there are a lot of dangerous things hidden in the Mist
Volume 2: In the Land of Waves
Chapter 9: Hidden in the Mist
He had hoped that they would have been closer to his home before the first real attack began. He didn’t anticipate they would make their first attempt practically on the doorsteps of Konohagakure. The cat was now out of the bag, would they still go along?
“Hinata check how far the poison has spread in Miku’s hand and Miku stay as still as possible so it won’t spread further. Now Mr. Tazuna These ninja appear to be Genin from Kirigakure It was quite impressive to take down one of them Miku, these two, in particular, are a rather dangerous pair, or rather were a dangerous pair. They got careless, however, a pool of water in a place that hasn’t seen rain in days? Sloppy.”
He knew? “If you knew why did you let them attack you?”
“I could have killed them at any point but I wanted to know who their target was. Were they after you? Or was their target one of us? There was no mention of any ninja rogue or otherwise in your request, only Bandits. Such an Escort would be within the parameters of a C-Ranked mission. This, however, places it as a B-rank, quite possibly an A-Ranked mission. Protecting you from ordinary dangers would be well within mission but if you are expecting other ninja then that is beyond this assignment. Plus there is Miku’s condition”
“Kakashi-Sensi, there is no trace of the poison in Miku’s blood system.”
Tazuna noticed the girl’s hand was bleeding a bit more than it had after the battle and noticed a new cut in her hand. She attempted field surgery to bleed out the poison? Isn’t that risky? Kakashi made his way over to his subordinate.
“It needed to be done”
“This goes a bit beyond bleeding out the poison you might be on the verge of losing too much blood.” Kakashi cleaned off Miku’s hand staring at it for a moment. Tazuna could still see the new puncture but he could have sworn it looked like the cut from the chain was already healed.
“About the request I submitted to your village. As you guessed it is a bit more dangerous than I had lead you to believe. There is someone after my life and he has far more resources than I can muster.”
“Who is he?”
“You probably have heard of him in the field of Maritime transport, his name is Gato” This could be when I lose them, Tazuna gave a sign. I might have to bring out the big guns.
“You mean Gato… of Gato Shipping and Transport? The Gato? They say he’s one of the richest men in the world.
“He seems legitimate on the surface but under it, he’s a ruthless criminal who regularly employs bandits, ronin, and ninja. We learned this the hard way when he came to the land of Waves not that long ago. Originally we thought the connection would boost trade, but Gato has been using his resources to strange us. Rumor has it he is planning on moving his office to our land and he is no longer interested in just being a businessman but wants to rule. If we can complete our latest project then we can break the siege we are under, a bridge to connect us to the mainland.”
“As overseer of the construction then you would very much be in his way,” Hinata spoke as she helped bandage Miku’s hand.
“So these ninja who attacked us worked for Gato, didn’t he start his empire in Mizu no Kuni… the Land of Water?” Kakashi’s students seemed to be well informed; the one named Sasuke had spoken up.
“If you knew you were the target of Gato and that he had ninja at his disposal why didn’t you inform us?”
“Because of the stranglehold on our nation we have little resources and the simple fact is a B-Ranked team would be well beyond our budget currently. If you turn back now then I am as good as dead. Don’t worry you won’t have to be there to see the crying face of my daughter and my ten-year-old grandson. You won’t have to see the bridge fall into stagnation and Gato coming into rule of his own nation.”
“Kakashi-Sensei having ties to the Land of Waves could be a benefit to Konohagakure. We can help him at least get back to his home right?” Miku spoke as both she and Hinata turned their best pleading look towards Kakashi.
Gotcha, Tazuna thought to himself as Kakashi rubbed the back of his neck. “Well… It can’t be helped I Suppose. We can follow you that far but no promises after that.”
“Failed?!? You were such a big shot from Kirigakure how the hell could you have failed?” Gato was a man of short stature but with big ambitions and this was another stumbling block to his overall plans. His Son was making moves to the North and in order for his long term plans to work, he would need a Nation from which to build an empire. The land of Waves might be poor but with his business and the marriage Negotiations for his son he could turn it into an economic powerhouse. “You are supposed to be the best. I am not in the habit of wasting good money for such sloppy results.” The ninja in question remained sitting as he if barely noticed Gato. The businessman was about to press his complaint when he felt the blade of a massive sword pressed against this shoulder. When did he move?
“Have care when you address me in that manner. I’m not some rabble for you to browbeat. I’ll complete this mission myself and cut the bridge builder with this knife.”
Knife? It might have the basic shape of a butcher's knife but it was much larger than a claymore and the Ninja still sitting in front of him still held it with one hand.
For Miku the journey while uneventful was a thrill of a lifetime. This had been the first time she had left Konohagakure, her first time on a train and finally her first time on a boat as the small group made their way across the strait that separated the Land of waves from the Land of fire. As the small boat bobbed on the waves she thought back to her conversation with Kakashi during the train ride.
“Kakashi sensei when we make clones is it possible that one of them could have a mind of their own? During the fight with the Oni brothers and earlier with Mizuki I noticed one of my clones looked different than me and while I knew where the other clones were… I couldn’t sense this one or rather I could but it was like the clone was on the other side of murky water.” Miku had waited until the others made a visit to the train’s food car.
“You know now about your situation. Why you have so much chakra compared to others the same age. Your seal may be weakening and you’ll have to be careful about that. When you use your shadow clone technique keep track of how often this happens and be careful. As you exhaust your chakra the likelihood of this extra clone appearing will increase. “
As Miku watched the waves she wondered if she would be putting her family in danger. The burden of having the nine tails sealed in her was a burden beginning to weigh heavily on her. She wondered what the village would have thought of her if they knew she had Kurama in her. Would they have shunned her?
“We’ll be there soon” the pilot of the boat whispered as they traveled under a bridge, the hint of mangroves could be seen on the other end of the tunnel. “Tazuna, so far we haven’t been detected so we’ll be able to land under the cover of the Mangroves.”
“Thank you, I asked you to take a terrible risk.”
Miku could hear a bit of defeat In the voice of the bridge builder. They had promised to return him home but past that the situation was unknown. Maybe she and Hinata could convince Kakashi to help out. To be honest she was surprised that he had agreed to allow them to go this far. As they cleared the tunnel the beauty of the island washed over her. Ancient Mangroves stood in the water, their roots rising above the water creating a platform for the tree to grow in water with higher than usual salt, seawater in this case. She had heard about the mangroves that grew in swamps and on the coast but this was the first time she had seen them up close. “It’s beautiful” Miku breathed out as the boat snaked around the shoreline trees.
She could feel a pair of eyes on her and noticed Sasuke giving her an odd look. She blushed and turned her attention back to the trees wondering why the look made her uneasy.
“This is as far as I can go… sorry” The boatman pulled up to an abandoned house somewhat secluded from the nearby village. It would still be a good hike to return Tazuna home. Miku would still have some time to think of another reason to stay. Maybe if she twisted an ankle.
“Thanks for taking the risk. Ok now if I Can just make it back home alive and in one piece.”
He had been on full alert ever since boarding the boat. They would be attacked again soon and it would unlikely be Genin, probably a Jonin this time. Tazuna was lucky, If the hidden mission of getting Miku out of Konohagakure for a few days wasn’t still on he would have possibly returned with the genin in tow, pleading looks or no. Kakashi was certain they would still be safe even if a Jonin appeared. A mile from the village he sensed it.
Bushes alongside the road shifted despite the lack of wind and a white rabbit dashed out from under the leaves. He’s moved. A squeal and quick movement drew his eye for a moment as Miku rushed by him after the rabbit.
He watched as she gathered up the rabbit hugging it closely with Hinata hovering close by. Sometimes he forgot that despite their rank both Miku and Hinata were still young girls. Something about the rabbit drew his attention, white fur. Its fur should be brown, not white, they normally only have that fur in the winter when the days are shorter, or if they are raised inside away from much sunlight. A decoy.
He watched the group from his new hiding position. He wouldn’t be able to stay here long. He didn’t think the group was able to handle the Oni brothers, but they killed one of them. Wait for the stance, the headband covering his left eye. That is Kakashi of the Sharingan eye. It was a wonder both brothers didn’t die but one thing disturbed him. From the report, he received it wasn’t Kakashi who killed the brother but the girl who was gushing over his decoy rabbit. How could she have torn out the throat of one of his best subordinates? I’ll have to move now.
Wake up. It was like a whisper inside her mind. She could feel killing intent nearby coming right at them.
“Everyone take cover” Kakashi shouted out as something heavy cut through the air spinning like a shuriken but much larger. He only spared a moment to check to see Hinata pulling Tazuna to the ground before he joined his teammates just as a large butcher’s knife the size of a sword buried itself in the tree behind them.
“Momochi Zabuza of the land of mist.” he could hear Kakashi as he returned to his feet, he looked at where the knife was buried in the tree to see a tall lean shirtless ninja standing on the handle. His arms and legs covered by a camo type gloves and boots his back was turned to them glancing over his shoulder. “You three protect Tazuna. Do not interfere with this fight. This one is on a whole new level compared to those brothers.”
“And you are Kakashi of the Sharingan eye. I don’t suppose you’ll turn over the old man. I am on a tight schedule after all.” Sharingan? That is supposed to be unique to the Uchiha clan. He watched as Kakashi reached up pulling his headband upward and uncovering his left eye. Was that why he covered it? If it was always on it would quickly drain his chakra. It didn’t explain how he had the eye was it transplanted? There was a long scar that ran down the side of his face down the middle of his eye and running further under his mask.
Zabuza’s hollow voice filled the air again. “When I still worked for Kirigakure I possessed a bingo book and they had quite a bit of information about you on it. Quite the impressive record you have Kakashi, copying a thousand techniques must have taken time. Now you will know why my home was once known as the bloody mist.”
With a kick Zabuza detached his knife from the tree. He’s fast, Sasuke searched to find the rogue ninja standing in the middle of one of the many ponds running along the main road they traveled. He’s using his chakra to stand on the water and he’s drawing, even more, charka. Wait mist? He watched as mist seem to grow from the pond as Zabuza used his chakra to pull the water upward spreading it out across the field for a hundred meters.
He could feel the killing intent roll over him with the mist. It felt like the intent along could end his life. It felt like heavy water was pushing down on him attempting to crush him under its weight. Knowing he would likely die was bad enough but the wait seemed worse. Seconds seemed to stretch to minutes. Minutes appeared as hours. He wasn’t certain how much more of this he could handle.
He felt two different hands touch the back of his hands and heard two voices speaking in unison “release” Genjutsu? Was he the only one outside their client to fall for it?
“Don’t worry Sasuke even if something happens to me. I will not allow him to harm an ally.”
“Too late” the hollow voice came from within their formation. Hinata was already moving to protect Tazuna as he followed Miku’s example diving to the side to allow Kakashi an opening. He glanced at backward to see Kakashi drive his Kunai deep into Zabuza’s chest… water flowed from the gaping injury in his chest. Water? It’s a water clone.
“Behind you” he could see Zabuza form from the mist behind Kakashi his sword swinging for Kakashi’s middle striking hard, the two halves of his sensei falling in opposite directions creating a splash of water as the parts struck the ground. Kakashi copied Zabuza’s techniques?
Zabuza could feel a Kunai casually slide across his neck. “It’s over” Kakashi’s voice. Was he able to copy me? In this mist? I underestimated the impact of his eye.
“You think it’s over do you? It will take more than copying a technique or two. Water clone? Hiding in the mist technique? While you waited for me to move? You think making your clone say something you would have said is an unknown technique?”
“It’s not” he brought his butcher knife around in a long swing barely missing as Kakashi leapt upward and backward, the arc of the flight taking him into the nearby pond. Zabuza brought his knife downward buying it into the ground and using the momentum to launch himself in Kakashi’s direction coming to a quick halt as he noticed metallic objects obstructing his path. Caltrops, when had he dropped those? It’s too late now anyway. He watched as Kakashi land in the pond with a splash struggling in the heavy water he had left as a trap, Gotcha.
Attempting to escape underwater and regrouping turned out to be a tactical error as the heavy water around him rose from the pond lifting him along with it. Zabuza stepped out of the mist where he had originally disappeared plunging his hand into the water effectively trapping Kakashi. He’s grown quite a bit since going rogue; I knew he was good but not this good.
The water clone Zabuza had left on land turned towards his intended targets. The butcher knife the clone held might be made out of water but it would prove lethal if he got hold of the genin. “He can’t leave this area while he has me trapped here. Take Tazuna and get him home. He’ll lose control of his clone once you get far enough away. I’ll be fine.”
“Little ninja who don’t even rate an entry in my bingo book won’t be able to move fast enough. Playing ninja? When I was your age my own hands were covered with the blood of my enemies.”
Kakashi watched as Zabuza hesitated for the briefest of moments before he continued. “they give out headbands in your village far too easily.”
For the briefest of moments, Zabuza had felt like had been dragged into the past again. Eleven years ago he went through the most brutal of exams. Far more than anything Konhagakure went through. Sometimes the darkness of that event still overtook him and he could look down on his arms to see them covered in blood rather than his usual armbands. Setting aside the gloom only brought temporary reprieve, some scars do not heal very well if at all. He could see his old classmates now in the three genin that stood between him and his target. It was too much to ask a student to kill the classmates he had ate with, practiced with. Something broke within him that exam and one hundred of his classmates and those of nearby villages fell to his silent attacks. The instructors found him in the center of the carnage hardly moving. That event had solidified his position in the village and secured his position as one of the seven ninja swordsmen of the mist earning him the Kubikiribocho. decapitating carving knife, which he still wielded to this day. It was long past time to end this mission.
Tazuna could see the hesitation in the genin between him and that crazy water ninja. He could tell they didn’t want to abandon their sensei and wanted to fight but also didn’t want to put him in jeopardy.
“I have an idea if we work together we can pull it off Sasuke.” The blonde girl, Miku spoke up as she seemed to give some sort of hand signal to the Hinata, the other girl in the group.
“Don’t even think about it. It was over the moment he trapped me. You still have a duty to out client to return him home safely.” Kakashi shouted out from within the water prison.
Miku looked at him with a questioning look, do you trust us it seemed to say. He wasn’t sure the three were capable of handling Zabuza but there was something about the look that restored the confidence in him. I thought she was just a girl child only concerned with fashion when I first saw her. “It’s my fault that we are in this position. I held back information that could have helped you. It would be wrong if I put you in danger trying to save me. If you want to fight him all out, you go ahead I have the feeling you can handle this fight.”
The smile he received from Miku reminded him of his daughter when she was about to pull off something sneaky. I don’t think Zabuza is ready for what she has planned.