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 Thirty Seven: Vengeance
"Go! I can't make it anymore. But you guys… You have to live on! Get him for me! Promise me! Bring him down, no matter what!"
"…I promise. I swear it! No matter the cost, we will bring him down! That is a promise!"
"****, we'll see each other again, right?"
"In the next life, if there is a next life, we'll see each other again."
"I'll get revenge for you, I swear!"
"…We made a promise to each other. That no matter the cost to ourselves, we will have our revenge on them. That is a promise. I swear it."
Namikaze Shiki awoke with a start, only to find herself looking at tree branches, and she then looked around her only to realise that she had fallen asleep whilst being settled within the tree branches of some tree in the Forbidden Forest.
It is a wonder that she hadn't fallen off yet.
Taking a glance at her watch, Shiki saw that it is currently just past three in the morning, with the backlight of her watch showing her the time. She sighed, pinching the bridge of her nose to ease her headache.
It is almost like telling everyone her past is the catalyst for it. She had been getting frequent dreams of the past lately – of long forgotten memories once thought lost for good, or that she'd left behind for good. Is that a sign or something?
Shiki shifted her left thigh, and felt something hard and metallic against it. The redhead then looked down only to see a silver handgun resting in a holster against her thigh, the sleek metal of the gun gleaming in the night.
Her face fell, recalling a memory of a time long past. Of a time when Jiraiya had first taught her to fight.
"Listen Shiki." The legendary pervert's face was uncharacteristically serious as he faced the small girl, kneeling down to meet her eye level, a silver handgun resting in the palm of his hand. The man was slightly disturbed at seeing the gleam in the small girl's eyes when he had first shown her it, along with a trio of knives. "Whether a gun, a knife, nin-powers, or even just your own fists, all those are counted among weapons. And all weapons are for killing. No matter what nice-sounding words that you tried to dress it up with, that is the cold hard truth."
Shiki closed her eyes. 'I knew that right from the start, Ero-Sennin,' she thought.
"I see," said Jiraiya solemnly with a nod as he listened to what his goddaughter have to say, facing the serious face of the eight, barely nine-year-old.
He felt a pang of pain in his heart as he laid eyes on the redhead. Part of him wishes that he had done more to protect her, to shelter the small girl from the horrors of the world. But another part of him, the rational part, knew that no matter what he could do, it will be all for naught.
She belongs to the underworld.
The redhead looked at him uneasily. "Am…I doing the right thing here?" she asked, unsure.
Jiraiya looked at the small girl for several seconds before smiling and kneeling down to her eye level. "Remember what I've told you before when I've first taught you to fight, and then when you've first founded Blade?" he questioned, and Shiki nodded. "I told you to keep on walking and to never look back. That no matter what, you will not regret any of your choices. That the choices that you've made, you made it, believing that it is the best choice for you to make at that time. You've never disappointed me, and you won't start now. Shiki, I believe in you. And so do those two. Sumaru, Sai, Riku and the others followed you because of this. They believed in you. They trusted you. Never forget this, Shiki. As long as you follow your heart, and stick to the decisions that you've made, you can do no wrong. The greatest power in the world isn't nin-abilities, and neither is it a good weapon. It is merely the power to believe."
Shiki pulled her knees up to her chest, wrapping her arms around her knees. "Why are you so stupid?" she whispered. "Why must you take such risks like this? You idiot…!" Shiki fingered the silver cross pendant hanging around her neck. "I miss you… I want to see you…" She whispered, closing her eyes. "Just a little longer… Just a little longer…"
Shiki kept trying to tell herself that, but she had no idea whether she is saying that to convince herself or to comfort herself anymore.
It is the early hours of the morning, with the sun not even rising yet, and yet, one Namikaze Shiki could be seen in the graveyard, standing before a monument erected in front of a large weeping sakura tree. A bouquet of white lilies laid before it, her tribute to the deceased, even as Shiki eyed the list of names carved on the monument.
"I know that I said that I won't come back anymore, that I will move on, living on for your sakes, but it's easier said than done." Shiki muttered, kneeling down in front of the monument and tracing the engraved names with her fingertips. "Ein is dead. Now, I'm truly the last one left. I will fulfil what I've promised you guys, and what I've promised Ein." Her eyes hardened. "Shimura Danzo will get what is coming to him. Him, and those five. Sarutobi Hizuren had already paid his dues. It's only too bad that I wasn't the one to do it. I will leave that woman for the last. I will make her suffer. The same way that she'd made us suffer." Shiki pressed the palm of her hand gently against the monument, feeling the cool smooth stone beneath her hand. "Ten years is a long time. Long enough to make a person rot. I've waited this long. Now it's time. It's going to start from here on out. Give me strength. Enough strength to see this through."
Soft footsteps echoed behind her, and Shiki looked over her shoulder only to see a familiar brunette, and she nodded to him. That gesture was returned before Shiki returned her attention to the monument.
"When I next see you guys, it will be in the next world. Then I can finally tell you 'our battle is finally over'." Shiki whispered, slowly getting to her feet. "I will fulfil my promise. The promise that we've made back then. I will build a better world—for you, for all of us." She clenched her hands into fists by her sides before Shiki turned away. "Let's go. It's starting."
At eight o'clock in the morning at the Forbidden Forest, one can hear an argument going on at the pier where some of the former ANBU boys and a few of the Ragnarok members were gathered.
"Are you sure that you even know how to fish? I don't want to have to explain to the girls why we got no food today." Neji looked a tad bit amused as he looked at Rock Lee who is currently fixing a makeshift fishing pole.
"Leave it to me!" Lee looked very proud of himself. "With my adept fishing skills, we'll get some grub in no time at all!"
"Look Lee, I don't want this to sound the wrong way, but…" Kiba looked hesitant. "Have you ever fished before?"
"You ANBU must be really sheltered if you hadn't ever had to hunt for your own food." Sumaru snorted.
"It can't be that bad." Lee insisted. "Just because I don't grow up in the countryside doesn't mean that I don't know my way around a fishing pole. We just throw it in, right?" He grinned.
Sasuke snorted. "Riiight. And that also explains why every single time whenever we go fishing, you always end up hitting someone with that fishing pole of yours." He stated sarcastically.
Before Lee can bit back a response to that, Nii Yugito approached them, an odd look on her face as she eyed the buckets around the boys, along with the fact that Rock Lee is trying to fix his 'fishing pole' that is basically just a stick with a fishing line at the end of it.
"What are you idiots doing?" she questioned, but she got no answer. "Ah well. Never mind that." She turned towards Neji and Sumaru. "Have you both seen Shiki around? Haku and Gaara are searching for her. No one has seen her since last night."
"So?" Neji asked patiently. "She hasn't been around much ever since they came." He glanced at the ANBUs. "And we all know why." He added, and the ANBUs looked uncomfortable.
"No. Even if Shiki pulled one of her disappearing tricks, she usually made sure to keep us informed, or at the very least, one of us is always with her." Yugito bit on her bottom lip, a habit of hers when she is nervous. "This isn't like her at all. I'm worried."
He knows Shiki better than anyone else, considering the fact that he knew her the longest, as compared to the guys in Ragnarok. He immediately took off towards the base area where they've made camp there ever since arriving at the Forbidden Forest. Neji and Yugito exchanged quick looks before taking off after him. Kiba, Sasuke and Lee took a moment before following as well, the fishing pole abandoned at the pier.
All of them followed Sumaru to the tent where the lot of them kept the food supplies and any weapons that they've got, along with the toolbox and first aid kit. The keys to their motorbikes, cars, and even the keys to their boats and their airship where kept here. As such, this particular tent is situated in the middle of the base area, where at least one of them is around at any moment.
Sumaru had made a beeline straight into the tent where the girls were giving them odd looks, preparing the fire for their breakfast. None of them, however, were prepared for the next thing that hit them the moment that they've arrived at the entrance of the tent.
"Where the hell is it?" Sumaru shouted, almost tearing the inside of the tent apart. Tools came flying out, and Sasuke narrowly avoided having his head taken off by a shovel that landed with a clang behind him. "I know that it's in here somewhere!"
"Sumaru, you're going to clean the mess up later!" Yugito growled out, but was ignored.
"What are you looking for anyway?" Kiba asked, annoyed, as he avoided a plate that came flying out, and crashed behind him.
He got no answer, but before he could open his mouth again, Sumaru came out, looking extremely frazzled, holding the lock box that contained the keys to all their vehicles – their motorbikes, cars, boats and even the Exilia, Ragnarok's airship.
"What?" Neji demanded, not liking the look on Sumaru's face.
"It's gone." Sumaru whispered, his face pale. "The keys to the speedboat and Shiki's motorbike are gone."
"W-Who are you? Do you even know who am I?" Onoki demanded, backing away from the emotionless looking redhead.
Something about her just screams danger to the old man. Maybe it is the fact that she took out over a hundred of his guards with seemingly no effort at all. Or maybe it is the fact that she managed to infiltrate his manor without anyone realising until it's too late. Whatever it is, it doesn't change the fact that something about this girl just screams danger.
"Before you go about targeting Ragnarok and the underworld, at the very least, you should at least learn the face of their leader." Namikaze Shiki narrowed her eyes, drawing out the silver handgun by her side, and releasing the safety catch on it. "And you should at least learn the face of one of the children involved in the experimental game that you had a hand in ten years ago!"
Onoki went pale and looked as if he is about to suffer from a stroke. "T-Ten years ago…?" he whispered, backing up even further until his back hit the wall. Realisation shone on his face. "The Nonary Project…" He whispered. The dark look on Shiki's face answered the unasked question. "I-It can't be…"
"You killed them." Shiki hissed, taking one step even closer to the shivering man, pure hatred and anger shining in her eyes. "As if you killing my parents isn't enough… If it weren't for you and those pathetic fools, Miyuki, Suzuki and Ein wouldn't be dead! Apart from Ein, the others… We couldn't even give them a proper burial as there is no body to be found!"
She cocked the gun.
Onoki paled even further. "W-Wait!" he croaked. "W-What do you want from me? If it's money or power, I'll give you everything that I have! Just don't kill me!"
"Money and power doesn't interest me." Shiki hissed, taking one step closer to Onoki. "What I desire…is your life!"
A gunshot rang out.
"The recipient whom you are trying to reach is currently unavailable. Please try again—"
Gaara almost groaned as he hung up his phone, having been trying to reach their leader's phone for the fifteenth time during the past hour ever since she had gone missing. The redhead turned towards the hopeful faces surrounding him, with them all seated around the fire that they always sat at during mealtimes.
"No good," he said. "I can't get through to her phone."
Haku chewed on her bottom lip nervously. "I'm getting worried," she admitted. "Shiki always made sure that she could be reached. And now, she's gone missing for seven days."
Gaara turned and glared at Itachi who had been unusually silent for the past three days. "Did you do anything to her?" he accused.
"Why is it always my fault?" Itachi snapped.
"Maybe because it always is?" Yugito stated sarcastically.
"Alright, enough!" Haku snapped, fast losing patience. She then turned towards Shino. "Shino, get a trace on her phone. On her last known location." She ordered, and Shino nodded before tapping away on his laptop quickly. "I'm getting worried." She admitted. "Something about this feels wrong to me."
Neji frowned. "What the hell is Shiki up to?"
"W-Wait!" A croaked, backing up until he could go back no further, paling as he stared straight at the barrel of a gun. "Do you know who am I? You won't be able to escape if you killed me."
Namikaze Shiki snorted. "Considering the fact that the High Council, the ANBU and the nation have been on the search for us for the past nine years and hadn't been successful so far, I think that I can hide from them well enough," she sneered.
A paled. "R-Ragnarok…" he whispered.
"You wanted to find me, right? And to…what was that which you've said?" Shiki mock pondered. "Oh right. 'To bring Ragnarok to justice'." She stated sarcastically. "Well, here I am. What are you waiting for?" A gulped as Shiki took a step closer. "Like the other fools before you, you are nothing without your guards and your money." She hissed. "Now you know what helplessness feels. Now you know how the nin-users that you fools have forced into hiding had felt. Now you know how we felt when we are pushed into a corner. Now you know how my friends felt before they died playing a game that you fools cooked up for your own sick entertainment!" She hissed.
"W-What do you want?" A croaked.
"I want your life." Shiki hissed, pressing the trigger of her gun.
A immediately crumpled to the floor of his office, blood pooling around his body, and Shiki looked on without a care in the world. "Five down, one more to go," she muttered.
Her phone rang with the message tone just then, and Shiki fished it out of her pocket only to see that it is a message from Arashi. He had sent a digital map of the area of the next target, along with a short message attached to it.
'He doesn't seem to be going anywhere else. Get him, Shiki, and be careful. This will also be my last job.'
"Have you found her?" Yugito asked worriedly the moment that Haku and Gaara have returned. The looks on their faces answered her question. "Where could she be?"
"We went to the last known location where Shiki's phone had been detected before she had disabled the tracer." Haku answered. "It was somewhere near Nagako, near the northern district of Japan."
Tenten sighed, scratching the back of her head. "What now?" she asked.
"You asking me?" Gaara asked irritably.
"Sumaru headed out awhile back." Shino informed his comrades whilst tapping away on his laptop, with Ragnarok ignoring the former ANBUs. "Sai gave him an urgent call an hour or so ago, and he headed off straight to Shinjuku. He said that he'd be bringing Sai back here. Something about an urgent message."
"I think that's them," said Temari, her ears perking up as she caught the faint sounds of the motor of a boat. Ten minutes later, both Sai and Sumaru approached them, both looking out of breath, and there were slight panicked looks on their faces. "What is it?"
"Urgent news had been going around the underworld, especially around Baled." Sai informed them, and everyone paid rapt attention to him, especially the former ANBUs. "The members of the High Council had been turning up dead, one after the other. Now, the only ones still alive is the head of Mist as well as the current head of the ANBU."
There was stunned silence for several moments before Kiba spluttered. "The members of the High Council?" he nearly shouted. "That can't be! They have the highest security around their workplaces and residences than anyone else! How did the assassin get past their guards?"
"That's the thing. Apart from old Onoki whose guards were all knocked out with an instant blow, the guards of the others didn't even realise that the High Council members have been killed until it is too late." Sai answered. "Whoever this assassin is, he or she is no amateur." He glanced from face to face. "And the murder weapon is a gun."
Deadly silence fell.
"Just…the High Council members were killed, you say?" Gaara said slowly, as if hoping that he is hearing wrong, and Sai nodded. "And now, the only ones alive are Mei Terumi and Senju Tsunade?" He asked again, and again, he received nods. Gaara exchanged quick looks with the rest of Ragnarok, all whom looked worried.
"What's wrong?" Kisame asked with a frown.
Temari was the one who answered him. "It sounds like Shiki's work," she said wearily. "She's the only one who can do something like this that we knew of. No matter how many guards there are, and no matter how tight the security is, she can bypass them with no problem."
The former ANBUs were floored, but Sai and Sumaru seemed like they already knew this, or at least, had expected this answer.
"B-But… Why is she going after the High Council members?" Deidara spluttered. "They didn't do anything to her! And she doesn't seem like the type to kill someone in a fit of anger."
Sai and Sumaru exchanged looks. "Not exactly." Sai sighed. Seeing everyone's attention focused on him, he sighed. "A few years ago, Shiki got Iruka-san and me to investigate some stuff for her."
"Our parents' deaths?" Haku guessed.
"Not only that." Sai corrected. "She had us digging for information regarding the mass kidnapping case that had occurred nearly ten years ago." He studied each face carefully and sighed. "That's right. The Nonary Project."
"She had Arashi looking into this as well." Sumaru added. "Even back during our days with Blade, she had been searching for information regarding the Nonary Project. And considering what she has to go through, I'm not surprised."
"And?" Haku prompted.
Sai and Sumaru exchanged looks. "I'm not too sure of the entire story, but from what I could find out, and what Shiki had said briefly, all the members of the High Council sans for Mei Terumi…" Sai trailed off. "At one point in time, they were all affiliated with a pharmaceutical group known as Cedar Pharmaceutical."
The ANBUs along with Ragnarok were all stunned. "C-Cedar Pharmaceutical?" Neji echoed. "That name rings a bell…" He mused.
"Isn't that the name of the group that is affiliated with Orochimaru before his death?" Hinata frowned. "And isn't that the name of the group that had organised the Nonary Project ten years ago?"
Sai sighed and nodded. "Yeah," he said. "A, Onoki, Yagura, Utatane Koharu and Mitokado Homura – the current members of the High Council… At one point in time, before they went into the political field, they were all part of the team that Orochimaru and Shimura Danzo had built to organise the experiment ten years ago. The Nonary Project." He glanced at the ANBUs. "And from what Fuuma Arashi told me, the current leaders of the ANBU – the late Sarutobi Hizuren and Senju Tsunade had some connection with them as well."
The looks on the faces of the ANBUs looked as if someone had just told them that the world was ending.
"T-That can't be!" Konan shook her head. "I admit that the Chief and the commander have made some really bad mistakes in the past, but to work together with the likes of Orochimaru and Danzo—"
"No." Shino shook his head, speaking up for the first time, glancing from face to face. "If the information came from Fuuma Arashi, then there is no mistake." He declared. "That guy is the best spy that I've ever seen, even better than Sai here when it comes to intelligence gathering."
"Besides, if they really are in cahoots with Orochimaru and Danzo, then it explains a lot of things." Sasori said thoughtfully. "Like why Orochimaru got off just after the war ended, despite the heinous crimes that he had committed, and the numerous witness reports stacked up against him. And how Shimura Danzo can just up and disappear like that without any warning. And remember the old Council as well as the former heads of the ANBU during the war? Now that I think of it, their deaths are pretty mysterious. But as it was in the middle of the civil war at that time, I didn't think too much about it, as people die all the time back then."
Sasuke was pale. "And why the Covert Ops always take their own sweet time issuing arrest warrants for Orochimaru's men back then," he whispered, finally understanding everything. "It can't be…"
"But why?" Kiba nearly exploded, enraged. "Why are they doing this?"
Gaara, Haku and Neji exchanged looks with Sai and Sumaru whom both nodded. "Shiki didn't tell us too much about it, only the barest details." Haku begun. "But what she said is enough for us to piece the pieces together ourselves, with the number of clues and hints that we'd gotten over the past few years."
"The first clue that we've gotten is a request that we've gotten from Jiraiya-sama nearly a year ago." Gaara added. "At that time, didn't you ANBUs find it suspicious that we know your movements and plans even before you decided to act?" He received silent nods for it. "There is a reason for it. We have a spy planted in your midst at that time – an old friend of Shiki's whom she had known ever since her gang days."
"And the name of that guy is…Hidan." Neji ended.
"Hidan…" Itachi mused. "I don't believe that I've ever heard of him before."
"No, I've heard of him." Shikamaru frowned. "He is a First Class specialist in the Combat Division under the Covert Ops – ANBU's best division that is also their best kept secret. Any information regarding a member of that division is kept under lock and key. They wouldn't be on record anywhere. But from what I've heard, Hidan went missing nearly a year ago."
"Not exactly untrue, but he didn't go 'missing' exactly." Hinata sighed. "No, to be precise, he was…erased by the ANBU."
"W-What do you mean?" Chouji choked out.
"It shouldn't be that hard to figure out with everything that Shiki has told you." Sumaru snorted. "The Nonary Project was started by the members of the High Council, along with Orochimaru and Shimura Danzo ten years ago. Even the war back then that had devastated our country… Shiki had suspected that our side began it on purpose. She just has no proof."
Nagato frowned. "Come to think of it, the disagreement that we have with Whirlpool isn't that serious back then. It is merely just a problem of tax agreements and the water policy. But then war escalated when a child of Whirlpool was accidentally killed."
"And ever since then, our country has been involved in battle after battle. War after war." Sasuke realised. "All in the name of peace."
"But why?" Lee demanded, looking furious. "Why do such a thing? Why did an organisation like the ANBU that is supposed to protect our country and her people continuously put them in danger?"
There was silence as Sai, Sumaru and the members of Ragnarok exchanged looks.
"We only have a theory, and it is only after Arashi gave us some new information a few months ago that we can confirm it." Sai finally answered. "Do you remember the Nonary Project and what Shiki had told you?" He received nods for it. "Do you remember what the experiment is about?"
"Something about controlling people or something." Kiba answered.
Sumaru nodded. "After the war, a civil war erupted. The nin-users were all forced into hiding, or they will end up being killed. And it didn't help matters that the Rebellion Group was formed during the war – a group that is made up of people who hates nin-users and would do anything to rid the world of them. Laws about nin-users were passed, none of them in their favour. Thus, the lives of nin-users during the civil war and even after it were beyond miserable. They were all forced to do all kinds of things just to survive. Thus, the underworld was full of them."
"What are you trying to get at?" Sasuke frowned.
"Come on, you should get it by now." Sai sighed. "Imagine that you're one of those nin-users – someone who had been ostracised against for nearly your entire life. You can barely live anywhere, and even so, you can't stay longer in a place for longer than a few months before you're forced on the run again. That's what a nin-user's life is like back then. And then imagine this scenario. What if one day, someone from the ANBU came to you, offering you hope, a place to stay, friends and comrades, and maybe even family? And all that you have to do is to accept their offer to join the ANBU and become a weapon for war."
The faces of the ANBUs were one of horror.
"A-Are you trying to say…" Itachi gulped, his face one of guilt.
"That's just like what had happened with us." Deidara whispered.
"But why do such a thing?" Kiba demanded. "Why the nin-users? What did they ever do to them? Why must they do such a thing?"
Haku looked at Kiba with pity. "For power," she answered.
"For power?" Lee echoed.
Sai nodded. "The Nonary Project that was commenced ten years ago during the civil war was just the start," he said. "They were trying to figure out a way to control the minds of people. To be exact, nin-users."
Itachi finally understood what Sai was trying to tell them. "They were trying to control the nin-users," he whispered, his heart going cold at the implications.
"Later on, there were attacks on underworld gangs whom nin-users were a part of." Sumaru sighed. "Blade was just one of those. And from what I've heard from Shiki, you guys were targeted as well. Back during your gang days." He looked at Yugito and Shino whose faces have darkened over, and they nodded. "Officially, it was Danzo's Ne that had attacked them, killing nearly all the gang members, leaving only the nin-users alive. There is a reason for that." He looked from face to face. "The ANBU would then step in, 'saving' those nin-users. Out of gratitude, they would then work for the ANBU."
"There's…just no way…" Chouji looked as if he was about to be sick.
"Later on, after Orochimaru's death, Shiki had us digging about information on him and the ANBU as well." Sai added. "Orochimaru's old experimental notes were all in the hands of the ANBU. It took us nearly a year, but we managed to find out that there is a secret division in the ANBU, also otherwise known as the Research Bureau, or the R&D Department."
"I've never heard of them." Nagato frowned.
"They wouldn't be a secret division if you knew, would they?" Sai asked patiently. "That division's work is pretty simple. Their objective is to find a way to control the nin-users, and also to figure out a way to increase the powers and abilities of a nin-user."
Temari hissed, finally understanding everything.
"That's just like what that bastard Amachi did to us when we're kids." Temari hissed.
Sumaru nodded. "Hence, when Orochimaru died, all his research notes and such landed in the hands of the ANBU. Shiki had an initial suspicion about it, as we could never find his notes, no matter how hard we have searched. And then Hidan's death… Shiki knew straight away that someone had been experimenting on him – trying to increase his nin-powers forcibly. That's why he turned a little crazy, and wasn't able to differentiate friend from foe, or even what is right and wrong."
"And then, her suspicion turned to the ANBU." Sai added. "Seeing as how that is the last place that Hidan had been with, and that Orochimaru's experimental notes couldn't be found anywhere, Shiki immediately suspected that the ANBU had something to do with it. Of course, not even Shiki knew the extent to which they would go to in order to increase their military might and power."
"Then Shiki…" Hinata trailed off.
Sai nodded. "Cedar Pharmaceutical begun the Nonary Project ten years ago. Their members continued the research and experiments even after that, bringing the country to the state that it now is in. The only way for them to 'save' the nin-users is to devastate the country to such a state that the nin-users would be desperate for a way out, any way out to ensure their survival. That is the reason behind all the wars. You get where I'm going with this?"
"You're saying…that Shiki went after them…for revenge?" Tenten said slowly. "For what they did to her ten years ago? For what they did to her friends? And what they did to the country?"
Sai nodded. "More or less," he answered. He then glanced at the shocked faces of the former ANBUs. "In order to get you guys out of the ANBU, Shiki didn't have much of a choice, but to allow you to witness the revival of the Demon God with your own eyes." He sighed. "She knew that it is only a matter of time before he will be revived. Your breaking the seal just hastened the process. Your fights with her and Ragnarok convinced her of your intentions. She said that you guys aren't like the rest of the ANBU. Thus why she did what she did."
"If those High Council guys are indeed behind everything – the state of this country, the treatment of the nin-users, the condition of the underworld, and even the reason behind the countless deaths in this country…" Neji frowned. "Then Shiki must have known about this long ago! Why would she move now?"
"Because of Jiraiya-sama's death." Haku said slowly. "That must have triggered it."
"Hey Sai, how did you and Arashi both find out that Cedar Pharmaceutical was connected to the Nonary Project in the first place anyway?" Sasori asked, turning towards the teen.
"Well, Iruka-san thought that finding out whatever those ten kidnapped kids back then had in common would be a start. So that's what we did." Sai shrugged. "Any informant worth their salt would have done that."
"And so?" Sasuke asked impatiently. "What did they have in common?"
"Every single one of those children who have disappeared, and who were involved in the experiment had one common point between them," said Sai, looking from face to face. "At one point in time, they were all in the same orphanage. And this orphanage was one of a bunch that was under the control of Cedar Pharmaceutical. After that, it was just a matter of connecting the dots."
"My god…" Sasuke muttered, feeling quite faint.
"Took the words right out of my word, Sasuke." Kiba muttered.
"But one thing about the nin-users that have survived the Nonary Game, even the non nin-users," said Sai. "For the non nin-users, their senses were improved tenfold. And for the nin-users, within a few years after the experiment, their powers skyrocketed, and they became more powerful than ever imagined."
"Yeah, that's why Ein took his own life a few years later when his powers grew stronger all of a sudden. Too strong for him to control." Nagato mused. "When he could no longer differentiate between reality and illusion, that was the last straw for him. He took his own life."
"I don't blame him." Sumaru sighed. "Back during our days with Blade, Shiki nearly did. It was only Riku's presence back then that stopped her from doing that. He helped kept her sane."
"But there is one thing that you people should know about Shiki too." Sai added, looking from face to face. "People tend to underestimate her. But be wary though, she has a brilliant mind, and a wit to match it. I hadn't met anyone that can match her yet. No one. And she isn't above using others or even herself to achieve her goal. That's why everyone follows her."
"Do you both know where Shiki could have gone to right now?" Haku asked hopefully.
Sai shook his head. "No. If I know anything about our old leader, it is that she is good at hiding," he stated, and Sumaru nodded in agreement. "If she doesn't want to be found, she wouldn't be. You can comb all of Japan for her, and you still wouldn't find her. She is like this back after Blade disbanded, and when Ragnarok started fucking with the ANBU."
"Just believe in her." Sumaru interrupted, seeing the worried expressions on the faces of Ragnarok. "If it is her, I believe that she will do the right thing. She will be just fine. So don't worry too much. And besides…" Sumaru sighed. "I'll let her have her revenge. It is all that she has left now."
Fuuma Arashi made his way through the small deserted town of Lakeside.
The once bustling and busy seaside town now resembles a ghost town of some sort, with the inhabitants all scattering the moment that the Demon God had revived, and when ANBU started having all kinds of problems – both internal and external.
The informant glanced around the ghost town before making his way towards the Lacoste Mansion – the largest building in the entire town that now lay deserted. Arashi opened the large brass doors of the mansion that opened with a creak, revealing dust and more dust within the mansion, along with cobwebs and goodness knows what else.
Coughing slightly as he choked on the dust, Arashi made his way down the stairs to the bottom-most basement, his booted feet causing echoes with every step that he took. The basement was dimmed with little light, and yet, Arashi could still see where he is going.
Finally, he arrived at his destination – the end of the hallway of the basement.
Namikaze Shiki was waiting outside a room with a metal door for him, with bolts and locks placed over it. The redhead glanced up as he approached her, unfolding her arms, and nodded to him in greeting.
"Shiki." Arashi nodded to his old friend before glancing at the door, and then back to her, eyeing the slight bloodstains on her shoes. It wouldn't be obvious if one didn't know what to look for. "How fares the heart?"
"Same as always." Shiki sighed. She then straightened herself up. "I had my revenge. I've fulfilled my promise to them. And now, it's time for me to fulfil my promise to you." She looked from Arashi to the door behind her, and then back again. "He's inside." She jerked her thumb over her shoulder. "Deal with him as you see fit."
Arashi nodded to Shiki as she moved away from the door to allow Arashi entry, but not before unbolting and unlocking the door for him. "Thanks for everything," he said. "For what it's worth, these past few years had been fun. I had some great times. Being an informant and a spy had never been as fulfilling and rewarding than it had been when I was working for you."
Shiki smiled a very small smile. "If there is any thanks to be given, it is to you," she said. "This wouldn't have been made possible without you. My work for the past few years…" She trailed off. "It has been all for this moment. ANBU. Ne. Oto. These three organisations are now broken without hope for repair. This country is also now at it's lowest point. We can start rebuilding it from scratch once everything is over. And now, all that remains is…"
"The Demon God and his army." Arashi answered, and Shiki nodded.
The redhead placed one hand on the knob of the door, yet not turning it. "Fuuma Arashi, you've done lots of things for me without question. My work for the past few years would never have been made possible without you," she said. "Once your work is done, you know what to do." Arashi nodded. "With that…" Shiki turned the knob, opening the door slightly. "The rest is now up to you." She turned and walked past Arashi, clapping him lightly on the shoulder. "Good luck."
Arashi was silent for a long time as he listened to the slowly fading sounds of Shiki's footsteps before it faded away entirely. Finally, he then pushed the door opened and entered the room which at some point in time, had been some torture chamber.
Shimura Danzo, badly injured and chained up to the wall, was glaring at him with hatred with his one eye, yet Arashi ignored it. He walked slowly towards the cripple, the cause of his sister's death.
'Sasame, this is for you.' Arashi thought to himself, slipping his hand into the holster attached to his left thigh, drawing out his handgun.
He remembered when Shiki had first approached him three months after Sasame had perished, with the most well thought out and cunning plan that he had ever seen coming from her.
"What do you think that this country needs?" Shiki asked Arashi, both standing in front of the cremation panel where Sasame's ashes were cremated behind.
Arashi snorted. "This country? In my opinion, it needs to be destroyed," he stated bluntly. "True justice and goodness no longer existed in this country. If it truly existed, people like Shimura Danzo wouldn't have been running around. And if it truly existed, the ANBU would have long taken care of Orochimaru without waiting for you and Ragnarok to do it."
"Then we're of the same opinion." Shiki smiled before turning her attention back towards Sasame's cremation panel. Silence fell between them both for several moments. "Arashi, I need your help with a plan of mine." She glanced at Arashi who is giving her his undivided attention. "A plan…to destroy the ANBU."
The echoing sounds of Arashi's booted feet resounded throughout the small room, even as he took his own sweet time closing the gap between him and Shimura Danzo. With the number of chains and shackles that Shiki had put on the latter, with him being seriously injured atop of it, there is no way that he could escape.
"It's done." Arashi listened to Shiki speak over the phone. "I got him."
"Really?" Arashi was slightly surprised that Shiki managed to get to the old War Hawk that quickly, even with the blueprints of his hiding place that Arashi had managed to get hold of, and had sent to Shiki. "Where is he now?"
There was silence for several moments before Shiki spoke again.
"I've shown you a lot of places, and had even taught you a lot of sabotage methods," she said. "But there is one place that I believe to be more meaningful to you than any other. You should know where it is. I'll be waiting for you there. The life of Shimura Danzo will end tonight by your hands."
"Don't think that this is over, boy." Danzo hissed with pure contempt and hatred even as Arashi released the safety catch on his gun and pointed it at Danzo. "Even if you killed me, this country is finished anyway."
"I know that." Arashi stated, and Danzo's eyes widened slightly in surprise. "That had been the plan right from the start."
"This country is finished now, with the demise of the High Council." Shiki stated. "We can no longer salvage the little good that is left. All that I can do is to destroy the remnants of the bad, and to rebuild everything from scratch. The Bijuu Nine took seven days to build this world. As such, that is the amount of time that I will take to destroy this country and the ANBU. And as promised, I will let you have your revenge. Shimura Danzo… This man is the last. It will then happen from here on out. The rest is up to you to decide. Good luck."
"I am no fool, Shimura Danzo." Arashi stated emotionlessly. "Shiki is no fool either. We both knew that no matter how hard we tried, we could no longer save this country. The only way to do that is to destroy it, and then rebuild it from scratch after everything is over. If we earn the hatred of the people by doing this, then so be it. In order to create a new world where everyone is equal, and where nin-users are accepted, then we will accept the hatred of the people." He curled his finger around the trigger of his gun. "You killed my sister. You caused the deaths of countless others. Now it's time to pay your dues." He hissed, pressing the trigger of his gun. "Game over."
A gunshot rang out.
Outside the Lacoste Mansion, Shiki heard the faint sounds of a gunshot from deep within the mansion, and she then turned her eyes skywards to look at the blue skies, shielding her eyes from the sun.
This is the dawn of a new era for Japan. But before that, there will be nine days of Hell for them to go through, with the cause being a certain being by the name of the Demon God.
This is going to be my last job.
Shiki remembered what Arashi had told her back then when she had first approached him after Sasame had died.
The redhead sighed before going towards her motorbike. 'The last, huh?' she mused. 'You might just be right about that. This is going to be our last one too. Everything… It will all begin from here. The pieces are all falling into place.' Shiki looked back towards the Lacoste Mansion, and then turned her eyes back towards the skies. 'I've fulfilled my promise. Now, I just have to fulfil one last mission.'
Shiki got onto her bike before veering it into motion and speeded off.
Death is always there. It lies in wait at every road, no matter which path you take.
People are born, they live, and then die. Similar to that of a straight line, people have no choice but to follow it. And they are then left to live their lives knowing that the end is inevitable – that the only thing truly certain in this world is Death.
Sometimes, Death is the easy way out. Sometimes, it is the only escape. Death is cruel, feared by many, and sometimes yearned by many. And yet, there are people still eager to close their eyes at night, hoping that they will one day be able to open them in the morning.
Such people are rare.
Humans are indeed confusing.
They fear Death above all else, and yet, at the same time, they also yearn for it.
A/N: And we're now down to the climax of the story: the hunt of the Demon God is on! And Shiki is indeed a mystery, isn't she? Can anyone guess just what she is thinking, and what she had in mind for the world? Is she good, or is she evil?
Anyway, I hope that you like this chapter, and please read and review! Reviews give me inspiration and the motivation to update!