Ch 3: What Do You Have To Lose?


"You have no eyebrows."

Ajuka couldn't stop his own hand from reaching up to smack his own forehead.

The silence weighed heavy upon each of their shoulders. Tension rose as Zabuza's eyebrow twitched heavily at the comment about his eyebrows. Ajuka was busy groaning into his hand, and Falbium was of course dozing away.

SNORE

Yup, totally sleep.

Sirzechs was a little too obviously staring at Zabuza's brow, trying to figure out why he didn't have any. Birth defect maybe? Or maybe he shaved them?

He bit his lip in thought. That last one wouldn't make any sense because honestly who in their right mums would shave off their eyebrows? The eyebrows were what made your face expressive. Without them you just like like you were constipated or something.

"Sirzechs! Can you please remember to refrain from thinking out loud especially when the one you're talking about is standing not 10 feet away from you and brandishing a giant sword," Ajuka explained expressly because Zabuza was in the midst of drawing his weapon.

Sirzechs took notice and frantically waved his hands in front of him. "Oh no, I am so sorry," he apologized. His hands went to rub the back of his neck embarrassingly, "I just, uh haven't seen many people without eyebrows," he finished timidly as a massive violet spectre appeared behind Zabuza at his words. A giant gaping mouth lined with sharp white teeth glared at him with fiery crimson eyes. It's mouth cackled with the sound of crunching bones, and Sirzechs swore to the original Lucifer himself that he saw himself in its mouth.

Ajuka stared, bewildered at it. Glasses appeared on his face as did a pad and pencil in his hands. He began writing down observations on the creature that had manifested itself. Did it come from his magical power? How did he harness it in such a way? Was it corporeal or was it just an illusion? So many questions, but so little time.

He put his glasses, pad, and pencil away… for now, and focused on fixing this.

"Ahem," he cleared his throat and repressed the urge to catalog everything about the spectacle happening. "I would like to apologize on behalf of Sirzechs. He still hasn't learned not to put his foot in his mouth."

The bestial manifestation shrunk until it melded back into Zabuza. Ajuka couldn't help but mentally take a note of that. Perhaps it was a summon of some sort or maybe a familiar?

Zabuza sucked his teeth. "Tch," he crossed his arms across his chest. "Make sure it doesn't happen again."

If it were anyone else trying him in the way the red haired Sirzechs was, he'd split them in half, but Serafall had told him about the leadership of the Anti-Satan Faction. From what he gathered about her descriptions, she was spot on.

A nerd, a sloth, and a fool. Well, she hadn't said that exactly, but that's what Zabuza interpreted. The other thing he could sense was that they were all powerful.

Monstrously so.

It was almost stifling the way their power filled the room like the air itself. He not be a sensor, but after being a missing-nin for so long he gained a sixth sense for strength.

And these guys had it in spades. It was like being in the presence of a Kage or an Bijuu, minus the formalities or the mindless bloodthirst respectively. They were leaders for a reason, so Zabuza would put up with it.

There was always more than meets the eye.

"Yes, right. Since you seem to be a straight to the point kind of Devil, that's what we'll do," Ajuka began. "Firstly, we would like to thank you for being there for Serafall where we couldn't be. She is critical to the war effort and us as a person. She has become an admired as well as feared individual within the Underworld, and it would have reaped an unrecoverable toll had she been captured or worse."

"Yes, Sir Momochi," Sirzechs added in an uncharacteristically serious tone of voice. He knew there was a time for a games and a time to be serious. This was the latter. "Serfall is irreplaceable as a person and an ally, so we extend our most sincerest of gratitudes as the leaders of the Anti-Satan Faction. In no uncertain terms do I say that we owe you."

Zabuza bowed at the waist. Formalities and such. "I appreciate the gratitude and thanks, but it was nothing," really it wasn't, "I just saw someone in danger and decided to help."

A new one for him for sure. Honestly, it didn't make him feel like any better of a person.

He unfolded at the waist. He hated bowing, but I'm situations like these that carried that air of professionalism there were formal expectations to be met. Just because he didn't give a shit doesn't mean he couldn't give one.

Ajuka quirked an eyebrow at the slip, but let it go. More and more questions.

Ajuka hmmd at that but nodded. "Yes, and we are glad you hold such honorable values," he shook his head a little. "It has been too long since we've seen a Devil extending a hand to help instead of harm."

Sirzechs nodded to that solemnly. "This conflict has made monsters out of us, more so than usual. If only there were more with your attitude."

An idea struck him with all the force of an ice blast from Grayfia. He gained a gleam in his eye. A gleam that didn't go unnoticed by the two awake occupants in the room.

Zabuza had a foreboding sense inch it's way into his mind, and he went over the words Sirzechs just said.

He figured out what that gleam meant.

"Join us!""No chance!"

The outburst ruffled a sleeping Falbium, but didn't wake him.

Sirzechs rolled his eyes at the quick denial. "You didn't give me a chance to try and convince you."

Zabuza beckoned him to. "Alright, you can try."

Sirzechs smiled wide. He'd only need one chance. He opened his mouth to speak-

"No."

-And deflated at the denial.

"Oh, c'mon-"

"No."

"You aren't even-"

"No."

"Letting me finish my-"

"No."

"My sentences."

There was a pause.

Zabuza quirked an eyebrow. "You finished with your sentence?"

"Yes."

"No."

"Oh c'mon!" Sirzechs whined loudly. He took a breath and focused. "It is attitudes like yours. The ones that help their fellow Devil instead of looking at them with suspicion or fear. We need that, desperately," he added on.

Ajuka took note of his tone voice. He heard the passion in it and let him continue. Zabuza seemed adamant in his refusal, but if there was anyone that could convince him, Sirzechs was.

Sirzechs seemed to age before their eyes. His shoulders sagged and his usually fiery hair wilted. Zabuza took one look at him, and knew what he was feeling.

He was tired.

"We only know how to fight. As a species, as Devils we are made for conflict. We thrive in it. Fighting, battle it's all we know how to really do. We are a people of fighters, of warriors because the environment we live in doesn't allow us to be anything less. It is not nice, it is not safe, but it is ours. There is a culture of violence that has been cultivated. A bloody way of life that allows no one who is not a fighter to survive, but I wish to change that," he motioned to himself, Ajuka, and Falbium. "We wish to change that. I wish to create a place where Devils can be what they want. Where they are free to choose how they wish to live and love. Where they can decide if they want to settle down and have a family instead of being rushed off to fight age old battles. Where sons and daughters aren't killed before they're even fully matured yet. Where mothers and fathers don't have to bury their children before they even get the chance to live! I want to give everyone the choice to grow old and die in comfort of their labs," he indicated to Ajuka here, "or in their sleep," to Falbium, "or with the ones they love," to Grayfia, "not just on the battlefield. Forgotten as just another number or body. I want a place for children to grow up and be children. I want to give them something I never, what we never got."

Sirzechs straightened his spine and stood straight up and looked Zabuza in the eye. "I wish to create an Underworld where Devils don't only know how to hurt, but to help. Just like you did with Serafall. So, I ask of you Zabuza Momochi," he walked up to him and held out his hand to shake. "Will you help us end this war and create an Underworld future Devils can live how they choose to?"

Zabuza stared at him then at the hand. He knew war. He knew fighting, he knew thriving in it, he knew everything Sirzechs had just spoke about because it was him. It was where he grew up in Kiri. He didn't have a choice on how he lived his was already decided before he was even born. The strong survived and the weak were gutted and left on the street to rot, and no one batted an eye.

He didn't bat an eye.

He slaughtered his whole class, and he didn't bat an eye. He killed people, people who sometimes had families, who were innocent and didn't bat an eye. He was a weapon who only knew how to kill people. His hands were meant for mangling, not mending. It was what he knew, it was his whole life and it would be his death…

…but…

He blinked and he was back in his dying body staring at a dead Haku. He looked so peaceful. The boy deserved better than he got. He was too soft, too kind. He wasn't fit for the life of a shinobi, but life took away his chance to choose.

He blinked and he was on the rainy dirt road where he found a tiny, frail boy. Dirty, weak, yet defiant in the face of death. Smiling at him. Zabuza shouldn't have cared about him. He'd be yet another child loss to Yagura's utterly ruthless and unintelligent purging of those with a bloodline. He should've kept moving, he should've put the boy out of his misery…

…he shouldn't have bat an eye at him.

But he did, and Zabuza couldn't find it within himself to regret that decision. To help Haku. To help that frail boy who no one gave a shit about, he decided to give a shit. He decided to do what no one did for him and help.

His bond with the boy grew deeper than he wished, but even as Haku became stronger, Zabuza knew he wasn't fit for the violent life of a shinobi. He was too kind, too sentimental.

The sound of chirping birds filled his ears.

Look at where that got him. Dead. He knew what Haku would tell him to do in this situation. To help give others what he, what they never had.

A choice.

Yet still he hesitated. His ninja instincts screamed at him to be cautious. To look for the underlying implications of him joining hands with the literal devil. His humanity was revolting in disgust at the mere thought of it.

"What do you have to lose, Sir Momochi?"

He looked to the lazy voice who asked him the question. The bald sleeping man, Falbium his name was, had awoken sometime and was staring at him through half lidded eyes looking as if he was ready to fall back to sleep at any moment. Zabuza absorbed the question posed, narrowing his eyes at the groggy looking man.

There was no denying the tint of intelligence hidden in those dark eyes. He was almost like those shadow wielders from Konoha. Lazy but scary smart and tactical. He had run into a few of them in his Black-Ops days, and this man reminded him of one of them.

It made sense that he asked the question now. It was a calculated one because for all intents and purposes, he had nothing to lose. He had no legitimate reason, and he realized that as did the Devil it seemed.

To make a deal with the devil?

He gazed one last time at the smiling man holding his hand out to him, a hopeful almost desperate look in his eyes.

He shook the hand and sealed the deal.

He had already sold his soul a long time ago.


Serafall sat in the medical cot as a few doctors looked over her poking and prodding. Asking her questions to get a general idea of what her condition is. If the pain she felt was somewhere between 1 and 10, and blah blah blah blah blah blah BLAH!

"Ow!" She rubbed her arm as the tiny spot which was pinched stung. A chuckle was heard and she glared at the dead man that decided to pinch her, Serafall Sitri, heiress to the Sitri Family and professional ass-kicker.

"Sirzechs!" she interjected over his laughing. "Why did you pinch me? You know I hate getting pinched."

"Well, you weren't paying attention when we called your name the first 5 times," he said and shrugged. "I had to take more dramatic measures."

"Drastic my left ass cheek. How about I pinch you and see how you like it?" She threatened and made a pinch motion with her fingers. She also had sharp nails that Sirzechs took careful note of.

His smile fell. "You wouldn't dare."

She smiled maliciously. "Try me tomato-head."

"Grr," Sirzechs growled at the nickname. It was dumb and totally inaccurate. Tomatoes were of a different shade of red than his hair. He checked!

"Pfft, tomato-head?" Zabuza snickered under his breath.

That just incensed Sirzechs further and he glared at Serafall with destruction in his eyes. Oh she would pay for this.

Serafall's eyes jumped to the snickering coming from the corner of her temporary medical room, and her eyes brightened at seeing her giant sword wielding savior.

"Zabu-tan!" She cheered with a wide smile on her face.

"Zabu-what?"

Sirzechs, still ready to get Serafall back for calling him tomato-head, felt a hand on his shoulder stop him from taking his righteous vengeance, and Ajuka motioned for him to calm down.

"Alright, alright everyone settle down," he turned to Serafall. "Sirzechs was right, though, we have been trying to get your attention for a while now."

Serafall just shrugged. "You guys know how boring doctors are. I kind of zoned out hehe," she giggled.

"We see that," Ajuka deadpanned. "But now, since we have your attention, we have some news for you."

Serafall nodded and sat up straighter in the bed.

"Zabuza here has agreed to join our side in this civil war," he said.

Serafall gasped and her eyes lit up.

No, literally. There were stars in her eyes.

"Zabu-tan," she said in delight.

"That's not my name!" He interjected back but it went unheard.

"You decided to help us. Aww, I knew you were a big softie underneath all that angst," she gushed at him.

Zabuza scoffed. "I am not angsty. You are just overly cheerful," he rolled his eyes and leaned against the wall. "But yes, I decided to join you lot in this war. You have tomato-head over there to thank for it," he said smiling mockingly at the now angry Sirzechs.

Serafall turned to Sirzechs and smiled knowingly. "You gave him the whole speech, didn't you?"

"Hehe, guilty as charged."

"Alright, well," Ajuka interjected. "The doctors say the electricity has been purged out of your system and that your injuries are only minor and have already healed."

"Pfft, I could've told you that much, Ajuka," Serafall said.

"So," Ajuka continued as if he heard not a word from Serafall. "you've been cleared and are free to join us."

"Yay!" Serafall cheered and jumped off the bed. "We're back in business!"

"Uhh, Serafall?" Sirzechs began.

"Yeah?"

"You don't have on any pants."

"I know. They tried to give me some uncomfortable pants, but I said no. Serafall Sitri wears what she wants."

"So, you decided to not wear any pants?"

"Exactly."

Cue Ajuka facepalm and Sirzechs sigh.

"Let's just go."

That began exiting the room, not noticing the slightly red cheeks of one said wielding ninja. He shook his head to clear the image of a pants-less Serafall from his head and followed them.

She had some nice legs.

A now fully clothed Serafall, she kept spares in the estate just for situations like these, sat down on her chair and spun around in it as the others took their seats.

Ajuka and Sirzechs on one side of the table and Zabuza next to Serafall.

"Soooo," Serafall extended as she spun in the chair. "How's it hanging Falbi-tan? You're excited as usual?"

She stopped spinning for a moment to look at the still sleeping man and nodded while giggling.

"You can barely contain yourself I see. You wild Devil you," she giggled.

She received a snore in return and get giggles turned into full blown laughter.

She turned her attention to the awake party in the room and skooted towards the table more.

"Alright, so what do we got? Any missions, operations, reports, anything?" she asked rapidly towards Ajuka.

Ajuka sighed. "You're going to have to wake Falbium for any real updates. I am too busy in the lab most of the time, Sirzechs is dealing with trying to garner support from the other pillars that are on the fence, and you've been out," he explained. "Falbium would have something new for you since you're back in one piece."

Serafall groaned. "But you know how lazy he is. It'll take forever to get him up."

"Actually," A tired voice drawled out and caught everyone's attention, "I've been up this whole time."

Falbium yawned once and stretched in his chair until he heard a few satisfying cracks. He snapped his fingers and a file dropped into the long table. He waved his hand over it and it duplicated into five. Four of them slid over to the ones who hadn't yet read it.

"With the addition of our friend here, I believe this is the perfect opportunity to kill two harpies with one blast so to speak," he said to the table.

Zabuza pondered the idiom. That wasn't how it went, right?

"What do you mean, Falbium?" Sirzechs wondered as he took his file.

Falbium beckoned them to open the folders and spoke as they did, "As of a month ago, Ruval Phenex, heir to the Phenex family went missing," he paused at Serafall's shocked gasp and let the news sink in before continuing. "The family came to the conclusion that he may have snuck off to join the war efforts without them knowing. He was of age and of high magical power, and had exhibited a desire to fight. The only reason they didn't allow him to was because the Phenex's, for all intents and purposes, are trying to stay neutral in this war due the almost obsessive desire Devils have with their abilities, namely their tears."

Zabuza couldn't hold the confused look from growing on his face. Serafall noticed and explained for him.

"They say Phenex tears can heal any and all wounds. From minor to life threatening, their tears are filled with powerful healing properties that'll turn someone on deaths door into a fresh flower," she shrugged. "Or at least that's what my parents told me."

Ajuka nodded his head. "I have seen them in action and can attest to their power and usefulness. They are one of the most wanted substances in the Underworld for their healing properties," he added on.

"Exactly. The Phenex's know this, so they have stayed out of the fighting and on their grounds for the duration of the war. They assumed their power and standing was enough of a deterrent for either side to try anything, but they assumed wrong," Falbium went on to explain. "A few days after his disappearance, the Lord Phenex received a ransom note for his son from the Old-Satan Faction asking for several crates of Phenex tears and supplies for the safe return of their son. The note gave them a month to comply to the demands before they promised to 'test the immortality of the Phenex'."

Falbium yawned heavily before continuing. "In the dossier you will find a copy of that note and all of the knowledge we have, fact and myth, about the Phenex's and a picture of the heir Phenex. The message was signed by the Old-Satan Faction confirming their involvement. It has been 20 days since then, giving them 10 days until a month is up," he told them.

There was a heavy silence as what he said was digested by the other four. Emotions ranging from shock to anger to curiosity were arranged on their faces.

"How did you learn all of this Falbium?" Sirzechs asked. "There is no way your spy network could obtain this much detail in such little time."

Falbium nodded at that. "You'd be right Sirzechs if not for Lord Phenex contacting me himself and giving me all of the info yesterday."

"WHAT?!" Sirzechs burst out. "You've been sitting on this for a whole day without telling any of us? We could've been doing something to rescue Ruval!"

"Why didn't you tell us, Falbium?" Ajuka asked calmly as opposed to Sirzechs anger. There was more to it than him just not telling them.

"I did not tell you the day I learned of it because I wanted to make sure we weren't being fooled," he stated used to Sirzechs outbursts by now. "For all I knew the Anti-Satan Faction had already gotten ahold of the Phenex Clan and were going to use this as a method to draw us out of our stronghold to end the war. We couldn't have that, so I stayed up all last night doing some research about the keep and the situation. I collected every scrap of data, information, even rumours on this keep before compiling a dossier for you all to read," he said indicated to the folder in their hands.

Sirzechs sat back down with a sheepish look on his face. "I apologize Falbium for doubting you."

Falbium just waved it off. "Eh, I know how troublesome you can get Sirzechs. I predicted your reaction already anyways," he yawned again. "Back to the mission, I collected everything I could and confirmed with my spies that the heir Phenex is being held in Andras Keep under the watchful eye of Lord Andras himself. This makes it more troublesome as the Andras Clan specialize in the suppression of magic more than anything. From my contact within the Keep it is basically impenetrable. Several high powered wards surround the Keep ranging from Anti-teleportation to Intent to Disintegration. It is locked up tight, and that's not even the end of its defenses," he paused and prepared for the outburst this would illicit. "They're using the Low Class and Mid Class-Devils as slaves and using their magical power to power the wards around the Keep."

"WHAT!" Serafall raged.

"Those bastards!" Sirzechs growled out angrily.

"They're using Devils, their own people, as glorified batteries!" Serafall spat angrily. "We need to do something Falbium."

"We can't go blow down the doors of the Keep. It's not that simple this time around," he said patiently.

"What do you mean?" Serafall asked, a feeling a dread pooling inside of her.

Falbium sighed and rubbed his goatee. "If we were to perform a direct assault on the Keep and overpower the wards, the resulting backlash would kill every single Devil hooked up to the system. That'd be over a 400 Devils dead because of our arrogance."

Serafall sat in her chair heavily and put her head in her hands. She slowly shook it as she went over possibility after possibility of what to do to rescue those innocent Devils. How could anybody do this? Tears gathered in the corners of her eyes as she pictured the utter horror they must be going through.

They had to be able to do something!

"So what do you suggest we do, Falbium?" Ajuka asked heavily. He didn't like the situation as much as Serafall, as much as any of them did, but for Falbium to bring it up he had to have a plan. He wouldn't waste his breathe otherwise.

Falbium opened his mouth to answer, but was cut off by Zabuza answering for him.

"We have to sneak in," Zabuza answered gruffly. "If the direct approach won't work then you go indirect. It's basic tactics."

Zabuza already knew where this was going and glared lightly at the bald man.

"Correct, Sir Momochi. We need to sneak into the Keep, disable the ward system, find Ruval Phenex, and get out of there with him alive," Falbium said. "Now, I would've had one of us go under a heavy glamour illusion with magic suppression seals to make us look like a Low or Mid-Class Devil, but…"

"But since I'm here, you don't need any of that," Zabuza finished for him tartly. He slid the folder away from him in anger. "You want me to infiltrate this highly defended Keep impersonating a Low Class- Devil, figure out how to turn off their little defense system, figure out where they're holding this Phenex boy, and get out with him and I in one piece," he said tightly. "I barely know you and I already don't like you."

Zabuza stared down Falbium. The man resolutely gazed right back at him.

"Wait, Zabuza," Serafall began warily. "You can't do this. It's basically suicide for anyone that isn't an Ultimate Class-Devil or an infiltration specialist," she warned him.

"No, but it's better for me, a new no-name Devil to try and fail than someone more important, isn't that right?" Zabuza asked bitterly to Falbium.

The rest of the table turned to look at the tired bald man who just nodded yes to the question. "You are right. It is the smartest option," he said to the angry glare he was receiving. "But you have the skills necessary for it."

Zabuza growled at the man before slapping a hand down on the table, cracking it. "How would you know what I'm capable of?"

"The way you are built and the way your present yourself for one thing," Falbium replied back. "You walk on your toes, utterly masking the sound your footsteps make. That speaks of stealth training for you to be doing it naturally. It clashes with the image of the giant sword on your back, which I hypothesize is for quick kills and intimidation rather than prolonged combat due to its probable heavy weight and stamina usage. Along with that is your eyes," he points out easily. "They dart to each exit when you enter a room, almost as if you're looking for the quickest exit or entry point to slip in or out of. All of this together create the picture of a highly skilled infiltration specialist, wouldn't you agree?" He finally asked with a raised brow.

Sirzechs looked from Falbium to Zabuza before scratching his head in confusion. "You know Falbium, I still don't get how you do that."

Falbium smirked. "Practice."

Serafall looked on, jaw dropped at the analysis Falbium just dropped on all of their heads. She was coming to a conclusion herself, but to see and hear Falbium's blew whatever ideas she had out of the water.

Ajuka looked on impressed. He was wondering why Falbium was fake acting like he was sleep when Zabuza was introduced. He was getting a read on him. Typical of the master tactician.

Zabuza narrowed his eyes at the assessment before sitting back down in his chair. He smiled sardonically showing his sharp teeth. "You really are the genius Serafall said you were," he leaned back in his chair. "So, I'm in. Just tell me the plan you've worked out in that brain of yours, baldy and let's get this show on the road."

Falbium nodded and yawned again. "Great. I have come up with a plan that if pulled off correctly will get you and Ruval out in one piece."

"I'm listening," Zabuza said with a hint of excitement.

"Well first, you're going to have to get captured," Falbium began.


Their cage door unlocked and was swung open. A little girl peeked her head out from behind a dirty old man wearing nothing but a tattered pair of pants. He held his hand out to stop the girl from moving forward. Sudden movements got you beaten.

"Grah!" the guard grunted as he and his partner threw the fresh face in with the rest of the trash. He dusted off his hands and laughed as the man hit the ground in a heap.

He nudged his partner and they chuckled together.

"That'll teach ya to try and mess with your betters," he said and spat at him. His partner laughed even harder at that.

The two turned around, job done, closed the door and locked it back again before sauntering off, chuckling to each other.

The occupants of the cell, a little girl, an old man, an old lady and two teenage boys stared perplexed at the seemingly unconscious body that was thrown in with them. He was beaten down to say the least. Bruises littered his skin and his clothes torn from what they could only assume was a brutal one sided beating. The kind they knew all too well.

The older lady was the first to snap out of her stupor and snapped at the two boys to get their attention. "Alright, stop gawking at the poor bastard and help him up," she told them. "Lucifer knows how hurt he is. C'mon, let's help him."

The two boys hobbled over and flipped the tall man over. It was once his back hit the cobblestone floor that his eyes snapped open and he shot up gasping for air.

The two boys shuffled back and away from the gasping man until they were in the same as the rest of the denizens of the cell. For a few moments no one did a thing as the man seemed to regain his bearings and breath.

His spiky hair swung around his his head moved with his eyes to take in his new place of residence.

The older man gulped and took a wary step forward. The old woman looked at him as if he was crazy for getting close, but he waved her off. His senses were telling him he was in no danger this time. He tapped the little girl hiding behind him and she got the message and ran over to the old lady.

The old man took one step before stopping cold as the man swung around to look at all of them. The old man suppressed a flinch at the wild eyes that gazed at them before they settled into something tamer.

"Y-you alright there, son?" He stammered out. "They seemed to have done a number on ya before tossing ya in here."

The man grimaced and looked down at his tattered clothes and bruised body before shrugging.

"I've has worse, old man," his rough deep voice answered. "Now, you mind telling me where I ended up after those bastards ambushed and kidnapped me?"

The old man didn't answer for a moment, regarding the stranger with a wary eye. It was the old lady who answered.

"You're in Andras Keep, or as some of us like to call it, the shithole," she answered tartly.

"Yvonne!" The old man hissed at her in warning, but she waved him off.

"Oh, cool it ya old sac. There ain't no guards around to hear what I gots ta say about this place so stop ya worryin," she said to him.

She looked at the bruised stranger before throwing a hand towards the old man. "The worry wart over there is my husband, Kislev Earlen, and I'm Yvonne Earlen," she pointed to the two boys, "These are the twins, Rory and Tori. No last name there willin ta claim," she patted the head of the little girl hiding behind her hip. "This little cutie's name is Hush. Why? Because she doesn't speak a lick."

The old lady regarded the stranger with a calculating look in her eyes before continuing.

"Now, you're introduced to ya roommates in this shit hole, mind letting us know ya name there, slim?" she asked him while keeping a calming hand around Hush's shoulders.

"My name isn't slim," the stranger replied back lowly. He began to get up and everyone scampered away as he extended to his full height. He stretched out and they winced at the cracks that reverberated throughout the cell.

At his full height the stranger was intimidating

His head almost touched the roof of the cell, his broad shoulders blocked the entire cell door, and his clearly muscular figure cut an intimidating picture to them all. His presence filled the cell and they huddled together in the corner with the old man standing defiantly in front of all of them.

The stranger leaned his head down to look at them before smiling, revealing to them a mouthful of sharpened teeth.

"Name is Zabuza Momochi. Remember it cause I'm only going to tell you it once," he asserted. "Now," he plopped back onto the floor unceremoniously. "What can you tell me about this Keep?"

The two oldest exchanged wary looks, a silent conversation going between the two of them. This stranger had arrived not unlike any of them had, but he carried himself like he wasn't trapped here for the rest of his life.

Something gave between the two of them, and the old man sighed.

"Fine," he relented. "I'll tell him. I don't know what good it'll do. He's gonna end up just like the rest of the ones with attitudes like his."

Zabuza took interest in that. "What others like me, old man?"

The old man scoffed and sat on the hard floor cross legged on front of Zabuza.

"The ones that come in here with a chip on their shoulder," he answered.

Zabuza took in the old man before him, his tired gaze, and fragile looking body. He could only guess how long he'd been here.

"Ones like you that are thrown in here and think they're tough shit. The ones that bring trouble to the rest us that are just trying to live for as long as we got in this place," he said with a bit of anger. "I've seen too many Devils broken by this place, boy. Pride doesn't mean shit in here. You don't mean shit in here. A strong looking Devil like you is just going to end up in The Pit."

That peaked Zabuza's interest. He made it sound important in here.

"What's that?" He asked.

The old man sighed and ran a hand through his grey dirty shoulder length hair.

"The Pit is the glorified murder arena they disguise as a way out of here for those strong enough," he spat out. Zabuza paid rapt attention as he began to explain. "They take the ones who resist, who still go on with hope, who still act like they have a life, and they put them in The Pit to fight until they die with the promise of freedom. But there ain't no freedom," he scoffed in anger. "It ain't a way out of this place. The ones who go never come out the same. Why? Because it's where they break you, boy. The overseer here holds a gladiator style arena in here. Let's us kill each other while he watches for fun, and the ones that survive he turns into his personal enforcers down here."

"It's a vicious cycle down here, son," the woman spoke up softy. "We just don't want to see you caught up in it like the last one was."

Zabuza hmmd at that. "He make it?"

She shook her head. "No."

"They rarely do," the old man began again. "We're all just Low Class-Devils anyways. We're lucky enough to still be alive in this place," he grumbled.

The woman scoffed. "Yeah, lucky."

A plan began to form in Zabuza's head. He only needed one answer.

"How do I get in this Pit?" He asked them.

"You didn't listen to a word I said, boy? Nothing? Just went in one ear and out the other?" The man retorted. He gave him a hard stare. "Don't. Try it. Have some common sense."

The woman looked at Zabuza with an almost pleading tint in her eyes. "Don't go looking for trouble, son. You'll find that the kind of trouble down here will eat you up and shit you back out," she said softly.

"If he wants to go die, I say let him," one of the twins finally spoke up.

"Yeah, let him go. He'll end up just like the rest of em. No skin off our back if he's wishin' for deaf," the other one added boldly.

"It's death, Rory," the old man corrected almost automatically.

"I don't care, old man. All me and Tori are sayin is that if he wants to go off and die, let him. He's takin up enough space in here anyways," he said with a spiteful scowl look in Zabuza's direction.

Zabuza growled at the two boys and bared his sharp teeth at them. They hunched behind the old woman in fear.

Zabuza scowled. "Damn, brats," he muttered underneath his breath.

"But they're right," the man said. "To try what you're thinking is to send yourself to an early grave. I've seen too many young ones try it and end up dead."

"Well, I'm not one of those weaklings," he replied back forcefully. "I'm getting outta this place if it's the last thing I do. If I die, so what? I'd rather die in The Pit fighting for my freedom then live in this cell like a fucking rat," he spat out heatedly.

The old man sighed. "Is it so bad to want to live?"

"This ain't living, old man," Zabuza said and shook his head. "You're alive, you're hearts beating, but you aren't living. You're just being used like a tool, and once you run out of usefulness you're just gonna get thrown away…and that isn't anyway to live. To live as a tool is to not live at all," he finished softly.

Haku flashed in his mind's eye as he said that. He used Haku as a tool, and didn't get the chance to tell him that he was more than that to him, more than just a tool.

"You think we have a choice?" The old man snarled. "Look at us? Look! A washed up old man and woman, and three vulnerable kids! We have no choice, but to be tools," he hissed at him. "We're not strong. We're weak," he pointed a finger to the outside. "They're the ones with all the power. They're the strong ones. That is the reality here. It's the reality we've accepted. The sooner you do that, the longer your life will be," he finished bitterly.

For a minute there was nothing, but silence. The old man sighed his wife put a supportive hand on his shoulder. He looked back at her and smiled appreciably. He looked back at the now quiet Zabuza, and gave him a sad stare.

"There's no fighting this, can't you see that?" The old man pressed. "We can't fight this. There is no hope, no dreams for a better future," he shrugged helplessly. "They took that from us. This war going on isn't going to change that. They're too strong. It'd be better for you to just…give it up."

The old man sighed sadly at the young man's bowed head and drooped shoulders. He hated giving newcomers the reality check, but it was better coming from him than one of the guards beating on them until they were black and blue. It was better than being put in The Box and it was better than them dying for no reason. Their captors, their masters were just too powerful. Too plentiful. There was no room for hope here.

He reached over to place a hand on the young man's shoulder, and recoiled when it was batted away.

"Wha-"

"I refuse to accept that," Zabuza began. He slowly raised his head and the old man got a full look at the resolute determination behind them. They screamed defiance, a will to live beyond this cell. He swore they flickered with a violet color before returning to their dark coloring.

"I refuse to accept that because if I give up then it'd be giving up on the one I'm trying to do right by," he revealed. "The one person who taught me everything I was missing. The one who showed me kindness when all I knew was hate. The one who showed me compassion when all I knew was apathy. The one who gave their life for mine, and I refuse to squander it," he swiped his hand through the air and clenched his fist. "The world was undeserving of a soul like him, and it tore his heart in two to fight, but he fought. He fought and sacrificed for what he believed in, and to not do the same would be to spit on his memory and I won't do that!"

Zabuza looked at the arranged Devils in front of him with a look of utter determination.

"A man told me once he had a dream where future Devils would get a chance to live their lives the way they choose to. To decide for themselves how they wish to live," he said repeating the words Sirzechs convinced him with. "It is a dream I fight for. A dream that I will help realize cuz the one who sacrificed for me was never given a choice. He isn't here to believe, so I'll believe in his stead."

He raised his fist and put it to his chest where his heart beat powerfully, where it beat proudly. He smiled dangerously. "He was kind, but me? I'm a killer. All I know how to do is fight, so that's what I'm going to do. I'm gonna rip that bastards head from his shoulders, and anyone else's that get in my way until I'm free," he finished and laughed darkly.

He looked at the now frightened Devils across from him. "How's that for giving up old man?"

The old man gazed upon the crazed young man, and couldn't help but believe he was capable of doing exactly what he said. It's why he chose to tell him how to get put in The Pit.


A/N:

With this chapter, I really wanted to set up the next few and give you guys a glimpse at the kind of mentality Zabuza has going for him right now. Currently, he is prospectively trying to incorporate some of the values Haku had during his life in his own to honor him in a way and to try something new basically. While he is slowly changing some of his beliefs, he is still the same savage, rip your throat out, blunt, kick ass Zabuza we all know. So, is he still cold in some instances? Yes, he was never a nice guy, but he will be doing more "good" things until they become a part of him and less a kind of 'What would Haku do?' deal. He has learned things like pain, sorrow, compassion, and is learning empathy due to Haku's death. The Civil War Arc will change Zabuza because he is unknowingly trying to by honoring Haku the way he is. He believes in Sirzechs dream because it is a repentance of sorts. He was never given a choice as a Shinobi, so for he is trying to give others that freedom. So, he joined forces. He knows how to work on a team, he was a part of the Seven Swordsmen, and brings a wildcard factor to this war. No one really knows what he can do, but oh boy are they about to find out.

To address the differences between Chakra and Magic, I feel like magic i lighter and more malleable than Chakra. It runs through the same pathways, but it moves faster, and is more flexible. From what I have seen from the anime there really isn't a limit to it. Like it isn't really a hard magic system in place in the anime, but they do get tired from the physical aspect of it all. Like moving, dodging, exerting themselves and etc etc. So, that means that the better shape you're in, the longer you can last in a fight just like in Avatar the Last Airbender, love that show so much. Their power grew as their bodies grew. The magical power level in the anime I interpret as the potential you hold. How much capacity for magic does you body have the potential to funnel out. Some have more, some have less. Again, with A:TLA, you had regular people with no potential like Sokka but then you had Katara's who could freaking blood bend. It's about potential.

Any further questions, comments, and or concerns about anything you can review and ask or PM me and I'll answer them, but beyond that enjoy the chapter.