Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto.
Ninja Clash! Of Nightmares and Daydreams
.;:Chapter Nine: Liars, Rabbits, and Dogs:;.
When Yoruken entered the room, Kaori didn't acknowledge him. She stayed at her place by the window, staring out into the noon. The tower was so high she could see on to the next island and into the beyond. For miles the water ran, rippling, glowing with the sun. She felt warm—at peace. Her situation, as it was, could be much worse. Yoruken could have had her killed directly, but her uncle was an egotistical man. He liked to put on a show; she had no doubt that he would not kill her until Akari was within reach. That at least assuaged most of her worries. Her sister would not be easily beaten. Not her Akari.
"You've grown beautiful, Kaori," her uncle mused from beside the door, hanging over the threshold. "If I didn't need your line to end, I'd marry you myself." He smiled, slapping his knee with mirth. "What a wasted opportunity."
"Uncle," Kaori said, staring into the beyond, "May I be of service to you? If not, I'd like to return to my daydreaming."
"Daydreaming…?" He was at her back now, and she stiffened at his closeness, the back of his hand gently caressed her shoulders. Holding her breath, she decided she would not show him fear.
"Now, why would you do that? Don't I treat you well? Don't I feed and clothe you? It's more than that father of yours has done—more than that mother." His scratchy beard was at her ear, his voice barely above a whisper. She wanted to pull away, but knew better. "At least I didn't die on you."
He burst into laughter at his own cleverness, clutching his sides with the force of it. Kaori was relieved he'd stopped touching her. There was something evil in her uncle, something that told her that she needed to escape soon before that evil began to give him ideas. Involuntarily, she shivered and it thankfully went unnoticed.
"I thank you for your hospitality, Uncle." She replied civilly. Akari would have lashed out against him, but she was not her sister.
"Look at me."
For the sake of not being stupid, Kaori turned to her uncle. "Yes, Uncle?"
He grabbed her chin and tilted it backward. He wore his black hair, long, pulled back into a pony tail. On his face he sported a full goatee trimmed and proper. His eyes were gold, one of the three famous colors of the Tsukuyomi. Akari and Kaori had the other two. He resembled their mother, that much was true. If not for the hair, the slightly darker skin, and the different gender, they would be twins or as close as you could come. However, there was a gentleness to Kaori's mother's eyes that he did not have. Kaori, unlike Akari, didn't remember too much about their mother except for her eyes. It was her eyes that the young princess could never forget. His eyes of course, showed her darkness and jealousy. Resentment.
"If you had been a good girl, I wouldn't have had to seal your chakra," he replied, "You can't escape now…so why even pretend?"
"I don't need chakra to daydream, Uncle." Kaori gave him a curious look, "Do you need chakra to sleep?"
He snarled, his lips curling back from his teeth. "You are a shell. You are nothing."
He was right, she wasn't herself, "If you say so, Uncle." She was captive and mentally harassed at every turn. No, she wouldn't be herself, not until Akari brought her home. She wouldn't even smile. There was no point.
He shoved her face backward and she tumbled into her window, smacking her skull against the reinforced glass. Her eyes swam and her vision blurred, but there was no blood. Instead of getting up, she stayed on the ground, pretending he had won.
"Don't be so meek," Yoruken strode out of the room, "You'll disappoint me."
She wobbled to her feet and faced the window, trying to spot Akari on the open sea. A single, warm tear rolled down her cheek and she chased it away with her silk dress sleeve. I have to be strong. I have to hold on just a little while longer.
Akari perched on top of the beam displaying the white sail, her head throbbing slightly. She stood with her arms out, the wind rolling past her limbs, whipping through her hair. Hanging on to the beam below her was Naruto grinning widely, his eyes set in determination. Every now and then, she would look down and catch his eye. He said nothing, but he shone even then. His sea blue eyes flashed with a confidence Akari knew she could have too if she tried—if she pulled. However, she felt something slink into the bottom of her stomach making her feel both hot and cold at the same time. Fear. It had to be that.
Breathe. We're almost there. I have to hold on just a little while longer. This will not beat me.
Her eyes snapped open, and she crouched low. As she stared out into the sea, that fear disappeared, pushed out by something else.
"Watch where you're going, you idiot," Sasuke said to Naruto as the blonde skirted past his duck haired friend.
"Well, you need to watch where you're standing," Naruto said, pivoting to yell back.
"I shouldn't have to remind you that you almost knocked the fisherman overboard when you dropped down from the sail." Sasuke said with his arms crossed, "You're the only liability here."
"I dare you to say that again, Sasuke!"
Sasuke smirked and turned away, "You're not worth my time."
Akari leaned against the side of the boat and turned around as Sakura stepped between Naruto and Sasuke. She stretched her hands out to touch the water as it crashed against the boat's side, foaming.
"Are they always like this?"
Akari tilted her head to find Neji to her left, arms crossed, eyes slightly narrowed. But really, his eyes were always narrowed, weren't they? Akari surprised herself by laughing.
"From what I know…yes," Akari replied, her voice laced with affection.
"You're quite close with both Naruto and Sakura."
She said nothing, returning back to the water.
"There seems to be this tension between you and Sasuke…"
"You're a genius, right?" Akari said, her voice almost a whisper, "I'll let you figure out why."
"I can guess why." Neji replied, his voice expressionless.
"What's so funny?"
"You." She replied, "You're extremely helpful one minute—inspiring even—and then you're completely withdrawn the next. You're making me dizzy."
He smirked, "Are you referring to last night? The night you forced your company on me?"
"Yep," she said, "I'd really thought we had gotten somewhere, too."
"And where would that be?" his tone was curious, but mocking as well—playful.
"Akari!" Naruto's voice split the silence between them. Laughing, Akari shrugged her shoulders and leaned back onto her hands to pull upright into a handstand. She walked away, both relieved and disappointed to be called away.
"We're coming upon her now!" the fisherman said, shouting the words as he leaned away from the wheel. "What do you ninja want to do?"
"Can you give us some cover, Kakashi?" Guy asked his rival.
Nodding, Kakashi drew a few hand signs and a mist began to rise up around them, hovering around the boat like fallen clouds.
"There's an underground cavern to the left of the shore. It cuts into the black cliffs." Takamaru said. "Take us around there. It'll allow us to disappear for a while."
"Is it well protected?" Guy narrowed his gaze at the approaching island.
"It shouldn't be. Yoruken never keeps his forces this far away from him." Takamaru folded his arms over his chest, "He likes to keep an eye on them."
"He doesn't trust his own men?" Sakura furrowed her brow, an action Akari noticed she did whenever they were having a serious conversation.
"He doesn't trust his own family," Akari said, "Why should he trust strangers?"
"For someone so full of himself, he seems really stupid," Naruto interjected, eyes slightly narrowed.
"Or it's confidence." Kakashi mused. "By not keeping his forces spread to the end of the island he's showing off his power. He doesn't need the protection."
"It's insulting." Neji commented with a slight frown.
Kakashi stood at the center of the group, "That may be true, but it gives us the advantage either way."
"Does it though?" Tenten gestured with her hands, "I mean…he knows we're coming. He's prepared."
"We're focusing too much on the unknowns." Akari offered. "We should go on what we know. It's a given he knows we're coming. Period. We should act using that information as our basis. Stealth…caution…both are our friends here."
"Well said." Kakashi agreed, turning to Takamaru. "What else about this island do we need to know?"
"The cavern has a tunnel that leads you into the forest. It's five miles long and ill-lit. But we're ninja…I doubt that will be a problem." Takamaru drew out a map.
"What's beyond the forest?" Akari asked, Hitenzo taking his place on her side.
"The better question is what's in it." Kakashi supplied.
Akari slapped her palm to her forehead, "Over a hundred mercenaries."
"Which are usually no problem for ninja." Sasuke cut in, earning a look from Naruto.
"But they are a nuisance." Kakashi said. "This could get messy. But that aside…we'll take the high ground and try to advance with little distraction as possible. That means no one, namely you Naruto…"
"Is going to go off playing the hero." Kakashi glanced around the group, "We advance as a group until I give the order stating otherwise. Got it?"
Akari stepped off of the boat and almost screamed. The cavern was so large she was almost tempted yell just to hear an echo. Stalactites and stalagmites dotted the ceiling and floor of the cave. She had the overwhelming urge to poke and prod every single one of them.
"Stay safe, Lady Akari." Hitenzo wrapped his arms around Akari, giving her a squeeze. Springing her from her fancy.
"Don't worry about me, Tenzo." Akari replied, wiping a tear from the old man's face. "No more tears…not for me."
His watery eyes widened and then dropped onto the black, rocky cave floor. "Princess…I…there's something you should know…"
Akari placed her hands on his cheeks, forcing him to lift his head. "I love you too…Hitenzo."
His mouth opened and shut again, the tears running into the corners of his mouth. "My lady."
"Mr. Watari is going to take care of you. You'll be safe on his boat." She put her forehead against his, "I'll be right back."
"Neji…how many are there?"
Neji closed his eyes and snapped them open, at that moment veins popped up on the sides of his face. Akari blinked back her surprise, it was still the coolest thing she had ever seen.
They were on the very edge of the forest, all people perched high in a tree. Akari fixed her gaze on the back of his head. These Leaf ninja, she thought, they're impressive.
"What?" Neji said, suddenly leaning forward, his voice dripping with disbelief. "That's impossible!"
"Neji, what is it?" Kakashi said.
"Yeah, what do you see?" Naruto asked, grabbing on to his arm. "Come on, Neji! Let's hear it!"
"Let go of me!" Neji snatched his arm away and narrowed his gaze further. "It's true. All of them, they're either unconscious…or dead."
Akari stilled, her heart beat in her mouth, "The people in the castle?"
Could it be? No. she didn't dare hope. Didn't dare let herself be pulled in again, to whatever darkness there was inside of her. She needed to let go.
Neji's words floated back to her, "You have the freedom to be whoever you want to be. Nothing holds you. Why let this?"
"No. The mercenaries have all been dispatched. Someone beat us here." Neji said, turning his gaze back to the group, "At any rate, that's good news for us."
"How's that?" Naruto asked, unafraid to ask the questions everyone else had not been voicing.
"That means," Might Guy said, standing from his position, "we won't have to expend any energy in taking them out. We can focus on the ninja."
"And Yoruken." Akari said, surprisingly calm despite the anger that usually came with his name. If they got past his ninja, they could get him and Revie…Revie would be safe and sound. She stood to her feet, "What's the plan Kakashi? Guy?"
"We'll have to split up, come at the castle from five sides." Kakashi said, squatting down to give the orders. "If Takamaru's information is true, there are four gates surrounding the estate: the east, west, north and south gate. Neji, can you give us the locations?"
"On it," Neji flared up his Byakugan again. After a moment's pause, "Found them."
"Good. Sasuke and I will—"
"Hold up!" Naruto roared, pointing his finger at Kakashi, "Why do you always pick Sasuke?"
Kakashi sighed, "Naruto, now is not the time."
"Well, I'm sick of it," Naruto crossed his arms and plopped down into the dirt.
"Fine. Naruto, you and Sasuke will take the south entrance. Once you're in, you're to wait for me and Sakura to join you, we'll be taking the east entrance. Guy, you and Tenten should take the west entrance." Kakashi turned to Akari, "You'll be taking the north with Neji, since your priority will be securing your sister he will get you there. With his Byakugan he'll be able to spot the enemy before they're upon you."
Kakashi you… "Thank you," Akari said, staring up at him. Straightening herself out, she went to stand beside her partner in crime, "Yoruken's mine, Naruto." She whispered with a smirk.
"Not if I get there first!" he grinned but his eyes were earnest. He held out his fist and she bumped his with hers, sealing the pact between them.
Akari laughed. "We'll see."
Kakashi surveyed the group, "You know the plan. Engage the enemy only if you have no choice. The priority is the princess, understood? Keep everyone off, Akari and Neji. Neji, you keep everyone off Lady Akari."
Akari narrowed her eyes at him and cleared her throat.
"Sorry about that," Kakashi apologized, "a slip of the tongue. Neji, you'll keep everyone off Akari."
Everyone nodded. "Right!"
Might Guy lifted his fist into the air, "Alllrrriiighhhttt. Scatter!"
Akari and Neji moved deftly through the trees. As they came closer, they began to see the bodies. At various spots, they could see men hanging from trees, their faces frozen in surprise.
"They seem to have sprung their own traps," Neji said, "These are not shinobi made. They're too obvious."
Akari said nothing, ignoring the lifeless figures.
"It's also possible that they were forced into them by someone else." Neji seemed to be speaking more to himself than to her, "Whoever they are, we have no way of knowing whose side they're on. We must not let down our guard."
The last bit was aimed directly at her, that much she could tell.
"Whoever did this…" she started, fighting against the beating of her own heart, "They were strong, weren't they?"
"Indeed," Neji replied softly, "I've never seen anything like it. But who knew? Who knew they were here?"
At that exact moment, she saw something to her left. Akari jumped down on the branch of a tree. Before she moved she glanced at it, her eyes holding the image in her mind. One tree out the hundreds she passed, one tree held a small slip of paper. Scratched on that thin piece of paper was a rabbit.
She stopped, spun around and snatched that paper from the tree, tucking it inside her back pouch. Neji had stopped when he heard her go back. When she returned to his side, she almost didn't say anything but she felt the need to share.
"I know who did it." She said as they moved forward, where are you Itachi? "They're gone now, but…it was an old friend of mine."
"Kakashi-sensei," Sakura said as they both peered from the trees. Guarding their gate was a man and a woman dressed in a similar uniform, the outfits were all black except for a red full moon on their left shoulders. "Is this a trap? Do they know what happened?"
"I can't say," Kakashi said evenly, "I can't be sure."
He leaned forward, "I don't sense anyone directly behind the gate, but they could be hiding themselves well. They do know we're coming, after all."
"We're sneaking in?"
Kakashi nodded and made two shadow clones. The two went off without him telling them anything. They approached the enemy, and while they did that Sakura and Kakashi dived over the hulking gate.
"We lose cover if we try for the gate," Sasuke said, peering through the trees. The gate was about twelve feet tall and judging by brick thickness, its width was quite impressive as well. The problem was that the gate was approximately 600 feet away from the safety of the trees. They'd be spotted. But Kakashi didn't say anything about staying unseen, Sasuke said to himself, he only wanted us to avoid battle. Being seen didn't automatically mean you had to engage the enemy…
Sasuke turned to face his teammate, "Naruto—"
"Cha! Believe it!" Naruto shouted from the trees as ten of his clones descended upon the four men guarding the gate.
Loser. Sasuke smirked before darting out and scaling the gate, "Hurry up, Naruto!"
"Good job, Tenten!" Guy said as he and Tenten dived over the wall, leaving guards unconscious on the ground, "Excellent aim as always."
"Thanks, sensei," Tenten smiled to herself, satisfied with her work as well. The two landed in an overgrown garden, ivy and vines covering what used to be sculptures and a marble fountain green with foliage.
"Now to find the others—"
A laugh deep bello of a laugh rang out around them, filling the garden with the sound. "Not so fast!"
As the voice spoke, the earth cracked beneath their feet. The two of them reacted instantly, jumping away from the splitting ground. Guy landed lightly on his feet, springing up again as the earth shattered beneath them. The debris seemed to pause in mid-air before flying toward them in a rage.
It was ninja. From what Naruto said, it's safe to assume the girl has connections to the Cloud but why not announce their presence or intervene sooner? It hardly made sense that it was them. Neji knew that much but who? He hadn't figured out that much. I wonder…
Neji glanced to his left, the Lady Akari wore a determined expression, undoubtedly focused on the mission, the way he should be. However, he still couldn't shake the feeling that something was wrong here, very wrong indeed.
His eyes focused on the stable chakra ahead. With his Byakugan, Neji could see the girl in plain view.
"I sense her." Akari said evenly. She sped up, "Go on ahead or stay…I don't really care. But don't stop me, that girl and I have history."
"I'm not leaving you." Neji replied with an annoyed snap. "It's my duty to protect you. All the same…" he inclined his head forward. "She's yours, but if she overwhelms you—"
"You've got me like last time," Akari laughed despite the obvious severity of the situation. He wanted to roll his eyes, ignoring the way his lips twitched into a smirk. "I know. Thank you."
She put on a burst of speed and sprinted forward. About a meter or so ahead, swallowed up by the trees, Neji saw the girl move.
Beads burst from the trees and darted around them. Neji spun on the spot, releasing chakra to negate the beads. When he stopped spinning, Akari glared at him.
"What?" Neji asked impatiently.
She stepped in front of him, "You know what. You said you'd stay out of it!"
"There were too many of them for you to deflect. Don't pretend otherwise."
Akari poked him in the shoulder, "I was going to dodge them."
"Sure." He smirked, batting her hand away each time she went in for a poke.
Akari waved her hands frantically, "I was!"
"Well, it's too late now."
"Oh, you think so smart guy?" Akari said sarcastically.
"You're being ridiculous. It's passed. Move on. You need to focus."
"I am focused. I'm—" The two of them leapt to avoid the barrage.
Anna's beads crashed into where they were just standing. Anna hovered in the sky, leisurely making her way towards them. As she moved the beads returned to her, orbiting around her as if she were the sun.
Akari and Neji landed side by side. They were fifty feet away from the girl. Akari peered up into the sky.
"I know you." Akari said, raising her hands as if to say she meant no harm. "You're from the Suzuhara, aren't you, Anna?"
"Of course, you do." Anna flicked her wrist and the beads barreled toward them, moving almost faster than the eye could see.
They jumped again, separating. Akari went forward. The girl looked at her, "You will die for the pain you caused."
Akari dropped back down. "Wait, I didn't cause anything. I barely know you, Anna."
"And I you, but you will pay for the sins of your family. And then they too will be dealt with."
Akari pleaded, "Anna, listen to me. We don't need to fight. There's something you should know about Yoruken—"
Anna waved her off, "I don't have time for lies. I want you to witness my truth…witness what your family did to mine."
"Anna…" Akari met her eyes and was immediately immobile. This…
In Anna's eyes, a shaky scene began to form.
"Anna! I didn't do it! I didn't—"
Anna cut her eyes at the scruffy looking girl, and rolled her eyes. "Then who was it?"
"And don't lie." Anna's voice was icy. "If you do…I'll know."
The pixie haired girl gulped, her cloudy, wide blue eyes too big for her six-year-old face.
Tohru looked just like a baby. Anna held her nose up with a smirk, she never looked so childish. Even at the age of six, her father told her she was one of the most mature people he knew. She was the most reasonable too! She had a sixth sense about honesty. She could always weed out the liars.
"Okay, okay," Tohru dropped her head, chewing on her lip. "I kinda…I mighta…I think I…"
Anna fixed her eyes on the girl.
Tohru peeked through her bangs and clasped her hands together like she was begging for a prayer, "I lost Genkai!"
"I was taking her for a walk…and—you know how she's so independent—I sort of lost track of her…" Tohru sniffled, her voice trembling, "I-I am s-s-so s-sorry!"
"I told you not to bother her."
"I know!" Tohru's lip trembled, allowing stray saliva to slip messily from her mouth, "I just…I really wanted to and you never let me play with her—"
Anna said nothing, heard nothing else. Anna couldn't elicit an appropriate enough response to even attempt to illustrate how thoroughly angry she was. Meanwhile, Tohru threw herself on Anna's feet as the other girl stood over her impassively, her hands down by her sides.
Genkai was Anna's dog, a gift from her mother, her last gift from her mother. Everyone loved that dog, but not the Anna did—never the way Anna did.
"Don't touch me." Came Anna's clipped response. She undid her red scarf and draped it over her head before wrapping it around her shoulders.
Tohru immediately backed away from her cousin, knowing to do exactly as the girl said when she was like this. Anna was considered a prodigy. It was never a good idea to piss her off.
"Anna! Please don't hate me!" Tohru screamed, her shirt soaked through with tears.
Anna turned her back and walked away, "Too late."
The Suzuhara lived quite a ways away from the main part of the town. It was about a two hour walk from the Suzuhara compound to the Tsukuyomi Palace. She and her father would take Genkai on walks around the town. They would stop at the little shops; they would by buns and dango. Genkai, of course, loved the barbeque on a stick. She would stand on her hind legs and do a dance for just even one sniff of meat. Anna would never make her suffer long before she inevitably gave in. Her father, Akio Suzuhara, would always call her soft and ruffle her hair. She would stick her nose up, pretending his praise meant nothing but he knew. Like her, he could always tell.
That's why she immediately started for the town of Benihime. Genkai loved Benihime. It was her favorite place to be other than by Anna's side. She was angry at Tohru out of principle. The girl could be so annoying! You tell her one thing and she did the exact opposite. The girl acted like she had no common sense. Anna supposed she couldn't help it, being without parents and all but it was annoying. What's more is that she knew the girl would tell her father. And her father would immediately set Anna down and make her apologize. "She doesn't have anyone." Akio would say. "I thought that you would understand what it's like to lose someone dear to you."
Anna would glare. "She acts like a complete idiot!"
"She's hurt. She's scared," he'd take Anna's chin, "and she just wants your attention. Try…please?"
Anna growled. The very thought of that conversation made her boil with rage. She'd take her time getting home. There was no need to rush that conversation. Just as she thought that, she grinned as a big ball of tan fur came pelting toward her, Genkai's chops slathered with sauce. "You silly girl."
Anna dropped the food she had in her hands and darted for her house. She ignored the two bodies on her doorstep, their clothes shredded, their bodies leaking blood. Her knees buckled on the steps but she forced herself forward. She forced herself onward, ignoring the voice in her head urging her to turn around. She slid the front door open and peered inside.
On the floor, her arms splayed in this award position, Tohru lay with glossy eyes. Her hands were painted in blood, her mouth much the same. Her body was with expression—without life, all except her neck. On her throat someone carved a red smile—
Anna burst out of the door and into the streets, her weak knees be damned. Anna grabbed her knees and vomited up her lunch until she was shaking, until she slipped in it and fell.
With bruised knees she gathered herself. Father.
She forgot the dog, forgot the food and launched herself through the chaos. In the distance, she could hear the clash of weapons. She could sense her father's familiar chakra now, pulling at her through the streets, over forgotten corpses. She ignored them all.
It was late in the evening and the sun was setting. It was casting waves of red and orange against the sky. She took a left down an alley and suddenly the ring of metal ceased. Suddenly she could make out her father's blonde head. He grappled with a figure—this was wear her vision began to blur. Her eyes began to burn and a pain wracked through her brain. She was sent to her knees but when she looked up, her father began to fall and the figure was nowhere to be seen.
Akari blinked back the tears that filled her eyes. The water rolled down her cheeks and onto her shirt. "Anna…I'm…"
Anna stepped forward, "Sorry? No, you're not. Not nearly…" she dropped down to stand in front of Akari, landing in front of her with a dull thud. "But you will be."
Akari shook her head, the tears straining from her eyes. "You misunderstand me. I am not your enemy. I am sorry for your great loss, your clan's destruction but not because my people were the cause of it." She raised one leg so she was kneeling only on one knee. Akari raised her head to meet the other girl's eyes.
Neji's eyes were warily trained on the beads hovering over the enemy's head. She was within striking range. He could intervene if need be.
"I was there all those years ago when the Suzuhara was thought to be becoming too dangerous." Akari extended her hand, "I can show you…if you'll let me. I was at the meeting. I was seven, but I remember. My family did not give the kill order."
"Then why were they slain? The only family with the strength and knowledge to come against mine was the Tsukuyomi—the Jewell of Lightning Country, friend to the Cloud, love of the feudal lord…the accolades go on. Don't lie to me, Princess. I am not in the mood."
"I'm not lying. Search your heart, Anna. You know it too…don't you?"
The look on Anna's face erupted into something Akari couldn't help but label as beastly—there was no other way to describe it. "No. YOU SEARCH YOUR HEART! I KNOW WHAT I SAW!"
"I do too, but whether or not you believe me is irrelevant. As much as I like you Anna, you're in the way." Taking a steadying breath, Akari began to rise, "I have a sister to get to, but I don't want to fight you."
"I don't want to fight you either. I want to execute you." She said through bared teeth. "I tortured your sister, you know. She begged me to stop…I didn't. She's practically a vegetable."
"Make your move, Anna. Your fate is in your hands…I hold my own. You have the power to change how this ends."
"That's right," Anna replied sweetly, "I do have the power."
The beads halted in the sky, and disappeared in strikes of light.
Naruto and Sasuke stood in the shadows against the wall.
A black clad soldier spoke into a radio, "Hey, it's coming from that direction. I need—"
Sasuke appeared behind him and delivered a blow to the back of his neck. The soldier dropped like a rock. He turned to look at Naruto, "That's Akari and Neji." Having fought her, he could pick her out easily. Even from this distance he could hear the crash of trees and the singing of metal as the battle ensued. He narrowed his eyes at Naruto's erect form, he seemed to be fighting with himself.
"Hey, idiot. You know the plan. Don't run off. We can't get the girl if you go off and get yourself killed." Sasuke said, "Naruto."
"I hear ya, Sasuke," Naruto said through his teeth, his hands clenched into fists at his sides. "But…" he looked down.
"That girl's a lot of things," Sasuke said, "But she isn't weak."
Sasuke watched as Naruto's shoulders slowly relaxed, but he still didn't turn from that direction.
"Besides, Neji's no pushover." Sasuke stood up, "She'll make it. Now come on."
Nodding, Naruto turned to the Uchiha, some unspoken thanks passing between them before they continued to the rendezvous point.
Neji and Akari tried to stay together but as the beads barreled toward them, they had to separate to avoid getting hit.
"Akari!" Neji said tersely, "Handle this now, or will."
Akari landed on a tree branch only to crash downward as the tree itself was shredded. She leaped onto another branch before running up the tree's trunk. She dived and landed beside the Hyuga, flashing him a smile. "No 'Lady' this time?"
He furrowed his brow, seeming to realize his mistake, "Now is not the time. Do something."
Akari rolled her eyes, but the moment was short lived. More beads!
They dived apart. Neji flared his Byakugan.
"She's amazing, isn't she?" Akari commented, landing once again beside the noble Hyuga. They dropped behind a tree and crouched down. "Still, we weren't just running for no reason. I have a plan."
Akari stepped from behind the tree into Anna's line of sight. She jumped toward the girl. Anna smiled. The beads struck forward and pinned the girl to the tree directly behind her. Akari let out a scream as three beads burrowed themselves into her hands. Behind Anna, another Akari jumped out at her only to be pinned again.
"Pathetic." Anna remarked as a third and fourth clone leapt into the air only to suffer the same fate. "Is the best you can do? If you can't touch me what makes you think mere clones can come even close?"
The forth clone spoke up, her pigtailed hair swinging, "That's true…but we did surround you."
Anna looked from the forth to first, and laughed, "and for your courage you've been pinned to trees. What an accomplishment."
"Indeed." The first one commented as it poofed out of existence, revealing a log with a paper bomb. Suddenly, they were all logs all of them with paper bombs.
Anna whirled around, the beads coming to her aid, "Damn you— "
The bombs exploded.
The beads couldn't disperse the smoke fast enough. The real Akari appeared above her and kicked her hard. The girl could barely react in time to block it. Yet and still she was sent to the ground. None of the beads could arrest her fall. She hit the ground hard, cracking the earth. Head ringing, Anna wobbled to her feet. She threw a hand up, aiming her beads at the Tsukuyomi princess above her but…she was gone.
Akari spun and kicked Anna back fifty feet into a tree. She put on a burst of speed. Anna's eyes widened as Akari kneed her in the stomach. The beads came up again, and Akari flipped back onto her hands. I don't want to expend any energy but I can't get rid of those things otherwise. Akari drew her signs, and pulled her senbon. "This is over."
Enraged, Anna threw her hand forward, "THIS IS OVER!"
Akari raced forward, Lightning Style: Dancing Claws!
The beads came at her as Anna struggled to her feet. Akari launched them, singing with electric current. They met the beads in the air and went through them with little resistance, halting their movements on contact. The dropped down into the grass. Anna opened her mouth, "No!"
More beads came, only to be met with the same fate. Akari walked toward her, deflecting beads as she went. Anna still had the strength to smirk, "My defense may be gone…but you know what happened last time you got too close to me…"
As Akari advanced on her she met with blue eyes, she watched as the pupil twitched and expanded. The entire eye, white and all was black. Akari was thrown into yet another vision.
She stood at the scene, the little Anna crying in front of her. Akari felt the bile rising in her throat, she could taste the stench of charged, mangled flesh. She wanted to vomit. The little girl with the sad, blue eyes stood in front of her, and pointed her hand. "You did this."
"You deserve this." Little Anna said.
In the outside world, Neji dived from a tree as Akari stood immobile. Anna didn't blink, despite sensing the Hyuga's approach, but he was much too far away. Anna withdrew a kunai.
The little Anna spoke, "You'll die here."
The real Anna jabbed the blade towards Akari's exposed neck.
"No." Akari answered, "I don't think so."
Akari placed her hand on the little girl's wrist, gripping the weapon she held. The vision slipped away. Akari grabbed the real Anna's wrist. Her eyes widened.
"You seem to have forgotten who you're dealing with, Anna." Akari replied. "You may have skills. You may have one of the most fascinating abilities I have ever seen, the way you use your own memories as torture…its astounding. But there was a reason my mother did not give the kill order…"
Anna felt something hook around her belly button, the world began to spin out—or was she the one spinning?
Anna blinked her eyes. She was in the same position but Akari was standing away from her, sitting on a park bench. Wait? What? She glanced around. She was in a park; the sun was out and she was wearing her favorite scarf but it was draped around her neck instead…wait. This was the park from her childhood, the one her father used to take her too. In the distance, she could smell sweet buns. It smelled so good.
Akari stood to her feet and crossed her arms, "…there was no way your family could even pose a threat to mine…not with the extent of your ability. Genjutsu is just that for your people…and it almost never works on us—well not on me anyway. You got the wrong sister, Anna."
Anna didn't speak, she swallowed the sudden fear she felt. This goofy, friendly girl…was this really her? was this little Akari from her memories?
Akari tilted her head skyward. Anna looked up and saw an uncountable number of weapons dangling above her head.
"Now this…is real torture." Akari shrugged, and gestured with her hand, "Let's see who's the real vegetable after this is ended, shall we?"
Anna screamed as the weapons barreled down around her.
Neji could still sense the two of them, but they were nowhere to be seen. He deduced it had something to do with Akari's power. Formidable. The fight is as good as over now. He thought, waiting beside the chakra signatures for the two to reappear. With his arms crossed, he waited. Soon after the two had entered, a few soldiers came charging at him but they were dealt with swiftly. No more than foot soldiers—distractions from the real enemy.
To his left, the air began to shift. He took a step back and the two suddenly appeared. Anna lay on her back in the grass, her arms sprawled out. Akari kneeled beside her.
"Lady Akari," Neji said, coming to stand beside her.
"Hey," she winked at him, and he chuckled. "Told you I had a plan."
"You should have given more warning." Neji replied icily, "I thought you were losing."
Akari weighed her hands back and forth, "Well, I would've lost if I didn't have a Nightmare Realm. That vision was something else. Any normal person would've succumbed easily—there's no doubt, unless you can see through genjutsu."
"I see." Neji inclined her head to the girl. "Is she dead?"
"Why?" Anna spoke, surprising Neji although he gave no visceral reaction. He should've checked immediately when the two came in but he'd allowed himself to be distracted. Rookie mistake, she could have used those moments to attack them both. It would have been his fault too.
"Why?" the girl began again, "Why did you spare me?"
"I told you," Akari responded, "I'm going to show you what really happened. I can't do that with you dead."
"Besides…" Akari smiled at her, "I know my sister's still alive and well. I could feel you causing her pain, but I also know that my sister is mentally resilient. She wouldn't crumble, not with me so close. And what's more…I like you Anna. You're pretty cool."
Author's Note: I see now that I need a stricter outline. I know what needs to happen in every chapter but I always end up leaving something off because it gets too long. If you can't tell I am very long winded.