Yuna and her friends retrieve the young ferret for their mission, but soon come across enemies that seek to defeat them, and one that plans to take Yuna. Who is he, and what does he want with her?
It surprised me that the three of us were on a mission to find a tiny animal that escaped from its owner for whatever reason. It was a mission that could have just required one or two people to go after it, but to send four made it a little over the top and unneeded. As trivial as it was, though, it was our duties as ninjas to do what we were asked. It bothered me at first when I heard about, not exactly understand why they would just send us all on a mission just to catch one animal, but over time I came to understand why. It was so crafty and swift that it was able to dodge nearly every single one of our traps that we worked hard to lay out and keep hidden. Besides, I loved all kinds of animals and I was not afraid to help them. That was probably the only reason why I did not mind coming on the mission in the first place. The others, on the other hand, were not all excited about it as I was, Naruto especially. They kept thinking the way I was the entire time; they did not have a good enough reason other than how crafty the ferret was to send out four ninjas out here. However, instead of complaining (the exception being Naruto), we set out to find and capture it, and capture it we did.
We quickly ran over to the small trap the the ferret was trapped in, his jumping and hectic attempt at escape ceasing moments before we even got close. He must have calmed down after knowing that he was not injured or hurt in any way. Once we were in front of it, Sakura took the lead and got down on her knees, opening the box trap slightly just to make sure that it did not hurt the poor creature when he ran inside. Seconds later, he immediately poked his head out to see us, his small red eyes scanning each one of us in a matter of seconds as if trying to find out who we were. He looked so innocent and somewhat scared; I felt bad for the little guy for having done this, but there was no other way to catch him without the risk of getting him hurt. All of a sudden, though, the ferret quickly sprinted out of the box, climbed up my leg and landed on my shoulder, his tiny head leaning forward to look at me for a moment before nuzzling against my cheek. I jumped slightly at his actions, surprised, but smiled as he rubbed his head against my cream colored skin. After a brief moment, I placed my hand on the ferret's small head and pat it lightly; even though my hand was gloved, I could still feel how soft he was to the touch.
"Hey. You're kinda cute, you know that, little guy?" I said as he purred at my touch.
"I think he really likes you, Yuna," said Sakura as she stood up. "And he doesn't even know you."
Shikamaru looked over the creature for a moment before saying with his usual monotone voice, "His hind legs have got black fur on them" I smiled lightly as he continued. "Yup, it looks like we bagged our animal." Naruto started giggling all of a sudden, his usual grin playing against his face. We all glanced at him curiously, including the ferret who seemed to tense at the sight. "You gonna cage 'em?" Shikamaru asked. Instead of listening to him, Naruto started to laugh hysterically. Clearly, he found something funny, but we did not find out until a second later when he started to calm down.
"I can't believe this fur ball fell for such a lame trap," he commented as he got to his knees while holding the bag we planned on keeping it in. When he said those words, the ferret began growling and hissing at him with anger in his small red eyes. It seemed as though he did not appreciate being made fun of by my comrade simply because he got caught in a small trap due to being frightened. He must have been pretty smart to know what Naruto was saying and respond the way he was. Said blond ninja quickly stopped laughing once he heard the ferret growling and stared at the creature in confusion. "What is it?" He asked, looking confused as if he did not do anything wrong.
Sakura glared at him harshly while I simply watched the ferret growl profusely at the blond.
"Naruto, stop antagonizing him!" She told him harshly.
Naruto blinked; yup, he had no idea what he did.
"What do you mean? What did I do," he asked, proving my point. Suddenly, and half-expectedly, the ferret jumped right off of my shoulder, onto Sakura's, and went straight to Naruto's face. He started scratching up the ninja's face just a few seconds, showing him that he was displeased with the comment and exacting revenge. After that, the small creature jumped off Naruto's face and began to run away from us, sprinting as fast as his tiny legs could carry him. Naruto was the first to chase after it followed by myself, Shikamaru and Sakura.
"You knucklehead! Don't let him get away!" Shikamaru exclaimed.
"IF YOU LOSE HIM, I'LL BEAT YOU SENSELESS!" Sakura snapped angrily. I opted against saying anything to Naruto; even though I was a little ticked over the fact he teased and allowed the ferret to get mad, I was not going to stoop so low as to make a mean comment. Instead, I went with letting out a small sigh and shaking my head.
Naruto and I had become close friends ever since the day we first met, back when he did not have many people to talk to for being different. Most people said that we were like long lost siblings that finally met after all this time, and frankly they may have been right about that. I could not remember a day when we were not together, training with one another or eating ramen together; even I considered myself a second Naruto, only quieter and more reserved. I had heard about what happened to him in the past from the adults that knew him well, like Iruka, and I felt terrible about how he lived, all alone and with no one to talk to all because of that Nine-Tailed Fox that was sealed inside him for all of these years. It killed me on the inside just thinking about being that alone, knowing that there was nothing I could do to help him. Despite all of that, though, he always knew how to cheer up the mood. I enjoyed hearing him talking about how he was going to become the next Hokage someday and become the greatest ninja that ever lived, that way people would think twice about treating him the way they did. It always placed a smile across my face whenever he talked about that, reassuring me that he was no longer worried about his past as he was before, and that he wanted to prove to the village that he was not a demon, but a true ninja of the Leaf Village.
Returning back to reality again, I quickly noticed Naruto catch the ferret with his own two hands. A smile appeared on my face at his victory, but disappeared as I noticed him get caught by a rope - another one of our traps that never went off - and pull him up in a matter of seconds. As that happened, he released the ferret before it latched onto the blonde's face to keep itself from falling to the ground and possibly injuring himself. The three that witnessed the events slowly came to a stop and simply watched him. I giggled at the sight of him, dazed and confused as to what just happened, and feeling sorry for having watched him fall into that predicament. Shikamaru sighed tiredly, barely caring at that point but frustrated over Naruto's stupidity, and placed a hand on his face while Sakura growled with anger before lashing out.
"IDIOT!" She exclaimed with matching rage. I shook my head at the pink haired ninja before looking back at Naruto and the ferret, who simply dangled there without a care in the world.
"Man, I can't believe someone would pay us to find this little runt," Naruto grumbled. "It's like the meanest cat ever..."
After having cut down Naruto from the tree and recapturing the ferret with less trouble, our team was now walking through a large valley as we headed back to the village to finally complete the mission. It felt like hours had gone by since we caught the tiny creature and nearly lost , yet I knew it was just twenty minutes ago that everything happened. During that time, I had gotten the chance to speak to the others about what was going on in our lives. All the walking and chatting with my friends was really good for me; it had been a while since I last spoke to Shikamaru and Sakura, since I was always hanging out with Naruto, training, or out on a mission. Speaking of Naruto, ever since we got him out of that tree, he had not said a word to any of us until now. He was still fumed about the "cat," as he called it, scratching his face up awhile ago. I still felt a little bad for him about what had happened, yet he told me not to worry about it after he got out of the tree. Still, I felt kinda little bad for him. He did get scratched by a ferret, which attempted to flee, but that was more caused by his mistake to make fun of it. It was an odd situation.
"Quit your complaining, will ya?" Shikamaru told him disinterestedly. "A mission's a mission. The hard part's over. Now, we just have to deliver it to its owner."
"And it's not a cat, Naruto." Sakura spoke up as she walked over to the bag that Naruto was carrying. "Haven't you ever seen a ferret before?" She opened the bag to see the ferret. "Just look at him! He's totally adorable!"
"Isn't it? I've seen my fair share of ferrets, but I've never seen one as cute and smart as him," I said to him, looking over at her with scarlet colored eyes. "Did you see the way it jumped on my shoulder like that? I'm surprised it became so comfortable with me in such a short amount of time."
Sakura closed the bag as Naruto spoke up.
"Whatever," he said, sounding somewhat jealous of my words. "Let's just dump him and get back to the Leaf Village already."
I sighed and shook my head lightly, my snow white fringe bangs tickling my forehead along with two strands brushed against my light colored cheeks, while the rest of it, which was kept in a low ponytail, brushed against my back.
"Don't be so cruel, Naruto." I told him. "It wasn't his fault that he attacked you. You did instigate him after all, so I'm guessing he wanted to show you that he was not as stupid as you made him out to be."
He did not say anything to that other than a small "Humph," deep down admitting that I was right about that. We continued walking for a little bit until we came across a long bridge. From the looks of it, it looked wore down and completely unsafe. I swallowed hard at the sight; the thought of falling soon popped into my mind, dropping to our demise and with no one to help us, yet I shook it off quickly. I prayed that nothing like that would happen to any of us. Shikamaru, then, took out a paper and looked it over for a moment.
"So if we cross this bridge..." Shikamaru started, but was cut off by Naruto running straight towards it.
"Alright!" He cheered happily before running toward the bridge. We all looked shocked at his actions.
"Naruto, slow down!" Shikamaru called him, yet Naruto did not seem to hear him at all.
"I wouldn't just go running like that, Naruto!" I tried to stop him.
"Come on, guys!" Naruto told us. "Let's get this mission over with!" Suddenly, the negative thoughts of falling quickly became a reality as he quickly fell right through the bridge in a matter of seconds. I gasped in horror at the sight and quickly ran over to the spot that he fell through.
"Naruto!" I exclaimed as I took hold of his arm and tried pulling him up, strands of my white hair falling past my shoulders. "I've got you! Don't worry!" I heard footsteps from behind me and noticed the shadowy form of Sakura kneel right next to me with an angry look on her face.
"WHAT ARE YOU DOING, YOU IDIOT?!" She exclaimed angrily. "IT SAYS RIGHT OVER THERE THAT THIS BRIDGE IS DANGEROUS!" I rolled my eyes as I continued to try and help him up. "AND I DON'T CARE ABOUT YOU! WHAT DO WE DO IF SOMETHING HAPPENS TO THE FERRET?!"
"Oh man, Sakura..." Naruto muttered. "That's cold..."
After a short moment of her scolding at Naruto and possibly busting my eardrum, I successfully pulled Naruto back to safety - no thanks to Sakura, though, but I was able to handle the weight of my friend. Once all the trouble and fear of him falling to his demise was over and done with, I sighed with relief, slowly got to my feet and dusted myself off while Naruto took a moment to catch his breath. Then, I looked over at Shikamaru, who seemed to be staring into space or at something of interest. He was staring in a specific direction, but he seemed to be away from reality altogether. Curious, I started to approach him and asked, "Shikamaru? What's wrong?" I asked, sounding a little worried about him.
He did not look at me when he answered, "It's nothing."
My eyes narrowed slightly; I could tell he was lying.
"Shikamaru..." I said in a tone that asked him to tell the truth.
He sighed, knowing that I did not believe him one bit.
"Maybe," he admitted. "The village that hired us... It's just beyond that field." He went silent for a brief moment while I looked over in the direction he was. "I don't know. Something's kinda strange here."
"Why? What do you mean?" I heard Sakura ask, noticing and hearing what we were talking about. I tried to look closer and harder, and I started to understand what he was talking about.
"It's the middle of the day..." He explained. "There's not a single person in sight."
I blinked several times before realizing what he meant.
"Now that you mention it..." Sakura muttered, also putting two and two together to understand what he was talking about.
"It's like they've completely disappeared..." I said. "That's odd. What happened to them?"
"Well, what do you know..." Naruto spoke up; he stood in the middle of Sakura and I.
I looked at the blond briefly, noticed the disinterested or dazed look in his eyes as he looked in the same direction that the rest of us were looking, before looking back out at the field. Seconds later, I heard Sakura punch him to the ground once again. Instead of trying to help him again, I tried to ignore them as I continued to look out into the field; I knew he would be alright, plus I was starting to become worried about the real situation at hand. There was a strange feeling in the pit of my stomach, a feeling that he was . What it was I could not figure out. It was giving me a vibe that kept telling me that something was going to happen. I was not sure if it was a good or bad thing, but it was going to happen soon. I blinked once as I slowly glanced at Shikamaru, who glanced at me as well. His expression surprised me a little, but at the same time was expected from someone who was smarter than he appeared to be. Both of us were thinking and feeling the same exact thing, and we sure as Hell were not going to stand around and hope that everything was going to be alright. As Chunins ourselves, we were going to get to the bottom of things, and we were going to do it now.
/Ten Minutes Later.../
"/Okay, let's start running recon tactics/," Shikamaru spoke through the communicator as we spread out around the area in which we were looking at ten minutes ago. "/I'll take the woods to the west. You three head the opposite end. Alright?/"
"Got it!" Naruto, Sakura and I said in unison.
After looking out at the field a little longer, we decided to take some recon of the area and figure out what was wrong or if something was happening as we spoke. Since both we all got the feeling the village that hired us was no longer around anymore for whatever reason, Shikamaru and I - being the highest ranks in the group of four - decided to see what was up and hope that they were still there as was planned. Hopefully, nothing serious happened to the village while we were away, or else we would be in serious trouble not only because we would have been unable to finish the mission but because something happened to the village itself. What kind of trouble, however, was the question that I could not answer for sure, since I did not know myself. Who was to say that a group of bandits or something did not arrive while we were away and ransacked the village for goods and other things that would have been useful to them. If that happened to be the case, then we would have to make sure that the people there were safe from harm.
Naruto, Sakura, and I landed on a big mountain filled with a few shrubs and trees. Once we landed in a good spot, we all slowly looked out passed the forest, trying to find anything that may have appeared out of the ordinary.
"Just beyond those trees..." Sakura said.
I lightly nodded.
"Right," I responded. "That's what Shikamaru said. Then maybe we can figure out what's up."
Suddenly, the ferret in Naruto's bag started to squirm and fuss as if it were spooked by something. Naruto glared at the bag, not appreciating the sudden movement coming from the creature.
"Hey! Keep a lid on it, will ya?" Naruto quietly snapped at it.
My red eyes stared at the bag in confusion along with Sakura.
"I wonder what's got him all riled up..." I wondered out loud, placing my hand on the pack as if trying to calm the creature.
"Me too," Sakura responded just as the bag ceased its frantic motion.
Suddenly, a shiver ran up my spine and my eyes started to trail around us. I sensed something nearby, something dangerous, but I was unable to decipher what it was. I could feel it moving closer to us at a very slow pace to our location; there were three of them as well, one for each of us. Before I knew figure out just what they were, I quickly turned around just in time to see three large men clad in huge suits of armor jump out of the trees and come straight towards us, weapons tightly in their hands. In a matter of seconds, Naruto pushed Sakura and I out of the way before their impact. Shocked by the sudden action, I recovered and landed on the ground, but quickly leapt into a nearby tree to observe what was happening. When I was unable to see the armored men or Naruto, I quickly jumped out and landed on the ground before scanning the area around me. Everything was quiet once again except for the echoing of the crash from moments ago, and I was on my guard and expecting one of them to pop out and attempt to catch me by surprise.
"/Hey! What's going on?!/" I heard Shikamaru exclaim. I placed a hand on the small headphone before speaking.
"We've got company, Shikamaru." I told him, my eyes still tracing them. "These guys in armor just appeared out of nowhere and-" Before I could finish my sentence, I sensed one of them appear from behind and quickly jumped out of the way to avoid being injured by one of large guy in armor. He destroyed at least two trees in the process, knocking them to the ground creating a loud crash. I jumped back several feet before forming several hand signs. The moment I completed the last symbol, the armored man was already in front of me, weapon raised high above me and ready to swing downward. Without hesitation, I clenched my teeth as I quickly called out my attack: "/Ninja Art: Arctic Ripper!!/"
Light blue crystals soon started to swirl and wrap around my right arm, tickling the skin of my forearm along the way, before latching on bit by bit. The cold pricks did not make me jump at its touch, since I was so used to the feeling. It started to piece together until my entire arm was completely blue, sleeve and all. After a moment, the blue crystals started to grow and form an ice hilt, allowing me to grip it tightly with a gloved hand. Then, the ice on my shoulder created a shield-like masking, covering my shoulder protectively along with my head. The ice in my hand soon extended outward by three feet and curved slightly, giving it a sharp edge powerful enough - hopefully, anyway - to take down this stranger. Gripping the blade tightly, I raised my sword in the air, red eyes glaring at the enemy, before swinging it downward.
"/Arctic Swarm!!/" I shouted as the blade slammed down onto the shoulder of the armor. The reaction, in turn, caused it to freeze over the entire arm, rendering it useless for battle. A smirk appeared on my face at my small victory as I leapt back, gracefully landing on the ground. However, it quickly disappeared as I noticed that the guy was not affected at all. It simply stood there patiently before breaking the ice and releasing his frozen arm from its prison. A gasp escaped my lips as he lunged at me again, swung his weapon at me and attempted to attack. Fortunately, I raised my arm and blocked it with my upper arm, pieces of the ice chipping off upon impact and disappearing into nothing.
"Naruto, where are you?!" I called into my communicator. All I got was silence from his end; he must have been dealing with one of them at the moment. My eyes widened slightly as I pushed the guy back a little, but struggling with his strength nonetheless. "Naruto, answer me!" I shouted again, hoping to get his attention. Once again, I received no response from him; it was completely silent on his end. That feeling in the pit of my stomach returned as I waited for him to reply. I feared something bad had happened to him. At that thought, I shook my head quickly, knowing that he was a strong ninja and that he would be able to take care of himself without my help or anyone else's.
Pushing the stranger back and away from me, I leapt out of the way as he attacked and landed in a nearby tree. When I looked back at my enemy and prepared to attack again, he was gone. My red eyes widened slightly with shock as I looked around in search of him, trying to pinpoint his chakra and search for him. Unfortunately, I could not find him anywhere; it was as if he just fell off the map and vanished from the face of the earth. My eyes narrowed, the tension rising ever so slightly. Maybe he retreated to his leader or something… I thought to myself, standing up straight but keeping my weapon at the ready in case he came out. As I stood there, I heard a crash in the nearby distance. I looked over my shoulder to find dust and smoke rising in said direction. Maybe I should see if Naruto needs any help.
With that, I allowed part of my blade to disperse, the extension of my arm melting away, before sprinting through the trees. I was hoping I would find out where Sakura may have been as well and give her a hand. However, as I ran through the trees, I did not see the familiar pink hair of kunoichi. As much as I wanted to find her and assist her, I had to find out what was going on with the smoke that was rising. Maybe it was Sakura, maybe it was Naruto, but I would not know until I reached the location and saw for myself. My fist tightly clenching the blade in hand, more out of paranoia of my enemy coming out of the shadows to finish me off. I would probably be left wide open for him to ambush me, seeing as how my mind was so focused on finding my friends I would not even see him coming until it was too late. Protecting my friends was one thing, but keeping myself alive just to do that was a completely different story. If I did not live, how would I be able to search for my friends and help them if they truly needed it? My lips pursed. As long as I kept a look out of my surroundings, I would be safe…for now.
Leaping through the trees as fast as my legs could carry me, I finally caught sight of the familiar blond mane that was Naruto. Judging by his posture, he was busy fighting another one of those armored guys - I knew it was not the one I was after, since his armor would have have a giant gash from my attack. I felt a sigh of relief escape my lips as I dashed over to help him, blade at the ready and prepared to intervene if needed. Before I was able to help him, however, I watched him perform his signature ability - Multi-Shadow Jutsu. Upon seeing that, I stopped in a nearby tree, knowing that with this attack he had this fight in the bag. The clones sprinted towards the enemy and immediately began attacking from all sides, every punch leaving indentations in their wake. Then, one of the clones kicked it into the air, allowing the other clones to come down hard and beat it into the ground with multiple punches and kicks. In a matter of seconds, the armor slammed into the ground with a loud crash, leaving behind a crater and piles of dust flying into the air. I had to use my arms to shield myself from the dust that flew everywhere.
After another moment, I slowly lowered my arms slightly to see the dust slowly floating up into the sky and away from my direction. When I saw Naruto standing there with his clones, a smile appeared on my face, knowing that he was the victor. Out of relief, my blade disappeared into nothing but dripping water. Even at the distance and the still rising dust, I knew Naruto had a smirk on his face.
"Naruto!" I called out, running in his direction to look for him.
I wanted to go over to him so we could search for Sakura and see if she needed any help, but something, suddenly, took me by my waist and pulled me back. It was not forceful, but it was enough to surprise me. I shrieked at the sudden action and landed into something, or someone. The cold immediately ran up my spine and made shiver. When I looked down to see what was holding onto me, confusion spread on my face as I looked upon...an arm? I scanned at it for a long moment, trying to figure out if my mind was playing tricks on me, before slowly looking up to see who it was. It was a young man, most likely a year older than I, who also wore a type of medieval armor. It was nothing like the armor from the larger guys that we ran into before. He wore a strange looking helmet over his head to hide his face – I could still see his red eyes, very similar to my own, from where I was standing and what position I was in along with his bright blonde, neck length hair that was revealed – a green cloth around his neck, and a red cape. When looking close enough, one could easily see the black shirt underneath it. However, that was not what caught my interest. As I continued to look up at him, something suddenly snapped within me; it was nothing bad, but it was the kind of snap that would have sparked some sort of memory.
In other words, he looked.../familiar/…but I was unable to put a name to his face.
I continued to stare at him for a long moment, wondering and contemplating who he could have been, but pulled myself back to reality. Blinking a few times, I quickly looked back over at Naruto, wondering what his reaction would be to the position that I was placed in with this complete stranger, possibly an enemy. The dust had cleared up the moment I looked over in search of Naruto; I noticed the blond's clones standing around the area, most likely waiting for the smoke to clear up as well. Once he noticed me in the arms of the boy in armor, I could see and sense the anger in his eyes. It was clear he did not appreciate the predicament that I was placed in unconsciously.
"Hey," he snapped at him, "let Yuna go! What gives you the right to hold her like that anyway, anyways?!" The armored teen did not respond to Naruto's words; he simply continued staring at the ninja for a long moment almost as if he was staring off into space. After the long silence, though, he did as Naruto told him. He slowly allowed his arm fall back to his side, releasing me from his grip. The first thing that came to mind was to move away from him and return to Naruto's side, but when I tried to move I realized my legs felt frozen in place. Not only that, but the teen soon stood in front of me in a protective stance, as if Naruto was a threat to us, a threat to me. I kept looking at him silently as he raised his arm to give Naruto a thumbs down; he was either giving Naruto a silent denial or the universal sign that he was going to take him down. Naruto glared at him even more at the action that was given to him. "So, you're the leader then, huh?" He asked. No response. The teen simply dropped his arm back to his side and turned his head to look at me. His red eyes pierced into my soul, as if I had seen them once before, but was unable to figure out where.
Why was this stranger looking at me as if he recognized me, knew everything about me, while I knew…well, nothing about him? In fact, how was it that I felt this sense of familiarity toward him? I could not comprehend the reason why I had the strange feeling towards someone I just laid eyes on. It was unreal, as if I still in some dream without being able to wake up no matter how many times I tried to pinch myself or close my eyes. My mind was freaking out, screaming at me and telling me that I knew this person, yet no matter how hard I looked through my memories to find any face that looked similar to the one I saw, nothing would appear and tell me. All I knew was that this was the only time that I had ever seen this boy in my entire life, the first time I ever laid on someone who had the guts to hold me from behind even though he did no know me. At least, that was what I assumed. Despite all of that, though, my mind kept telling me that I knew him and kept saying that this was someone that I have known of all my life.
Who was he, though? My friend...or my foe?
"Who...who are you, if I may ask?" I found my voice, but it was a voice laced with uncertainty. He did not respond to my question, but I could sense him flinch at my words. My face did not waver one bit, though. I had to find out who he was soon in order for me to remember. He seemed taken aback by my question; for what reason I did not know and could not understand. Yet, he still remained silent, as if he were studying me or waiting for me to respond with a different answer. "Who are you...?" I asked once again. I felt like I was a little persistent, but I did not mean to sound that way.
This time, instead of answering my question, he looked back ahead to notice Naruto and his clones were coming straight towards us, ready to attack. I simply stood there watching the stranger stand there calmly. My legs were still locked in place, unsure of what to do anymore. Beads of sweat ran down my face out of anxiety, my mind not wanting to give up trying to figure out who the stranger was. However, if I stood there anything than I should have, I probably would get in the way of the fight that would surely take place very soon. With that in mind, I inhaled deeply and jumped out of the way to avoid being attacked by the clones and landed into a nearby tree. After a brief moment, I looked over my shoulder to watch the fight, dropping to one knee and kept his eyes on both boys, unsure what to make of the situation anymore.
He seems...so familiar... I thought before my gaze fell, but if that's true…why can't I remember…?