A three way battle continues between Gato and his thugs vs the sound ninja vs Team Kakashi and Zabuza
Volume 2: In the Land of Waves
Chapter 14: … but then face to face.
Inari sat focused on the picture of his family. He had repaired the picture after Sasuke left to confront Gato’s men at the bridge. Memories of his father saving him from drowning came back like the flood Kaiza saved his village from. His father wasn’t from this village but he loved it deeply, now more strangers fought for the village.
He knew what he needed to do now. His village needed him and maybe just maybe if everyone in the village gathered together they could stop Gato with the help of the strangers. Before he even realized it he was already moving towards the door knocking on each one on his way through the village pleading with the occupants to stand with him against Gato.
“If we stand with the strangers we can take back our town from Gato. They are fighting for us the least we can do is stand with them” Inari shouted through the door of Mister Gi’ichi’s home.
The voice was faint, “No… we’ve lost too much. We aren’t going to fight back anymore. He’s won. Your father, he was a hero… if he couldn’t stand up against them what hope do we have? If we fight more people would just die. We can’t take any more losses… more regret. I’m sorry.”
Inari could feel his heart sinking “I don’t want any regret either Mister Gi’ichi. That is why I must fight. I don’t think I could handle looking back on today and wondering what if I had just stood up to Gato. I love you all… my father… my mother… my family… this village. I want to live a life without regretting what could have been, if we don’t go now we might survive but we won’t be living.” Inari kept going on trying door after door receiving the same answer.
Behind the door, Mister Gi’ichi felt a lump in his throat. He was there the day that Kaiza stood up alone against Gato. Everyone else was too terrified to do anything about Gato or the thugs he brought with him. He remembered when Gato executed Kaiza and the look of defeat that crossed the eyes of not just Inari but everyone else in the village. Gi’ichi had seen the strangers that Tazuna brought back with him, they still had life in them and he could see that life return to Inari and Tsunami, little by little the longer the strangers stayed there. Even a week mad a huge change among them. The change was stunning to see and it reminded him that since Kaiza had died none of them had really lived. They all wandered about the village like zombies devoid of the spark of life that the village once held. Fear still held on to him like a weight.
“Inari is growing up right in front of us, isn’t he?” Agari his wife spoke the words Gi’ichi was thinking. “Are you sure you want him to go out there alone?”
Gi’ichi sat there looking at the door. He wasn’t a terribly brave person, he had quit the bridge project for fear of what Gato and his minions would do. Would this be a living death far worse than anything he would face out there? Perhaps Inari was right; he was just surviving when he could be living.
“You can’t go out there alone” Tsunami wasn’t surprised when nobody returned with her son. Nobody stood up with Kaiza when he faced Gato earlier either, she had thought that would be the end of it but something was now different about her son. There seemed to be a spark in him again, a fire, however, small was growing in him. He was almost his original self again, who he had been before Kaiza had been lost to them.
“Nobody came out mom, Sasuke and the others are out there fighting for us. I have to go help them.”
While they might not have been related by blood, she could see Kaiza in her son and once more she felt the loss again. She watched as her son gathered his crossbow some bolts and an iron pot as a helmet. Every rebuke she thought of died in her own thoughts as stood to walk to the door. “You aren’t going alone.” She found a simple spear he Kaiza had given her before Gato invaded. It was originally made for fishing but perhaps it would be enough to help protect Inari and herself.
As the two reached the door Tsunami could sense something on the other side. Did Gato’s men return? With nervous hands, she opened the door to see who was there, and then a smile appeared on her face.
Miku was breathing heavy as Sasuke and Kakashi took up defensive positions in front of Hinata and the boy they had met earlier, Haku? She was sure Zabuza called him that. There were so many soldiers now behind Gato and they had couldn’t have come at a worse moment. She could hear muffled explosions from the water under the bridge added to the fonts of water spraying at random. This is really turning out into a battle, isn’t it?
“Sensei they are almost back”
Kakashi nodded and she could tell the attack he had used earlier had taken a lot out of him. Of the three still conscious on the bridge only Sasuke still had most of his chakra. “Miku herd them in, Sasuke do you have enough chakra to show them our will of fire?”
Sasuke simply nodded as his hands began the seals for the incantation. The soldiers under Gato’s command were already beginning to charge surging around him when screams erupted from the back of Gato’s soldiers. The shadow clones Miku had sent out earlier to take the construction workers to safety had returned throwing themselves against the back of the line.
While the Miku herself was not as strong as the soldiers she was facing her clones were still dangerous. Soldier after soldier fell to their attacks but even with the skill Miku showed her clones were still not as durable as a normal human. A clone took a blow from a soldier here or there causing it to explode in a puff of smoke. While she was decimating the back of the line there were still too many soldiers for her shadow clones to handle and the soldiers were now working in conjunction with each other as their situation became direr.
As Miku caused chaos in the back of Gato’s line Sasuke drew in a deep breath “Katon: Gokakyu no Jutsu” with his right hand he used chakra to create a small flame blowing his breath across the flame sending lances of fire striking out at the soldiers at the front of Gati’s lines sending them dodging in each direction attempting to avoid the flames. Gato himself moved only to grab hold of his closest assistant to shove them in front as a shield to the flames. Gato’s assistant screamed as the flames engulfed his body, the soldiers moved out of the way as the assistant rushed towards the side of the bridge throwing himself over to seek the water below.
“I pay you to protect me and to win this fight… So kill them.” With that, the soldiers turned their attention back towards the young ninja who had just decimated their ranks. They could tell that the two were exhausted and had heard stories about how difficult it was for ninja to create and maintain shadow clones. If they kept this up they could surely outlast the ninja in question and then they would be well paid for this battle, risk and reward went hand in hand with the mercenary life.
Gato was annoyed at how things were turning out. Soldiers from his private army were turning out to not be able to handle children even if they were ninja. He was about to give another order for them to charge when he heard more shouting from behind. As Gato turned to determine what was going on an arrow sailed past his head where it had been a moment ago striking a soldier between himself and the ninja at the end of the bridge. It looked like every villager had shown up to help the ninja each carrying crossbows or spears probably taken from one of his warehouses. At the head of the mob was the little brat whose father had defied him. “Kill them all, I’ll give the land to your families” Gato spoke to his second in command watching as greed light up in the man’s eyes. Money was one thing but land was worth far more to the mercenaries who hoped to settle down one day. The land would be something for them to come home to after a lifetime of danger.
Miku started her incantation to create new shadow clones and was a moment until releasing when she felt a hand cover hers stopping the technique. Kakashi smiled at her through his mask as he grabbed a scroll from his jacket moving through several seals she didn’t immediately recognize “Kuchiyose: Doton: Tsuiga No Jutsu” the bridge shuddered in time with the explosions still going on under the water sending soldiers scrambling to keep balance. The floor around Gato cracked as several explosions of smoke erupted around his feet. The howls of dogs drifted around the Soldiers as Gato felt something bite deep into both his legs, followed by his arms and something heavy leaned on his back sinking its teeth into his neck. The mercenaries stopped their movement knowing that their meal ticket was in danger if Gato died then where would they get paid? The Soldiers watched nervously as several ninja dogs threatened to tear their boss in two.
The answer came as a larger explosion erupted from the water spraying everyone on the bridge as something else erupted from the water. Those on the bridge only had a moment to realize that it was a rocky body as it arched in the air, something was standing on it. Someone was standing on it. As the rocky body reached the apex of its flight the dark haired ninja riding the body released a technique into the body. An explosion of water sent it rocketing towards Gato leaving Kakashi only seconds to release the dogs he had summoned to trap Gato in place. The last of the dogs disappearing in smoke moments before the large rocky body landed squarely on Gato crushing him it under its weight. Now that it had landed the Soldiers could see it was another ninja who looked like he had been formed out of rock itself his body badly broken in just about every place, his hands shattered from a fierce battle. The body seemed to let out a breath before it crumbled around Gato creating a makeshift grave. The ninja who had crushed their boss looked even worse for wear. Blood created ribbons down his body and they were certain his right leg was and his left arm was broken, but the look in his eyes held them in place. It was a look of death.
One by one the mercenaries dropped their weapons, only Gato's direct assistants were still attempting to get the soldiers to still fight. One assistant picked up a crossbow aiming it at the young boy whose father Kaiza had been executed by Gato earlier. As he pulled the trigger two mercenaries tackled him “Stop you fool we’ve surrendered” the bolt arched towards the child as his mother grabbed him shielding him with her body. The sound of a sickening thud filled the air as the mercenaries looked towards the child and his mother expecting to be executed for the foolish assistant’s actions. They saw the ninja who had killed their boss. With all of his injuries, he still had the speed to outpace a crossbow bolt? Several mercenaries gulped realizing the wisdom of surrendering a battle that could only have led to their deaths.
Zabuza knelt by Inari and Tsunami, the crossbow bolt buried deeply into his arm that was already broken. He didn’t know why he moved, but somehow his body was already in motion before his mind kicked in. Memories of his Chunin exam filled his mind as he waded through ninja who at one time had taken lunch with him, trained with him. The last image appeared over the face of the woman he had protected and it fully hit him. He could see his friends long lost in that brutal battle and something snapped in him. The once fearsome demon of the hidden mist knelt before Tsunami with the face of the Genin he had once been before terror and blood had driven him into darkness.
Tsunami had been expecting death when Gato’s thug had pointed his crossbow at her son and she moved in the only way she knew how to protect him, to shield her son with her own body. The crossbow bolt hadn’t connected and she found herself looking into the eyes of a ninja who hadn’t come with her father. He was badly injured and she wondered how he was able to move still, she had thought him a killer but the look in his eyes said something different. Something that seemed to have been lost had returned to him. With her safety assured he finally passed out from his injuries. The battle had been won.
Tayuya was cursing under her breath as she unceremoniously tossed the barely conscious form of Jirobo by the fire pit she had built earlier. “Your stupid hunger ruined our plans again fatso. We could have killed them after but no you had to feed on both of them right then and there.”
Jirobo reached up weakly to rub his neck. Using the Stone Clone technique was tiring and he had sent all of his chakra along with the chakra from his curse mark into a single clone to fortify it alone to fortify it. While it worked it did a number to his body. “You know a lady shouldn’t speak like that Tayuya.”
“I’m not a lady fatso I’m a ninja” Tayuya started the fire knowing that Orochimaru would not like that the mission was only a partial success. Jirobo would have to answer for that failure but she could easily still be dragged into the argument. The only thing she had going for her was the fact that she was able to seduce the Uchiha boy. That should prove enough worth to keep her from heavy punishment.
Zabuza’s head still felt like sludge as consciousness returned to him. As he opened his eyes he first saw Tsunami sleeping in a chair by the bed he currently occupied. How long had he been asleep?
“So you are awake.”
Zabuza turned his head to see Kakashi standing at the door; he was in no condition to stop anything that would surely follow.
“You don’t need to speak, the villagers are protective of you after what you did to protect Inari, they are rather fond of him. You have a visitor, perhaps you’ll listen to her offer.” With that, Kakashi slipped out the door and in his place, a woman with long red hair entered.
“Zabuza… are you still interested in freeing our village from a madman?”
Zabuza could only gape as he looked into the eyes of Mei Terumi a woman with a kekki genkai even stronger than Haku’s. As the weight of the words reached him he could only grin, there was a woman worthy of the title Mizukage.
In the land of waves an unemployed man found a family he had been missing, and a place to make a stand. A child found the father he had always been looking for, and even after he lost that father he retained the strength to continue on knowing Kaiza still watched over him. A demon found that his humanity had not been completely lost. The people of a village that had lost hope had found surviving is not enough when you can really live. Now they had the newly constructed Kaiza Bridge named for the hero who first stood up to Gato. Hope had finally returned to the Land of Waves.