Blood Red Moon: Rewritten

Revenge is a Dish Best Served Cold

Disclaimer: Part of this story will have settings and events taken out from various anime like Get Backers and Jigoku Shoujo, but I do not own any of them, nor do I own Naruto or any characters in this story save for OC characters

Chapter Eleven: Revenge is a Dish Best Served Cold

Ragnarok's Headquarters (Boathouse)Hiraiko

It was late at night, but Aburame Shino was still sitting before his computer, a slight frown on his face as he tapped furiously on the keyboard of his computer, trying to figure out the strange happenings recently regarding the black market as well as the underworld society.

As Ragnarok's spy and computer expert, he made it his job to know everything that there is to know about the black market as well as the underworld society, and Shiki herself had numerous informants all over the place, and that includes within the underworld society as well.

It was currently late at night, and Shino looked at the clock hanging on the wall which read: 05:28am.

The gentle waves of the lake that the boathouse was docked at were lapping against the sides gently, and nearly everyone in Ragnarok was asleep. Nearly everyone because their much esteemed captain is currently sitting on the rooftop of the boathouse in the night air, fiddling with her computer. In fact, Shiki rarely uses computers unless she's searching for some information or something or the other, and she has been using her computer rather often as of late.

Their much esteemed captain isn't as good with computers like Shino is, but she is skilled enough with computers to do some simple hacking and encrypting as well as gathering information and the like. What would one expect from someone who is practically raised by Jiraiya, the King of Perverts as well as the notable spymaster?

Shino frowned and leaned back into his chair, massaging his neck a little as it is getting a little strained from the long hours that he had spent sitting before his computer. The only light visible is the table lamp which he's using, and his eyes are starting to hurt even with his sunglasses off. Shino usually had his sunglasses off whenever he's only around his friends, and the sunglasses will be back on once he's out in public. It took the bug master four years travelling around with Ragnarok before he felt relaxed enough to show his friends his eyes.

Shino stifled a yawn with one hand before reaching for the cup of coffee sitting on the table and took a sip, not taking his eyes off the computer screen which seemed to be full of codes which made little to no sense to anyone else, but it made a whole lot of sense to Shino.

'Something's not quite right,' thought Shino, clicking away on the mouse as the black screen with jade green wordings simply flew up the screen as he did so. 'What has made the black market react this way all of a sudden? Just a week ago, Phoenix Enterprises is on the top of the black market listing for drugs and arms. Now, they're somewhere in the middle, and Phoenix Enterprises is among the most powerful in the black market. And this weird group – Snake Inc – is right at the top, dealing with arms, drugs and whatnot. The last time that this happened is when…' Shino's eyes widened in horror as he recalled only one occasion when something like this had happened with the black market. 'It can't be…!'

Beep.

A message beep from his computer sounded just then, along with a pop-up message which stated 'You've got one new message!' along with the mailbox icon.

XXXXXX

Shiki sighed a little as she sat cross-legged on the rooftop of the boathouse, letting the night wind blow through her hair as she fiddled about with her computer. For some reason, she had problems sleeping that night and decided to go to the internet online chat forum that she had been frequenting lately – Midnight Sun.

Shiki had never really counted herself as a forum fan, but she had been quite taken with that online friend that she had met on Midnight Sun which goes by the handle of RedEye001. And to her surprise, when she had logged onto the forum, her 'friend' was online.

Aurora: Night owl, are you?

RedEye001 typed back not even a few moments later.

RedEye001: I could say the same thing for you. I can't sleep.

Aurora: Same here.

RedEye001: Seems like we both really do have something in common then.

Aurora: (smirking face) Don't get too beyond your head. I just have a lot of things on my mind.

RedEye001: Me too.

Aurora: Don't you have work in the morning? Won't you be too tired?

RedEye001: Don't worry about little old me. My boss won't give me too much trouble about that seeing as how I'm just about doing EVERYONE'S work nowadays. I wonder… Is my boss TRYING to kill me?

Aurora: Hahaha. Maybe.

Back at ANBU headquarters in Akatsuki's office-cum-meeting room where more than half of the members have practically camped there that night as they were all too tired to drag themselves back to their apartments or their dormitories, Itachi smiled a little.

Chatting with this 'Aurora' always manages to calm him down. 'He' or 'she' had the same effect that Shiki had on him. Though now that he thinks about it, Shiki did let slip awhile back that she goes to the same online forum that he uses, and that she had met 'him' on this forum. Itachi had a suspicion that 'Aurora' is actually Shiki. Both 'Aurora' and Shiki have the same 'voice' if you catch what I mean.

Itachi then smiled. If Aurora is indeed Shiki, then he is not complaining. It might allow him to have an insight of what Shiki is really thinking. Itachi isn't stupid. He knew that there are a lot of things that Shiki didn't tell him. He wanted to get to know her more.

A cellphone's ringtone sounded just then, and Itachi looked up only to see the faint blue light of someone's cellphone's LCD screen shining in the dark room of the Akatsuki's office. And said light came directly from the couch where Kisame had crashed against, his head covered by his coat.

"Long lost words whisper slowly to me… Still can't find what keeps me here… When all this time—"

Itachi blinked owlishly. He didn't expect for Kisame to have Evanescence's song of Haunted as his ringtone. He didn't even think that Kisame actually listens to her songs! A hand shot out from under the coat that Kisame is currently huddled under, searching for his cellphone before his hand reaches the currently vibrating cellphone before bringing it beneath the coat.

And Itachi heard a tired voice croaking out a, "Hello?" sounding half-awake and extremely tired as he did so.

Less than thirty seconds later, that same tired voice suddenly changed as Kisame nearly roared, "NANI?!" and he sat up immediately, his coat immediately flying off his head and shoulders, and Itachi blinked, halfway typing a reply message to Aurora as he eyed his best friend and vice-captain.

Kisame scowled as he listened to whoever is on the other end of the line and nodded. "Alright. Thanks for the information, Zetsu." Click.

"Kisame?" Itachi called out.

Kisame glanced up only to see that Itachi is currently at his desk, and the water nin-user raised a brow but didn't say anything regarding Itachi's late nights. "Get the rest of the team up, Itachi," said Kisame. He then sighed. "I've got some news that will definitely wake them up. A criminal that the ANBU had been after for the past five or six years had been sighted in Japan."

Itachi frowned. "And that is…?"

Kisame smirked.

XXXXXX

Ragnarok's Headquarters (Boathouse)Hiraiko

Shiki frowned a little as the message from RedEye001 came up a little hastily:

RedEye001: Sorry that I have to cut our meeting short. But I have to go. Work unfortunately.

Shiki frowned. Somehow, this sounds really familiar…

Work?

Unfortunately.

"Shiki."

Shiki turned at the sound of her own name only to see Shino standing behind her, his hands stuffed in the pockets of the black jacket that he was wearing. Seriously, Shiki hadn't seen Shino sleeping more than five hours a day ever since a week ago as he spends most of his time at the computer. Granted, Shino always spends time before the computer, but he at least takes time to take a walk or something in the past. Just what is he busy 'researching' anyway?

"Shino?" muttered Shiki, one eyebrow raised as she closed the top of her computer before turning around to face him. "What is it?"

Shino both looked and sounded very tired as he answered, giving out a small sigh as he did so. "I've been researching and monitoring the situation of the black market for some time now ever since Arashi and Sasame told us of the…strange situation with the black market."

Shiki raised an eyebrow. "Like?"

Shino sighed. "Just a week ago, Phoenix Enterprises is on the top of the black market listing for drugs and arms," he said, and Shiki nodded. She knew of Phoenix Enterprises. While they're extremely powerful, they're not a bad group. They don't sell their supplies to people with bad intentions. "Now, they're somewhere in the middle of the black market list, and Phoenix Enterprises is among the most powerful in the black market. And this weird group – Snake Inc – is right at the top, dealing with arms, drugs and whatnot."

Shiki frowned. "Snake?" she echoed. "I've never heard of them before. Who are they?"

Shino shook his head. "I have no idea as well," he said. "All that I know is that they've just turned up out of the blue approximately two weeks ago, and quickly rose to the top ranks of the black market. But this sudden change with the black market isn't usual. The last time that something like this happened is when…" He trailed off, and Shiki knew what he wanted to say.

The last time that something like this happened within the black market, it is when Orochimaru was wrecking havoc. But it couldn't be him now, could it?

"Is that all?" asked Shiki, making a mental note to contact her godfather and to get him to investigate this 'Snake Inc' thoroughly.

"No," said Shino with a quick shake of his head. "We've got a request."

"This late at night?" asked Shiki with a sigh. "Who is the client?"

"Isaribi-san," said Shino, and Shiki raised a brow. What on earth did Isaribi wanted to contact Ragnarok via their 'usual means' for when she could have contacted either herself or Haku if she needed help with something?

"Who is her target?" asked Shiki cautiously. She knew of only two people whom Isaribi wanted revenge on, and those two are currently nowhere to be found, and also happens to be on the ANBU's list of most wanted, and on theirs as well.

"Someone that we have been searching for as well," said Shino innocently, examining his fingernails, a slight smirk tugging at the ends of his lips, and Shiki growled low in her throat, not in the mood nor does she have the time for games.

"Shino, stop speaking in riddles and tell me the name," said Shiki with a growl.

"Fine, fine," said Shino, raising both hands up in mock surrender. "The target this time is someone that we've been after for some time now. He is also on ANBU's number one spot of most wanted as well as on our list of most wanted as well."

Shiki froze. There is only one person out there who had that number one spot on both ANBU and Ragnarok's lists of most wanted. She narrowed her eyes slightly. "Shino. Is it…?"

"Yeah," said Shino with a slight nod, a smile tugging at the ends of his lips. "It's that snake." A shadow of what seemed like a smirk spread across his face. "Orochimaru is back in Japan."

XXXXXX

"Orochimaru is back in Japan?" echoed Temari as Ragnarok peered at the screen of Shino's laptop which was opened to that of a digital photograph of a disguised Orochimaru walking through Customs at the airport, though anyone with eyes can see that it's Orochimaru as his snake-like eyes hadn't changed, even with the high-collared beige trench coat concealing half his face.

"Yeah," said Shino with a nod, before clicking on the photograph and enlarging it. "I've gotten it from Arashi this morning when I've gotten wind of that snake's presence in Japan."

Kankuro growled. "That snake sure has a lot of guts for returning to Japan after what he's done!" he growled, balling a fist up. "I hadn't gotten back at him for what he's done to us!"

"Calm down, Kankuro," said Temari, placing one hand on her brother's shoulder. "Let's hear what Shiki and Shino have to say about this."

Shiki nodded to Temari before turning towards the rest of Ragnarok from her place on the window ledge, one leg raised up. "I sent Arashi and Sasame on a job some time back. To track down Orochimaru. That snake has just interfered with us for the last time."

"Apparently, Isaribi-san knows that too," said Shino. "The request this time is from her."

Haku sighed. "Why am I not surprised?" she muttered. "She would want revenge on him. Orochimaru and Amachi are the ones who have just about ruined her life."

"She was one of the victims in that human experimental incident four years back," explained Shiki as a few of her friends were looking confused. "Apparently, she was the only survivor and was the only one lucky enough to have the effects of the experiment reversed. But the damage is still there. And as a result of that human experimental experiment, Isaribi's own family and friends threw her out. That's how Haku and I have found her four years ago actually."

Hinata sighed. "So are we taking the request?" she asked, turning to look at Shiki who was perched on the windowsill.

"Do you even need to ask me?" asked Shiki incredulously, and everyone grinned. "We've been after Orochimaru for how long now? Four years now, I do believe. Maybe even longer. Now that he's back in Japan and that we have a solid lead on him, we're not letting go of the chance." She turned towards Shino. "I know that we knew Isaribi personally, but it's best to make this official. Send the usual to her."

Shino nodded. "Okay."

And several miles away, a cellphone beeped with the message tone and Isaribi flipped opened her cellphone only to see the message:

'Your request has been received and will be carried out soon.

Ragnarok.'

Isaribi smiled.

'Shiki. Haku. Thank you.'

XXXXXX

ANBU HeadquartersLeaf City

"Orochimaru is back in Japan?" echoed Sasori and Tsunade nodded.

"Kisame had news from one of his spies in the middle of the night," said Tsunade irritably, and Kisame grinned sheepishly. He had been the one to ring Tsunade in the middle of the night to inform her of the latest turn of events after all. "Apparently, that damned snake is here on some kind of business deal. He's probably going to start building up his 'empire' once more after we've demolished most of his businesses years ago and Ragnarok have killed off most of his 'business partners' and underlings and he was forced to flee Japan. If Ragnarok hadn't been such a pain in our side for years, I would have sent them an award of commendation to thank them for what they've done." She said sarcastically, and the Akatsuki exchanged looks. Tsunade cleared her throat. "Anyway, there is going to be a formal party and dance of some kind at Nirako – one of the major cities which is approximately twenty miles away from Leaf City. Many important people will be there, along with a few members of the mafia, and without a doubt, Orochimaru will be there as well. I want him caught! He's finally back in Japan and we are going to get him…one way or another. Failure is not an option here!"

"Hai!"

XXXXXX

Dance Hall, Labelle HotelNirako

Itachi folded his arms across his chest as he stood in a corner, his fingers tapping in a steady rhythm. He was wearing a white collared long sleeved shirt with a black coat over it with trousers and black boots. All over the dance hall, the ANBU agents were in formal party clothing with the communicators in their ears concealed cleverly to prevent suspicion.

Kisame who was beside his best friend, teammate, partner and captain sighed. "Oi, Itachi. Just ask someone to dance already, for the love of kami-sama!"

"We're not here to socialise, Kisame," muttered Itachi, scanning his eyes all over the dance hall in search for Orochimaru.

"And Orochimaru is nowhere in sight either," said Kisame patiently. "Come on, your brother's team is on the lookout with Shikamaru and Kiba outside in the car. They'll inform us if they see anything. Just go and have some fun for a change."

Itachi was about to say something to that when he caught sight of a red-haired teen around sixteen wearing a dark blue spaghetti strap dress with slits down the sides. Her hair was done up in a French twist with the rest of her hair trailing down her back.

Itachi can only stare. She is the last person whom he will imagine to be present at this party, which last that he'd heard, is by invitation only. Itachi and his team as well as his younger brother's team are only here because the ANBU Chief knew the host of this party who also happens to be the owner of this very famous hotel, and the hotel owner owed the Chief a few high favours and agreed to help him out.

"Oi. What's wrong?" asked Kisame, nudging Itachi in the side before he looked towards the direction where Itachi is looking at and he whistled slightly. "Man, it ought to be illegal for a girl to be that good looking!" His eyes suddenly widened, and Kisame grinned slyly to himself. "I see… Itachi, you're interested in her? And here I am thinking that you're gay or something!"

Itachi tore his eyes away from his target of interest and glared at Kisame. "For your information, I am not gay!" he hissed, causing several people near him to look at him strangely. "And secondly, I know that girl. I'm just surprised to see her here, that's all. I didn't think that she'll be here."

Kisame nodded. He had heard stories from Deidara and Sasori about some girl whom Itachi had been hanging out with whenever he had the day off. Though with Deidara, he knew enough to take his high tales with a pinch of salt, though he didn't think that Sasori will lie about things like this.

Kisame isn't blind.

He can tell that Itachi carried romantic feelings for this girl, even though Itachi hadn't said anything about her. And he also knew that the block of ice currently standing next to him probably hadn't even realised his own feelings!

Kisame sighed inwardly at that. What is it with geniuses and idiots?

Well, the least that he could do is to at least do some matchmaking, though he knew that it probably isn't appropriate to do so in the middle of a mission. But he is sure that Tsunade wouldn't skin him alive for this, considering the fact that Orochimaru hadn't appeared yet, and not to mention the fact that even their ANBU Commander thinks that Itachi is too much of a loner as it is. Even Sasuke isn't as bad as his brother as he goes to the bar together with his teammates every Friday night if they weren't on missions.

"Come on, Itachi. Go and ask her for a dance," said Kisame, nudging Itachi gently in the ribs.

Itachi stared at Kisame like he had suddenly grown two new heads. "We're in the middle of a mission!" he hissed. "M-I-S-S-I-O-N! Or do you not know what that word means?"

"Orochimaru isn't here yet, nor has he been sighted yet," said Kisame patiently. "Just go and relax for a change. I'll let you know once things change. Just go." And he pushed Itachi forwards gently.

Itachi sighed before he placed his half-drank glass of champagne on a passing waiter's tray before walking towards the direction of Namikaze Shiki who looked slightly startled at seeing him. If truth be told, this is also the first time that he had seen Shiki wearing a skirt or a dress and even makeup, and she looked very different from her usual self.

"I didn't think that I'll actually see you here," said Itachi with a smirk.

Shiki smiled. "Me either," she said. "One of my friends, in his infinite wisdom, decided to drag me here, and in his exact words, 'teach me how to socialise'!" Shiki scowled at this. It wasn't a total lie as Neji did say that this is what he wanted Shiki to do during this request which is the reason why all of her friends have suddenly disappeared into thin air, though she can still sense them somewhere around. "What about you? Work?"

Itachi flinched slightly. "Kind of," he admitted, knowing that he can't lie to Shiki without the girl detecting his lie. It was like the girl had a lie detector system somewhere on her. He then smiled and held out one arm. "May I?"

Shiki smiled. "Why not?" she said before the two stepped out onto the dance floor where several couples were already dancing.

Itachi was taught how to actually dance as that is part of ANBU training so that they can blend in with the surroundings and not attract any attention, and he was pleasantly surprised to learn that Shiki is a very good dancer as well. The band changed the music to a slow romantic sounding music just then, and Itachi guided his partner through the dance steps.

Kisame grinned as he saw Itachi took the initiative to ask the girl for a dance, and chibi Kisame was doing a little tap dance in his head, and it was taking him all his self-control to not start dancing on the spot just then.

"Yes! I knew that you had it in you!" He whooped silently so that he doesn't attract any attention to himself.

"Kisame. What has gotten you so happy?" asked a voice, and Kisame nearly jumped as Konan appeared next to him, wearing a red spaghetti strap dress.

"Don't do that!" Kisame said, clutching his chest. "You could give a guy a heart attack!"

"My apologies," said Konan, though the smile on her face suggested otherwise. "But what has gotten you so happy?"

"Over there."

Konan raised an eyebrow, but looked towards the direction where Kisame is pointing only to see her much esteemed captain dancing with some girl. "Is that…Itachi? What the hell is he doing, dancing with that girl? We're not supposed to be socialising with the guests here!"

"Come on, Konan, relax a little," said Kisame with a groan. "How Nagato can stand you, I'll never know."

SMACK!

"Ow!" Kisame whined, rubbing the bruise on his head from Konan's slap and the scowl that the only female member of the Akatsuki gave him. "Anyway, Itachi doesn't socialise enough as it is. It wouldn't hurt for him to have some fun for a change. He rarely does anything but work as it is. I'm sure that Tsunade-sama wouldn't mind."

"That's true," said Konan with a slight smile as she turned back towards her captain. "But…" She frowned to herself as she studied the girl that her captain is currently dancing with. 'I could have sworn that I've seen that girl somewhere about before…'

Meanwhile with Gaara and Neji, the two boys exchanged looks before studying the guy with Shiki closely.

'If I'm not mistaken, that guy is the ANBU Captain of one of the teams that is currently pursuing us,' thought Gaara. 'Shiki had better be careful…for both their sakes.'

Half-an-hour on the dance hall, and both Itachi and Shiki could take it no longer.

Thus why the two were currently standing in one of the balconies attached to the dance hall which overlooks the gardens of the hotel that they were in. The garden was extremely large with several beautiful rose trees and shrubs and fountains.

"It's quiet here," said Shiki with a slight smile tugging at the ends of her lips.

"I agree," said Itachi with a nod of his head. "Whenever I feel stressed out, I whistle. Like this." And a slow fleeting sound escaped from his lips, sounding rather like some bird. Itachi smiled at Shiki. "My best friend taught me how to whistle like this. That was before I've joined the ANBU and he died during that rebellion in the city of Hakawa all those years ago." Itachi smiled sadly. "His name was Shisui. He was actually my cousin. But he died."

"I'm sorry."

"No, don't be," said Itachi with a shake of his head. "It's been so long now. I have a new life and a new calling now. The whistle is just one of my last memories of him."

"I see," said Shiki with a smile. "He's someone important to you, isn't he?"

"That's right," said Itachi. "What about you, Shiki? Do you have someone important to you as well?"

"Yeah," said Shiki, nodding, thinking of her friends in Ragnarok. "Many of them."

Itachi was about to say something to that when there was an interruption in the form of a sandy blonde haired girl wearing a white dress similar to that of what Shiki was wearing. The girl glanced at Itachi before shrugging slightly and turning towards Shiki who looked a little startled to see the girl.

"Shiki," said the girl calmly. "Let's go. It's time."

Shiki nodded before she turned and smiled apologetically at Itachi. "Sorry," she said. "Like all good things, this has to end."

"Do you have to go?" asked Itachi before he winced. He didn't want to sound so…whiny.

Shiki sighed and nodded. "Unfortunately," she said. "See you."

The blonde haired girl, meanwhile, was tapping her foot a tad bit impatiently, yet at the same time, casting Itachi wary looks for some strange reason, and Itachi had to wonder if he had done something to offend Shiki's friend unintentionally.

"Come on, Shiki," said the girl before she tugged on Shiki's hand. "Let's go."

Itachi frowned to himself as he stared at the departing backs of the two girls as they exited the dance hall hurriedly, but he let it pass. After all, he had seen stranger things than that. No, the only thing that is bothering him is that he could have sworn that he'd seen that friend of Shiki's somewhere about, only that he can't remember where. And another thing is that he had the strangest feeling that Shiki is here for a 'purpose' of some sort.

But what?

XXXXXX

Gaara frowned to himself as he sat on one of the low branches of the tree where he, along with the others were all waiting for Shiki and Temari to arrive. He was currently bounding bandages around the palm of his right hand before doing the same to his left hand. He would rather not leave behind any blood traces that might possibly led ANBU to their doorstep.

He had been thinking about the past a lot…of a time long past when he had first met Shiki eight years ago in the town of Hiraiko. That is where Shiki had saved him and his siblings, and where they had made their first friend.

"It will all end tonight," said Neji from beside him, looking up towards the night sky to see the full moon. All of Ragnarok had changed out of their 'party' clothes into their normal clothes so that they were able to move about easily. "The moon night is beautiful." He breathed. "A beautiful night to witness the demise of the monster that they called Orochimaru."

Tenten chuckled darkly, playing with a dagger. "Poetry doesn't suit you, Neji," she said.

Gaara smirked at this. They were all tense. He closed his eyes before opening them again. "Seriously, all of us owed Shiki a great deal," he said. "Of course, Orochimaru as well." He nearly spat that name out. Gaara then smirked as he saw Shiki and his sister walking towards them before he slapped one hand onto his lap and pulled himself to his feet. "Let's roll!"

XXXXXX

Abandoned MansionOutskirts of Nirako

"This is the place?" asked Hinata with a frown as they entered this dust covered mansion with ivies and creepers growing on the outside, snapping on her flashlight to at least enable some vision.

"Yeah. This used to be one of Orochimaru's old hideouts and one of his safe houses," said Shino, kneeling down on the ground whilst tapping away on his computer. "I doubt that the ANBU even knew that this place existed as Orochimaru had it built in secret back then when he's on the run from the ANBU and from us. But they'll find this place soon enough. I'll estimate that we only have approximately five hours tops before the ANBU finds this place."

"You got the map?" asked Neji, turning towards Shino.

Shino nodded. "They're underground," he said. "The 'real' rooms are underground. That's why this place looked abandoned and looks like some ghosts are inhabiting this mansion instead. There are about six levels underground. And an electronic door with pass-codes locks is the entrance to each underground level."

Shiki nodded slowly. "And if I know Orochimaru, he'll have some of his lapdogs guarding those 'doors' in case of unwanted visitors. In this case, us."

"Well, we'll worry about it when the time comes," said Kankuro calmly. "Frankly, I'm hoping for some enemies. Followers of Orochimaru are no friends of mine!"

Shiki smirked. "Let's go!" she said. "Shino, I need you to unlock the electronic locks for each door that we come across via hacking." Shino nodded. "Let's go!"

XXXXXX

Underground Level OneAbandoned Mansion

"Come on, Shino, hurry up!" Kankuro urged as the lot of them were before a red door which is locked with an electronic panel next to it which Shino is currently trying to hack through, with cables attached to the electronic panel from his computer.

A tick appeared on Shino's head as he tapped away on the computer. "Can you be quiet? I can't concentrate like this!" he snapped before the bar that had appeared on the screen of his computer slowly filled to one hundred percent, and there was a loud click before the door opened slightly. "Alright, we're in!"

Flame torches decorated the walls of the room as they entered, and Hinata rolled her eyes at this. "He really likes modelling his mansion after an ancient Greek castle, don't he?" said Hinata sarcastically.

Shiki stopped in her tracks just then, and the rest of them who were behind her bumped into her.

"Shiki, what's wrong?"

The problem is a fairly large man with a tuft of dark orange hair on his head before them. "This is as far as you'll go!" he growled. "I am Jiroubou, one of the members of Orochimaru-sama's elite guards, and you shall go no further!"

Shiki narrowed her eyes. They can't afford to be delayed any longer. Like Shino had said, they only have about five hours tops before the ANBU actually finds this place.

"Shiki, go on ahead with the others!" said Tenten, taking one step forward, and Kankuro stepped up as well. "We'll handle this guy. As for Orochimaru…" She smiled. "Looks like you gain the honour of taking his life."

Shiki sighed and nodded. "Don't die on me," she said.

"We won't," said Kankuro with a smirk before the rest of Ragnarok ran past Jiroubou towards the stairs right at the end of the room which leads them further underground.

Jiroubou growled. "You're not going anywhere!"

But before he could actually do anything, a dagger with flames surrounding it struck the ground not too far away from his foot, stopping him in his tracks. Jiroubou turned around only to see the brunette girl whose hands were surrounded by flames, and yet, it is not hurting her in the slightest.

"My apologies," said Kankuro coldly before he stretched out his left hand, and the floor began cracking before sand and cement started forming in Kankuro's palm. "We're your opponents!"

XXXXXX

Underground Level TwoAbandoned Mansion

"Alright, we're clear," said Shino as the door opened.

The moment that Neji who is the first ahead of them to enter the room, he was nearly impaled by a golden arrow which struck the area just above his head, and everyone turned to see a dark skinned guy with…six arms?

Neji stared blankly at him before turning back towards Shiki, pointing at the guy. "Spiderman?" he asked, causing his friends to nearly break out in hysterical laughter and for 'Spiderman' to twitch uncontrollably.

"Who are you calling 'Spiderman', pretty boy?" 'Spiderman' growled. "I am Kidoumaru, one of the members of Orochimaru-sama's elite guards, and you shall go no further!"

Neji developed a dangerous tick on his head just then. "And who are you calling 'pretty boy'?" asked Neji dangerously. The pale eyed teen turned towards Shiki. "I'll take care of this guy. Go on ahead. 'Spiderman' won't be needing all his arms…and legs once I'm done with him."

Shiki nodded. "Alright. He's yours. Be careful."

Neji nodded. "I always am," he said before he watched his friends run past Kidoumaru, Yugito having to shoot a blast of lightning to buy them some time so that they could run down the stairway. "I'm your opponent. Shall we dance?"

XXXXXX

Underground Level ThreeAbandoned Mansion

Shiki sighed as she ignored the red haired girl before her by the name of Tayuya who is spewing out insults that is enough to make a sailor blush. "You know, this is really getting old." She nearly groaned. "How many more must we go through?

Temari sighed before stepping out. "I'll handle her," said the wind user. "People with a loud mouth on them happen to be my type of opponents anyway." She smirked. "Go on ahead."

Shiki nodded before the lot of them rushed past Tayuya. The girl was about to go after them, but a sharp wind blade that nearly took her head off changed her mind. Tayuya turned towards Temari's initial direction only to see wind circling around both her hands, and Temari smirked.

"I'm your opponent," she stated.

XXXXXX

Underground Level FourAbandoned Mansion

"Go!" Yugito called out to her friends as she grabbed the fist of this silver haired guy before her, with said fist barely an inch away from her neck. "We'll be fine! Shiki, you have to reach Orochimaru before the ANBU do!"

"Shiki, go!" Hinata called out.

XXXXXX

Underground Level FiveAbandoned Mansion

The temperature dropped several degrees as Haku clenched her hands into fists by her sides as she glared at the silver haired teen wearing glasses before them. Shiki glanced at Haku. She knew what history that the ice maiden had with Kabuto, seeing as it's the silver haired teen who had indirectly had a hand in causing Isaribi's current state.

Shiki sighed. "Haku, can you handle him?" she asked.

Haku nodded, not taking her eyes off Kabuto, forming a number of ice senbons with her power over ice. "Naturally," she said coldly. "Go."

XXXXXX

Underground Level SixAbandoned Mansion

"The last door," muttered Gaara, looking at the door as Shino set to work to hack through the security codes on it. "Orochimaru is behind it."

There was a loud click, and the door swung opened just then. Gaara, Shiki and Shino exchanged looks before the three stepped through the doorway and entered the room, immediately catching sight of Orochimaru seated on a throne-like chair on the other end of the room.

Orochimaru chuckled, his chin resting on an upturned right palm as he turned to look at them, dressed in pale white robes which made Shiki think that Orochimaru almost fancies himself as a king of some sort.

"I commend you for making it this far," he said. "But this is as far as you'll go."

"That's what you think," said Gaara coldly.

"Maybe you might be able to kill me," said Orochimaru calmly. "You are probably the strongest of your group. But will your friends survive my guards? The cursed army?"

Shiki narrowed her eyes whilst Gaara's eyes widened a slight fraction in horror, and an angry buzzing sound sounded from Shino. "Orochimaru…!" Shiki hissed in anger. "You didn't…! You used the Mutation Process on your own people?! On normal human beings?! They'll die for that!"

Orochimaru gave a nonchalant shrug, getting up from his 'throne' and stepping down the steps to the floor, taking a sword from out of nowhere. "Pawns are disposable," he said with a shrug.

Gaara frowned at Orochimaru. "I don't know and I don't care what you think your people as," he said. "But I do know this. I believe in the strength of our friends. They'll defeat your inferior and artificial dolls." He smirked. "And they'll be ending their fights right now."

XXXXXX

"Just who are you calling 'girly', fat-ass??!!" Tenten nearly roared as she kicked Jiroubou in the nuts, cracking past his earth armour, and Kankuro nearly winced as that is the one place that no man would like to be kicked in.

Jiroubou crumpled to the ground like a sack of potatoes before a horde of flames surrounded Jiroubou and grew in intensity, and Kankuro winced and resisted the urge to cover his ears as Jiroubou's screams of pain echoed throughout the entire room.

Finally, when the flames died down, a black and charred body was left at where Jiroubou was before. Tenten's immortal flames are considered to be one of the strongest fire nin-abilities out there, probably on par with the fire abilities of the ANBU Captains of Akatsuki and Rendoku.

"W-What is this?" Kidoumaru croaked whilst being suspended in mid-air, with cube-sized pale blue barriers suspending all his six arms and two legs in mid-air, enabling him immobile.

"My power," said Neji coldly, one hand before him. "I am the king of impenetrable barrier. There is no barrier under my control that can be broken. My barriers can be used for several different purposes: time bending, defense and offense."

Kidoumaru felt fear for the first time in his life at the look in the pale eyed teen's eyes as he made several motions in the air with his fingers and muttered, "Obex."

A pale green barrier surrounded Kidoumaru's head entirely just then, and he froze. "W-Wait!"

"Those that serve Orochimaru have no right to continue living in this world," said Neji solemnly.

"Orochimaru-sama is right! You're cursed children, all of you! You are the ones who have no right to exist in this world!" Kidoumaru nearly screamed.

Neji didn't let those words get to him as he muttered the phrase that will end Kidoumaru's life, making a slashing motion from up to down with his index and middle fingers as he did so. "Defluo."

There was a light boom before the pale green barrier around Kidoumaru's head exploded, and his head along with it before Neji allow the rest of the barriers that he had formed around Kidoumaru's limbs to fall, and Kidoumaru's headless body fell to the ground with a light thud.

Neji stared at Kidoumaru's body, with thick red blood flowing from the part where his head used to be.

'Say what we will. Do what we will. In the end, we nin-users are still just people after all…with feelings all too human,' thought Neji as he stepped up to Kidoumaru's body before he muttered, "Obex."

A pale green barrier entirely surrounded Kidoumaru's body before Neji uttered the next command, making the slashing motion from up to down with his index and middle fingers. "Defluo."

Boom!

"Damn it! Where are you, you bitch?!" Tayuya roared as she looked in several different directions at once, shielding her eyes from the strong winds that threatened to blow her off. "Show yourself!"

"With pleasure," said a voice right next to her ear, and Tayuya leapt back in alarm only to see Temari standing right behind her with a smirk on her face.

"This is the end for you," said Temari before she made a slashing motion with her fingers, and a sharp blade of wind went straight at Tayuya who couldn't manage to get away in time, and the blade of wind struck Tayuya's pale neck, going right through it and severing her head from her shoulders.

A short moment later, Tayuya's head rolled to the ground, and her headless body crumpled to the ground not a second later.

Temari sighed as she dismissed her winds. "You may talk big, but no matter how strong the blade, nothing cuts the wind," she muttered.

"Water conducts electricity, Kimimaro-san," said Yugito coldly as she watched Kimimaro try to get out of the water prison bubble that Hinata had imprisoned him in, not allowing him to move a single inch. "Didn't you learn that in Psychics?"

Within the water bubble, Kimimaro's eyes widened in horror as he watched Yugito stepped up slowly to Hinata's water prison slowly, electricity cackling around her right wrist before she pressed it gently against the water prison. "This is goodbye."

Kimimaro's eyes widened. 'No…!'

And the next instant, there was such an outburst of electricity that every single electronic device and light in the room that they currently were in sizzled and popped, and Kimimaro screamed in pain as a thousand electricity volts ran through his body for several moments before Yugito stopped her electricity onslaught, and Hinata let her water prison fall, allowing Kimimaro's charred and black body to fall to the ground.

Haku glared at Kabuto with such hatred in her eyes that it's a wonder that the silver haired teen hadn't yet dropped dead. Kabuto felt a slight pang in his chest at the hatred that his childhood friend, and once upon a time, best friend is now giving him.

But this is the road that he had chosen, and Haku had chosen the path that opposes him, and thus, she must die.

"Why?" Haku demanded, several ice senbons in each hand.

"Why what?" asked Kabuto, looking for an opening, but could find none.

"Why did you do that to Isaribi? She's your cousin! Why did you join Orochimaru? The Kabuto that I knew would never do such a thing!"

"Because life is just this way!" shouted Kabuto. "You can't shout and say that it's a lie! Your own father tried to kill you and your mother! You can't say that the current ANBU is all full of justice! It's all a lie!"

"Then is what Orochimaru is doing now right?!"

"It's way better than what we had to endure under ANBU rule!" Kabuto shouted back.

"I see…" said Haku, looking away. "I didn't want to do this, but I promised Isaribi that I would."

"Nani?"

If you can't bring Kabuto back…can't bring my cousin back… Please, Haku…kill him.

Before Kabuto's astonished eyes, Haku vanished in a black blur, and the next moment, he felt something rammed into his body, and a pair of lips was planted against his. And when Kabuto managed to get his brain working once more, he realised that Haku was kissing him with tears running from her eyes.

"I'm sorry, Kabuto. Forgive me," she muttered before she stepped away.

"Haku…"

"Sennen Hyoro. (Thousand Year Ice Prison)"

Several ice pillars were immediately formed around Kabuto, and the eyes of the silver haired teen widened in horror. He knew what this attack is. Haku's most powerful ice attack. One that had never been able to be broken through yet.

"Haku—"

"This is goodbye, Kabuto," said Haku, smiling sadly with tears running down her cheeks. And the last thing that Kabuto saw is Haku's face before the ice pillars enclosed him in a prison of ice, and his time in this world is up.

XXXXXX

Shiki panted heavily, crouched on one knee to the ground as Gaara currently had Orochimaru bound in his Desert Coffin, with only his head showing. All three Ragnarok members had tears on their clothes from Orochimaru's sword.

"Why…are you doing this?" Orochimaru croaked.

"Because I'm a nin-user… No…all of us are," said Shiki, getting to her feet. "We are one of the nine Guardians, and it's my duty to pass judgment!"

Orochimaru coughed only to cough up a large splatter of blood and snarled at them. "You are cursed children! All of you! Even if you kill me…you're only delaying the inevitable! He will rise again!"

Shiki narrowed her eyes. "I see…" she said. "So it's true then. You and that fool Danzo are really trying to revive 'him'. Did you really think that a mere mortal can control his power?"

Orochimaru snarled and Shiki beckoned to Gaara who nodded and made a clenching motion, muttering the dreaded phrase that all his victims knew by heart…in the afterlife by now. "Desert Funeral!"

There was a light explosion within the sand cocoon that encased Orochimaru before Gaara allowed the sand to trail off Orochimaru, revealing his battered and bloody dead body which crumpled to the ground.

Shiki stared at Orochimaru's dead body for a long time before speaking. "People are able to hold onto hope as death is something which cannot be seen," she said, uttering a phrase that she'd heard Jiraiya said to her once.

A moth flew down and perched onto Shino's finger just then and the teen twitched before turning towards Shiki. "Shiki, we should get out of here," he said. "ANBU is on their way."

Shiki nodded. "Sound the alarm to everyone," she said.

Shino nodded.

XXXXXX

Twenty minutes later, ANBU members arrived at the abandoned mansion before making their way down the stairs which led to the underground rooms, as thanks to Kiba's enhanced senses, he could smell the unmistakable strong scent of blood.

They first came across the black and charred body of Jiroubou which is nearly unrecognisable, and Sakura and Ino have to resist the urge to vomit. Then an empty room with several bloodstains which is where Neji had fought Kidoumaru earlier. The veteran members of the ANBU like the Akatsuki could tell right away that a huge fight had just taken place, but they decided that investigations could wait.

The headless body of Tayuya had even the veteran members of the ANBU nearly throwing up on the spot right then and there. Then the electricity charred body of Kaguya Kimimaro had everyone on pins and needles, wondering what they're going to find next. The frozen ice prison with the dead body of Yakushi Kabuto within had everyone in shock, wondering who on earth could do such a thing to such a dangerous person as Kabuto is just one rank behind Orochimaru in the ANBU's most wanted list.

Though Itachi did notice that Kabuto died with a smile on his lips…

The final room had everyone nearly throwing up as Orochimaru's body was nailed to a wooden cross that is hung up on the walls, with his body looking as if something had torn it apart, and blood was dripping slowly to the ground, probably more than what the human body actually contains.

Kiba's eyes widened at the damage done to this room as sword slashes, cracks in the walls, craters and whatnot were everywhere as if a giant had just rampaged through the forest.

"H-Holy crap!" muttered Kiba, looking all around him. "Did an earthquake just come by or something?"

"Worse," remarked Sasuke, examining the body of Orochimaru's hanging on the stile. "From the looks of things here, it would seem that Ragnarok ran out of their usual mercies and decided that Orochimaru could do with some of their 'tender treatment'."

"Are you even sure that it's them?" asked Sakura doubtfully. "Orochimaru has plenty of enemies, after all."

"Yeah, it's them alright," said Konan, eyeing something in the corner. "That's their message."

"What do you mean, Konan?" asked Ino, turning only to stop in her tracks as she saw what Konan had seen.

A message written in blood which Ino was ready to bet was Orochimaru's blood was written on the wall. And it said: Justice has been served. If revenge is called Justice, then that Justice breeds yet more revenge, and becomes a chain of hatred. Evil doers, you have been warned, beware.

Sakura scowled. "Damn them! They're making us look like fools!"

"But this torture is extreme," said Konan, examining the body as Nagato whipped out his phone and started calling for the coroner. "Not like Ragnarok's usual methods. They always leave their victims hanging until they died from blood loss. But this time, they killed him on the spot."

Itachi frowned. "What the hell did Orochimaru do to them?" he asked, but no one answered.

XXXXXX

A few miles away from the abandoned mansion, Gaara placed one hand on Shiki's shoulder as the lot of them were preparing to return to the boathouse. Shiki raised one eyebrow at her best friend's strange behaviour.

Gaara sighed. "That friend of yours…" he said. "The one that you always went to meet… It was Uchiha Itachi, wasn't it?"

Shiki closed her eyes before opening them again before nodding. "Yeah."

Gaara frowned. "I don't think that I have to tell you this," he said. "But both our paths oppose each other. Break it off with him before you fall into it even further and before both of you get hurt." Gaara studied Shiki closely. "I'm not blind, Shiki. I know that you like him. I've suspected that for awhile now, but the dance from earlier confirms it."

Shiki stubbornly look away. "I know." She muttered before walking away.

Gaara studied her carefully before sighing. 'You knew, but you can't do anything to stop it now,' he thought. 'And neither do you want to.'

A/N: A pretty long chapter this time around. Sorry to cut short on the battles, but I really don't want to describe all the battles from start to finish. Anyway, from next chapter onwards, ANBU and Ragnarok would be taking a more offensive stand against each other. So stay tuned!

I hope that you like this chapter, and please read and review!

Preview of next chapter:

"This time, the case is a threat to a theatre group."

"…do you know about Namikaze Shiki's true identity?"

"I can't ignore this. That guy…he has the eyes of someone consumed by revenge."

"Don't you think that you are being too attached to him, Shiki? He's the ANBU Captain! One of our enemies!"

"Those kids from the drama club in some school…they're kind of strange. They give me a funny feeling whenever I'm around them."

"You're nothing but a murderer!"

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