Birds of a Feather
Chapter Six: Screams
Naruto tossed the radio in the air as he lay on the ground next to
Aviary. An hour after leaving everyone else behind, the setting sun had
only exciting thing to watch. He eyed the Tengu Aviary warily before
pressing the button on the side of the radio.
"Can I come back yet?"
There was a long pause before Sakura
"Not yet," came the crackling voice.
"Did everyone come back
"Yeah... we're trying to sort things out. I'll call back
Naruto sighed and lay back on the ground, staring up at
Five seconds of watching the golden clouds and Naruto decided that
must have serious mental problems to enjoy doing this all the
Without warning, the sky suddenly became dark and it took
moment to realize that it wasn't natural. He stood up quickly and
towards the Tengu Aviary. It appeared the entire population of Konoha's
was pouring out of the metal cage and into the sky.
quickly scrambling for the radio. "Sakura-chan!"
There was a
Sakura's bored voice came through. "What is it? I told you to give me a
"All the birds in the Tengu Aviary are going wild!" he
Naruto attempted to answer but the entire
area of the Aviary pitched over and came crashing to the ground. There
unearthly scream and Naruto was sure they would have heard it back in
office even without the radio on.
The ground under Naruto's feet
to lurch upward as the building collapsed. He jumped backwards as he
fall, determined not to lose his footing. As soon as he landed his eyes
the movement out of the rubble.
"NARUTO!" Sakura's voice
Naruto quickly stuffed it under his shirt and hit the
The tall grass covered him for the most part but he could still see
The shadow grew out of the rubble and Naruto realized
was. The radio buzzed against his stomach and he knew Sakura was
it. He reached for the radio and pressed the talk button, silencing the
end. He brought it up to his mouth as his eyes locked with the
"It's here," he said.
Sakura was knee deep in scrolls by the time Shikamaru wandered in. He
for a few minutes before wandering over to help get her out of the mess
"I don't think your sensei will be pleased with the state
office," he said, reaching out a hand to help her out of the
actually better off then before," Sakura replied, letting him pull her
tottered, tripping over a few scrolls and ended up dancing a bit to
"Having fun there?" Sasuke asked, as he entered the
Shikamaru sighed as Sakura snatched her hand back. "Just
for the rest of you to decide to come back. Anything useful?" Sasuke
curtly just as Hinata walked in behind him.
said. "Did you find anything out, Hinata?"
Everyone turned to
Hinata's thumbs instinctively began to twiddle. Slowly she shook her
feeling the her conscience weigh down on her. "We had no records of
like that," she said softly, knowing it was a lie but that she couldn't
"It's no surprise," Sasuke stated.
He frowned. "I went to the police station and read the
There was something too familiar about the beast. So I looked in... our
records." He trailed off.
"Its part of the Uchiha isn't it?"
said, filling in the silence. Sasuke nodded slightly. "Makes sense, the
perfect at copying the physical."
Sakura looked at Sasuke but if
feeling anything, he wasn't showing it. "So what happened?"
went bad," Sasuke shrugged. "There were some notes but nothing
"Did it survive?" Shikamaru asked.
"Yeah. But it
anything about what happened afterwards."
"It was destroyed,"
said. They all looked at her and she paled at her words. "I mean...
it... it's not
here. We never knew about it. So..."
"Unless they hid it,"
"They being who?" Sakura asked.
"I'd say either
with the Uchiha gone it seems more likely to be the Tengu."
the Tengu," Sakura said, pulling out the scroll of notes from earlier,
would it attack them?"
"To get free," Shikamaru shrugged. "To
Maybe it was aiming for both Hane and the Hokage, two birds with one
The bad pun wasn't the only reason for silence in the
frowned deeply at the words. Why would anyone want to keep a monster
The radio on the desk crackled to life suddenly and
boomed into the room.
"Sakura-chan? Can I come back
maneuvered through the mess and picked up the radio. "Not yet," she
"Did everyone come back yet?" he asked.
trying to sort things out. I'll call back in a bit."
in her hand as she looked at the group in front of her. It seemed that
almost all the pieces to put something together. But they were still
answer to the simplest question. Why? Why did the beast return? Why was
"I have to go," Hinata said suddenly. "I
father I would go home before dark. I'm sorry that... that I couldn't
Sakura shook her head. "You've been a real help,
thanks again." The other girl blushed and bowed, quickly scurrying out
Shikamaru let out a deep sigh and glanced at the clock.
They had a
little under two hours to come up with an answer. He hated working
"Ne, Shikamaru," Sakura started, catching his
did you find out about the matchmaker?"
Shikamaru frowned. He
to bring Ino's name into this so he just skirted around the source of
information. "The creature probably posed as the old woman to get
Think about it, who would think it's strange for a matchmaker to ask
the people in your life."
Shikamaru paused as he pulled
together. "It's looking for something," he said. "Or more accurately,
Sasuke looked up. "The police report... one of the
it say it had found what it needed."
Sakura looked at them both.
did it find?" she asked, knowing no one had the answer.
suddenly screamed at them. "Sakura-chan!"
Sakura let out a sigh
picked up the radio, annoyed that Naruto had interrupted their
"What is it? I told you to give me a few minutes."
birds in the
Tengu Aviary are going wild!" he yelled.
"What?" she screamed,
that both Shikamaru and Sasuke had come alert.
There was noise
other end, like it was the end of the world. Sakura was screaming
into the radio but he wasn't responding. Shikamaru snatched it out of
and quickly turned the channel, calling into the Hokage's tower to
Sasuke simply grabbed Sakura and dragged her out as a scream echoed in
inhumane and full of rage.
"The idiot's going to get hurt if we
help," he said simply as Sakura tripped next to him.
Shikamaru said, catching up with them and handing the radio back to
They cleared the exit of the building in record time and
running towards the Tengu Aviary. There was a plume of dust and debris
air as they approached, followed swiftly by a wave of black and white
only signify that the Anbu had been mobilized.
once more into the radio.
"It's here," came the
eyes opened wide. "Just stay quiet," she whispered into radio. "Don't
"HEY! YOU STUPID MONSTER!"
Sasuke cursed as
voice came through the radio. Leave it to the idiot to make things
jumped up on the roof, noting that Sakura and Shikamaru followed a few
The field leading to the Aviary was coming up fast and
could make out the gray-black form of the beast. Nearby was ball of
yellow that could only be Naruto. Sasuke was about to continue but a
hand on his
shoulder pulled him to a stop.
His head whipped around, coming
face with Shikamaru. "Let go," Sasuke growled.
"Let the Anbu
this," Shikamaru said. "You wouldn't make it five seconds with
Sasuke was about to argue but Sakura's voice broke the
"Look," she whispered.
They turned and followed her gaze. The
shrinking, suddenly turning human sized. It started to limp towards
seemed completely transfixed by its gaze. Sasuke started again, but
held him back, pointing to the Anbu on the next roof. It was obvious
about to attack.
Naruto yelled and got the monster's attention. It turned to him and
brought his hands up to start performing seals. He could summon the
and eliminate this thing in no time.
But something filtered in
the air. A
sweet, sickly smell and suddenly Naruto found he couldn't move. The
began to shrink until suddenly it was the outline of an older man. It
towards him and despite his attempts, his legs would not
a hand up and slowly grazed a nail against his cheek, drawing a thin
blood. It paused and looked at its nail.
"You're not like her,"
a ghost of a smile on its shadow like face.
Then suddenly it was
in its place were a pile of Kunai. Two Anbu arrived next to him but one
disappeared. The other kept asking him if he was okay, but Naruto
The trio of genin watching from the distance finally
Naruto could hear Sakura's frantic question about his state of being
couldn't answer. He really wanted to though, because she was obviously
upset. He wanted to tell her that he was okay. So he started to muster
strength to say something.
But at the last second, he knew there
something more important he had to say. The way the beast had spoken to
it clear that it was looking for someone. A girl to be specific. And he
that Sakura would be able to make better sense of it then he
like... her..." he said through gritted teeth, using ever ounce of
willpower he had.
The effort cost him. The beast's spell dragged him down into the
"Not like who?" Sakura cried. But Naruto was
all she could do was catch him and lay him on the ground. "Is that what
to you? Naruto! Please wake up!!"
Behind her, Shikamaru's brows
to furrow as he thought about what Naruto said. The thin line of blood
face drew his attention and suddenly he had an image of Hinata,
grabbing her arm
during their fight in the forest.
said suddenly. "It's after Hinata."
"What?" Sakura cried,
attention from her fallen teammate.
"Damn it!" Shikamaru cursed.
didn't I see it before? When we were fighting in the village, the thing
hit on Hinata. It drew her blood. That's why afterwards, with Ibiki it
had found what it needed."
"What did it need?" Sakura
Hyuuga," Sasuke said, understanding where this was going. "Sharigan
enough to let it make perfect copies of things."
that, chakra system and all," Shikamaru finished. "You have to find
said at to the Anbu. "Wherever she is, the beast will be there."
Hinata left the Interrogation building and quickly made her way home.
had already set and she knew her father was going to be displeased with
had barely made it ten steps outside when a familiar form appeared in
"Your father wanted me to escort you
you failed to return before he asked," he stated.
to push the grim thoughts of punishment from her mind. She followed
her fingers nervously playing the edge of her jacket. She knew he was
her about the incident earlier but she should have been just as upset.
he always have to run and tell her father when she did something? She
he was supposed to protect her as a Branch Member but it seemed that it
like tattling on her.
She knew she should say something but she
want to risk disrupting things further. After the Chuunin exam, Neji
somewhat more civil to her. He never apologized for the fight but she
expected that much. She just wanted him to smile at her like he did
Her gaze turned to the Tengu Aviary and she blushed a
the thought of Naruto up there. If she was more like that, she could
how she felt. Though she might use less colorful language then he
Hinata's feet came to a stop. Neji turned around and was
ask her what the hold up was when he felt saw the wave of bird that
sky. Simultaneously, they activated Byakugan, concentrating on Tengu
it slowly came apart.
"The beast," Hinata whispered as it came
"We need to go now," Neji said grabbing her
Hinata cried. "Naruto-kun is up there."
"He can take care of
"Not against that!" Hinata cried.
said, looking at her. "I know his abilities. I know he will be fine.
look, the Anbu are already going."
Hinata wanted to argue
she knew he was right. She could see the waves of Anbu heading to the
And looking back, it appeared that the beast had shrunk down. So she
drag her through the streets without any more protests. She still
but worry about Naruto.
Neji suddenly stopped, causing her to
his back. She was about to question why when she saw it.
Hinata-chan, Neji-kun," came a deep voice from the black humanoid mass
of them. "Hinata-chan, I've been looking for you, for a very long
Neji's muscles tightened as the smell pervaded his
legs suddenly seized up and refused to move.
feeling the way he had tensed.
"Sorry," the beast said. "But
will have to stay behind."
"What did you do to him?"
produced a small container, with smoke billowing out of it. "It's an
a little bit of sweet smoke and they never see it coming. This
incense paralyzes the nerves of males." It quickly put the container
however, I need awake."
"Me? What do you want with me?" Hinata
tightening her grip on the back of Neji's coat. She could feel his
in his chest rapidly as he struggled.
"I need you to finish what
started," it said. "I was not perfect, but our child will
eyes opened wide and she stepped backwards. She looked around the area,
searching for a way to get away but the beast was watching
and run if you want," it said. "But I'll still catch up to you. After I
your cousin, of course. I was told there is bad blood between you but
really let a family member die, Hinata-chan?"
shaking. Neji concentrated, trying to draw as much energy as he could.
see the strain he was putting on himself to move. "R...run," came the
She looked at him, knowing what he was asking her to
do. It made
sense. The Anbu couldn't be that far behind. Running would buy her the
needed. His knees shook and he fell to the ground, obviously weakened
strain against the nerve toxin. She looked at him on the ground, eyes
but helpless before the creature in front of her.
clenched tightly. She looked up at the beast, the veins in her eyes
she took a step forward.
"No," she said suddenly, standing in
Neji. "I won't run." She slowly shifted her feet into the opening
Jyuuken. "But... I won't come easily either."
She didn't dare
look down at
Neji, knowing the look that must be in his eyes. The same one her
her each time she fought Hanabi. You're not good enough to do this.
strong enough. You're weak.
The beast snarled and eyed her
She needed to buy a bit of time so that the Anbu would find them. She
concentrated on the monster in front of her and saw that one of its
badly damaged. That must have been where Ibiki hit him.
and Hinata jumped backwards, avoiding the extended flesh that reached
It moved quickly again, but this time towards Neji whom she had left
Hinata realized her dilemma as she quickly jumped
delivering a solid kick to the thing and pushing it away. By fighting
and attempting to prevent it from getting Neji, she'd have to stay in
place. She was greatly reducing her already weak skills.
sneered, coughing slightly as it put a hand to its side. Hinata lowered
stance. There was no other way to fight. She would have to bring the
the beast and hope that a hit to its side would immobilize
surprised when she suddenly appeared before him. What she lacked in
Hinata made up for in speed. Her palm struck forward, landing a blow on
shoulder and sending it stumbling back. Its body was mostly solid,
realized, though its chakra coils were aligned differently and appeared
From the shoulder strike, the beast had
slightly backwards, allowing Hinata to breech his defense and push her
palm deep into the wound on its side. The beast screamed in agony, a
Hinata could only hope would bring the Anbu quickly.
the advantage, she struck again, aiming for where the eyes should have
a nippon nukite. She didn't make contact with the eyes and instead her
fingers slowly slid into the darkness.
Two hands on the beast
knew this was her only chance. Concentrating, she brought the chakra
to a peak. If she couldn't target the tenketsu because they weren't in
place, she would just push as much chakra as she could into its
The air around the two crackled with energy, the
skin took on a slightly blue hue. It realized the danger and shifted in
hands, trying to get away. One hand came loose but the other one was
inside its wound.
There was a moment of stillness before Hinata
attack go. For a moment, the beast was almost white as chakra spilled
body. Most of it was leaking out but some of it made it through the
burned its insides.
It reared backward, pushing Hinata away and
scampered to the nearest sewer entrance. Hinata had her hands on her
attempting to recover from the abrupt drop in her chakra level. After
seconds, she finally started to wobble over to Neji to check on
expected the surprised look on his face. After all, she hadn't been the
aggressive person in Konoha. But he wasn't looking at her. He was
surprise at something behind her.
She barely had a chance to
react as she
felt it wrap around her ankle. Looking backwards, she saw the long arm
beast stretching out of the sewer hole. It pulled back into the
snapping like an elastic band. Hinata fell forward, smashing her head
ground and losing consciousness.
A second later, they were both
the remained was an immobilized Neji and a long red line that from
had fallen towards the darkness of the sewers.
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