Naruto: Shichiyo Gaiden XII
Chapter 12: Race to Suna
Naruto sits at his desk in front of the other nine members of the 11. Naruto has his hands in his hair, shaking his head back and forth.
“My recon ended part way through the Land of Rivers, but from their direction, they were heading into the Land of Wind.” Shino says.
“So that means--”
“That means I should get going.” Kankuro says, interrupting Naruto. Kankuro enters the room, followed by his three genin.
“That would be best, nothing good can come of their entering that territory.” Neji says.
“But isn't that sort of reckless?” Koji says in the background. “Whoever did this, why would they head into the territory of another Great Nation, especially one allied to the one they just attacked?”
“He brings up a good point, there must be something there that is worth while for Kabuto to exploit.” Neji says.
At that moment Kankuro's eyes widen with a horrifying realization.
“This isn't good!” Kankuro says as he runs to the door. “Naruto warn Gaara, tell him to put extra security on Ichigo.” Kankuro says frantically.
“I'll send one of my toads.” Naruto says.
“Excuse me Hokage-sama but that's not really a good idea.” Koji says. “It's going to be hard for a toad to last long in the harsh climate of the of the Land of Wind.”
“He's right...damn it.” Naruto says trying to come up with an idea.
“Koichi, Koji, Ryoko lets go, we have to get back to the village now.” Kankuro demands. He turns around towards the door and he sees Temari. “Temari?” Kankuro says shocked.
“I'm coming too.” She says determined.
“Temari, Shikamaru is--”
“I know,” Temari cuts off Sakura, momentarily gaining a look of depression. She regains her natural attitude and looks at her brother. “Shikamaru is lazy but he's not going to take the easy way out of this one. I know he'll fight and I trust you and the others to take care of him Sakura. Right now I need to return to Suna and help the others.” Temari says determined.
Kankuro nods and turns to his students. “Come on.” Kankuro, Temari, and the three genin head out of the mansion and they begin their race to Suna.
“What do you propose we do now Naruto-sama.” Neji asks.
“We should go and help Gaara and Sunagakure.” Lee suggests.
“No, as much as I want to, I don't think we can afford to. We need to focus on our village right now and work on finding Kabuto ourselves...besides, I'm more then certain Gaara will be able take care of his village. Kankuro and Temari are there with him too...or will be, you know what I mean.” Naruto says.
“So, what is our next move?”
“Right that...Anyone got any ideas?” Naruto asks. Sakura punches Naruto in the back of the head and shakes her head.
~In the Ruins of Suna~
The hidden Sand dunes and caverns behind Suna lay with dead corpses as Kabuto makes his way through the elaborate maze of sand. As he gets closer to his target he begins to hear screams of horror and pain. As Kabuto continues his way through the caverns, it begins a small opening at the end of the corridor comes into sight. He walks through and sees several Sunagakure shinobi armed and surrounding him from every point. Kabuto smiles and walks into the center of the room and one of the shinobi makes the half tiger seal and the entrance where Kabuto entered from collapses behind him.
“I don't think that was very wise of you, now you can't escape.” Kabuto says.
“We don't need to escape, we're going to kill you here and now.” The captain says.
“Well, aren't we confident, unfortunately I'm, kind of on a tight schedule so I'm going to have to kill you all quick” Kabuto says casually. At that moment the group of 10 Suna shinobi throw kunai at him from all directions, and he uses the snake from under his robe to circle around him, deflecting the several kunai. “Sen'ei Tajashu”
Kabuto shoots dozens of snakes from the sleeve of his robe towards the shinobi in front of him at an amazing speed. The snakes bite into the necks of the four shinobi, killing them instantly. The remaining shinobi on either side of Kabuto make quick seals and the shinobi to the left of him let out a powerful gust of wind. The wind lifts Kabuto up and pins him against the wall. The three shinobi then spit out large flames of fire, which is only fueled by the wind jutsu and the wind enhanced flames completely engulf Kabuto. As the shinobi release the jutsu, Kabuto begins to fall, his body completely chard. At that moment Kabuto's mouth opens wide and he uses the body shedding technique to leap out of his body and his true snake form heads straight for three of the shinobi. Unable to react quick enough, Kabuto strikes the three shinobi, biting them in vital points on their necks, causing them to fall dead instantly. The remaining three shinobi back away from Kabuto as he begins to regenerate his body.
“I told you, closing off your only exit was a bad idea.” Kabuto says
“What are we going to do?” One of the shinobi asks.
“Didn't I tell you already.” Kabuto's voice appears from their rear. The three shinobi turn in shock, realizing Kabuto was behind them. “You're going to die.” As they turn they hear a hissing sound and Kabuto strikes them all down in one foul swoop, with the chakra scalpel to the necks.
Kabuto hears the screams again and he heads to the door at the end of the large area. As he opens the door, the shadow of a person hides half of himself.
“Who are you?” The man asks painfully, panting heavily.
“I'm Kabuto Yakushi, and I take it you must be Ichigo...the Ichibi Jinchuuriki correct?”
At that moment, the other half of Ichigo's body comes into full view in the light and it's half consumed with the Shukaku. Sand spills down the demonic half of his body. As Ichigo goes to say something else, he begins to feel an immense amount of pain and he cries out again, hobbling over and holding his head while he does so. He looks back up at Kabuto, both of his eyes, now resembling those of Shukaku.
“What do you want with me?” The Jinchuuriki asks, squinting his eyes in anger.
Kabuto smiles as he begins to make seals. “Nehan Shoja no Jutsu” Dozens of feathers begin to appear and fall all around Ichigo. Ichigo's eyes begin to get heavy as he struggles to remain conscious. “Don't fight it.” Kabuto says.
Unable to defend against the genjutsu, Ichigo falls asleep. With Ichigo asleep, Kabuto begins to make his exit from the chamber and heads out of the ruins.
Kabuto exits the ruins and as he does they begin to crumble behind him as the sound of a monster's roar is heard in the background.
~In the Land of Wind~
Kankuro, Temari and the rest of the team make haste, returning into the confines of the Land of Wind quickly after their departure from Konoha. Kankuro's lead is rushed as he drives forward at a frantic speed, his students are barely able to keep up.
“Hurry up, we don't have any time to waste!” Kankuro shouts.
Koichi and Koji manage to stay relatively close behind the two jounin, however Ryoko lags behind more and more as the time passes and her teammates' paces only increase.
“Kankuro-sensei, slow down.” Koichi says exhaustively.
“We don't have time for that!” Kankuro returns.
“Kankuro, I understand how serious this is too, but we can't honestly expect them to keep up with us, not at this crazy rate of yours.” Temari defends, however her plea falls on def ears as Kankuro accelerates forward again.
Ryoko pants heavily as she begins to lag further behind her more able bodied teammates. “*This is crazy, they still have all this energy after that fight?*” Ryoko thinks to herself, seeing Koichi and Koji keeping great pace. Ryoko finally comes to the realization that she's behind everybody and she hears the voice of her father.
“I don't accept failures as my children, remember that.” the voice says in her head. Ryoko clinches her fist and she begins to force herself further, beginning to channel chakra into her feet to assist. As Ryoko begins to bring up the rear, Koji shifts his eyes back and notices her. She gets along side her teammates and maintains their rhythm.
After only a few minutes Ryoko begins to experience fatigue and her vision begins to blur, she falls behind the group again. Trying to shake off the disorientation she feels, Ryoko tries to gain more ground again, but she slips off one of the branches of the tree and begins to fall. She lets out a small yelp, however, before she falls very far, Koji appears under hear and she falls right onto his back.
Koichi looks back and sees Koji catch Ryoko and his face fills with anger. “Kankuro-sensei, we're taking a break now!” Koichi yells
“Who do you think you're talking to?!” Kankuro says with frightening authority. “You have no idea what's at stake!”
Suddenly a gust of wind blows in the opposite direction of Kankuro's path, forcing him to stop. Kankuro looks back and sees Temari, realizing she had caused the wind.
“That's enough Kankuro. Look at them.” Temari says sternly. Kankuro looks back and sees Koji holding a barely conscious Ryoko on his back.
“Sensei, if you told us what's at stake, maybe we wouldn't be so defiant, regardless not all of us have the stamina to keep up with this ridiculous pace.” Koji says calmly, turning his head to Ryoko, looking at her worryingly.
Kankuro sighs and complies with the demands of his students.
“We've been forbidden to talk about it.” Kankuro begins as he sits down on a tree branch. Temari looks at Kankuro in a worried fashion. “So many years have passed since the last Great War and yet very few things have changed over the course of history.”
“What are you talking about?” Koichi asks curiously.
“When you were all in the academy, you learned about what a Jinchuuriki was correct?” Temari asks. The three genin nod their heads to the question. “You were told that Jinchuuriki were people who possessed demonic spirits within them that contained massive amounts of chakra and that their purpose was to protect the village from the monsters by hosting them within their bodies so that the monster wouldn't get free...but that wasn't the whole story.”
“What do you mean?” Koichi asks again.
“The primary use of these chakra monsters or Bijuu, are as military weapons to maintain a balance of power between the Great Nations. However with no real way to control such creatures in their natural form, they need to be controlled by some other means.” Kankuro says solemnly. Kankuro looks up at his students very seriously, “Those means are by sealing them into another vessel and to have that vessel work as a medium to control the powers of the Bijuu. In essence the Jinchuuriki is a weapon.”
The three genin look with surprise in their eyes at their sensei and Temari.
“So you're saying that a person is chosen to be the Jinchuuriki only so they can act as a weapon for the country they serve?” Ryoko asks.
Koichi begins clinching his fist in silent anger and Koji immediately picks up on the tension his brother gives off.
“That's correct.” Temari confirms in a low tone. “A village's Jinchuuriki is their most precious treasure in terms of military stability, however, the prices that come with being a Jinchuuriki are much inhumane then you might think.”
“More so then treating a comrade like a mere tool?!” Koichi says raising his tone slightly.
“The Jinchuuriki faces constant ridicule from the village they serve, as if they were the monster themselves. They're shunned, hated, and feared because of the power they possess. It's a job with the heaviest burden anybody must face. However, there are ways to rectify it, but it's by no means an easy one.” Kankuro says. “Few Jinchuuriki have gained a status of respect and praise from their village, and they've done so with pure will of perseverance and dedication to their people. Gaara and Naruto are two of these people.” he says.
“Wait, so both the Hokage and our Kazekage are Jinchuuriki?” Ryoko asks.
“Not exactly.” Temari says. “Naruto-sama is still a Jinchuuriki but Gaara isn't. He had his Bijuu extracted from him, many years prior to the last Great War.”
“What happens if the Bijuu is extracted?” Koji asks.
Both Temari and Kankuro go speechless as they both finally notice Koichi's built up anger at the entire situation. “Something Gaara escaped because of the sacrifice made by one of the greatest to ever come out of our village, but it's something that is inevitable now. If we don't hurry back to the village, I'm almost positive it'll happen.” Kankuro says.
Koji and Ryoko nod and Koichi simply stands with a dark look on his face. The group of five shape up and they continue their race to Suna.
“Kankuro, there is something else bothering you, I can tell.” Temari says softly to her brother. “You're worried, but not entirely for the village.” She says trying to get to the bottom of it.
“Koichi's the next one.” Kankuro says darkly. Temari's eyes widen in shock at Kankuro's statement. “If we don't hurry, he's going to go through the same thing Gaara and Ichigo went through.”
As Kankuro confesses his worry for his student, the Shukaku wreaks havoc on Suna, killing many shinobi and destroying many buildings. As the vicious beats releases a large bullet of wind from his mouth down towards the village, a huge mass of sand forms a large barricade between the wind and the village below, blocking the blast. The Shukaku turns and sees Gaara standing atop his sand with his arms folded, eye level with him. The Shukaku stares into the eyes of it's previous Jinchuuriki...