AN: So it took considerably time than it should have. But I need to address this first before going on with the chapter. The original purpose of this fic was being more of a lighthearted with action and trying to appeal wish fulfillment but not being so overly stupid in that regard, which I was trying to do at the start but as the time passed it got more complicated or adding extra things that goes against that first concept idea (feature creep). This happened because I haven't sketched out everything. I just have a timeline/ initial draft of events, which is not a good thing to keep tabs or remember specifics. I shouldn't overcomplicate things and try to be a wannabe George R. Martin. (FML) I lost focus in the objective, so I have to put the story back on track. Which ends up with an abrupt scene transition.
Thank you all of you for pointing out the problems. Thank god the damage is not too far into the story that is irremediable and would force a reset. Then the smaller chapters shouldn't be smaller. Dunno why I was so averse to using line breaks. Some chapters can easily merge into one.
Also, I will work on some issues with a tool in older chapters. In my other story, at least someone was kind enough to explain to me many glaring issues which I must fix here as well.
"Hey princess, look what I got." The redhead casually dropped a rabbit in front of me to get my attention. "Lil-fucker didn't see it coming."
Attention that she got as I raised a questingly eyebrow, the critter was dead but it was almost intact, what would she want from me?
She only folded her arms and huffed. "Don't look at me like that. I caught it, you cook it."
So that was her angle.
I did learn how to clean and butcher critters back at the academy. Better said my… family taught me first how to do it. Yet that meant nothing or gave her the right to demand things from me.
"You wasted your time. There was no need to hunt. I brought my own rations." To add salt to the injury, I pulled out a small box of rice. I refuse to eat food pills. Orochimaru kept me on a pill diet for years, a fresh memory for my taste buds.
"At least have some sense and appreciate my effort, you asshole!"
I stared blankly at her for long seconds. And took another bite of my food.
"Whatever! More for me!" Tayuya threw her arms up in exasperation, pulling out a kunai before grabbing her prey and cutting it open with no care.
Her attitude made me roll my eyes, but a quick glance at her handiwork told me of her above average skill with field dressing.
Thinking back, I should have known better that accepting to help Naruto would land me on a mission. Not even a week of peace before Tsunade sent me as reinforcements. At least on the bright side, I didn't have to worry about Karin's safety since the rest of the team could fend for themselves.
And with her in mind, I mentally kicked myself for not checking on her progress with her sealing chains, even if I gave her some time off. I cannot forget her training. Her mastery over them would be invaluable in whatever the future threw at me.
Starting with the so-called god, Pain. Who is still a pain… funny.
And the remaining Akatsuki members who needed to be dealt with.
Thankfully, Kabuto was out of the picture very early on. So I didn't have to worry about the undead army.
My focus needed to be on the pair of bastards, Obito and Black Zetsu.
Those two are high on my kill list for the danger they pose and how much they have changed their plans after my involvement. That alone worried me and they proved those worries right, with erratic movements and developments. I know whatever happened to Yugito; it was because of those two never ending schemes.
However, at the moment, my mind needed to focus on this diplomatic mission with Kumo. And assist the delegation, in short Naruto, with whatsoever might occur, and knowing that idiot's ability to get into problems. I shouldn't be surprised that we might encounter trouble, or that somehow he befriended Killer Bee.
He did befriend Killer Bee, but that's from my older memories. I didn't know if the same would apply to my current reality.
And that left me with a small doubt in mind. Yet not insignificant enough to pause my eating for a moment and swallowing before raising a new question.
"Why did you come with me? I was honestly expecting a chunin squad or another jounin to accompany me."
Tayuya didn't take kindly to my words as she paused with a deep frown on her face. "First of all. I'm a jounin, you asshole. Well, not a full-fledged jounin, but a jounin nonetheless. And second, How do you plan to find the shithead? Screaming your lungs out and hoping for the best? Walk in a single direction and stumble into his group?"
I kept my silence.
Action that caused her to drop everything and give me an incredulous look. "Holy shit, you really were thinking of running blindly and hoping to stumble into his group."
I couldn't hide my scowl. I really have put a little thought into my new mission. Just follow a general direction and be done with it. "Your point?"
She blinked, a momentary silence followed before she shrugged and returned to her task. "You want to get lost? Be my fucking guest." The annoyed redhead sharply stabbed the head of the bunny, for no apparent reason but to vent her frustration.
"As if you know exactly where they are." I replied with disdain.
She dislodged the kunai from the bunny head and turned at me with a raised eyebrow. "Yeah? We talk on a regular basis. Even if it is mostly to deliver a status. Those toads aren't that picky or bitchy."
"Who else? The Tsuchikage?"
I rolled my eyes before continuing with my inquiry. "I didn't expect the toads to accept another summoner. Didn't you have a contract?"
As far as I was concerned, she could summon onis, or enormous horned creatures, which she controled with her music to do her bidding.
"They were useless." She scoffed. "Mindless beasts that only know how to swing a stick. And entirely reliant on my flute and commands, at least the toads can think for themselves and help me if I am in deep shit."
I took her words into consideration. Having essentially summoning puppets was just as bad as unresponsive or hostile summons. But with my sharingan I can make them obey and bow down like they should always have done from the beginning.
Honestly, Manda is way too entitled. I am surprised that Orochimaru had put up with him for so long.
But putting those thoughts aside, I resumed eating my rice. The rookie spy expected a reply, but after realizing that was a lost cause, she finished with her butchering and roasted the meat, without adding anything.
I couldn't hide my frown. At least she should have sprinkled some salt or maybe coat it with lemon juice. But I was the one eating plain rice. Maybe I should have added an egg or some meat.
My lips twisted into a smile for the bizarre change. From concerns about the future to how bland the food was.
Maybe that was just me.
Yet before I could take another bite, I sharply turned to the left with a deep frown. I wasn't a sensor, but something was coming from that direction. No sound either, and Tayuya soon followed as she became exceptionally attentive to our surroundings, furrowing her brow as her hand got closer and closer to her flute.
Without thinking it twice, I kicked dirt on the fire, successfully putting it out and ruining my companion's food. Yet she was fairly unconcerned, as she finally had her instrument in her hands and softly blew a tune.
I just closed my eyes for a moment. Whoever was coming would die by my hand.
When I opened them back, I could see the chakra and where it was the gathering point, the origin of what caught our full attention.
And it was getting closer at a rapid pace.
Who was idiotic enough to attack me, I couldn't tell, but some ideas popped up in my head.
My grip on my sword increased at first, ready to draw it for a full swing, but softened and released it. I didn't need to use my legendary blades for something so trivial, or for every problem I faced.
With both hands free, it gave me the opportunity for a quick succession of hand seals. And my lungs get a sudden surge of elemental chakra demanding to be released and reduce everything to ashes.
Locking my sharingan on the objective, the anomaly in the calm environment and releasing the burning inferno. My flame traveled at dangerous speed, using the wind to stoke the fire even more.
It engulfed a couple of trees in flames. I didn't stay idle and rushed towards whoever was lurking. Tayuya also followed.
And it didn't take long to catch him. No matter how fast or how erratic he was jumping from tree to tree, he could not fool my sharingan or catch me by surprise as I easily read his intentions of showering me with senbons. Intention just as easily thwarted with a flick of my wrist as I send forth my chidori senbons and impaling the offending hand.
That opened a window of opportunity which I capitalized to close the distance, using another tree to launch myself at greater speed. At such a close distance, I scanned the bastard who asked for death.
But to my surprise, I couldn't find any village symbol on him. He could have been an overconfident idiot, but that didn't matter as I landed a kick on his stomach and followed with a second one connecting with his head. The strength behind it was enough to set him off course and crash against a tree and fall to the ground.
Tayuya didn't waste any time as she rushed to the downed enemy and efficiently restrained him, both arms and legs unable to move.
My gaze scanned my surroundings again, trying to find another one lurking in the shadows and, if possible, Zetsu, who likes to spy on anyone of interest.
But there was nothing of interest, making me frown and drop off the tree and land where Tayuya was currently inspecting the nameless idiot who tried to attack us.
When I got closer, she quickly tore off the mask, but there was nothing noteworthy. Or anything discernible to find some clues from the man. A normal face, no tattoos or marks either.
Then she turned her attention to his clothes in search of anything, like a note with orders, for example. Worst-case scenario, a locally made weapon could give us some semblance of a trail to follow.
But just when she pulled open the shirt, everything slowed down and I could see with perfect clarity the massive amount of explosive tags that were just ignited. I was able to see her face slowly take in the macabre surprise. And I wasn't one to wait.
My body sprung to action and grabbed her arm to pull her away from the explosion, using a tree to protect ourselves just in time before the bomb became a blazing sea of death in a small radius.
The quick explosion left ashes and smoke, the shockwave spreading wherever possible.
The redhead was the first to break the silence with a coughing fit before breaking away from my arms.
I didn't notice I actually pulled her into a hug. That was a subconscious action, it seems.
She wiped any remnant of dirt and ashes that latched onto her clothes and hair. "Thanks for the save. I should have known that piece of shit would have a failsafe or something."
I checked my surroundings one more time before canceling my sharingan. "Fanatics that would rather kill themselves than be captured are rare, especially in these times of questionable peace. This just makes me wonder who may have sent him."
Tayuya shrugged and walked towards the smoking crater, only to kick the charred dirt in pure anger. "Motherfucker! Slimy piece of shit! You didn't get this ass!"
And she childishly flipped the bird.
I rolled my eyes and approached the crater as well and frowned when I saw nothing but charred dirt mixed with whatever remained of that mysterious shinobi. I could easily ignore the smell since it has been a common sight for me lately.
She spat on the burned ground before turning her attention to me. "Yeah, I'm done. I am proud of my survival, you know? I would have been really fucking pissed if that actually got me. But you know what they say, a simple mistake is all needed to end your career."
I sighed. She was right. "Whatever. Did you at least discover anything that could help us identify or link to whoever sent him?"
She looked back at the crater and scratched her head. "Your guess is as good as mine, Uchiha. There was nothing on him, or at least until those tags were triggered. But I can discard some names, Suna and Kumo. So that's a start, I guess."
I nodded. "His strength and speed were mediocre. If I were to guess, Kiri or Akatsuki has sent him, Akatsuki might have copied Sasori's techniques." It was a wild guess, but only Akatsuki, especially Obito, who was more than capable to perfectly brainwash others to do his bidding.
Tayuya held her chin and frowned. "I… I can't say you are wrong, but I don't want you to be right either. Both possibilities are troubling, to say the least. Kiri's attitude is really screaming for war and Akatsuki having a way to recover and mimic techniques from their fallen members makes them more dangerous. It was a really fucking mess when we discovered so many sleeping agents after Sasori's death."
"You had sleeper agents?"
"Yup, a few civilians and a dozen Anbu members. How did that puppet even get a hold of them? I will never know."
"Hmmmm." Zetsu and Obito came to mind at first, but Itachi could have offered his assistance to keep up the act.
"Ugh, I need to report this. And I really hate sending reports with no answers. They always ask for more details and you have shit to tell them. But that isn't an excuse, so they force you to investigate, yet there is nothing to investigate and so on and on… fuck me."
That redhead stared death in the face not long ago, and she was more concerned with a report. "While Kiri has their reasons to want me dead, they wouldn't waste their men like this. It's an educated guess, but Akatsuki is more likely the responsible."
She groaned before both hands covered her face to muffle a scream of frustration. "That still doesn't help me much."
I shrugged at her negative response and turned around and walked back to the bonfire. But soon I took notice of the cracking sound of burning wood, making me sigh in exasperation.
Using fire jutsus in a very flammable forest maybe wasn't a good idea.
Should I use my legendary sword to call rain?
Survival skills, a very useful tool for a shinobi and some develop it even further. Like the annoying redhead who showed off her ability to make surprisingly comfortable shelters with branches, leaves and fiber. Even if I brought sleeping bags, I wouldn't say no to a roof over my head.
However, I had to take the first watch. Being within the fire country borders meant jack shit with missing-nin roaming the land, or even enemy shinobi. Especially that we were attacked recently. Lowering your guards was the fastest way to meet your end. And without Karin's sensory abilities, I had to rely on my own senses and that might have posed a problem if it wasn't for the fact I was an Uchiha.
The sharingan was a powerful tool for such a task, but so would be senjutsu, yet the cursed seal was my only obstacle to achieve it. But I know this seal supposedly holds a piece of Orochimaru's soul and the only way I could remove it was with Itachi's legendary sword. But the implication of how it would work didn't sound very appealing to me, stabbing myself with it to seal the problem.
A part of me scoffed at the mere thought of doubt. That was an insignificant sacrifice to obtain even greater power. How could I not snatch the opportunity?
Itachi being the major deterrent for one.
Perhaps this was the first time I sat down alone and thought about him. And that brought forth something different. Just thinking about him made my stomach boil. A feeling I suppress immediately and let out a long drawn-sigh.
The idea of what he might do when he discovers whatever happened to me was something that kept bugging me, but if he goes ballistic, I will fight back.
His Mangekyou… I wouldn't go that far and say it scared me, but it was a major concern. Specifically, that genjutsu was a nightmare given form. It was surprising how I didn't become a vegetable after going through it, or I was giving myself a bit too much credit since Tsunade was the one who somehow fixed me and woke me up.
I looked up to the half moon up in the sky and took a moment to feel the solace of my position. It interested me that in the following years, that celestial object would render the entire world under an eternal genjutsu.
But that was something for the future, the present required me to unlock my Mangekyou and I knew that the only way to evolve my eyes was to experience a great loss, and I experienced a significant loss but not as me but the other me.
I sighed and rubbed the back of my neck, that particular topic wasn't nice to think about. But at least I was looking and finding alternative sources of strength. Naruto proved those methods capable of matching my supposed strength.
I want to agree with Nara's general sentiment. What a drag.
Slowly let my body lean on a tree and appreciate the sky above me. Suddenly, the sky turns blood red as the moon adopts the sharingan's pattern.
I immediately jumped from my spot with my sharingan flaring up and frantically checked my surroundings for Itachi. The bastard was definitely around, but the sky wouldn't be red if that was the case.
Unless I was already under his spell.
"I should have seen this coming. Humor me, when did you get me?" I asked out loud.
But I got no answer, at least a direct verbal answer, since it came from the ground. Multiple spiky chains shot up from the ground before, and frustratingly enough I could see them slowly closing on me but helpless to do anything as they wrapped around my arms and legs before forcing me to fall on my knees.
I didn't just lay down and wait. My limbs were stubbornly fighting back against those chains digging into my flesh but shockingly, they were too strong. No matter what I tried, I couldn't break free from them.
But that soon became secondary when I heard the closing steps from the left, and a pair of furious red eyes were looking down on me. "I am the one asking questions. Not you."
I snarled. "Brother…"
Itachi lashed out immediately. His foot struck my mouth with such force that I was tasting iron. "You are not my brother, impostor." The older Uchiha kneeled on my level and pulled my hair to meet him eye to eye." I should kill you here and now, but I must know what happened, and you will tell me."
His sharingan flared up and morphed to his Mangekyou, making my blood run cold.
But rather than cower, I just spat on his face, and smirked when I saw my saliva mixed with blood land directly on his left eye.
Itachi did nothing. He remained unfazed.
"But first…" He yanked my hair and forced my eyelid open with his other hand. "Those eyes do not belong to you."
The last thing my own eyes saw was his other hand encroaching around my left eye.
I frantically checked everything around me and my body, my hands touching my face and making sure my eyes were in their sockets despite what I could perfectly see, but that fact didn't register in my mind.
My heart was pounding against my chest as I slowly rose from my sleeping bag and used a tree to support my shaky legs for a few seconds before I fell on my knees panting and gasping for air, feeling my sweat running down my face.
I punched the ground and lifted my gaze, only to find the annoying redhead looking at me with a slightly raised brow.
"Nightmares? I didn't expect you to have them." Her eyes then shifted to my small shelter, that was destroyed after my outburst. That explains why I feel some leaves under my clothes.
"Anybody would have them after witnessing your entire family killed in cold blood, over and over again. And have a bastard of a brother who engraved that specific memory on your brain." I scowled, rubbing the back of my neck.
Tayuya opened her mouth to reply, but closed it. "Ah shit… I forgot."
"Whatever." I turned my attention to removing the broken remains of my shelters from my clothes. They were itchy.
"Do you… want to talk about it?" She stepped closer.
"Why do you care?" I snapped back, making her take one step back in surprise.
Tayuya took one deep breath and rubbed her temples before answering me. "I can't have you go mental in the middle of a mission, for one. And two, fuck you. I'm trying to be nice here."
I rolled my eyes in annoyance and finished taking off the leaves trapped under my shirt.
She clicked her tongue and pulled out a small bottle, which she quickly took the cap off and took a long sip from it. "Want some?"
She offered the now half empty bottle.
I looked at the bottle and then at her with a slight frown. "Is it acid again? "
She let out a short laugh, making me raise an eyebrow. "I fucking wish!"
That said, I grabbed the bottle and took a small sip and let the taste explore my mouth. The taste wasn't strong, more like a mix of various fruits. "This doesn't taste bad… sake?"
However, she shrugged and took the bottle back. "I think so? I just throw some money at the guy or girl behind the counter and they hand me a bottle."
She then proceeded to gulp down the entire bottle and let out a satisfied sigh.
"You will get poisoned at this rate." Carelessness will get you killed, she even admitted it not long ago.
The redhead threw the bottle with no care and turned to face me with a grin full of confidence. "I was part of Orochimaru's guard. Poison is irrelevant to me."
Unnecessarily enough, she also showed her tongue, which was playing around with a small black pill.
She then closed her mouth and swallowed whatever that thing was, more likely poison just to boast an achievement.
I sighed and looked up at the sky. It was still dark, but just beyond the horizon I could see the faint change of color. A good signal that in a matter of hours, the sun would rise.
I looked over my shoulder at my destroyed bed. I could get back to sleep but with no roof over my head, it wasn't like it would affect me and I needed some rest to deal with my stress but after that nightmare I didn't want to go back to sleep after all sleep deprivation wasn't something new to me.
"We are leaving. The earlier we arrive, the better."
My new orders caught her attention, her face expressing her frustration. "You are taking the first watch tomo… tonight. Tonight you are taking the first watch. You owe me a couple hours of sleep."
I could accept that.
After her complaint, she was quick to pack up her things. It wasn't as if we had brought a lot of things. Bed rolls or sleeping bags were quite convenient in that regard. Just unfold and fold it back.
Or even a single storage scroll to trivialize the whole thing.
We soon departed.
And I enjoyed silence for the first hours, right until the sun was rising over the horizon when my loud guide spoke up.
"You know we will find the shit head pretty soon, right?"
Naruto… that idiot.
"So? Unfortunately, that is my current mission. Meet up and escort him." As much as I hate to admit it, Tsunade's gut instincts didn't betray her, especially when it came with a streak of good luck, which I was sure she got.
"Have you thought about what you will say to him?" She quickly raised her hands in mock surrender when I turned to look at her with a frown. "Look, I just want to avoid a deathmatch when you two meet, and there is a lot to catch up, so maybe you can make it easier for both of you if you have your answers ready."
"What would you suggest, then?"
"Don't ask me. You are the one talking to him. But maybe an apology is a good start. You were a total ass back then." She deadpanned.
The scene back in the valley of the end flashed in front of me.
"I will face it head on. I dragged this longer than necessary..."
However, before I could continue, I felt a small drop of water fall on my right cheek, stopping me dead in my tracks. Something so small and trivial shouldn't bother me at all, but the sky was empty.
And soon after, more drops fell around me, threatening to damp my clothes.
"Uh? Raining this time of the year?" Tayuya extended an open hand to feel the drops on her palm. "I don't see any clouds either…"
It was way too strange, and that didn't sit well with me at all. My sharingan flared up and focused on the oncoming rain with scrutiny,
My perfect vision instantly caught sight of a very particular shape with razor-sharp teeth, hundreds if not thousands of them coming our way with the full intention of shredding us apart. It was without saying that I would never let that come to pass. My hand shot forward and got a firm grip on Tayuya's arm before pulling her away to a safer spot. Yet that murderous rain didn't stop, but followed our movements, albeit slow.
But in that shift of direction, I could see those miniscule sharks cut deep into the trees that touched and leaving holes in the green leaves. With the imminent threat approaching, I performed the correct hand seal and prepared my lungs to shoot my clan signature jutsu, but stopped myself when the shark rain abruptly stopped.
I tried to keep my flame controlled, but when I didn't find any more threats, I exhaled the excess of fire chakra.
Tayuya was already playing her flute, her eyes darting around. Trying to pinpoint our ambusher's exact location.
It was oddly hilarious that I saved her life two times in less than a day.
But that was a secondary thought as I only knew one person, one beast of a man, able to do such an attack with no effort.
"I would have been disappointed if that actually killed you, brat."
My head snapped towards the source of the menacing voice of one of the most dangerous Akatsuki members and pointed my blade at him. "The real world is full of disappointment…. Kisame."
"Kisame?!" The redhead stopped her melody in shock and looked at the zero tailed beast with his massive sword resting on his shoulder before impaling it on the ground.
"The lone fighter turned out to be none other than you, Uchiha. You made quite the stir lately. I didn't think you could be capable of taking on those two. Hidan hasn't stopped whining ever since."
His words confirmed my fears. That sadistic bastard told them everything. I'm glad we nicely stored his body inside many storage scrolls.
But I'm totally blaming Tsunade for this.
"Where is Itachi?" I asked with a frown. It wasn't wrong to assume that he could lurk nearby, since they were partners in crime.
"Oh? So eager to meet your older brother? You gave your word to fight me again, remember? I'm itching for a decent fight, you see."
"Bring it." I taunted him as I strengthened the grip on my blade.
Kisame merely flashed his vicious grin and took the first step, only to leap into the air.
I immediately jumped away with Tayuya following me close as we watched him using gravity to crash land where we were moments ago, causing a large cloud of dirt. Completely blinding our vision, but that only counted for my companion as my sharingan immediately picked up a sudden surge of chakra aimed at her.
Once again, my hand reached out for her arm and pulled her away from the missile. A water bullet barely missing her stomach but finding its mark on the tree behind her, leaving behind devastating damage on the trunk.
I heard her hurl curses at the shark man, but I fully focused my senses on him, whose attack revealed his intentions. Tayuya was my weak link and he would take full advantage of it like the vicious shinobi he was.
Unless I could free myself from responsibility.
"Reverse-summon yourself or run away. I don't care what you chose, but leave." I ordered her, my gaze not leaving Kisame as I couldn't afford any distraction.
"I… okay, I will send some toads to assist…"
She couldn't finish as Kisame charged at us with blinding speed, my eyes catching sight of his sword falling down on us, forcing me to block the downward strike. Feeling the increasing pressure from our clash, I channeled some lighting to my swords to repulse him.
He retreated, but I frowned when I saw Samehada wiggling and loudly crunching my chakra. That fucking sword will always be a problem.
She didn't say another word as she left my side and disappeared into the forest, leaving completely alone another Akatsuki who was possibly my worst match up, the monster who eats chakra.
"What a shame. I would have preferred to fight both of you. It might have been more interesting." His mockery fell to deaf ears.
The little window of time was more than enough time for me to finally draw the second blade and shift to the proper stance that Suigetsu had been teaching me. "I don't want weaklings holding me back."
He chuckled as he rested the legendary Samehada on his shoulder. "We can agree on that aspect, little Uchiha. Now entertain me some more. Samehada is still hungry."
AN: And done! Now I will have to focus on writing down all the rest of chapters, not flesh them out entirely just the main ideas and direction so I don't lose focus again and get to the finish line. MIght take some time but is doable, Shards of Reminisce showed me how easier and faster is to write with a defined objective and avoid horrible mistakes or retarded plot points/holes.
See you all later!
PD: Just learned about FF feature to turn off and turn on email-opt notifications, this actually explains why I haven't been getting notifications for my followed stories lately since is turned off by default and will automatically reset to NO after 90 days. So go and tick that box in account settings if you want notification for updates.