[chapter 10 - continued]
“It’s not working,” Naruto slid back after blocking Sasuke’s kick. He had been plying Sasuke with supplications of teamwork and friendship. But the rogue ninja had never shown even the slightest sign of emotion.
“Naruto,” Lee’s voice came over the radio, “I woke up Sakura. She woke up when I suggested she had lost out to Ino.”
“That’s it! Thanks Lee.”
“You are welcome?” the martial artist sounded confused
“What is it, Naruto?” Hinata asked.
“Sasuke isn’t really a human. He’s just a human shaped jackass…”
“You take that back, Naruto!” Sakura’s voice emerged from the communicator. He ignored her.
“Of course appealing to his better nature won’t work,” Naruto continued, “He doesn’t understand kindness or loyalty. We gotta make him mad.”
“Alright, save your batteries,” Sakura resumed her role as leader, “But keep in contact if anything happens.”
“So, are we going to try to wake Neji up?” Sakura asked, trying to sweep the Jonin’s legs. Neji leapt over her foot, aiming his own kick at her head. Lee caught his ankle and pushed him away.
“I do not see why we should,” Lee answered. Making sure Neji could not see him, he winked at Sakura. She managed to halt the surprised look on her face, and nodded.
“He left the village without permission, and joined with an enemy,” Lee continued, “that would seem to make him a traitor. And we have already reclaimed the main family scion, why do we require a branch family member.”
Neji focused his attacks on Lee. If Sakura drew to close, he would aim a quick strike, to attempt to disable her. But otherwise, he doggedly pursued his teammate. Lee continually dodged, moving backwards through the tunnel, staying just out of reach of the Gentle Fist.
“You’re right. We don’t need Neji, anyway,” Sakura agreed, “The demon said Hinata is stronger.”
“Interesting,” Lee considered, “The monster would have no reason to lie. Neji also told me that he was not sure he could have persevered in my situation.”
“Then why are we still hanging around?” Sakura asked.
“Indeed, why stay?” Neji’s dulcet tones probed.
“Neji!” they both shouted.
Last edited by Xavon : 10-26-2007 at 10:21 PM.
[chapter 10 - concluded]
“So, you finally found your way out, huh, Sasuke?” Naruto’s tone was conspiratorial and condescending. Sasuke’s response was a hard right to Naruto’s face; but the Genin recovered without pause.
“It’s not like you ever really had a chance against Itachi,” he derided, “The greatest son of the Uchiha clan. Every time you’ve confronted him, you’ve been beneath his notice. And you picked Orochimaru to teach you to defeat him. Jiraiya told me, Orochimaru tried to possess Itachi and failed. Or did the old snake keep that to himself?”
Sasuke growled and launched another barrage at his former teammate’s head and chest.
“Enough. Sasuke come back now.”
The vampire decided he was not going to lose his last, and strongest slave.
“I think it is time for me to become involved,” Doraku said to himself.
“Neji, are you okay?” Sakura observed him with a physician’s eye.
“What do you remember?” Lee prompted.
“When I arrived in this town for the tournament, I realized something was wrong. As I started to investigate, Sasuke Uchiha suddenly attacked me. But he was… off. There is no other word for it. He did not speak, even to invoke his jutsu. And his movements were awkward. In the battle I broke, or at least cracked, his right tibia. After that, Sasuke retreated and a number of puppet corpses attacked me.”
“Just call them zombies,” Sakura suggested, “It’s easier.”
“They were not strong, but they were resilient and numerous.”
“We observed that as well,” Lee nodded in agreement.
“When it became obvious I was to be captured, not killed, I pretended to be knocked unconscious, to try and learn what was going on here.”
“Would you mind teaching that concept to Naruto?” Sakura asked, drawing a slight grin from the normally taciturn Jonin.
“I watched carefully as they carried me through these caves, for any hint of what awaited. After a short walk, they placed me in a chair in a lavish dining room. The blood demon questioned Sasuke, who told the monster of me in short, clipped sentences. When he had learned what wanted, he bit me. After that, I woke up to find myself being insulted by my comrades.”
“I apologize,” Lee looked contrite, “It was necessary to generate an emotional response to free you from the demon’s control.”
“Wait,” Sakura stepped closer, “If you were awake while they brought you to that dining room, does that mean you remember the way out.”
“Of course,” Neji smirked superiorly.
“Great,” she grabbed Lee’s radio, and triggered it.
“Naruto, we woke Neji. He knows the way out. Once you and Hinata wake up Sasuke, or knock him out, meet us back at the dining room.”
There was no answer over the radio.
“Naruto? Are you hearing this?”
When nothing but static came through, she looked back at the older ninja.
“We better get back.”
“I shouldn’t be surprised,” Naruto kept talking. Sasuke’s attacks had ceased, he was now trying to escape, but the two Leaf Ninja cut him off at every turn.
“I mean, it took those Sound Ninja a whole five minutes to convince you to betray the village your clan once honorably defended. And now you’ve found another new master.”
Suddenly, the defector abandoned in opening by Hinata, to spit another stream of fire at Naruto.
“This must be a dream for you. You don’t have to fight Itachi, but you don’t have to feel guilty for giving up. And best of all, you don’t have to feel the pain of your parent’s murder.”
“CHIDORI,” Kakashi’s former student roared, his hand surrounded by lightning. Hatred filled his eyes, and, but for a slight limp, his charge was crisp and certain. Naruto deftly evaded the first slash, and the second punch; but Sasuke caught him with a normal backhand strike of his left hand.
“Looks like you finally shook it off,” Naruto chuckled, returning Sasuke’s angry stare. Hinata started to step forward, but Naruto shook his head.
“I finally get to kill you, Naruto,” Sasuke stated.
“Give it your best shot!”
“Naruto, we woke Neji,” Sakura’s voice suddenly erupted from the radio, giving both men pause, “He knows the way out. Once you and Hinata wake up Sasuke, or knock him out, meet us back at the dining room.”
Naruto turned off the radio and continued to glare at Sasuke.
“So, what’s it gonna be?” Naruto asked, “Fight me until that demon shows up, or deny him his prize and escape? I don’t know how he caught you before, but you probably would stand a better chance of getting revenge with some allies.”
Though his visage did not change, Uchiha’s stance softened slightly. Then, finally, he dropped his arms.
“Fine,” he snapped, “We have a truce until we escape this maze. Let’s find the others.”
Chapter 11: Dancing With a Demon
“Lee,” Sakura’s shout echoed through the cave. The Taijutsu expert recoiled from the kick to his midsection, but allowed himself to fall back to avoid the second foot aimed for his chest. Sakura fist bounced off the invisible wall surrounding her, while Neji watched like a cage predator.
“Your friends don’t seem to like the Nankyuu Abara Kekkei Genkai,” the demon noted, slashing at Lee with his wakizashi. Lee had disassembled his staff, and bound one part to the outside of each of his forearms. He used the improvised bracer on his left arm to block the curved blade, and struck the vampire’s chest with an open palm.
“But I wanted some time alone with you,” Doraku continued, unconcerned by the attack.
“You see, I’m torn. On the one hand, you have cost me two powerful servants. And the rank taste of your blood still lingers in my mouth,” the monster stabbed again, attempting to trap the Leaf Chunin against the wall, “But then again, this has been interesting. And I have learned a previously unknown weakness of my power.”
“So, should I give you a quick death, or a slow one? Because I can’t let you live, knowing what you know.”
Lee’s answer was a Leaf Gale. The demon jumped easily over the leg sweep, but the Chunin turned his momentum into Leaf Great Whirlwind. He caught Doraku in the chest, sending the monster higher. Unfortunately, the ceiling was too low, and Lee could not follow-up with the Leaf Dancing Shadow. The vampire twisted in the air, and stuck to the roof. He glared down at Lee with what could only be described as disappointment. The blood drainer coiled, and launched himself at Lee, leading with his blade. The teen motioned as if to block with his wrist, but then stepped inside and smashed the vampire’s wrist with the 30-pound weight on his own forearm. The expected crack of bone was not heard, and the vampire countered with a punch to the human’s heart. The attack sent Lee flying.
“Attacks like that won’t work,” the demon paused, not bothering to press his advantage. Lee rose, clutching his chest.
“The Jutsu Sakura uses to boost her strength is more impressive than she knows. I can use it to make my muscles hard as iron. Blunt attacks won’t have much effect on me.”
Doraku sighed, and looked away from Lee, “This is boring. Perhaps with some extra help you might be a challenge.”
He placed his hands together, and the barrier holding Neji vanished with a soft tone.
“Of course I know all Neji’s moves. But you humans can be so creative and unpredictable. Or at least he can be a distraction.”
Neji ignored the jab and moved slowly forward. His Byakugan scanned the demon intently, trying to find a weakness. Then he darted forward, aiming for his opponent’s right arm with glowing fingers.
“Good choice,” the demon easily dodged, “Without my weapon, I could be slightly less dangerous.”
The vampire’s left hand snaked out, and his Gentle Fist tapped Neji’s left temple. The Byakugan in the Hyuga’s left eye faded out. Then with a grimace of pain at the off center vision, he canceled the other jutsu in his other eye.
Neji feinted low, then struck from the left. He pressed hard, sacrificing accuracy and success for keeping the demon off center.
“Well, this is interesting,” the demon noted, knocking aside another attack, “But you aren't really accomplishing anything. Unless you are trying to push me towards Lee!’
Doraku suddenly kicked out, and his stolen strength Jutsu sent Neji flying. He used the momentum to do a 180, facing the martial artist. But rather than looking surprised or chagrined, Lee just smirked even as he finished throwing the punch the demon readily blocked. Then the plan became clear when Neji’s shadow clone exploded and the original surged through the smoke to the now exposed monster.
“8 Trigrams,” the Hyuga Jonin exclaimed, stabbing a chakra point on the demon’s spine.
“2 Palms,” he continued, striking the left shoulder, and elbow.
“4 Palms,” the speed of his strikes increased as his path took him in front of the blood-sucker.
“8 Palms, 16 Palms,” he flowed around his would be master, shutting down his chakra network.
“32 Palms, 64 Palms,” Doraku was barely standing, and Neji was a blur.
“128 Palms,” Neji concluded with a massive volley. But then the demon started to chuckle.
“Very impressive,” he proclaimed, looking to where his weapon had been knocked, “I might be in trouble, if it wasn’t for one little thing.”
The demon placed his hands together and intoned, “Chakra Pulse!”
“You see,” the monster smirked as he stretched back to his normal posture, “Hinata has a counter for that move.”
“I am well aware of the technique Hinata and Naruto developed,” Neji’s verbal counter was just as smug, “I just needed to disrupt your Chakra network for a second.”
Doraku was unable to dodge as the now free Sakura Haruno barreled into him.
“Fine,” the demon snorted in disdain as he rose. His tone was still amused, but his eyes were not, “Play time is over then.”
[Chapter 11 - continued]
As he dropped his arms, the vampire’s limbs were surrounded by both the soft blue glow of the Gentle Fist, and the purple sparks of the Ranshinsho. His eyes transformed under the power of both the Sharingan and the Byakugan. And under Neji’s restored Byakugan, chakra spiked out of each of the monster’s muscles.
“I’ll humiliate you with your own techniques.”
Sakura blinked, and missed the Doraku’s charge. Before she realized, the demon was trading blows with Neji, this time pushing the teen Jonin back. Sakura started to move to help, but Neji shook his no, then indicated Lee with a glance. The other young man was clutching his chest again, and the medical ninja blinked in acknowledgement. She flashed across the cavern, and gently brushed his hands aside. Using both touch and chakra, she determined his ribs were cracked, not broken, but a splinter had come perilously close to his left lung. She quickly dissolved the shard, and then started to repair his bones.
“That was a mistake,” the demon hissed. He knocked Neji’s hands wide, and drilled two fingers into each of Neji’s shoulders. Muscles tore, his chakra system was interrupted, and his arms flailed wildly from the shock to his nervous system. With the shinobi temporarily crippled, the monster was able to grab Neji’s shoulders, and place his face inches from the teen’s. As he did, the demon’s eyes changed again, the circling tomoe becoming blade-like and connecting to his pupil.
“Mangekyo Sharingan, Tsukiyomi!”
For three long heartbeats, the enemies’ eyes were locked. Then Neji let out a pitiable whimper. The demon released him, and Hyuga collapsed to the floor, eyes open yet seeing nothing. Doraku let out a sharp breath as he returned his focus to Lee and Sakura.
“Well, that technique is exhausting,” he commented, “But quite useful. Total incapacitation, and no permanent damage. And I also have the technique to wake him up when I need.”
He nodded at Sakura, then added, “Of course, that means I need to keep you away from Neji, my dear.”
“Sakura,” Lee stepped in front of her, whispering, “Guy-sensei has taught me how to fight those with the Sharingan. I will hold him off while you restore Neji.”
“Do you think I will let that happen?” the monster asked. He stood over Neji, challenging them. Lee started towards the demon, but Sakura rushed past him. Doraku caught her fist in his hand. Sakura let out an angry shout, and the demon was shocked when he pushed was back. The girl did not even seem to notice the disrupting electricity flowing into her. She punched again, and the vampire released her left fist to avoid her right.
“Interesting. I have all your skills and more chakra. I should be stronger.”
“The power of the jutsu is based on your natural strength. You steal power, you don’t earn it yourself. You’ll never be stronger than me.”
“Cute speech,” he cracked his knuckles, “And you know the counter to the Ranshinsho. For all the good that will do you.”
He dropped his arms to his sides, expelling chakra. Sakura thought recognized the technique, and both braced her arms and jumped back. Unfortunately, she was two close, and was not aware of this variation.
“8 Trigrams, Holy Cyclone!” The enhanced technique flowed outwards, and the dome of crimson Chakra lifted the kunoichi into the air. Ill prepared for the attack, Sakura could not do anything to right herself before she was slammed into the wall. She slid to the ground, then tried and failed to stand.
“Alone again,” the demon extended his hand, and his short sword flew back to his hand. He darted forward, swinging the blade like a much heavier weapon. Lee moved to block, but Doraku shifted his blade, cutting the weight, sleeve, and some skin from Lee’s arm. The Leaf shinobi tried to counter with a kick, but the vampire caught his ankle and sent a strong electric charge through Lee’s leg. Lee kicked again with his left leg, but grunted in pain when Doraku stabbed him in the thigh. The demon dropped Lee, shaking his head.
“I expected so much more,” the wakizashi plunged for Lee’s exposed heart.
“Clone Railgun!” Naruto’s voice arrived only an instant before the teen did. Naruto’s foot collided with the demon’s temple and neck, and the blood-sucker rocketed hard into the stone wall. Behind Naruto, the two dozen clones who had catapulted him forward exploded, clear the way for Sasuke and Hinata.
“Sakura, help Neji and Lee,” Naruto instructed s he stared murder at the demon, “we got this.”