Miyasato had never done much walking in his life. While he had undergone some Shinobi training, most of it was chakra-based, some Ninjutsu, and most academic. The palace had a vast library, but it lacked training grounds. The Daimyō who’d built it hadn’t taken Shinobi needs into consideration, it was something his father had complained about repeatedly.
After an hour of being carried at speeds beyond his comprehension, Sasori had set him down. He could no longer see Kazedama, although Rasa had pointed out what direction it was in when he asked. They were now on top of the Great Oniringo Mountains and traveling away from the capital.
The terrain was uneven, often there were sharp drops where they still had to carry him down. There were no paths to follow, as civilians never traveled this way.
They had been walking for almost five hours now, and his legs were hurting badly. Several things kept him from saying anything about it, however. Before the Kazekage had arrived, his father had told him that the life of a Shinobi wouldn’t be easy, and he’d accepted that. Miyasato was also concerned that saying anything that made him look weak might cause Gaara to attempt to kill him again. The Jinchuriki hadn’t even looked at him since they left Kazedama.
He’d tried to concentrate on the surroundings to distract himself from his burning legs, and immediately stumbled. He couldn’t trust the ground in front of him and had to continually scan it with his Byakugan. It was infuriating.
Observing Rasa stop ahead of him, he also stopped. He was finally able to concentrate on something else, and he immediately noticed the camp hidden in the mountains ahead. It was about half a mile away, and only the smoke from the campfires was visible with regular sight.
Miyasato noted that no one appeared worried or surprised by the camp. Looking closer, he figured out why. It was a bandit camp with about thirty or forty men, each carrying a weapon of some kind. Some were still eating breakfast, but most were moving about the clearing, packing things up.
“What’s going on?” He asked. The camp was well outside the range of his Echolocation Jutsu, so he pretended to be unable to see it.
“There is a camp ahead, a bandit camp,” Sasori replied. Everyone besides Gaara was looking toward Rasa for orders, and Miyasato noticed the Kazekage looked unsure about what to do. What’s going on? Surely, he isn’t going to attack the camp, that would draw attention to us. Going around would be more logical. Miyasato thought.
Rasa came to some sort of decision and sighed, “You are free to go, Gaara.”
Miyasato honed in on Gaara and Rasa, trying to understand what just happened. Rasa seemed sad about something but resolute. Seeing the excitement in Gaara’s eyes, he felt excited for some reason. He’s letting him loose; they’re all going to die!
Gaara vanished in a swirl of sand. Miyasato immediately tried to locate the Jinchuriki but was distracted as Sasori once more picked him up, this time taking him through a shunshin. Usually, it was a nauseous experience for most people, but he had gone through enough training to no longer feel sick. Kanade didn’t want him to throw up in the middle of an attack and had Shunshin’ed him back and forth until he got used to it.
It took him a couple of moments to get his bearings. Rasa and the rest of the Shinobi appeared next to him and Sasori in similar swirls of sand. All stood in silence as they watched the scene play out below. Miyasato finally spotted Gaara on the far side of the camp. No one inside the clearing had noticed Gaara yet.
A crushing weight abruptly drove Miyasato to his knees as Gaara released more Killing Intent than he’d ever felt before. His Byakugan deactivated as he struggled to breathe. His vision went dark and his body refused to stop shaking, the pressure weighing down on him.
His father had trained him to resist Killing Intent, but never nearly this much. The pressure was worse than his father or Kanade had ever focused on him, and not even his first experience with Killing Intent had been this bad.
Anger rose inside him as he was unable to even stand up. I will not cower in fear of such a pathetic weakling! The thought rang in his head, shocking himself, as he fought the weight bearing down on him.
Fighting against the Killing Intent, he managed to finally get to his feet, though unsteadily. His Byakugan flared to life behind his blindfold, and the world came into view once more. Gaara was now in the center of the camp, dead bodies strewn behind him. Most were crushed into pieces, blood soaking into the sand and sandstone.
Gaara didn’t have a drop of blood on him.
Sand roared around him as it stopped all the weapons thrown at Gaara. There weren’t that many, those around him unable to stand up under the pressure he was unleashing. The Jinchuriki radiated death, his eyes wide and bloodshot as blood seeped across the sand around him. Only his wild eyes conveyed Gaara’s excitement. His body was relaxed, his arms folded in front of him.
Miyasato watched, spellbound with morbid fascination, as sand wrapped around a bandit trying to flee, quickly cocooning them. Gaara turned to look at the immobilized, screaming man and raised his hand toward them. They began to beg desperately to be spared, but Gaara seemed to not hear them.
Closing his hand sharply, the sand shrank just as fast. Nearly instantaneously, the man’s body exploded under pressure. Miyasato watched as bits and pieces of the man went flying, though most of his blood was absorbed by Gaara’s sand. Quickly finishing a set of seals, Gaara pointed his open palm toward the ground. Miyasato could see chakra pumping through the sand. There were about two dozen bandits left, some of whom had passed out.
The sand began to vibrate rapidly, causing everyone within the range of the Jutsu to sink through the surface of the sand. Gaara stood unaffected in the center. Miyasato watched as all the bandits were sucked a dozen feet underground, completely unable to move. Within a few seconds, they were all crushed to paste.
I wish Miyasato didn’t have to see this, but it’s needed, Rasa thought, sighing sadly.
Sunagakure, Land of Wind, EN.
“You ready?” Ochida asked as he and Baki climbed the stairs to the top floor of the Kazekage Tower.
Baki scoffed but patted himself down anyway. He had never forgotten to grab all his tools and weapons before. But, he had also never been so stressed before. It had been five days since sending out Hamada and Pakura with messages to Kumo and Kazedama. Nothing from Pakura, but Hamada had returned the third day and informed him that the Kumo Shinobi were on their way. He’d bumped into them at the border with the Land of Mushrooms.
Ochida had just informed him that the Kumo team had arrived at the gate and were being passed through security. Not that it did much good other than knowing what weapons the Shinobi were carrying, and their identities. No country would try to force a Shinobi to disarm unless they wanted to piss off said Shinobi or had a really good reason.
Reaching the top of the stairs, Ochida held the door open for Baki.
“It’s unlike you to care, Ochida-san.”
The usually stoic and emotionless puppeteer shrugged and lit a cigarette as they walked down the corridor. Smoking was a favorite pleasure amount the puppeteer brigade, and expensive. While a lot of Shinobi in Suna bought rolled-up herbs and paper, no one purchased as many as the Puppeteers did.
The merchants for the stuff made a killing.
“I’d hate to be you right now,” Ochida commented unhelpfully as they stepped into the Kazekage’s Office. Baki sat down in the large leather chair behind the desk and looked at Ochida expectantly.
“Care to share why?”
Ochida snorted, pointing his thumb back down the hallway, toward the front gate of Suna. “Leader of the Kumo team is a guy named Taguchi. A raging asshole. Met him before on a mission near the Land of Lightning.”
Ochida cut Baki off before he even began to say anything, “They’re being escorted straight here by two Elite teams.”
Baki sighed and moved the chair nearer to the desk. He wasn’t at all certain how this meeting would go. As a stand-in for the Kazekage, he had considerable power, but he wasn’t sure if that included declaring war on another country. Hamada had not been able to tell him anything about the Kumo Shinobi’s intentions, so he was going into this completely blind.
Leaning back in the chair, he slowed his breathing. He let his concerns and fears fade away as he concentrated on the wooden doors on the other side of the room. Being unofficially next in line to be Kazekage made him the most qualified to handle this, and he was determined to handle it well.
Baki and Ochida sensed the unmasked signatures of the Kumo Shinobi as they entered the building at the same time. Looking up from his cig and seeing Baki was focused, Ochida nodded to him and vanished in a swirl of sand right before the doors opened.
“You’re not the Kazekage.” The Kumo Shinobi at the front said when they saw him, Baki nodded.
“The Kazekage is in Kazedama and has been for a while. I was left in charge in his absence. Hamada gave a scroll to you on my orders.” Baki said. He’d added the final bit to give himself some credibility. Dealing with Kumo Shinobi meant displaying authority and power, always and as often as possible. Briefly, the thought of folding his hands on the table in front of him came to mind, but he rejected it. He would be truly impersonating Rasa at that point, the Elite Shinobi would never let him hear the end of it.
Out of the four Kumo Shinobi, only the one in the front with blonde hair seemed bothered by him.
“My name is Baki, I assume you’re here to investigate your embassy.”
“Taguchi.” The blonde one replied as he sat down in the left chair in front of the desk. “I’ll accept this, though I would prefer talking to the Kazekage.”
Baki nodded. Kumo Shinobi were known for not respecting anyone, except those above them in their chain of leadership, or those they saw as powerful and worthy of respect. Not a lot of people got that honor. Kumo’s culture derived from how the first Raikage had run Kumo, and eventually all of the Land of Lightning. Only the strong could rule. Every Raikage had fought to earn the position against others who wanted it. There was no right to anything in Kumo.
Personally, he had always seen it as a rather flawed system. Someone with a lot of power could keep the post even if they were a tyrant, but so far, that hadn’t happened yet.
“What can you tell me about our embassy?”
“We don’t typically have much interaction with the Kumo Embassy, so we only noticed something was off three days after when we believe the attack happened.” He explained, noticing that the other three Kumo Shinobi had spread out around the office, although he pretended to ignore them.
“Yes, your scroll explained that.” Taguchi said, cutting him off, “What do you know about who killed them?”
Baki hardened his expression, making sure that it was clear he didn’t like to be interrupted. Everything was a game of power with Kumo Shinobi, if they decided you were weak, it was over.
“Very little. The murderers were highly skilled, capable of sneaking through our defenses, and taking four of your Shinobi unaware. Evidence suggests that all four died within seconds of each other. Without a fight.”
Baki put emphasis on the latter part, knowing it would hurt Taguchi’s pride.
“There was surely a fight! Why weren’t any of your men nearby to assist my comrades?” Taguchi demanded, sitting up sharply.
Baki refused to back down.
“There wasn’t a fight. They all died silently.” He deadpanned. Taguchi was visibly angry and looked like he was about to stand. Rotating his wrist, Baki confirmed that the Kunai hidden in his sleeve was still there.
The Elite Shinobi hiding in the room wouldn’t do anything unless he was attacked or signaled them to do so. He didn’t want to fight unless it was absolutely necessary. He countered Taguchi’s sudden wave of killing intent immediately, refusing to let the man have the upper hand. He didn’t budge as Taguchi got up, glaring at him.
Looking to his left, Baki saw that the Shinobi who spoke was the one at the door. It was a Kunoichi, but the cloth covering her face had made him think they were Shinobi. She had just taken the fabric off and was approaching the desk. Baki let go of his killing intent as he felt Taguchi’s fade away. Whoever the Kunoichi was, Taguchi clearly respected her as he stepped out of her way and sat back down.
He nodded; a bit surprised to see a Kumo Kunoichi. It was a rare event in Kumo as the academy graduation requirements were insane. Even by Shinobi standards. Though if Baki had to think about it, Kumo was probably one of the fairest militaries regarding gender. If you could prove your strength, nobody cared what your gender was there.
There had never been a female Raikage simply because a Kunoichi had never won the fight to become one.
“With your permission, we would like to conduct our own investigation alongside your Shinobi.” The Kunoichi requested, having taken the other chair.
“Iwata Kayami.” She supplied, and he nodded.
Gesturing to her teammates, Iwata stood. Taguchi still looked irritated but got up as well. He refrained from commenting on it. He’d been under the impression that Taguchi was the Leader of the Kumo team, but it seemed like he might just be the most brazen.
“Before you go,” he said, standing as well. “We had a man we believed to be a Kumo Shinobi come into Suna, dehydrated and covered in burns. The man immediately ran straight into our Jinchuriki, and because we suspected him of being a spy, he was rescued. We interrogated him, as per our agreement, and delivered him to the embassy within three hours.”
Iwata appeared to be thinking.
“I bring this up because we delivered the man to the embassy the day before the embassy was attacked.
“Is the man alive?” Taguchi demanded abruptly but shut up when Iwata glared at him.
“Not that we are aware of…”
Iwata nodded, more to herself than him. “I understand this violates the accord our countries have, but did the man say anything that might help us?”
Baki shook his head, “No. He was extremely dehydrated and delirious. We were unable to get anything out of him.”
“Thank you, Baki-san.”
Gesturing to her team, they all vanished in four simultaneous lightning bursts.
Baki stared at the spot where they had been standing for a few moments before rubbing his head. He’d gone through the entire conversation again. Hopefully, he’d done the right thing. He hoped Rasa was making his way toward Suna by now.
Thank you for reading this story! It was finished on 5/27/2020!
This chapter of the story was publicly posted on: 12/20/2019
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OC Creators of OC’s in this chapter:
- Ochida (Created and submitted by Grimtruth)