Loosing a brace of Kunai Butt first he allowed the welcoming embrace of darkness to take him, staving off Chakra exhaustion just long enough to watch the statue shatter.
"The idiot is lucky to still be alive, the fall should have broken his neck."
"I'd say he was lucky more lucky that Shikamaru ran out of chakra just as lee woke up from his possession"
"Any sign of life from either of them yet?"
"No hokage-Sama, Both are still suffering from chakra exhaustion"
"keep me posted"
carefully the fox sniffed around the cave opening, being careful to keep his chakra suppressed, it had been three days since Nariko's capture, and he had only just now found the entrance to the serpents den.
Atksuki, Why oh why is it Always these bastards. Worst part is that Dad doesn't dare return to the seal or they might manage to seal him in again. Poor Hinata, Poor Naruto. At least the demons scent is fairly weak. I'd guess that he's been gone for a day or two.
Suddenly the kit froze, and then it slunk back into the brush, being careful to make no sound at all. It could hear voices, and they were NOT happy
" - Don't care How 'Creepy' you find the statue to be, The boss says that It has to be guarded, so we'll guard it."
"I'm telling you that the damn thing has been watching me."
"Look Hidan! You WILL go down there, and you WILL guard the statue, Either that or I'll put you back on the detail that's watching the Brat. Nobody knows what he did, but whatever it was we might just need him to fix it."
"I'm just saying..."
" I KNOW what your saying Ok? I'm just sick of..."
Carefully the Kit moved back to toward the opening that the two Atakasuki Members had dissipeared into. Cautiously it slipped in the door only to suddenly become aware of the two chakra Signatures right behind it. It was too late to do anything however before he could make a move there was the feeling of a rough hand on the nape of his neck, and then he was hoisted up to the eye level of Uchiha Itachi.
"Told you there was something watching the door."
Itachi took his eyes off the fox only long enough to glance at his fellow Atksuki member.
"Shut up Hidan."
Naruto Hissed slightly as the room he was in went from complete black to a bright brilliant white. His arms ached from being suspended by them, but thankfully they were still usable. His whole body was sore however from the rough treatment he had received at the hands of his captors. Careful not to do so much as flinch as the two members entered the room, naruto smirked at them.
"Good morning gentlemen, I'd like two eggs over easy with a side of hashbrowns. For the main course I'll have a steak tartere' lightly seasoned with..."
He didn't get any further as an annoyed Hidan backhanded him hard enough to draw blood.
"Shut the hell up!"
Naruto smirked at him. As the days progressed without any progress on their part it was becoming easier and easier to get a reaction out of them. Itachi raised an eyebrow, and naruto was forced to mentally amend that it was easier to get a reaction out of some of them. Itachi treated him the same he had when he was first captured. Ignoring his fellow aksuki member Itachi sat crosslegged in front of him.
"Today you will tell us about..."
Hinata snarled to herself again as she paced the room, Kyuubi and Kurenai watching her with wary eyes. It had been over a week since naruto's abduction, and Everyone was getting tense and frustrated. Jirayia's Spy network had apparently been compromised at some point as the majority of it had simply vanished one night, and he had been working hard to try reestablishing his contacts. He had in fact just layed down for his first sleep in nearly four days, finally exhausted enough that the small naps he had snuck in wern't enough to function on any more. Sighing Kurenai snuck a glance out of the corner of her eye at Kyuubi. He had been the least obviously affected, something that had gotten Hinata incredibly upset until he explained that he could somewhat feel Naruto's state of being through what remained of the seal.
"How is he?"
Kyuubi sighed and shook his head at kurenai's question, and before he could reply Hinata spoke up.
"He's in a great deal of Physical pain and currently chained to a wall in an underground room Somewhere in the elemental continents, anything else you need to know?"
Hinata's normal restraint had disappeared more and more as the hours had stretched into days. The meek young girl with a crush had long since been replaced by a righteously furious Kunoichi who's husband had been kidnapped. Granted she was a pain in the ass, but the people present couldn't really blame her.
"Kyu, what about your..."
"He still hasn't gotten back to me yet. To be honest I'm rather surprised that you even accepted my help. This town in notoriously anti-fox after all."
Kurenai arched an eyebrow imperiously at that comment. She and kyuubi had taken to sniping at each other, and both were enjoying it immensely despite the situation.
"Gee, I wonder why that could be. No, No, don't tell me, It's right at the tip of my..."
"Will the two of you kindly shut up."
Kyuubi and Kurenai glanced at each other, both sharing a knowing look, Kyuubi opened his mouth, probably to antagonize either Hinata or Kurenai when he suddenly stiffened and then swore softly.
"Shit. I know where they are."
Both of the girls instantly came to their feet, but kyuubi was already moving past them toward the door.
"Quickly, follow me. We need to see the Hokage."
"Naruto-kun. You don't mind if I call you that do You?"
Naruto glared furiously at Itachi and spat on the floor, the remainder of his tounge still bleeding freely as Hidan continued to slowly carve him to pieces.
"Glad you agree. Naruto-kun, we need to know where the kyuubi is, and you are the person who can most likely tell us. Now, How do you contact him."
Naruto hissed in pain as another series of bloody ribbons were torn from his chest. Itachi sighed.
"Hidan." Hidan paused his ritualistic carving. "Heal him. He's no good to me if he can't speak."
Hidan rolled his eyes, but with a simple entreaty to his unholy God and in a bolt of brackish crimson, Naruto was healed, pristine as he had been when the two started some hours beforehand.
"Now, I ask you again. Where is the Kyuubi, and what did you do with the Key."
"Go... to hell.."
Itachi didn't bother to acknowledge Naruto's reply, and Hidans face sported a positively sickening smirk as he began his carving anew.
"There is an old abandon army base on the outskirts of wind country, there was... research... conducted on how to capture the Bijju and focus our energy toward powering human weapons. This was of course before the advent of widespread chakra use, back when all your kind had was technology."
Tsunade rubbed her temples, shooting Kyuubi a baleful look.
"and how are we expected to get in? Gaara and his sibilings are the closest thing we have to guides, and with their defection to leaf we are on VERY thin Ice with the Daimo's of both Fire and wind. Our acceptance of Gaara caused a major political issue as it shifted the balance of power even furthor in our favor."
"So any incursion into wind country is likely to be treated as hostile, something we can't afford at the moment."
"couldn't we explain..."
"no Hinata. I will try if you insist, but the odds of suna's council letting us in are slim to none. You need to accept that before we continue."
Hinata's hands clenched and her face reddened for a few minutes before she managed to get her emotions under control.
"So." she asked in a tight but controlled voice. "what are we going to do. I Won't accept just leaving him there as a viable answer."
Tsunade smiled tightly.
"I'm glad you said it that way. The only option is an off the books black ops mission. It needs to be all volunteer, and if you are caught the city of Konoha will disavow all knowledge of the mission, and anyone on the operation will be branded a traitor and a missing nin. Do you understand this?"
Hinata took a deep breath and relaxed her hands.
"Good. Here's what we're going to do..."
Oh, My head...
"Good morning Shikamaru-San! How are you feeling on this most youthful day!"
Shikamaru tried not to wince at that loud and boistrious Lee who seemed to be enjoying screaming in his ear.
Maybe if I pretend I'm still asleep...
"Now now, None of that my youthful fellow ninja! I know that you're awake as your breathing pattern changed a moment ago! Please! Arise so that I may thank your for your most youthful and welcome assistance!"
Briefly Shikamaru contemplated continuing his charade until a soft giggle on his right alerted him to Ino's presence. He was in the middle of re-calculating when he felt her take his hand.
"Come on shikamaru, wake up. You've been out for about two days now, and no doubt you need some food."
With a sigh and a slight smile Shikamaru opened his eyes to the dim light of the hospital room. Someone had been kind enough to leave the curtians mostly drawn so he could sleep. with an exaggerated yawn and a stretch he allowed Ino to help him into a sitting position.
"Hello Lee, and how are you?"
Lee for his part just smiled and bowed his head.
"Much better now that you've recovered. I owe you a great debt for stopping me."
Shikamaru however waved it off.
"You would have done the same for me, it was the least I could do." He sighed before continuing "as much as I hate to ask, how'd you break whatever that Jutsu was?"
Lee looked up, a slight frown on his face.
"I'm afraid that I didn't do so. Though I dislike admitting it, I owe the Uchiha as well. He managed to break the controlling Icon at great personal risk."
Shikamaru nodded slowly.
"Perhaps then he's finally doing his job."
Ino frowned. Something about that statement had caught her attention, it was like she had forgotten something about Sasuke, what was it though... she was just about to ask him what he meant when the door was abruptly kicked in.
"GOOD MORNING KONOHA! And hello to you especially Shika-kun. Morning Lee, Ino, how ya doing?"
Shikamaru closed his eyes and groaned softly as lee started shouting his reply at a grinning Kiba.
Breathing was difficult now. Itachi and Pein had come and gone, they still hadn't gotten the answers they wanted, and had left him a little 'present' to think on.
They really are bastards
Naruto thought to himself, He could taste the blood on his lips, and if he focused he could see the fine mist of it on his breath that indicated one of his shattered ribs had punctured a lung
I'll have to talk to someone about learning how to heal myself properly if I get out of this alive. Not having that damn fox around when I need him is worse than having him around when I don't!
Naruto was sitting on the floor, they had cut him down so his stretched arms didn't cause him to suffocate in the night. Pein, Asshole that he was, had been very careful to cause him injury that wouldn't kill him immediately, but rather leave him in a rather excruciating agony until the morning. At this point, even if his cell didn't absorb chakra nearly as fast as he could use it, he wouldn't have been able to escape for sheer pain. Walking, let alone running, was far out of reach at the moment.
Its that Damned Statue...
The ominous shape of it still stood against the far wall glowing dimly in the dark. Naruto still shivered occasionally as he studied it. It was why he couldn't use chakra at the moment. As soon as they had caught him they had dragged him into this room and somehow activated the thing, for a moment it had felt like every nerve ending in his body had caught fire all at once, he could literally see the chakra being ripped from his body and then it had suddenly just stopped. There was a faint ominous glow to the statue, and a bell had chimed. Minutes later Itachi had come back in. It was the first and last time he had seen anything other than calm impasse, the look of shock on his face had almost been worth the pain. Standing naruto hobbled over to look at it again, the desiccated group of mostly decayed bodies in front of it were ignored quite easily now.
"What are you"
he murmered softly as he had studied it closer. Even as he stared it seemed to be growing more grotesque, darker, more sinister. Lacking anything better to do naruto approached it. Carefully. From the side. Taking slow painful steps until, suddenly it was as though a switch was flipped and the facade' of it's appearance dropped away leaving the statue vaguely humanoid with a flowing cloak and a pair of large wings. Shocked naruto stopped, staring at it as it glowed darkly.
"So you see it now... interesting."
Naruto started, his head whipping around to the new voice.
"Who... are you..."
From the shadows stepped a old man in robes that closely resembled the Atksuki, but naruto noticed that they seemed to shimmer, the clouds moving slowly across the cloak instead of the stationary pictures on the cloaks of the rest.
"I am the gaurdian. Or rather I was."
The odd man smiled and stepped toward naruto.
"Yes. Was. I died nearly three thousand years ago. Here let me help with that."
The old man stretched out a hand and the Angel statue behind him mimicked the motion, the soft green glow of healing chakra gathered in a massive aura about it's hand. Shocked Naruto did nothing as the sinister statue healed his wounds before returning to it's previously Impasse' position.
"Why... what... how..."
the old man smiled, and naruto was shocked to see him flicker for a moment
"I healed you because you've created a system malfunction and I need you to help me fix it."
"Why? Because I'm not here. As I said, I died many years ago, what you see is a hologram. An image projected by the machine with the personality and appearance of my creator."
"What did I break? How?"
" Later. I'm afraid that your captures are about to return."
"later young man... later."
and with another flicker, the old man vanished all together.
"Echo one to recon,"
Hinata sighed in exasperation. She knew why they wanted her to keep in touch with them, but it didn't make the constant check in's any easier."
"This is recon go ahead."
"See anything blue eyes?"
Hinata tamped down on her impatience
"Nothing yet. Loudmouth?"
Shino's calm voice answered her.
"Yes. I have picked up on a bobcat's trail. It's headed east, by northeast, directly into the dunes"
Hinata's heartbeat quickened at the affirmation, Shino had the trail of an Atksuki member.
"Unknown, there is something odd about it, something almost woo..."
Shino's report cut off in a burst of static, and hinata listened with a shock and a little fear at the sound of battle now issuing from the dropped radio.
"Blue eyes, Echo. Go assist, we'll get there as soon as possible."
"I hear you. Out"
even as she spoke hinata was racing through the trees, moving quickly north as her eyes reported the flash of expressed chakra.
"Hold on Shino, I'm coming."
"Why are you here boy, Your out of your league."
Shino dodged another strike of the scorpion puppet's tail, his Destruction bugs doing what they could to slow it or weaken the chakra string controlling it.
"You have taken a comrade of mine. I want him back."
Jumping he stuck to the underside of a branch and pushed off in a different direction just as the puppets acid hit the tree.
"A comrade? The kyuubi brat I presume."
Sasori frowned, his limbs weren't responding as they should,and he could feel the drain of the bugs pulling against the strings he used to control the shell.
"Kyuubi brat? Indeed?"
"You truly didn't know?"
Shino was breathing hard, Sasori hadn't let up on the attacks during their discussion, and his Kakhi bug weren't draining the puppeteer fast enough. If he didn't regain the initiative he was bound to get hit sooner rather than later.
"Suspected? Are you Shinobe or not? How could you suspect something like that and not look into it?"
"The evidence had nothing conclusive, a great deal of conjective evidence, but nothing I could prove."
Sasori actually stopped attacking while he laughed
"Boy, you can't be a true shinobe if you would actually let that stop you. It would be like trying to deny He's minato's son."
Shino, who had been prepairing his counter attack froze.
What he could see of Sasori's face wore a rather sickening smirk.
"You didn't realize that the paraih of konoha is the son of their greatest hero? They look almost Identical!"
"No image of the fourth survived the kyuubi."
at this Sasori broke out into racious laughter.
"You mean they actually managed to supress all the pictures of that blonde bastard? He's carved into the side of the fucking mountin! How do you hide that?"
Shino frowned, forcing the seals he needed without the handsigns. It was tricky work, but it could be done... given enough time.
"While I admit he look similar to the mounment so does a good portion of the villiage. It's hard to determine skin tone and hair color, let alone facial structure from an idealized carving of rock."
Sasori stepped casually to one side of shino's 'suprise' attack and nodded.
"I suppose that's true enough. Well well, won't kusa love to know this..."
"why would kusa..."
Shino cut off as he was forced to dodge another blast of acid as well as a number of oddly tinted sebon.
"they haven't taken him because they figured the entire population would be up in arms and they can't afford another political fuck up, but if your village isn't even claiming him as a noble... well, that changes things doesn't it. Madara is right, you are morons."
Shino's shock was costly to him this time, he escaped the majority of the bladed edge the puppet spit at him, but he was still grazed, and with how much the world was starting to spin and blur he suspected it was poisoned with something rather nasty.
"Hmm... I probably shouldn't have said that. Should have called the little ingrate 'Tobi' or something, but frankly It won't matter in a minute."
Shino was swaying on his feet now, staggering just trying to stay erect as the world swam around him.
The puppets smirk was cruel as the tail curled back for the final strike.
"No. He's not."
There was a flash of movement then, and a stream of blood floated in the air for precious seconds before splashing to the ground. Panting Hinata stood up.
"Sorry about that shino. Thankfully he was too focused on you."
Shino shook his arm slightly before grabbing a strip of cloth and applying a tourniquit to the gash he had opened at his shoulder, he grimaced as the healthy red turned an ugly sluggish black as the poision leached out.
"Thank you for stopping him when you did. I couldn't have kept my blood flow so low for much longer, I was about to black out."
"You'd better get that treated."
Shino was about to reply when kiba, Lee, and Sasuke showed up. Sighing he nodded.
"Yes, I suppose I'd better."
He turned and started walking back in the direction of Konoha.
"Kick some ass for me."
"You bet we will. Now. Akamaru, think you can trace this guy back?"
With a few whines, and a couple of deep sniffs Akamaru was soon sprinting across the desert with the rest of the gennin in hot pursuit.
Well There you have it. I know, I know, it feels like forever since I update this one I'm working on it, but my muse doesn't come when called I'm sad to say. I hope it was worth the wait. Sadly I'm afraid you'll have to content yourselves with the short stories and repost I'm doing, because I've only just barely started the next chapter of this, so It'll (Sadly) Most likely be a while before the next update. Thanks for being here for me people, It's always interesting.