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He opened his eyes and parted his lips with a gasp. A cold breath entered his body as the rush of sounds around him pounded along to the cracking pain in his head. His eyes widened but he made no motion to move. From what he could see there was nothing but blinding white light all around him, slowly this light began to shape into form and colour and eventually he could see up from down.
Argies sat up in his bed. Gulping down the dryness in his throat he looked with suspicion at the legs under the blanket in front of him. He turned his hands over in front of his face, making sure that they were his, before lightly patting them against his knees and Identifying that yes this was truly him. With this realisation met, the colour rushed out of his face.
Slowly, as if at any moment this dream might shatter now that he knew he was dreaming, Argies pressed a hand against the hole in his chest … but the wound wasn’t there. Taking in another breath, there were no gargles of blood and no thick clotting to block his breathing. No, the only thing that filled his nose was the smell of medicines and clean sheets.
Smiling his happiness quickly vanish as the collection of sounds came to make sense to his ears. The distant tapping of footsteps down corridors, the chatter from waiting rooms, and most prominently the sound of his dead team mates coming to life in shrieks of anguish and horror.
Taka jumped awake, the bed under her squeaking in complaint to the sudden motion, a still corpse jerked back into life. They had all been dead asleep, an unnatural sleep, and now suddenly they were all awake? Sitting up she looked around her room blindly, the bandaging around her head still securely wrapped around her eyes; binding her vision. Reaching back her fingers bristled against a feather, her feather, her hand retreated from her wings but there was no pain. Her emotions held mute on her face, no space was made for a smile or a frown but instead silent lips gritted their teeth.
“My wing isn’t there…”
She hears her words leave through heaving breaths, a whisper that contradicts what her hands have said. Trembling, Taka curls into herself and rests a shoulder against the backrest of her bed. Reaching back again she traces a finger along the hollow bone that extends through the top of her wing, a wing that shouldn’t be there. Her white feathers ruffle and it is evident she can feel her finger caress her wing, but...
“I felt it” Her lips curl in bitter reality “My wing was shattered… this thing, this thing isn’t a part of me.”
Racking a hand through the silky smooth feathers to her left, Taka held on tight to the empty feeling in her heart and the cold reality in her hand.
“These Aren’t my feathers!”
The rippling ghost of pain extended through her left side and down her back, the pain of a reality or was it the pain of a phantom? Blood began to speckle the white sheeting and the blue blanket of her bed, just as it dripped down her hands and from the wing that supplied even more feathers to be plucked out of existence.
Shuddering through pain and fear, Taka rallies herself and steadied her breathing. Now clutching on to the hollow bone of her wing once more, her heavy breathing slows its pace as she cradles the bloody framework that is left of her wing. With a smile on her face the bandage over the eyes let drop tears and with racking cries she soothes her remaining wing with the caress of bloody fingertips over hollow bones.
Amoroto rubbed the white fabric between his fingertips. Dusting a hand along the pattern of colours over his shirt, admiring the one piece gown he wore under the blanket that covered the rest of him. The feel of the material under his hand and over his skin, made him shiver even though he felt warmth in this clothing that wasn’t his. The colour, the plain and dull design that spotted these cloths in a repeated pattern of hundreds of small squares, made him smile even though they weren’t creative or original. His ability to stretch, and wiggle his toes, lifted the frown from his eyes with surprise.
The world he was in, wasn’t perfect, and yet… he could smile. He could smile despite the torrent of sounds that filled the air with cries and screams. He could smile even though the space around him beat with dreadful knocks as they raved in agony. Though they hurt him, his heart fluttering in a pang to their sorrows, he could appreciate them. He could appreciate the pain they were all in now, and so he smiled with an open show of his teeth as he clapped his hands along to the melody only he could hear.
The melody of life sung through to the end. The repercussion of a heartbeat and a headache. The whisper in a cold wind, the ding of cicadas shouting out to the heat as the sun reaches its zenith. A cry for joy and a cry for tears. A comfort and distress. These were all the things that meant they were not alone, they were not undone, they could think and feel because they existed. There were here to endure, they were there to suffer more of life’s miracles, because they existed to share it all, and through it all Amoroto could sing his song because no matter what his heart had to give he had given his all, right until the end.
Cold, and yet warmth all around. Arisu opened her eyes with a lingering absence by her side. The Inuzuka born and bred tracker of the Leaf, sniffled and scrunched up her senses to the comfort around her. She was warm but it was not the warmth she had come to recognise, the security of that warmth wasn’t there by her side. Searching Arisu stretched her hand throughout the confines of her bed, feeling as if at any moment her hand would strike fur so that she might find that comfort once again.
Waking up with a start, she kicked aside the blankets and planted her feet to the floor. With the cold tiles underfoot, the crackling of emotions as the others began to wake, and the stifling stench of ethanol and disinfectant. Arisu knew within an instant where she was, the ninja hospital where dogs aren’t allowed. As she stood up from her bed, a piercing pain extending through her abdomen caused her to double over in wrenching agony. Nimbly she rested a hand against her gut before righting herself once again, slowly. Plastic crinkled under the palm of Arisu’s hand as she lifted it from her side and etched her fingers along the borders of the wound. Squinting her eyes ever so slowly as she wondered when she had received such a wound but her memories would not budge.
In her mind’s eye she vividly remembered the red demon faces. The searing pain as one of the sound twins entered her cells and destroyed her from inside out while the other held back Kiba and Katsumi, but the memory stopped there. Standing on the cold floor, the wake of all the sounds around her would not let her concentrate on her lost memories. How she might of survived, what happened to Kiba, where is Katsumi?
“Shippuden, will you idiots all please shut up!”
The pressure in her breath as it left her throat, the volume of her words and the intent for silence to be heard, forced her eyes shut. Then, when Arisu opened her eyes the room began to slowly spin around her. With the world going black and all the lights blown out, the tracker ninja regained consciousness on her bed feeling lightheaded and dizzy all at the same time.
Genjuu sat up slowly and put trembling fingers to his cracked lips, ushering himself to be silent as he concentrated his chakra into the confrontation seal. Looking around himself, he ghosted his vision over everyone with little interest or care. His grey eyes dull and heavy. Then seeing what was next to him he took no time in putting on his cloths mask, forgetting the rest of his equipment. On the small white desk holding a single lamp and his ninja gear, safe from weapons and paper tags, a single reminder remained. From where they had come, from what had happened, could this be the other world after death?
The chains Gaara gave him, as tribute for saving the Sand ninja’s life, sat cascading down the desk in a glistening bluish silver white light. The lamp light dashed the pattern of the thick chains over his neatly folded shirt and leggings, that light of the Sand Village’s special cold hot metal burnt a relentless memory to the surface of Genjuu’s mind. Lying down, he turned over in his bed, ignoring the touch of steel against the back of his head. The chains would not letting him rest off the memory like a forgotten dread.
Even so, as the grey ninja ignored the world around him and the vision playing out in his head, Genjuu could not shake his thoughts just as his body shuddered the thought of moving. Stuck in between a place of existence and fantasy, to rid himself of these events of past and present, in apathy he knew he had no say either way. He turned over onto his back and closed his eyes, not wanting it, not needing it, but feeling it, he tried to return back to sleep or death.
Taking in a breath Genjuu released it slowly, naturally, hoping that he would not desire to draw breath again.
Hakari roused herself from death and sat up in bed. Turning her head to the left, she could see a stand holding a drip leading to her arm which laid perfectly paralleled to her side. Turning her head to the right, she could see a portable defibrillator next to the desk that held her ninja clothing. The room was practically empty, except for the rows of beds line up with her dead team mates, they were perfectly alone. The light shining in through the curtains next to Taka, the dividers drawn back revealing each patient, the door way shut. Hakari assessed her situation with suspicion in her mind’s eye. She lifted a hand up to the nursing assistance button, before casting off her blankets in a flourish of hurry.
“Where are my Parents, why aren’t my brothers by my bed side?” She pulled and gently yanked the needle and drip from her arm, the sharp pain bringing a tear to her eyes.
Hakari looked back at the light filtering in to their room through the curtains. It wasn’t the middle of the night, it wasn’t late afternoon, it looked to be midday instead.
Leaping out of bed she hurried over to Argies with wobbly footing. Grabbing a fist full of his shirt Hakari brought herself to him with a whisper. “Is any of this real?”
Wide eyed Argies looked completely through her, the spark of intelligence that glowed in his eyes had long since been extinguished and now he sits vacant staring at the ceiling.
Still holding on, though now she no longer saw Argies there, Hakari gulped down the bile in her throat. The image of the blood pouring out of her friend as she screamed from behind her crystal shield, it force her hands free. There was no point in asking the dead about the realities of the living. The look of despondence in his eyes told her that he couldn’t answer her question anyway. Grabbing hold of the nursing assistance by his side, Hakari pressed the button before returning to her bed to strap on her ninja shoes.
If the nursing staff arrive, would they be able to answer her question, or did only the dead live in this place?
Still holding onto his Guan Dao, Fuma’s footing suddenly fell away under him, he felt himself falling down through the darkness until gravity stopped with a sudden thud. Startled he gripped tighter onto his weapon of choice but his hands went right through it and twisted the blankets caught in his grip.
“Where is my Guan Dao!?”
The silver skin under his clothing was dry but the temperature of his blood burnt his fury hot. Lying still Fuma looked around while grinding his teeth to the annoying flutter of sounds in the air. The forest was no more, Shikamaru and the flute wielding Sound ninja were no more. The black abyss he fell into had suddenly turned into a hospital room clean and white. No moss covered branches to catch him as he fell, the soft petals and leaves could not brush past him and tell him it was ok. Instead gravity met him with the embrace of a soft mattress that felt like rock against his back as he tried to get up. His muscles like rusted iron, creaked and moaned as he bit his breath between clenched grunts, and when he had finally reached a right up position he was unsatisfied with what he could see.
His team mates alive… but despite his efforts there was no easy escape from death. Taka sobbed clutching hold of a bleeding chunk of bone, she caressed the bare flesh in her hands and like it were a small child she flashed her teeth at it with a smile that cried misery. Genjuu’s placid nature had now darkened into an absence all together, he was there and yet he was not. Fuma didn’t only focus on his team but the collection of their whole party, all there together, suffering as they came to.
Amoroto, Argies team mate, clapped his hands together in a maniacal joy with no basis for his laughter. Hakari flung her blanket to the air in sight of all the chaos, and hurried off to cause her own calamity among the storm about. Argies, the shadow-less thrust, the invisible sword, the boy Fuma had seen face off against three men and narrowly brushed death before taking them all down, now sat staring up at the ceiling, damaged. They were all damage.
Arisu broke the air of all its noise with her voice rung out in defiance “…Shut up!” and then finally the door crashed open and nursing staff rushed in. Out of the clearing of the open door, the black leather jacket of a torture expert fluttered through.
The lighting in their hospital room was bright and yet the atmosphere darkened to the mood of a torture and interrogation expert making a solemn address of the events to come. His scarred face made it harder to look him directly in the eye as each patient sat up in bed while the nursing staff cooed their worries and injuries.
“It is in times like these…” He paused for emphasis as the last of their murmurs quieted down to his deep foreboding words. “That information is more important than life.” Throats clenched, eyes darted to escape, and yet still others hardened into statues clinging to the hope that there was an explanation to his principles. “On missions and on the battle field, people risk their lives to get their hands on information and we can do no less as the Village Hidden in the Leaves.” His face remained unbroken, he stood there in front of them unmoved by their condition, with his hands unclenched, not rung with worry. “As ninja of the Leaf it is your duty, no matter your physical or mental state, to relate what happened on this mission!”
With a shrilled cry Amoroto lifted his hand partway into the air as his voice opened in disbelief. “A... mission report now?!” His voice squeaked, in objection, his question hung in the air as he waited for an answer.
“Yes, none of you were available to impart your perception of events.” Ibiki looked to his side, out the door and down the hall way he came from. “The clan born ninja are all severely injured and only a few were awake to give us a report. Shikamaru Nara and Kiba Inuzuka could only relate part of the story, I am here to find the rest.”
“What about our families?” Hakari opened her hands, a demanding frown creasing her face with a request that denied compliance. “Can’t we have a break before you interrogate us?”
“Your safety and comfort is only relevant to medical ninja.” Now clenching a fist, a silent reprimand if nothing else, Ibiki reasserted. “This is not a request, you are shinobi not children to be coddled.” Inhaling on the verge of shouting, Morino began anew. “As head of the intelligence division I am not asking your permission, your compliance is not necessary. This is merely a routine investigation into why so many ninja were injured, so come silently and it will all be over shortly.”
No voice spoke out, no hand raised. Only silent nods in conformation, though now it was clear their compliance wasn’t necessary.
Sat in a room behind a single table was a figure dressed in black. The lighting from the lamp above was murky, dulling out the four walls encasing the room with very little place for movement. Not getting up or making any attempt to greet the first of the seven inter-village ninja, the man merely stared with hollow eyes at the open door.
Ibiki invited in the first subject before closing the door behind them. The sound of latches and locks clicking into place as the door shut was unnerving, but that might have been the point.
“Please be seated and place your hands on the table” The blond haired man waited and watched as the Genin compiled. Pulling the chair out and sitting down, Amoroto placed his arms out onto the table palm side up. The chill in the air caused the song singer to shrink, his skin shivering and yet he felt drawn in to follow instruction instead of warming his shoulders up with his hands. The dark figure began. “My name is Inoichi Yamanaka, I am part of the analysis team that will be assessing you’re your mission report. What is your name and rank?” Raising an eyebrow he leaned in closer, placing his hands over Amoroto’s wrists.
Perturbed and disturbed by the close quarters and eye contact, Amoroto looked around himself before settling his gaze on Inoichi’s blue eyes. “My name is Amoroto Shizukana, I am ranked as an inter-village ninja.” There was something about those eyes that caught the Genin off guard, and yet though he struggled through unease and discomfort he could not stand the thought of looking away. To be emptied of those eyes, to leave that sight, there could be no way.
“Very good Amoroto.” The man in black smiled, before returning his form to neutral, asking the next question. “I was born and raised in the Village Hidden in the Leaves, my clan specialises in mind transfer ninjutsu. Where were you born Shizukana and what is your clan’s specialized jutsu?” The arching up of the man’s voice was not of suspicion or doubt, neither was it neutral like Ibiki’s, rather it was a curious question if nothing else. As if the man in black expected the answer could be anything, and he was thrilled to find out exactly what might be said.
Pulled into the blue eyed gaze once again, Amoroto did not distract himself with the bland details of the room he was in neither did the eerie silence divert his thoughts from his answer. “I was born and raised in the Leaf, my clan specialises in song style ninjutsu.” The Genin’s answer was much the same as the infiltration ninjas, not a single detail a mismatch from the information recorded in Amoroto’s ninja profile.
“Ok now we can begin.” Stretching his back, breaking the odd spell on Amoroto, Inoichi leaned in once again. Not letting go of the song singers arms. “Tell me Amoroto, what happened on your mission after you recued Neji, Chouji and assisted Shikamaru Nara?”
“After I gave some of my chakra to Shikamaru in the form of a song, we departed under his orders as the first Chunin…” Amoroto’s mouth held open like something was stuck, and so he closed his mouth and murmured instead.
“What is wrong, is there something you are not saying?”
Looking in, unsettled by the comfort he found in the man’s eyes. Despite how intimidated he felt, Amoroto couldn’t help but relax his muscles. “Argies was not happy to leave Shikamaru to his fate, we knew he could not beat the sound ninja alone. It was the same as when we left Kiba behind, we knew with certainty that they would die but then… Ibiki said that he got their report? That means they are alive, aren’t they?”
“I cannot reveal such information at present, but don’t worry everything will be made very clear after this interview.” The notch in Inoichi’s throat took a dip before he could clear his voice to continue the examination. “What happened after you left Shikamaru Nara behind?”
“We found uhm… I’m sorry hnn, I don’t remember his name. He was fighting another member of the sound village, one who could use the bones in his body as an exoskeleton shield and weapon.”
“It wasn’t a very long fight, but then we were all very tired… and that was how it eventually happened. That was how…” Taking in a sharp breath Amoroto’s breathing steadily tightened and his voice quivered a final retake of events. “That was how Argies died and after I tried to save him, I died as well.” He stared forward at the blue eyes that failed to comfort him, his own eyes wide and yet still he could not bear to look away though he didn’t need to.
The infiltration ninja turned his face away, for a mere moment there was a glisten in those eyes before he hardened his face and focused his attention back on the boy in front of him. “You died, but what does this mean, you are here aren’t you?”
Inhaling Amoroto stared forward, his face a mask. “…but, like Shikamaru and Kiba, am I really here or is this all just a fantasy? When this interview is over will I see the world outside these walls or will I only hear more lies of comfort. ‘Everything will be revealed after your interview’, and then to the next thing they will say again, ‘after this small task it will all be ok’. When nothing is ok. We all died.” A single tear creased down the boy’s face but the mask he wore would not crack or stutter.
“Ibiki made sure none of you had the chance to talk to each other, which makes me wonder, how do you know that you all died?”
“I… I re-remember it.” A smile spread across Amoroto’s lips, and then with a flash of teeth he laughed with unsteady chuckles as if he weren’t sure he could break out into a mania… but the mania eventually built. “Ha-ha…hahaha. HAHAHA….!”
The locks on the door cracked opened and Ibiki returned. “That is enough, I don’t see any more that this boy can reveal to us. Take him to containment cell A.” Two Chunin, dressed in the formal grey suits of the Intel division, entered the room and took Amoroto away. A ninja at his either side.
“My name is Arisu Inuzuka, I am ranked as an inter-village ninja. I was born and raised in the Leaf, my clan specialises in the man beast transformation ninjutsu.” Arisu face flash fang and tooth, her back creaked in unease as she was held captivated by her interrogators stare.
“Very good Arius, now tell me what happened when you confronted the ninja that attacked Kiba?” Inoichi blinked mildly annoyed by her claws. Claws that were digging into his arms as he rested his hands on her wrists.
“I…I must have blacked out, after they tortured me.” She spat the word ‘torture’, the verb felt filthy even if it wasn’t a curse or a vex. It was just a word, with a dirty memory. “Please tell me, what happened to Kiba and where is Katsumi? When I was with them they were both injured. Please tell me that they are alright…”
“I cannot reveal such information at present, not until this investigation is concluded”
“But… you need to tell me where my ninja hound is! A ninja tracker should not be without their companion, why isn’t she here so that we can take this interview together?”
“That is enough Morino, Arisu you are free to leave.”
Arisu looked at Ibiki with a growl “Free? Free to leave this cage and retreat to my pack, or would you rather have me return to cold bars of steel disguised with a hospital’s stink?”
“My name is Fuma Takadatsu, I am ranked as an inter-village ninja here within the Leaf. I was born and raised in the village, I am part of no ninja clan but rather I am an orphan specialising in weapon arts ninjutsu.”
“You are ranked as an inter-village ninja, only here within the ninja Village?”
“Yes… I” Fuma tried to break away from that blue eyed gaze, but when he concluded that he could not, he relented. “I have never been outside the borders of the Leaf but I know that outside these walls there are other Villages whose ranks and classes fall beyond the limits we place as titles for Ninja.” Gulping down, his lead tongue never feeling more heavy then it did now, Fuma focused his steely gaze back at the ninja in black. “I am a warrior, not a ninja, my fighting style adapts far ahead of what the Leaf defines as fit for combat because outside these walls there are some that do not know what a ninja is but they know what a fighter of steel and heart is. For valour, I know of all teachings not just those limited to the Leaf.”
Clearing his throat Inoichi pressed ahead. “Perhaps it is best we start. Tell me, what happened when you and your team found Shikamaru Nara?”
“That was when my team died, but I suppose it could not have been a true death or else they would not have been able to wake to meet me here within the ninja hospital?” Staring into those eyes, the world around fading to blue as those depths became the source of all Fuma could see, he continued. “The pink haired ninja, the Sound ninja, she killed my team and leered at me like I was at fault. Her feet, like great weights of rock, came down to cave Genjuu and Taka’s heads in, and though I flung myself with all my strength I could not clash my steal against her might….When…” Fuma licked his silver lips, and the gritted his teeth. “When my team was dead I felt no courage in me to stay behind, and so I fled.”
“A little earlier on you said it is for valour that you learn to fight, so where was this valour when you ran away and what happened then after?”
“’All warriors march forward, some to death but all to victory’. There was no victory in that fight against the pink haired, if only I knew that before facing her I could have called back my team and let the ninja of shadows face her alone. Shikamaru, he did not need my help. Fallen into shadows, hidden by shadows, not even I and my team knew where he was, and then when I fled I fell into shadows too only to wake up here in the ninja hospital.”
“Ok, that is all you have to offer I suppose…”
“My name is Hakari Kessho, I am ranked as an inter-village ninja. I was born and raised in the Leaf, my family has no clan ties but I was born with the special ability to create and mould crystal out of chakra.”
“A crystal user here in the Leaf? That is very rare. Do you happen to know where the bloodline comes from in your family tree?”
“I only know that my Mother does not possess the ability, and from the stories that she has told me and the books that I have read, the ability cannot be passed from Father to son. Only we have the strength and focus to turn chakra into stone, only Konoichi have the resolve.”
“You were the first to request to see your family, only now I do not sense the same urge. Why is that?”
“I… I know the routine of ninja duties better than most. The protocols and formalities of missions and hospitals, because I have a past dealing in ninja retrieval.” Searching through Hakari’s ninja profile, Inoichi looked over her history as she trailed off in detail. “Most ninja don’t like hospital treatment. It is bred into us from the very start of our careers that any close confines with the knowledge that our enemies know where we are, cannot be called safety. Added to that the fact that nursing staff treat patients with sharp needles, scruples, and bitter medicines, it doesn’t help that it hurts and taste like poison. In these environments though it seems like the Village does not wish to see our perspective, it isn’t in our best interest to act out and try to escape. Though I would like to see my family, I know that these protocols have a reason for being and that when this is all over I will finally get to see them. Am I wrong?”
“Moving forward. I have an account of Amoroto’s track of events, but he cannot tell me the whole story. After you broke away from him and he re-joined your team, what eventually happened to him?”
“Amoroto is… only a little boy really, his heart couldn’t keep on beating in a world that seemed so cruel at the time. After Argies died… After Argies… died.” Hakari stopped there, and as Inoichi broke away his gaze she looked down at the arms outstretched in his palms. How warm was that comfort in embrace, even if he was only using his touch to feel her pulse in order to tell lie from truth. Hakari might have not died in that instant, when those that make up her squad stopped living, but inside her she knew that the flicker of life in her soul had gone out. “That was how I was able to kill Sasuke so easily, my conscious, my spirit, my sense, my soul, any capacity for compassion had left me and in that hollow vessel I was no longer myself but vengeance itself.”
“…and now that they have recovered, who are you?”
“I am a ninja who is patiently waiting to see her family.”
“My name is Taka Tomoe, I am ranked as an inter-village ninja. I was born and raised in the Leaf, my clan specialises in the wind and air, to see without seeing.” Taka tilted her head in curiosity to the peculiar look of concentration on the man’s face. Her eyes unveiled and her bandages gone, only the wing she had plucked arched over her shoulder; bandaged and bloody.
Hardening his eyes Inoichi pressed forward with his mind, the vision of his eyes rippled in her head and yet she looked right through him as if she were blind. Clearing his throat the infiltration ninja wiped away the grimace on his lips with a gloved hand. “You’re not under my spell are you?” Swishing around his tongue in his mouth, the punch to his ego so evident, he continued. “Seeing without seeing, how does that work and why did your clan develop this unique ability?”
Spreading her lips with a smile, and a single aspirated chuckle, Taka’s delight soon died out completely. “Your interview has quickly turned unwelcomed, my clan’s history and its secrets are not yours to pluck, or would you have me ask you why your clan chose to develop the ability to snatch thoughts and crack a ninja’s mind like an egg for its yoke?”
Pulling away from his grasp over her, as her words clung to him in distaste, Inoichi tapped a hand to the metal desk. ”Alright! Alright *sigh*. What happened… what happened on your mission. How did you die?”
“I can’t remember…” Taka looked to her side, thinking back. “…not all of the details. The fact that you say I died makes me question what you would like me to believe is true.” Gulping down, she gaped at Inoichi for a moment before recalling those horrid truths? “My wing was shattered but I could still fly, my remaining wing was strong. I fell down on my enemy like thunder from the sky, but somehow she was faster and stronger than the pressure of a boulder under the weight of gravity.” Her fingers found their way to her wing and then to her temples in memory. “I can’t recall” The pressure surmounting in her head as she pressed in her finger tips, digging in for answers she looked down. “I was barely conscious but I could feel it, the force of her foot on top of my head.” Looking up from under her brow, back at her interrogator, she concluded clearly. “To answer your question, that was how I died.”
“My name is Genjuu Ashigaka, I am ranked as an inter-village ninja. I was born and raised in the Leaf, my clan specialises in the reaper death ninjutsu.”
Turning away his gaze, looking back in memories, Inoichi whispered to himself “Why does that sound so familiar?” and then he gasped under his breath “Reaper death!” Clearing his throat with a cough he shook himself from within his jacket, becoming ridge and formal once again, far away from the crisp of old memories. “When you confronted the ninja Shikamaru faced, what became of your team?”
Not breaking away from his locked on blue eyes, Genjuu retracted his tongue away from his teeth with a tick of impertinence “What does it matter?” His voice, grating, reverberated around the small room in apathy.
The cool and calm of Inoichi demeanour shattered, the vision of the world around him turned into a storm and his face and eyes shone like white hot iron. “It matters because the Leaf needs to know, it matters because the lives of you and your friends rely on this information, but most of all, it matters because I say it matters.” In his hands Inoichi felt the boys pulse flicker, but no not with fear or adrenalin, but flicker and die like a flame turned to ash. His heart was still beating and yet it was as if there was a grand effort being made by his body to live, but not by his spirit to endure.
Giving a long lingering exhale, the last ghost of life leaving him, Genjuu broke away his eyes from the face in front of him as it flushed of colour. “*Sigh*This is not a life I’m willing to live. No, that is wrong. All life is meaningless…” His voice rattled, with barely any effort behind his will to speak, he pulled away his cloths mask and allowed his breath to escape him. “…if life is meaningless, which it is, then why? Why anything? If I have to suffer pain, or if I were to suffer glory, it would be suffering that would remain. The essence of all life. Life is to suffer and to survive is to find meaning in suffering. If I do not find suffering to my taste than I am nothing, if I am nothing then no longer will I suffer. To become nothing all must become death, if this is true then the meaning of life is death. For the embrace of death is the only assurance promised to all, in only this can we rely, for all that have lived must also die.”
Inoichi’s eyes searched the boy’s face, the ashen grey complexion, the droop to his eyes. The blond haired man slammed his hand against the desk, just as the sound of a chair falling loose of the floor collided with the earth … “Get the Medical teams here now!” Genjuu’s head crashed against the ground, his skull bouncing momentarily on the concrete flooring as his cast one last apathetic look up to the faces crowded over him. A smirk full of grey teeth filled his face, but it was not him smiling but death. A great cloud of spirits, that only he could see, floated through the air, satisfied with his victory over life.
“What did you do to him?”
“Nothing I swear”
They sat across each other, Inoichi and the boy of drifting mist and wandering winds. No words were spoken, no sentences made, no only silence filled their lips and occupied their senses. Though Argies looked at his interrogator, it seemed that it was not Argies who was captivated but the blue eyed man captivated by Ages. Pressed and pondered, condensed and concentrated, one mind flowed fluid while the other held fast like the walls of a dam.
Looking back to the wall behind him, which was no wall at all, Inoichi gave a nod to the man on the other side; Ibiki. Reaching out a hand the infiltration ninja pressed his fingers into Argies mind, steam began to lift from around Argies head. “I want you to think back, and tell me who you really are!”
“Careful Inoichi” From under the man’s hand the young boy Argie’s words sounded heavy. “..the last ninja that tried to enter this mind ended up in a padded cell.” With his message concluded his eyes rolled back showing only white.
The air cracking as lines of Fuuinjutsu writing slowly etched it’s way over Argies face, wrapping itself around his mind and working its way in. “Tell me who you are, what is your rank and where were you really born?”
“My name is Argies Ages, I am ranked as Chunin. I was raised in the Leaf and my clan specialises in the art of no art. We are the hammer that strikes to forge of ourselves our own path, not to refine what is already there but to create anew.”
“Why did you…” Inoichi’s hand twitched momentarily as he lost step with his own actions and thoughts. “How did you know to answer my question like that?”
With his eyes rolled back within his head, his mouth hung open. “Isn’t that how you asked your question to the others, before sending them off to separate containment cells? Inoichi Yamanaka, 15th generation of Ino- Shika-Cho. A clan leader who owns a flower shop, and yet secretly wants to probe the mind of Ibiki to test your metal against his resolve. Never reveal your secrets.” Argies smirked under the hand placed over him, although now that hand was no longer regarded as controlling but instead vulnerable.
“That’s… not possible” Inoichi removed his hand for a mere moment, but with his eyes hardened and his face smug, he pressed his hand firmer to the boys head. “All that information is subjective, a member of the public could guess as much but a ninja like you could make it seem more. Very smart. Now tell me what happened on your mission.”
“I don’t believe you.” Casting his head down, though his eyes were still rolled back, he looked away in doubt. “This is too convenient. The fact that you want to know so much information about our mission, and yet the mission is over. What could you possibly gain, it makes no sense, unless…” Looking back at Inoichi he gave his half smile. “Unless you don’t really exist. If I even exist I question how I survived, but I suppose you need a living body in order to pump it for information. I just wonder how, living?” Inhaling, Argies broke free of the hand around his head before getting up from his seat. “…and one last thing Inoichi. How would I have known how you interviewed the others, if I didn’t look inside your head?”
Gathered once again, unified in their hospital room and sat upright in bed, the seven ninja looked at each other shifty eyed as three figures walked in to debrief them. The attendants hurriedly got to work, sitting up each patient and dealing with bloody patch work. It wasn’t long before every hand was waiting patiently to be dismissed.
One of the attendants bowed “Lady Hokage, they have been prepared as requested” with a nod from the honourable Hokage they exited the room along with the rest of the nursing staff. The door slowly slide shut behind them, leaving the injured ninja alone with the three imposing figures.
Standing tall Ibiki, Inoichi and the Hokage each acknowledged the ninja in the room. Inoichi gave a short bow of his head, being the man who saw to their emotional state and interpreted the meaning of each account. Ibiki tightened his hands and with smouldering eyes he too gave a bow though stiff and grim, Ibiki saw to it that no more information was taken then was needed for their mission report. Lady Tsunada tilted her head with a light smile stretched across cherry red lipstick, it was her nursing staff and her vision of ninja medics that might have meant they survived this mission and could find solace in the physical comforts of their hospital rooms.
Stepping forward the Hokage addressed the ninja first. “You have all done exceptionally well on this mission, and although events could have crossed over better I am glad that you have made it back alive and intact.” With a glimmer of pride in her eyes Tsunada smiled warmly at them all. “Most Inter-Village ninja could not say the same, that they have left the walls of this village and faced off against S ranked ninja. Once more you did not just survive, but you helped insure that your comrades were spared and greater still the future of this Village hidden in the Leaves.” Looking to Inoichi the Hokage began anew. “Now, it is important that we complete the full detail of this mission so that you yourselves know what truly happened.”
As the Hokage stepped back Inoichi stepped forward to give his address, his voice chimed in a settling and friendly manner now that his job of psychoanalysis was over. “In your account of these events, each one of you saw yourselves die or one or more of your comrades.” The blond haired man hummed a meek chuckle from his closed mouth. “In actuality it was due to the trauma of entering battle for the first time that you each experienced this shock of misapprehension. When your comrades or you yourself were injured, your minds automatically took the hit for a death blow. You then continued to react out of adrenalin and instinct, completing this mission.”
Ibiki stepped forward before Inoichi has properly given over the audience, his voice calm but unsettling none the less, he interjected. “…Adrenalin suppresses your minds ability to recall events.” His nose flared up and snarled as Inoichi stepped back. “…a symptom experienced shinobi and torture experts try and avoid, because at times information is more important than survival” Tsunada and Inoichi shot the man a scowl from behind his back, but he continued to stand by his conviction regardless the emotional sentiments that hid fact. “What we do know is that you were all found in an area ahead of the other teams. We believe that you confronted Sasuke and as a result you ended up here. In each instant where you had thought a death had occurred, either one of the clan ninja intervened or a substitution was employed.” Smiling and adjusting his stance, setting his hands behind his back in a formal yet relaxed manner, Ibiki warmed his approach with respect and pride. “We all have you seven to thank. If it were not for you, Chouji, Neji, Kiba, Shikamaru and Naruto, would not be alive to complain about their injuries. With no other ninja teams to send out, and with medical and inter-village ninja never being used in this manner before, this day is a land mark for future operations.”
Argies cleared his throat, insuring his words would not be interrupted “You forgot someone… actually two. I’m guessing it isn’t very easy to catch a dog in a genjutsu and how were you to know he made it to the fight?” Argies tone was less than respectful, he was talking to an equal not a superior.
“Agh yes, Shino is doing alright”
Argies cast his eyes to his team mates, only they would know who he was speaking about. “Shino was on another mission, and I died fighting Kimimaro, but who do you think helped us defeat him? With myself being dead, that would leave two Inter-Village Genin, verses a Jounin.” With an ugly smirk Argies answered his own question. “Lee”
Looking to the two at her either side, the Honourable Hokage boomed her voice “Enough of this!” She swatted her hand through the air. “It seems we have all we need from these Genin, time we dispose of them.”
The walls started to crack, the intensity of her chakra opened up as if it had come from some hidden place. She needed not utter a word for her jutsu to ignite through the air, and like a flash of lightning impact split the air and rushed through them all. The only feeling to express what they all felt then was…
Every touch of ache, amplified, even the sting of sweat over scratches burnt like the sun. The dirt under their fingernails, throbbed with hurt and swelled with agony. Cracked lips and dry eyes, itched, simmered and bled. Every part of them where pain could be inflicted, pain was felt, but worse still was their injuries which now magnified felt as if they might die of pain and pain alone.
Broken bones, wounds within the flesh, they felt torn open, cracked further. Every moment was white hot searing pain and there was a reason for it…
“I was hoping you would all bleed to death before this point, or at least die from the pain, but I could make it lost longer on my second try.” Sasuke stood over Argies. “If you still feel so eager to capture me give it your best shot. I’m not going to stop you, I need the practise.”
Clinging onto Sasuke’s foot, the sandal straps of a ninja, Argies raved and with spittle shuddering from his gaping mouth he pleaded. “Make it stop!”
“How pathetic, I can’t believe you thought your team could capture me, even if I am injured you’re still no match for me.” Sasuke’s raven black hair was damp, but where they were now was dim and dry. He shook out his hair and then lifted his head up high. “Now, I’m going to continue to the Sound.” His voice reeked of arrogance and superiority, for surely who could match him now if not his brother? “Want to try stopping me again?”
Through their screams and their shudders, the six said no, as they thrashed in the dirt and leaves, their blood mingling with the earth, they denied ever trying, but Argies. Argies could never stop.
“You can’t hurt me in my own mind!” He held onto Sasuke’s foot, his grip tighter. “I’ll use the pain you provide to make my grip even stronger, I won’t fail this mission because we simply let you go. You have to fight for your freedom.”
The newly formed Sharingan swirled in Sasuke’s eyes, yet again, only this time Argies would remember it. “A second lasts for three days in my genjutsu, you and your team were in there for less than that. I spent my time constructing a safe, believable environment. Employing my new ability to source information, as I learned all that it could do. Now Argies, none of that is going to be there for you. No warm beds, no long dialogues, for you I’ll only offer pain so that you can become stronger. Isn’t that what you want? Power you can call your own.” He smirked as the Sharingan finally took its form, like a cut diamond his iris became a pattern of red and black shapes , in a blink Argies was no longer in the world of the living.
Now he was in a world of pain.
Collaboration-Art by GundanGFX and lSonNeikOl
I just love life the way it is, with all the messy violence and the corrupt politicians.
Why would I ask for a better world! This world is perfect the way it is because it is so wicked, it leaves plenty of room for improvement.
I like story songs.
Enjoy art as long as it's actually good
Love poetry writing
Favorite past times are probably making programs, writing, editing computer games and making poetry. Recently I've taken up staring at art and drawing inspiration, it's actually helped me a hell of a lot! I suggest you try it
In case your interested in Dating me or Stalking me, here's a list of my hobbies.
Critique Jerk(Mean but Honest/helpful hopefully)