Advent of the Spiraling Ninja 11: Towards the Mizukage
Chapter 11: Towards the Mizukage
The Depths – Strategy Meeting
“We have two jinchuuriki with partial control, summonings, a seal master, a sensor, three bloodline users, and the rest are powerful combatants adept at water jutsu and aquatic combat.” Ao summarized as he presented a map and pointed to a region to the north, where swamplands surrounded a lake that bordered a small mountain to the rear. It was where the Mizukage resided, who had to be defeated if this conflict would come to an end.
He couldn’t help but rub his chin at the prospects. “In all honesty, the thought of the few of us going against a fully matured jinchuuriki doesn’t inspire confidence, but it’s all we’ve got now that things have progressed to this point. The key point in this will be whether or not a few individuals can disable or kill Yagura while the rest of our forces hold off against the amassed army and defenses in place.”
Ao then went on to explain where the battle would take place and the groups assigned tasks. Their unit was to stealthy make their way to Yagura, going past the war zone itself using swampland that they would have to traverse quickly, where he would be waiting on a lake. There they could confront him, but the collateral damage would be lower, meaning they face the possibility of being assaulted by a Tailed Beast Bomb.
There would be two teams, one holding a jinchuuriki each, split apart and coming in from the east and the west. If one didn’t make it by some chance or there were more guards than expected and sacrifices were made, they’d still have enough to fight.
“The Seal Master will have to remain out of combat at all costs since her role is arguably the most important. I don’t need to tell anyone that failure means death”—Ao shot the jinchuuriki pair a look—”or enslavement. The purging of bloodlines will continue unimpeded and more lives will be lost as this country falls into recesses of history.”
“No puny human is enslaving me again,” Kurama snarled inside Naruto’s mind.
“I’d rather the kids not fight at all against a jinchuuriki in the first place,” Kushina stated as a fact.
“I’ve been too through much at this point to back out halfway mom,” Naruto told her. “My hands are already stained with blood…ever since I became a shinobi. It’d be better to fight and ensure that all the deaths until now…aren’t wasted.”
“I’m fighting as well,” Isaribi said coldly. “I can’t just let what happen to Villa go…this feeling won’t fade away unless I can do everything to bring down this hateful reign.”
Kushina’s face melted into one of sorrow for a brief moment before solidifying again, she didn’t want them to fight anymore but they were warriors who’d been bloodied at this point. “Damn it. Then, if we can face him near a large body of water, my summoning might be able to do something as well even if I’m not able to move personally.”
Naruto raised a brow. “You have a summoning too?”
“The guardian of the Land of Whirlpools and her kin to be exact,” Kushina said with her tone a bit mysterious. She had undergone the trial for it and made the contract. “They tend to be fond of women and are dedicated solely towards the benefit of Uzushio, which is why they aren’t fond of Konoha either since they desperately needed help during the war and never got it. You look too much like your father for their tastes.”
“That’s not fair towards me,” Naruto pouted.
“I know sweetie,” she told. “The Boss Summoning agrees that it’s petty and, while she could order her children to behave, they could still circumvent the spirit of her laws. You’ll just have to win them over in time.”
“Right…” Ao sighed. “Well, Yagura is currently positioned in the middle of a lake, so that should suffice. Moving on, Zabuza will be supporting our men on the front-lines along with Choujirou and Suigetsu. Having two of the Seven Swordsmen, as well as the brother of one, will raise morale amongst the men…”
Ao continued his role as the strategist to set up contingency plans. That night marked the beginning of the end. By the time the sun had set the next day, Yagura would fall.
The bloody mist would be cleared by the burning horizon.
The Next Day
The battlefield was a mist-blanketed swampland, thin trees with little greenery jutting out of murky water. The soft earth was packed full of hardy shrubs that reached towards where the light would break through the mist and fill them with the essentials they needed to survive. Turtles, salamanders, alligators, poisonous snakes, and all other amphibious creatures lingered below the surface along with fish, partaking in the numerous insects that dwelled within the environment.
There was a sole oasis in this swampland that encompassed the majority of the area, a lake that was not muddied by the waters of the swamps, and quiet reigned. That was where the final and most important battle would take place. A battle between beings that surpassed the norm and those that stood on top of the norm.
Naruto, Isaribi, and Haku formed a three-man team and were making their way through the swamplands towards the jinchuuriki Mizukage. Haku was in the lead with Isaribi, already transformed, and Naruto following.
The rest had decided to go through the other directions, making themselves a bigger target by having the head of the insurgency, Mei, among them. It was a strategic move, coming in from multiple sides and in waves to assault a sole target, allowances in case more than one vital member was killed, so they wouldn’t all be slain.
If one jinchuuriki fell, there was still one more. The only unacceptable losses were Mei herself, as the face of the insurgency if she died it died with her, and Kushina, which meant that a rampant Tailed Beast would be free and other countries would swarm to claim it.
“This mist is making it hard to see…” Naruto muttered, annoyed as he hopped along the trees to avoid the water and wetlands below. Isaribi could swim beneath it with ease in her Kaima-Form, and Haku was literally skating along the surface of the water. He wished he had his Nine-Tailed Fan, but that was gone. Not that he was bad at the standard shinobi tools of the trade, but goddamn it that fan was freaking sweet.
“You get used to it,” Haku told him.
Naruto thought about the current situation that led to this country becoming a powder keg and found it somewhat confusing. The routine extermination of bloodlines was something he never imagined living in Konoha. If bloodlines and power made up a part of the power base, by killing them off as they did they were weakening themselves. He, hesitantly, brought this up to Haku.
“Why is why we believed Yagura to be under another person’s thrall,” Haku replied. “The purge was only officially started when one clan that could utilize their bones caused such destruction that they were killed off with no survivors by the Kirigakure forces. While that could have been considered a necessity in the eyes of most people, from there it extended to other bloodlines, even those outside of the country and the minor villages in it.”
“… Did the people support that?” Naruto asked.
“The civilians have their own problems,” Haku stated. “Living in these lands is hard enough as a shinobi, but the smaller and rural villages have an abundance of difficulties that are much worse. I was, for example, a simple peasant born of a farmer in a small village. Food was scarce for us, most going to those who can fight as shinobi, and it was dangerous with the abundance of missing-nin that this nation births. Most of the people couldn’t tell a shinobi with a bloodline from one without, so it really didn’t matter…”
He trailed off and took a moment to think over his words before he continue. “But Yagura made a pledge to keep the smaller villages safe as long as no one with a bloodline was found alive. If they were then not only was the protection voided, but a few days later the village was wiped out in an ‘insurgent attack’ as it was told. So when my father found out…”
Naruto picked up what he was hinting. “You mean he…”
Haku nodded, his eyes slightly glazed over as he recalled the memory. “Rather than allowing his wife and son to risk the village, my father killed my mother with tears in his eyes and then tried to kill me. My bloodline kicked in and… well, now we’re heading through the mist-laden lands in order to topple a Kage.”
Neither Naruto nor Isaribi openly commented on that. Not from lack of experience, but because it didn’t need to be said. They knew all too well how the public could easily be conditioned to loathe someone simply because it was easier, mob mentality forming out of fear, ignorance, and hatred.
Discriminated because they were different, changed because of factors beyond their control, both had their own way of coping. Naruto wore the mask of a fool who cried when he was alone. Isaribi was isolated, closing off her heart and betraying her own sense of morals for the promise of being turned to normal, only to have been manipulated by the one responsible.
Their moment of silent reflection ended as Isaribi submerged and witness something surging through the water. She broke the surface and called out the attack. “We’re under attack!”
As if to punctuate the point, a chakra construct molded into the shape of an alligator using the water itself emerged and took Isaribi into its gaping maw, before dragging her below the surface and out of their sight. They stopped their advance and stood on the mangrove branches above the water at the sudden loss. But there was no time to concern themselves with their lost comrade as the scent of ozone reached Naruto’s nose from a lightning jutsu coming from behind them and the churning of water to either side of the tree reached Haku’s ears.
Taking from the reservoir of chakra he drew from, Naruto used hand-seals to convert it into wind chakra and then poured it into his lungs, expelling in a single breath a gale that was known as the Great Breakthrough technique from his mouth. The squall grounded the lightning through affinity and opened up the mist a bit as the leaves and weaker branches of the mangroves were carried by it.
The churning water to their sides became drills, liquid fangs meant to pierce through their bodies. Spiraling towards the pair, they chewed through the branch the two were on mere moments after Haku grabbed Naruto and leapt away. Like lashing serpents they gouged out furrows in the bark as they slithered up the length with a grinding noise in their pursuit.
Taking to the air in a chakra-strengthen jump, Haku ran through a set of three seals and took a deep breath. Within his lungs he melded the dual elements that composed his bloodline, wind and water, to generate a freezing squall that nipped at the inner lining of his lungs and throat as he exhaled. From his puckered lips a flurry of relentless cold and hoarfrost emerged like a billowing cloud of white and blue that swallowed the drills of water streaking towards them.
The Arctic Winds technique buffeted the drills, stripping them of their heat and freezing them over. The forming frost overtook the rotations and slowed it to a halt as it consumed every inch. Soon they were nothing more that rigid poles of ice that sought to touch the sky and fell short. From the source of the water that had served as the base of the water drills, the ice that had ran over it from the excess arctic winds served as solid surface for the two to land on.
A senbon filled Haku’s empty right hand while a kunai appeared from his gloves in Naruto’s as the water next to them spouted upwards. From it emerged the kunoichi clad in deep-green scales, her eyes as black as the night and her fins extended with the intent to use them as blades.
Isaribi, her voice less human than before, asked, “Which way?”
Naruto sniffed the air with his enhanced sense of smell. The lingering moisture made it a hindrance, since it wasn’t like he was a member of the Inuzuka Clan that had been trained in tracking, but he picked up three different scents. “Two o’ clock, Six o’ clock, and Ten o’clock.”
Haku went through single-hand seals and let his chakra sink into the moisture in the air and the water beneath the ice, clinging to it and taking authority of it. The water turned to ice and then shaped themselves into needles that stood around him at the ready, an ice variation of the Thousand Flying Water Needles of Death technique. Armed with over a hundred small ice needles, they were sent flying in the direction north-west of them.
The ice needles ran through the trunks and branches of the thin trees and covered them in a thickening layer of ice as they speared towards the shinobi in hiding. The ringing of steel deflecting the ice was heard as the shinobi avoid their cover for the sake of blocking and avoiding rather than being skewered. His location compromised, he moved to kill the bloodline-user with a kusarigama in hand.
Isaribi went through the hand-seals that she had been taught, her water element chakra seeping into the waters of the misty swamplands around them rather than generating fake water and then controlling it, reducing the cost. The water churned into a throbbing sphere twice her size. Then it violently surging out, dragging the rest of the water into the Giant Vortex technique as it barreled to the south.
The sheer mass of the destructive torrent, plowed through whatever cover that had been provided by the thin fauna and trees, tearing out anything on the surface of the water and carrying it as the path of devastation was torn straight through in a line. The surge settled as her chakra, which had held it up, dissipated with the release of the technique. For a moment all was quiet and she wondered if she killed the attacker right out, but that delusion quashed as a Tornado of Water drilled towards her and then slammed into the ice platform that had been formed, sending the ice crashing down atop her as she fell beneath the murky waves.
Naruto, now airborne again as he leapt before the ice pole he was perched on shattered, lacked the sheer destructive technique needed to flush out the last member due to his fan being destroyed, but he had plenty of explosive tags and kunai. Sending them out en masse, the rain of destruction fell upon the grove and water alike. Thunderous and deafening roars emerged as spout of water and sprays of splinters and sheered bark followed.
A bolt of lightning snaked out towards him, acting like a spear that flew toward him with the intent of piercing through him viciously. Too composed and fast for him to try anything special with wind techniques, he created a single clone and had it kick him towards the water before the lighting tore through where his chest had been and the clone was snuffed out. Naruto landed atop the water, chakra on his feet keeping him afloat, and then darting off towards the source of the last spear of lightning with the scent of ozone leaving a trail he could follow.
Lightning ripped through the air again, snaking towards the youngest shinobi who remained astride tree branches as he advanced. Naruto kept off the water as he moved, wary of the traps that may have been beneath the surface. He wasn’t Haku or Isaribi, the water wasn’t his native land that he could swim or skate over. He grew up among the land of leaves and trees, even if he left it behind. Thin as the trunks were, they still dave him a solid surface to kick off of and advance towards the enemy.
He abandoned the branch as the lightning smashed into the wood. It exploded, splinters flying and dropping down to the waters below. He jumped up for the nearest tree right afterwards and kept moving.
The opponent continuously sent out streams of lightning that darted for him, but he was fast enough to get away rather than trying to smother the element with its opposite. Extending his hands, the jounin then sent out thrashing forks of lightning that ran rampant. When Naruto leapt up to avoid it, the tendrils of lightning darted towards him like snakes seeking prey and slithered to swallow him.
Naruto crafted a Shadow Clone and used it as a kickstand to spring further, leaving the clone to soak the damage as the memory of its destruction was fed to him. Now within range, he crafted chakra chains from the palms of his hands and then whipped them down, the pointed tips seeking to cut into flesh.
The jounin dodged as the younger shinobi landed and then exploded into a billowing wave of smoke as he detonated a handful of smoke bombs. Lightning snaked into the smoke, seeking out its prey above and below the waves, only to have a gust of chakra-turned-wind smother the lightning and send him backpedaling.
From out of the water three clones shot out, propelling themselves like missiles that bombarded the jounin. His hands blurred and struck them down, one after the other, only for him to freeze up as a set of wrists grabbed his ankles. The clone that had done so was then swung around like a flail, connected to a set of Chakra Chains beneath the water, before both of them were flung like ragdolls into a mangrove tree, the clone dispersing as a final set of chain came from behind the tree and around his throat, crushing his trachea.
Suffocating and his mind left to the bombardment of signals his body was sending out, he fell still as a kunai buried itself into his chest and heart. His eyes rolled into the back of his head and he went still after a moment, death claiming him.
Naruto released the chains, dispersing them and the clone that stabbed the man in the heart. The reclaimed memories were unpleasant, to say the least…. In the last few days he had more blood on his hands than he thought was possible and the only end in sight would be when they captured the Mizukage.
His nose perked as he caught the scent of Haku darting ahead. There was even more blood in the air, hidden amongst the smell of frost. Naruto took a moment to look at where the corpse had now sunk beneath the murky water, leaving a faint tint of blood, and shook his head to clear it.
Then he went to settle things.
Haku was pretty sure he faced a jounin of the mist as he created more needles of ice and sent the flying towards the man. It was mostly done in a spread to avoid allowing him to flee, but he didn’t attempt to avoid them. Instead he spun the chain of the kusarigama around, using it as a mean of batting aside the incoming needles that he read the trajectories of and figured they would directly strike him.
Just as well, Haku kept his distance as he kept up the long range assault with more needles born of ice that whistled as they flittered through the air. The opponent was advancing though, carefully slipping within range as he battered the needles that were close to hitting him as he ran on the water. After the last barrage failed the jounin was in range.
Haku grimaced behind his mask as he drew senbon to use as a makeshift melee weapon. He was never one to enjoy violence or direct confrontation, but if he and the others were to get to Yagura then they needed to advance. To that end he wanted to use the Demonic Ice Mirrors. But against a jounin and with water beneath them, he thought otherwise.
Now he was forced into dodging as the joining welded the chain and sickle with a level of proficiency that was rare in these lands, using the weighed end of the chain to try and crack open his skull or otherwise debilitate him as he avoided the blow, only for the sickle’s blade to try and catch him. Adding to the difficultly was the irregular angles at which the chain would move, almost slithering in fact, to ensnare him. It was most likely the result of chakra manipulating through the chain.
Dealing with the jounin only became more difficult as Haku’s ears picked up a second set of chains coming from behind him and he was forced to throw himself into the air, twisting as the second set snaked past his torso. The weighed end was heated, an orange glow condensed around it as it tore through the fabric of his outfit and set it aflame. Landing on top of the water and bounding off a second time to avoid as the two chains crossed as they attempted to ensnare him, Haku noticed the Water Clone that had joined the original, more emerging from the surrounding waters.
No sooner than he touched down did he notice that the surface of the water had been changed, thickened and given the consistency of some type of mire that held him in place so that he couldn’t flee again. The clones surrounded him on all sides, twirling their scythes at the end of the chains with intent of butchering him.
As the blades closed in, Haku released ice chakra from the tenketsu all over his body and froze the moisture in the air around him in a thickening layer. The Ice Style: Ice Dome was formed in time and held fast against the blades that tried to cut into him. That was the benefit of his clan’s techniques, as long as he possessed chakra and as long as there was moisture in the air around him he could shape it to his will with few to no hand-signs.
Capitalizing on that, he called forth a blossom of ice spears around the dome, the moisture in the air and beneath their feet freezing over and into spikes that speared out and penetrated everything in its wake with frightening speed. The clones were punctured, their cohesion lost until the water that made up their bodies was loosened and froze into icicles clinging to the edge of the spears.
The original managed to avoid the ice blossom by leaping back and then upwards, only to be run through. A pike of ice rammed through his back to out his front, taking a lung out in the process as the blood and other fluids were slowly submitting to the invasive chill and freezing him over from the inside out. As he fell from the sky his body twisted to see a single mirror of ice suspended in the air behind him, then came death as he hit the water and sank below the surface.
Haku immediately set off. Jettisoning himself from the mirror he was in towards the direction they were heading.
The Tornado of Water drove the Maiden of the Sea deep into the murky waters of the swamp before the chakra holding it together petered out. Unlike the sea that she formerly swam in, doing unforgivable deeds that cost the lives of many innocent people, the waters of the swamp weren’t to her liking.
The waters of the sea were a deep shade of blue, growing dimmer the deeper beneath the surface you sank, and kelp and coral were what formed the forest that loitered at the deep. Fish and other animals darted throughout the terrain, going about their business in schools or hunting for those beneath them on the food chain should they hunger.
The swamp water was an earthen-brown color, dank and depressing, lacking the scent of the ocean breeze. Twigs, branches, leaves and roots all made up the woodlands beneath the surface, and its inhabitants were mammals that flittered to the surface rather than remain in the deep.
But, in the end, it was a matter of preference, rather than anything substantial. Her eyes could peer through the murky depths with the same ease as above, her movements less encumbered as she could sift through the water in three dimensions, and her arsenal far deadlier.
Her opponent lacked the same inherit advantages, but made up for them with the arsenal at his disposal. Dressed in a black, skin-tight wetsuit, goggles, and a simple rebreather, he was mounted on top of a rather large alligator summoning that rested at the bottom of the swamp. All together they allowed him to stay under the water to hunt down those who took to the swamps.
She moved to take him out of the equation, but more alligators came at his beckoning, all constructed out of chakra and water. They clamped down on her limbs and pulled, desperately trying to perform a death roll and separate the limbs. She wasn’t worried about the fangs of the chakra constructs breaking her scales through sheer force, but they hindered her mobility and her joints could only take so much before the twisting broke them and left her unable to swim.
Her cheeks swelled as she molded water chakra in her mouth, and then spat out a sharp and powerful burst towards the one tearing at her right arm. The Water Style: Large Projectile was made of chakra, a construct that mimicked water flawlessly at the cost of being chakra heavy depending on the amount created and then pushed out of her lungs. At such a short distance the technique wasn’t dissolved by the murky water, but punched straight through the fake crocodile like a cannon ball.
The fin on her right arm, now freed, grew hard as chakra reinforced its strength, making it into a crude blade. With it she cleaved through the other constructs and then darted towards the summoner. It was when she passed by what she thought was an outcropping branch that she realized her mistake a moment too late as it exploded as she sped past it.
A muffled blast that radiated outward in a pocket of white ripped through her and blood escaped from her mouth as she gasped, the red being pulled apart and tinting the water around her before fading away. No matter how her body had changed to be strong enough to resist the crushing depths of the sea, no matter how easily she could live under the water, none of that changed the fact that she was still vulnerable to such attacks.
Her focus shifted to the surrounding plant debris and fallen logs that had been left jutting out of the muddy bottom and caught sight of a modified explosive tag was meant to be used in underwater warfare. It converted chakra stored in to the tag as a concussive wave on detonation. As the shockwave bypassed her scales and shook her organs, it was clear that had she of been in her human state and only had mere skin to protect the organs it would have torn her apart on the inside or forced her to breathe and thus drown.
She extended her arms and used the Scale Senbon technique, firing off the scales and then reforming them in short order. The spray detonated the vast majority of the water mines as they punctured the tags rather than going off when she was in the nearest proximity of them. The tags caught in the blast radius went off as well, creating a chain of muffled explosions were followed by pockets of air that were closed in as the bubbles blocked her view.
The large crocodile summoning darted out of the veil created by her, swimming with its tail going back and forth as it approached with an open maw. Isaribi avoided its lunge, not willing to risk the sheer crushing power of the jaws breaking through her scales. She noted that the summoner had hid himself rather than risk being killed as it circled around, coming back to snap into her a second time.
Scale Senbon flew, but the hide of the alligator was too thick and the water was too much for the scales to travel through while maintaining enough force. Thus she was forced to dodge a second time, but the tail lashed around and caught her in the abdomen. The amount of force sent her straight into the tangled mess of roots that formed the mangrove trees above. She darted between the thicker roots as the crocodile pursued her, breaking through hardy roots with its bulk while snapping at her.
Isaribi eventually grabbed and tore off a thick root and crammed it vertically in its mouth as it bit down. As strong as the muscles were when closing, it snapped down with ease, but the thick roots managed to puncture it’s snout in the process and prevented it from opening up again. She used the opportunity to rake out its eyes with her fin blades and forced it to retreat into the murky distance.
Movement in her peripheral vision grabbed her attention.
Her foe trying to escape after the summoning had been dealt with. He wouldn’t get away of course. He was only human and could only swim so fast, not nearly as fast as she could in her current state.
Her fins extended and she took off. Once she dealt with him, she would meet up with the others.
At the lake
A single figure stood on top of the grey waters of the lake, the clouds above matching the hue below with the promise of rain impending. The body of the youth belied its strength, the stitch-like scar running down from his left eye a sign of battles untold. The grey, short hair that adorned his head was messy, untended to for some time as there was no need to maintain appearances.
The Mizukage, Yagura, waited in silence, both his mind and his tenant’s one in the same as they followed the commands instilled into them by the mirror-wheel eye that loitered high in their mindscape, constantly whirling in place as it tethered them to its will.
The instincts of a trained warrior, one who reached the apex known as the ‘Water Shadow’, called to him. He opened his pink eyes and fixed his gaze to the left. The fingers around his staff tightened and the muscles in his arm tensed.
Silence followed. The water lapping beneath his feet the only ambient sound hidden in the mist…
Then there was a blur as a blond child approached with a spiraling sphere of chakra in his hand from above. The air chilled as the water beneath his feet froze and then shot spikes of ice from below at sharp angles, intent on skewering his legs and hindering his escape. A spiraling vortex of water from behind roared in fury as it dispelled the mist and churned forward to swallow him in the swell. A three-pronged attack from the three who arrive first to challenge him after crossing the swampland…
All meaningless in the end.
Yagura’s staff blurred as it smashed the ice enclosing on him into frigid chunks. The butt then smashed into the frozen platform and Isobu’s chakra seeped down into the crevices, changing within and bringing forth an instant bloom of a protective tower of coral that formed an anchored wall to protect his rear. As the churning water smashed into the bulwark and yielded, parting around the sides, a mirror formed of water chakra and the water vapor in the air constructed a clone of the incoming blond and the two met, smashing the spiraling spheres into one another and dispelling themselves to reveal neither had been the original.
Such was the power of a Kage.
At a glance, all three realized this would be the toughest battle they had faced thus far. But there was too much at stake, whether self-serving, self-preservation, or simple revenge, and they had to face him. Relying on back-up was meaningless in itself as they had no way of knowing of the adults had made it as well.
Thus they resolved to do their best as the final battle began…
Okay, had to cut this early but yes I’m still working on it. Big Battle next time. Boss fight.