Blood Red Moon: Rewritten

Round One! Ragnarok versus ANBU!

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 Fourteen: Round One! Ragnarok versus ANBU!

ANBU HeadquartersLeaf City

It was another day at ANBU headquarters, and the entire Akatsuki team was lazing around, taking advantage of the free time that they have at present to relax. Sasori and Nagato were both currently engaged in a game of chess, with Kisame and Konan both watching the game in interest. Deidara had his feet propped up on the coffee table, reading some magazine that oddly resembles a porn magazine. And Itachi was reading and rereading their latest mission file over at his desk, ignoring the ongoing activities of his team members.

There was a loud clasp as Itachi closed the mission file that he was reading, and this caught the attention of every single one of his teammates who looked up at him at the same moment when Sasori took Nagato's queen. When the orange-haired telekinetic (1) looked down at the chess board, he gave out a low curse when he saw that he had lost to Sasori…yet again.

"Why though?" Itachi questioned quietly, sounding as if he was merely carrying on a conversation, not really looking at nothing in particular. "Why did Ragnarok did what they did? And why are they even doing this in the first place?"

The rest of Akatsuki exchanged looks at this.

So it is Ragnarok again, is it?

All of Akatsuki have been bothered by that group ever since their latest mission to the Twilight Theatre Group nearly two months ago.

That mysterious organisation who helps people all over Japan, and punishes criminals and those who deserves to be punished in the name of justice and vengeance, and their 'methods' of doing so.

We're Ragnarok. We don't kill without a reason. But if we think that the client is doing the wrong thing, then we willstop them. That is the code of Ragnarok, and no one within Ragnarok will break it. If the ANBU can't tame the criminals in their own country, then we shall do it for you! When it actually comes down to it, the ANBU are completely useless, aren't they? They never come when we actually need you the most.

And even though none of them would admit it, the words spoken by that Ragnarok member had been getting to them ever since their mission. Rendoku was affected by those words as well, but as the members of that team were younger and less experienced than Akatsuki, and not to mention that they weren't there, they weren't that much affected like how Akatsuki was.

"I don't really understand it as well, Itachi. But my guess is that something must have happened to either one of them, or ALL of them at some point in their lives," said Konan quietly. "Unlike us, the ANBU had never managed to help them in time. And probably, at some point, that anger slowly turned to hatred. I do not agree with their methods, but you have to admit that what Ragnarok is doing…is probably right." Konan sighed. "Though you didn't hear me say that."

"I've gotten the reports about Ragnarok from that Shikamaru kid in Rendoku," said Sasori with a drawl. "And between the both of us, we've managed to draw up some conclusions from what little evidence that we have, and the few conclusions that we have managed to put together so far."

Deidara frowned. "Like?"

"Inter-dimensional abilities."

Kisame blinked in confusion. "Excuse me?"

Sasori sighed. "All of you were there," he said patiently. "You were there at the theatre house when those three from Ragnarok have made their appearance. You saw what they did. They are nin-users. And if that is so, then that probably explains a lot – like why we'd never found any evidence on Ragnarok at all throughout the years, or even caught a glimpse of them. And why we only found the bodies of their victims each and every time that we emerged onto the crime scene, despite them leaving only mere moments ago. One among Ragnarok must have the ability to traverse dimensions, or even create an inter-dimension world, or even stop time."

Nagato then frowned. "Wait a moment," he said. "Assuming that they really are nin-users as you've said that they are, then why is it that the ANBU had never found them? ANBU always keeps a close track on nin-users – no matter which part of the world that they're from – even if they are from the countries of those that are not so friendly with us. I mean, you can't hide your powers if you even have any, as some sign of it will be shown from birth. We all had first-hand experience of it."

Sasori sighed, running a hand through his red hair. "Like I said, this is only a speculation on mine and Shikamaru's parts," he explained. "We're not one hundred percent sure that Ragnarok are all nin-users. But there is a good chance of that happening."

Sasori gestured towards the folder on the table beside him. "I've been going through all the mission reports that we have been on over the past week or so. Seventy eight percent of those missions that have to do with nin-users or had people involved that couldn't be touched by the law were connected with Ragnarok. In other words, Ragnarok is a bit of a nin-user sympathiser, and they tend to take matters into their own hands."

Itachi then frowned, having stayed silent all this while to listen to what Sasori had to say. "And I've been reading up on the notes concerning the leader of Ragnarok," he said slowly, leafing through the folder that he currently had with him. "We only know a little about her from what little information that we've managed to put together throughout the years. She sure is mysterious and resourceful." He shook his head, not wanting to admit that someone had gotten the best of him, yet he has no choice but to admit it. "This Twila…"

Itachi's eyes then narrowed together as the words of that name escaped his lips, and a long almost forgotten memory came to the surface of his mind just then…

Twila.

Huh?

You refused to tell me your name, so I shall give you one. I can't keep calling you 'you' all the time, can I? Besides, I think Twila meant 'justice' in Latin, and it meant 'freedom' in another language as well, I think. It kind of suits you anyway.

You're persistent.

"…Itachi!" Kisame called out again, and Itachi snapped his head up to look at his team. The water nin-user who is the second-in-command of the Akatsuki team was looking at his best friend with worry. "What's the matter? You zoned out on us a moment ago."

"It's…nothing." Itachi mumbled, looking back to the folder in his hand, though he wasn't really looking at it, per say, as his mind was running a hundred miles per minute as he thought about all the possible conclusions. 'Could it be…? No. It couldn't be.' "Nothing's the matter."

The rest of Akatsuki were all looking at their captain strangely before Sasori coughed loudly into his hand before continuing his analysis on Ragnarok, having attention brought back to the redhead.

"What we know about Ragnarok isn't a lot, as you guys probably knew, seeing as how we've been after them for the past four years," said Sasori seriously, and everyone nodded. "So far, we do not know of their exact numbers, but I'm going to estimate that they probably have about five or more members. Ragnarok also never hurt any innocents, since every single one of their victims are top-class criminals, or people who had committed heinous acts, or even criminals who couldn't be touched by the law. Some of their victims actually slipped us by, and that's when Ragnarok actually makes their appearance. Some of their victims are relatively well-known criminals like Nakashita Toriya and Orochimaru, among others. Tsunade-sama and the Chief are in two minds about this, since the Chief just wanted us to leave Ragnarok alone, but Tsunade-sama wouldn't hear anything about it." Sasori sighed. "Well, that's all the information that we have on Ragnarok so far."

Konan sighed. "Four years of investigating, and we only found out now that they're nin-users," she muttered. "What fine ANBUs we are." She said that last part sarcastically. "But regardless, we can't just leave them be."

Deidara sighed. "Well, I can't say that I don't understand their reasons in doing what they did, but killing is killing, no matter the circumstances," he said.

Itachi sighed. "Anyway, it looks like we're going to have our work cut out for us," he said briskly. "Sasori, Nagato and Konan." The three mentioned looked up. "I want the three of you to dig out all our old mission records, even those that we are not involved in."

"Itachi, we've already done that a hundred times!" Konan protested.

"Records on nin-users." Itachi interrupted, and all of Akatsuki went 'huh?'. The captain of the Akatsuki then sighed. "We've only recently acquired concrete information that most, if not all of Ragnarok, are nin-users. If that is true, then there must be records of them somewhere in the old ANBU archives. Especially that girl that uses ice."

Kisame fidgeted uncomfortably at this which no one noticed.

"The dead as well?" Nagato questioned, and Itachi nodded.

Before he could say anything else, the phone on Itachi's desk rang shrilly, startling the lot of them. Itachi picked up the phone receiver before it could ring a second time and answered it.

"Hello?" Itachi spoke into the receiver, and he then narrowed his eyes as he listened intently to what the person on the other end of the line had to say. There was a slight pause before he answered again. "Are you sure that you're not pulling my leg?" He listened for a few moments again before he sighed. "Fine, I'll understand. We'll head over there immediately. But if this actually turns out to be some kind of hoax, I'll have your head."

He then hung up.

"What's wrong?" asked Kisame in concern.

"We have a call," said Itachi briskly. "Someone had found a girl's body in the female restroom of Yukina High." He then frowned a little. "Anyway, the circumstances surrounding her death are a little…strange."

"In what way?" Deidara questioned, and Itachi hesitated.

"Well, apparently, that girl died of blood loss…but there's no blood near her or on her, for that matter." Itachi explained, and everyone froze.

"How is that even possible?" Kisame nearly spluttered.

"How on earth should I know that?" Itachi asked irritably. "Anyway, the forensics team is over at the school now, along with a coroner. Let's get going so we'll understand the situation."

XXXXXX

Yukina High SchoolYukiwa, Japan

The outside of the female restroom where the girl's body was discovered was packed with several curious onlookers when the Akatsuki had arrived at Yukina High School, with the onlookers all trying to get a glimpse inside, but was kept back by two random ANBU agents from the removal team. Also, the door of the restroom was shut, not allowing anyone to so much as catch a glimpse inside.

Itachi and Kisame barely managed to make it inside the restroom, despite shouts and protests from the curious onlookers, among which consisted of a few nosy reporters from the local newspaper – the Konoha Daily. The remaining members of Akatsuki have gone around questioning the witnesses, as well as investigating the surrounding areas of the school.

Itachi breathed a sigh of relief as both he and Kisame managed to make it into the restroom in one piece, and a light chuckle made him look up only to see Nara Shikamaru and Akimichi Chouji standing in front of them. Shikamaru had a pair of disposal gloves on, apparently having been the one to do the autopsy, as the teen was originally from Forensics before being transferred to Criminal Affairs as part of Rendoku.

And from what Itachi had heard from his brother, Shikamaru actually runs the show there back then, having been a brilliant forensic scientist and computer hacker.

Forensics had actually put up quite a fight when the news got to their ears a few years back that Tsunade had wanted Shikamaru to be transferred to Criminal Affairs as part of Rendoku, thinking that Shikamaru can help the ANBU more as part of Criminal Affairs – rather the same way like how Deidara was transferred to Criminal Affairs from the nuclear and explosives department.

"Got mobbed by those vultures outside?" Chouji asked with a grin, and Kisame growled low in his throat. "Forensics couldn't send anyone at the moment, thus, Tsunade-sama asked Shikamaru to come in their steed instead." He added, answering the unanswered question. "Ino doesn't feel secure enough to allow Shikamaru to run about by himself, thus, I came along as his chaperone."

Itachi sighed, knowing that the worries of the Yamanaka girl in his brother's team probably isn't that unfounded. The Nara might be a genius that only comes about once in a century, but he is as lazy as you can get. He will gladly spend all his time sleeping if that Ino girl didn't make it her duty to make sure that Shikamaru actually does his job. Privately, Itachi suspects that Tsunade had probably transferred Shikamaru to Criminal Affairs as she thinks that it might make him less lazy.

"So what's the situation?" asked Itachi, going into professional mode.

"Right. The situation." Shikamaru drawled, stripping off the disposal gloves on his hands. "Troublesome." He muttered beneath his breath.

The lazy genius then sighed and motioned for both Itachi and Kisame to follow him which they both did, with Chouji tagging along after them.

Shikamaru led them to a closed-off area near one of the cubicles, and knelt down next to the barricaded area which ANBU agents had put up a roll of yellow and black tape around it, with the words 'Keep Out' written in bold visible on the tape. There were also a few number plaques placed in certain spots around the barricaded area.

Two agents in the removal team were zipping up what seems to be the girl's body in a black body bag before hoisting it up between them on a stretcher. One of them turned towards Shikamaru just then.

"Shikamaru-san, I'll take it back to headquarters then."

Shikamaru waved his hand at them before the two agents left the restroom, leaving Itachi and Kisame alone with the two younger agents.

"First, take a good look around you," said Shikamaru seriously, in full-blown ANBU mode right now, a clipboard in his left hand, waving his right hand at the surrounding areas. "Do you see any blood around?"

"Well, now that you've mentioned it…" Kisame muttered, looking left and right as he did so. "No."

Shikamaru sighed. "I'd figured out the cause of death the moment that I've gotten around to examining that girl," he said. "It might be years since I'd last performed an autopsy, but my skills hadn't rusted in the slightest. It was the cause of death that is so absurd that I'd called in the Akatsuki. I hate to admit it, but it's the Akatsuki who is better versed at dealing with cases like this, compared to Rendoku. You didn't hear it from me though."

Itachi coughed as Kisame grinned.

Both knew that Sasuke wouldn't be at all pleased to hear that at all. There is a kind of rivalry between both Akatsuki and Rendoku ever since the founding and formation of the latter.

"Anyway, the cause of death is so absurd that we think that it either might have something to do with Ragnarok or some nin-user," said Shikamaru seriously, and both Kisame and Itachi raised an eyebrow. "Anyway, from what I'd heard from some of the other agents who were here prior to our arrivals, the body of the victim was found at precisely at seven in the morning by one of the school's cleaners. The poor cleaner actually screamed the place down when she'd realised that the girl was already dead. Apparently, she had assumed initially that the girl had just fainted or something. One of the agents doing the disposal – the removal team, had done the questioning of the cleaner for you. You can pick up the statements at your office later."

"The cause of death?" Kisame questioned.

Shikamaru sighed. "Troublesome," he muttered. "I'm coming to that, so don't rush me!" He cleared his throat. "The cause of death is blood loss, and that's the odd thing here." Brown eyes meet startled onyx and gray. "No blood was found on the victim or even near her. Scratch that."

Shikamaru shook his head. "There isn't a single drop of blood left in her body at all!" Itachi and Kisame's blood froze as they heard that. "Either this restroom isn't the actual scene of murder, which may I remind you, is highly unlikely, taking in account of all the statements and evidences at hand, or the murderer in question here…isn't human."

"What do you mean?" asked Itachi quickly.

Chouji was the one who'd answered that. "There are no injuries on her body at all," he answered. "Not a single one. It was like the blood had just disappeared out of her body. And one of the agents with the removal team had found something strange. It was the only clue which they could find." He gestured towards a section of the wall near them.

Itachi frowned as he approached the section of the wall, being followed closely by Kisame. Shikamaru and Chouji weren't too far behind them as well. That section of the wall that Chouji had pointed out had words written on it in blood.

And it only had one word written on it: Vlad.

Hours later, after questioning all the witnesses, and practically turning the entire school upside-down, Itachi decided to call it a day after gathering all possible evidences and witnesses, and had his entire team gathered back at their office in ANBU headquarters.

The raven haired teen could see why Shikamaru had deemed it necessary to call the Akatsuki in, and why even the lazy genius was so puzzled over the case – no normal human should be capable of committing a murder like this unless they're a nin-user.

The murder case itself in question had too many questionable points as well.

The first one being that no one had even heard anything in the early morning, and Shikamaru's autopsy report had stated there clearly in black and white that the girl had died sometime between five in the morning to seven in the morning. That was around the timing when the cleaner had discovered the body.

The second point was that Yukina High was located in the residential restrict of the town of Yukiwa. This fact alone meant that some of the residents could tell them something if anything out of the ordinary had happened, as many residents were usually up and about before the sun had even rose in the sky.

And the final fact alone is one that had all of Akatsuki puzzled. Being the mere simple fact alone that there were no injuries of any sort visible on the victim's body that gave them any clues as to just how she had died of blood loss.

Even a nin-user is human too. They had to create some sort of entry wound on the girl's body for her to have lose this much blood.

But they'd found nothing of that sort.

To sum it up in one word, Itachi had a major migraine the size of a mountain whilst puzzling over this absurd case with his team.

"That's it! I give up!" Deidara nearly groaned, slumping forwards onto the table which was covered with papers, reports and photographs. "I can't make head of tail of this case at all!"

Nagato sighed, rubbing his eyes as he looked over one of the many reports currently on the table. "No one had seen anything. No one had heard anything. There is no sign of forced entry. The school's surveillance cameras caught nothing at all. There is no sign of any blood anywhere in the school. And it is still a mystery to this day just how the girl had such severe blood loss to the point of death!" He sighed. "This is getting ridiculous. No one had seen anything, and no one had heard anything. I'm starting to believe that it couldn't even have happened!"

"It isn't like either one of you to give up so quickly." Konan chided as she handed a cup of steaming hot coffee to Nagato who took it with a grateful nod, and she handed the other cup in her hand to Deidara who looked almost half-asleep.

On the same couch that Deidara was sitting on, Sasori was tapping away at his notebook computer with one hand, the other hand supporting his chin. Kisame was looking through all the reports, scribbling down notes every now and then in the small notebook that he had with him. And Itachi was scanning his eyes over one of the many reports in his hand, comparing it to the autopsy report that Shikamaru had handed him.

The entire Akatsuki team had spent the night at their office in ANBU headquarters, all of them trying to make heads or tails of the murder case.

"I don't get a single word of this at all," said Nagato at last, looking up from his computer. "And the way that this murder was done…" He trailed off, and sighed. "Even a nin-user would have to create a wound somewhere on the body of the victim. The way that this murder was done…" Nagato trailed off. "It isn't normal."

"It has to be done by a human," said Kisame stubbornly. "It's just…strange, that's all."

Itachi sighed, rubbing his eyes tiredly, and his entire team looked at him worriedly.

Out of all of them, Itachi has been the one who had worked the hardest. He had spent the entire day alone personally questioning all the witnesses once more, as well as investigating the murder scene, and asking Shikamaru his own opinion of the victim's death. Anymore, and Itachi will probably collapse.

"I just want to know which sane person on earth will drain a person's blood like that," said Itachi tiredly. "As far as I know, there is no power recorded that could do something like that, and ANBU kept regular up-to-date records about the nin-users and their powers."

The rest of Akatsuki exchanged looks.

It is true that the ANBU kept a pretty large database on which was listed the profiles of every nin-user ever known to them, as well as a pretty detailed description of their powers, and what they could do. Even the level of their power was listed. That database was also kept pretty up-to-date, and Akatsuki and Rendoku had often used that database for investigations.

Deidara sighed, leaning back into the couch, one arm propped up behind his head as he did so, taking a sip of the cup of coffee in his other hand. "I really can't think of anything but Dracula," he stated, as he scalded his tongue with the hot coffee. "Ouch!"

Kisame gave a snort of laughter. "You'd been reading way too many Dracula novels, or you'd watched too many movies, Dei," he said with a shark-like grin that showed off his very impressive teeth. "Vampires don't exist." He then turned towards Itachi. "So, what do you think about this?"

Itachi sighed. "Well, there's only one clue alone that I can figure out, since the other clues made little to no sense," he said in response to Kisame's question, and everyone turned towards their captain. Itachi took the photograph of the word written in blood on the restroom wall, and showed it to his team before placing it onto the table, tapping on the photograph with his index finger. "Vlad. It is a word that I'd heard before."

Kisame then frowned. "What does that word mean?" he asked. "I know that it means something, but I don't know what."

Itachi sighed. "Well, if you'd read the novel Dracula before, then you should find this word familiar," he stated, and everyone stared at him. "The novel Dracula was actually modelled after a real person. It was modelled after a person named Vlad Tepes who was the ruler of a small kingdom centuries ago. Tepes also means 'impaler' in another language."

Konan paled. "Impaler?"

Itachi nodded grimly, and everyone hung onto his every word. "Vlad Tepes was called 'the Impaler' by his enemies, as he impaled the bodies of his enemies on stakes to give enemy countries warnings. As many thought that it wasn't something that a normal human will do, they gave him the name of 'Impaler', and that was also when the rumours about vampires started to spread."

"That's nice and all, but what has it got to do with the current case?" asked Nagato with a frown.

Itachi sighed. "I'm getting to that," he snapped. "As all of you are aware, there are many stories and legends associated with the nin-users of the land. And one of the legends associated with the nin-users is that of an ancient legend about an extremely beautiful woman who is apparently a witch doctor. You know, doctors who can treat strange ailments and diseases that no one could seem to cure? And as the story goes, one day, the woman started to find that signs of old age were starting to appear on her face, and she took to killing young women and bathing in their blood to keep herself looking young."

The rest of Akatsuki looked quite sick as the mental image came to their heads.

"And as the story goes, the bodies of those young women had blood drained from their bodies, but there was no sign of any injuries whatsoever on their bodies. I did some research on this legend, and I found out that the witch doctor in this legend is said to belong to a rare race of nin-users – nin-users who had the special ability to manipulate metal properties and the blood in a human's body. In other words, they had the ability to control blood. That's why I think that this case has something to do with that story. The similarities are too similar."

"So in other words…" Deidara trailed off slowly.

Itachi nodded grimly. "Yeah. I think that the murderer whom we're looking for is probably a nin-user like us. And one who had this unique ability to control the blood in someone's body."

Sasori then frowned. "But if this ability that you've said truly does exist, and that the guy whom we're looking for probably has this power, then how in the nine layers of hell are we supposed to catch someone who can probably kill us without even touching us?"

Itachi almost sweat dropped. "That's…a good question."

XXXXXX

Yukiwa ForestYukiwa, Japan

It was currently nightfall, and the moon with its alluring moonlight had its rays shining onto the world, creating several strange shadows in the forest of Yukiwa – a forest that surrounded the town of Yukiwa.

And the members of Ragnarok were scattered throughout the forest, all paired in twos or threes, with a communicator in their ears to enable easy communication.

Namikaze Shiki had a pair of binoculars trained to her eyes as she scanned the dark forest for any strange movements, whilst Shino who is her partner for this job was doing the same thing next to her. The communicator in her ear cackled and came to life just then.

"Shiki, there is nothing so far."

Shiki sighed as she removed the binoculars from her eyes as Temari's voice cackled through. "Continue looking," she said, speaking into her communicator. "We definitely can't allow him to continue rampaging."

"Roger."

Shino and Shiki exchanged looks before sighing, both recalling the conversation that all of Ragnarok had among themselves earlier that day.

Flashback:

"A 'Dracula' murder?" Kankuro echoed. "What is that?"

Shiki sighed. "Someone who had the unique power to control blood has been going on a rampage," she answered. "This information came from Jiraiya, so it couldn't be wrong. He wants us to stop this guy before something drastic happens."

"Rampage, you say…" said Hinata slowly. "Jiraiya wants us to kill him?"

Shiki sighed. "To put it in simpler terms, yes," she said.

Flashback Ends:

Shiki sighed before she trained the binoculars to her eyes and continued looking in the darkness of the forest.

Both said nothing for several moments before Shiki broke the silence.

"So you're bothered as well, Shino?" she stated calmly, not removing the binoculars from her eyes.

Shino looked at her, startled. He then sighed and nodded. "I can't help it," he said.

Shiki removed the binoculars from her eyes and glanced at Shino. She said nothing for several moments as she studied Shino before speaking. "If I'm not mistaken, your power is a little like 'leeching' as well, isn't it? Apart from your gift to control insects."

"I take life force and energy, Shiki." Shino corrected. "Not blood."

"But still, you can't ignore the fact that there is someone with similar powers to yours out there," said Shiki calmly.

Shino nodded.

Shiki studied him for several moments before sighing, and turning towards him. "Listen, Shino," she said seriously. "I understand your feelings on this matter, but we all took an oath the day when Ragnarok was first founded. We swore to stop things like this from happening, especially since nin-users already had a bad enough name as it is."

"I understand that," said Shino quietly.

Shiki's communicator cackled just then, and Neji's voice came through, sounding both excited and anxious.

"Oi, Shiki! He's here!"

Shiki and Shino exchanged looks before nodding as one.

Commence mission!

XXXXXX

Blood…

He needs blood badly…

He craved it so much that it is slowly driving him insane.

The blood of that girl is sweet, but it isn't enough to satisfy him.

And neither is the blood of the countless animals that he'd taken as well.

I shall give you a gift. Give into your instincts.

He growled as he smashed a hole through the nearest tree, startling several birds into flight from the trees, when he remembered what the owner of that voice had said. He'd gave and gave for countless years, and this is how they repaid him? He really should have taken her advice, and got out of there whilst he still could.

wait a moment.

He sniffed in the air.

Blood…

Sweet wondrous blood…

He can smell it.

It is close.

And he needs it.

XXXXXX

Perched on a tree branch, Kinzoku Tenten trained the binoculars to her eyes as she didn't let the man whom she had been shadowing out of her sight. The man was covered in blood as well – from his mouth all the way to the chest. And his coat and shirt were also stained red with blood, with the fabric being tattered and torn.

Tenten sighed as she lowered the binoculars from her eyes, with the daggers hanging from the belt by her sides giving a light clink every now and then.

"Found you," she whispered.

Hyuuga Neji who is standing behind her on the same branch sighed as he watched the guy below staggered about in a half-crazed frenzy, grabbing any poor unsuspecting animal that he could get his hands on.

Neji and Tenten both watched as the poor squirrel in the hand of the guy below, squirmed about in his hand before it twitched and laid still. And not even a moment later, a cloud of dark red mist which seems strangely like blood appeared in the air from the obviously dead squirrel, and evaporated like mist.

Neji sighed. "Let's get to it," he said, and Tenten nodded grimly. The Hyuuga then pushed back the white sleeve of his shirt, and his hand glowed green. "My apologies." He whispered quietly to the man below, though he knew that the guy probably couldn't hear him in his current state. "But this is a better fate for you. You can't go back to what you once were before." Neji then sighed, and a pale green barrier appeared around the man, barricading him in. Neji's eyes then flew opened. "Aetas! (Time)"

XXXXXX

Shiki, along with the rest of Ragnarok, soon arrived at where Neji and Tenten were, with the former giving the coordinates of his location to the others via his communicator earlier. Everyone was now staring at the bloodstained remains of what was once a man who was lying on the forest bed, his blood soaking deep into the soil.

Hinata sighed before turning towards Neji. "A little too much, don't you think, Neji-nii-san?" she asked reprovingly.

Neji shrugged. "Hey, we have our orders to take this guy out," he said defensively. "Besides, I only stopped his heart from beating until I'm sure that he's dead. He's already covered in blood when we'd found him. Tenten can clarify it for me." Tenten nodded. Neji then sighed. "This is really a pain in the ass." He muttered. "Covering up his tracks back at the school, especially the blood, so that the ANBU wouldn't trace his location here."

Shiki sighed. "Neji."

Neji sighed. "Roger that," he said before making several motions in the air with his index and middle fingers on the right hand, and muttered, "Obex."

A pale green barrier surrounded the body of the man instantly. Neji then made 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 surrounding the man's body exploded, with his body along with it.

Shiki then sighed. "Let's go," she said, and the rest of Ragnarok nodded before moving away from the forest, and towards the lakeside where their boathouse was anchored. All but Shiki, who had remained behind at the spot where the man had just died.

Shiki sighed, looking at the bloodstained areas of the forest bed which is the only evidence of his existence. Jiraiya had tipped her off about this man, and rather than letting ANBU get their hands on him, Ragnarok had to do the next best thing possible: eliminate him.

'Forgive me, Hidan,' thought Shiki.

Soft footsteps behind her caused Shiki to turn around, only to see Shino approaching her with a solemn look on his face. "That guy…Hidan…" said Shino slowly. "He is one of your informants in the ANBU, isn't he?" He turned towards Shiki. "I know that I've heard of him. He is an agent serving in the Combat division of the ANBU – a first class combat specialist who had been one of ANBU's best during the war. And because he's a combat specialist – a member of the unit that is ANBU's best kept secret, any information about him and his powers as a nin-user are kept under lock and key. It wouldn't be on record anywhere."

Shiki sighed and nodded. "I told him to get out of the ANBU whilst he still could two weeks ago," she said. "The ANBU are getting suspicious, and I know that they have all rights to, as we knew all about their movements before they'd even moved. It wouldn't be strange for them to think that they have a traitor within their midst. It's only a matter of time before Hidan will be discovered. That's why I told him to get out of there. But he told me that he couldn't."

Shino stared. "Why not?"

Shiki was silent for a long time.

"Jiraiya told me the same thing that Hidan did a long time ago," she said at last. "The option to resign from the ANBU isn't part of their protocol." Shiki then sighed. "If a member of the ANBU absolutely has to leave due to personal reasons, they will merely be 'put on leave'. And if it drags on too long, and it looks like they won't be coming back, then their name will be removed from the register."

"In the ANBU, cases like this are served with a case-to-case basis, but most agents who have situations like that who have ended up going 'missing' for long periods of time from the ANBU will usually end up having the removal teams from the ANBU chasing after them – those who actually takes care of traitors within the ANBU. In other words, an agent serving in the ANBU isn't just allowed to resign." Shiki turned to look at a gobsmacked Shino. "Once you're in the ANBU, you're in it for life. You can't leave without being dismissed by them, usually through death."

Shino sounded oddly spooked as he spoke. "Why?" He wanted to know. "Why go through all that trouble?"

"The ANBU is a refined organisation, one which protects the security and keeps the peace of this country." The sneer on Shiki's face told Shino just what she thought of that idea. "Thus, they couldn't just allow some misfit who had once been part of them just walk free. Furthermore, once you're an agent of the ANBU, you know several of their secrets. Thus, all the more reason that they can't let you walk free." She then sighed. "This is what the High Council, the highest ruling council of the country of Japan, had decided. This is the way of the ANBU, and no one can break it."

Shiki sighed. 'And this also meant that there is no way that Itachi will be able to leave them too.'

"About Hidan…" said Shino slowly, trying to change the topic as it is getting way too disturbing for his liking. The insect user glanced at the bloodstained area on the forest bed before turning back towards Shiki. "This isn't normal. What had happened to him?"

Shiki sighed. She should have known that Shino would have realised it too. "You're right, Shino," she said. "No nin-user could lose control of his own power the way that he did." Shiki narrowed her eyes, clenching her hands into fists by her sides. "Someone had switched the genes of his nin-ability. In other words, he was experimented on."

Shino's eyes were wide. "Huh?"

But Shiki didn't elaborate on what she had said. "Head back without me first," she said. "Or the others will start to worry. I'll be there soon."

Shino nodded slowly before moving away from the scene.

Shiki sighed as she looked down at the bloodstained area of the forest bed, her hands stuffed in her pockets. 'I hope that I'm just reading too much into things,' she thought, a frown on her face. 'Only someone like Orochimaru could do what had just transpired to Hidan – a nin-user. I hate to admit it, but that snake bastard is a scientific genius. And when he had died, the ANBU got their hands on all his research material, and his notes. But the ANBU…' Shiki frowned before shaking her head. 'No. Even the ANBU wouldn't do something like this.'

"Shiki."

Shiki turned at the sound of her name only to see the form of her godfather walking up to her. The redhead inclined her head respectfully to the white haired man. "Ero-sennin."

Jiraiya sighed with frustration. "You're never going to stop calling me that, are you?" he asked with exasperation, and Shiki smiled. "Never mind that." He dug his hand into his pocket before drawing out a CD jewel case with a CD resting within it. "I've got what you wanted."

Jiraiya passed the CD to Shiki. "You and your little group caused quite a stir when I've told you about Hidan, and you went to great lengths to cover up his tracks. But it is also thanks to that that the ANBU didn't notice me hacking into their computers and downloading the information." He then smirked. "The ANBU should really step up on the security of their computers. Anyone can just hack into their computers, and they would be none the wiser."

Shiki chuckled to herself, shaking her head. "I'll be sure to let them know that the next time that we meet," she said.

XXXXXX

Ragnarok's Headquarters (Boathouse)Docks of Yukiwa

"There she is!" said Haku the moment that Shiki had walked into the boathouse, closing the door behind her. "Where have you been?"

Shiki managed a small smile. "Sorry. I have to meet Jiraiya," she said. "And I'm sorry to impose this on you so soon, but we have to get to our next job. And it'll be a little troublesome." Neji raised one eyebrow as Shiki removed the CD jewel case from her pocket, showing it to her friends. "I need four of you to deliver this to Arashi and Sasame who are currently in Shirokyu. Be prepared for ANBU to come after you during this mission though." Shiki then smirked. "Any volunteers?"

Haku took the CD from Shiki before tucking it away safely into a pouch around her waist before she turned towards the three others who are sent on this mission with her – Tenten, Neji and Kankuro.

All four of them were dressed in dark hooded coats buttoned up, and they'll also be travelling on motorcycles – with both Haku and Tenten riding pillion on Neji and Kankuro's bikes – especially since the route that they would be taking to Shirokyu mostly consists of mountain paths.

Arashi had been informed of this mission via cellphone by Shiki, and especially since it's too risky to send the information about most of Oto and Ne's members, as well as the activities that they've been up to through email, Shiki had decided to hand deliver it to Arashi personally.

"I'm counting on all four of you," said Shiki seriously, and the four mentioned nodded. "I'll be in contact soon about ANBU's movements. Shino is going to try hacking into their system. We wouldn't be able to stay in their system for long, so make use of whatever information that we could get our hands on."

"Leave it to us," said Haku with a smile before getting behind Neji.

And with a loud roar, they were gone.

Shiki then sighed as she entered the boathouse, and closed and latched the door. She then turned towards Shino who was sitting in front of his computer as usual. "Shino, do your thing," she said, and Shino nodded, with both Temari and Gaara peering over his shoulder curiously. Shiki then sighed. "Without a doubt, ANBU will be coming after us soon enough."

XXXXXX

Mountain Path to ShirokyuJapan

Haku frowned, unseen beneath the safety helmet that she's wearing, as she turned around in her spot behind Neji as he rode his motorcycle steadily on, with Kankuro in front of him, with Tenten sitting behind him. Haku's sharp eyes caught sight of a van's headlights shining steadily on several meters behind them.

"Guys, we're being followed," said Haku. "I'll bet that it's ANBU. Shiki did warn us about this."

"What should we do?" asked Kankuro. "Shake them off or engage them in combat?"

"I'll prefer the latter," said Tenten snidely, fingering the daggers by her sides. "I owe the ANBU a debt that I would like to repay…in full."

Neji sighed. "It's virtually impossible to do the former, Haku, since I'll bet half my life that ANBU will send some of their best agents," he said. "I'll stick to the latter. But let's wait till Shiki sends us some information regarding the ANBU sent after us. It's best not to go rushing headlong into things like that."

Ragnarok's Headquarters (Boathouse)Docks of Yukiwa

Shino stiffened as he read and reread the information currently showing up on his computer, making sure that his eyes weren't playing tricks on him.

Gaara noticed his unease, and called out to him, catching the attention of both Shiki and Temari as he did so. "Shino, what is it?"

Shino ignored Gaara as he read the data showing up on his screen, trying to remember as much of the data as he could possibly remember. When a series of different codes to the ones that Shino is expecting showed up on his screen, he quickly backed out of the ANBU's system, and made sure to 'lock' the 'door' that he had created as a 'pathway' into the ANBU's system, so that they couldn't trace him.

Shino was taught by Jiraiya to do all that, and he had taken to computer hacking like a fish to water. And there is no one in this world who could surpass Jiraiya's superb computer skills yet.

Shino then turned towards Shiki who was staring at him over her novel.

"Shiki, it isn't good," he said grimly. "It's them."

Shiki turned towards Shino. "The ANBU sent after them?"

"Yeah," said Shino with a grim nod. "I've managed to get as much information as I could before their system trapped me in there. But what I've managed to attain is enough." He paused, looking from one to the other. "Rendoku members." Shino stated. "Four of them are sent, along with two Akatsuki members."

"Who is it?"

"Uchiha Sasuke, the captain of Rendoku, Nara Shikamaru, Haruno Sakura and Rock Lee," said Shino. "The latter two, you don't have to worry about them. The ones that are giving cause for worry are their leader and his second-in-command – Uchiha Sasuke and Nara Shikamaru. But even they're the small fry, compared to the Akatsuki."

"ANBU's top agents?" Temari mused.

"Yeah," said Shino with a nod. "Those guys are dangerous – they're the top nin-users, the best that the ANBU had. They're unlike the B or low A-class nin-users that make up half of Rendoku. The Akatsuki are probably as good as us."

Shiki frowned.

This isn't good.

"Which Akatsuki members are sent?" she asked sharply.

"Hoshigaki Kisame," said Shino, switching to the information database that he'd created himself, clicking on a profile, and the profile of said ANBU showed up. "Akatsuki's number two, and vice-captain of team Akatsuki. He's a water nin-user like Haku, but unlike her ice abilities and abilities to heal using water, Kisame's abilities are attack based. And the other Akatsuki member sent…" He clicked on a profile, and the profile of said ANBU member showed up. "ANBU's top agent, and also the most dangerous nin-user in ANBU. Uchiha Itachi, captain of Akatsuki, and ANBU's number one."

"Nani?!" Haku nearly screeched as she listened to what Shiki had to say via her cellphone whilst clinging onto Neji tightly as his speed increased to put some distance between themselves and the ANBUs sent after them. "Four Rendoku members and two of Akatsuki's top cards?!"

"Yeah," said Shiki. "You don't have to worry about Haruno Sakura and Rock Lee of Rendoku – those two aren't nin-users, but still not to be trifled with. Rock Lee is an amazing fighter and one of the best fighters in ANBU. Uchiha Sasuke and Nara Shikamaru are nin-users. The former is a fire user, and the latter is a shadow user who can bind your movements by using your shadow. But the ones that you have to worry about are Uchiha Itachi and Hoshigaki Kisame of Akatsuki – the top cards in ANBU."

Haku nearly dropped her phone at hearing exactly who the two in Akatsuki are sent after them.

"Haku? Haku?! Are you there?!"

"Er…yeah. Sorry," mumbled Haku. "Our orders?"

Shiki sighed at the other end of the line. "If possible, don't kill them," she said. "We are not murderers. We don't kill needlessly."

"Got it," said Haku. "In other words, you want us to engage them in battle, and prevent them from chasing after us and catching sight of Arashi, right?"

"Yeah," said Shiki. "But just in case, I've sent Sumaru and Hotaru to help you guys. Those two are professionals in their line – they're bounty hunters and former gang members of my old gang Blade. They can each hold their own in a fight, despite not being nin-users. After all, I trained them. They should be there within ten minutes."

"Gotcha," said Haku. "I'm going to hang up now. They're closing in on us."

"Haku?" questioned Tenten as Haku hung up.

"Find a wide enough space for the fight," said Haku grimly. "We'll have to stop them somehow, as they mustn't catch sight of Arashi! And they must never get their hands on the disk!"

"Roger that," said Neji before both himself and Kankuro increased their speed, and sped up the mountain path, only to come onto a wider path – wide enough for their upcoming fight, and both Neji and Kankuro stopped their motorcycles and got off their vehicles, removing their safety helmets.

Before the ANBU turned up however, there was a roar of a motorcycle's engine, and all four Ragnarok members turned around only to see a motorcycle skid to a stop near them, and the two occupants got off to reveal themselves to be Sumaru and Hotaru.

"Sumaru? Hotaru?"

"Shiki sent us here," said Sumaru coldly. "We're only doing this to help her."

Haku can only stare.

For as long as she'd remembered, Sumaru had never liked any of the members of Ragnarok, apart from Shiki. And yet, he is one of those that knew the identities of the members of Ragnarok. Haku didn't like Sumaru, along with every other in Ragnarok, but since Shiki trusted him, she chose to reserve her judgment on him.

"Huh?"

"If any of you died, Shiki will be hurt," said Hotaru pleasantly. "We're only doing this for her."

Among the two, Haku liked Hotaru better, as the girl is easier to get along with, and wouldn't be half-inclined to chew your head off if you so much as just talk to her.

"Why?"

"You took her from us," hissed Sumaru.

"Huh?"

"I understand the circumstances, and why Shiki had to leave," said Sumaru. "But the fact still remains unchanged. Shiki's originally ours. She's Blade's leader. But you took her from us. We made a vow a long time ago when Shiki had rescued us from the hell that is Hagako's slums…we made a vow to protect her in any way possible. We'll protect Shiki…with any way possible." Sumaru narrowed his eyes. "That's why we are here."

Haku looked warily at Sumaru and Hotaru. "She doesn't want any ANBU to die," she said.

"I know," said Hotaru. "While I don't like the idea of this, I understand her ideals as well. Those are the same ideals on which Blade was built on."

"Hotaru," said Sumaru as everyone present could hear the sounds of engines roaring.

"I know," said Hotaru. "They're here."

A van screeched into existence then and stopped before the doors opened, and six ANBU agents stepped out, all dressed in their ANBU black trench coats. The one that seemed to be the leader for this particular mission – one who seemed to be an older version of Rendoku's captain spoke up.

"You're Ragnarok?"

"We aren't," said Sumaru without a care in the world. "We just owe the captain of Ragnarok a debt. That's why we're here."

"Well, we are," said Neji with an air of one that seemed almost like he is describing the weather. "We're members of Ragnarok. Nice to meet you."

"Nice to meet you too." Nara Shikamaru mumbled, bowing his head to them, and this earned him a slap on the head from the pink haired girl in Rendoku.

"Don't bow your head to them!" she snapped. "Don't you have any pride as an ANBU, you slacker?!"

"I'll make this short," said Uchiha Sasuke, ignoring the antics of his team. "Will you hand over the data disk in your possession and surrender yourselves to the ANBU? If you do, we can guarantee that your punishment won't be so severe. And if you can give us information on your organisation, that will also be a bonus."

The scowls on the faces of the Ragnarok members spoke volumes for their answers.

"Who the fuck do you think we are?" snarled Neji. "Do you think that we will betray the one person who had given us hope when our lives are shrouded in darkness, and who had given us a new purpose in life? I'll sooner die than betray her and Ragnarok!"

"Sorry about this, but we have a client waiting," said Tenten coldly. "Thus, we can't let you pass, and we can't let you continue chasing after us either."

Haku was silent so far, staring at the dark-skinned Akatsuki agent among the six who was staring at Haku as well, the pale-skinned Haku a contrast compared to Kisame's dark skin. Haku's hands tightened into fists as she stared at Kisame.

'Nii-sama…'

There was a pained look in Kisame's eyes as he looked back at her. 'Haku…'

"Well then…" said Kankuro, closing his eyes before opening them again and sand started dancing around him. "Let the battle begin."

Haku tore her eyes away from Kisame before nodding. "Agreed," she said, before water started swirling around her – appearing out of nowhere. "As you might have guessed from our brief encounter at the Twilight Theatre Hall—" She glanced at the shocked faces of the two Akatsuki members. "—we are nin-users. And this is my power." The water spurting up into the air like a fountain behind Haku created a beautiful picture – almost making Haku seemed like a water goddess of some kind as mist started to gather in the surroundings. "I can control all three states of water: solid, liquid and gaseous." She smirked at the shocked faces of the ANBU agents standing before her. "Would you like to see just what I can do?"

The eyes of all ANBU agents went wide in shock. They have a suspicion that members of Ragnarok are nin-users, but this just confirmed their suspicions. Sakura's face went pale. Now, the pink-haired girl had nothing against nin-users, but this was the first time that she'd faced powerful nin-users in battle – ones who have complete and full control over their powers. And even an idiot can tell that they're in an entirely different league compared to the ones that ANBU were usually sent after.

"You're freaks, all of you!" shrieked Sakura. "You nin-users are just abominations of nature!"

Now, that is the wrong thing to say in front of said nin-users. The temperature fell several degrees, and anyone with eyes and a brain to go with it could have told the medic of team Rendoku that this was not a very clever thing to say to members of Ragnarok – top S-class assassins for hire who were hired to kill dangerous criminals and people. In fact, it is an extremely stupid idea!

Kankuro's eyes flashed dangerously.

'That's it! Screw what Shiki said! I'm killing this bitch!'

While he is the quiet one among his siblings, his elder sister being the fiery-tempered one, and his younger brother being the calm tactical genius, Kankuro had a wicked temper when enraged, and the last time that this had happened, the poor fool who had enraged him had found himself deader than a dog.

Sand rose up into the air around him, reacting to his mood, and all ANBU agents took one step backwards out of sheer instinct.

"My power is over sand and earth," said Kankuro coldly. "You idiots are on my territory right now. What do you think that I can do to you?" He then smirked. "Think of all the sand surrounding you as my power, and part of my will. Unlike my brother, I can't create sand out of nothing. But this doesn't mean that I am to be trifled with! This is what I can do!"

The sand then danced furiously around Kankuro, reacting to his mood. His sister was a wind nin-user whilst his younger brother can do things with sand that only he can dream of. But Kankuro's ability with sand and earth isn't to be sneezed at either, as he can summon sand from underground, and will them to do whatever that he wished them to. Gaara can create and summon sand from out of nowhere and form weapons from them – an ability that Kankuro had envied several times.

"Uh oh," muttered Hotaru, looking at the extremely murderous expressions on the faces of all four Ragnarok members, and on Sumaru's face as well. While she and Sumaru aren't nin-users, they have a great respect for nin-users, especially with how Shiki had helped her and Sumaru out in the past.

Kankuro took one step forwards, and Hotaru held him back, shaking her head. "Don't!"

Even with the atmosphere this thick with malice and killing intent, the Ragnarok members, as well as Sumaru and Hotaru have had enough sense to not mention any names, especially since just a name could land them all in deep shit with the ANBU.

The ANBUs were all nervously wondering what they could do to get themselves out of this mess that they are in. This mountain path that they were on isn't enough for them to fight. Most ANBUs are actually trained to fight in teams. Only a few like Itachi and Kisame were competent enough for self-combat.

Their only hope is that Ragnarok is feeling merciful enough that day to let them off without killing them.

But unfortunately, a certain pink haired girl shattered that hope instantly.

"See! That is what I mean!"

Everyone felt the temperature increased immediately, and a red glow emanating from Tenten caused everyone to turn towards her. The girl herself almost seemed like she was glowing, and her hands were clenched into fists so tightly before her that it almost seemed like it would draw blood.

Itachi narrowed his eyes. 'It's that girl from back then,' he thought, recognising Tenten as the girl whom Ragnarok had busted out of security detail all those years ago which had marked the start of the battle between ANBU and Ragnarok. 'Fire, is it?' Itachi looked at Tenten nervously. 'We're in some big trouble here. Fire is the wildest power to tame, and also among the most destructive.'

"That pink haired bitch with the abnormally large forehead over there…" Tenten growled, ignoring the faint snickers from some of the ANBU members. "Are you calling me UGLY?!" She growled, sounding rather like an angry dog. "I don't really want to fight, but you've just managed to piss me off. Any of you ever heard of the saying 'don't play with fire'?"

Itachi narrowed his eyes. 'What?'

Tenten stretched out her right hand in front of her, closing her eyes.

And is it Itachi's imagination, or had the thick atmosphere in the air grown thicker? Even Neji, Kankuro and Haku were all looking at Tenten nervously. Throughout their years together, not one of them had seen Tenten using her powers. Shiki probably had, but that girl isn't telling.

"Karyuu." Tenten whispered, and the silver bracelet clamped around her right wrist glowed, and the runic engravings on it glowed crimson red.

Flames then erupted around Tenten, giving off an intense aura of heat, shocking everyone present. Did her power go out of control? But it couldn't be, as the flames didn't seem to harm Tenten in the least.

Tenten then opened her eyes as flames surrounded her right wrist, and she looked rather like a rather fearsome goddess of fire sent to bring judgment down upon the earth, and to punish the wicked.

"People from the ANBU, I hope that you are prepared," said Tenten. She then narrowed her eyes. "This is payback for what you'd done to me four years ago!"

She then wrote out a character made out of flames in mid-air with her right hand, calling out something as she did so. "Ryu no en, Ni-shiki!" Tenten's eyes seemed to glow at that as she finished the final stroke in the character. "NADARE!"

A circle of fire surrounded the ANBU agents, barricading them all in. And Itachi could have sworn that he saw a faint outline of a dragon hovering behind Tenten.

Tenten glared at the ANBU with all the hatred that she could muster. "DAN-EN!"

A loud explosion sounded the air as the earth around the ANBU agents' feet started giving way, and sliding over the edge of the mountain path, sending the ANBU's van over as well. All ANBU agents present clung to whatever they could to prevent themselves from going over the edge as well.

"You call us freaks when you don't even know who your own comrades are?" growled Kankuro.

"Who our own comrades are?" echoed Sakura, trying to hold onto whatever tree that is near her at the moment.

"You didn't know?" snorted Haku. "I can feel…the aura of other nin-users. Majority of your two ANBU teams – Rendoku and Akatsuki – are nin-users as well. They are your own comrades, and you didn't know that?" She sighed. "Whatever. I have nothing against you, but we can't fail this mission as well. And relate a message to your leader: we have nothing against the ANBU. But if attacked, we'll fight back, and we'll fight with all our might."

Haku then formed a hand-sign, and water started to form in the form of a whirlpool in the space between Ragnarok and the ANBU, combining Haku's water element together with Tenten's fire element, creating a powerful attack that hit all ANBU agents head on, sending them over the ledge and going down with the 'waterfall' to wherever it ends, though Haku had made sure to create a cushion of water on the ground they're going to land on so that they wouldn't die.

They aren't here to kill anyone after all.

Kisame gave a small smile as he caught one last sight of Haku before going over the ledge as well, with Sakura screaming at the top of her lungs as she went down with the waterfall. 'You've grown strong, imouto-chan. Looks like I don't have to worry about you anymore.'

Haku sighed as the ANBU went down over the ledge, and turned towards Sumaru and Hotaru as Tenten extinguished her flame. "Well, that settles them then," she said. "They won't be coming after us for the time being, as that is bound to knock them out for some time. Thanks for the help."

Sumaru nodded. "Give this to Shiki for me," he said, handing a slightly crumpled envelope to a surprised Haku. "It had information on the matter that she'd asked me to investigate a few years ago. And you people had best be getting on with your mission as well. That's what you're here for, aren't you?"

XXXXXX

Shiki frowned to herself as she read and reread the contents of the letter from Sumaru that Haku had handed to her a little while ago.

Haku, Tenten, Neji and Kankuro have all returned a little over an hour ago, stating that it's mission accomplished for them.

The handover had been done successfully, with the four teens meeting Arashi at the borders of Shirokyu, and handing the disk over to him, but not before Haku and Neji have ensured that it is indeed Arashi, and not some imposter, by asking the secret code question that only Arashi would know the answer to.

The four have then returned via a shortcut that they knew, and following that, all of Ragnarok didn't waste any time in getting the hell out of Yukiwa.

Gaara is currently steering the boathouse to Hiraiko where they would be docking for the night. Shiki is currently seated on a couch, reading the letter that Sumaru had penned to her, with the rest of her friends doing whatever they wanted.

Shiki's face then broke into a small smile as she took in the contents of Sumaru's letter.

'We've found them. At last, we've found them. The locations of the Bijuu Shrines.'

(1) I couldn't really think of a proper power for Nagato in this story, and since his Six Paths doesn't seem really appropriate, I made him a telekinetic instead

Preview of next chapter:

"Who's the client this around?"

"Your sensei, Haku. Shizune-san."

"This is what I believe, Haku. With a strong will, one can overcome even death."

'That lawyer… I don't know how, but he knew. He knew right from the start that Amachi is the killer. But how?'

Continue Reading Next Chapter

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