Kakashi awoke the next morning from a restless night to a high-pitched humming off in the distance. He looked over to Esdeath feeling a triggered throb of pain in his thighs and pelvis, seeing her still fast asleep. The sun rose over the beautiful, clear waters, but he was focused on the purple, ominous glow in the dark forest that reminded him of a glow from yesterday. His eyes widened from the opportunity and he quickly awoke the General. "Esdeath! Esdeath! The transportation Teigu, it's active!"
"Wh- what?" she said still half asleep, following his finger to the purple portal in the distance. Her eyes flew open and she scrambled to put her uniform over her swimwear while he quickly threw on the clothes he had yesterday. "We need to hurry, he cannot hold it open for long, and I want answers!"
The two warriors darted through the sands and into the forest, hopping over vines, branches, and bushes, moving in between the trees, toward a purple yin-yang that seemed to take longer to get to the farther they ran. It was clear that Kakashi was more used to the forests, being from the country, seeming to bounce effortlessly from tree to tree to land like a feather on the dirt without the slightest sound. Her suspicion was blinded by her admiration for the skill, trying to follow in his footsteps the wider the gap became but finding it difficult just to keep up. "Esdeath, please! Ditch your heels, you might not make it in time!"
"Then find the man who sent us here and beat him until he does, that's an order!" She growled in frustration, simply propelling herself through the air with streams of ice from her hands. Kakashi still managed to make into the circle first, outstretching his hand for her to take. "Kakashi!"
"Esdeath, grab my-" In a flash, the Shinobi was gone.
Esdeath stopped on the cold, empty ground for a moment in rage, turning the tropical island into a floating ice cap with a burst in rage of her power. Her anger melted into sorrow, however. "Fate led you into my hands for a second time, do not think we will not meet again!" she said earnestly, as if he could hear her. "Hopefully he will wait at the Capitol, but he was determined to defeat the Danger Beasts in the woods…" She sighed, returning to the coast and pointing her hand out at the sunrise, forming a bridge of ice in front of her to start the long walk home.
The Teigu brought Kakashi back to the Empire, but not where he was before. He stood inside a noble's courtroom fitted with a red carpet over a white and blue checkered floor. A single, old man sitting on a throne watched the people bustle below like ants out of the wall which was entirely glass, guffawing at a joke he must have made to his silent, pleasantly smiling maid. His Sharingan flared alertly, looking around for the man wielding the magic teleporter. He found not a single trace of him, but the maid held his interest, being oddly familiar. "All cattle, they are," the old man said, staring down condescendingly at the townspeople. Kakashi climbed up one of the pillars, keeping his eye on the open skylight. He was on the top floor on a wing of the castle, nowhere he should be unless the emperor and Prime Minister were in his line of sight. He shimmied his way across the vaulted ceiling by grabbing the chandelier poles every few feet to carry himself across. "We need a cull, forget fighting those damned squinty-eyed Orientals abroad, General Esdeath should bring her forces into the streets and sweep at least seventy percent of them into the gutter, make room for those who deserve it."
"I agree, Prince Jibble," the maid said, bringing the self-throned, spoiled elder a cup of piping hot tea. Kakashi noticed a glint of a hair-thin needle between her fingers. The red twinge in her dirty blonde hair gave him a small sense of comfort. "Are you ready for your 'massage?'" she said suggestively, with Kakashi cringing from the giddy sound coming from the older gentleman.
"Well of course, I've only been waiting for it all day, you harlot-" The old man suddenly stopped talking with the needle poking his neck. He stopped doing anything at all.
"You might want to finish your tea first," the maid said, turning around for the doors and morphing into Chelsea with a victorious smirk. "It's getting cold."
She stopped right in front of the door as the knob turned from the outside, making her stomach drop right then and there. She morphed back into the maid but didn't need it, with a silver streak darting down and sweeping her up to the open skylight. Chelsea prepared to jab the stranger with the needle, nearly sighing in relief seeing the familiar red glowing eye of the Sharingan greeting her. Kakashi nodded, looking down at the Jaegers pouring into the room ready for battle. "Your Highness!" Wave shouted, running into the room with armor on and swords drawn. "We're here to protect you!"
"I think we're too late," Seryu said grimly, running over to the chair and finding the old man slumped over.
"What, did he have a heart attack while we were gone?" Bols asked.
Kurome looked down at the carpet, seeing a small line of white sand that peaked her suspicion. "I don't think so," she said, looking up toward the skylight and finding nobody there.
"That was close," Chelsea said, quickly and silently scaling down the adjacent wall. They landed in a pile of hay by the stables and darted out, briskly walking toward the outskirts of the city. "What a coincidence I ran into you, huh? The boys said you did some recon with Esdeath and it got pretty hairy."
Kakashi chuckled at that comment as they broke into the forests, hopping on Chelsea's getaway horse and hightailing it through the woods toward the base. "You could say that."
"Is she dead?" Chelsea asked bluntly.
"No," Kakashi said with disappointment in himself, "I had none of my weapons on me, trying anything on her would have been suicide."
The horse stopped in the stables of the base, where Mine busily attended to her brown steed. "Kakashi! You're back!"
"I almost died too, you know!" Chelsea said expectantly.
"Yeah, uh, hi?" Mine said with sass.
"Don't act like that just because you're too loud for close range assassinations, child," Esdeath taunted, sticking her tongue out.
"I'm 18, asshole," Mine spat, "and that mouth of yours is going to get you killed one day."
"Ironic, coming from you," Chelsea said, "maybe if you worked on your aim as much as you work on comebacks then maybe you'd have the highest kill count on the team."
"I'm going to show you just how great my aim is!" Mine said, pointing her gun at the two field assassins.
"And I'm going to head inside," he said, darting into the mission room.
"There's the undercover agent," Lubbock said, making breakfast alongside Akame, Leone, and Guy.
"Or should I say undercover lover," Guy teased with a wide, sleazy grin, receiving a slap across the face.
"What are you talking about?" Kakashi lied.
Leone nearly spat out her coffee. "Don't play dumb, boy," she said, smirking but hiding a bit of jealousy, "Tatsumi told us how you vanished with Esdeath from that crazy guy's Teigu, she's head over heels for you and I have a feeling I know exactly what went down."
"Poor, poor, you," Lubbock said, weeping fake tears, "stuck alone with a crazy beautiful woman for an entire night."
"You don't need to feel ashamed," Akame said dryly, scrubbing the plate a bit more intensely from aggravation. "Dirty, maybe, but not ashamed."
Kakashi rolled his eyes under the crushing laughter, turning around and walking straight into Leone's arms. "I'm just glad you're back, again. Stop running off with that she devil, okay?"
"Believe me, I'm trying," he croaked from the pressure around his neck. "Esdeath isn't going to be happy when she comes back either, the portal back to the Empire closed before she could come with."
Leone gasped. "So you just ditched her?" she laughed. "Never knew you could be such a jerk!"
"No, no, she couldn't run fast enough," he said, "I didn't intend on leaving her."
The doors to the kitchen opened while the cooks busily prepared plates for everyone else, with Najenda walking in wearing a black tank top and comfortable gray pants. It looked like she had just come in from training, with a sweaty towel and breathing hard. "Then we have to expect another increase in guard patrols around the forest," she said, "she's going to be looking for you. Every time we would go out on bounty retrieval, she would always beef up the surrounding guards."
"So then just how old are you, boss? You both look like you've been fighting forever!" Tatsumi asked, entering the dining room and mission room in similar workout attire.
"Tatsumi!" Lubbock exclaimed, watching the boss turn completely red with rage. "Never ask the boss that!"
"Ask her what?" Tatsumi said innocently, spiraling to the ground with a backhand heard around the world.
"That," Najenda hissed, "but if you must know, she and I are in our mid 20's, thank you very much."
"Only that?!" he blurted out, taking a kick to the back.
"Let's eat, everyone!" Susanoo said, walking in with Sheele close behind.
"Susanoo," Kakashi said with a smile, "you're healing nicely!"
"That's one of the best parts about being an organic Teigu," he said, beating his chest, "you're going to have to do better next time to put me down."
The assassins all sat around the table, with Guy pulling out seats for Kisame and Mei coming back from the field. Najenda sat at the head of the table, keeping her expression stern among the jovialness around the guild. "As much as I hate to have to kill the mood," she said, silencing the party. "Our final set of informants from the revolutionary army have completed their mission. With these new Danger Beasts confirmed as a military wing by my spies, there is no better time to move than while they are still organizing. Just three of them nearly killed six of us in one skirmish, imagine what it would be like facing an entire army of them."
The guild looked to each other for comfort, but found everyone else just as troubled. "Do we know who is controlling them?" Mei asked. "Cut off the head of the serpent, you don't get bit."
Kisame chuckled. "I like that… it's violent."
"There are two of them," Najenda said, "the first one is a relative of the Prime Minister himself named Syura, according to rumor he uses a Teigu known as Shambala, it can transport anyone anywhere. We don't know much about the other one, but he is known to all but the general and her elite as 'The Snake.'"
"I've already ran into them," Kakashi said, "the other guy is known as Orochimaru. When I return to the capitol for recon, I'll learn more about him, but consider him a highly dangerous target that none of you should handle alone until then."
That name made the other three ninjas' hearts sink. Mei and Kisame glanced at each other nervously but continued listening. "This, however, is only a secondary concern. How many of you have heard of the Path of Peace?"
Tatsumi nodded. "My village used to practice it religiously," he said, "they say that doing good deeds will grant you longevity and luxury in life."
Kisame scoffed. "If only that were true."
"That's the kind of optimism that gets some people through the day," Guy said, "don't put it down."
"It's the kind of optimism that will get you killed, bushy brow," Kisame said.
Guy's face twisted into a deep scowl. "What… did you just call me?"
"Back to what's important," Najenda said, completely done with the nonsense, "we have reason to believe that they have taken up arms in response to domestic disputes over religious freedom between them and the capitol. Given their vast influence on the Eastern reaches of the Empire, it's imperative that we take advantage of this unrest to strike."
"Hold on, hold on!" Tatsumi exclaimed. "You know how many people would die in the case of a full-fledged religious rebellion? We need to curb it, stifle it or something!"
"We're not superheroes, kid," Kisame said, "if you want that kind of happy ending, you're in the wrong story."
"This is what happens in unstable countries," Kakashi said, "when the people get mad enough to point weapons at the government telling them to point weapons at each other, nothing we can do will prevent an uprising. This was a long time coming."
"And once the people have it fixed in their mind that they're taking the oppressor down," Mei said, melting a potato into vapor in her hand, "anything that's in their way will be burnt to the ground."
"That's where we come in," Najenda said, "we're allied with tribes to the west of the path the Empire will surely use to crush the east. If we sweep in from the opposite side, the Empire will be forced to defend itself on two fronts. They'll be taken completely by surprise when the revolution hits them hard from behind. Once the pandemonium is set into motion, Night Raid will lead another branch of the revolution from the south and charge right through the middle of the capitol, come armed to the teeth since we'll experience the most fighting there."
"If we're just going to attack head on anyway, then why flank them on the sides with that large of a force?" Mine asked.
"Shaka Zulu's bullhorn formation implies several things," Kakashi said, "firstly, the horns are capable to do their job individually, with flanks on both sides we'll anticipate reinforcements or surprises from Orochimaru and the new army. Secondly, if we attack last, the bulk of the attention will be segregated to the flanks. The heat won't be avoided by any stretch of the imagination, but it'll be enough for us to barrel through. Once we're in, Night Raid can go to work on our primary objectives. Lastly, this is an effective siege on the capitol, there will be skirmishes in the front of our head, but once the front lines are in, it's going to get heavy for the Empire afterward."
"For a country boy, you seem to know a lot about warfare," Mine said, eyeing him suspiciously, "but can't Esdeath just wipe out all of our forces with a wave of her hand if she really wanted to? Why waste the lives at all when we can just sneak in ourselves and take the government out?"
"Esdeath, if she's smart, she'll be hunting us down with the Jaegers before she bothers with anybody else," Najenda said, "but if she's efficient, she'll focus in wiping out the horns before the capitol gets surrounded."
"Then it's really a coin toss if we're screwed or not?" Mine argued. "Won't the march to the Imperial castle be a death march considering how many checkpoints there are?"
Najenda chuckled. "That's where we come in. Kakashi has some very intimate knowledge of the castle guard rotations, the capitol layout, and schematics of every weak entry point in the Empire. We can divide our team among these checkpoints before starting the invasion, including gathering intel on Orochimaru, Syura, and their army. Inevitably, we would have torn the royal guard and their second in command, General Budo, between the castle itself and the territories surrounding it, as guarding these checkpoints is vital to the Empire's ability to repress attackers at any moment. Kakashi can explain better."
Kakashi slid his portion of the table back, revealing a hand drawn map of the capitol with extensive detail on the castle from his adventures with Guy. "There are 13 of us, 10 checkpoints to clear, and three objectives within the castle itself: finding the new army barracks to determine their total strength, compromising the castle's inner security systems, and disabling the flare present on the watchtower in the top spire. I'd suggest that I go into the castle, since I already know the layout and patrol rotations."
"Then I'll go with you," Guy said, "if we get caught, worst case scenario we'll be with the Jaegers and can keep them distracted while the rest of the team completes their objective."
"Unless they're on patrol," Akame said, "if anyone should go into the Castle, it should be me and Chelsea. Her shape-shifting abilities are unrivaled, and I'm the cleanest assassin here. If I have to silence a few guards, no one will hear them hit the ground."
"The first and second checkpoints are located near the scouting revolutionary base and the church of the Path of Peace," Najenda said, "so Susanoo and I will clear those and check in with the gathering forces there. The rest of you will clear out the checkpoints, understand?"
"We're going it alone?" Sheele asked.
"Yes, but only for this stealth mission," Najenda said confidently, "this is what you've trained for, is it not? Your only targets are the two commanding officers in charge of each checkpoint, arms ledgers, rotation schedules, messages to and from the capitol, we must everything we can to disturb their operations without letting them know we're there. We leave for this in one week, after our last clash with the Jaegers we need to lay low until we're absolutely ready to strike." She looked right at Kakashi. "There are also a few last minute intel operations I need to carry out. Understood?"
"Yes, boss," the assassins said in unison.
"Dismissed," Najenda said, standing up and walking outside with Susanoo and Chelsea. Kakashi nodded to the other ninja and they followed him out, meeting the boss and her associates in a clearing under a waterfall that shrouded them by natural beauty. "I wanted to know," she said, "how are your states handling the recent developments? I heard the Mist Village is still allied with the Empire helping with the fight abroad, but I have yet to hear any update from Konoha."
Kakashi shook his head. "We've been responding ever since I got here." Kakashi pricked his thumb, performing a hand signal and pressing his hand to the ground. The wide-eyed, brown pug appeared in his official uniform from a small cloud of smoke. "You've been instrumental in helping me draw out anyone and anything that could carry out the war after we dispose of the Emperor and his army's leadership."
Najenda seemed to take offense judging by her expression. "Instrumental?"
"Your intel operatives are good," Kakashi said, "finding out who I was that night, all those months ago, was something I didn't expect. I didn't know you, nor Night Raid all that well at that time, so I kept a journal to keep Konoha updated on me, you, and the Empire in case things go awry. Along with that, I could warn my people of the enemy's every move." He gestured at Pakkun happily circling his feet. "At any point, Pakkun would have swarmed the capitol with twenty of us if he gave the right letter to the Hokage."
"Only twenty?" Najenda said in slight awe. This man was a killing machine on his own, surpassing everyone including her when no one was looking with the other three not far behind. They accelerated her plans immensely.
Chelsea gasped in delight, turning to Kakashi with a starry look in her eyes. "Can I pet him?"
"Yes, but not too much," Pakkun said, making all of them jump.
"Talking dog!" she exclaimed.
Pakkun's brow furrowed. "I'm sure you've seen weirder."
"Pakkun, they're sorry," Kakashi said, "be nice."
"And who is this little guy?" Najenda said, bending down and basking in the cuteness of his own tiny blue flak jacket and ninja headband.
"He's the guy I'd want by my side on any mission, no matter how dangerous," Kakashi said, "he's the reason the 'savages' abroad, as the Empire put it, have stayed one step ahead of everyone."
"Another mole," Kisame said, "you Konoha ninja seem to be growing from the ground."
"Actually, I'm a pug," Pakkun said, making Mei melt.
"SO. OVERWHELMINGLY. ADORABLE," Mei squealed.
Kakashi pulled a slip of paper and a pen from Pakkun's flak jacket, writing down the plan of attack on it and handing it back to the puppy. "He can get there in five days at most."
"We attack in seven," Najenda said, "we cannot delay this any further."
"We don't need a response," Guy said, "knowing what we're about to do, they'll force a heavier naval presence from the Empire and retreat further into the mainland once Esdeath's blundering underlings get there."
"What else are you not telling me, Kakashi?" Najenda asked.
Kakashi kept a poker face. "Afraid I can't tell you that."
Najenda scoffed. "I guess what I'm asking is what happens after the Empire falls?" she said. "Are you going to give the reinforcement signal anyway and take us all over for your homeland?"
Pakkun sensed the distrust and started growling behind Kakashi's leg at her.
"It'd be incredibly easy," Mei said, "after all, the country will be in complete disarray, no leadership, no army, they take you out, establish a puppet, done."
All eyes were on the two Leaf Shinobi, glancing at each other warily. "The Leaf has no desire for conquest nor world domination," Kakashi said. "After we put the Empire on its knees, we're returning to Konoha to leave the rest of the world alone."
"In any case, I'm going to start keeping a closer eye on you," she said, looking him up and down. "You and I need a better correspondence of intel anyway."
"Understood," Kakashi said, "Chelsea, you can put down the needle."
"What?" Chelsea said, playing dumb with the assassination tool she had hidden up her sleeve.
The spies, assassins, and ninjas walked back to the base through a well-obscured path. "I should let you know something important about the Path of Peace," Najenda said, leading Kakashi back into the base. "A priest named Bolic acts as the personal assistant and second in command to the high priest, only known as the Lord.'"
"Seems like a fitting name," Kakashi said dryly.
"Bolic is a spy acting for the Empire," she said bluntly, "if he kills the Lord, then he'll destroy all of the momentum the Path of Peace is building up for the rebellion. Simply, we need to take him out. As much as I would like to hand this off to the assassins and be done with it, this entire operation is a counter assassination so we'll need everyone on board. I want you and your fellow Shinobi to accompany Akame, Leone, Chelsea and I to the church."
"Eight's awfully big for a quiet operation," Kakashi said.
"I fully expect the Jaegers to be waiting for us in the masses," she said, "Chelsea's a shapeshifter, and the former two have yet to be associated with us in the Empire's paperwork yet. We're predicting at Wave, Bols, and Kurome to be there, and I'll be watching out for Esdeath and any reinforcements should we be ambushed. I'll drop you and the Shinobi in, while Chelsea, Akame, and Leone cause a distraction with a Danger Beast out front."
"Then my group of four takes out the target and gets everyone else out while you're drawing the Jaegers away from the target," Kakashi said, "what about the rest of the team? If you're occupied, we'll need a getaway. If the Jaegers are there, it's going to be one hell of a fight."
"Mine and Lubbock will be watching the action from the outskirts, Lubbock to compensate for what I can't see in the air, and Mine to keep an eye on everyone from a distance," Najenda said, "finally, Susanoo and Sheele will provide backup if it gets too hot out there. They'll bring in the horses as well for a getaway, once the Jaegers are on our trail we're going to need to split them in as many directions as we can if we have any hope of bringing them all down at the same time without bringing the entire army after us."
"What about Tatsumi?" Kakashi asked, following her into the mission room to brief all of it again to the rest of the team.
"He'll be assurance for you that Bolic is dead," she said, "remember Incursio's special ability."
"There a lot of moving parts to this," Kakashi said warily.
Najenda smiled, ringing a bell by her chair that summoned all of the assassins back inside. "And there are a lot of us," she said, gesturing to the other 11 assassins. "It's time we use that to our advantage."
THE NEXT CHAPTER'S ABOUTTA BE SOME REAL GTA V SHIEEETT
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