Looking Up Into the Sky.
A/N: Hi everyone. This will be my first shot at a Naruto Fic. It will be an OC insert, and will be quite long. There will be some general Konoha bashing in the beginning, but it will ease off as time progresses. For those wondering, it will NOT be an OCxNaruto. Fiore will only be an older sister of sorts to Naruto, nothing romantic. No pairings have been set in stone, but I got a few ideas in the works. Mostly just Naru/Hina. No Yaoi or Yuri planned at the moment, other than some momentary poking fun at some characters for getting caught in embarrassing situations.
The prologue is pretty extensive, but rest assured, regular chapters will be just as long. What can I say? I like long chapters.
Other than that, constructive criticism is always welcomed. So without further ado, time to get the show on the road!
Disclaimer: I don't own anything from the Naruto anime/manga.
No memory of your past, no friends nor family looking for you, and waking up in a dungeon after six months in a coma, only to learn that you might have been a criminal, would be enough to make just about anyone wonder what to make of their lives. And yet, the Hokage offers you an opportunity for a fresh start, to build a new life, as long as you do not harm anyone nor endanger the village. So now I go by the name of Fiore, trying to make an honest living in the ninja village of Konoha, as I recover from my injuries and amnesia, while always having a ninja or two shadow my every move. I can't help but feel alone, trapped, untrusted and unwanted. And yet, as bad as things may look, I can't help but smile at the crazy antics of a young blond boy with a knack for mischief. Naruto Uzumaki, my first real friend, and also my new little brother.
Prologue: A casualty of circumstance.
Silent shadows moved about the ancient forest landscape. Barely making any noise at all, they would be unseen my most creatures. Only to the eye of a highly trained shinobi, could the shadows be seen for what they truly were: ninjas. And ninjas of high caliber at that. They were members of Konoha's infamous ANBU, the best of the best. The group of a dozen or so black ops members where moving with haste towards the north-east. Usually ANBU operated in smaller cells, but by direct order of the Hokage had so many been grouped together for this one mission. Each of them was fully geared and battle ready, their faces covered with their signature painted masks and the rest of their body covered by armor and a long black cloak with the hood drawn. They were to investigate the scene of a large scale fire that was ravishing better part of a small community and much of the nearby farmland.
Normally, forest fires were not an uncommon scene in the Land of Fire. However the climate was usually humid enough and there was plenty of water around to be enough to control any sort of brushfires that might have sprung up during the dry seasons. Fires in villages or towns were occasional, but mostly due to accidents or carelessness. This fire however had a different origin, for there had been reports of attacks by rogue ninja. So far, two villages had been leveled down in the last week alone. That was when the Fire Diamyo, the Feudal Lord of the Land of Fire, sent message to the Hokage to find out what has happening and to put a stop to it. As for the Hokage, seeing as not a single report was able to determine what exactly they were up against, opted to err on the side of caution, going for overkill instead of risking loosing several chunin or maybe even jounin. Although somewhat skeptic at first, the ANBU accepted the mission. And so they left quietly under the cover of a cloudy night, making haste towards their destination.
Mid way to their destination, they were glad of their leader's decision. Because even at a distance of over 50 miles, a large scale inferno was very easy to see in the middle of the night. This was no small time nuke-nin they were dealing with.
As they got nearer to the chaos, they could finally see the extent of the damage. The town itself was beyond help. Even with large scale water techniques, whatever buildings were left standing would be far too insecure to be usable. The nearby countryside, once full of wheat just a few weeks short of harvesting, was fully up in flames. All they could do now was control the damage, rescue the people and find out what started the blaze.
With quick orders from the captain of the ANBU, the ninjas broke down into smaller groups, racing off in different directions in order to surround the fire and begin to control it from all sides. A few other ninja were already on the scene aiding as best they could, mostly chunins with a couple of genins, and a pair of jounins. From the looks of it, the jounins had taken control of the situation and began the rescue efforts. The ANBU captain quickly broke off from his group and stealthily landed next to one the Jounin that was carrying a couple of children away from the fire. With a quick series of hand signs, the captain invoked a large wave of water, sending it crashing into the nearby land and putting out some of the flames. The Jounin, relieved for the assistance, quickly passed the children to a pair of nearby adults, before turning to greet the captain.
"Captain. It's good to see you."
"Looks like we made it just in time. Give me the rundown of the situation." Responded the captain without turning, as he continued to send wave after wave of water to the edges of the fire.
"All right, here's what I've managed to piece together." The Jounin began explaining while using various earth based techniques to cover and suffocate the fire. "A fight broke out in one of the bars between members of rival bandit groups. It turned into one hell of a pub brawl, and somehow a nuke-nin or two got caught in the chaos. That's when the fireworks really started. Several loose fireballs and lightning strikes later, the whole town was a blaze."
"This is way too big for a bar fight gone wild." Retorted the ANBU never stopping for even a split second as he continued his efforts to douse the flames.
"Aye. I too think that something is missing, but first things first."
With a silent nod both continued working. Eventually the ANBU headed off into a different area that needed more help, leaving the Jounin to his own devices. Yet unseen to the rest of the shinobi present, he captain was also looking for clues as to what really happened. He would also stop and quickly question any shinobi that was not in immediate danger to hear what they knew. So far, the stories were more or less the same, all revolving around a bar fight that got out of hand. A couple of fellow ANBU members conferred that it was very likely that rogue ninjas were involved. So far no living witness had been found yet to dismiss or confirm the possibility, but all the same the captain quickly ordered half of the ANBU members to begin hunting down any and all possible rogue ninjas in the immediate area.
A few hours later, the fire was finally controlled and reduced to large plumes of smoke coming from the charred remains of various buildings. The majority of the village managed to escape with their lives, but still a dozen or so dead bodies had to be retrieved from the buildings. A few more people with still missing, but the shinobi where working overtime trying to find anyone else that could be still trapped in the rubble. In the meantime, the ANBU captain and one fellow ANBU member were scouting the central parts of the village, were the fire was said to have started.
The bar in question had been a shady old joint that served watered down beer and was usually frequented by the lowest of the low. It was one of 3 bars that were in the poorer section of the red light district of the town, right between a medium sized warehouse and a large smelting workshop. Now, the whole block was reduced to ashes. Only a couple of metallic beams and large blobs that made up the remains of various machines from the furnace and forges remained. If someone got caught in the area, then they were most likely dead, either by fire or asphyxiating from the smoke, or when the buildings collapsed over themselves. The smell was horrible, a putrid mix of cheap alcohol, urine, vomit, charred skin, and a handful of industrial-strength chemicals where enough to make all but the hardest of souls empty their stomachs on the spot. Even for the ANBU, with years of training for the most gruesome of scenarios, this is barely tolerable.
The two moved quickly, carefully moving away some objects while being wary of the still red coals. The bar itself was too destroyed to get any kind of decent evidence. With a silent nod to each other, each man jumped to a different nearby building, one towards what was once a brothel, the other towards what remained of a cattle slaughterhouse. This time, the search proved more informative. The outer walls of both buildings showed levels of damage and destruction only possible through jutsu. They only stopped in their search when another ANBU member came looking for them.
"Captain, we found a witness to the start of the fight. He's injured but can speak. He's been moved to the makeshift camp on the north side of the village to receive medical attention." Quickly reported the new arrival.
"Good. Go get Raven over in the slaughter house and help him out." Responded the captain.
"Yes sir!" the man saluted before going off in the proper direction.
Wasting no time, the ANBU captain made his way quickly towards the newly set up medical tents. Needing no introduction, one of the ninja acting as head medical officer quickly directing him towards the witness after spotting the captain. Said witness was a man probably in his 40's. Few details could truly be seen thanks to the large amount of bandages already on him. He was laying on the ground, over a not-quite-clean blanket, but it was better than nothing. What could be seen, revealed that the man was covered in severe burns. Most of his hair was long gone, and a few places in his skill all but melted off from extreme heat. He would most likely live out in poor health for the rest of his life. A young man no older than 20 was quickly trying apply medical balms to the burns before bandaging them as neatly as possible.
"Sir." The ANBU captain walked right up to the injured man and kneeled next to him before addressing him. "I've been told that you know what happened to the village that led to the fire. I will require that you tell me all that you know." He spoke in a near perfect monotone.
The man groaned in pain as he turned his head over to the ninja. "Y-yes. I was… in the bar… where it all… started." His voice was raspy and weak, coughing every so often. Clear signs that he had breathed in smoke, but the captain was no medical expert to determine the severity of the problems.
"Continue." Prodded the ninja.
The man went into a coughing fit before the nearby medical staff used a healing jutsu to ease his breathing pathways. Once he managed to get his breathing leveled out, he began his story.
"Just after 4 o'clock, a couple of travelers came to the bar. Looked like they were coming from the Land of Hot Water, to the North. They…. Met with a couple of shady fellows. Mercenaries or ninja, both groups. They talked for a while. Ordered some of the more expensive brews. Sounded like they were negotiating a trade of some kind. Kept mentioning something about moving a woman. I was… playing cards with a few of the men from the foundry that just got off of work. Lost most of my hands. After a while, one of the odd men went outside, and returned after maybe half an hour carrying a woman over his shoulder. She looked drugged or completely drunk. Thought it was one of the brothel girls from down the street from her skimpy clothing. The guy sat her down in one of the booths and went back to talking with the rest. They talked some more, managed to pick up something about disposing of the woman."
The news brought up a few possible scenarios for the ANBU. It was starting to sound like people smuggling or slave trade. While slavery itself was technically banned in all of the elemental nations, in practice it was another story. Former prisoners of war and other criminals often ended up in slave like conditions. But it was not unheard of having a slave or two do manual or heavy labor at some lords' houses. The cover story was usually having them work off large debts.
"Can you describe the men or the woman?" any kind of detail would at least point him in the right direction as to where to search for information next.
The man lying on the ground wheezed a bit before shaking his head sideways as much as he could without pain. "My eyes aren't what they used to be. That coupled with the poor lighting and the smoke didn't help much either." There went the clues he was hoping for. "However, they were seven men in total. Four from the traveling group and the other three must have been from the region. They were all hearing dark colored traveling clothes and cloaks. The woman looked like she had dark skin and dark messy hair."
'Well, it's a start.' The ANBU told himself mentally. "What happened after that?"
"The woman started to come to. She groaned and mumbled stuff without making any sense. The men began to fight and shout among themselves. All the noise must have sobered up the gal 'cuz she was pissed and threw the first punch at the nearest man. Me and my buddies decided to leave before the fight really broke out. We paid our tab and left. We could hear the fight picking up behind us. One of my buddies was about to go find the local guards to break up the fight when we heard this huge explosion behind our backs. We turned around just in time to see the bar's windows explode and fire coming out the windows and open door. We heard more shouting when suddenly something or someone came out of the building. They moved so quickly all I saw was just glimpses. Then they must have jumped to the roof of the building up front and began to run away, like you ninjas do. Other figures came out the burning pub and chased after the first, throwing fire every which way and who knows what else. Soon the whole town was up in flames. I was trying to get my family and get out of town quickly after that. Almost had a building fall on me as I tried to make my out. That's… That's all I know." The man settled back down after relaying his story.
For the captain, this confirmed his suspicions about rogue-ninja. Now it was a matter of determining who exactly was behind all this. However with a dozen ANBU members at hand, anything short of kage level was not getting far. After all, he himself was a master tracker.
The ninja tanked the man for his assistance and quickly leaped away back towards the now broken down bar. During his chat with the older man, the smoke had lessened, and along with a stronger breeze blowing, it helped with the breathing. Visibility had improved somewhat, but it was not my much. It was after all the dead of the night, where only the moon above and the handful of buildings that still had lights turned on where the only sources of light.
Instead of walking into the run down bar, the ANBU changed directions at the last second, towards what remained of the town's tallest building. The old windmill, once proud and easy to see from a distance lost all of its blades to the fire. Now only the rough stone husk remained, and on top of that was where the ANBU landed. From there, he got a decent view of the whole town. From there, he could tell that the damage was rather extensive, but roughly half of the village could be salvaged and put back in working condition in a matter of days. The other half was sadly looking like it would need to be demolished. Aside from that, he could also spot clear indentations of where the fireballs landed. The crater's and scorched marks were of decent size, even from a distance. Whoever had caused that certainly knew how to pack very strong ninjutsu attacks, and judging from the level of destruction and the sheer number of craters, the person in question must've had some very good chakra reserves. All-in-all, he was potentially looking at a B to A rank missing nin. Or maybe several.
Well, it had been a while since he'd had a good challenge.
Smirking behind the mask, the man quickly made his way back to the ground, once again stopping in front of the burned down bar. He pulled a kunai with a flick of the wrist and nicked himself on the thumb, drawing blood. Quickly, he speeded through a group of hand signs while gathering his chakra, and then slamming his hand on the floor.
A large puff of smoke surrounded the ninja. Once the smoke cleared, it revealed 3 dogs surrounding the summoner: a brown pug, a silver husky, and a large black pit bull. All 3 sported blue jackets and headbands engraved with the Konoha spiral leaf emblem. The pug, the smallest of the three, lifted a paw up to greet.
"Pakkun, Shiba, Bull." The ANBU greeted all three in turn. "I need your help tracking down some missing nin. There's at least one."
"All right. Tell us what's going on and we'll get started." Responded the small pug while all three ninken began to look around to get a better idea of the situation, occasionally scrunching up their noses due to the still strong smoke smells.
"A fight broke out in this building over here." The man began to explain pointing towards the remains of the once bar. "Between a group of seven men and possibly one woman. Any or all of them could be nuke-nin. They left the building up in flames before running all over the town, setting fire to just about everything. I need to find where they ran off to, and deal with them if necessary."
The three summons quickly began to sniff around the immediate area. "Not gonna be easy 'kashi. The smoke and fire are overpowering almost everything." Said the little pug after turning to look at the masked man.
"The fires were most likely caused by jutsus. Perhaps you can detect residual chakra from the attacks. My nose sadly can't."
"Over here!" cried out Shiba, the silver husky. "I picked up the sent!"
The rest of the group quickly trotted over to the husky, who was standing on his hind legs with his frontal paws on a stone wall. The wall was heavily scorched, cracked in several places and held one rather large crater, with an almost human like silhouette in the center of the crater. The markings where about 3 inches deep. Whoever got caught in that hit would probably have some moderate to heavy injuries. There was no body in front of the wall, so he would have to ask later if someone removed a corpse from that spot or find out to where the person managed to get away to. Bull, the large bull dog, padded up to the wall and pawed away some of the soot from a couple of spots. To their surprise, they found a handful of clear-cut tube like insertions into the wall that made it all the way to the other side. They were little more than an inch in diameter, with thin groves along the inside of the holes on opposite sides. Also, all of the holes reeked heavily of stale blood.
"I can detect two scents here. One from whoever got impaled, who is probably in bad condition if not dead, and the other is probably from the attacker." Said Pakkun after climbing on top of Bull to get a better whiff of the holes. "How do you wanna go about now?"
The ninja gave the holes a second glance. Whatever caused those holes was either a very precise and narrow stream of chakra, an oversized and chakra imbued arrow, or one hell of a lance trust. Bows, arrows and lances were not favored very much by the ninja population. There were more common among samurai. He'd been through all five Bingo Books from the larger Elemental Nations, and could only say that he could count in one hand the total number of rogue ninja that favored lances, while there were roughly two dozen bow users. However, he pushed aside his guesses in order to get back to the situation at hand.
"Shiba, Bull, you two follow the victim. If he or she is alive, pin him down and come get me. If he's dead, report him to the nearest ANBU to take back to the guys at T & I. I'll go with Pakkun to chase the other one." With a few nods and barks, the group separated into two teams. The two dogs following the ground, while the human and pug took to the rooftops.
Within two minutes of following Pakkun, the ANBU no longer had any doubts about dealing with a potentially high rank missing nin. The trail was all over the place. One second he was running across rooftops, and the next he had to duck into a nearly invisible alley, only to run a block and climb back on top of a building, and later jumping right though open windows, continuing along hallways, up a flight of stairs, and then jumping back into the street thought a knocked down wall. More than once he and Pakkun had to backtrack because the trail would overlap. The person must have been very agile to make such sharp turns in a split second. It was one hell of an obstacle course, that's was for sure.
Maybe he could tell the rest of the ANBU guys about building a similar training course back at home. That ought to through some of the rookies for a loop or two. And probably some of the more senior members too.
"I picked up a second scent. My guess it's trying to get away from the person making all the holes." Piped in the little pug while still on the move.
A few more sharp turns later, the duo landed inside a crumbling building, whose roof had caved in. It had obviously been ravished by the fire, but it had been put out before it was completely consumed. Only some of the beams remained from the second and upper floors, while the first floor was more or less intact.
"I smell blood. Careful Kakashi, this place looks like it could fall down any second." Pakkun warned his team mate, now completely identified as Konoha's infamous Copy-nin Kakashi Hatake.
The little summon slowed his pace and quietly guided the human towards the direction from which the blood smelled the strongest. Both treated lightly, away from the weaker floorboards and staying clear of the damaged columns that held up what remained of the building. Neither wanted to be buried alive that day after all. A few more turns, and the two came to a room that was completely soot covered, and the wall opposite to the entryway was turned into some weird version of a pincushion. The wall was completely covered in holes, and with a charred corpse resting against said wall.
It was a grisly sight. It had been a male, judging from the overall body shape. The clothes had been almost completely burned off, along with much of the skin. Disturbingly, it looked like the man had been impaled from the back, not just in one place with at least 8 times, all hits were deadly, but only 3 where in the instant-kill zones. One through the hearth and left lung, a second though the neck and the last one right in the head. The weapons of murder had been removed since the kill, so only the body remained slumped against the wall. Judging from the overall amount of damage in the room, Kakashi could not fully determine if the attacker had piss-poor accuracy and later moved in for the kill one he was pinned down, or the attacker could serve out a large number of attacks at the same time. The effect could easily be replicated with small throwing weapons like senbon and kunai, but this was something larger. And whoever was doing this, was not leaving behind any sort of ammunition. Definitely not the work of an amateur.
From a one of the inner pockets of his coat, Kakashi brought out a rolled up scroll. Then, very carefully he pulled the corpse away from the wall and laid it face up. A quick search later, he found a slashed headband with the symbol for Kumo. Apparently the metal had partially melted in the fire and it had attacked itself to the flesh of the person. There was no way to identify the body, but most ninjas would cut the head off and take it along with the forehead protector to collect their bounties. Another mystery. Pushing that to the back of his mind once more, he opened the scroll and with a few quick hand seals, the corpse was completely stored inside the paper scroll. He would definitely be taking it back to T & I. Maybe Ibiki and the crew could make something out of all this. On the back of the scroll he quickly wrote 'corpse', along with the location where he had found the body. 'One dead, seven to go.' He thought bitterly.
Now that the corpse was properly stowed away, Kakashi could get a better look at the wall where the man had been impaled. The holes here matched perfectly with the ones he had seen earlier. Same clean cut, shape, size and everything. Definitely made with the same type of weapon.
"This way Kakashi, the attacker kept moving." Said Pakkun after his summoner straightened up and placed the scroll back inside a pocket. Then without a word, he followed the pug back into the dark streets outside.
An hour later, the duo had found four more corpses in similar situations as the first one, all burnt and stabbed repeatedly. Kakashi stored each in a different scroll. Two of the bodies had Kumo Headbands, one had a Konoha headband, and the last one had no headband at all, but was most likely also a ninja since the body showed evidence of frequent chakra use, and had the remains of a ninja weapons pouch close to the legs. Either he didn't carry a headband or he lost it somewhere during the chase and before he got stabbed twelve times. He was about to head off once again when a fellow ANBU member came to his side, shortly followed by his two other ninken.
"Captain." The other ANBU greeted formally his superior before continuing. "My team found a woman that appears to be a missing nin. She's unconscious right now, apparently from chakra exhaustion. She had a few minor injuries also. We have tied her up for now, and wish to have you see her."
"Do you recognize her from any of the Bingo books?" inquired Kakashi.
"I'm afraid not sir. Raven and Owl are currently flipping through 2 books trying to see any matches." Replied the other man.
Kakashi sighed, but nodded. "Very well. What about you two?" he addressed the two summoned dogs.
"Didn't take us long to find the body. I went and got one of the ANBU guys to store it away for later." Chipped in Shiba, while Bull only looked up to Kakashi and replied with a deep 'woof' before letting his fellow pack member do the explaining.
"That makes six bodies. Seven if the woman is in league with them. So there's still one more missing. Pakkun, do you still have the trail?"
"Yeah, I still got it."
"Good, you three follow the trail. See if we can grab ourselves the full party." The dogs nodded and ran off, Pakkun at the lead. "Ok, Hawk, where to?"
In mere moments, the two shinobi made it to the outer edges of the town, were five of the ANBU had gathered. Three of them were furiously searching page by page through a couple of different bingo books, while the other two were on guard. They all however stopped what they were doing in order to greet their captain with a chorus of 'sir!'s.
As Kakashi knelt down to get a better look at the woman, he asked the others "Where did you find her and how did you find her?"
"Less than half a mile from the town's edges, close to where one of the floodgates the farmers on the north side of the town use for the farmland. The area showed signs of a fight. We found her already out cold, in a small dry ditch. Tiger's team is still over there looking for clues, sir."
The Copy ninja took in all the information as he looked over the woman. She was either in her late teens or early twenties. Even with the poor lighting, he could tell that she had tanned skin. Her hair reached just under her shoulder blades, and was probably either dark brown or black, it was hard to tell with all the caked in mud and grime. Her whole body was covered in small scratches and had a couple of visible kunai cuts. She wasn't particularly pretty in the face, with a bruised lip and slightly crooked nose. He could not see nor smell any makeup. As for clothing, all she had on was a knee length, plain brown, wide skirt and wrappings around her chest. Both pieces had seen better days but it gave some much needed modesty. Her exposed midriff showed signs of lack of nourishment, but she was far from all skin and bones. Quite the contrary, the woman had a figure many women would die for, wide hips, slender waist and a large bosom. Tsunade's legendary rack still reigned supreme in that department, but this woman was quite gifted too. A perverted part of his brain, corrupted by years of Icha Icha, giggled almost deviously while whispering that they looked natural, instead of genjutsu enhanced. Evidently that detail was not missed among the rest of the male members of the ANBU, if his nose had anything to say, or the slight irritation from the two female members.
Mentally, he scolded himself for derailing so badly. He had a job to do! Plus she could very well be a rogue ninja, or worse yet, the one that chased down and killed the other men he had found. So with a mental kick in the shins, he went back to searching (making sure his eyesight stayed clear of the chest area for once). The woman was also barefoot, her feet rough and hard. She probably had not used shoes of any kind in a long time or did not use any at all. Another oddity to add to the puzzle. Shinobi very rarely traveled and fought barefoot. Bare feet left tracks, and even if she somehow used chakra to hold herself while walking, it would still leave small indentations in the ground. Shinobi sandals were special in that regard, with some practice and a little chakra molding, the ninja could walk around without leaving any sort of tracks at all. So either she figured out some way to not leave any tracks at all, or she was a civilian.
Kakashi's mind went back to the description from the old man. He had said that a dark skinned woman in skimpy clothing that easily passed off as a prostitute had been dragged into the bar. She wasn't exactly dark skinned, but she had the curves and the attire for the job. So a poor woman, down on her luck, having to sell herself in order to get back, got dragged into something way too big? Possible, yes, but it did not explain the chakra exhaustion. Civilians could indeed enter a state very similar to chakra exhaustion if fatigue was severe enough. No food for long periods and having to run for your life might have been enough to cause the woman to crash out cold. He tried to sense chakra coming from the woman, but he could sense none. NONE.
All living things had chakra, be it people, animals, plants, everything had chakra. Heck even the ground and water had chakra. Minute yes, but there still was chakra in there. Shinobi had larger reserves of chakra, hence the importance of learning to mask or suppress your own chakra early on in the shinobi career. Civilians had about the same reserves as animals of similar sizes, but the still had chakra. This woman had nothing coming off from her. Cero chakra. The only situation where chakra was not emitted by the body was when someone was dead, or on the brink of death. His mind quickly went into overdrive. He quickly checked for the woman's life signs. He pulse on her hand was weak but more or less constant, so he tried on the neck. He could feel her heartbeat there too. She was still breathing, considering the rise and fall of her chest. Well, she was alive, but he wasn't sure how or why, or for how long. The only other things that he detected where that her hands and feet had been bound in charka restraining rope, and several chakra sucking seals had been placed along the major tenketsu points, but they always left enough to keep the prisoner alive…
Something was wrong, very wrong with the woman.
"Did any of you detect chakra on the woman before restraining her?" he asked without turning around while doing some quick first aid techniques in hopes to bring out some chakra from the woman. Civilian or nuke nin, if they wanted answers out of her, she needed to be alive.
"When we found her, she had a faint signal." Said Owl, who was now reading page after page from his second bingo book. "Too much to be a civilian, but it quickly began to die down. We thought she was dying but we used just about every healing technique we knew and nothing. Somehow she's alive and more or less stable, but that's about it. She hasn't woken up or moved, but she's not getting any worse either."
"We even placed lesser seal suppressors that we usually would on suspicious detainees and other ninjas." Commented Raven without lifting her head out of the bingo book in her hands.
Kakashi swore under his breath as he began searching for signs of any kind of internal damage. He was beginning to regret having ditched those advanced first aid classes that had been offered at the hospital open to all Konoha ninja. But then again those had been right after the latest Icha Icha installment had come out! He could not abandon the freshly printed book while listening to some guy lull the class to sleep on some kind of monotone dialog. One only stopped in his frenzied search when the bingo book readers stopped in their page flipping.
"Could this be..?" softly asked Owl as he had his book held open in a certain page, while doing double takes between looking at the woman and the page at hand.
The nearest ANBU, Rabbit, bent over and took a peak at the page. "Huh… she looks a bit like her…. Not a whole lot though."
In a blink of an eye, Kakashi had nabbed said book right out of the hands of his fellow shinobi. He flipped a few pages until he found the one that the two other ANBU had been talking about, after taking a look at the cover of the bingo book he had swiped.
The earmarked page had a black and white sketch instead of a photo for id. Sketches were usually used when a rogue ninja hailed from no shinobi village in particular, or if they someone managed to survive into the big league while being almost exclusively self-taught. The drawing was that of a young woman with a feral like appearance. Sharp eyes, messy hair pulled back and slender face. Her irises were slit, much like a cats, giving her and even fiercer look. On top of her head a pair of straight goat like horns emerged from the thick mane she had for hair. Very odd indeed. Features like that of the woman in the entry were almost exclusively to some sort of bloodline, and bloodlines were highly sought out in every elemental nation –well save for Kiri that only wanted to kill them all off. If not for the horns, he could have passed her off as being from the Izunuka clan, with her feral look and everything, but then again she also lacked the tattoos and markings from said clan. He bent down, using one hand to gently lift the unconscious woman's face a little further into the light. The facial structure between the two was rather similar. It only added to the knot already forming inside of Kakashi's gut. Letting the woman back down, he turned to read the rest of the entry page. 'Icefire Ouka of the Northern Swamps' was the tittle.
'Age: aprox 20-30. Height: aprox 1.70 m. Weight: 50-65 Kg. Potential rank: A or B+ class rogue ninja. Distinguishing characteristics: icy blue-gray cat like eyes, a pair of horns extruding from the top of the head that grow towards the back, slightly curved, dark blue to dark green skin tone, some accounts mentioned that it looks more like reptilian scales. Two reports mention a tail coming from her lower backside and a pair of long bones extruding from her back creating leathery wings. Most reports don't mention extra appendages. At a distance she might appear to be a dark skinned, well-endowed woman, wondering naked thought the swamps without worry.
'The woman is believed to be named Ouka, and comes from somewhere between the northern borders of the Land of Fire and the Northern sea. She displays no headband, so her allegiance is unknown. She appears to be completely senile, wondering about in random directions and shouting something incomprehensible. She has only been spotted (and reported) in thick and dark swamp-like regions, mainly around Waterfall, Rice and Hotsprings countries. Once engaged in combat, she becomes narrow minded and will stop at nothing the kills the challenger unless he or she manages to flee far enough. She fights as if completely possessed.
'The two known encounters that have lived to tell the tale say that she was exceptional control over water-based ninjutsu along with some highly powered fire ninjutsu. It was said that she could create at will several ice lances out of thin air, which serve as her main weapon for close range fighting, but she can also throw them at a fair distance. She can also destroy or melt the lances at will. It is unknown if she possesses a Bloodlimit or not, however it is believed that she does not possess the once fabled Hyoton line from Kiri, since the only ice based attacks that can be confirmed are the invoking of the ice spears. Mostly she uses fire and water jutsus to disorient and to corner her enemies until she can kill them. She's said to have a maniacal grin and laugh when fighting. Also, she's believed to have exceptional stealth, easily able to move about on ground and in water without making a sound or leave traces. She's highly agile and fast, she can navigate easily in near pitch darkness and dodge both incoming attacks and geographical obstacles. The bodies of what are presumed to be her victims often sport severe burns, signs of drowning, and multiple inch wide holes made from what we believe to be her ice lance. Her combination of Fire, water and ice lances have earned her the nicknames 'Icefire', 'Frostfire', 'Firewater', and to a lesser extent 'Swamp Witch'.
'As of the start in which this book was printed and distributed, a total of 48 confirmed deaths have been labeled to be her doing, along with another possible 31. Out of the confirmed deaths, 9 were gennin of various age, 32 chuunin, and 7 jounin. The other 31 are not added to her tally since these showed evidence of attacks by other creatures or standard issue ninja weaponry, mostly likely they managed to escape from Ouka but where finished off by other passing ninja or wandering creatures. Other than killing her victims, she appears to leave the bodies alone. Money and supplies have been found untouched on most corpses.
'While she has not exactly committed any kind of high crime, nor has she endangered any known settlement, she has gained entry into the book because she can pose as a great danger to careless travelers and unsuspecting shinobi.
'She should not be aggravated nor engaged inside large bodies of water or in humid regions. Do not engage if your rank is lower than Jounin, and even then do so only under great caution and in numbers. Standing order is "Engage under caution and only when the situation is favorable."
'She has no established bounty on her head, but local lords might be willing to offer a reward for her confirmed death.'
Kakashi closed the book and sighed deeply. The description was eerily similar to the overall damage he had seen in the town. Far too close for comfort. If he wasn't wearing his full ANBU gear, he would have passed a hand through his hair more than once. "We will be taking her back to Konoha, and hand her off to T & I." He spoke to the rest as he got up. "If she is the woman from the entry then she will be executed. If not then she might be let go under surveillance."
The rest of the ANBU nodded and began to make preparations for transport. In the meantime, Kakashi went and searched for the other ANBU members to see if they had caught the last straggler. It didn't take him long to find Tiger and his team, who were all observing with great care what looked to be a small battle zone. The four ANBU there quickly stood to attention and greeted. The place looked like a one on one scuffle took place. One among high end ninja with no bars held.
Tiger, the leader of the immediate squad, began to point out their findings. Scratches, cuts, skid marks, disturbed earth, few deep grooves in a few rocks, scorched marks and even the same kind of lance holes galore. A pair of kunai were also retrieved, along with a handful of senbon and shuriken. Unlike in the town, there were also a few oddly damp spots of earth and muddy puddles left, evidence of water justu. Soon Tiger lead Kakashi over to the ravine were the woman was eventually found. A few footsteps were still imprinted, and some skid marks where she might have tried to pull herself out of the ravine but failed and succumbed to fatigue. The whole situation made Kakashi wish he had brought Shikaku, or a battle ready Nara, to put all the clues together and make heads or tails of the whole situation.
Sometime later, the rest of the ANBU team returned to report coming empty handed, even the ninken lost the trail on the other side of the town, opposite to where the mystery woman was found. However they also came to report that the last of the fires had finally been put down, both inside and outside of the village. Given that the situation was finally dealt with, it was time to go back and report to the Hokage. It was decided that half of the ANBU would remain vigilant around the village in case something new came up, while the rest would run back to Konoha with their findings. The reconstruction would be left with the locals and the nearest overruling land lord.
After making sure that the potentially insane woman was properly tied up, still alive and that the chakra suppressors where still in place the six ANBU plus captain raced back to the capital. They made it to the village gates just as the first few rays of sunlight began to peak over the eastern horizon. A quick check in at the gates, and then all six where speeding through the city. One member of the group soon broke formation and ran towards the Hokage tower, to quickly inform the Kage about what happened. The rest of the group headed to the Torture and Interrogation HQ. If there was anyone that could confirm or dismiss the possibility that the unconscious woman that they had brought back with them was indeed the senile rogue ninja from the Taki book, it was Ibiki and his crew.
Within minutes the five ANBU were guided towards the deeper dungeons in the T&I building. The deeper cells were reserved for dangerous personalities and high-end captured ninja. No one wanted to risk placing a would be loose cannon in one of the upper levels that were not quite as heavily guarded. Soon enough, Ibiki showed up along with three aides, just as the ANBU had finished strapping the woman in question to the center 'work' table, and began to prepare the cell that was chosen while getting the details of the situation out of the ANBU.
"So she's the one responsible for the uproar in the northern villages?" asked Ibiki almost incredibly. "I was expecting some A or B class rogue nin group, not some no name woman."
Kakashi and several of the others nodded their heads in agreement. "True, we were also expecting something along those lines. However," Kakashi stopped in his tale long enough to pull out several scrolls, the ones that contained the six corpses that were retrieved from the village. "These six were retrieved from the village. All of them were killed in the exact same manner. Burnt to a near-crisp and multiple stabs."
Wordlessly, Ibiki took one scroll, the top one from the group Kakashi had offered and walked over to one of the side tables big enough hold a body. After biting down on his thumb and using his blood to undo the special seal lock on the scroll (the ANBU placed special seals on such scrolls to make sure someone didn't open them up by accident), the remains of a body poofed into existence. The head interrogator let out a low whistle after quickly viewing the damage.
"Well someone knew the term overkill. Whoever got him, wanted to be sure that this guy stayed dead. Did you manage to retrieve the murder weapon?" The scarred man turned to the rest of the occupants in the room for an answer.
"Unfortunately, no." replied Kakashi. "The bodies were found in different places all over the village. If anything, it looked like each one had been hunted down individually before getting cornered and finished off. I followed the trail, and it was not a route that a civilian could do. I had to run up walls, jump over entire buildings, take sharp turns and even run along ceilings. Definitely a shinobi did it."
"I'll have to send someone to take pictures of the damage before someone starts tempering with the evidence or the demolition crews start tearing the place apart." The man grumbled to himself, but part of him was impressed. If not for the overall destruction of half a village, the person involved must have some very solid stealth, tracking and assassination skills. "But enlighten me, what made you believe that this woman did all the damage?"
It was Jaguar, one of the ANBU, who provided the answer by pulling out the Taki bingo book and opened it up in the correct page before handing it over to the torture expert. "The evidence follows the overall description from this entry's description. They even look somewhat alike. Plus, one of the locals that saw the original fight break out gave a description that does match the woman's. I did a quick roundup of the rest of the survivors from the fire and she was the only one that came close to matching the witnesses description, so at the very least, she was there when it all started."
"Icefire Ouka huh." The other man brought a hand to his chin as he read the rest page's text. "Well her victim's state right about matches what happened to that guy over there. You guys might be on to something. However their physical descriptions don't quite match. We are going to need to do a rather thorough search on this. All right, leave her to me and I'll see what I can find. I'll hand over the corpses over to the morgue division to cut the guys open." Said Ibiki after snapping the book closed and handing it back to the ANBU. "You are all free to go. I'll report to the Hokage what I find."
The ANBU members nodded and made their way out. Ibiki then turned to his assistants.
"Ok, Mo, get me a camera, several pairs of surgical gloves and the clipboard I left in the upper floor. Gary, go fetch my fun kit from the storage room. Calek, get me a double expresso, dark, with cream, sugar and hold the cinnamon. Now hop to it!"
Ten hours later, Ibiki was standing in front of the Hokage to hand out his findings. The room had been sealed off and the silence wards had been activated. Both men skipped the pleasantries as Ibiki handed over a pair of folders. Straight to business.
"The woman is an enigma. She has no chakra at all, and despite all of my attempts we could not bring her back to consciousness. I would have passed her off as dead but her heart still beats and her lungs still draw air. Physical injuries are mostly small and non-threatening. The only things that stood out were a bruise of some sort on the back, and a seal that appeared over her stomach when he tried using various jutsus to pump chakra into her. The seal looks like some sort of suppressant. It's rather intricate and I decided to not risk removing it for the time being." Explained the interrogator.
Hiruzen listened attentively to Ibiki's findings as he looked at the pictures and documents that had been handed over. One folder had pictures from the damage caused at the small town, as well as a written report of the damage. It was staggering, but it was not a complete loss for the village, they would recover within a year or two at most. The other folder held information from what the T&I department had uncovered, from both the corpses and from the enigmatic woman. It pained him to see the Konoha insignia on one of the bodies, but it pained him more to know that said man had abandoned and betrayed his team to a crime lord in exchange for money. The teammates were rescued but the traitor had escaped. Well until now that is. At least he had been brought to justice, albeit in a somewhat gruesome way. He'd have to get someone to update the records and label the man as deceased later.
The mystery woman was a whole different matter. He had already read the bingo book entry and had to agree that the overall damage from the attack and the bodies recovered fit the description for this Ouka woman. More troubling was that it also matched the evidence obtained from the other recent villages that had been attacked. The only differences were that in this last attack, the damage was more wide spread while at the same time directed. The other villages did not feature crumbling walls filled with spear holes. If anything, the other attacks were more about causing wide spread chaos and fear. This last case was clearly the result of someone having a clear objective: hunting down those six men and killing them for some reason.
At any rate, it was going to be difficult proving if the unnamed woman was the one responsible behind the attacks. He thanked small miracles that neither Danzo nor his old team mates and current advisors had been informed of this yet. Knowing the three old farts, they would probably cry out for the woman's quick death even if it could not be confirmed if she was the one behind the attacks or not. He could already hear the uproars about keeping a potentially mad nuke nin inside the city proper, even if she was unconscious and in the heaviest of fortified cells inside the T&I building.
But the old man pushed aside those thoughts and focused on the present, continuing to go through each of the pictures provided. The woman's injuries were not much. The bruise in the back looked like she had taken a good punch in the back, the area taking purple and green colors from the hit. The next picture was a close up of the seal Ibiki mentioned. Like the man said, it did look like a suppressant seal. Or more specifically, a bastardized version of the Five Pronged Seal. There were only a hand full of people capable of pulling off the complete version of said seal, two of his one time students, Jiraiya and Orochimaru were among them. The dearly wished that this was not the work of either. This mock off might have been the work of amateur. Several of the characters were completely wrong and several key parts were missing. Perhaps this was what had kept the woman in her near death like state. With a little bit of time and some careful tweaking he should be able to fix it and later remove it without causing danger.
"Very well. I'll come over and see to removing this seal. But the chakra absorbing seals should remain placed on her just in case." Commented the old professor as he placed the folders down and took another long drag from his pipe. "For now, keep this folder about the woman hidden and away from view. I don't want the council on my back for now."
"I'll start the necessary preparations." Responded Ibiki.
The scarred man bowed down before picking up one of the folders and taking his leave.
As promised, the Hokage had made is way to the prisoner cells later that day. Ibiki soon meet up with the old man and guided him towards the cell containing the mystery woman. Unlike in some of the pictures, someone had taken to covering the woman's chest with some wrappings while her hips had a towel around them. Ibiki then walked up towards the woman and casted a small healing jutsu on the woman, making the seal on her stomach flare to life. True to his title as The Professor, it did not take the Hiruzen long to correct the faulty seal and later removing it completely.
To both of their surprises, there were no changes in the woman. For a second, Sarutobi was starting to believe that perhaps he had removed the seal incorrectly, but there was no trace left of the seal. In their confusion both began to search for any sort of other seals that could have sprung to life, but there was none. Other than that, the woman still showed no signs of waking up.
"Perhaps the seal was so faulty that it simply did nothing?" Offered Ibiki.
"Hmmm… I'll have to make some tests on that later. At any rate, you won't have a seal interfering with you anymore. Get what information you can out of her. Maybe even get Inoichi to search her mind her answers. I want daily updates for at least two weeks." Responded the aged professor.
"Yes sir. Also, in case she wakes up, what would you have us do? The usual?"
"For now yes." Replied the older man after some thinking over. "Consider her as a criminal on hold for all practical purposes, but don't break out your bag of tricks unless she gets aggressive. There is a possibility that she might be innocent after all. And yes, do find a way to discreetly inform me should she wake up. Try to keep her calm and maybe get her to trust you and your workers until I get over here."
"Very well sir. I'll be using the kid gloves then." Said Ibiki with a smirk on his face.
The Kage chucked at the man's response. Despite his chosen profession, Ibiki did have a sense of humor. He could be as twisted as his fellow co-worker Anko at times, but he also knew how to tone it down when the situation required it. Hiruzen trusted Ibiki in that matter, and knew that the man would take a more civilized approach unless the prisoner woman became too unruly and uncooperative. Innocent or not, a calm prisoner usually was much easier to work with.
With the situation in good hands, the Hokage bid his leave, taking his time to get back to the tower. He wasn't exactly eager to go back to do paperwork. Maybe he should go and visit a certain wayward, troublemaking boy he saw as a grandson.
Six months had passed since that day. Now, once again Ibiki was meeting the Sarutobi elder in the Hokage office. Today, they were also accompanied by the Yamanaka clan head, Inoichi.
"I'm at a complete loss, sir. I've thrown everything just short of the kitchen sink, and still we have nothing on the woman." Ibiki told the other two occupants in the room with an exasperated tone. Rarely did Ibiki not get what he wanted out of prisoners, but the mystery woman had indeed put the man at his wits end. A couple of nearly destroyed training grounds were a testament to the man's ire. But true to his word, he did not resort to use his torturing skills. They would have resulted in being more counterproductive than anything else anyway.
Sarutobi sighed at the news. He too was beginning to believe it was a lost case. "What about you Inoichi? What have you seen in her mind?" he asked the blond man in front of him.
"In short, her mind is completely blank. If anything, I'd say she had a complete mind wipe. No memories at all. There still is brain activity in there, but it's only on par to dreamless sleep." The man sighed before running a hand through his long bangs. He too had tried everything in his repertoire, at first intrigued by the challenge put as the months ticked by, he too soon became irritated by the overall lack of progress and results. Even his appearance had become somewhat haggard, his hair had been pulled up in a messy tail, his face covered in a short stubble from not shaving during the last week, and even his eyes showed a few rings under them from working nights. "Worst part is, even I can't pull of something like that. I can erase memories from given periods of time, but never have I been able to completely destroy a mind. There was literally nothing left. Not even memory fragments or particles. I've seen the inside of victims with severe amnesia, they still have their memories, but they are shattered, scattered and rearranged in such a way that the mind can't put them back together without help. At this point, I'd say she might not even know how to read, write, talk or even walk."
"This is indeed most troubling." Commented the kage. The other two men nodded in agreement. "Physically wise, am I to assume that she has shown no changes either?"
"She's lost weight. Keeping her alive through IV needles isn't the best way to keep a body going, but since she can't eat nor drink on her own, it's the only thing we can do." Said Ibiki. "But other than that, she's still basically in coma, with no signs of waking up."
The men stood in silence for a bit, going over the information. Inoichi cleared his throat before speaking.
"Permission to speak freely sir?"
"Granted." Replied the kage.
"I suggest we… put her down."
The other two men looked at the blond for a second, trying to discern what was it that he was thinking.
"Explain your reasoning, Inoichi." Said the kage in a somber tone.
The Yamanaka sighed before collecting his thoughts to explain.
"She's been like that for over six months now. During that time, she has not been a single improvement towards waking up. If she does somehow, by tome miracle, come back to the land of the living, she will most likely be like a newborn, with no memories nor knowledge whatsoever. During these same six months, there have been no inquiries about a missing person with her description. Even our informants in other nations haven't come across any bills or petitions for a missing woman like her. Most likely… she has no family, another orphan from the Third Shinobi War perhaps. Or maybe she was disowned, unwanted, or abandoned for some reason. Chances are, no one will be looking for her, and it's even less likely that someone will take her in out of complete kindness. With heavy rehabilitation she might recover, some day in the far off future, but by then she could still be mentally 10 years old in the body of a 40 year old woman. Also… we are spending far too much on her and have gotten nothing to show for it." The blond sighed once again while putting his next words in order. "We could… put her to sleep via lethal injection. It would be quick and painless. Her body will simply shut down."
It was a somber reality, but the truth was that this little investigation was going nowhere. Inwardly, all three men had already considered the possibility of putting the woman down one way or another. A merciful death or face a lifetime as a cripple or invalid.
"And your thoughts on this Ibiki?" asked Hiruzen.
"Given our situation, I'm inclined to agree with Inoichi. It would either be that, place her in the retirement home, or make her a permanent resident at the hospital. If she does not wake up, then the hospital or a separate cell in the dungeons will be the only options." Explained Ibiki. "If she did wake up, then her future would depend on if she makes a full recovery or not. Also… if not for the fact that work had been rather slow of late, then we would not have had the time or the resources to spare to investigate the woman. My current list of prisoners is rather small, mostly just crooks and small time miscreants. Heck, even the last group of traitors that were dragged in by the ANBU cracked within an hour. Quite frankly, I'm close to giving some people time off before the holiday season starts."
The kage closed his eyes to contemplate. Inwardly, he hated ordering the death of innocents, but the woman in question was really between a rock and a hard place. There really was no winning outcome from the situation. He had already seen the tally for her upkeep, and it was starting to add up. Up until now, the finances allocated to T&I had covered the cost, but it should not have fallen unto them to keep a dead person alive. Part of him was inclined to believe that the woman had simply been at the wrong place at the wrong time, and paid a heavy price for it. But, a small voice in the back of his mind reminded him that ever since that the woman was brought in, there had been no more attacks on outlying villages. His spies and other intelligence agents had also reported that there had not been any new attacks by the fabled Swamp Witch. Even Jiraiya had taken the time to snoop around the areas for info. His old student was able to confirm the existence of the mad woman, and even sent copies of the pictures taken of the victims. There were exactly the same as the six bodies Kakashi had brought back six months ago, save for less fire and being more waterlogged. Sadly, Jiraiya had not been able to get better descriptions of the mad woman without raising suspicion. For all points and purposes, the Swamp Witch had been taken completely off the map. He didn't like it, but he had a village and a nation to protect and defend. If the woman was to die, innocent or not, then he would be merciful about it.
"Patch her up as best as you can and remove the chakra draining seals one by one. Then take her off life support. If she does not come around within a week, then put her down with a painless poison. The body is to be burnt and the ashes spread out in the forest away from the city." Ordered the Hokage as he took out a slip of paper from a drawer along with a brush and ink. "I'll have four ANBU watch over the cell for the week. Leopard, get in here."
An ANBU member with said animal mask quickly came out of the shadows without a sound, and then proceeded to salute his superior. "Sir."
"I want you and three others to help Ibiki in his current endeavor. You are free to pick your comrades for this, but I must insist that you select people that are skilled in restraining targets, and possibly someone that can rapidly place restraining seals too. If the woman inside the cell wakes up, you are to inform Ibiki and myself as soon as you determine if she poses as a treat or not. If she becomes aggressive and makes any attempt to attack, you have permission to kill. If she does not make any sudden moves then send a messenger and wait for further orders. For now go meet Ibiki in an hour at his office."
"Yes sir." the ANBU nodded and then disappeared to go fetch his team.
"Good, you two are now free to go." The kage turned to the two men in front of him. They said their farewells and went back to their business.
Once alone, Hiruzen just hoped that he had not made a bad call on this matter. In his old age, he knew that he was becoming much too soft hearted and too lenient. That, and the council basically trying to overrule everything that he did was leaving him near powerless as far as diplomacy went. He had made several bad calls in the past, and one of them weighed very heavily on his age worn shoulders.
Looking outside, he could see the product of one of those questionable decisions. Once again the Hokage monument was getting a makeover at the hands of a spunky, troublemaking, orange clad, spiky haired and blond boy. Despite all the trouble Naruto caused for him, he couldn't help but chuckle at the boy's mischievous activities. This time the boy was adding dark paint to Tobiramas's face, making the first Hokage look like he had thick mascara and eyeliner on, along with some red paint on the lips that could pass off as lipstick. Hashirama's face had already been doodled upon with various multicolored stars, hearts, spirals and… A pony? He shuddered as to where the boy could have come up with the idea for a bright pink pony. Naruto had yet to reach the other two faces. Despite all the boy's faults, he sure knew how to sneak around the village's ninja.
In truth, Naruto always made him smile. His pranks were some of the only things that made him smile now days. He also knew that by now, an angry chuunin would be marching right thorough his door any second now…
Right on time.
Elsewhere, in the T&I HQ, Ibiki and the four ANBU were standing around the unconscious woman and Ibiki began removing the currently places seals and the straps holding her down. He liked the team Leopard had picked. A civilian born shinobi, now ANBU, that had made a name for himself as a Taijutsu master that was particularly good at disabling others via pressure points, a Nara to shadowbind, and an all too familiar mop of silver hair that was Kakashi. Leopard himself was an expert with genjustsu, so all bases were covered. Kakashi had been an interesting choice, but then again he was the only surviving student from Minato Namikaze, the village's sealing genius. The Hatake might not have his sensei's natural knack for the sealing arts, but there were few people that could match his speed at making hand seals, nor complete with his vast array of known jutsu. The agreed set up was that Leopard would throw a genjustu over the woman to disorient her, the Nara would immobilize the woman with a shadow-binding technique, the Taijutsu master would move in and basically royally screw up her nervous system and prevent any movement, and lastly Kakashi would step in and place binding seals to shut her down, or, in the worst case scenario, execute her. As for Ibiki, he would have his hands full removing the current binds and the various cables attached to the woman, but if he managed to get his hands free, he would also assist in restraining her.
Once all five shiboni got into their positions, with a silent nod shared through all of them, Ibiki began to remove the medical equipment from the woman. With each cable removed, with each needle pulled out, the elite ninja were looking for any sign of movement, the slightest twitch or fluttering of the eyes, but nothing happened. No movement at all. All too soon, Ibiki finished with the medical equipment and proceeded with the binds, and that too was soon removed without incident.
Before long, the last of the restraining binds and seals was completely removed. All of the room's occupants, sans the one that was out cold, had been growing more and more tense with each passing minute. Yet, for better or for worse, the woman had not even flinched. They waited a full 5 minutes, frozen in place, waiting to see any response from the woman, but nothing. With a grunt, Ibiki was the first to break the silence.
"I don't like to bite the kunai this soon, but looks like she's not waking up." The said as he took a step back while crossing his arms.
It was a bit of a mixed blessing. On one hand, there went the risk factor for a full out brawl, but on the other hand, there went their chances at getting any kind of good info out of the woman. 'She might be simply too far gone…' The interrogator thought to himself.
Either way, there were other things to do. So after clearing his throat, he addressed the ANBU. "Plan B then. Guard duty until she wakes up, or the week is up."
The other ninja nodded in response and got out of their battle stances, but they remained alert and at the ready. Before long, the room was cleared of all the medical equipment and any other furnishings, leaving the room completely bare, except for the small cot in the middle and its sole occupant. The men then filed out and closed the door behind them without making a single sound, activating the final containment seals that placed the room under complete lockdown. No one got in or out unless Ibiki said so. Now, it was just a waiting game.
Six days had passed since the mysterious prisoner had been taken off life support in the deeper parts of the T&I building.
"Ibiki, sir. The woman appears to be coming too." said one of the masked ANBU that suddenly popped into the T&I leader via shunshin.
"Well I'll be. I had pretty much given up hope on her." Responded Ibiki while placing down the papers he had been reading through. "What's the status? And who is watching over her?"
"She's not fully conscious yet, just moving slightly and moaning for the most part. So far she did not show any signs of aggression, just some pain and discomfort. ANBU Raven is currently watching over here, and I also took the liberty of contacting the others to arrive as soon as possible. I've also sent ANBU Mouse to inform the Hokage."
Ibiki frowned a bit, but then closed his eyes and nodded. The ANBU had made a good call on rapidly informing him and his fellow team members. The Hokage would probably take a bit to arrive, having to move around the dammed council and thrice dammed advisers to not raise suspicion. Thankfully the woman's presence was still only known to a handful of people, and no one from the council –except for Inoichi- knew of her existence. Those old farts, Homura, Koharu and Danzo would have tried many times over to kill her off many times over as soon as they so much as caught a whiff of this little side project, claiming some narrow minded nonsense about 'better safe than sorry' or 'trimming the potential problem at the bud before it even got a chance to bloom'. Ibiki personally had no love for that trio, and frankly did not know how or why the Hokage put up with them. Those three should have retired about five centuries ago in his humble opinion. None the less, those old coots where off his back, but he knew that the older Kage would have a harder time getting them off of his. However, the four ANBU and he should be more than more than enough (more like overkill) to handle the situation until Sarutobi could sneak out of the tower. 'Maybe he should get that boy, Naruto, to give him council-skipping classes. He's awfully good at sneaking out of his own classes'.
As for the woman's response, it was somewhat mellow but actually expected. After all, given what the woman and been put through, no big wonder why she wasn't quite there yet. He would have to send a messenger to get Inoichi to do a mental review of the woman. That and maybe a medic to do a full checkup, possibly getting some serums into her system. Over six months without eating a single thing really does a number on the body. But first things first, there was still the issue about not being sure if the woman was friend or foe. There was also the danger that the woman could try to attack as soon as she got enough of her bearings back. It wasn't the first time in his career life that he had had prisoners turn feral and desperate when they figured out that they had been captured. Shinobi in particular tended to be…. Suicidal, when they got to see him in person.
Either way, there were more pressing issues. One, the woman needed to remain fully restrained until they could determine how to proceed. Second, if she was more or less conscious, then a seasoned Yamanaka could perform a decent mind sweep to see if there was anything of use in there. Last time Inoichi tried his luck, he told the interrogator that there was literally nothing left, but either way, a dive into the mindscape might still be useful in seeing just how far gone, mentally wise, the woman was, and from there determine just what kind of rehabilitation the woman could need, or more immediately, now to approach her. That information could later be relayed to the Hokage, should he not be able to arrive in person until much later.
"Very well then. Let's not waste any more time then and go see her." Said the interrogator as he got to his feet and stretching his limbs. Dammed paperwork.
After getting a messenger to fetch a medic and the Yamanaka clan head, he silently followed the ANBU down to the prison cells. Upon arriving he saw three fully geared and ready ANBU surrounding the center table in battle stances. Wordlessly, he approved of their actions and quick decision making. Behind Ibiki, the ANBU that had gone to inform him already had senbon ready in each hand and was shifting into a battle position. As for Ibiki… well, he always had more than a handful of surprises at the ready at any given point in time. Once seeing that everyone was at the ready, Ibiki did a quick sweep of the room. So far nothing was out of the norm. Save for the woman that was tossing slighting and moaning.
Patiently they waited; all five of them to see just what the woman did.
There were times when the woman's eyes fluttered for a brief moment, but then she would turn her head to the side while groaning, as if the light was too much. Other than that, only slight movement and twitches were seen.
Roughly ten minutes later, Inoichi entered the room, followed by one of the T&I medics carrying a handbag with a wide assortment of medical tools. Judging from the Yamanaka's face, he had been incredulous when he had been informed, but now there was no doubt. Once he regained his composure, he turned to Ibiki.
"Still out of it. She's been showing slight movements, but hasn't shown signs of regaining consciousness." Responded Ibiki without taking his sight away from the mystery woman. Plus he didn't need to. He had worked alongside the Yamanaka long enough to identify the man from his chakra signature alone from a distance.
The blond grunted in response. "How long has she been like this?" he asked in return.
"About 15 minutes sir. There have been no noticeable changes since she started moving." This time one of the ANBU in the room answered the question, the one with the Raven mask.
"That's way too long. She should have either woken up or fallen back to sleep by now." Inoichi was no medical expert, but he knew enough to tell that that was not normal. The rest of the occupants in the room were having similar thoughts.
Ibiki was a patient man by nature. It had served him well in all his years under the T&I department. Granted, this woman had unknowingly tested some of those limits, but he also knew when was the time to act. The human body was at times a rather fragile thing. Push just enough and you can get what you want, push too much and the damage could be irreversible. Acting prematurely rarely gave good results, but waiting too long could also prove disastrous. In this case, the woman could be fighting for her on a purely instinctive level, trying to wake up, or she could be on her last throws before finally shutting down for good. Should he wait out longer? To see if she had some remaining strength to make it on her own?
No, he decided. Now was not the time to wait any more. Over six months had passed with the woman being artificially sustained. There was slim to no chance of her making it on her own.
"Orahara." He turned to the medic, a middle aged man with thick glasses and a mop of unruly brown hair. "Quickly perform scans on the woman to see what her body's current situation is. Figure out if she's shutting down or what."
The man quickly got to work. He pulled over the only table in the room and placed his medical bag on it, pulling a few instruments. This man was the only doctor that had been working on the woman during the last six months, making him a bit more knowledgeable as to what to expect. He also was the one that officially discovered and stated that the woman had apparently no chakra at all, and he also discovered later on that chakra based healing was nowhere near as effective on her as it would be on any other person. He had to resort to other more traditional means, just as balms, ointments, stitches and a lot of bandages. This little quirk also meant that chakra based scans where utterly useless, which was why he was checking for vital signs the old fashion way. He swore out loud as he yanked off his Stethoscope.
"She's going into cardiac arrest." Said the man as he shot up and began to desperately search his bag for whatever he was about to do. "She's having trouble breathing, her hearth rate is going through the roof, somehow her blood is clogging up all over the place as if it was thicker than molasses and on top of that, some of the organs are starting to shut down."
Ibiki quickly took charge. "What do you need to get her back under control?" He was not about to let someone just slip out right under his watch. The fact that she was fighting to remain alive, was enough to give her a chance.
"Room to work in and two litter of blood from the hospital Type A+. This is going to get messy."
One of the ANBU quickly left via shunshin to retrieve the blood before Ibiki had to even give the order. By the time the elite ninja got back, there was a frenzy of movement and activity in the room. Weapons had been put away and everyone was assisting the medic in any way they could.
It had been touch and go for several long minutes, but in the end the doctor had managed to flush the woman's system from the blockages in the veins and bring her vitals back down to a safe level. The room was a bloody mess, the sides of the bed featuring noticeable blotches of dark blood. Blood that had turned into literal poison.
But their efforts were not in vein. After maybe one hour of frenzy, the woman's life signs had normalized. Clean, healthy blood no circulating through her system, and most of the rank blood and been drawn out. She had cuts all over her body, but at least the danger had passed. In the chaos of the moment, one of the ANBU even had to roll up his sleeve and get blood drawn out of him, because they needed fresh compatible blood (he lucked out being the only compatible one that could be spared), not something that had been 6 months in a fridge. Thank Kami for blood pills.
During the cleanup and patch up, the medic explained to the others that what had apparently happen was that her body must have entered a state of artificial animation. More like artificial sustention, if anything, but she was alive... sort off. At any rate, at some point the body forgot how to function on its own, so when she was taken off life support, her body just didn't know how to function. Eventually it all just came together and began to shut down, one thing after another. That's why it took them so long to cleanse her body from all the toxins that could not be expelled and restart unresponsive organs.
In the end, they all breathed a little easier once the woman was stabilized. Their calm was once again interrupted when the medic called them all out.
"She's waking up!"
Once again, weapons were pulled out, kept discreetly out of view, and fighting stances taken. Everyone other than the medic and Inoichi stepped back, but they were keenly paying attention. They all watched in silence as the medic tried to gently nudge and coax the woman out of her slumber. Soon enough, they were greeted by a fluttering of eyes and stiff movements.
"Easy there. No need to rush." Said the medic as he began to monitor the woman's responses. There was no way to tell yet if the woman could even recognize that she was awake, or if she even understood him, but all the same he took it steady in order to not spook her and throw her into panic. "You might feel tired, sluggish and in pain, but just take it easy."
Slowly but surely, she slowly came to.