Shinji and Kakashi flew past each other in a flash of silver blades, cuts opening on Shinji's cheek and Kakashi's thigh. "You're fast," Shinji said, turning to face him but seeing him no longer there, "the Uchihas always have been."

Shinji watched a leaf fall in front of him, seeing a quick glimpse of a silver line off the reflection of the dew warn him of the throwing star that would have impaled the back of his head. He ducked the shot and whipped around, feeling a kick in his back from the silver streak Shinobi. Shinji rolled to his feet and took another kick across the face, making him stumble back. For Kakashi, it felt like trying to kick through a tree. "What's your special ability?" Kakashi said. "You can take hits but you can't throw them back?"

Shinji responded with a punch to the chest that sent the Shinobi tumbling into the bushes. He threw a follow up hail of kunai but Kakashi was no longer there, tearing into him with a cut right below his neck. Kakashi noted the blood wasn't human, but was black and moved like syrup. Whatever these things were, they weren't human, maybe they used to be. "Why are you here, White Wolf?"

Kakashi took a slash to the arm and a kick to the stomach, blasting him into the trees. Shinji followed him and the two skilled combatants danced around the branches to a stalking Chelsea's discontent. "If I could tell you, I wouldn't be wearing the mask." He performed a series of hand signs, backpedaling from treetop to treetop with his eyes kept solely on his opponent.

Shinji threw a fatal thrust but Kakashi ducked, rising hard with a knee strike to the chin that knocked him above the trees. "Katon: Gōkakyū no Jutsu!" he exclaimed, blowing a fireball head-on at the mysterious man.

"A fireball? That's it?" Shinji laughed, gliding out of the way. "I expected far better from Konoha!"

Kakashi's eyes widened at the red swelling in his chest, black flames swirling up from his black tomoe seal all the way to his throat. He leaped from the trees as a black fireball mimicking his own crashed into the treetop, leaving a ring of black destruction in its wake. "Is he an Uchiha?" Kakashi asked himself. "Or is he just copying me?"

Shinji darted toward Kakashi, matching the Shinobi's speed with his brute strength. Kakashi spun behind a tree to dodge a kick and heard it crunch under the blow, falling over with a painful snap. "I'm no Shinobi, if you needed to ask," Shinji said, "nor am I a 'Danger Beast,' whatever that means." Shinji ducked a kick and roared upward with a black, fiery uppercut. "I am Shinji of the Black Flame, and I'm going to burn you and all of Night Raid to ashes!"

He drew both hands to his size and crouched, spiking a black ball of fire between his hands.

"Katon: Nenshō Furasshu!" Shinji shouted, sending out a thick pillar of black fire that burned a hole through the forest.

"He can do it without hand signs?" Guy said in shock, watching Kakashi run from the wave.

Shinji laughed maniacally, watching the Shinobi hop from tree to tree. A branch snapped under his weight and he hit the ground hard, his heart pounding as the wave hurdled toward him. "Earth Release: Hiding Like a Mole!" he announced, completing his hand sign and sinking through the ground.

Shinji ran up to the hole, making the mistake of looking where Kakashi was and not where he was going to be. He let out a high-pitched, inhuman outcry as a buzzing blade sunk into his shoulder. "If you're going to kill me," he roared, whipping around and backhanding the ninja across the clearing. "Do it right!"

"Oh, well," Kakashi said, skidding to a halt and feeling his jaw click back into place, "now that you said something, I feel more motivated to try."

"That's it, my man," Guy said with a hearty laugh, dodging punches with ease. "Get serious!"

Kakashi sighed. "It's called sarcasm!"

"I'm going to pretend like it's not because damn it I'm one hell of a motivator," Guy said, "ball's in your court, Shinobi." He swept Daisuke off his feet, cocking his leg back for a rock crushing kick. "And my foot's up your ass!"

Daisuke squealed from the kick sending him high into the sky. Guy watched him ascend higher and higher, squinting as he faded into the night sky.

"Maybe I kicked him too hard," Guy asked with a hint of guilt, slapping it away with a shaking fist and a firm conviction. "No, it is him who is wrong."

"You are dealing with Daisuke, the, uh, well I don't really have a good name like Shinji yet!" Daisuke shouted, starting to spin. "Stay right there!" Daisuke taunted, holding his breath and expanding into a giant, inflated ball of himself.

"That's the opposite of what anyone would do in this situation!" Guy said, jumping back just as he slammed into the ground hard and made the forest tremble. "What kind of jutsu is this? It reminds me of Choza!"

Daisuke didn't waste time, charging toward him in a dangerously fast roll that kicked up mud as he moved.

Guy let out a worried whimper and whipped around, running as fast as he could with the wind from Daisuke's whirling ball of death. He bounced from tree to tree just before Daisuke rolled over them. Daisuke caught up to the ninja and nearly flattened him, crushing the tree and throwing Guy to the ground. Guy rolled to his feet as Daisuke barreled toward him. Guy took a deep breath and pulled his fist back, twisting his body up through the ball of his foot and the hips, extending while turning in a punch that split the wind right into Daisuke's stomach. Daisuke gasped from the pain, sailing straight back with his quick deflation that left him spinning uncontrollably into the trees. Guy chuckled in relief, bouncing on his toes for a moment before going on the offensive yet again. "Like a balloon, huh?" Guy said. "All I have to do is pop you!"

"I'm gonna squish you like a bug," Daisuke said, inhaling quickly to roll toward him yet again.

"This bug bites," Guy said, hopping onto Daisuke's inflated shoulder and punching several teeth out of his face, "hard!"

Daisuke flew over the battle between Kaede and Tatsumi and Susanoo. "You useless piece of shit!" Kaede spat, blocking both of Tatsumi's blades and Susanoo's massive, spiky stave with a staff made purely from rock. She kept her focus on Susanoo, not even needing to look back to block Tatsumi's strikes. "Looks like I get to kill three of you tonight," Kaede said, "because Daisuke's powers are useless!"

"Shut up! I'm trying!" Daisuke shouted back.

"Then try harder!" she shouted back, kicking Susanoo in the chest. Tatsumi swept her to the ground with the flat end of his blade and raised his weapon for the killing blow. She flicked her finger upward, summoning a thin pillar of stone to clip him in the chin.

"At least my Chakra reserves aren't shit!" Daisuke rebutted.

"Out of the other 97, Shinji and I are paired up with you," she said with disdain. "No wonder we're considered the worst squad of them all."

Kaede sent Tatsumi stumbling with another pillar to the side of the head, leaving him disoriented while Susanoo held his own. Tatsumi tried to shake his vision straight but his ears wouldn't stop ringing. The heat from the sweat inside his helmet didn't help. "I'm not going to leave you, Susanoo," he said under his breath, rushing forward anyway and continuing the fight.

Kaede whipped around, holding out her pillar to block but gasping as Tatsumi chopped right through it. Kaede screamed as Susanoo's stave cut a chunk right out of the back of her leg. "Now we got her," Susanoo said, rocketing upward from a stone pillar jutting from the ground and hitting his back.

"On the contrary, dipshit," Kaede said, sloughing off stone on the two halves of her staff into stone swords.

Tatsumi swung down again and one sword blocked it, leaving the rest of him open for a fatal stab.

"Tatsumi, get out of the way!" Susanoo roared, sliding in between Tatsumi and Kaede with his blade high in the air to cut her in half. His sword fell out of his hands with the shock of pain in both kidneys and his entire torso on fire from the pain. His eyes were wide from the surprise and he looked down, seeing redness pool under his clothes around the two swords running through him. The blood soon turned color to purple and black, his eyes crossing from the dizziness of the poisoned blade. He continued to scream in agony, with more stone blades jutting from the ground and impaling his legs, feet, and pelvis, rooting him to the ground.

"Susanoo!" Tatsumi screamed, his skin turning clammy with the mounting fear of his three opponents as Najenda's right hand man slumped forward on Kaede's blades. Blood poured from the big man's mouth and over her back, her laughs being the last thing he heard and his friends fighting for their lives the last thing he saw before he started fading in and out of consciousness.

"What's the matter, big guy?" Kaede taunted, twisting the swords to make him groan on his knees. "You're starting to look a little pale!"

Kakashi felt a cold streak up his spine as he heard Susanoo's blade and body hit the ground with a thud. "Damn it, damn it, damn it!" he roared, catching Shinji's strike and kicking him into a tree. "Get out of here, Tatsumi! Get out now!"

"Not while that bitch breathes," Tatsumi shouted, charging forward with Bulat's might and striking with all his strength at the cackling Kaede.

Kakashi kicked Tatsumi out of the way and ducked another fatal stab meant for the country boy, rising with a palm strike to the nose that snapped it on impact. Kakashi rolled between her legs, slipping his hand around her neck and snatching his hand away to reveal a tag stuck to it with the corner of the kanji seal on the tag burning like a fuse. "Guy!"

Guy punched Daisuke into a tree, pulling his fist back after blowing through his opponent's jaw. "What? I'm trying to-" Guy's jaw dropped seeing the flailing freak fly through the air directly at him. "What the fuck, Kakashi?!" Guy rolled out of the way and dived into the bushes, covering his ears as the tag exploded with the treetop popping high above the rest of the forest. Black blood from the two creatures splashed all over the battleground, but the blood wasn't done spilling just yet.

"Daisuke! Kaede!" Shinji cried out, setting his sights on the Shinobi ready to put him down. Kakashi wasn't done with his rampage, however, countering Shinji's every strike with brutal palms, fists, and kicks. Kakashi ducked as Guy swept him away with a flying spin kick.

"Dynamic Entry!" Guy shouted after the fact, following Kakashi toward the dazed ninja and standing him up with a kick.

Shinji cut right across Guy's cheek with a kunai but Kakashi caught his arm, twisting it out of his hand and slicing Shinji's thigh with it. Kakashi tossed the knife to Guy and broke Shinji's jaw with his knee, allowing Guy to slice right across his back. The two Konoha ninja tossed the kunai back and forth as they beat him down, dodging black fireballs left and right while returning with crushing strikes all over his body. Tatsumi roared behind them and Guy took Kakashi's arm, nodding to him and jumping in the air. Shinji gasped in fear and blew fire at his third opponent, his attack turning into a shrill screech as Tatsumi chopped him in half with his blade. "Way to go, Tatsumi!" Guy said, landing next to him and clapping him on the shoulder.

Tatsumi turned solemnly to Susanoo lying on the ground. "If only I would have done this earlier."

"Tatsumi!" Lubbock shouted, running into the clearing completely out of breath. "I heard the commotion, what is-" Lubbock's jaw dropped at the destruction and the three beasts slain on the ground, but seeing Susanoo's motionless body facedown on the ground kept him silent. "What…" he stammered. "What happened?"

"These Danger Beasts aren't what they say," Kakashi said, "I don't know what, but there were a lot of close calls."

Chelsea slid out of hiding, joining the Shinobi and Tatsumi standing over Susanoo's body. "Susanoo," Lubbock said in devastation. "I can't believe he's gone."

"We can fix him, as long as the core is intact, he'll regenerate, but-" Chelsea's fists tightened, with hot, bitter and angry tears scrolling down her cheeks. "-it wouldn't have surprised me," she said in grief, glaring at Tatsumi. "If he didn't need to protect you, he would be walking alongside us, right now!"

Tatsumi didn't respond, but just hung his head low, hiding his own tears and disappointment in himself with his mask.

"Say something!" Chelsea demanded. "Don't just stand there like you did when he would have died for you!"

"Pointing fingers isn't going to help anyone," Kakashi said, "we'll see it that he gets properly avenged. We aren't going to take this sitting down."

"In the meantime, we need to get out of here fast," Lubbock said worriedly, "you guys probably attracted every knight in all the kingdom you were so loud, and with the Jaegers around every corner, we can't afford another fight."

"Guy, Tatsumi and I will complete our surveillance for the Danger Beasts and meet you back at the hideout," Kakashi said, "as much as I want to return with Susanoo now, we need to stop anyone else from dying tonight."

Lubbock and Chelsea worked together to lift Susanoo over their shoulders as the pallbearers of their recently deceased ally, nearly falling to their knees under the weight. "They need my help more than you, Kakashi," Guy said, standing in between the two carrying assassins and having no trouble at all holding Susanoo's weight.

"See you soon," Lubbock said solemnly, taking their friend away.

Kakashi and Tatsumi continued their patrol in silence, returning to the jagged, rocky cliff sides under the moonlight. "It was my fault," Tatsumi said, his voice choked up and cracking. "If only I had trained more-"

"Just stop," Kakashi said sharply, "that man knew exactly the risks he took when he signed up for this job. You're new, and you're still training. The only way to move forward is to intensify your regimen, keep him and what happened today in the back of your mind until you can pick up in the fight where Susanoo left off. Remember how you transformed after Bulat died? You're nowhere near finished yet."

Tatsumi took what he said to heart, but chose not to respond.

"You don't have to say anything now," Kakashi said, "but take what happened as a reminder for whenever you get too comfortable with the job."

They approached the cliffside, the ice on the ground alarming the Shinobi as he heard a grating noise in the distance. "Well, I-"

"Shut up, shut up," Kakashi told Tatsumi in a hurried, hushed voice, stopping just before they reached the top of the range. "Do you hear that?"

Tatsumi listened closely, hearing the sound of a blade cutting through flesh and bone. "Who is it now?" Tatsumi whispered.

"Stay here," Kakashi said, venturing out on his own up the last stretch of the cliffside. He pushed through some fallen trees, his silver hair going white at the sight of ice around the trunks.

"Who's there?" a familiarly haunting voice said from beyond the concealment. "Reveal yourself, this instant!"

Either she was expecting a visitor, or her hearing was that good. Regardless, Kakashi quickly tossed his mask and Shinobi tools into Tatsumi's arms waiting below. "Run," he mouthed, the concern in his eyes enough to make the other young man heed his warning.

"It's that banshee," Tatsumi shuddered under his breath, "but I can't leave him there," Tatsumi argued with himself, looking up and seeing Kakashi angrily sending him away again. A streak of winter shot down Tatsumi's spine, reminding him of just who Kakashi was dealing with. "He knows what he's doing, I'll just get out of here," Tatsumi said quickly, pulling himself down the path.

Kakashi pushed through the trees, leaning back just as a pillar of ice nearly pierced his eye and through his skull. "Tonight is not your lucky night, intruder," the icy woman said, "I've developed several new torture methods just for-" The sight of seeing her beloved once dead nearly made her drop her sword. "K-kakashi?!" she stammered, her face going red with her blush.

She was by herself chopping through a fallen boar the size of a boulder, cooking it alone around a campfire. The cliff had a nice view of the entire mountain range and forest, with the large moon shining brightly among the twinkling stars. "General Esdeath," Kakashi said, trying to hide his own fear as surprise and longing. "What are you doing here?"

Esdeath raised her hand, shooting four ice spears into the silent night. Four reptilian wails sounded in the sky and the Shinobi looked up, watching four draconic beings fall from the air to their deaths. "Hunting Danger Beasts," she said.

There goes running away, Kakashi thought, stepping out of the way of one of the beasts landing hard between them. Kakashi couldn't help but feel empathetic for the majestic, black creature, watching the general stomp through its skull with her heel to put it out of its misery.

"You're so silent, I must be dreaming," she sighed, "you have no idea how long I've been searching, knowing you were dead."

Kakashi acted out his best longing smile. "It certainly isn't a dream, my love," he said, feeling her tight embrace.

"Then let us continue living, Kakashi," she said, refusing to let him go. "Forever."