Birds of a Feather
Chapter Four: Shadows
They weren't like Akamaru.
Hinata repeated this mantra as she
remaining dogs away from her two colleagues. It wouldn't have bothered
much if she hadn't overheard the conversation her family was having
concerning the Hokage's assassination attempt. A hawk that wasn't like
And these most certainly not like other dogs, their
wired wrong. Much like the human system, there were weak points but the
central one appeared to be in the eye. By closing that, she knew she
Maybe half a year ago, she wouldn't have bothered.
have stood behind Shikamaru and Chouji and let them handle it. But she
promised herself at the chuunin exam that she would try to get
stronger. So that
meant no more running away right?
Hinata aimed right at the
shifting the chakra to her feet and climbing straight up. With her
knew they were following, something else a normal dog should not be
She lined up with one of them and pushed off the tree,
backwards and striking out with her palm. The dog yelped, losing its
landing on the floor into a heap. Hinata landed next to it, preparing
second one's attack. It turned off the tree as soon as she had,
strike at her while she was still unbalanced on the ground. But Hinata
ready for this and struck again quickly, scoring a direct
two dogs down at the base of the tree, Hinata let out the breath she
holding. She walked cautiously over to the two dogs, searching for any
life remaining. They were devoid of life, like dry husks that had never
alive at all.
Hinata took a step backwards just as the squad of
arrived. They swarmed the area securing the bodies while checking
injury. For the most part she was unharmed.
"You've got a nasty
your arm," the Anbu with the wolf mask said.
surprised at the thin line of blood there. "I don't remember getting
Shikamaru and Chouji arrived soon after that, glad
she was intact. Shikamaru muttered something about getting a momentary
from death but he stopped suddenly as his nose picked up a familiar
"Shikamaru?" Chouji asked.
"Do you smell that?" he
The Anbu quickly began searching the area. "What is
that?" one of
Shikamaru closed his eyes and tried to place it. "I
odor. I've come in contact with it before."
The Anbu captain's
shifted to him. "Where?" he demanded.
Shikamaru frowned as his
assaulted by a cacophony of colors. "In Konoha," he said simply,
instructions to their home.
It was nearly an hour before Sakura moved again. Her legs protested as
straightened them and tried to stand. Her mind hurt just as much as her
she ignored both. She didn't know the answer to her questions but she
she would get them by just sitting here.
Sakura blinked and watched as Naruto came running
hill. She waved to him, letting him know she had heard him. He came to
a stop in
front of her, taking a moment before catching his
said you would be here," he smiled. "I guess you didn't get to train
either." Sakura shrugged her shoulders. "Neither did Sasuke-bastard so
in a good mood."
Sakura nodded absently and Naruto balked. She
him when he called Sasuke a bastard.
"Ne, Sakura-chan? What's
matter?" he asked, a frown dotting his normally cheerful
blinked and looked at him. She bit her lip and paused for a moment,
she should even bother. "Naruto... what do you think of
Naruto's nose scrunched up a bit. "He's a bit
guess he can be scary at times. Why?"
Sakura's eyes looked back
Konoha and Naruto's frown increased. He watched her actions and finally
into a smile.
"But he's Sakura-chan's teacher so he can't be all
Sakura blinked. "Why do you say that?"
hands behind his head. "Because Sakura-chan is nice and smart so if she
train with Ibiki-sensei, then he must be okay." He paused and scratched
head. "Besides, no matter what, Sakura-chan is Sakura-chan. When I
Hokage, I'll still be Naruto. So whatever we end up doing, we'll still
Sakura smiled a bit. It was times like this she
doubted everyone's belief that Naruto was dimwitted. Sometimes, he was
then all of them.
"Thanks, Naruto," Sakura said, a small smile
face. He smiled in return. "So what do you want to see me about
Naruto's smile got bigger. "Wanna go get some ramen
Sakura sighed and shook her head. Of course, what else
would he want
if they weren't training? She opened up her mouth to agree when a
across the field caught her eye. Naruto turned to follow her
grass on the hill was moving but there was nothing visible moving it.
hand instinctively went to his kunai pouch and the movement suddenly
towards them. They still couldn't see anything but something else
"What the hell is that smell?" he asked.
towards them and knocked them to the ground. Naruto scrambled up and
prepare for an attack but the thing was gone.
Konoha," Sakura said, watching as the grass continued to move. Then at
of the field it disappeared. "We need to warn people."
quickly took off, Sakura following a few steps behind. They cleared the
record time but in the streets, there was no way to track it. Naruto
tried to find any trace of it.
"We should go tell the Hokage,"
said finally. Naruto didn't seem to like the answer but he eventually
acknowledged it was the only one they had.
Morino Ibiki sat at his desk, hand folded as he examined the material
of him. The bird feather from the Tengu clan. The list of families that
had provided him. The reports from the villages outside of Konoha. It
then he had imagined. He knew it would have to be brought to the Hokage
but he couldn't even begin to guess what her reaction would
next to him crackled and Ibiki picked up. "Go ahead," he said holding
"The Hokage has issued an arrest warrant for a
matchmaker specifically, in response to the death of some hunters from
neighboring village," the voice responded. "Konoha's police force is
its way there but the Hokage is asking you oversee the
Ibiki frowned. What was this about? But then he
hardly argue with the Hokage. So he listened to the details of where he
find the merchant before responding. "I'm on my way."
his desk as
it was and moved quickly to the door. He pondered bringing a few people
him but they had said that the police forces were coming. It was
overkill to take down a single woman.
He moved through the
ignoring the looks he got and the way the people moved to the side. At
provided him a clear path to the vibrant tent in front of him. A few
officers were there, waiting for his arrival. He told them to secure
while he went to get her, taking a few officers with him.
the tent flap, instantly being assaulted by the smells from inside. He
the area, looking for the woman and finally locked onto the small body
across the table.
"Mabaroshi-san," he said. The woman's head
slightly but her face was still hidden.
voice even and cold.
Ibiki eyed her. She knew who he was,
"I'm here to ask you to escort you to the police station. We have some
concerning a group of hunters that was killed outside of this
"And you think I'm responsible?"
"It is our
you might have information that would help in the
woman didn't move. "I do," she replied. "I killed them."
never showed the shock. The officers behind him shifted and he knew
the danger as well.
"I killed her too," Mabaroshi replied.
who?" Ibiki asked.
Mabaroshi looked up and Ibiki heard one of
officers behind him move outside to get help. The matchmaker's face
it had begun to melt, the skin hung loosely around the cheek bones. She
but the voice was deeper then a woman's.
"It was convenient,"
said. "A perfect ruse to obtain information I needed. But it's hard to
form." It laughed. "Animals are easier to maintain. Humans are tricky,
to remember. But I'll change that soon. I've finally found what I
Ibiki didn't bother to ask what that was. The thing was
longer going to talk. The façade of the matchmaker dissolved and the
reared towards them, a black misshapen mess that still somehow held the
qualities a human.
The speed was inhuman as it attacked,
officer on an invisible weapon. The tent tore in half and the people
scattered. There was screaming, lots of it, Ibiki realized. And he
dismay as the people in the market square began to panic.
of here!" he screamed at the nearest officer. He turned back to the
take care of it."
"Shizune!" Sakura cried, getting the woman's attention the moment they
the stairs. "We need to talk to the Hokage."
"Hokage is busy,"
said. "Tell me... HEY!"
Naruto had bypassed the normal protocol
to just barge in. Tsunade looked up suddenly, watching as Naruto
stormed in. She
didn't appear that surprised at Naruto's actions.
"Old hag," he
"We need to talk to you now." Tsunade raised an eyebrow. "There was
the field beside the mountain."
looked at her and smiled sheepishly. "We don't know."
she took control of the conversation. "It was fast, we didn't see it.
But it was
moving straight to Konoha."
"It's in the market," Shizune said
the radio headset still on her ears. "Police force just called it
"Get the civilians to safety," Tsunade said, moving past
grabbing her jacket at the door. "Tell them to contain it. Send Anbu
immediately." The last command was issued to a shadow in her office
promptly disappeared to dispatch it.
"Hokage, you should stay
Shizune said. "You know that there is still a threat out there against
"There are also civilians who are in the middle of
a jounin who can protect them until help arrives," Shizune said.
paused for a moment and looked at her. "Who?"
For an older man, Ibiki moved well. Maybe not as fast as the beast but
job was not to defeat it, just to contain it until help arrived. Not
couldn't have handled this by himself, of course.
him exploded, sending shockwaves through the ground and causing him to
bit. Ibiki frowned. Maybe he could use some help after all.
pulled back its arm, blue energy rippling through it. Chakra
realized. It was morphing its physical shell by using chakra. He was so
concentrated on that revelation he didn't notice that the beast left a
it physical body behind.
Ibiki brought up several senbon. The
still partly human so if he struck the right pressure points, he could
it momentarily and deliver a full strike. The beast moved again and
managed to dodge at the last second, his black coat tearing behind him.
He pivoted, hand releasing the needles with perfect aim. They
the right spots, the black darkness suddenly very solid as the needles
maintained their positions. The beast twitched and howled, unable to
reached in to his pouch and pulled out a kunai, moving quickly towards
Behind him, the black pile of organic material
had left behind twitched and began to take shape, slowly forming into a
Ibiki struck at the monster just as the dog lunged. It bit into his
dragging the arm to the ground and disrupting the kunai attack.
cursed at it, reaching to get another kunai so he could free himself
dog's attack. The dog held on, pushing him away the beast. Ibiki
kunai into the dog's back and the animal yelped with pain. It let go
staggered backwards, but there was no blood at the wound. It turned
went to its master grabbing one of the senbon and pulling it
moved quickly after it, still trying to salvage his attack before the
released from its paralysis. He struck, throwing one kunai at it while
a second for his main attack. His right thrust forward, the left
the dog's attack. The beast's limbs came free just in time and grabbed
hand before it land a blow.
"Too slow," it hissed, chakra
hand. The glove's material crackled and caught fire but Ibiki was not
The beast faltered for a minute and looked down a moment too
not a hand anymore, merely a mangle of metal, bone and some shreds of
were tattooed with kanji. It had no real fingers but it still moved to
The beast could only feel cold as Ibiki's bare hand made contact, a
already in effect. Its blackness began to fade, taking on a gray hue as
cells in that part of its body aged rapidly and died.
screamed, the pain of the rapid aging worse then a normal attack. It
instinctively, struggling to get free at any cost. The side of the
the dead part of the body left behind in Ibiki's hand.
ground was red, Ibiki noted. It was human at its core and gravely
that last attack. But he wasn't doing too well himself. One arm was
bleeding from the dog's attack, the other unable to touch anything
causing it to rot away until the jutsu subsided.
He moved his
arm, attempting not to grimace as the damaged muscles protested. He
forward on the monster in front of him, while looking out of the corner
eyes for its dog. All too late he realized that it could only be one
The dog's teeth dug into his left shoulder, paws scratched at
It wasn't a fatal blow but he could feel the warm sensation of blood
down his shirt. There were yells, coordinated attacks that could only
But the wounded beast was too quick for them to corner. Even injured it
move as fast as the wind. And it took only two minutes to lose them
jumped down into the sewers.
The dog shuddered as the Anbu tried
detach it from him but it wouldn't die. It wasn't until they heard
over the radio that they knew to strike it in the eye. By then, the
grown. The lack of blood was making his vision blurry. And despite his
effort, Ibiki passed out half way to the medical center.
Sakura was beginning to hate hospitals. She could remember as a child
entertaining the idea of entering the medical field but the past few
experiences with doctors was slowly wearing that childhood dream away.
example, the doctor now was explaining about how they were going to
have to put
Ibiki in surgery for close to four hours to save his arm. Even as a
best Tsunade could do with her chakra techniques was stop the
"We'll need to augment the metal in there," the doctor
saying before continuing in a language that Sakura had no hope of
She could only translate two facts and that was that Ibiki had been
and it would take work to fix him this time around.
There was a
hand on her shoulder suddenly and Sakura jumped a bit with surprise.
up and found herself under the gaze of a familiar white haired shinobi.
"Kakashi-sensei?" she asked.
"Naruto came and told me,"
"Any news from the Anbu squads?" Tsunade asked, her
from the doctor for a moment.
Kakashi shook his head. "The beast
They'll start searching the sewers soon, they have no exit out of
"Then we'll lock the gates and make sure nothing leaves
village," Tsunade said firmly. It was extreme, she knew that. A few
they'd be forced to open the gates again regardless of whether they had
whatever it was that was running beneath them.
"And the jounin?"
doctor was asking.
Tsunade paused and looked at him. Sakura's
furrowed at the long pause. "Fix his arm," Sakura said, filling the
Tsunade didn't respond to her but instead turned her
the doctor. "How long will it take for him to wake up?"
paused. "After the operation... probably half a day."
"WHAT?" Sakura screeched. "What do you mean without
Kakashi's hand tightened on her shoulder.
"Six hours tops," the
"Hokage-sama!" Sakura cried in outrage as the woman
be considering it.
Tsunade looked at the younger girl. "You have
understand... Ibiki is the only one who can tell us what
"There were police officers there," Sakura
"None of whom actually fought with the beast," Tsunade
"You can't be serious! You can't just let him lose his arm
after he got
hurt defending the village!"
"I have to take into consideration
there is a monster running around here that none of us know anything
Sakura was about to continue her argument but
increased on her shoulder, making her falter for a moment. Kakashi
that chance to get into the conversation.
"That might not be
said. "From the sounds of it, the beast is able to spawn off animals,
and possibly hawks." He paused letting the statement sit with Tsunade
second. "It means, then, that this event is related to the initial
against you Hokage-sama. Ibiki was already investigating this, with
help." He looked at her. "You've been working with Ibiki the past few
Maybe you can help shed light on this creature."
Kakashi. "I can try."
Kakashi looked at the doctor. "If
the bleeding, how long before you won't be able to fix his
doctor looked at Tsunade and continued when she nodded. "Four hours.
able to use some jutsu to keep the arm alive but much longer then that
"Four hours, then," Kakashi said. "Team 7 will take this
he said to Tsunade.
"I need you to work with the Anbu," she
"I understand," he said, small smile under his mask. "But
confidence in my team's abilities without me. And I think I can get
Tsunade looked at him for a moment before nodding. "All
Kakashi nodded and quickly steered Sakura out of the
"You'll have as much time as you need," he said, "but there are only
for Ibiki. You go get Sasuke and Naruto and I'll meet you in Ibiki's
Sakura nodded. "Kakashi-sensei?" she said softly. He
her with a raised eyebrow. Before he could react, she lunged forward
him tightly. "Thank you."
He smiled a bit and ruffled her hair.
then. You're on a clock." She nodded and quickly disappeared, running
the streets of Konoha to get her teammates.
Back to team
Back to the main