Warnings: Violence. Blood. Gory scenes. Murder scenes. Lemon scenes.
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 Eighteen: Tragedy
Ragnarok's Headquarters (Boathouse)Nirako
"—and with that, that concludes the official message from the ANBU. This is reporter, Yukihira—"
"What the hell?" Kankuro shouted, his fingers clenched around the portable television that all of Ragnarok were currently gathered around, listening to the supposed 'important message' that the ANBU commander had spoken.
Gaara calmly pried his brother's fingers from the portable television, not wanting him to break it.
Shiki said nothing, but her mind was running almost a hundred miles per minute as she tried to make sense of the supposed 'speech' that the ANBU commander had given in regards to Ragnarok.
Apparently, Senju Tsunade had gotten a little tired of the way that Ragnarok had been showing up the ANBU every single time, and despite investigating for four years, they have never gotten so much as a lead on them, and whatever leads that they have proved to be next to useless. Thus the little 'speech' at the press conference that the ANBU had held earlier.
Shiki sighed. She knew what is going on now. "ANBU is going to take a more active stand against us from now on."
Need I spell 'disaster' for you?
It was pure disaster.
For the ANBU at least.
The little press conference that the ANBU had held made the headlines of newspapers all over Japan for a week, and the several different newspapers out there have different views on it. Some of the newspapers – those that are more under the ANBU's control have openly supported the ANBU, and had said some pretty supporting stuff. But some of those independent newspapers, particularly those newspapers from smaller towns and cities, have mocked the ANBU, saying something about the entire ANBU forces of 638 were outwitted by a group of teenagers barely old enough to shave.
Senju Tsunade was in a pretty bad mood for the past week as well, and had pretty much wrecked her own desk, as her own superior – the ANBU Chief, had yelled down the phone at her for an hour, saying something about being stupid enough to go up against Ragnarok. As it is, the ANBU had been pretty lucky so far that Ragnarok didn't do anything against them save for hurting them in the pride. But if ANBU continued going the way that they are going, and openly waging war against Ragnarok, it wouldn't be long before Twila and Ragnarok lose patience and fight back.
A certain Uchiha Itachi however, was worrying his teammates.
In the usual way, the older Uchiha was quiet and only speaks if necessary. But after their little trip to the museum-turned-maze when they've gotten a deeper insight into Ragnarok – not that any of them have said anything about it, anyone would have mistaken Itachi to be mute, as he hardly ever opens his mouth after that.
Hoshigaki Kisame is the only one who understood why Itachi is acting that way, but he had said nothing, as he is almost like a carbon copy of Itachi that week as well…for the 'silent treatment' that is.
The truth is, Itachi was worried.
He knew, and he is pretty sure that Shiki knew this as well, but after that press conference thingy by the ANBU, regardless of the orders of the ANBU Chief, Tsunade would want Ragnarok caught. And sooner or later, Ragnarok and ANBU would meet on the battlefield.
No one in the ANBU apart from Kisame knew about Itachi's relationship with Shiki, but he knew that it is only a matter of time before they found out.
Itachi sighed as he flipped over another page of the report currently in front of him.
He is currently in his team's office, reading through all the reports filed by his subordinates of the angry complaints and protests made by supporters of Ragnarok, and the internet forums of the Internet were already full of debates and angry protests by Ragnarok's supporters. Itachi is pretty sure that his brother is probably in the same state that he is in as well, since he had heard from Nara Shikamaru of Rendoku that Sasuke hadn't left his office for the past week even for meals, and one of team Rendoku had to actually bring up food for their captain, or he'll starve.
Itachi looked up from the report that he is reading only to see Konan standing at the opened doorway of the office, reading a red note in her hands, and the Uchiha narrowed his eyes. The ANBUs have different coloured coded papers for emergency summons or even just plain message notes. A yellow note is an ordinary message; blue is a mission summons for the entire team; green is a meeting summon; and red is of first priority emergency.
"What is it?" asked Itachi. He can't help but feel extremely uneasy. The foreboding look on Konan's face isn't helping matters as well.
Konan bit on her lower lip before turning around to face her teammates – all who have stopped whatever they were doing to stare at her. "We got a first priority order from Tsunade-sama," she said slowly, almost like it would seem less foreboding if she did that. "We have Intel that one of those whom we have run into on that data disk mission has been spotted along the seaside of Nirako. He boarded a speedboat with some unknowns, though they are also suspected to be Ragnarok members, and they are now on the seawaters between Nirako and Nakawa. Our orders from Tsunade-sama are to go after them immediately, and to capture them alive. If it is not possible…" Konan bit on her lower lip. "…eliminate them."
There was deadly silence, with so much silence so that one could almost hear a pin drop.
Kisame made the first move by standing up from his chair, both his hands on the desk before him, looking down at his desk with a strange look on his face. "It's impossible," he said, and every single Akatsuki turned towards him. Kisame then looked at his teammates. "You can't beat them on the sea. The water is their turf. It's their home. It's their home ground."
Sasori sighed and exchanged looks with Deidara who shrugged. "We don't have a choice in this matter," he said. "I don't want to go after Ragnarok as well after what we've found out about them, but we don't have a choice. If we don't go after them and defy a direct order, we'll be executed as traitors. That is the law of the ANBU. All of us knew that when we've first joined."
Everyone was silent; they knew that Sasori is right.
An ANBU agent can never defy the ANBU commander or the ANBU Chief without dire repercussions. The word of the two leaders of the ANBU organisation is law. Even defying a direct order is considered treason on their parts, and they'll be treated as traitors to be executed.
That is the law of the ANBU.
"Itachi?" Nagato voiced out, turning towards Itachi who had a pain-filled expression on his face.
Itachi closed his eyes. 'Forgive me, Shiki.' He then opened his eyes and stood up. "Get ready to move out in ten minutes."
"It's rare to see you here alone without those guys," said Sumaru as he leaned against the wall of what was once their hideout a long time ago. "So what's up?"
Shiki managed a small smile at Sumaru before turning her gaze towards the can of liquor in her right hand. Sumaru had a similar one in his own hand. "Nothing much," she said. "I just want someplace to be where I can be alone for a few hours. The others are probably off goofing around somewhere. Neji and a few of the others were saying something about getting one of the speedboats to goof off somewhere. Heavens knows that they need to unwind. Everything has been so hectic lately."
"I see," said Sumaru, nodding to himself.
"Kiss me sweet… I'm sleeping in silence… All alone…in ice and snow…"
Shiki pulled out her cellphone just then as the ringtone blared out, and she can only stare at the name that had appeared on the LCD screen that read: Itachi.
Sumaru glanced at Shiki curiously. "Aren't you going to answer it?" he asked.
Shiki closed her eyes before pressing on the 'end call' button, before she turned off her cellphone and slipped it into her pocket. "Not this time," she said. "But…" The wind that had been circulating from when she had first met Sumaru started to pick up, and she frowned as she looked towards the sun, shielding her eyes from the glare. "I don't like the feeling of this wind."
Shiki frowned. 'It feels almost ominous. Like something bad is about to happen…'
Docks of ANBU HeadquartersLeaf City
"How is it?" asked Kisame with concern as Deidara, Sasori, Nagato and Konan prepared the speedboats for the chase after Ragnarok.
Itachi looked at the LCD screen of his cellphone and pressed the 'end call' button, shaking his head. "It's no good. She's not answering. And now, she's turned her cellphone off," he said. He sighed. "Why must she do this at a time like this?"
"You can't blame her," said Kisame.
"Itachi! Kisame! We're ready."
Kisame and Itachi exchanged looks before shrugging and sighed.
Ragnarok's Headquarters (Boathouse)Nirako
"They're taking too long," said Temari with a frown, turning towards her brother, Yugito and Shino – the only three who were still in the boathouse alongside her. "Didn't they say that they'll only be gone for a few hours?"
"Let them be, Temari," said Gaara, his nose in some book. "It isn't often that we can get a break like this."
Sea between Nirako and NakawaJapan
"Kankuro! Speed the hell up, you fucking idiot!"
"What the hell do you think that I'm trying to do here, Hyuuga?" Kankuro snapped back at Neji as he was pressing on the accelerator of the speedboat with all his might, the waves thrown back by the speed of their boat almost ten feet high because of the speed that they are going. "Damn!" He glanced over his shoulder at the two ANBU speedboats that were gaining speed on them. "How the hell did the ANBU find us?"
Not one of the five that have chosen that day to go for a light spin on one of their speedboats – Haku, Hinata, Neji, Kankuro and Tenten, have even anticipated that they'll end up getting chased by the ANBU on the sea that day! Tenten, Hinata and Haku who were the only three among them who have long ranged techniques were rapidly firing off fire, ice and water blasts at the ANBU speedboats. But it wasn't easy, as those speedboats have rapid manoeuvrability, enough to be compared with their own speedboat which had undergone extreme changes beneath Shiki's hands.
"More importantly, we got to lose them!"
"It's easier said than done, Neji!" Tenten shouted back, still rapidly firing off fireballs at the two speedboats, only succeeding in creating steam as the fireballs impacted with the waves. "But more importantly, we can't let them corner us from both sides! We'll be dead meat that way!"
"Thank goodness that Shiki isn't around today, or things will get troublesome!" said Hinata.
"Yeah, but we have to think up of a plan fast!" Haku agreed. "Granted, none of those ANBU guys have long ranged techniques that work well on the water, but if we can't hit them with ours, we'll only be wasting our strength!"
"Can't you and Hinata both use level five of your powers?" asked Tenten irritably. 'Great, I'm running out of steam. Fire is the most difficult power to manipulate.'
"It's not as easy as you think!" Haku snapped as Kankuro made a sharp turn, almost throwing the three girls overboard as they were all standing on the tail of the boat. "If Hinata and I use at least fifty percent of our power in this situation, we run a risk of killing all of you by mistake! There's a reason why Shiki restricted all of us from going beyond level four! Our powers are too powerful! We can't control it all!"
Neji growled low in his throat, looking over at the pursuing ANBUs. "What should we do? We've gotten a bad match up here! It's true that the water is our turf, as we've practically lived on it all our lives! But now…! If it's Yugito, Temari, Shiki or Shino, they might be able to do something with their powers! But as it is—!"
Kankuro frowned as he looked over his shoulder. He then made his decision. "Tenten, switch with me," he said, before he grabbed the surprised girl by her shoulder and almost threw her in the seat that he had been occupying moments prior. He then turned towards the two ANBU speedboats still pursuing them. "Haku, can you coat some non-melting ice on my shoes so that I can stand on the water with no problem? I'll deal with them."
"Kankuro, your power is different from Gaara's! You—"
"I came prepared." Kankuro interrupted Neji, pulling his jacket apart to show his friends that he had two pouches on either side of his waist, and both pouches were almost bulging. "There are packs of special clay and sand within those pouches. I know the weakness of my power, that's why I always carried packs of these with me in case I came across a situation in which I could not manipulate any earth or sand – like now." He glanced at his comrades. "I'll draw away their attention. You guys get away. I'll meet up with you later."
"It's too dangerous!" Haku protested, having finished creating a coat of ice around both of Kankuro's shoes and standing up. "At least let me stay with you! My power is the worst possible outcome for them in a close ranged battle on the sea!"
"I object to it," said Neji with a frown. "It's too dangerous! We don't leave our comrades behind!"
"…Neji." Kankuro interrupted, turning towards the teen. "Whenever Shiki isn't around, you and Gaara both are the second-in-commands. I respect that. But just this once, let me do it. Among all of us, my power is the weakest. At least let me do this. I can't let them have any other intelligence on your powers."
"You told me that you liked Shiki," said Kankuro. "If you truly loved her, do this for her. We can't let the ANBU get their hands on her. As a member of Ragnarok, and as one of our second-in-commands, you have to make decisions like this sometimes. Please. Go."
"Neji, I'll guard his back." Haku interrupted. "We'll meet up with you later. Go!"
"Fine," said Neji, finally giving in. "Just…don't die, the both of you!"
Haku and Kankuro then leapt out of the boat and stood on the seawaters – with ice coating their shoes, they were able to remain standing on the water as the speedboat sped away. Kankuro raised an eyebrow as the ANBU speedboats came closer, and he then turned towards Haku.
Haku then slammed both of her hands down onto the water, and the temperature suddenly dropped severely, and giant ice walls suddenly formed behind them, almost reaching to the skies. And so, the route after Neji, Hinata and Tenten was then cut off. The sudden drop in temperature had also affected the skies, as dark clouds were converging, and a thin layer of ice had suddenly formed over the sea, forcing the ANBUs speedboats to stop in their tracks.
"That should be able to buy them some time," said Haku, exchanging glances with Kankuro as the ANBU members jumped down from their speedboats, and both recognised those ANBU members as members of the Akatsuki immediately. "Now is when things are getting troublesome…"
"Amen to that." Kankuro muttered as he glanced at the Akatsuki members, all who were preparing for battle.
This is going to become a battle for their lives.
A low rumble of thunder sounded in the distance, and Isaribi immediately turned and opened her window only to be greeted by a sudden strong blast of wind which nearly knocked her backwards, and she shielded her eyes as she looked skywards only to see dark skies. And the waters of the sea that she could see from her window were choppy.
'What is going on? It is still sunny a little while ago.' Isaribi thought, her brows furrowing together. 'If it is a nin-ability, then the only one who could do that is…Haku!'
Isaribi didn't hesitate as she turned around and grabbed a pair of black fingerless gloves lying in the drawer of her cabinet before she left her house, strapping on her gloves as she did so.
Ragnarok's Headquarters (Boathouse)Nirako
"This storm is too sudden," said Yugito, entering the boathouse the moment that she'd secured the anchor of the boathouse, partially wet because of the storm. The waters were extremely choppy as well, and the boathouse was practically swaying and bobbing about on the angry waves. "It's not natural."
"I think so too," said Temari with a nod, looking out of the window. She bit on her lower lip. 'But the only one that I know of who could affect the weather with their power is…Haku.'
"Just stay dead!" Haku snarled as she struck Deidara in the midsection with her palm, and this sent him flying across the ice-coated sea, with him rolling away a good distance before stopping, with ice coating his body, and rendering him immobile.
Haku then turned and swept Sasori's feet from beneath him before kicking him in the chest, sending him flying as well. And she then turned and grabbed Nagato's wrist before he could touch her, twisting it hard enough to fracture the bones in his wrist, causing him to cry out in pain. She then glared at the orange haired ANBU. "I don't have any ill will against you, but I do have something against the ANBU as a whole."
Haku then coated her hand with ice before thrusting her hand into Nagato's abdomen. The guy was too stunned and shocked to even react as Haku was just too fast. He could only feel a cold sensation in his abdomen as Haku thrust her hand into his abdomen before she withdrew it out again, and stomach acid spilt out before he collapsed, clutching his abdomen.
"Nagato!" Konan screamed as she ran over to her boyfriend, healing him as best as she could, whilst Haku took no notice of the two and ran towards Kankuro who is currently facing off against Kisame and Itachi both right now – a good distance away from her.
And Haku knew that the guy stand no chance against the two strongest nin-users in all of ANBU, even without the usage of their powers. There is a reason why those two are the number one and two of the Akatsuki – the strongest squad in the ANBU.
But before she could even take another step, a wall made up of paper appeared in front of her, and Haku stopped in her tracks before she turned only to see Konan standing by Nagato's unconscious form, his breathing steady. Haku narrowed her eyes slightly. 'She managed to heal such a serious injury with only moments? Her healing ability is on par with me and Hinata!'
"I'm sorry," said Konan, walking towards Haku. "I really don't want to do this. None of us wanted to, particularly Itachi. But it's an order from the commander. If we don't obey her and defy a direct mission order, all of us will be executed as traitors!"
"By that, I'm assuming that your orders are to either take us alive or to kill us." Haku stated, and the look on Konan's face answered that question. Haku narrowed her eyes. She really hates the ANBU. "Very well." She held out her right hand, and ice began forming into an ice sword in her hands. "Let's settle this!"
Meanwhile, with Kankuro, he isn't having the greatest time of his life.
It's rather unfortunate for him that BOTH of his current opponents have powers that are a bad matchup against his – fire and water.
Kankuro panted heavily, coughing out huge amounts of blood as he did so, the right sleeve of his jacket barely hanging on, and there were already large tears and rips in his clothing. Blood was also running down the right side of his face, forcing him to keep his right eye closed to prevent blood from entering his eye.
Itachi and Kisame exchanged glances, both barely breaking a sweat. They really do not wish to do this, but this time, the mission MUST NOT fail! They must either take one Ragnarok member back alive, or they must at least eliminate one of them.
Tsunade had been rather clear and vocal about that.
Kisame placed his hand on Itachi's shoulder as the latter drew out his sword. "I'll do it," said Kisame. He then sighed and closed his eyes. "If you land the finishing blow on him, that girl of yours would never forgive you."
"What about your sister?"
The muscles in Kisame's neck tightened. "I…don't know. But seeing her alive and well…is good enough for me," he said. "She doesn't have to acknowledge me as her brother. As long as she's alive and in good health, I am satisfied. I don't care even if she hates me. As long as she's alive…"
Kisame then took off towards Kankuro. The younger teen, already having been weakened with both blood loss and using up most of his energy, could barely block Kisame's attack, and he was knocked back several steps.
Kankuro coughed out blood, ignoring it as he parried Kisame's sword with a blade that he had always carried with him. All of Ragnarok always had a backup weapon with them just in case. They always had two trump cards up their sleeve as they never know when they might need it.
"I…made a promise…" Kankuro coughed, and Kisame can only stare. "I made a promise…to return with them… We're going…to build a better life…for the nin-users…! I…can't die here!"
An influx of power surrounded him just then, and Kisame leapt back just in time, and both he and Itachi could only stare on with both shock and horror. "W-What is happening…?"
On the other side of Konan's paper wall, both women stopped their attacks and turned towards the direction where they could both sense that sudden power influx.
"What was that?" Konan gasped.
Haku narrowed her eyes. That power felt like Kankuro's, but it felt darker as well…more ominous…just like those of Orochimaru's subordinates back then. What was that?
Haku sent some ice shards towards the paper wall just then, and it easily tore through it, especially since Haku had also imbued some of her own power within it, and the paper wall came down easily. And now, both women can see just what is happening on the other side of the wall, and Haku's eyes widened in horror.
"What was that?"
Sand was forming around Kankuro's left arm, hardening as it did so, appearing like that of a gauntlet. Kankuro was panting as he did so. 'I never expected that I would have to use the Mutation from back then. Shiki said that it might kill us if we use it, and she is probably right. But I don't think that I have much time left anyway. My injuries are too serious. If I have to die, then I'm taking them down with me!'
"W-What the hell is going on?" Kisame gasped, and the next moment, he had to block Kankuro's strike at him with his Samehada, and this action actually shattered his sword into pieces. "WHAT THE HELL?"
Kisame actually had to duck to prevent himself from losing his head, and Itachi can only stare on with shock as well. Kisame's sword is made up of a special property, as is the swords belonging to all members who had served in the underground mercenary group, Mist. And it is virtually impossible to break or shatter those swords.
Kisame actually felt all the wind knocked out of him when Kankuro struck him in the stomach with his gauntlet arm, and he actually felt half of his rib bones break, causing him to cough out blood. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Itachi standing not too far away from him, and decided on a last gamble.
"Itachi, he's yours!"
And with his last ounce of strength, Kisame actually struck Kankuro in the midsection hard enough to send him towards his teammate. Itachi, seeing Kankuro come towards him, struck out with his right arm to absorb that attack, only that he had completely forgotten that he still had his sword in his right hand.
Over with Konan and Haku, they could both see everything happening almost like in slow motion as Kankuro impaled himself on Itachi's sword through the chest, and he was then still.
Kankuro coughed out blood whilst being impaled on Itachi's sword.
'So this is how I'm going to die?' Kankuro coughed. 'Shiki…I had never regretted meeting you. If I can die to ensure Ragnarok's safety and survival…so be it. Live on…'
"…those bastards didn't come."
"The day that I call the ANBU for help is the day that the sun rises from the west."
"I need a favour, -."
"You killed my people, so I think that it's wise if both my people and your own comrades killed you with their own hands! I'm not known as the 'Death Animator' among my own gang for nothing!"
"All of us are wanted by the ANBU just because we're nin-users. Granted, they've assumed that most, if not all of us are dead, but still… If we stay too long at any place…the ANBU will be after us again."
"…that guy…why did he act that way?"
"…you've got the eyes of someone drenched in cold rain."
"I hate them. The ANBU."
"We're going to save that girl."
"…would you like to come along?"
Kankuro's eyes then slid shut.
He never moved again.
Seeing Kankuro getting impaled on Itachi's sword, Haku then moved into action.
Before Konan can do anything to stop her, Haku took off towards Itachi and struck him in the midsection, sending him flying. But before Kankuro can fall to the ground, Haku caught him and pulled out the sword still impaled in him before throwing it towards Kisame who was coming towards them who barely dodged it.
Haku then activated her power before the ice below her feet gave way, and they both sank into the deep waters of the sea immediately. Having powers over ice and water, Haku is a pretty good swimmer herself, and she immediately dove down into the deep depths of the sea in case any of the ANBU had any ideas about chasing after them, though she didn't think that they would, as they still have to worry about their comrades.
A dark figure swam towards them just then, and Haku turned only to see that it's Isaribi in her 'experimented' form swimming towards them, with gills, fins and all. Isaribi grabbed Kankuro from Haku, and pulled on her hand which the ice maiden is grateful for, as she had long used up all of her strength, and simply has no energy left to make the swim back to shore.
But before they could even make it a quarter of the way before getting out of the waters, Haku blacked out.
"They're both too slow," said Tenten, her arms crossed over her chest as she surveyed the waters of the sea, yet she saw no one. "Haku and Kankuro…are they both alright?"
Neji exchanged glances with Hinata before pulling out his cellphone. "I'm calling the others."
Ragnarok's Headquarters (Boathouse)Nirako
The door to the boathouse nearly flew opened, and a hysterical Temari stood there. "Have you found him?" she nearly screamed at Shiki who is the first person whom she saw standing at the opened doorway.
The redhead looked over her shoulder, and Temari followed her gaze only to see Haku who was leaning on Hinata for support, and Tenten was supporting her on the other side. Neji was behind them, carrying Kankuro piggyback, but he isn't moving.
Temari's eyes widened. "K-Kankuro… It can't be…"
Yugito had to move Temari out of the doorway forcefully to allow Neji to enter the boathouse, and to place Kankuro's body on the couch. All of Ragnarok surrounded the body of their fallen comrade, their heads bowed to show their respect.
"I'm sorry," said Haku, turning towards Gaara, guilt written all over her face. "Even though I was there as well… I'm sorry that I wasn't able to save him! That I wasn't able to save Kankuro! I'm so sorry!" She bowed to Gaara.
"It isn't your fault, Haku," said Gaara, and Neji and Hinata nodded. "You both were facing off against the entire Akatsuki! You were facing four of them at one time! And all of them were on our level, combat wise. It's natural that you couldn't get to Kankuro on time. It wasn't your fault!"
"Gaara's right," said Yugito with a nod. She then sighed. "If truth be told, I'm surprised that all of us have managed to remain alive until now. It's been more than four years ever since we've first started going against the ANBU. And we've exchanged blows countless times now. A loss among us is bound to happen someday."
"Shiki, where were you?" Temari asked, sounding a tad bit strange, not removing her eyes from her deceased brother.
Neji frowned at Temari's tone. "Temari?"
"When they were fighting against the ANBU, where were you?" Temari turned around to face Shiki, and everyone could see that she is barely holding back her tears. "When Kankuro was fighting against the ANBU, where were you?"
Shiki closed her eyes briefly. She knew that Temari needed a scapegoat to blame for her brother's death, and an outlet to vent her anger and frustration. She'll gladly let Temari take it out on her. It is the least that she could do. After all, she had been the one to bring Temari, Kankuro and Gaara into this life in the first place.
"I was in Hagako."
"What were you doing there? If you were there with them…if you were with us…Kankuro wouldn't have died!" Temari almost screamed.
"Stop, Temari!" Tenten held the blonde back. "It isn't Shiki's fault!"
"Temari, just stop it," said Gaara, looking at his brother, and his sister turned towards him, wiping the tears pooling around her eyes with the back of her hand. "Kankuro did this because he wanted to. Have you forgotten? Back then, back when Shiki had rescued us from Amachi and took us in, we made a vow that day. We swore that we would protect her, even if we have to die doing so, because she is the first person who had extended her hand to us and had accepted us. If you're going to blame Shiki, then you're just blaming Kankuro as well."
Temari sniffed, and wiped her tears away. She felt the same as her only remaining brother, but she just wanted to vent. She wanted to find someone to blame. Why her brother? Why Kankuro?
"I'm sorry, Shiki," she mumbled.
Shiki shook her head. "It's alright. It is partly my responsibility that Kankuro had died," she said. She then turned towards Neji. "Neji, can you tell me everything that has happened?"
Neji nodded. "We were just going for a small spin on the speedboat," he said. "It's been awhile since we were on the sea with the speedboat, and I thought that it wouldn't do any harm." Shiki nodded. "But then, we were then attacked by the Akatsuki, the best combat squad in the ANBU. I have no idea how they have found us, but they did. Haku and Kankuro decided to face them themselves so that we could escape."
Haku took up the mantle next. "I faced four of their members – the bomb using guy, the guy that uses sand, the orange haired telekinetic, and the lone female member of their group," she said. "Kankuro ended up facing the captain and vice-captain of that squad."
Shiki flinched. No wonder Kankuro had died! Those two are the strongest of the entire ANBU, even without their powers!
"I didn't see the entire battle as I was busy with the woman, but halfway through the battle, Kankuro started the Mutation. And then…the captain of the Akatsuki…killed him."
Nearly everyone kneeled over at the sudden killer intent that had spiked from Shiki just then, and when Shiki saw that she had unintentionally released her killer intent, she immediately fought to have it back under control.
She glanced at her friends. "I know that most of you want revenge now, but we have to bide our time for now. If we go after the ANBU now, we'll just be throwing our lives away. It might be hard, but we have to bide our time. What we can now do at present is to mourn for him…" Shiki glanced at Kankuro's body. "…and to bide our time. I promise you that we'll have our revenge someday. This, I swear."
Everyone nodded, and Neji sighed.
"It is open war against the ANBU from now on, isn't it?" he asked, and Shiki nodded.
"Those guys have never done anything against us before, that's why I didn't want any of you to hurt them. But now, it's different," said Shiki, clenching her hands into fists by her sides, and glaring at the floor. "They hurt one of us, and they must pay the price for it. It'll be open war against the ANBU from now on."
Yugito snorted. "About damn time," she said.
Shiki sighed and turned towards Temari and Gaara. "Where do you want to bury him?" she asked.
Gaara and Temari turned towards their brother before exchanging glances with each other, and then turning back towards Shiki. "At Hiraiko." Gaara answered. "That is where we have first met you, Shiki. And it is also there where our lives have changed for the better. It might have been a tough road so far, but I've never regretted coming with you, or even meeting you. And I'm sure that Kankuro feels the same too."
The rest of Ragnarok have retired back to the boathouse, with the girls trying to comfort Temari, and with Gaara sitting on the roof of the boathouse to mourn his brother's death his own way. In fact, the only ones of Ragnarok still remaining at the graveyard were Shiki, Shino and Neji.
Neji glanced at Shiki before sighing. "It wasn't your fault," he stated. "You did what you had to do to protect us. That's what being a leader is all about. It might sound cruel, but sometimes, you have to treat your comrades and friends as chess pieces on the chessboard."
"I know that," said Shiki with a sigh. "Jiraiya told me that once when I'd founded Ragnarok. But then, when Isaribi telephoned me, informing me about Kankuro, and I'd rushed over to her house and saw his body for myself, I kept thinking. I kept thinking 'maybe if I had been there, the outcome might have been different'. I kept thinking that. That maybe, that just maybe, I might have been able to save him."
"You wouldn't be able to do anything," said Shino patiently. "The future isn't set in stone, and even with Yugito's power to see the future, she couldn't see everything. It wasn't your fault that Kankuro had died. All that we can do now is to grow stronger, and to make sure that nothing like this happened again."
Shiki gave out a short bitter laugh. "Nothing is fair in this world, isn't it?" she muttered, stuffing her hands into her pockets. "The day that I've first met Gaara, Temari and Kankuro…I saw for myself the extents to what people would do to our kind. I swore to myself that day. I pledged to the heavens that have given us only Hell that I'll never let this go. I swore that I will someday have my revenge." She closed her eyes briefly before opening them again. "War always happens. It is our way of life. And war always comes from the desire to protect. It is created by the hands of humans. I'm not the most impartial person in the world. I agree that it is the fault of humans that the world is in the state that it now is. Maybe even the nin-users have contributed to the state that this world is now in. The seven deadly sins of Man – wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy and gluttony. Those seven sins were created by us, by Mankind itself. It's unfortunate, but it is a fact that hatred rules our world. That's just the way that this world works." She sighed before turning around to leave the graveyard. "War brings death and pain to both sides. You can't change that fact. And it is even harder to accept the deaths of those close to you. And from here on out…probably…we're going to be contributing even more to that pain."
A/N: My apologies to all Kankuro fans! I really didn't want to kill him off as well, but his death is required for the plot of this story! Anyway, I hope that you like this chapter, and please read and review!
Preview of next chapter:
"You must consider the consequences. I am in love with you. I want you to pick me over him. I will fight for you until my death. And unlike him, I will always fight by your side."
"I'm going to put this to an end. It should have ended a long time ago."
"Do you seriously think that the rest of them will forgive you for killing one of our own?"
'Shiki… Do you really wish for this?'