The Revenge of the Hawk Chapter 4: The Wind Demon...
The Revenge of the Hawk------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Authors note: Alright, cranked out a new chapter! First, I'll say that this is the longest chapter I've made for this yet, and I think so far it's the most exciting. I've decided I can't limit myself to the canon Narutoverse alone, so I've also decided to introduce a new character. (However, since this has been unknown before, let me clarify this now; THIS IS A FAN FIC! If you don't like them, and don't want to give mine a go because of it, I advise you not to read on.) Anyway, I'll also put the links to old chapters here, I advise you read them first.
Chapter 1: The Foundation of Death
Chapter 2: Fight with the Mirror Ninja Under the Clouds of Omen
Chapter 3: Dissent
And now, having rambled long enough, enjoy!
Chapter 4: The Wind Demon...
Two days later, in the wilderness of the Land of Fire…
Gliding through the trees, Asuma cursed himself softly, marking the mistakes he had made for the umpteenth time upon leaving the village. The sea of green which rolled past, faintly visible at his high speed, along with the chirps and squeaks of wildlife frantically going about their business, was all but lost upon the troubled Jonin. He had grown weak; no matter how many times he turned his actions, and what else he could have done, over inside his head, that was the only conclusion he could come to. His dedication upon returning to the peaceful village from being one of the Daimyo of Fire’s twelve elite Guardians had grown lax, and he had forgotten the countless ideas his training had taught him. He thought, once again with a grimace of shame upon his face, the remorseful conversation that had taken place with the Third Hokage after the emergency meeting. The two had sat down across from each other, completely alone, with a throbbing, awkward silence quickly hovering like a cloud across the room. As Asuma had cleared his throat to apologize, his father had raised his hand and shook his head.
“No, Asuma…I will speak first.” He cocked his head to the side, and a glare of reprisal flared across his ancient, scarred face. “Don’t you even remember to let your elders speak before you offend them by interrupting…or for that matter ramming them into walls?”
Asuma prepared to shout out in his defense, but was halted once again, this time by the old man roughly grabbing him by the collar of his field uniform. “Enough, foolish child! Listen! Now…first, I know what you want to say; you’re not sorry, because Danzo went too far. And this is true, I will be the first to assert that, but Asuma! You know better, son, you know better.”
The Third Hokage leaned back, removing the white head piece marked with the crimson streaks of the Land of Fire, and sighed, taking a moment to massage his aching body, continuing to lecture as he did. “It is ironic; emotions are the most powerful weapon in the human spirit. Yet, as ninja, we are rarely permitted to act upon them. You…you always had a hard time remembering that. As a youth and even now, you act upon your feelings given even the most insignificant of excuses. I thought, once you had given your vagabond ways up and returned to the village that you would be wiser, more mature, especially given the station you ended up at before your return. And at first it appeared I was correct, for you were more able bodied, quicker in your thoughts, and as mature as any father could ask for. I will be honest, the last few years, I have been truly proud, Asu…”
Asuma almost bolted upright at that, for even the first day returning from his duty as a Fire Guardian, his father had not called him Asu in years, since he was a very young lad. It had been a term of affection, at the time, and it had all ended, when…
The younger Sarutobi chose that moment to speak up. “Father…lord Hokage…this is about Koga, isn’t it?”
Hiruzen sighed more deeply at that, and hunched over in his seat, knuckling his forehead, appearing very tired, and suddenly showing his age far more than he had in the meeting. His eyes glistened, as though at any moment he would begin to weep. After a moment, he stared up and gazed mournfully at his son. “…yes. It’s about Koga.”
Asuma frowned once more at that, as he returned to the present. The story of Koga was a long, complex, and mostly forgotten tale by the current generation of Leaf Ninja. Almost no one truly remembered the prodigal Jonin, who had supposedly been one of the strongest Shinobi in the village, just below the Three Sanin and the Hokage, at the time of his disappearance…and his treason. The exact details were sketchy, almost absurdly so, but there was no question in that the evidence they had found, between the Anbu’s investigations and Hayate’s manner of death, that Koga “the Wind Demon” had returned to his native Kohongakure.
“What Danzo says is true…yet it troubles me. The facts all line up and yet still it troubles me. I can only trust you on this, Asuma; only you! You have to find Koga and learn if he really was behind Gekko Hayate’s murder. If he was, we’ll finish…what I should have finished a long time ago. If not, then…”
If not, Asuma concluded, there was a rat gnawing away at the foundations of his village. The appeal of that conclusion was not appealing to his mind in the least, and therefore he had been sent on his head hunt. At the moment, scenery still whizzing daintily by, he murmured irritably to himself. “Now if only….”
“Asuma senpai! We’re falling out of formation, slow down please!”
Rolling his eyes, the Jonin looked slightly behind him as a trio of slightly younger men followed suit. All of them were of an average build, smaller than Asuma himself, and panting as they struggled to keep up. The squad leader stopped at the foot of the nearest oak, falling with a light thud to the ground below as he stretched his muscles, wiping a thin layer of sweat from his brow. The three ninja who followed in suit appeared much worse off, all breathing fairly hard and perspiring at a much higher rate than Asuma. Two of them had dark hair, one with a bandanna wrapped over his head and the other with white bandages crossed at the front of his face, while the other had auburn hair along with a similar bandanna to the one worn by the first. The first two, the dark haired ninja, were the inseparable duo of Kotetsu Hagane and Izumo Kamizuki, with the third man being Genma, who had trained with Hayate and brought back his body after he had died.
Asuma sighed loudly and shouted even more so. “If you three aren’t going to keep up, than just go back to the village now; you’re being a burden. I could have tracked Koga by now had you lot not been so slow!”
Kotetsu shrugged his shoulders and smiled carelessly. “Give us a break, Asuma, you’ve been driving at a suicidal pace all day. Even in conditioning training, on the days we work our bodies until we can’t stand, we can’t keep up a pace like this for long.”
Izumo nodded. “Normally Kotetsu is a slacker…but for once I agree with him. We’ll be in no shape to confront the enemy if we’re all exhausted.”
Asuma snorted, feeling a tense aggression rise through his skull, and cursed under his breath once again. The old man had been right; he was being overly emotional and was hurting his team as a result. He took deep breaths, inhaling and exhaling slowly, imagining his chakra flowing through his body. Being a Wind Nature type did have its advantages, such as a quick reference to help calm yourself down when you were frustrated. Just be the breeze, he would always remember. Let the warm zephyrs of the sky cascade your flesh and sink into your soul, and calm was just a moment’s notice away. “Five minutes rest”, was what he ended up saying with little else but a shrug.
Izumo and Kotetsu gratefully let loose a gasp of gratitude and fell on their haunches, back to back, taking out rations for a quick snack. The four were in a clearing of patched, barren earth. There were several signs of many animals living in the area, and the trees around them resounded exuberantly with the merriment and squabbles of several varieties of creatures. Ancient elms, taller than any giant could hope to grow, presided over the serene, natural scene. Genma himself leaned back on one of the thousands of majestic oaks which surrounded them, and, feeling a sudden premonition of cluelessness, gazed quizzically at Asuama. “Senpai…just who is Koga? Who is this Wind Demon we’ve been sent to apprehend?”
The Jonin didn’t respond for a moment; his eyes were shut and he breathed steadily, and appeared so peaceful as though to be sleeping. As Genma was about to repeat his question a tad louder, Asuma broke his silence in a neutral, indifferent tone.
“Koga was a Jonin of the Leaf village who was praised as being among the most skilled Wind Release users in the village. We don’t have many of them, as you probably know. The Wind Nature is the most destructive and naturally powerful out of all of the chakra natures, and even among them, Koga was skilled beyond compare. During the last Great War, in his younger days, it was said he defeated an entire battalion of Sand village men using Wind Release techniques that even the Shinobi from the Land of Wind couldn’t use. He was always solemn and serious, never flaunting his strength and always efficiently carrying out his missions. He left the village in a…delicate…fashion, about fifteen years ago. No one’s seen or heard from him since. You guys would have been too young. Hell, I was barely old enough to remember that guy.”
Genma frowned, taking subtle hints from Asuma’s words; his stutter regarding how the man had come to leave the village, his lineage, even the reason they were chasing him had been carefully omitted from Sarutobi’s story. Genma walked forward with the intent to press for more details…
The blasts came from nowhere, so it seemed, as though lightning had just fallen from the clear sky. Bursts of concentrated air barraged the landscape, hammering into the ground where the squad had set up camp. Genma was flung aside like a rag doll, landing awkwardly on his side four feet away, a painfully audible snap ringing out from his shoulder. Izumo managed to fling himself behind a tree, narrowly missing one of the air bullets; Kotetsu wasn’t so lucky. One slammed into his leg as began to move for cover, and he howled in pain as his leg was cut and torn from the harsh current of air. He landed in bushes next to Asuma, and the older man immediately drew his weapons; the wounds on the Chunin’s leg were almost identical to the wounds which had covered Hayate’s body.
Asuma twisted his head about; the air bullets were flying from all direction, never ceasing in their torrential downpour. He shook his head as he considered the amount of chakra which would be necessary to use this many wind releases all at once. Still, he judged by the rate of the projectiles being launched, it couldn’t only be one. Shadow clones were being used, and that made Asuma’s problem much easier to solve. Weaving his hand signs quickly, Asuma muttered under his breath, “Kagebunshin, Shadow Clone Technique!” As a crowd of clones rushed about the bottom of the tree line, Sarutobi immediately moved into his next intricate slew of signs. “Fire Style, Burning Ash!”
The forest immediately around them erupted into a veritable explosion of flames and ash. Trees burned and animals screeched as the carnage spread slowly throughout. Asuma almost grimaced at this; his method had been extreme, but his team had fled to the clearing in which they had been camped, and now their assailant would have no choice but to reveal themselves.
Asuma whisked around as he heard a branch crack. Gazing up, he saw a man, tall and lean, with a cloak of ebony covering him, a small bamboo hat perched atop his head. His hair was coal black, the same as Asuma’s, and the two, if placed right next to each other, could be mistaken for brothers, although the man still perched amongst the pyre of the treetops was considerably older, at least in his forties. He gazed down with disinterest at the Leaf Ninja he had attacked.
“So…my pursuers are also former comrades. Well, no; I suppose you children were too young to be my comrades at the time. Uncle Hiruzen is foolish, if he truly believes a lot of new blood can possibly bring me to bear. Does he believe because I have lost integrity that I have also lost skill? No…he should have assumed the opposite.”
Genma’s mouth fell open, and he gasped at the man’s implications. “…Uncle…Hiruzen?” He mouthed slowly, piecing the two together, finally understanding Asuma’s reluctance to speak on the subject. Before he could continue, however, Kotetsu and Izumo vanished with a flash, and wove hand signs with a deadly grace. Appearing almost directly next to Koga, Kotetsu now had his signature war hammer hurtling towards his opponent, a confident smirk upon his face, while Izumo, still masked by seriousness, brought forward a curved, deadly looking blade.
In the split seconds before the weapons landed, Koga smiled devilishly, and the two stared in shocked awe as their weapons were immediately slammed into a stop, held frozen and quivering in mid air.
“Wind Release; Veil of Heaven,” Koga said assuredly, naming the first of his hand crafted wind techniques. Asuma cursed as he beheld the scene; visible particles of wind had woven their way around not only the pair’s weapons, but also the two shinobi themselves, and all were suspended in mid-air. The smile falling from Koga’s face, the rouge ninja extended his hands outward, one toward each of the Chunin before him. “Wind Release; Wind God’s Rejection.” The two immediately were blown down by the wind they had been encased in, both shouting in pain as the prisons of air quickly became whirlwinds of razors, placing cuts over their entire bodies, and as the two slammed into the ground, the earth was already soaked crimson. Asuma shouted out in alarm, “Kotetsu! Izumo!” He quickly ran towards them, forgetting his earlier frustration with them.
“They’re not dead…” The fires roared around them, still moving slowly about the clearing, the flashes devouring the dying forest. Koga moved to a lower branch, his harsh, emotionless face illuminated by the glare of the embers, his eyes as dark as his hair, with nothing but death in them. “…they will be though. And you too…cousin. It’s been a long time, Asuma. Nothing like getting together for a family reuinion…and a funeral.”
He spoke slowly and deliberately, and Asuma could see he was serious. This man, despite being kin, had every intention to kill him. He glanced worriedly over at the injured Genma, struggling to get up but still not finding his balance. Looking back to the blood thirsty Koga, he frowned, feeling his calm slowly slip away.
Just how could he, who had failed so much in recent memory, defeat Koga Sarutobi, one of the strongest members of the clan’s history?
To be continued…