Naruto: Shichiyo Gaiden IV
Chapter 4: Teammates
Over two hours have passed since Koichi, Koji, and Ryoko began their mission and so far they've gotten nowhere in their search for Kankuro. The storm begins to pick up and becomes more agitated as well as the feelings of the three genin.
“Damn it! We're getting nowhere. How the hell are we supposed to find Kankuro-sensei?!” Koichi complains as he drops down, sitting in the sand.
“He's not going to take it easy on us. We're expected to be able to figure this out within the time period we've been given, but I have to admit, this is going to be difficult.” Koji responds.
“Well maybe if you two stopped complaining we'd get somewhere. We've already wasted two hours, we don't need to be wasting anymore complaining.” Ryoko says annoyed.
“Well I don't see you coming up with any ideas.” Koichi says, still sitting in the sand. “You've been doing the same things we've been doing and we haven't made any progress.”
“Just shut up!” Ryoko shouts.
“Well why don't you come and make me huh!” Koichi challenges, as he stands up. “Don't forget what happened last time. We've already established that you're no match for me.”
“Is that a fact?!” Ryoko takes a step toward Koichi and he begins to do the same. Koji steps between the two, stopping them from proceeding.
“Both of you need to calm down. Fighting amongst ourselves won't settle anything either.”
“Damn it, of all the people we had to be paired with, why did it have to be you?” Koichi says. “We don't need somebody like you for a teammate! Always acting like you're better then us, just because you were head of the class. We could do just fine without you're pessimistic ass!”
“Wow, pessimistic, that's quite a big word for you isn't it.” Ryoko mocks, cutting off Koji. “I don't need you or anybody as a team. The only thing you're good for is holding me back and that's something I don't need.” Ryoko turns around and begins heading her own way.
“Ryoko, where are you going?” Koji asks.
“It's apparent that we're better off by ourselves. I don't need anybody holding me back, I've already wasted enough time as it is. I'll find sensei on my own.”
“Ha! Good luck with that, you'll just end up getting yourself lost. Go on, leave, see if I care we'll do fine by ourselves, right Koji?”
Koji attempts to say something but before he could even open his mouth, Ryoko cuts him off. “Whatever, I'm gone.” Ryoko leaps away into another direction.
“Good reddens, and we'll find sensei before you do!” Koichi shouts.
“Koichi you idiot, we have to go after here.” Koji says.
“Why? She obviously thinks she can do better on her own, why not let her see just how arrogant she is.” Koichi says, heading in their previous path.
“Because that's not what teammates do.” Koji says. Koichi stops with his back towards his brother. He looks down towards the ground with a solemn look, acknowledging his brother's words as correct.
“Hmm, so they've split up...” Kankuro says, from a hidden location. “This will be interesting.”
All of a sudden, four hooded figures rise up from the sand around Koichi and Koji. The two brothers stand back to back against each other as the figures rise. As they look up, the chipped wooden faces of the figures could be seen, bringing the realization that they were puppets. “Damn it, he was waiting for us to split up.” Koichi says. The puppets lash out at Koichi and Koji, each of them ejecting some sort of weapon to assist them. A split second before the puppets make impact, both brothers appear behind two of the puppets, moving at an amazingly unseen speed. Koji slices through one of the puppets with his kunai, while Koichi simply smashes another with his fist, virtually destroying the puppet.
“Shunshin no jutsu?” Kankuro says with slight surprise. He lifts his hand and sends the other two puppets against the two boys. Koji and Koichi set themselves back to back again.
“Hey Koji, how the hell is sensei controlling these puppets? I thought you had to fuel your chakra through strings or something in order to get them to work.”
“You do, the puppetry technique is used for mid-ranged fighters, the chakra strings have to span long enough to get to the puppets. They're nothing but Marionettes. You're right, that means sensei has to be close by, that's the only way he'd be able to fight us with these puppets, not to mention he'd have to see us to know what we're doing.”
“They're smart too...but it doesn't matter. Crow, it's time for your show.” Over in the distance, where Ryoko went to organize her search, Crow emerges and heads towards her. “You guys may think you know about my method, but you don't know everything about me. I'm the strongest puppeteer ever to come out of Suna, even better then Sasori-sama and Chiyo-baa-sama. Just like a shinobi splits his chakra up with shadow clones, I can do the same with my puppets.”
“Damn it, I can't stand that guy. He's such an idiot.” Ryoko says to herself as she walks. “I can't start thinking about that, I've wasted too much time already.” She stops and bites her finger and begins to makes seals, however she stops herself. “No, that jutsu won't work out here, the storm is too thick to get a scent out in here.” Ryoko gets an off guarded look of surprise on her face and she immediately leaps back, avoiding a shower of needles. She looks up and she can see Crow standing in the distance. “Damn it.” She tries to recover her jutsu by re-creating the seals, but in a flash, thin threads of chakra emit from Crow's fingers, into the sand and four puppets rise around Ryoko, catching her off guard. “What?!” All four puppets link their bodies together quickly, forming a dome around Ryoko, trapping her inside their walls. “Oh no...” She tries to finish her jutsu but two hatches from the wall open and restrain both her arms and a small tube opens, emitting poison gas into the chamber. “Poison gas?!” Ryoko tries to hold her breath, however, another hatch opens, releasing another arm and it grabs her neck, forcing her to gasp for air.
“You guys were under the impression that I was going to take it easy on you because you were genin right? Wrong.” Kankuro says, projecting his voice to his puppets restraining Ryoko and the ones fighting Koichi and Koji. “It doesn't even matter if you split up or not, I could just as easily kill you three all together, but I choose not to. However, think you have what it takes to fight me alone and that's where you're wrong and now you're going to see just what arrogance get you.”
“Koji, if he's saying this then that means Ryoko...” Koji's eyes widen in horrifying shock at the realization. “Koji, we have to figure out something quick, I don't think this is an ordinary training exercise.” Suddenly the two puppets release several needles from their mouths and the two boys leap into the air avoiding them. With amazing speed one of the puppets gets above them and it's arms extend outwards towards them. The puppet captures Koichi in it's grasps, but Koji manages to use Shunshin no Jutsu before he's caught, however the second puppet appears behind him the moment he lands on the ground, provoking a body freezing hesitation in his movements, and the puppet grabs Koji by the neck as he turns around, and releases a knife into his hand. “Koji!” Koichi yells, as he's constricted by the puppets.
“Now...because of all three of you, you're teammates are going to die!” Kankuro says.
~In Ryoko's Position~
Ryoko's vision begins to blur as the entire chamber fills with poison gas and she continuously inhales it.
“*Damn it...how did I get myself into this situation...*” Ryoko says in thought. “*My body...it's numb.*” Ryoko's body begins to paralyze with numbness as she fights just to stay conscious. She eventually stops struggling to get free her hands from overwhelming weakness and the grip around her neck suffocates her even more, while the poison only adds to her suffering.
A few minutes go by and it feels as if Ryoko is on the verge of death. She hears the ever recurring words of her father, “I don't accept failures as my children, remember that.” A tear begins to fall down the now, fragile face, of Ryoko. Her tough exterior, which is only broken by one situation, the fear of loosing the chance to gain her father's affection.
“*Father...*” Ryoko's eyes close as she succumbs to unconsciousness, however, just before she does, the sound of blades clashing from outside can be heard over the hissing sound of the gas. All of a sudden banging is heard just outside the chamber and after a few seconds the chamber is compromised.
“Poison...” A voice says. Ryoko begins to open her eyes and she sees the light and silhouette of a figure outside of the chamber.
“Father?” Ryoko says softly, regaining her consciousness.
The figure breaks the hold of the arms holding her right arm and neck and pulls her out of the chamber. She begins coughing, gasping for breath as she looks up at the figure, who is shielded by the light of the sun. She regains her mind and notices that she's in the arms of Koji.
Ryoko looks and see's a stream of blood flowing down Koji's left arm as she notices the deep wound within his left shoulder. Suddenly Koichi appears beside them, as he holds his right arm. She soon comes to the realization that Koichi's arm is broken. She looks over and see's Crow walking towards them. Both Koichi and Koji are physically exhausted.
“Koichi, we have to get out of here, we don't have another fight left in us.” Koji says.
“I know that, but there's no where to run and besides, in our condition it wouldn't take long for them to catch up.” Suddenly Crow begins to wobble and he drops to a knee.
“Oh no, looks like I'm almost done.” Kankuro says to himself. “Better call them back.” Kankuro makes the tiger seal and Crow and the broken up chamber sinks into the sand.
“What the hell just happened?” Koichi says.
“Are you complaining? Whatever the situation is we got off alive this time, we better use it to regroup and plan on what we're going to do nex--”
“Why?” Ryoko manages to say, catching the attention of her two teammates. “Why did you two come for me? Why did you get injured just to come and save me?”
“We'd never let anything happen to you.” Koji says reassuringly.
“Because teammates don't abandon one another. They stick by each other, so don't worry, we forgive you for leaving.” Koichi smirks.
“Shut up, you were the one who let her leave.” Koji says
Ryoko looks up at Koji and Koichi arguing and she lets out a small smile, without the two brothers noticing.
“*Teammates*” Ryoko thinks to herself. She closes her eyes, and she falls unconscious, resting in the safety of her team.