Zabuza begins to see who his true enemies are.
To say she hated this job was an understatement. It seemed like a waste of time but Orochimaru was insistent. She had watched the group ever since they left Konohagakure on a mission to the land of waves. At the time she didn’t know how she would manage to get close enough to Sasuke to integrate herself to him. He seemed to dislike and actively avoid any girl who approached him. This all changed when she saw his interactions with his team. The differences were subtle but she noticed that he reacted to Miku slightly different than the other girls. Then she lucked on something even bigger. Miku had the nine tails sealed in her and said nine tails would appear in the form of a shadow clone. It would be child’s play to mimic the look of the clone allowing her to get close to Sasuke. Twice now she fooled him and it turned out easier than she expected. She was still sore from the last time, Sasuke was a lot rougher then he probably realized and she still had several bruises from the encounter.
“Is that a Hickey on your neck Tayuya?” a voice reached her from its hiding position well hidden in the trees above her.
“Do you want to take my place fatso?” no answer came back as Tayuya began her hand signs transforming her into a copy of the fox clone. This wasn’t where she envisioned herself after accepting Orochimaru’s protection and training. She had grown up on the worst side of town in the capital of the land of fire. After the death of her parents, the only thing that kept her alive was her musical talents. The various brothels would pay her with food for lulling their customers into spending more money than they otherwise might have. Still being feed didn’t bring safety and one night after performing, as usual, she was attacked by a nobleman, his guard pinning her down before she was able to escape. During the struggle, she lost consciousness but she was certain before she passed out she saw white scaled snake flying right at the nobleman.
When she regained consciousness she was no longer in the city but rather a cave with a long haired man working on a vial attached to her arm. This was the first time she meet both Orochimaru and the leader of what would become the sound five, Kimimaro. Orochimaru promised not just sustenance but training in how to defend herself if only she would use her abilities against his enemies. Through training, she mastered ways to use music, not just for entertainment but to crush her enemies and more importantly keep her safe. Only now she didn’t feel safe and worse the person she was toying with was destined to become the leader of the new sound five. She had only let Sasuke kiss her but she knew where things would eventually go. At least she still had her music. As she waited for Sasuke to appear she pulled out her flute and began to play songs she had learned while living in the capital. They were songs to calm down customers who were tired of waiting for their turn.
She wasn’t sure when it started but as she played songs of home, songs of peace and romance she could feel her cheeks getting wetter. This wasn’t how she imagined things would turn out when she was on the streets wondering where her next meal would come from. The ninja techniques she learned from Orochimaru turned out to be an illusion much like the one she currently wore; she had just traded one danger for another.
“Sorry about last night”
Tayuya hadn’t heard him until he had spoken. One moment she was still playing her tune and the next she opened her eyes to see Sasuke far closer than she should have allowed him to get. “I heal faster than you do”
“You are so different than your usual self. I guess this is what my father had meant when he said power frees us to be who were really are”
Tayuya couldn’t share the feeling that while Sasuke wasn’t currently as strong as his potential, she was safe with him.
Jirobo hadn’t stayed long after Sasuke had arrived. Tayuya should be able to handle him although she nearly made a mistake if it turned out Miku had no musical aptitude. He simply couldn’t understand the foul-mouthed girl. She had so much going for her and she threw it away for what safety? No matter where you went you weren’t safe but if you had food you could survive. She simply didn’t understand what I t meant to have nearly starved to death. He hailed from the land of snow and hoped to never see that desolate land again. He was in trade caravans which were common before the trains when the caravan had been attacked by rogue-nin. The ninja were not native to the land so triggered an avalanche that separated a good portion of the caravan from the main group as well as burying most of the rogue nin.
When Jirobo had regained consciousness he was one of three people of the caravan group still alive. Jirobo, his best friend Hiro and the old guide hired to help navigate the frozen roads. Days turned to weeks turning to months as the three huddled in a makeshift cave of broken wagon parts. Before they realized it the food was gone. While there was plenty of water each of the three knew they wouldn’t have enough strength to fend off the cold without food.
With little other options left Jirobo left one morning and returned during the evening with chunks of meat for them. The other two hadn’t asked him where he got the meat; they were too interested in eating. Jirobo made many such trips and as began to lose its grip even this source of food diminished. One day Jirobo left the encampment like normal but for some reason, the old guide had followed him.
“I think I feel well enough to hel…” The guide’s words died in his throat. Outside the shelter they had taken lay a field of bones each neatly stripped and broken for the marrow. He kept repeating, what have you done, until jirobo’s own hands silenced him. As the older guide fought back Jirobo noticed something strange, he was absorbing something and it made him feel stronger than any food. That night he left the encampment with a pack full of food, enough to get him to a boat and finally out of the land of snow altogether. As he reached the lookouts around Zabuza’s base he could feel the hunger again and those ninja had more than enough chakra.
“If you stay out here you’ll catch your death of cold.”
Hinata opened her eyes releasing her byakugan so she wouldn’t shock the islander. She had been training since just before dawn working on ways to extend her range and ability with the Hyuga clan’s kekkei genkai. “You were out here earlier, weren’t you? Collecting roots and herbs?”
“You saw that? Are you one of those Ninja Tazuna brought back?”
“It seems a tragedy. Being a ninja that is.”
“Being a ninja? It’s dangerous but if you have someone important you want to protect. It sort of gives your life a purpose even if it is dangerous”
Haku’s thoughts went back to his parents. Life was so peaceful that is until his father found out he had a kekkei genkai. Abilities passed down genetically and accessible without the training that ninja villages usually put their members through. Kekkei Genkai along with said training was valuable and outside a clan very rare. The appearance of would surely bring attention from any nearby ninja village. He didn’t understand the meaning of the concept until Zabuza had taken him.
One winter before he knew about the danger he had shown his mother his ability. At the time he thought she would be happy. He had used his abilities to form a small statue made out ice. He thought she would be proud of him but she slapped him and tearfully begged him to not show it again. That power did not return until later that night when his own father and the villagers murdered his mother and went after him. As the villager's pitchforks were about to hit him he reflexively used his powers creating long spikes of ice in every direction. The mob had been stopped and only Haku walked away from the carnage alive.
He had tried to live on his own from then never trusting to stay in one place long enough for anyone to find out about his power which he still could not control. It was a hard life of finding scraps of food wherever he could manage it and more often than not going hungry. Zabuza found him in this condition having gone over a week without eating. By that time he had lost so much weight but Zabuza had noticed something in him, the Kekkei Genkai. Zabuza had trained him in his abilities and taken him in giving him a purpose. “I think I can understand that. Ninja or not having a purpose for living is important”
“You too have something important to protect?”
Haku simply nodded. “Good luck with your training” as he turned around he nearly ran into the blonde girl from Kakashi’s team. “Sorry”
As Haku moved away he could hear the blonde girl hugging and teasing her friend about flirting with a boy. It reminded Haku of a peaceful time before he had used his hidden abilities. As he left the peaceful setting he wondered about what he had been missing all this time. As he returned to the hideout something felt strange. He couldn’t sense the sentries who should be out. Neither chakra nor body heat appeared to him as he took to the trees using a combination of chakra and ice to move quickly to the first outlook. What he saw turned his stomach.
Whoever had killed the sentry wasn’t satisfied with just stabbing them or beating them. The Body looked dried and shrunken as if every bit of moisture had been removed from the body. Haku brought up the power in him releasing chakra into the body trying to trigger some chakra memory. The mist filled with chakra that rose from the body took on a strange form far too large to be a member of Kakashi’s team. Did Gato hire someone else? The hideout yielded little more answers as Zabuza was nowhere in sight. He had to catch up with him before something happened.
As Haku rushed towards the bridge where he assumed that Zabuza was making another attempt at Tazuna he noticed Gato’s Samurai making their way towards Tazuna’s house. He was tempted to stop and kill them but something kept him moving forward. He had to get to Zabuza.
As he sat with the Fox girl Sasuke nearly missed the high pitched squeal between his location and Tazuna’s home. He almost forgot about it until something snapped in him bringing his attention back to the noise. He was supposed to guard the house today and he was off toying with a shadow clone. Without checking to what the fox girl would do Sasuke leapt to his feet heading quickly back to his duty and cursing how he let his attention wander so easily.
Two individuals wielding katana were flanking Tazuna’s daughter, Tsunami. One held onto her hand while the other kept his blade aimed at her son Inari. Neither of the two was paying any attention to the world around them. They seemed intent on killing whatever was in their way and Sasuke had run into the results, a boar the two had sliced up on their rampage toward Tazuna’s home. Did they think destroying his home would stop him?
Neither of the amateurish Samurai noticed the two small smoke devices landing at their feet until they exploded engulfing them and the area around them in a small fog. That was all the time he needed to get in close and carry the Tsunami and Inari to safety. “Your boss must be pretty cheap to think he could trust the likes of you.”
The Samurai staggered out of the smoke bank barely keeping hold of their swords to run right into a fireball greeting them as they attempted to breath in fresh air. The scorching heat from the fireball caused them to drop their weapons and leaving them completely unprepared for Sasuke’s next move. Sasuke leapt forward driving a knee into the neck of one of the Samurai while striking the other with the handle of his Kunai. Both folded from the impact, neither had been nearly as prepared to face a ninja as they thought they were.
“It looks like Gato is making some moves on his own without Zabuza. Will you two be able to manage? Just hide here no need for you two to put your lives at risk.” At the look of a deflated Inari Sasuke stopped. “You did a good job standing up for your mom like that against those Samurai. That was rather brave of you. Just leave the fight to us okay... we train for it. That doesn’t mean you can’t be a hero as well. If you keep your mom safe you’ll be just that.” As Inari gave a small nod Sasuke turned running off as fast as he could towards the bridge construction site. Gato and Zabuza were likely both making a move at the same time and Kakashi would need everyone on the team to fight off that beast.
Miku couldn’t believe her eyes the remaining construction workers were strewn out across the surface of the bridge. Even as Kakashi gave the order Miku moved through her signs to create shadow clones making an equal number for the construction workers. Each worker was severely injured but none of them were dead, several had broken arms and one or two had broken ribs.
“Stabilize them and move the ones you can. Get them to the nearest clinic in range. “ Kakashi watched as Hinata moved Tazuna between herself and Miku. The clones were already carrying away the injured they could move the remaining ones kept applying medicine from the teams quickly depleting reserves. As the last clone left the immediate area the air around the bridge began to change developing into a dense fog.
“Kakashi it has been too long. Where is the other one? Was he too afraid?” The mist around the small group began to form bodies as Zabuza appeared in four places around them. Mist Clones to counter Miku’s shadow clones.
“Hinata you know what to do.” Kakashi grabbed Tazuna and Miku’s arms using his substitution technique to leave behind wooden planks in their place even as Hinata assumed her gentle fist stance.
“Byakugan” Hinata breathed in deeply as she began releasing chakra from every chakra point on her body “Hakkeshō Kaiten” Miku couldn’t follow how fast her friend began to spin she seemed at the center of a miniature hurricane. The chakra released began to expand cutting into the mist clones shredding them into mist again as three long objects were violently ejected from the swirling chakra maelstrom.
Three loud cracks erupted from the direction of the island as the three boards struck something harder than flesh. The Mist around the bridge began to lessen revealing a massive ninja in a gray outfit but with no village markings, a large purple robe belt tied around him and with tufts of hair forming three distinct mohawks on his head. The boards shattered by the impact lay at his feet with two familiar ninja standing behind this new addition, Zabuza and the masked ninja from earlier. “That little one has a lot of chakra and I’m hungry get in my way and I’ll tear you apart.” With that, he charged towards Miku.
Zabuza turned towards the masked ninja, “you take the other one I’ll handle Kakashi.” The masked ninja simply nodded before rushing towards Hinata spinning in a similar fashion to Hinata as he came into range.
“Let’s see if you can keep up with my speed”
“your voice... I know it.” As the masked ninja reached the range she breathed deeply “Hakke Rakujuyon Sho” the first two strikes meet Haku’s deflecting them off course. Another two meet his hands as he attempted to recover. Three of the next four attacks were blocked by one struck Haku's left shoulder cutting off the chakra flow into his arm. Six of the eight next attacks deflected Haku’s attacks but the other two were thrown off striking Haku’s side and his left elbow as Haku drove one of his needles into Hinata’s right knee. The next sixteen each hit one after the other but Hinata was already off balance causing the last of this attack to strike Haku’s mask shattering it down the middle sending the pieces falling at his feet.
“Haku pay attention or that mercy will get you killed”
“I know” with his right hand Haku began making signs turning his attention back to Hinata “you didn’t think taking out one arm would stop me, did you?” as he released the technique “Sensatsu Suisho” a thousand needles made from the water surrounding the bridge and now fighting area rose up. Surrounding both Hinata and Haku, something about the look in her eyes caused him to pause, he hadn’t jumped backwards when he was supposed to.
Hinata had been transfixed as the mask fell away from her opponent. It was the boy she had seen from earlier. “Hakkesho Kaiten” she released her chakra as before and as it reached out behind the two she began spinning creating a whirlwind of chakra around her as the needles bared down on the two. As the needles began bouncing off Hinata’s chakra she began to stagger, the needle in her knee throwing her off balance and sending the needles off in strange angles.
Tazuna never even saw the needles coming at him until it was on top of him. One moment he was watching Hinata spinning and the next a next a needle hovered in front of his face with Sasuke’s hand attached to it. “Don’t worry we’ve got you protected.” He could see Miku was struggling against the fat ninja Zabuza brought with him.
Miku couldn’t seem to get an attack through against Jirobo. The ninja seemed too strong and each attack seemed to glance off the ninja’s skin. Something was strange too, it felt like whoever he was he was eating through her chakra or doing something to absorb it. With each strike, she felt weaker and weaker and she could have sworn she could see chakra being absorbed by him. The momentum of her attacks brought her within striking distance as the ninja struck her in the side sending her spinning off to the edge of the bridge.
As Jirobo reached his fallen prey he was about to crush her under his boot when one of Miku’s Clones managed to leap onto his back and cram a handful of smoke pellets into his face before he absorbed the chakra that animated the clone. Jirobo screamed as the smoke burned into his eyes forcing him to use a fraction of the absorbed charka he had eaten to begin healing himself, regenerating damaged tissue. As his eyes cleared he could see another clone standing over Miku, but this one was different. Where the other clones looked like Miku this one had bright red hair with fox-like eyes and whiskers glowing red with chakra.
The clone didn’t speak but growled and leapt right at Jirobo clawing at his face with her hands while her feet clawed at his stomach each scratch deeper than the last as Jirobo burned through the chakra he had stolen just to keep himself standing. Something was wrong with this girl’s chakra as well, he couldn’t absorb it and when he tried he kept receiving feedback that felt like a kick in the gut. “get off me”. Jirobo lucked up as he connected a blow on the clone transforming flesh to stone inches before the blow hit, an explosion of chakra from the clone disappearing sent him flying across the bridge crashing into Hinata’s eight trigrams palms revolving heaven technique. The extra weight of the stone sent Jirobo into the maelstrom rather than being deflected as he crashed into both Haku and Hinata as she desperately tried to defend herself and Haku from the needles and now Jirobo himself.
The pain from the various attacks and his depleted chakra had gotten to Jirobo as in his own mind he was back on that frozen mountain pass. His howl of frustration shocked both Zabuza and Kakashi as they turned from their standoff. Jirobo howled again reaching down to grab hold of both Hinata and Haku by the necks as he began leaching not just chakra this time but their very lifeforces.
Zanuza only stopped long enough to glance at Kakashi before he tossed his butcher’s blade low at Jirobo’s feet leaving himself completely open to Kakashi, but that didn’t matter if he didn’t act Haku could be killed. The blow from Kakashi didn’t come as he noticed Kakashi making hand signs and heard the lightning form around Kakashi’s hand.
“Chidori” as the lightning formed into a condensed ball in Kakashi’s hand he dashed forward. With the sound of one thousand birds chidori filled the air with screeches as Kakashi closed the distance within less than a second. Even as Jirobo leapt into the air, Kakashi was already bearing down on him striking deep into Jirobo’s chest even as the larger ninja’s skin began to change as strange linked triangle tattoos began snaking around what skin the ninja could see, even snaking around the bare parts of his skull snaking around his mohawk. Jirobo dropped his two prey sending a backhand at Kakashi bot only striking a wooden plank as the ninja substituted himself out of the way long enough to retrieve both Hinata and Haku, neither moving.
Miku rushed towards her friend who wasn’t moving with tears in her eyes. “Hinata noo.. “ Miku could hear a thumping much like a heartbeat coming from a beast with a heart much larger than her own. She could feel anger surging forward in her, the seal on her stomach burned brightly with red chakra. “I’m going to kill you” her voice sounded nothing like what the others had heard before almost inhuman causing even Zabuza himself to pause in shock. The air around them shifted into a massive gust forming around Miku pushing outward with Sasuke barely able to keep Tazuna from being blown off the bridge. Zabuza huddled with Kakashi protecting Hinata and Haku from the wind.
“Zabu..za he… Shige and Otani” Haku passed out from the damage and loss of Chakra as Zabuza turned his anger towards the ninja he had foolishly accepted as an ally.
As the wind died down Miku had changed, most of her uniform was torn but still remained in place but her hair hand worked its way loose from the ponytail she kept it in while on missions. Now the hair flared out spreading out behind her deep red as dark as the chakra that lanced towards the ground from her hands moving as if lightning seeking the ground. On her face, her fox whiskers normally barely visible glowed brightly but this was no clone. With that she vanished, none of the ninja present could even keep up with her movements as one moment she was standing by Hinata and the next she was clawing into jirobo but this time, he couldn’t keep her off as claw marks ripped chunks of his stony flesh off him.
Miku paid no attention to any damage as Jirobo kept striking at her with his hands and then broken shards as she continued to tear into him, but nothing would stop her. She brought down her hand scratching across his face causing Jirobo to scream stumbling backwards and tumbling over the side of the bridge dragging Miku along with him. Someone grabbed her from the tatters of her uniform throwing her back in the direction of Kakashi. She caught a glimpse of a massive sword striking the chips in Jirobo’s armor as she flew backwards, Zabuza had saved her from being dragged under, she landed near Hinata suddenly exhausted as the energy that possessed her before bleed away turning her hair back to its usual blonde color, but she had no reprieve as the massive splash from Jirobo striking the water creating a mini tsunami soaking everyone left on the bridge.
The drawing of swords brought Kakashi, Sasuke, Tazuna and Miku’s attention down the bridge towards the island where Gato stood flanked by several dozen well-armed soldiers. “Looks like Zabuza failed me a third time. Well if you want something done right… do it yourself.” The businessman raised his hand giving the signal for the soldiers to charge.