Naruto: Shichiyo Gaiden XVII
Chapter 17: Testament of Loyalty
The genin squad of Koichi, Koji, and Ryoko travel several hours to the Land of Bears. A few hours into the afternoon the squad makes it into the small village where the prisoner is held. Making their way into the village they see a small platoon of, no less then 50 men, dressed in the armor of the Land of Bears. In the midst of them, a tall man in a torn and bloodied up suit, stands.
“Are you the shinobi from Suna?” A man asks stepping out from the crowd.
“Yes we are.” Koji says to the man.
“But, you're just kids.” The soldier says rather shocked.
“What of it?!” Koichi says irritated.
The group of soldiers turn to one another and whisper amongst themselves about the squad.
“We assure you that we know how important this mission is to your country, our village wouldn't mock you in this way if they truly thought we weren't capable of the job.” Koji says convincingly.
The soldier sighs, “Forgive me, it's just this man has terrorized our nation for so long with his syndicate. We've been virtually powerless to stop him and even though we have him detained the others are still out there. This is very symbolic to our people, it gives us a sense of pride you see, which is why I expressed my surprise and skepticism of you three.” He explains, “I know the shinobi from the Great Nations breed truly spectacular shinobi, so I sincerely apologize for doubting you.”
“hmph, you're all fools. You think my men can't handle some pathetic genin?” The criminal says. He spits on the ground and snorts vulgarly, “The Great Nations are taking both you and me for complete jokes, you have no idea who you're dealing with. As soon as I'm out of these damn chains I'll make sure to send the heads of those puny little brats back to Suna, maybe then they'll take me seriously.”
“You want to bet on that?” Koichi says angrily.
“Calm down, he's just spouting off the mouth, big shots like that tend to do that.” Ryoko says.
The head soldier turns back towards the kids, “Yes, don't worry about him, we have more then enough to handle him. Now it's time for introductions. I'm Toshiro, I'm the one leading this convoy as captain, I'm a commander in the Daimyou's royal guard.” Toshiro says.
“I'm Koji Shichiyo, and I've been assigned captain of my squad. These are my teammates; my brother Koichi and Ryoko Taiyou.”
“Alright, There's a squad of 20 of our guards scouting the area ahead, they gave word about an hour ago about several persons from the syndicate up near the main road towards the kingdom, we've sent them to act as decoys on the main road while we head through the mountains and take the long rout around the road.” Toshiro explains, “If we can make it through the pass without a problem the kingdom will only be a smooth sailing.”
“What if those other guys get caught huh? You'd just let them be attacked without any back up?” Koichi says with a hint of annoyance.
“No need to worry, we're all elite here, they can handle themselves.” Toshiro says. At that moment the criminal cracks a small smile unnoticed by any of the others except Koji. “Alright we better not waste anymore time.”
The convoy leaves the village and heads towards the mountain pass. The criminal is surrounded at all times by the guards and a formation is followed. Koichi brings up the rear of the party while Ryoko the front. Koji travels beside Toshiro near the criminal.
“Toshiro-san, is there anything more you could tell us about this man?” Koji asks.
Toshiro looks at Koji rather uneasily at him bringing up the uncomfortable topic. “Soto Kagami...ever since he came into our country, he's been terrorizing our people. It was just after the end of your war. There were a few battles posed by you shinobi that caused substantial amounts of damage to our country. For a short time our economy was weakened but we managed to bring it back up. This man came in during our time of weakness and began exploiting our weaknesses. First he came as a political figure and began working up influence but he resigned from his position when suspicion of illegal activities began to arise. By this time he had amassed great wealth, both through legal and illegal means. He was secretly posing illegal mining expeditions within restricted territory and gained hundreds of millions of Ryo in his term and after he left he used that money to hire his own men and has been working like a mafia harassing and virtually controlling our country without any way of stopping him legally or even militarily.”
“Militarily?” Koji asks.
“Mere bandits some of them may be, but there are very highly skilled persons under his authority and he has expanded his influence into other countries as well, bribing and influencing their government as well. The men he has almost equals that of our own.” Toshiro explains, “The first step to getting rid of this is through getting rid of this man and promoting nationalism in the people, hopefully more persons from all the provinces would be willing to join the military and our neighbors who are fearful of him can assist us, which would in turn end the corruption of their own government.”
Koji looks at the smug man bound in chains and feels the tension he causes within the group of soldiers. “Captain Toshiro, we're almost at the pass!” One of the guards says. Koji turns and looks up to the entrance of the pass and then shifts his eyes back to Soto.
Overhead of the convoy, a large eye opens up in the sky, looking down on them. A few kilometers away a man stands with his hands in the tiger seal formation.
“They should be here shortly.” The man smiles.
“Boss, what do you want us to do about these ones.” Another one says behind him.
The leader turns and looks at the unit of twenty Bear country soldiers, bound in ropes and on their knees. “Well...there's 50 more of them right?” The man says cynically. His right hand man signals the other men with them to execute their prisoners and from behind, the screams of pain begin. The two men walk out towards the path and it is revealed that the two men ware Kusagakure headbands.
~Few Hours Pass~
The prison escort has made it onto the mountains and are nearly half way through to the other side. At that moment an arrow from overhead lands in front of the escort. Ryoko notices a tag at the end of arrow and she immediately whips her sword out.
“Get back!” She yells, as she swings her sword back towards the guardsmen behind her, releasing a huge gust of wind knocking them back. She manages to force the fleet back but doesn't have time before the bomb ignites to move back herself, “Crap!”
The tag on the back of the arrow causes a huge explosion and the fleet of soldiers are just out of range. “Are you alright?” Koji asks Ryoko, as he holds her on a tree.
“Thanks, I'm fine.”
“It's an ambush!” Toshiro yells. Koji and Ryoko look down from their position and see several men engaged in combat with the soldiers. “Get Soto out of here!” Toshiro demands, taking out his blade and heading towards the men.
“Don't worry, we'll take him off your hands now.” A voice says to the soldier guarding Soto. Out of nowhere the shinobi from before appears inside the perimeter that surrounds Soto. As the soldiers turn shocked, the shinobi takes out all five of them quickly. Koichi stands over top of four unconscious bandits and holds one by the collar. He turns and looks at the two shinobi, breaking off the shackles on Soto.
“It's about time you guys.” Soto says. “Now lets get out of here.”
“You wish!” Koichi yells appearing behind one of the shinobi. Koichi throws a kick and the shinobi blocks it with impressive reflexes, and grabs Koichi's leg. He whips Koichi around and throws him back. Koichi lands on his feet and looks at the two shinobi. *This guy even has shinobi working for him.*
“Take care of this, will ya.” Soto says walking away, through the fighting soldiers.
“With pleasure.” One of the shinobi makes a few quick seals and places his hands on the ground. “Doton: Doryukatsu!” The ground begins to shake and rise from underneath the soldiers just as the bandits pull back. The ground rises and splits in two, sending several of the soldiers flying back. Soto walks through the chasm casually.
“Cut it out!” Koichi yells, running towards the two shinobi. Koichi leaps up engaging the head shinobi in taijutsu, however his feats prove better then Koichi's and has little problem dealing with him. The head shinobi kicks Koichi back, however Koichi manages to block his advance. “Damn it. Now you're done!” Koichi lashes out at top speed channeling his chakra into his hands and feet, increasing his speed. Koichi runs circles around him catching him off guard. “Block this! Boushi Kenhandou!” Koichi leaps up from behind the shinobi and begins spinning just as he did before against Ushiro. All of a sudden Koichi's flow of chakra is set off and his speed at releasing the kick is slowed drastically and his technique fails before its completion. The shinobi turns around quick enough and back fists Koichi knocking him onto the floor. “What the hell just happened?” Koichi tries to use his chakra for his Suuex-sensu but he can't focus his chakra the same way as he used to.
“Get real kid.” The shinobi says appearing in front of him with impressive speed. He punches Koichi in the face before he can bring up his defense. He then kicks roundhouses him in the stomach knocking him down. “Sending worthless genin, what a joke.” The shinobi makes a few seals and leaps back and a giant dragon of earth heads towards Koichi.
Koichi looks up and tries to move but he's pinned down by vines *When did he...* Koichi is unable to move and the dragon shoots straight down to him. At that moment Koji appears in front of his brother and cuts the vines with a kunai. He grabs Koichi and moves him out of the way of the dragon.
“More runts I see.” Koji shifts his head towards the shinobi slightly and on his right hand he moves his fingers by his side. A puppet rises from behind the shinobi with a blade and swings it. The shinobi notices at the last minute and ducks down and backs away from Koji's puppet. “Damn it.” The shinobi turns and looks at his companion and sees Ryoko standing in front of him. “Tell me exactly how we're letting some damn kids hold us up?!” The head shinobi says aggravated.
“Don't worry, I've got this.” The other says, smirking. Ryoko rushes him and stabs him in the stomach, the shinobi turns into a log, revealing a substitution, however just after the jutsu, the log springs forward and disperses into several wooden chains and wraps around Ryoko. Ryoko is restricted and the shinobi appears in a tree begins making seals. He places his hands on the branch of a tree. “Avalanche!” From the hill besides the pass, several rocks and boulders begin to fall.
Koji grabs Koichi but Koichi pushes off him. “Get off of me, I don't need your help!” Koichi leaps away from the area however Koji attaches chakra strings to him and pulls him away as a large rock shuriken whips past. Koji sees Ryoko struggling and sends his puppet to get her, at that moment the head shinobi appears in front of Koji and with a kunai cuts him across the chest. Koji yanks Koichi back and manipulates him and has him kick the shinobi in the back of the head, knocking him away from the two. Koji's puppet brings Ryoko back to their side.
“Koichi, we have to make our way to higher ground!” Koji says frantically. Koji seals grabs Ryoko and both Koji and Koichi use Shunshin and make their way up onto the nearby cliff. The two shinobi standing atop a tree with Soto by their side track the teams movements and heads after them. On the cliff, which overlooks a river, Koji, Koichi and Ryoko stand, panting. Koji holds his chest as it bleeds out. Koichi releases Ryoko from the earth chains and turns to Koji.
“I don't need your help, just stay out of my way!” Koichi yells at Koji.
Koji doesn't turn around, in order to hide his wound from the other two. “You're being reckless, you almost got yourself killed.”
“Shut up! Don't forget who's number 1 here. I can take care of myself, and even if I can't you're the last person I'd trust with my life.”
“Stop it both of you! You said this wasn't going to affect our mission.” Ryoko says.
“If he told that to you it's probably a lie—”
“You're still my brother Koichi.” Koji says in a hurt tone.
“Well well, now what do we have here?” The genin look to see the two shinobi and Soto standing in front of them. “I told you that I'd send your heads back to Suna didn't I?” The two shinobi advance past their boss and he snaps his fingers. The two shinobi rush the three genin and they put up their guard.
Koichi heads past Koji and right for them. “Koichi!” Ryoko yells and she follows him. Koji then notices something off about the two shinobi.
Koji makes the tiger seal, “Release!” Koji releases the genjutsu placed on him. A quick moment later Ryoko manages to see through the jutsu as well and she releases and stops in her tracks. Koichi on the other hand still remains ignorant and continues running blindly in his direction. “Koichi stop!” Koichi trips a wire sending dozens of kunai and shuriken heading towards him and Ryoko. Ryoko swings her blade like before deflecting the projectiles away from them with a huge gust of wind. Ryoko heads over to Koichi and surges her chakra into him releasing the false image genjutsu. The ground underneath them begins to rise and a large landslide of shagged earth shoots up towards Koichi and Ryoko. Koji attaches chakra strings to them again and pulls them back away from harm. He leaps back further to the edge of the cliff, having Koichi and Ryoko follow.
As they do, both shinobi appear from out of nowhere, in front of Koichi and Ryoko. One of them disarms Ryoko and takes her blade and proceeds to slash through both Koichi and Ryoko. *Not good, not good!* Koji thinks to himself, widening his eyes. The moment Koji lands he uses Shunshin and appears in front of Koichi and Ryoko, back facing the shinobi. The shinobi slashes through Koji's back, causing a deep wound. Blood drips from Koji's mouth as he drops to his knees. He mouths something to Koichi and Ryoko, just before pushing them off the cliff down into the river.
Both Koichi and Ryoko fall down safely into the water as Koji falls face down into the dirt in front of the two shinobi. Koichi's eyes widen as the view of his brother gets fainter before Koji falls to the ground. The two make it into the fast flowing river and are out of harms way as they flow up stream, however Koji's life still hangs by a thin thread and the one's holding the scissors are right beside him.
To Be Continued...