. Kakashi however, suspected that they would simply try to attack the nearby village instead.
Oh well he thought, drawing a kunai. It wouldn't matter in the long run.
Zabuza drew his (still really big) cleaver.
Naruto's hands formed a familiar seal and if numbers were ever an issue… they weren't about to be.
Haku readied three senbon in his left hand. He'd be hanging back like Neji. But, unlike the Hyūga, it was obvious that he was usually a ranged fighter anyway.
Neji slinked back, ready to attack anyone who left the field in the direction of Tazuna and Shikamaru.
"Fuck this!" someone yelled before Kakashi caught the sound of an audible click. A crossbow went off in the hands of an overeager mercenary.
The arrow soared, homing in on the ex-leader of the Mist Assassination Unit. A clean hit to the vitals with a projectile of that speed and- *Pffft*
With barely so much as a through, Zabuza backhanded it out of the air like the nuisance it was, visible chakra beginning to radiate from him.
"Well? I'm waiting."
And just like that, the fighting began.
Why has writing this become so hard?
I know I said I'd end the wave arc here but there was a lot to get through and I didn't want anyone to think this was a dead fic . Its over 3500 words and it ended naturally at this point.
I started watching Hunter X Hunter. Then 74 hours later I finished marathoning Hunter X Hunter. I thought it wouldn't like it. I've never been so happy to be so wrong. If you haven't seen it, Go watch it. It's that simple.
I'm a little pissed at how much my love for the series has plummeted. I still like it, but more based on its potential than how it gradually got worse, with some surprising moments of quality. Remember when Sasuke's character made sense? Or when stealth was paramount? How about when Naruto (as in the character) was meant to mock the typical Shōnen anti-hero (Sasuke) by being a total trickster/ happy go lucky/ screw fate/ a bit of a step-ford smiler instead of being a total messiah? Good times. On the flipside I like the amount of character development they gave Kurama. I just wish they spaced it out more.
At least DBZ was honest about how ridiculous it was. *Sigh*... Giant tree.
Capturing Haku's character is super hard when narrating from his perspective as he's a bit of a contradiction in places. I wish I could think of more to do with him as I've seen some brilliant stuff (Silver Queen's 'Dreaming of Sunshine').
Zabuza knew that Kakashi wouldn't take him up in his offer of continuing the fight. Everyone else apart from the two just freaked out when Kakashi pretended to think about it. He was always a bit of a troll in my opinion *cough* tenthousandyearsofdeath*cough*
Naruto would have been bad to narrate this chapter from as he had no idea what was going on until Neji explained it to him and one line to summarise what happened at the house seemed like a bit of a cop-out to the readers
Why did the other demon brother betray them? What was the emotional farewell about then? Will Sasuke even activate his Sharingan in this arc?