An Eye for an Eye
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 Twenty: An Eye for an Eye
Abandoned ShackShirokyu, Japan
"Where is Ne's base of operations?" A low voice that almost sounded animalistic growled into the captive's ear who is currently bound hand and foot to a chair, with darkness all around, not allowing the captive to see the face of his kidnappers in the least.
"I've already told you! It's in Nakawa—Aaarrrggghhh!" His answer was cut off halfway, only to be replaced by bloodcurdling screams like he was currently being murdered, though that wasn't that far off from the truth, judging by the fact that an eight-inch long blade was driven in between the wrist bones of the captive's right hand, practically staining the armrest and the ground below it with red blood.
"Please feel free to keep lying through your teeth, and you're also a pretty bad liar by the way. In fact, I implore you to do so. I have plenty of new tricks that I would simply love to try on one of Danzo's dogs."
Another bloodcurdling scream echoed throughout the shack and the surroundings where the man was currently held captive in. And it is a good thing in itself that the shack was well out of the way in the small village of Shirokyu.
Just outside the abandoned shack where the man currently held captive had the delight to have a personal meeting with Namikaze Shiki herself, the rest of Ragnarok winced visibly to themselves as the bloodcurdling screams and shrieks reached their ears and echoed around this abandoned and rural area of Shirokyu where they were currently docked and located at, just as they have been at for the past three days now.
Tenten shook her head with pity for the man, one of Danzo's agents, a member of the Roots organisation which had been giving them some major problems after Orochimaru and Oto's demise, and which Fuuma Arashi, one of Shiki's many spies and informants in her spy network, had the luck to run into some time back. Shino and Yugito both have the delight to capture the man for Shiki, though Yugito didn't exactly leave the man in a very desirable state, since Shiki didn't exactly specify the state of health that the man must be brought back in.
The rest of Ragnarok were currently all seated outside the shack which Neji had put up a barrier around which blocks out all sound and vision – basically hiding them from view. If anyone happened to pass by here, they wouldn't have seen anything but just a marshland where the shack is.
"Is it just me, or is Shiki more ruthless with the man than what I've noticed her to be, despite the man being a Ne agent?" Tenten pondered, playing with her dagger. "She never used to be like this. She would usually attack them in the mind by using some mind games, not physical pain. She's a master of the mind. She can literally turn a man to mush with just a look."
"Yeah," said Hinata with a sigh, exchanging looks with her cousin. "Shiki has been in a bad mood lately. She has been ever since Kankuro…" She trailed off, and the rest of Ragnarok stayed silent.
Ragnarok's Headquarters (Boathouse)Hisako, Japan
It was raining again, and the steady sounds of the raindrops pattered down onto the glass windows of the boathouse which is Ragnarok's headquarters.
All of Ragnarok were currently in the first storey of their boathouse, relaxing about, though there is a considerably subdued atmosphere in the air. Shino was in front of his computer as usual, and Neji and Gaara were having another one of their games of shougi. Hinata and Temari were huddled together in a corner of the couch, reading some magazine together, giggling away together. Haku was reading a book about medical herbs beside Tenten who was sharpening one of her sharp pointy objects, whilst Yugito was curled up like a cat in a corner, watching the portable television currently clutched in her fingers. As for Shiki, she was curled up in a corner of the couch, reading a novel, though she was still on the same page for the past hour.
The novel that she is currently holding is one that she had just bought in the last town that they've just gone through nearly a week ago after stopping in Shirokyu when 'interrogating' that man before Gaara had literally made his body 'disappear' by using his powers, and Shiki had contacted Arashi to keep an eye out for any wandering Ne agent. But somehow, Shiki can't seem to concentrate on reading as one Uchiha Itachi kept revolving about in her mind, despite her desperate attempts to keep him out of it.
Shiki sighed inwardly to herself, resisting the urge to palm her face. 'What am I doing? I made my decision, so I should stick by it.'
But you wished to do so otherwise. A tiny little voice spoke up in the back of her mind. You want to stay by his side. More than anything, you just want to stay by his side.
'No, I don't!'
"Shiki, are you feeling alright?" Haku's concerned voice broke through her thoughts, and the redhead looked up only to see that every single one of her friends was looking at her with concern. "You looked rather pale."
"I'm—" Shiki was about to say 'I'm fine' to assure her friends, since even she knew that she had been acting out of sorts for awhile ever since Kankuro's death and the break-up with Itachi. All that stress from dealing with those two events, along with ANBU's stand of declaration against Ragnarok as well as all that issue with Ne and the Bijuu Shrine had been getting to her, and she knew that her temper is all up and down for the past two weeks which also explained why all her friends have been literally treading on eggshells around her as she had kicked just about anyone who had gotten on her bad side.
But before Shiki could even manage to get the first syllable of her sentence out, she felt a sudden nauseous feeling rising up from the pits of her abdomen, and could almost feel the bile rising up from the back of her throat.
Everyone in Ragnarok blinked in surprise when Shiki literally threw herself off the couch and fled up the stairs faster than even thought possible. A short while later, everyone heard the door of the bathroom slammed shut.
Haku exchanged confused looks with her friends before getting up from her position on the couch and heading up the stairs, being followed by Gaara. The others in Ragnarok wisely remained on the first storey as they knew that even if Shiki isn't feeling well, she would never tell them, unless the mentioned people are Haku, Gaara or Shino.
Meanwhile, in one of the two bathrooms in the boathouse that the girls typically used, Shiki was bending over the sink, trying hard not to make anything come up.
She had been feeling sick and nauseous for awhile now, but had put it off as her coming down with something, maybe a cold or something else. Especially since Temari had just gone down with the flu a week ago, and had only just recovered, thanks to Hinata nursing her back to health. And Temari's depression over losing her brother wasn't helping matters either, though with that good cry session that she had on the night of Kankuro's death when Shiki was with her had seemed to help her handle it some.
The cold weather is settling in Japan, especially it being late September, and Haku and Hinata have both popped out to the nearest town the other day to get new coats, scarves and boots for everyone else, and Gaara had made sure that the heater in the boathouse was working properly in order to keep the place warmed up. Tenten had also gone grocery shopping with Neji to make sure that their cupboards were all stocked with plenty of food so that they wouldn't go hungry in case they were stranded in the boathouse because of bad weather.
Banging could be heard on the bathroom door just then, though Shiki didn't turn around, not trusting herself to not throw up should she move. Haku's concerned voice sounded through the closed door just then.
"Shiki, is everything alright in there?"
"Y-Yeah, I'm fine! I'll be out in a moment."
Shiki turned on the tap and rinsed her mouth with the clear water as a bid to try not to throw up before she turned the faucet off. She looked down at the sink as the water ran down the drain, staring at the droplets of water left behind. And for some reason or other, her thoughts quickly went to the night when Itachi had first confessed to her – on the night when they were at the island when Ragnarok were there in order to keep an eye on a client whose request that they've turned down.
I was a fool. I thought that I can ignore it. But Fate decided otherwise. I knew…ever since that time at the beach…I knew that I carried feelings for you. But I tried to ignore it as I didn't want to lose our friendship.
Shiki bent over the sink, turning out Gaara's concerned voice asking if she is feeling alright. Her hands slowly clenched into fists whilst resting on the sides of the sink.
Please Shiki. Don't run from me.
'I…I'm not running from anything…!' Shiki thought, clenching her hands into fists so tightly that her knuckles actually turned white. 'It's just…'
You're running from him? Or from yourself? Or maybe from the truth of the matter? A small voice spoke up at the back of her head. You're just running from the truth.
Bile rise up in the back of her throat just then, and before Shiki can even do anything to force it back, she bent over the sink and emptied the contents of her stomach, expelling everything that she had eaten that day, and probably the last two days as well. But before she can even open her mouth to answer Gaara's anxious question, she felt sick once more, and expelled everything from her stomach until there was nothing left, eventually just dry heaving.
'What is going on?' Shiki thought to herself, rinsing her mouth with tap water and watching the water run down into the drain. 'Why have I been feeling like throwing up for the past few days?'
She felt a sharp pain in her abdomen just then – almost like sharp hooks or knives were tearing through her abdomen, and Shiki clutched at the fabric of her shirt around her abdomen, biting down onto her lower lip to prevent herself from crying out in pain. She is no stranger to pain, having broken many a bone or even tore many a ligament, but this…she almost passed out from the sudden intense pain that overtook her.
Shiki suddenly felt a liquid-like substance flowing down her leg, and looked down only to almost pass out from the shock at seeing thick red blood flowing down her right leg, staining the bottom part of the pants that she had been wearing. But as her pants were dark coloured, it wasn't really that obvious.
'W-What is going on?'
Frantic banging soon sounded on the bathroom door, almost sounding like Haku or Gaara, or maybe even both of them, were currently trying to break the door down.
"Oi Shiki! Are you alright?" Haku called out, frantic.
Shiki bit down on her lower lip before stumbling over to the bathroom door, moving a shaking hand towards the lock of the door. "…Haku…Gaara…" Shiki managed to croak out, her voice sounding extremely dry, almost like she hadn't drank anything for days. "…please… Don't let anyone else know…"
"Shiki, are you alright in there?" Gaara's voice sounded through the door, sounding extremely worried. "You don't sound too good."
"…just you two. Don't…let anyone else know."
"Okay. Okay. I know. I won't let anyone else up here," said Haku quickly, with a hint of curiosity in her voice. "Can you at least unlock the door?"
Muffled voices that seemed to be far away reached Shiki's ears just then, and she recognised Neji's voice immediately.
"Hey Haku, Gaara! Is everything alright up there?"
"Y-Yeah!" Haku shouted back. "Just don't come up here! Any of you!"
Shiki was fighting with everything that she had to remain conscious as little grey spots were already starting to appear in her vision. She shook her head to try to clear her vision as she flicked the lock of the door, and as she did so, darkness overcome her, and she knew no more.
The first thing that Shiki had noticed when coming back into the world of the living is that of the feeling of someone placing their hands onto her forehead, and a gentle warmth was surrounding her body. When her eyes were focused enough, she found that she is in the bedroom that all the girls shared between themselves, and that Haku was seated by her side, both hands over her head, focusing her healing power.
Like Hinata, part of Haku's powers allowed her to heal, as she had control over all three states of water – solid, gaseous and liquid, and water had healing properties after all.
Haku smiled wearily at Shiki as she saw that she's awake, and stopped her healing power. The ice maiden then turned towards Gaara who is standing in a corner of the darkened room whom Shiki hadn't noticed, with the sand user standing with his arms crossed over his chest, leaning against the wall.
"Gaara, can you please stand guard outside and make sure that no one comes in?" Haku enquired. "Just tell everyone that Shiki had a bit of the flu."
The look on Gaara's face told Shiki that he didn't buy that for one moment, but he nodded, and left the room, closing the door behind him. A very long silence fell before Haku sighed, and helped Shiki to sit up, and the redhead was surprised that someone had helped her to change her clothes whilst she was still unconscious.
"It wasn't the flu, was it?" Shiki asked quietly, and Haku sighed as she took Shiki's hands into hers and shook her head.
"No." Haku replied. She then looked straight into Shiki's eyes. "Shiki, I need you to remain calm over whatever that I'm going to tell you." She stated. "I think that it's best if the others do not learn of this, or they'll probably snap, considering the fact that they're all still trying to deal with Kankuro's death." Shiki nodded slowly, and Haku sighed, tightening her hold on Shiki's hands, and the redhead suddenly realised that Haku's hands were rather cold, inwardly wondering just how long the ice maiden had used her healing power. Haku sighed again. "Shiki, do you know that you're pregnant?"
Shiki stared at Haku for a long while, almost like she couldn't believe her ears, and her right hand automatically went to her abdomen. "…what?"
Haku sighed. "I'll take it that you didn't know then," she stated. "You're about three months along, but…you've lost it."
Shiki didn't show her emotions, but inwardly, a flurry of emotions was practically overloading her mind. Is that why she had been feeling so sick for the past few weeks? And why she couldn't seem to control her own temper when she is usually quite level headed?
"Who's the father, Shiki?" Haku asked bluntly, but Shiki merely stared at her best friend without saying anything, and the ice maiden sighed. "It's him, isn't it?" She stated more than asked, and Shiki nodded silently.
Somehow, the idea that she is—was pregnant, hadn't totally sunk into her head. And the fact alone that she had practically killed her own child hadn't exactly sunk in either.
Most nin-users never chose to settle down and have a family, as they knew what it practically meant if their children ever inherited their abilities. Some of the nin-users with rather weak or average powers took the risk to settle down to have a family, and when it turns out that their children were nin-users as well, it always turned out bad.
That's the whole reason why Shiki had never really thought about ever settling down or having her own family. She knew the dangers and risks involved of being a nin-user, being one herself. And not to mention that she, along with her friends, were all wanted by the ANBU, though they don't exactly know who they are.
Haku's sigh caused her to look at the ice maiden once more. "You should get some sleep," she said kindly. "I'll be here, so don't worry. You should rest for the time being. You had been overworking yourself for the past few days ever since Arashi had came with his information. You're too weak right now to do anything but rest. You hardly had the chance to take a break anyway, so make the most of it. We'll take over from here. Shino will know what to do with that whole informant business thing after all."
Shiki didn't like it, as she much preferred handling everything that had to do with her spy network and her informants personally, but she knew that Haku had a point. Even right now, she felt too weak to even stand on her own two feet, let alone running around to meet Arashi.
"Alright." Shiki sighed. "But if you have any problems, let me know immediately."
Haku nodded, helping Shiki to lie down properly, and covering her with the blankets. "Of course," she said reassuringly, tucking Shiki in.
And it wasn't that long before Shiki had fallen asleep, exhausted from that day. Haku sighed before turning towards the closed bedroom door, and the door swung opened just then, with Gaara stepping in, and closing it behind him, leaning on the door to keep it closed with his weight.
"I take it that you've heard everything?" Haku stated more than questioned, and Gaara nodded. "Can you watch over her? It's really too bad, but it looks like Tenten, Yugito and Hinata will have to bunk in with the rest of the boys tonight."
"Are you going?" Gaara questioned, and Haku nodded. "I won't stop you. But don't kill him."
The ice maiden then stood up before taking Shiki's cellphone where it had been resting atop the dresser table in between the beds, and started scrolling down her list of contacts until she came to the name of one Uchiha Itachi. Haku then pressed on the 'call' button, and placed the phone to her ear.
Three rings later, the call was picked up, and a very anxious voice sounded through the earpiece, sounding rather breathless as he did so.
Haku was silent for several moments before she spoke. "Sorry to disappoint you, but no," she said, not sounding sorry in the least. "Are you Uchiha Itachi?"
"That I am," said Itachi on the other end of the line, sounding sorely disappointed, yet Haku couldn't find it in herself to care. "And you are?"
Haku said nothing for several moments before she spoke again, not answering his question. "Can we meet? I think that we need to meet face-to-face. Meet me at the shores of Hiraiko." Click.
Two Hours LaterHiraiko
Haku let the sea breeze blow through her hair, stuffing her hands into her pockets, bundled up in a thick coat to block out the cold wind, before she sensed rather than heard someone approaching her, and she then turned around to face the captain of the Akatsuki.
She fought hard to not show her surprise at the rather haggard-looking captain of the Akatsuki, with the guy looking older than he seems, and judging by the dark rings beneath his eyes, he doesn't seem to have slept well for days, if at all.
Did he really suffer this much ever since Shiki had broken things off with him? Did he really love her that much? Haku doesn't really understand. How can this guy love his own enemy, the leader of the organisation that all of ANBU had been after for years now?
"Uchiha Itachi?" Haku questioned, and Itachi nodded.
"Aren't you Kisame's younger sister?" Itachi asked. "We met before at the museum, didn't we?"
Haku fought hard to not show her expression on her face at the first mention of her older half-brother. She and Kisame-nii-sama may only be half-siblings, but they were still pretty close until the war had struck, and her brother who is about the only one apart from her mother who had actually cared for her, had gone off to fight in the war. Haku might be very young then, but she still remembered her brother. Thus, she was both shocked and surprised when she had met her brother again after all these years of thinking that he had died in the war as a member of the Akatsuki, an ANBU agent.
Haku closed her eyes before opening them again, taking one step towards Itachi, not worried in the least that the guy in front of her is said to be the ANBU's most powerful, with the ice maiden pretty confident in her own abilities. And furthermore, her abilities are a bad matchup for Uchiha Itachi's fire abilities.
"My name is Haku." Haku stated. "Shisei Haku. I'll go straight to the point then." She narrowed her eyes slightly at Itachi who flinched slightly. "Did you sleep with Shiki before?" She asked bluntly.
Itachi almost choked on his spit as he stared at Haku incredulously, and a faint flush of red was slowly creeping on his face. "W-What kind of question is that?" he nearly spluttered.
"Just answer it." Haku insisted, not feeling very amused by Itachi's reaction. "Did. You. Sleep. With. Her?" She drew out each syllable of her question, though demand might be a better word for it.
Itachi looked away so that he wouldn't see the dangerous glare on Haku's face.
He is well aware that that Neji guy didn't look at him with such favourable eyes as well, judging by the results of their last meeting. But this Haku girl too? Just what did he do wrong to have all of Shiki's friends hate him so much? On the other hand, he thinks that he does know. It had probably stemmed from the part that he had played in their friend's death.
"Yeah, I did."
"How long ago was it?"
Is it just Itachi, or did the temperature of the surroundings suddenly fell drastically that it made him feel as if he is in the North Pole?
"A-About three months ago, I guess." Itachi mumbled, wondering what is so important about it. "Give or take a few weeks."
Haku sighed loudly, and Itachi turned back towards her only to see that the ice maiden was pinching the bridge of her nose to lessen her headache. "Okay, I'm going to make this as easy and as less awkward for you as possible," said Haku irritably, turning towards Itachi. "I assume that you know all about that birds and bees stuff, and that some adult had at least given you 'the talk' at least once in your lifetime?" Itachi nodded, flushing slightly. Haku sighed. "Then do you at least know how babies are made?" She asked sarcastically.
"Yes, but what has that got to do with—" Itachi's eyes widened when he realised what Haku is trying to tell him. "Oh kami!"
"'Oh kami' is the right word." Haku muttered sarcastically.
"So…" Itachi blinked nervously at the murderous aura that the girl in front of him is currently emanating. "She's pregnant?"
"Was." Haku corrected, and Itachi's eyes widened. "Not any longer. And before you had any strange ideas, no, Shiki didn't go for an abortion. That girl didn't even know that she's pregnant!" Haku pinched the bridge of her nose. "She's been awfully stressed for the past two weeks, especially with everything that is happening, and our enemies that is not the ANBU had been giving us some problems as well. All of that happening one after the other, along with your 'little contribution' had caused her stress level to shoot up, and she's been awfully short tempered with just about everyone lately. Though I guess I can understand why her mood swings had been at an all time high of late." Haku muttered the last part. "No. She had a…miscarriage a few hours ago."
Itachi's eyes widened. "…what?"
"You heard me right the first time unless you have some problems with your hearing." Haku muttered sarcastically. "She. Had. A. Miscarriage. And it is all your fault!" She hissed at Itachi who was taken aback by this sudden accusation. "I am like Ragnarok's doctor, along with one other who I'm not going to name. As such, I'm pretty well versed with all things medical. Miscarriages that had occurred can be due to several elements, not necessarily physical falls. It can be due to emotional stress as well. Like high stress level or even depression for instance."
Haku put up two fingers as she did so, and Itachi paled considerably as he understood what Haku is trying to tell him. The ice maiden looked sternly at him. "You understand, don't you? Both of which Shiki had been suffering from for the past two goddamn weeks! Her mood swings have been all over the place lately, and I guess I can understand why now. You as good as killed your own child."
"I…didn't…" Itachi said weakly.
Haku looked sternly at him. "You're going to have to make a choice soon enough," she said bluntly. "I'm pretty sure that you had been following the news of late. That commander of yours had placed capturing Ragnarok as a top priority mission for all ANBU agents. We won't get caught as long as we don't wish to be found, but even you can't deny the fact that sooner or later, ANBU and Ragnarok are going to have to meet on the battlefield. I don't like you. In fact, I detest you. Part of it is due to Kankuro. The other half is that you are the only guy who had hurt Shiki like this so badly! And I don't mean physically."
Itachi flinched back almost like he had just been struck.
"I can't say or do anything if my best friend loves you so much. I don't like it, but even I know that love can't be forced." Itachi looked surprised at that, and Haku almost snorted. "I know the reason why she broke up with you. Kankuro's death is the thing that triggered it. She had wanted to break it off with you for some time now."
"Because you are the enemy." Haku stated, and Itachi looked hurt. "Or at least, you are with the enemy. Those in Ragnarok who knew of you didn't like the idea that the both of you are together. We feared that Shiki would get hurt in the end as we knew that your relationship wouldn't work out. And we were right. But if you really love her, you're going to have to make a choice soon enough: Shiki or the ANBU. Make a choice."
"I…can't…" Itachi said weakly, looking at Haku. "It's…impossible to leave the ANBU. Once in, you are in it for life. You can't leave without being dismissed by them, usually through death."
"And I am well aware of it," said Haku bluntly. She then sighed. "Well, I've said what I've came to say. Think about it. The invisible war between Ragnarok and ANBU is slowly becoming more visible by the day. It wouldn't take long before there is a full-blown war between us. You're going to have to make your choice then. But even if you choose to stand on Shiki's side, I doubt that the rest will forgive you for what you've done to Kankuro. I don't even know if Shiki will forgive you. I was there when you killed Kankuro. I know how he had died. But to be fair, even if you had never landed the finishing blow on Kankuro, he would have died anyway." Haku muttered that last part, but Itachi heard her. "Think about what I've just said, and make your choice."
Haku then walked past Itachi, but before she could leave the shore, Itachi spoke, stopping Haku in her tracks. The Uchiha then turned to face Haku.
"You said all this about me and Shiki, and I can tell that you care deeply about her. I can guess that all of Ragnarok probably cared as deeply for her like you did. But what about you? What about Kisame? He's your brother, isn't he? I know that I can never raise a hand against Shiki. But what about you? Kisame had spent years searching for you. If the two of you ever faced each other on the battlefield, what are you going to do?"
Haku didn't say anything for several moments, and when she spoke at last, she didn't turn around. "As far as I'm concerned, he is the one who had killed my friend," she said emotionlessly. "I will never forgive him for this. I will kill him." She looked over her shoulder to face Itachi, and the Uchiha was taken aback by the dangerous look in her eyes. "And that, is a promise that I will keep."
Ragnarok's Headquarters (Boathouse)Hiraiko, Japan
One week later, Shiki was already over her 'flu', though some of the more observant ones like Neji and Shino have noticed that she's much more subdued and quiet than usual.
And as such, Namikaze Shiki could be found sitting on the rooftop of the boathouse well past midnight, with her jacket draped around her shoulders, as she knew that Haku will throw a fit if she ever found out that Shiki had gone out in the wind without her jacket.
Truthfully, Shiki didn't know what to think.
The…child that she had lost awhile back is like an extension of herself – almost like a distant memory of Itachi. She would be lying if she said that it didn't affect her. But then again, she didn't allow herself to grieve properly as she knew that as leader, she can't let her friends see her cry or even show any form of weakness.
Shiki turned around only to see Neji approaching her, a curious look on his face. Shiki smiled a small smile at him, though she didn't really feel like smiling. "Hey Neji." She then turned her gaze back towards the seawaters in front of her, tightening her arms around her knees.
"You feeling better?" Neji asked with concern, sitting down beside her, and Shiki nodded quietly. "That's good." He said with relief. "You rarely get sick. This is the first time that you've fallen sick, I do believe. The flu sure has been going around."
Shiki said nothing to that. As nin-users, their immune system were stronger than that of ordinary humans, and were thus able to fight off diseases and illnesses far easier than any other human. But also, if they ever fell sick, it will be much more serious for them.
Light footsteps reached both their ears just then, and both Neji and Shiki turned only to see Shino appearing behind them, his hands stuffed into the pockets of his coat. The insect user studied them both for several moments before sighing. "Shiki, are you well enough to head out on a job?" he asked, and Shiki nodded. "Good." Shino sighed before tilting a thumb over his shoulder. "Because we've got a request."
"The client is someone named Kitayama Yui." Shino was saying the next morning, being seated at the kitchen table with his laptop on the tabletop before him, with the rest of Ragnarok all standing around him, looking at the screen of the computer over his shoulder. The insect user clicked on the mouse before two new windows showed up on the screen – one was the information database that Shino had created, the other is the request email that the client had sent to them the previous night. "We've received this request late last night, and as the rest of you were all in bed, Shiki sent Neji to investigate instead. The request came from a citizen living in the small town in the north-west region of Japan – Kinryoku."
"What's the request about?" asked Yugito with a frown.
All of Ragnarok knew that whoever their victim is this time, he or she will probably be the one that will suffer the worst pain out of all their previous victims so far, especially because of the current mood of all Ragnarok members. They needed to blow off some steam, and what better way to do that than to exact their vengeance on an unfortunate victim of their client?
Shino frowned at this. "A…rather unusual one, this time around," he said warily.
The rest of Ragnarok turned to look at Neji and Shiki – the only two who knew what the request was about only to see Shiki snort slightly and turned her head away, her arms crossed over her chest. Neji was looking out of the window, refusing to look at any of them, though by the way that the muscles in his neck tightened considerably, anyone with eyes and half a brain to go with it could tell that he is pissed.
"What is?" asked Hinata, frowning slightly at her cousin's strange behaviour.
Shino sighed before clicking on a link in the information database, and an image of a news report appeared on the screen. The date of the newspaper was dated back nearly two weeks ago, with the newspaper being the main one that all citizens in the town of Kinryoku read, and the headlines of the paper was that of a college student around the age of nineteen or so who had committed suicide by slicing his wrists.
"The client is the younger sister of the guy who had committed suicide nearly two weeks ago. The guy's name is Kitayama Hien." Shino explained, pointing at the screen. "I only knew what details that I knew about the suicide from this newspaper, and even Neji couldn't find out a lot, only that the guy supposedly killed himself because he was jilted in love."
"Let me guess, our target this time is the client's brother's ex-girlfriend?" Haku scrunched her nose up in distaste.
Shino nodded. "You got it right in one," he said. "But here is where the problems begin for us." All of Ragnarok sans for Shiki and Neji turned towards Shino in confusion. "We have our rules to follow – rules that were set up by us at the time of Ragnarok's founding, and which every single one of us had followed so far without failure. If we follow by the rules, rules dictate that we have to eliminate the target of the client's vengeance if it is truly an injustice. But here is where things start to get troublesome if we carry it out, because of who the ex-girlfriend is."
"Shino, stop speaking in riddles, and spit it out!" Temari snapped.
Shiki sighed, and everyone turned towards her just then. The redhead exchanged glances with Shino before turning towards the rest of her friends. "The target this time is a girl by the name of Haruno Sakura," she answered, and everyone paled immediately.
Shino silently opened a new screen of the database window, and a photo shoot of the mentioned girl showed up on the screen, along with very detailed information about her background as well as personal information.
"Haruno Sakura?" Gaara echoed Shiki's words. "If I'm not mistaken, isn't she a member of that Rendoku team, one of the two nin-user teams from the ANBU?"
Shiki sighed and nodded. "Yes," she said. "And that's when things start to get troublesome." She turned towards her friends. "We've practically declared a stand against the ANBU. But this girl isn't a part of that Akatsuki team. What do you want to do about this request?"
There was silence for several moments before Gaara broke the silence. "Asking us what do we wish to do about this request? It isn't like you, Shiki," he said, turning towards the other redhead. "It should be obvious."
"That's right," said Yugito with a smirk.
"We are Ragnarok." Tenten put in. "We have our duty to fulfil."
"That's how it is, Shiki," said Hinata with a smile.
Shiki sighed but smiled, nodding. "I guess I shouldn't really be surprised," she said. She then turned towards Neji. "Neji, we'll be docking at Kinryoku. I want you to try to wheedle out some information about the client's desire on vengeance on that ANBU girl before we make any decisions. Can you do it?"
Neji raised a brow but nodded.
"But before we actually head out on this request, I want all of you to listen to me for a minute or two," said Shiki seriously, and everyone turned towards her, even Shino had turned around from his computer. "I've never told you guys what the Ne agent that we've caught a few days back had said, save for the fact that he didn't know where the base of Roots is. But that isn't all that he's said." Shiki paused, taking in the face of each person in front of her. "He told me a little of Danzo's plans. The guy that we've caught is one of the small fry, thus, he wasn't let into all the details, but what he knew is more than enough for me to put the pieces together."
"And?" Gaara asked slowly. "What is Danzo's plan?"
Shiki sighed. "You guys know of the Bijuu Shrines, and that we've been sealing all those shrines up one by one, even though it is a long process, as each sealing can easily sap more than half of our energy," she stated, and everyone nodded. "Danzo had some…plans for the Bijuu Shrine, and when I say the Bijuu Shrine, I meant the main one – the one at the Forbidden Forest. I don't know how Danzo even knew of its existence, and what he even plans to do with it, but you don't go after the Bijuu Shrine for a tea party."
"You think that he wants to use the power of the Bijuu Nine for something undesirable?" Haku questioned, and Shiki nodded.
"That's it in a sense," said Shiki with a sigh. "We've been after Ne for some time now. You know what those guys can do, and what they will do when forced into a corner. Some of their spies had actually infiltrated the ANBU as well. But it is only now that we knew of Danzo's plans. I won't force you to partake in this battle against Ne and Danzo. Take your time to make your decision. This is going to be a long battle, and a damn bloody one. Some of us will probably die. We will probably not. But make no mistake, this…battle is going to change history. Nin-users will probably be remembered for the good or for the bad, I don't know. But if you ever decide to leave after this, I won't blame you, and I won't deny you that as well."
Shiki smiled at the dumbfounded faces that greeted her. "We've spent six years together. That's more than long enough for me. If truth be told, I'm actually surprised that none of you had left before this. Make your decision, and then tell me. I'll give you time until the end of this request. Because we're going to have to make our move against ANBU and Ne soon enough, and then, it'll then be time for the battle. But regardless of your decision, I will still go on with it, alone or not. As nin-users, we have a responsibility to stop them."
Ragnarok's Headquarters (Boathouse)Kinryoku, Japan
It was nearly noon, with the sun at its highest point in the sky when the boathouse pulled into the docks at the town of Kinryoku. The town was a trading port town, with traders and tourists always coming and going, mostly by boat, thus, their boathouse didn't really attract a lot of attention when they pulled in at the port.
Everyone watched as Neji pulled on a dark green coat, especially with the cold autumn winds blowing about, and the raven haired teen then left the boathouse, ready to do his part of the job. A very long silence befell them all before Shino turned back to his computer, ready to do his research part of the job. Shiki then sighed before moving towards the door as well, pulling on her dark blue coat.
"I'll be heading out."
The remaining members all sighed and exchanged glances with each other as the door closed behind Shiki, and Haku sighed. "Shiki's suffering too, isn't she?"
Hinata nodded. "Yeah."
Kinryoku ParkKinryoku, Japan
It didn't really take Neji all that long to find their client – Kitayama Yui.
The town of Kinryoku wasn't all that large, despite it being a trading port town, and he soon found the client sitting in one of the swings at the Kinryoku Park which is pretty deserted, probably due to the fact of the cold chilling winds that autumn in Japan always brings.
Silently, Neji went towards the girl and sat down in the other empty swing beside Yui. He took vague amusement in the fact that Yui's head snapped up, and she glared at Neji. "Go away."
"I'll rather not if you don't mind," said Neji, hiding a grin. "You look like you're in need of a listening ear. People always told me that I'm a good listener. If you don't mind, I can loan you a listening ear."
Yui stared at Neji suspiciously. "You're not a reporter, are you?" she asked suspiciously, and Neji shook his head. She sighed. "Suit yourself. Everyone in town knows about the story anyway. But what they don't know is the reason behind my brother's suicide."
"Can you tell me?"
"I guess it wouldn't hurt." Yui muttered, swinging slightly on the swing. "It all began six months ago. My parents died in the war when I was pretty young, and my brother brought me up. We were pretty close, and we told each other everything. My brother is a kind hearted person and always popular with his friends. But he always had trouble with the girls. Apparently, he is just too kind to people. That's why, when he came home that one day nearly six months ago, with his girlfriend in tow, I was happy for him. I thought that he'd found his happiness at last."
"And where did he meet this girl?" asked Neji, intrigued with how a seemingly normal civilian had met an ANBU agent. As a rule, ANBU nearly never show themselves unless they're off duty.
"At a friend's party or something that is held at a pub in the next town over." Yui shrugged her shoulders. "That girl was slightly younger than my brother, about sixteen or seventeen. They hit it off pretty well at that party, according to my brother, and it wasn't that long after that when they started dating. But then…"
"She played with your brother's heart."
"That's right." Yui gritted her teeth in fury, angry tears falling from her eyes. "Apparently, she had never liked my brother. That girl only went for him because he looks so much like the boy that she had been lusting after like a fox in heat ever since she was twelve! My brother…is just a replacement for him! My brother never did anything to her! But he is also so kind and gentle that he simply couldn't take the fact that someone had played with his feelings and heart that he…choose to end his life."
Yui wiped her tears away with the back of her hand. "I can't stand it. It was only later that I found out that the girl is ANBU. Even if I wanted to do anything to her, I can't without dire consequences. That's why I decided on the next best thing: I contacted Ragnarok. But they never appeared. According to rumours on the Web, they nearly always appeared to you immediately or even sent you an acceptance message after receiving their request. So then, why? Why did they reject my request? That girl deserved to die!"
Neji studied Yui intently. He kind of felt sorry for the girl as well. "Yui-san, you kind of got it wrong," said Neji, and Yui stared at him as the teen got up from his swing and turned his head to look at her. "You've gotten Ragnarok's modus operandi wrong."
"W-What do you mean?" asked Yui, perplexed.
"Twila and Ragnarok don't always accept your request right away," said Neji, a smirk pulling at the ends of his lips. "And Twila don't always respond to you right away upon receiving a request."
"Sometimes…" Neji smirked at Yui. "Sometimes, she sends people like us to listen to the voice of your heart."
Yui's eyes widened. "Then, you're…"
Neji nodded. "I've listened to the voice of your heart, and your desire for vengeance coincidentally falls alongside Ragnarok's wishes and duties, as well as our own rules. I see no reason that we should turn this request down," he said before fishing out his cellphone from his pocket and dialling a number. Three rings later, the call was picked up. "It's me. The request is valid."
On the other end of the line, Shiki sighed. "It's just as well," she said, and judging by the background sounds on her side of the line, she was currently outside.
Neji frowned. "Why?"
Shiki's next words almost gave him a heart attack.
"Because the target is right in front of me right now."
Shiki hung up the call from Neji, and slipped her cellphone into her pocket. All without taking her eyes off the pink haired girl standing right in front of her.
The two were currently in some plains just south of the town of Kinryoku. Shiki had practically sensed the girl almost as soon as she had started following her through the town, and the redhead had promptly led her out here so that if a fight was to break out, no innocent people would be dragged into the crossfire.
"Am I to assume that you're Twila?" Haruno Sakura demanded.
Shiki raised an eyebrow. "I won't ask how you'd found that out, but yes," she said, knowing quite well that this information wouldn't have come from Itachi. If so, then how the hell did she find out? "Is there anything that you need?"
"One question first," said Sakura with a growl in her voice. "Why did you and Ragnarok do what you did?"
Shiki barely restrained a groan. Itachi had asked her the same question when he had first figured out who she is. What is it with ANBU agents and killing? I mean, didn't they do the same thing as well? Then who are they to declare Ragnarok as 'evil'?
"Humans are sinful creatures."
Sakura narrowed her eyes. "Who do you even think that you are to decide who lives and who dies?" she demanded. "You're nothing but a cold blooded murderer!"
"Maybe," said Shiki, not really feeling all that affected by Sakura's words. "But how different is the ANBU from us? You fuckers from the ANBU failed to protect the nin-users of this country time and again. At times, you even ignored their suffering, because it wouldn't benefit you. If the ANBU wouldn't protect them, then we shall do it for you."
"And it's really too bad for you, Haruno Sakura," said Shiki, and she hid a smirk at the widening of eyes from the pink haired girl. "We've just received a request last night. And the target of the client's ire is you. You pushed her brother to suicide, and that makes you as good as a 'cold blooded murderer' yourself. And it is rather unfortunate." Shiki moved one foot backwards. "But when we accept a request, we fulfil it to the end. And I only have one request of you, and that is to resist…please. And truthfully, we can do this the easy way or the hard way. Though personally, I prefer the hard way, as you bastards from the ANBU had a lot to answer for, especially for what you've done to us, and the fact that you've killed one of our own! You mess with one of us, you deal with all of us! And I think that your body will be a nice little reminder to the ANBU that they shouldn't fuck with us!"
Sakura looked almost ready to hyperventilate, and Shiki hid a smile at that. "I am an ANBU!" she hissed. "Do you seriously think that you can do anything against me?"
Shiki resisted the urge to roll her eyes at this incredibly dense girl. Is that large forehead of hers just for show? Does she even have a brain in that thing that she calls a head?
"Were you sleeping during that time when you ANBU faced some of my comrades during that data disk mission?" she asked sarcastically. "Surely you must know some of the extent of their ability. And you seriously think that I, as their leader, can't do anything against a pathetic ANBU like you? At least the agents from the Akatsuki can still give me some trouble. But you? What can you do?"
That taunt seemed to be the final straw for Sakura, and she dashed at Shiki with a shriek, her right hand balled into a fist, aiming it straight at Shiki's head who dodged out of the way before grasping Sakura's right arm and turning the girl around, pinning her to the ground on the knees by holding down onto the back of her neck.
"I hope that you're only joking around," said Shiki with a sigh, sorely disappointed with this level of skill displayed by the pink haired girl. "Some of your comrades from Rendoku could give some of my comrades a good fight. What about you? What else are you good for apart from boy chasing? And you really shouldn't underestimate me. There's a reason why I'm Ragnarok's captain, and why I'm able to go one-on-one with the current captain of Akatsuki. What makes you think that you can even defeat me single-handedly?"
Sakura growled low in her throat, fighting to escape Shiki's hold on her and on her right arm, but to no avail. "Don't underestimate me!" she growled. "I am still an ANBU, and there is no way in hell that I would beg for my life! And there is also no way that I would let myself get killed by a tyrant like you!"
"I think that you should use that word to describe yourself," said Shiki calmly, not really feeling all that affected by Sakura's words. "You drove a person to suicide just because of your selfishness. I think that I'll probably be doing the world a favour by ridding them of your filth!"
"Don't joke around!" Sakura growled, her left hand going to the zipper of her jacket. "I'll rather die by my own hands, than be taken by you! Die, Twila!"
Shiki's eyes widened when Sakura got free from her hold, and tugged the zipper of her jacket down only to reveal tones of dynamite and bombs strapped onto her body.
Running through the town of Kinryoku, Gaara and Haku were in a frantic search for Shiki ever since Neji had called ten minutes earlier, informing them that Shiki is currently facing the ANBU member that is currently on their list…alone.
Shino is currently trying to close in on Shiki's location by sending some of his little insect friends out to search, but there is no news yet. The sound of a loud explosion nearly five miles south of the town of Kinryoku caught the attention of both Gaara and Haku just then, along with nearly every single inhabitant in the town, and the two sighed.
"I guess we've found her." Gaara stated.
Gaara and Haku both made it to the point of the explosion with record time only to see a large plume of smoke wafting from the ground where a giant crater could be seen – almost like a meteor had just landed. The two then watched with bated breaths before the smoke was blown away, and a coughing Shiki could be seen crawling out from the giant crater, with her jacket almost being completely shredded.
"You're still alive?" Gaara enquired as he pulled Shiki out of the giant crater.
"Just barely." Shiki muttered, turning towards the giant crater where the smoke was slowly dispersing. "If I hadn't thrown up a protective shield at the last moment, I would probably have been a goner. That girl…" Shiki stared at the broken and prone body of one Haruno Sakura lying in the middle of the giant crater whose body is barely recognisable save for the pink hair. "I didn't expect her to be so persistent."
"We should hurry up and get going." Haku stated, turning towards the two. "An explosion of this magnitude is bound to attract the ANBU's attention. We should leave."
"Well, not before we leave them a message," said Shiki with an evil grin which simply sent shudders down Haku and Gaara's spines when they saw it, and the two immediately felt sorry for the poor ANBUs who had gotten on Shiki's bad side. "An eye for an eye, as they always say."
Two Hours LaterSouth of Kinryoku
ANBU agents from both Akatsuki and Rendoku soon surrounded the area where the explosion had came from two hours after receiving frantic phone calls from the citizens of the town of Kinryoku. Two hours because that's about the length of time that is required for them to head over to the town from Leaf City.
"Oh god…" Ino muttered, leaning onto Chouji as she had suddenly felt faint and weak in the knees when she recognised that pink hair of the unrecognisable body immediately. "Sakura…"
The rest of Rendoku watched grimly.
Sakura was never a popular member among them as she does nothing but hit the boys on the head and fawn after Sasuke, but she is still one of their comrades in arms, and an ANBU agent that had sworn to uphold the peace of the country and to protect Japan from inside and outside threats.
"Looks like there is a battle here." Shikamaru analysed, studying the surroundings immediately.
"Not quite," said Deidara, the fire arms expert among them who had hopped down to the middle of the crater to examine the damage. He looked up at his comrades. "It seems like Sakura had strapped explosives to her body as a desperate attempt to kill her opponent, whoever that is." He explained, pointing down at Sakura's barely recognisable body. "That's why she had blown nearly half of her body apart, and there is blood everywhere."
"But who is her opponent?" asked Sasori, and Shikamaru shrugged.
"There's a message here," said Kisame, and everyone turned towards where the water nin-user had been eyeing – which is the bloodstains by his foot where he had been standing. Upon closer look, everyone could see that those bloodstains spelt out words.
Itachi read the words out loud for everyone to hear. "'An eye for an eye. A life for a life. Blood can only be washed away by more blood. You ANBU started this. Don't blame us for ending it this way. You wanted a fight. We'll give you a war. The game starts now. Let's play'."
Ragnarok's Headquarters (Boathouse)Hiraiko, Japan
Later that night, news of that explosion and the demise of the ANBU were all over the news, and newspaper reports were also full of Ragnarok's involvement in this, and that Ragnarok had finally had enough of ANBU's declaration that they're 'evil' and of their ways of bringing them to 'justice'.
And as such, Shiki just had to go to the rooftop of the boathouse to have a breather or two, especially since Yugito, Neji and Temari weren't pleased with how the ANBU had portrayed them when it is the fucking ANBU who had first instigated this fight and invisible war between them!
"Kiss me sweet… I'm sleeping in silence… All alone…in ice and snow—"
Shiki sighed as she pulled her cellphone out of her pocket, knowing quite well who her caller is, and she saw that she had hit the nail on the head when she saw the word 'Itachi' flashing on the LCD screen of her cellphone and sighed. She then decided to answer it.
"What is it? And didn't I tell you to stop calling me?"
Itachi was silent for several moments before he spoke. "Why? Why did you do that to Sakura?"
"You know damn well why." Shiki almost hissed. "If you're asking me to just stand there and let myself get killed by that pathetic excuse of an ANBU agent, then you've got another thing coming! I've told you before: if you people from the ANBU ever raise your hand against us, then we'll fight back. And we'll fight with all our might."
"If it's because of that time with your friend—"
"It's part of the reason." Shiki cut him off.
"I've told you before," said Shiki bluntly. "All humans have darkness in their hearts. All humans are sinful creatures. Hatred, be hated, and hating others. It's a never ending cycle. Hatred only gives birth to more hatred. I've seen that plenty of times. It's a never ending cycle. Fear breeds hatred, hatred breeds spite, and spite breeds wrath. Can you tell me that this is wrong?"
Shiki sighed. "I've told you this before, Itachi, and I'm saying this again. Cease all contact with me. It's better for both of us this way." Click.
The redhead then looked at the stars in the sky before sighing and getting to her feet. That phone call from Itachi had the instant effect to put her in a bad mood. She then sighed before deciding to head back inside the boathouse, especially since it is getting colder.
Shiki could hear the babble of her friends who were all on the first storey of the boathouse when she headed back inside, and she then walked down the stairs to the first storey where they looked at her the moment that she had entered, and all conversation immediately stilled.
Shiki sighed inwardly at this. What is this now? Had she suddenly become Moses parting the Red Sea or something?
Her friends exchanged looks between themselves before Gaara stepped forward, a serious look on his face, and Shiki raised an eyebrow. Gaara then took in a deep breath before speaking.
"We've made our decision, Shiki."
Shiki raised an eyebrow. She most definitely didn't expect for them to come to a decision that quickly. Sure, she had said that they only have only the end of the request, but still…
"And what is that decision?" she asked. "And please bear in mind that once we embark on this, there is no going back."
"We know," said Gaara with a nod. He then took in a deep breath before speaking once more, looking at Shiki in the eye. "We've decided, Shiki. We will follow you. Right to the end."
A/N: I think that this is one of the longest chapters that I've written! The war between the ANBU and Ragnarok has hereby begun, and what is Danzo up to? Anyway, I hope that you like this chapter, and please read and review!
Preview of next chapter:
"Have you never wonder where all those of Ne and Orochimaru's supporters during the war go?"
"You're working with the people who you have fought against during the war."
"This time, the killings have nothing to do with us. It has been giving us problems as well."
"I know who had killed your parents, Shiki, along with the others."
"It can't be helped. As long as there are hatred and darkness in people's hearts…Ragnarok will live on."