AN: First chapter is finally up! It's just the beginning and it goes through a lot, but we have to start somewhere.
I would like to say that every time I update Heirs, I'll update this one, but can't say I could keep my word. With my work schedule and taking care of my responsibilities as a parent, it would make it hard to update two stories a night. So when I update, it will be one or the other.
Anywhooo, thanks for the patience readers. Tell me what you think! Kisses!
There was a brighter day
Where I could view the world
Without the sorrows that I've known (What if I could feel)
Now it's a different place…Far From Over by Rev Theory
She had no name, no history yet she was here…alive…living…learning…
From the moment she opened her eyes she became aware. Of her body, of her heartbeat, of her thoughts. Somehow she knew that life wasn't supposed to start like this but she was at a loss as to where these thoughts came to be. There were many things that formed in her brain, but how they got there…she didn't know. She dreamed, maybe that's where they came from but her dreams we not her dreams. She dreamt about another life she lived and then those thoughts blurred with her own lonely existence. She didn't know what was real and what was imagination. They mixed and blended into her reality. When you're stuck in a tank, all you had was yourself to keep yourself sane. It wasn't working out very well for her.
She had memorized her chamber since she could open her eyes and still, it was stifling. It was a prison, she knew that. She watched the blur of distorted images beyond her thick glass prison and saw that there was an unusual crowed in her chamber right now. There were four men and two women having a heated argument about something, motioning to her in the tank. All she could hear was faint murmurs.
She never really knew what they were saying. She learned to read their body language in these cases and knew frantic when she saw it. They kept looking over at her and then turning back to one another. It lasted about twenty minutes before they all left except for one man. She didn't know his name but she recognized him. He was always watching her, touching the front of her tank. She could make out his features when he was close to her. Brown hair, brown eyes and very pale skin. She didn't know how old he was, not young, but not old either. He would say something against her glass and the water vibrated with his voice.
I'll keep you safe. She stared at him in wonder. Safe? Was something going to happen to her? For the first time since she gained her consciousness, she felt uneasy.
Everything was set. It was night and it was quiet. Ino could feel the nervous tension throughout Leaf Village. Homes were warm and tender tonight as many ninja spent what little time was left with their families and friends. Her dad was down stairs with some of the flower workers and she was up here, on the roof of their house looking across the vast sea of trees in the direction of Choji's hunting cottage. She had sent her last letter yesterday afternoon but wondered if she should just go over there and tell them good bye in person. She shook her head wryly with her turn of thoughts. She had made up her mind to stay focused an hour ago and already she was second guessing herself. Those three always distracted her she mused to herself and reclined back on her hands, dropping her head back and looking up into the stars.
She, Shino, Kiba and his sister Hana had to meet the rest of Fifth Division in three days and arranged to leave the village at dawn. She was glad that she was traveling with familiar people. Shino and Kiba were aware of Reiko's existence, but Hana wasn't. No one outside the Hokage and the Konoha Twelve knew about him. But they didn't know about Sasuke and Itachi being so close to Leaf Village and she wasn't going to tell them either.
She tried not to feel guilty about it. Besides, if Kiba knew, he would go and try to confront them and she didn't know if she or his sister could pull him away. She didn't know what Hana or Shino would do if they knew and she didn't really want to find out.
Everything was looming just beyond this war. The future of Shinobi, the Future of Leaf, her future, Sasuke's future, Itachi's future and most of all Reiko's future. And it all hinged on the outcome. An unsure outcome, and an unsure future.
Reiko sat outside the cottage, wrapped tightly in a blanket letting the chill numb his face. The music of the forest night made him think about his life back in the summons realm. He missed it sometimes. He loved being here with his family but he had grown up in a world so different than this one. This world could be confusing and overwhelming, but he wouldn't trade the experience for anything.
It was a tense night for him and his father and uncle. They didn't say much, but he knew they were thinking about the war. He and Sasuke were thinking about Ino, about being separated from her. His heart throbbed in his throat with the emotion of the thought. He was with Itachi and Sasuke, they were his family but they could never take her place. Ino's place was so deeply rooted in his emotional map and no one could ever displace her. He never knew how closely knitted he was to her until he was apart from her. It had never been like that when he was in the summons realm. Over the years, when he was growing up he would get glimpses of her here and there courtesy of the earth spirits. He memorized everything about her, his heart growing full with longing and awe.
He often wondered how things would have been if he had grown up with her and Sasuke. The Earth Spirits were wise and experienced with many things. He learned his values from them, from Elder Willow. There wasn't really a leader in the summons realm, but there were certain beings that held a lot of respect. Elder Willow was one of them. He was a tall thick guy with dark brown skin, evergreen eyes and thinning copper colored hair. When he laughed, it was one of those deep belly rumbles that made you grin back no matter what kind of mood you were in. When he was serious, his eyes would take on a misty look, one of kindness and patience. Reiko missed him, missed the warmth and wonder of the earth spirits. He was beginning to feel guilty about not keeping in touch with them. Did they miss him too?
Sitting here alone on this cold night, he thought about that and wondered if he should find a shrine and try to get in contact with them. Reiko glanced to the side of him thoughtfully, through the iced windows of the little cottage. Sasuke and Itachi were talking to one another with brotherly ease; ever so often stopping to listen out for him outside since they still had bandages over their eyes
It couldn't hurt. They needed all the help they could get.
Dawn was trying to peek through the dreary grey clouds of winter. Ino stood at the gates of Leaf with a handful of ninja who were on their way to meet their divisions. She zipped closed her green chunnin flak jacket, all the way to her throat to keep herself warm. The material was stiff, still new compared to the seasoned ninja surrounding her.
She spotted Shino through the crowed, his face covered by the high collar of his dark green jacket. His dark sunglasses flashed her way and Ino grabbed her bag and meandered toward him, a small smile on her lips.
"How did I know that you would be here first?" She asked, setting her heavy bag next to his.
"Not by much." He said.
"Oi! Ino! Shino!" They both turned to the loud exclamation and saw Kiba weave wildly through people with Hana following, a small frown on her face for her little brother. Four huge ninja dogs followed, Akamaru at the front and Hana's three husky looking Haimaru Brothers behind. Kiba grinned at them. "You guys ready to head out?"
"He was up before I was." Hana mused, a soft smile pulling at her lips. She was dressed warmly but light, just like Kiba in black ninja pants with matching long sleeve mesh. Like her, they had their green flak jackets on. Hana's ebony hair was pulled into a ponytail with two locks hanging in the front. The dawn light made her skin look softer and luminous, her red clan marks almost glowing on her cheeks. Kiba looked carelessly tousled like always.
Akamaru and the Haimaru Brothers nosed her and Shino's hands in greeting, bumping into their legs to urge them for a pet. Ino gave each one of them a scratch behind the ear respectfully, careful not to indulge them too much. Beyond anything else, they were intelligent ninken, not pets.
"I'm ready. Shino?" Ino turned her head to him.
Ino took a deep breath and was prepared to leave the gates when she stopped. Beyond the sea of departing ninja, she saw two unmistakable heads. "Just a moment." She hurriedly told the group. They saw who it was and nodded in understanding. She jogged and both boys turned expectantly to her. For a moment they just stood there but then Ino sighed and leaned in, hugging both Shikamaru and Choji.
"Stay safe." She whispered to them. It was the first time in a long while that their team was going to be separated. Entering into this war, she thought that they would stay together, but the Intelligence Division thought otherwise. Shikamaru and Choji would be together in Fourth Division so she took comfort in that though. Without her there, they would play it safe and for once, she was going to be grateful for that.
Each hugged her back with one hand. "We will." Choji promised softly.
"Tch, you're not going to start crying are you?" Shikamaru pulled back. Indeed, her eyes were burning with unshed tears, but she forced them back. Like Sasuke, Shikamaru was uncomfortable with her crying too.
Ino sniffed and punched his arm. Hard. He winced and pouted, rubbing it. "Make sure he's not smoking more than four a day Choji." Ino scolded, looking at Shikamaru when she said it. He rolled his eyes, a hand going into his pocket where he kept Asuma's lighter. She caught Shikamaru's eye. "And make sure that Choji takes it easy on his food supplies. You know him, he can be a nervous eater."
"I know." He murmured in assurance. Ino stepped back, looking at her boys, her best friends since forever. She wished Asuma-sensei was here, but he had left three days ago on a super-secret S rank mission. She missed saying good-bye to him and the ache of doing so still stung.
"Oi! Ino! We gotta go!" She heard Kiba yelling behind her. Ino smiled ruefully and then sighed.
"Send word once you reach Wind Country okay?"
Their eyes warmed and they nodded in concession. Then without another word, she turned and joined Shino, Hana, Kiba and the ninken at the gates.
Kabuto stared contemplatively at the unconscious woman laid out before him. He had lured her to him by a variety of means so he couldn't help but feel immensely prideful at the moment. She looked like he remembered her back when Orochimaru tried to take over Leaf at the Chuunin exams. But she was paler now, with dark circles under her eyes. The immobilizing snake venom that pulsed through her body was making her temperature soar with a fever and blood dribbled down her chin from some internal hemorrhaging.
He heard someone approaching from a distance and had his summoned snake wrap Anko's body in a tight, upright hold. She moaned and her head lulled back.
"I see this woman's still alive." Madara commented in a disapproving tone. The rest of Anko's team had been taken care of and their undead bodies had joined his pawns.
Kabuto smiled patiently. "Lord Orochimaru's cursed seal was adapted from this woman. His chakra flows though her body now." He shook his head. "She can't be killed yet."
Madara stiffened. "No, get rid of her now. This woman knows where the real entrance to our hideout is."
Kabuto could understand that, but Madara didn't see things the way he did. "I need to extract Lord Orochimaru's chakra while she is alive and collect it." He began in explanation, his snake lifting Anko a bit more behind him. "You might as well call my body Lord Orochimaru's. It's crucial in order to increase my own strength. Then my power to bind the Reanimation Jutsu will increase." He pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose with a finger. "And another crucial thing is that this jutsu requires a live human body. That is why this woman is being kept alive."
Gods, he was going to have to explain this to him. Kabuto could feel the confusion rippled off of Madara. "Increasing our battle strength…doesn't that further your cause? Or am I wrong?" He tried not to make it seem like he was talking to a child, but Kabuto was annoyed right now. He had been thinking about strategy and Madara had come an interrupted him. He was about to do something Lord Orochimaru could only dream of and it took planning.
"Today's friend is tomorrow's foe. That may be so." Madara commented dryly. "Your benefit could turn into my disadvantage."'
Kabuto frowned, but quickly hid it and stood up. "You still don't trust me, do you?" He asked gently. He had to go about this the right way, tread carefully through it. He knew that Madara couldn't completely trust him, but he had thought he could get a little benefit of the doubt. "What do you want from me?"
"Prove to me right now," Madara said quickly. "That the Reanimation Jutsu really requires living bodies. And…tell me all of its secrets. Including how to stop it."
Anger quickly surface. That was a lot to ask! "And if I refuse?" He asked narrowing his eyes.
Madara leveled his mismatched eyes, his Sharingan and Rinnegan staring steadily at him. "You will never acquire what you desire and what you desire will become something else." His intent froze the air around him. "It will be your life."
A tremor of cold fear stole up Kabuto's body but he refused to show it. He had no doubt that Madara would kill him if he wanted to. He didn't know if he would live though it and all his hopes for the future would die along with his body. It's was not wise to take on someone with a Rinnegan right now, he thought to himself. But could he reveal the secrets to him so easily? Kabuto mulled over it quickly before deciding.
I still have a hand to play he reminded himself. No need to rush it.
He sighed. "Fine, but I don't have any sacrifices here." He turned to look up at Anko. "As I said, this woman cannot be used." He was firm in this. He needed her, not only for the chakra, but for Ino as well. Anko was her sensei and he was going to use everything he could to keep her.
The air became charged and the space in front of Madara's face twisted and out came two people with their hands tied behind their backs. One with short dark hair and a full face mask and a red head.
"Those people are…?" He asked Madara.
"Danzo's dogs." He stepped behind the red head and took his head in his arms. When Kabuto saw his face he stilled. It was Rei, the Leaf ninja who had been captured along with Ino two years ago. His hair was longer and his eyes were gold, but there was no mistaking it.
He had been aware that Lord Orochimaru had spared him for some reason, and now he knew why. Rei worked for Danzo in Root ANBU and Lord Orochimaru and Danzo had a history. A lot of people didn't know that it had been Lord Orochimaru who had transplanted all those Sharingans and the First Hokage's cells into Danzo arms.
"They've been under a Sharingan-based genjutsu from the time of her escape." Madara said matter-of-factly and with a quick twist, he broke Rei's neck with a sickening crunch. Kabuto tried not to wince at the sound. So barbaric. Poor Rei, he thought as Madara threw his limp body to the ground.
"You don't go easy, do you?" Kabuto muttered in sympathy. He could imagine what Ino's reaction would be, seeing Rei's life used so bluntly.
"All right, I got things ready for you." Madara said, standing next to the live ninja. "I killed this one. Now use this other one and do the Reanimation Jutsu."
Kabuto had his snake move Anko's body under his long robe for safekeeping before it slithered to Rei's dead body. He pulled out a scroll and unrolled it with one hand. The snake had Rei hanging limply in the air and Kabuto gazed at him with a twinge of regret.
"Let me say this first. This is categorized as a type of Summoning Jutsu." He pulled a kunai from his sleeve with his free hand. "I summon the soul of the dead person from the afterlife to this plane. To achieve that, I need a portion of the one I want to revive." He raised his kunai and methodically cut open Rei's abdomen.
"A fixed portion of flesh." He murmured. Rei's blood was still warm as it flowed over his hand. "A portion that contains personal identification material." He placed his bloody hand on the scroll. "Without it, the Reanimation Jutsu will not work." He explained that he could only summon souls it they were in the afterlife, not sealed somewhere. The First, Second, Third and Fourth Hokages for example, were sealed in the stomach of the Death God so they could not be summoned. That information seemed to please Madara.
Kabuto's snake dropped Rei's body and black ink characters from his scroll crawled along the ground and surrounded the person who was going to be sacrificed. Kabuto clapped his hands together and the ink glowed blue with chakra. Little papers used to mold the body rose from the ink and floated around him. Madara released the sacrifice from his Sharingan genjutsu so that he had the demented pleasure of letting the unfortunate soul feel what was going to happen to him. He screamed when his body was carpeted from head to toe with those papers.
A small satisfied smile creased on Kabuto's lips. He always felt a kind of rush when he did this jutsu. "This is how you turn a living person into a vessel for the dead one's soul." He said in anticipation, his fingers in a seal. He flicked his fingers and the papers fell away, revealing an undead Rei breathing hard. It wasn't really breathing, just the body's reflex, a reminder of what it once did. "The Reanimation Jutsu is complete."
"Th-this is…?!" Rei rasped, looking at him with black and golden eyes. Kabuto attached a talisman to his bloody kunai and walked behind Rei. "I control his personality with this tag." He explained, shoving it at the base of his head. "And once I give him his orders, all the abilities he had in life will be restored to this decaying man. And he will become my puppet who obeys my orders and cannot die." He turned to Madara.
"You didn't tell me how to stop it." Madara said.
Kabuto smiled. "It won't stop if you kill the jutsu user. The soul has to be sealed, or someone has to manipulate me into preforming the seals to end it." A coffin rumbled from the dirt and he pushed Rei inside and sealed it shut. "In any case, I've showed you how it works. This conversation is over. I'm not brave enough to lie to you. I'm going." He waited a split second before jumping into the trees, away from Madara. He let a scowl show. He didn't want to reveal that jutsu to him, but now he couldn't do anything about it.
Two hours later, he stopped. He glanced around to make sure he was alone before he let his snake bring Anko back out. She wasn't any better than before, but at least she wasn't making any more noise.
He regretted Rei's death, but he was his pawn now. It was better than nothing. He summoned three coffins from the ground and let the lids fall to reveal them. Itachi, Asuma…and now Rei. He removed the control tag from Rei and his eyes glowed.
"You! Why did you do this to me?" He hissed.
"It doesn't matter now. You're dead and under my control." Kabuto said. "Tell me, when was the last time you spoke to Ino?"
Rei hesitated. "I don't remember."
"Did she mention anything?"
"No. We, Torune and I told her what had happened at the Kage Summit, but she didn't say anything. Why?"
Kabuto shrugged. "Can't I be concerned about my cute little apprentice?" Rei didn't answer, but his lips thinned. "In any case, I just wanted you to know that I didn't mean for you to get killed. You could have been of more used to me alive but fate has a funny way huh?" He waved his hand and the lid closed before Rei said anything.
Itachi-Giro and Asuma-Shoji stared at him, silently but he knew they had a lot to say as well. But he was tired and he had to give Anko an antidote before the snake's immobilizing venom paralyzed her forever.
Later, when he had time to himself he thought about the day and the upcoming war. He was still smarting over the fact that Madara knew about the Reanimation Jutsu now. As long as I have that other jutsu along with the Reanimation jutsu I am invincible. He thought to himself in assurance. In time, I will unravel the truth of the Sage of Six Paths. And once this war fleshes out, Ino will be mine again. Her and her little son…
It was only her third day here in Fifth Division when news came in that they would be mobilizing in between four sets of Units.
"Ino!" She turned to see one of her clansmen. She stood from her weapon cleaning duties. "A message from you father."
Ino's eyes widened. Dad? What did he have to say to her? She hurriedly made her way to the intel tent and saw Mifune and some of his samurai standing by. When they saw her they nodded in silent greeting before leaving her alone in the tent. The metal head gear that the sensors wore was open and she sat down and lifted over her head.
Dad? She waited for a response. It came seconds later, a thin voice that sounded like it was under water.
Ino, the enemy is moving. I already informed Mifune, but I wanted to tell you personally.
Tell me what?
The enemy is using the Reanimation Jutsu. Ino gasped. We don't know who is being revived but I want you to keep your head. Whoever they are, they are powerful. Don't underestimate them. Even if you know them.
Ino's mind wandered immediately to the many possibilities. Ino. She focused on her Dad's voice. It was low and concerned.
I have no doubt that Sasuke and Itachi will find out about it, but if they do I need to know that they won't act rashly. Especially if they have Reiko with them.
Ino didn't know about that. She bit her lips. Ino?
I trust them. She thought quickly. There was a pause.
Then I will too. Be safe baby girl.
Ino's throat tightened. You too Daddy….