Naruto: Shichiyo Gaiden XXVIII
Chapter 28: Suna's Mole
Koichi and Ryoko kneel down inside the temple in front of the large Buddhist statue. Incense burn in oil, releasing a thin layered smoke that fills the temple with a soothing smell. The two kneel for several minutes in utter silence, their eyes closed, hands clapped together as they pray.
“The two people on that tombstone...they were your parents weren't they?” Ryoko asks, breaking the silence. Koichi opens his eyes and stands up and sighs as he looks around the temple.
“Yeah” Koichi answers plainly. “I was four when it happened...” Koichi says. “They were both killed in the line of duty. It's weird though, I had always wanted to be a shinobi like my parents, even before I found out, but something in me was more inspired after they had died.”
“Yeah, I'm extremely proud of my parents and they helped me learn to appreciate what every shinobi does for their village. They throw their lives on the line to protect and serve their village. They're not only sacrificing themselves, but everything they hold dear just to make a better life for everybody. Even though my parents sacrificed me and Koji having parents...they did it for us and the entire village, which is something I'm proud of them for.” Koichi's heart felt words speak to Ryoko and she cracks a small smile. “What about you?” Koichi asks, “It's your mother right?”
Ryoko's expression goes south as Koichi asks about her mother. The temple room is dimly lit and Ryoko's saddened face is only partially brightened but with the candle light illuminating her depression. “I never knew my mother.” She lets out in a low tone, her voice on subtly shaking with pain. “My mother had begun to get sick when I was in the womb and they had to induce birth before her condition affected me. The complications she faced...it was just too much for her to handle and she died just a few minutes after I was born.” Ryoko's voice shakes more and more as she explains her situation to Koichi.
“Ryoko....I'm sorry, I shouldn't have—”
“No, it's alright.” Ryoko reassures Koichi. “Even though my father never talks about her, when he told me that I knew that my mother loved me. She fought so hard just to bring me life and she didn't give up until she knew I was safe. So I at least have that I know about her.”
“Your mother sounds like an amazing person.” Koichi says gently. Ryoko's expression brightens again with a smile at the compliment.
Just outside the room where Koichi and Ryoko sit, Koji leans against the door outside the temple. He walks away and makes his way down the steps of the temple. As he walks he notices several people passing him by on the steps and others walking towards the main district. As Koji continues his way down he notices a faint shadow from a tree down onto the road. The shadow moves from along the ground and as Koji gets close enough he distinguishes a body.
The body then vanishes into thin air just as a small amount of leaves kick up slightly from the ground where the body once hid. Koji uses Shunshin and heads in pursuit of the suspicious character.
The unknown character runs through a sub-forest area within Suna, however after several minutes the person stops and smile in the dark of the night.
“You really think this low level technique will confuse me?” The person says arrogantly, making the tiger seal. “Release!” All of a sudden, the area around the shinobi begins to change slightly. “Good job I'll admit, you almost turned me around back into your village, but this level of genjutsu is nothing to me...although you should know that.”
Koji appears from behind a tree revealing himself. “How the hell did you manage to stay alive after that explosion?”
“You were very cunning with that poison of yours...although things are more convincing then they seem when you have a little...help.”
Koji's look intensifies as he picks up on the hint. “There's a mole inside Suna.”
“Very good, you know, if I didn't outright have all this information, I would never suspect you to be a genin. You're talents far exceed the rank your at, your sensei should have already signed you up for the chuunin exams.”
“I'm not letting you leave here.” Koji states.
“The fact that you managed to track me down even when my chakra was hidden has me suspecting that you do have the capability of actually causing me some harm.”
Koji grits his teeth in annoyance and launches a kunai and the jomae shinobi leaps to the side, avoiding the projectile. However, the Jomae shinobi follows the blade with his eyes, realizing the intent of the attack. The kunai strikes a rope attached to a tree and the rope springs a trap from the leaves in the tree and it launches a barrage of shuriken down towards the Jomae shinobi.
“Get real kid!” As the Jomae shinobi turns his attention back to Koji he's surprised with a sudden attack of several chakra strings rapping themselves around him. “What?” The shinobi looks around and sees several other kunai scattered in the ground and trees constructed in a web like fashion. He looks at Koji and sees the main lines of chakra emitting from his fingers. *he spun his chakra through his fingers and threaded them through the kunai!*
The shuriken continue their way to the shinobi and penetrate his body. The shinobi's body bursts in a cloud of smoke and a log fills the place of the shinobi. Koji quickly shifts his eyes above and to the left and quickly finds the shinobi standing in a tree. With a burst of speed, Koji leaps to the shinobi with a kunai in hand and proceeds to cut him.
“*hehe* Fool.” The shinobi says as Koji appears in front of him. Koji widens his eyes as a tag appears on the front of the shinobi. Before Koji even has the chance to avoid it, a huge explosion erupts just in front of him. Koji yells out as he's caught in the explosion and his body is sent crashing to the ground.
The Jomae shinobi walks out from behind a tree on the ground and chuckles slightly. “Always have a clone handy for these types of situations.” The shinobi walks towards Koji's lifeless body. “Oh well, you were pretty strong for a child.”
“And you're arrogant for an adult.” The shinobi's eyes widen in shock as he hears Koji's voice. The body on the ground vanishes as if in a mirage and he comes to the realization of Koji's genjutsu.
A kunai goes right into the back of the shinobi and he stumbles forwards onto the ground. “I layered my genjutsu on top of each other, so that once you broke the first one you wouldn't suspect the second one. You had no idea you were only fighting an illusion in your head.”
“Well...I sorta did.” The shinobi says with a smug look on his faces as he faces down. Koji quickly turns his head to the right of him and sees the shinobi beside him. The shinobi swings a blade down towards the young shinobi. Koji manages to back away, however his right arm is cut deeply. Koji lands a good distance from the shinobi and stares at him for a moment. After a brief moment, Koji's mind begins to shake vigorously and he falls to his knees and begins panting. “You didn't think you were the only person to use poison did you?” The shinobi says. “We Jomae shinobi aren't much for fighting. I'll even admit my skills don't much exceed chuunin level shinobi in the field of combat. We focus on...alternative methods of defeating our opponents.”
*Damn it, I can't move.*
“My intent wasn't a fight, if you didn't interfere you would've lasted longer, however, this is probably for the best...for me anyway.” He says, walking towards Koji. Koji remains motionless, his body paralyzed from the poison.
The Jomae shinobi comes just a few feet from Koji and then suddenly he stops, as if he's paralyzed. His eyes widen in shock. “What...what's going on?” The shinobi's eyes shift all around the area. He sees a white mask sticking out from a tree just behind Koji and a confused look on his face appears. “You?!” the shinobi exclaims. The split second after the Jomae shinobi utters those words a needle hits him in the neck and and he falls, dead before he even hits the ground.
Koji struggles to turn his head to see the shinobi behind him, however he only makes it half way before the masked shinobi appears behind him and strikes him on the neck and he falls unconscious.
The masked shinobi walks over to Koji and begins tending to his wound, taking out a small vile and injecting an antidote. The shinobi wraps up Koji's arm and leans him up against a tree. The shinobi then turns his attention to the dead Jomae shinobi and heads to him. “The boy was right, you were to arrogant for your own good.” A white snake appears before the shinobi and he then clinches his fist. “He made too much noise, I don't have time...” He places his hand on the shinobi's head “At least I can keep the information he has from spilling...Erase!” The masked shinobi erases the mind of the dead shinobi, ridding him of any left over memories. The shinobi then disappears in a cloud of smoke along with the white snake.
“Over here!” A voice yells. Four shinobi drop down from the trees above. “What the hell happened here?” The head shinobi says.
~Several Minutes Pass (At Kazekage Residence)~
“Gaara, we have a problem.” Kankuro says entering the room.
“Did you check out that explosion in the south?” Gaara asks.
“Yeah, we found Koji unconscious but that's not the most important thing right now...that Jomae shinobi, who lead the attack a few weeks ago was found dead there too.”
“I see...was it Koji who did him in?”
“I doubt it, Koji claimed he couldn't remember anything and even if he did the way the shinobi died, it's not Koji's handy work.” Kankuro says, his tone is lowers in seriousness.
“Explain.” Gaara demands.
“The shinobi was taken out by a precise needle to a vital point in his neck. That type of precision is above Koji's level, as well as the instant killing method.”
“Instant killing...so our mole is within the Anbu.” Gaara deduces.
“You mean you already—”
“There was no way an outside force that large could have gotten within our village without inside help. Especially since our guard was tightened after Shukaku's release. The inner workings of the village and our military were all worked around without a hint of notice to us until they struck. Even the Jomae village wouldn't have enough intel on their own to pull of such an invasion. Not to mention the boldness of their attack.”
“I see your point...however if traitor is that far inside the system, it'll be even harder to find them. Should we contact Konoha about the Jomae and try to find out some more information on the other end?”
“No...I'm not entirely sure the Jomae are the ones we need to be focusing on.” Gaara says ominously.
As Gaara's words seem to elude Kankuro, the masked shinobi walks with his hood up outside of Suna, the white snake slithering by his side. The cloak that hangs over the eyes of the Great Nations remains thick, blinding the greatest nations to the what is right in front of them.