Temari shook her head as she turned away from the Kazekage Mansion. Following Naruto and her brother out onto the street, she carefully shut the gate behind them. Kankurō, however, was still staring through the gate at the mansion doors.
“Can you see him, Naruto?” Kankurō whispered.
Naruto shook his head.
“The Echolocation Jutsu cannot pierce through windows. If he is following us, then you would be able to see him more easily than I could.”
Kankurō bit his lip, studying the front of their home again for any glimpse of his brother. While he couldn’t prove that Gaara was following them to the Academy every day, he knew it was true. It would only be a matter of time before Gaara felt the urge to kill at the wrong time and began a murderous rampage in the Academy.
“Let’s get going,” Temari urged, and Kankurō reluctantly turned away.
“Just… keep an eye out, will you?” Kankurō entreated. Naruto nodded.
They walked for a few minutes in silence, the streets barren of life.
“Why do you think he’s acting like this?” Kankurō abruptly asked for the hundredth time in recent weeks.
“I don’t know, Kankurō, maybe he’s trying to simply spend more time around his family?” She replied, clearly communicating her annoyance.
Kankurō did not seem to notice.
“But that’s not like Gaara at all.” Kankurō countered before turning to Naruto, who was calmly staring away into the distance. “Didn’t Gaara try to kill you like, three times?”
Kankurō raised an eyebrow in disbelief, “Then why are you reading books in the living room with him? Aren’t you scared that he’ll try again? I don’t know how he’s fail-”
“Kankurō!” Temari interrupted, glaring at her younger brother.
Kankurō looked at his sister sheepishly and turned to Naruto, “I’m sorry. I promise I won’t bring that up again.”
Naruto did not respond.
Temari sighed internally as Kankurō finally let the matter drop. It was all Kankurō spoke of now, ever since Gaara had begun spending an abnormal amount of time in the mansion. Personally, it didn’t bother her. In the past, Gaara seldom spent more than five minutes at home a month, if that. It had always caused her to wonder where Gaara slept when he was not in his cell or at home.
Though, to be honest, Gaara doesn’t actually sleep, Temari thought sadly. Every time she thought about what Gaara must be going through every day, she wanted to find him and hug him. But she knew he would never accept it.
So, she’d resolved to treat Gaara like anyone else, and didn’t specifically try to talk to him or bother him. It worked out because he typically spent most of his time in his bedroom, which she never entered, or sitting in the living room. Out of the three of them, Naruto spent the most time around Gaara, something she had not anticipated.
For the first week, she’d believed, just as much as Kankurō had, that Gaara was going to attempt to kill Naruto. Rasa had reassured her that a team of Suna Elite had been stationed in the mansion, and all could neutralize Gaara should he try something. However, nothing had happened.
She hadn’t expressed it to anyone, but she was glad that Gaara was spending time around them all, even though he seldom said anything.
As they reached the edge of the dead zone, the area around the Kazekage Mansion that civilians avoided like the plague, Temari turned to look back at the way they’d come. Kankurō noticed and looked at her. She waved his curiosity aside.
She had thought for a moment she felt Gaara behind them, but that was impossible. She wasn’t skilled enough to detect Gaara even if he was there.
Naruto, however, could see Gaara with perfect clarity; in fact, he was using Gaara as practice. Keeping track of the Jinchūriki and walking through the crowded streets at the same time. He’d been taking every opportunity to use his Byakugan and walk at the same time for the past month, but he was still far from being able to move at a Shinobi speed while doing so.
But despite being able to see Gaara following after them on the roofs, Naruto said nothing to Kankurō or Temari. Gaara had clearly worked out how the Echolocation Jutsu functioned and was taking care to stay out of the Jutsu’s range. Naruto was distracted from his practice by a movement in the corner of his “eye” and shifted his focus to someone else following them. It was a Kunoichi, one he’d never seen before. He was only able to track her for a moment before she vanished.
“Look out, Naruto,” Kankurō warned, grabbing his arm and pulling him out of the way of a civilian carrying two large buckets of water.
“Thank you,” Naruto said as he quickly checked the road before trying to find the Kunoichi again.
She was gone.
“Were you looking for Gaara?” Kankurō asked in a whisper, looking over his shoulder as if Gaara would be standing on the street behind them.
“Yes.” Naruto lied.
“Did you see him?”
Naruto shook his head.
“We’re here,” Temari interjected as they entered the plaza in front of the Shinobi Academy. Students flocked from all directions, all heading for the open front doors. Naruto lessened the range of his Byakugan drastically, taking care to keep track of all the students around him. He didn’t want to trip and be trampled by his fellow students.
“Are you sure this is a good idea?” Raidon, his second in command, asked.
Tera scowled, although it was concealed by the darkness cast by his hood. Raidon had not questioned him for nearly a decade, and the fact that the Shinobi was now… was concerning.
Deciding not to respond, Tera walked to the room’s only table and sat down in the head seat. Raidon disappeared into the shadows of the room a moment later, where he would stay until called.
Snapping his fingers, Tera watched the tip of his index finger ignite in a small blaze. Leaning forward slightly, Tera placed it against the wick of the candle. The room lit up as the flame caught and began wildly dancing back and forth.
There was quite a draft in the drab and empty apartment since he had opened both of the windows halfway when he first arrived. In addition, the door to the corridor was unlocked. He wasn’t sure how his guests would decide to enter, and he didn’t want to hinder them.
He didn’t need to wait for long. His first guest was blatantly clear in their approach as they walked down the street towards the hotel entrance. Even from several floors up, Tera could tell they were under a Henge. It was possible this meeting was already compromised; the fool had probably walked through half of Suna under a Henge. It would be a miracle if none of the Suna Shinobi noticed him.
Tera briefly considered leaving now but decided against it. He was sure his other guests were not as stupid, and he couldn’t spare another night.
Still, he’d come prepared regardless. He wore his usual all-black attire, each piece barely distinguishable from the next. His only identifiable clothing was the large black cloak he wore, his face obscured by the hood.
After all, it wasn’t a guarantee that his guests would accept his offer, and he was already considering killing the first guest for his incompetence.
No, I can’t do that. I would lose standing with the Suna underground, and I need everyone I can get. Tera thought in annoyance. Despite calling for recruits, with the most tempting reward he could have offered, only three had answered.
Two of the three Shinobi, he had recognized by their reputation. The third remained a mystery.
As his first guest’s chakra signature climbed the stairs and exited on the third floor, Tera followed them through the wall with his eyes as they approached the apartment door. Their pause at the door concerned him, and he once again weighed the option of killing the idiot on the spot.
“You can drop the Henge, Samuk.”
The nondescript-looking civilian who had stepped into the room nodded as he shut the door. A second later, their form fizzled and fell away, revealing a Shinobi wearing what was once Suna Shinobi attire. However, the insignia had been torn from the fabric, and numerous holes were patched.
Surprisingly, Samuk himself was black, a rare occurrence in the Land of Wind. Those with darker skin were usually only found in the Land of Lightning.
“Please, sit. Two others are coming.” Tera said, gesturing toward one of the chairs at the round table.
Samuk nodded and walked to one of the three chairs, choosing the one to Tera’s left.
Tera observed Samuk, noticing the kunai hidden in the Shinobi’s sleeve as it briefly pressed against the fabric as he sat down. Tera noted the hardened look in Samuk’s eyes and expression.
The man was infamous in the criminal underworld for his dedication to getting his revenge on the Kazekage. Of course, being just one man, there wasn’t much Samuk was capable of doing to harm the Kazekage other than killing civilian travelers as often as possible.
Samuk had really gained his reputation when he’d managed to kill one of the Suna Council sitting elders. The feat was only added to by the fact that he was a banished Shinobi, a rare occurrence in the Elemental Nations. Most Shinobi turned traitors were now labeled missing-nin or, they were immediately executed for their crimes.
Samuk was an exception.
Tera’s attention was drawn to the window behind him as he sensed another signature, far more potent than Samuk’s, move toward them. He didn’t hear the window slip open, and knowing it creaked, he was impressed. Despite the lack of sound, he knew his newest guest was in the room as the signature moved behind him.
A glance at the grim faced Samuk revealed that he hadn’t noticed their newest guest, so they were most likely under a Genjutsu.
“Welcome, Tsukasa,” Tera said. The signature stopped abruptly, a few feet away. Samuk looked up sharply, his eyes darting around the room.
Tera could tell the Genjutsu had been dropped as he heard high heels clicking against the wooden floor. Tsukasa walked into view on his right and sat down, folding her hands on the table. He could tell she was analyzing him, deciding whether to trust him.
He didn’t return her glare, instead focusing his attention on his senses, keen to catch the last recruit’s approach. Tsukasa was the other guest he’d known, though, like Samuk, it was only by reputation. The Kunoichi wore a bright red kimono, and the top half of her face was covered in a red, demon-like mask. Her black hair had several red highlights in it as well. All of which contributed to her name in the underworld, the Red Demoness of the Court.
“You claimed that by joining you, I will receive a Kekkai Genkai of my own,” Tsukasa said after several moments of silence, her eyes narrowing beneath her mask. “That’s quite the claim.”
“We have one more coming,” Tera replied, ignoring her challenge. He’d known she would be skeptical; however, she had arrived regardless. Which meant she had given at least some credibility to his words.
Tera observed the window across the room closely as his third and final guest landed on the wall outside. They didn’t use any Genjutsu, but their entrance was silent, and if he hadn’t been looking for them, he would have struggled to see them enter. Most of all, he was surprised by the Shinobi’s strange appearance.
“Welcome, please… sit.”
Like himself, this new stranger wore mostly black, though several pieces of their clothes were red. He could not immediately determine whether they were male or female, their clothing seemed designed to hide their gender. The bottom half of their face was tucked away behind a black mask, and the rest was obscured by their straw hat.
“I am Otabane.”
Even their voice, while deep, seemed to be genderless.
“I will begin by answering the obvious question, and yes, I can provide you with your own, unique, Kekkai Genkai.”
Tsukasa stopped tapping her red nails on the table, “How can you make such a claim? I saw your request, and I couldn’t believe it. I spent days trying to figure out how you could even claim to do such a thing.”
“The Stone of Legend,” Otabane interrupted.
“Yes… that… but it was destroyed in the First Great Shinobi War by the Order of Liberty when the Land of Lightning attempted to steal it.” Tsukasa countered, “It’s gone.”
“The one that was broken by the head monk of the Order of Liberty was a fake,” Tera said, causing Tsukasa to look at him sharply. “The real one was taken to Kazedama, where it came into the possession of the current Daimyō.”
“You’re saying that Torio Sakamoto, a war hero of the Third Great Shinobi War, has a new Kekkai Genkai?”
Tera did not respond; he didn’t need to. It was clear that the last pieces in some puzzle Tsukasa had been trying to solve were finally slipping into place. It seemed as though she had tried to find the Stone of Legends herself in the past.
“If what you say is true.” Samuk started, “how can we hope to take this stone from the Daimyō? Besides being one of the Land of Wind’s most powerful Shinobi, he’s also protected by a crack team of Shinobi. Every one of them was selected for the Daimyō’s guard because of their skills and power.”
Samuk stared at Tera, challenging him, trying to read his face under his hood. “I do not intend to die fighting Kanade of the Searing Winds just so you can have the Stone for yourself.”
“I do not plan for anyone to die,” Tera replied, and Tsukasa leaned forward in her chair. “The Daimyō’s son, Miyasato, who goes as Naruto now, is here in Suna training to become a Shinobi.”
“You wish for us to capture the prince,” Otabane asserted. Tera nodded.
“Hai. Once we have captured the prince, we will use him to blackmail the Daimyō into giving us the stone.”
Samuk looked unsure, “Surely the prince will be guarded? How can you be sure that the Daimyō will give up this stone for his son? If it can really give Kekkai Genkai as you claim, then it is extremely valuable.”
Tsukasa laughed, “Torio would most definitely give up the stone for his only son. I was there before Miyasato was born. Nothing matters more to him than his son. He would never shut up about it back in my days when I was in the royal court.”
“The prince is closely guarded, which is why you three are going to be working with us to capture him.” Tera said, “Is that a deal?”
Samuk and Otabane nodded immediately, but Tsukasa hesitated. Tera didn’t move, but he was prepared to kill the Red Demoness if she tried to leave. He couldn’t risk Suna becoming aware of his plans.
“I have one last concern,” Tsukasa said, “I know how the Stone of Legends works, more or less. To obtain a Kekkai Genkai, one must hold the stone for a long time, although I was never able to learn how long, and successfully endure its challenges. After that, it will grant the holder a Kekkai Genkai.”
Tera nodded in agreement.
“How many chances do we get with the stone?”
“That is agreeable, I’m in,” Tsukasa said.
Kumo Embassy, Sunagakure, Land of Wind, EN.
“Do you think they can get in without being seen by the guards?”
Taguchi scoffed, “Of course they will. They’re RAIKOU, and Suna isn’t looking for them. They’ll be here any minute.”
Fujino chuckled, “They might already be in this room, and we’d never know.”
“I’m worried that they didn’t arrive sooner, ” Iwata said from her place on the couch. She and her three teammates were all sprawled around the embassy’s living quarters. Taguchi was seated at the table, drinking coffee. Fujino leaned against the doorway, and Taisho was lying on the other sofa, staring at the ceiling.
For the past three weeks, they had avoided doubts as much as possible. Suna seemed to have accepted that they were the replacement Shinobi for the embassy and hadn’t given them any trouble. However, Suna wasn’t what she was worried about. They had remained on high alert, trying to keep an eye out for any sign that the organization, whatever it was called, was aware of their missing member.
It was driving her insane.
As Taguchi had put it, they might as well unwind as they waited for the RAIKOU to arrive. If the organization came knocking, they were all fucked anyway. Far better Shinobi than they hadn’t stood a chance.
Despite Taguchi’s rather morbid assessment of the situation, they were all alive, thankfully. She’d never admit it, but she was relieved and glad that the Raikage had ordered two RAIKOU teams to back them up. The tension was going to kill her. She’d been unable to sleep for days.
Even though she saw the black pair of boots appear in front of her on the floor, the complete lack of sound prevented the information from processing immediately. Looking up sharply, Iwata drew a Kunai as she got to her feet. None of the eight RAIKOU reacted, and she quickly slipped the weapon back into her pouch. Each of the Black Ops Shinobi wore solid black clothing, with light grey jackets. The RAIKOU insignia was embroidered on each of their chests.
The one closest to her took his mask off and extended his hand. She took it.
“My name is Ashito. I am in charge of this operation. We have orders from the Raikage to capture, interrogate, and eliminate a high-level member of the organization your team discovered.” Ashito said. Letting go of her hand, he pulled a scroll out of his Kunai pouch and gave it to her.
“This is for you.”
“Iwata Kayami,” she offered as she took the scroll and unfurled it.
Thank you for reading this story! It was finished on 5/27/2020!
This chapter of the story was publicly posted on: 2/28/20
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OC Creators of OC’s in this chapter:
- Samuk (Created and submitted by Grimtruth)
- Otabane (Created and submitted by Grimtruth)
- Tsukasa (Created and submitted by Grimtruth)
- Ashito (Created and submitted by Shika)