The harsh wind spread the sickening scent of blood and fear in every direction. With it followed the torturous screams of a dying people that echoed throughout the region.
A squad of individuals wearing unique animal masks flew through the tall trees that made up the Forest of Death. They barely made any noise as they traveled closer to the source of chaos, yet each of their heart beats accelerated in both terror and adrenaline.
Several agonizing minutes went by as the silent squad continued towards their destination.
Finally, they burst through the edge of the forest, and landed in the middle of a hellish sight.
Countless corpses littered the once peaceful compound. Each of them had one or more limbs missing, their red and black eyes opened wide in silent horror. Parts of their flesh seemed burnt to the bone. Strangely enough, they were only males.
The leader of the masked squad cursed in his breath. “Damn, they got this clan too,” he stated.
His companions cautiously walked through the destroyed compound, observing their surroundings for any signs of survivors.
The only female knelt in front of a dead child who couldn’t have been more than three years old.
Compassion gripped her heart over the loss of innocent life.
Gently closing the blank eyes of the infant, the female lifted her head to glance at their leader. “Our scouting was just a decoy. Their real target was the village,” she said solemnly.
The man nodded, allowing himself to grit his teeth underneath the protection of his Lion mask.
“I don’t see any women or girls here,” another member stated.
“Ash Squad reported that the Hyuuga and Nara clan suffered heavily losses as well, though they managed to evacuate the majority of their women and children. The men here must have held back the attackers,” The leader replied evenly, though his hands subconsciously balled into fists.
“Have you heard from Ash squad since then?”
“No…” The leader replied.
His eyes narrowed as he scanned all over for chakra signatures. His stomach plummeted with heaviness when he saw no signs of life.
An individual with a cougar mask stepped towards him. “It doesn’t seem like there are any survivors. Should we move on?” He asked.
The leader inwardly sighed at the devastating loss of the once formidable clan. May their cursed souls rest in peace.
After sending his private prayer, the leader nodded. “Let’s get moving. We have to find Hokage-sama and regroup.”
As one, the squad vanished from the area, and continued towards the center of the destruction.
They crossed the wide length of the dead clan’s compound, nearly all of it covered in blood and ruined with debris.
From the corner of his eye, the leader glimpsed a flicker of chakra before it abruptly disappeared.
He gracefully landed on a lamp post, and focused his keen eyes on the area.
The female landed on the post beside him. “What is it, captain?”
The leader’s eyes strained as he tried to capture even a flicker of the unidentified chakra.
His persistence paid off as he spotted the suppressed chakra a hundred meters ahead of him.
Wordlessly, the leader took off towards the source, his squad obediently followed behind him.
They soon landed in front of small buildings that were used as indoor training rooms.
Quickly identifying the one that held the chakra, the leader glanced back at his team. “Hamamoto and Kai, scout the entire perimeter. Kaneko and Kita, check out the other buildings. Uzuki, you’re with me.”
As his team split up into their respective areas, the leader and Uzuki cautiously stepped inside the building closest to the blood stained pond.
The leader stared hard at the sight of more corpses littering the ground. A good majority of them had painful holes protruding from their still chests.
Uzuki knelt down and studied one of the mutilated corpses. “It seems like the cause of death was trauma to the chest. I’ve never seen such a wound like this.”
She carefully spread open the shredded green vest, and held her breath. “It looks like his bones were bent outward, as if something escaped from his chest cavity,” she murmured.
The leader ignored the corpses, and stepped in the middle of the room.
Immediately, a whizzing sound sliced through the still air as several shuriken and kunai flew towards him.
With the experience of an acrobat, the leader twisted and turned as he dodged every single weapon.
As the last one fell to the ground, the man sharply turned his head to a small figure leaning against the wall on the far side of the room.
Uzuki ran towards the leader. “Captain! Are you alright?” She asked worriedly.
Ignoring her unnecessary concern, the leader walked towards the shaking figure.
It took out a kunai and held it in one hand, its body twisted sideways as if protecting something. “Stay back!” a high-pitched voice yelled out.
The leader momentarily halted, caught off guard by how young the voice sounded.
Stepping out from behind him, Uzuki crouched to try to not frighten the figure. “It’s okay, we’re Anbu agents,” she said gently.
The figure’s grip on the kunai slightly eased, but tightened once more as a cry came out.
Uzuki’s eyes widened as the crying continued.
Hesitantly, the figure turned away from them, and cooed soothingly at whatever was hidden from the Anbu’s view.
Carefully, Uzuki stepped forward until she knelt behind the small figure. She glanced over the figure’s small shoulders and nearly gasped at what she saw.
A baby with thick black hair pouted as his guardian kissed his cheeks, and held him close.
Getting over her shock, Uzuki placed a hand on the figure’s shoulders. “Is he your brother?” She asked.
The figure, who was really a child, looked back with sad eyes. “Yes,” he confirmed softly.
A small smile teased the woman’s lips as the baby gurgled in delightful ignorance. “What’s his name?”
“Sasuke,” the older brother replied.
Uzuki turned her gaze to him. “And yours?”
“Itachi,” he said quietly.
“Why didn’t you run to one of the shelters, Itachi? It’s dangerous here.” She said.
The young boy bit his lip before he glanced at his dead clansmen. “There was too much chaos for me to understand what was happening. All I saw were my clan dying; some by facing strange creatures, others by having their chests explode.”
“Strange creatures attacked your clan?” The leader asked as he stepped forward.
Itachi nodded. “I was too busy running to catch a good glimpse of them, only that they were as dark as the night, with great claws and no visible eyes.”
Frowning in confusion, Uzuki looked up at her captain. “I’ve never heard of such a creature. Do you think they’re a result of one of Root’s despicable experiments?”
The leader shrugged. “I don’t know, but whatever those creatures are, they’re not here anymore.”
He then looked back at the pile of used kunai and shuriken. “Did you prepare this trap?” He asked.
Itachi nodded as he adjusted his hold on the baby. “Yes. It managed to hold back those creatures before everything went quiet,” he replied.
The leader nodded in approval, before he walked towards it and studied a strange burn-like marking on the cement. “Have any of the creatures been injured by your trap?”
“One, yes. It screeched, before it fled through the ceiling. Its blood left that mark on the cement.”
The Anbu squad leader narrowed his eyes as he examined the mark. Acidic blood that melts through cement? That must explain the burns on the victims. Just what kind of creature are we dealing with?
Uzuki stood up. “We have to escort these children to safety,” she said.
The leader nodded, and then glanced at Itachi. “Are you injured?” He asked.
The child hesitated as he shuffled Sasuke onto his shoulder. “I don’t know what happened, but something that looked like a hybrid between a crab and a spider attacked me. When I woke up, I found it dead beside me.”
The leader’s eyes narrowed. “Where is this creature?”
The young boy gestured behind him.
The Anbu squad leader walked towards the back, and immediately spotted it.
Unlike Itachi’s description of the creatures that killed his clansmen, this one was a yellowish color and didn’t seem to be dangerous.
Grabbing a kunai, the leader sliced off one of the creature’s long appendix-like fingers, and watched with narrowed eyes as its acidic blood corroded the ground.
“It was trying to attack Sasuke. I got in the way,” Itachi stated.
Uzuki squeezed his shoulder. “How are you feeling?”
The child rubbed his throat. “Aside from having a sore throat, and feeling incredibly hungry, I am unharmed.”
The leader stood up, and looked at Itachi. “How long ago were you attacked?”
“About forty minutes ago,” was the reply.
The leader grunted quietly, and then gestured to Uzuki. “Take the kid, and let’s go. Finding Hokage-sama is our best course of action now.”
Nodding in agreement, Uzuki carefully picked up Itachi after he secured his baby brother in a strong hold.
The Anbu agents quickly ran out of the building and stopped outside where they met up with two of their squad members.
“Kaneko, Kita, where are the other two?” The leader asked.
“We don’t know sir. We lost contact with them not too long after we finished our search of the buildings,” the one known as Kaneko replied.
The leader quietly let out a sharp breath. “I take it that you found no survivors.”
The shaking of their heads was all the confirmation the leader needed.
He then active his ear piece. “Hamamoto and Kai, come in,” he said.
Static was the only response he got.
Slightly nervous, the leader spoke once more. “Hamamoto and Kai, what is your position?”
Sweat dripped down his face as none of the two agents responded.
Cursing under his breath, he turned to the two men. “What did you find?” He asked.
“Just a lot of dead bodies and broken equipment,” Kita answered.
Itachi curled towards Uzuki’s chest at the dreadful news. The woman patted his back in pity, and glanced at the leader. “Have any of the other squads reported in?”
The man shook his head. “No. As far as we’re concerned, we’re the only Anbu squad still operational.”
Kita’s brown hair flew over his Bear mask as he shook his head. “This is like a living nightmare,” he commented.
“I’m most worried about who started this and why. Are those responsible trying to start another Shinobi war?” Kaneko mused to himself.
“For the moment, who is responsible for this mess and why they did it is not important,” the leader sternly said. “We’ve got two survivors that we have to escort to safety. After that, we have to find Hokage-sama and wait for further orders.”
“What about Hamamoto and Kai?” Uzuki asked.
The leader was silent as he considered the question. “We just have to hope that they’re strong enough to protect themselves,” was his answer.
Without looking back, the remains of the Anbu squad jumped to the rooftops, and continued on their way towards the village’s center.
Uzuki took extra care to make sure that neither of the children fell from her grasp.
The air become incredibly difficult to breath as huge fires burned throughout the village.
More corpses were scattered over the streets, yet sounds of fighting overpowered the atmosphere.
Uzuki’s breath was caught in her throat. Survivors? She thought.
Thinking the same thing, the leader led his squad towards the ruckus.
With one great leap, they jumped over a damaged building and landed a block away from a group of Jounin.
Each of them sustained heavy wounds, yet their will to protect their home forced them to go on.
From their position, the Anbu squad was able to see half a dozen creatures fighting against the group of Jounin.
Two of the ninjas screamed as one of their comrades’ attack caused the creatures’ blood to spray on their faces.
Uzuki covered Itach’s eyes to spare him the horrendous sight.
As Sasuke whimpered, Itachi kissed his forehead and quietly sang a song to calm him down.
Uzuki was amazed by the calm collectiveness of the young child.
Turning her attention back to the fight, Uzuki saw the remaining Jounin fall back as one of them released a great fireball.
The creatures’ inhuman screeches was ingrained in the minds of the Anbu squad. They would surely be haunted by it.
A loud screech caused shivers to go through each of the Anbus’ bodies.
Around the corner came an imposing creature that was twice as large as the others. Its bulky body rippled with powerful muscles with each step it took. Half inch claws stained with both old and fresh blood portrayed from its feet and hands. Drool dripped from a jaw filled with impressive teeth. Its empty eye sockets seemingly stared at them as its scarred face snarled.
It let out a formidable roar thickened with bloodlust.
Immediately, Sasuke started to cry and the Anbu group had no choice but to jump to the rooftops.
The creature’s displeased growl echoed, followed by the remaining Jounins heart wrenching screams as the group continued their way towards the Hokage’s office.
“Holy shit,” Kita murmured.
“They’re like demons,” Kaneko added.
“Be quiet, and let’s try to get to the Hokage’s office in one piece,” the leader snapped.
The squad continued on in silence, occasionally grimacing at far off screams and screeches alike.
Sensing movement, the leader flicked a kunai to his nine-o-clock.
A ping noise was heard as the weapon was deflected.
A tired looking Chuunin caught up with them. “I’m an ally!” He exclaimed.
“Identify yourself,” the Anbu squad leader ordered.
“My name is Sarutobi Kensuke. I was assigned to protect Shelter D when our position was overwhelmed,” the younger man replied.
“What can you tell us about these creatures?” The leader demanded.
“They have an extremely resilient exoskeleton that protects them from physical attacks. They usually attack in hordes to overwhelm their enemies, with each horde having an alpha. Some were even capable of executing simple ninjutsu. Their only weakness thus far seems to be heat.”
“Heat, huh?” The leader murmured as he recalled the previous Jounin’s fireball killing the horde.
He shook his head of meaningless thoughts, and looked at the Chuunin. “Where are the rest of your teammates?”
A sad look came across the Chuunin’s face. “They’re gone sir. The creatures are well coordinated with their attacks. They kill whom they deem to be dangerous opponents, yet take others alive. Also, they’ve left the women and children alone.”
They only attack grown men? The leader reflected.
Uzuki brought herself closer to the newcomer. “Were the children just girls?” She asked.
The Chuunin gave her a confused look. “Yeah, how did you know?” He asked.
Uzuki shook her head. “What do they do with the boys?”
The Chuunin’s brown eyes darkened with dread. “They usually take them back to the temporary nests they’ve made scattered across the village. They then force these weird hand-like creatures onto their faces.”
The leader’s eyes widened in shock. “What is done to them?” He asked sharply.
The Chuunin winced at the harsh tone, but replied. “We didn’t understand it exactly, only that the creatures seem to force something down their victim’s throat.”
It felt like someone had pierced Uzuki’s guts with a cold sword of truth. She glanced down at Itachi who tensed at the Chuunin’s statement.
Running her hands through his thick locks, Uzuki quietly murmured. “What happens to those who come into contact with those creatures?”
The Chuunin hesitated as he glanced down at Itachi as he hold onto his baby brother.
Sarutobi made eye contact with Uzuki through her cat mask, and shook his head.
Her heart tightened at the terrible news. She glanced down at Itachi who appeared to be staring blankly ahead of them.
She bit her lip in pity for the poor boy’s fate.
Uzuki shook her head, and looked at the Chuunin. “You said that these creatures left the women and girls alone. Where are they?”
“We’ve secured them in Shelter D. They have enough supplies to last three months,” he replied.
Let’s hope that by then, this nightmare will be over, Uzuki thought.
The ninjas zeroed in on the Hokage’s tower and landed on the roof.
They stepped inside the disarrayed room only to find it empty.
Confused, the leader opened the door to the Hokage’s private rooms. His hope diminished when he found them empty as well.
He quietly closed the door and looked at his fellow survivors. “What’s today’s date?”
“October 10th,” Kaneko answered.
The leader’s eyes widened. “Shit,” he said to himself.
Uzuki cocked her head. “What’s wrong, captain?” She asked.
The leader stood in the middle of the group. “This was originally classified, though with the current circumstances, it doesn’t matter anymore.” He took a breath. “The Hokage’s wife is currently in labor. Today is when they were expecting to welcome their son into the world.”
Underneath the mask, Uzuki was flabbergasted. “They might be in danger! Where are they?”
The leader shook his head. “That information was classified, even for me,” he stated.
The Chuunin spoke up. “What do we do now? It’s too dangerous to just walk out, plus there’s the kid….” He trailed off.
Uzuki glared at him, though he couldn’t see it.
She focused her attention on Kaneko. “You’re the only medic we have. Can you somehow remove the parasite?” She asked, not daring to be hopeful.
The normally composed Anbu medic tensed at the request. “I… I don’t know. I’ve never even heard of such a thing,” he said.
“At least try!” Uzuki pleaded.
A moment passed by in silence before the medic sighed in defeat. “Alright, but first I have to evaluate him before I decide to try anything.”
The female Anbu nodded her head, and carefully sat Itachi on the couch.
Hesitantly, Itachi allowed Uzuki to take a hold of Sasuke as Kaneko’s glowing hand pressed against his chest.
Painful minutes went by as the medic’s chakra hummed in concentration.
At last, the glow faded as the medic stood up. “I’m not going to lie. His prognosis is not good,” he started.
Uzuki felt like her heart was breaking at every single bad news. “What is it?” She asked, dreading the answer.
“I could feel the creature’s chakra signature matching Itachi’s. It has a placenta-like sac that attached itself to nearly all of Itachi’s internal organs, sucking up the nutrients. It’s the perfect parasite,” he commented.
“… so what is Itachi’s outcome?” Uzuki pressed on.
Kaneko’s cougar mask stared blankly at Uzuki. “If I were to try to remove the parasite, the rupture of the placenta would leak into Itachi’s abdominal cavity. The sac is too intertwined with his organs that physical removal would kill him.”
A stiff silence took a tight hold of the room with only Sasuke’s gurgles interrupting it.
When Uzuki was able to properly use her tongue, she spoke. “You’re saying that there’s no way to save him?” She asked quietly.
Kaneko sighed. “The only way that I could think of is to allow the parasite to burst from Itach’s chest, while I standby and heal the damage.”
“But?” Uzuki trailed off as she sensed a condition.
“We don’t have the proper equipment nor any blood bags to replace Itachi’s eventual blood loss.”
Uzuki forced herself to sit down beside the doomed child as her mind took in the information. It was only when Sasuke started to cry did she compute the reality.
Uzuki carefully placed the disturbed baby into his brother’s arms and watched with a heavy heart as the older child cooed soothingly.
As she continued to stare at the children, an idea installed itself in her mind. She couldn’t help but smile as she entertained the thought. That bastard does owe me a favor, she assured herself.
Abruptly, Uzuki stood up and removed her cat mask.
She caught a blush paint the Chuunin’s face as he regarded her for the first time.
Uzuki Yūgao was indeed an attractive woman with waist length purple hair, and a pair of eyes a shade of brown that were always warm with kindness.
The leader’s eyebrow rose underneath his lion mask. “Uzuki, what are you doing?” He inquired.
The young woman slightly smirked. “I’m going to save this child’s life,” she replied as she bit her thumb, allowing a coat of blood to stain the skin.
She pressed her hand on the ground and exclaimed, “Summoning jutsu.”
The large room was enveloped in thick smoke as a pair of majestic wings spread from the layers.
The Chuunin let out a noise of wonder as a beautiful horse-sized falcon became visible.
Sasuke whined in discomfort, but quieted down as his brother rocked him gently.
Uzuki lay a hand on the bird’s feathers. “Hayato-San, I need your help.”
The summoned bowed its crowned head. “How may I help, Yūgao-sama?” It asked with a melodic voice.
“I need you to take these children up north. There’s an old friend who owes me a favor. Tell him that he is to see to the health and safety of these children,” she said as she pointed to the dark-haired boys.
The falcon’s gold eyes examined the state of the children, clicking its beak in contemplation. “The child smells unnatural,” he stated in slight disgust.
Concerned that Hayato wouldn’t accept to protect Itachi, Uzuki placed both of her hands on his beak and kissed it softly. “This is the only chance we have of saving Itachi’s life. That’s why I need you to get them out of here.”
The falcon stared at Uzuki with piercing eyes before he ruffled his wings. “Very well, I shall take the children to the location,” he said.
Unable to hide her joy, Uzuki patted Hayato’s head, before she walked towards Itachi and knelt down. She kissed his warm forehead and smiled gently. “My summon will take you and your brother to a secret base not too far from here. I have an old friend who can help you.”
Itachi stared at Uzuki with a blind hope that only a child could have. “Really? He can save me?” He asked softly.
Uzuki nodded. “Yes, but you have to leave now. It’s not safe here for you and your brother.”
Itachi glanced down at his sleeping brother, before locking his intense gaze with Uzuki. “It’s not safe for you either.”
Something close to tears twinkled in Uzuki’s eyes as she lifted Itachi, and carefully placed him on Hayato’s back.
She stared at Itachi’s black eyes as they looked at her in concern. “I’ll make sure that the monsters go away,” she said.
Before she could become too emotional, Uzuki opened wide the office’s windows, and allowed Hayato to step outside.
Stretching his wide wings, Hayato took off to the air.
With a heavy heart, Uzuki watched as Hayato climbed through the layers of dark clouds, allowing the children to escape from the hell-hole. If anyone can save Itachi, it’s him, were Uzuki’s thoughts.
Focusing on her companions, Uzuki placed her mask over her face once more. “Have we called for support from our allies?” She asked.
The men shrugged as they didn’t know.
“Honestly, I’m more concerned with what do the hell do we do?” Kaneko stated.
Their leader rubbed his head as he soothed a developing headache. “I don’t know. Without knowing where the Hokage is, we’re pretty much sitting ducks.”
Uzuki turned to the Chuunin. “Sarutobi-san, is there any part of the village not affected by this infestation?” She asked.
The young man scratched his prickled cheeks. “Not that I know of. It seems like those things are everywhere,” he replied.
Upset with the lack of an answer, Uzuki looked out towards the burning village. The screams have faded into moans of the dying.
Remembering what Sarutobi stated, Uzuki glanced back. “You guys should stay here, and fortify the area. I’ll go out and look for any survivors.”
The leader immediately caught her arm. “Are you trying to kill yourself?” He hissed through clenched teeth. “It’s too dangerous to go out there, especially alone.”
glared at her captain. “You heard what Sarutobi-san said: those creatures don’t
An annoyed growl vibrated in the leader’s throat. “Maybe unarmed women, but you’re a capable kunoichi. What’s to say that they won’t kill you or use you to host their young?”
“It’s a risk I have to take,” Uzuki retorted.
“And a hell of a risk it is!”
“What choice do we have? Stay here hoping that help will find us, or worse, that those creatures do?!” The woman yelled.
Another tense silence threatened to choke the room’s occupants. Both captain and follower glared at each other through their masks, silently willing the other to yield.
Realizing that the woman was too stubborn for her own good, the leader finally relented. “If you’re not back within an hour, I’m coming after you,” he said firmly.
Satisfied that she won, Uzuki freed her arm from the leader’s tight grip, and nodded.
Not wanting for the leader to change his mind, Uzuki quickly jumped through the window and hurried over the rooftops. Her destination in mind was the ninja academy.
She arrived within a few minutes, relieved at the fact that the place seemed more or less intact. The female Anbu went inside, and checked the classrooms.
She wasn’t sure whether to be relieved or worried that they were completely devoid of life.
She climbed onto the roof, and really took the time to glance at the changed landscape.
Several buildings were on fire, the smoke rose high into the sky. The sickening smell of burning corpses only added to the picture of hell on Earth.
What the hell are these things, and where did they come from? Uzuki thought to herself.
Lost in her musings, the female Anbu didn’t notice the crouched figure stalking her from behind.
A moment too late, Uzuki turned around, only to be pushed off of the roof.
She grunted as her back crashed through wood and glass, several shards pierced her legs. Her mask flew off of her face as she crashed to the dirty ground.
Uzuki barely held back a cry as silent tears dripped down her face, slightly stinging a deep cut on her right cheek.
The woman attempted to get up, but was held down by a powerful force.
She opened her eyes only to come face-to-face with the very personification of fear.
A long carapace head was aimed towards her. Uzuki didn’t understand how this creature could move without any visible eyes or nose.
Its jaws opened and revealed a toothed tongue.
Uzuki stared in horror as it trailed the blood on her cheeks.
Suddenly, a golden rope wrapped around the creature’s banana head. It squealed in distress as it was yanked back.
The female Anbu let out a breath of relief as the added weight was removed.
A loud screeched caused her to look up and see the creature twitch as a long sword protruded from its chest.
It was then tossed aside, and crashed into a wall.
Uzuki spat out blood as she hazily looked up at her savior who came towards her.
Through the pain, recognition alerted her brain as she continued to stare. “Wha… you have returned,” she managed to say.
The figure’s brilliant eyes looked down at her as she smirked. “Who else would save your sorry asses?”