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Fandom Squad Shithead: A Naruto AU

Sub Genres
  1. Action
  2. Adventure
  3. AU
  4. Naruto Universe


Bear With Me Here ?
Mizu glared back at Haruki for a split second as he crouched in fear behind her. "Haruki, what are you doing?!" Mizu shouted back at her comrade frantically. Just what was he doing? This was life or death, they needed him for a numbers advantage! Without him this was just a one on one fight. As frustrating as it was though, she didn't have time to deal with this. After just a moment she turned her attention back to the bald one. He was still charging them. Luckily, he was at the perfect disposition for Mizu to use her staff. In order for him to strike her with that sword, he'd have to get close. That meant having to get past her staff. The ronin charged closer and closer, but suddenly her vision was obscured by a veil of smoke. What the hell was going on!?

Meanwhile, the other Ronin that had originally lunged for Tetsuo now sat in the smoke. The smoke bomb caught him by surprise, and in the heat of the moment he'd inhaled a mouthfull of powdery smoke into his lungs. He coughed uncontrollably, mouth tainted with an ashy soot taste. Struggling to breathe, he had no choice but to retreat from out of the smoke, readying himself back up for whatever was next while trying to gain his breath back, but this was easier said than done.

Although Mizu was in the smoke cloud, she had enough time to catch her breath and not inhale it initially. Only the problem was now that she couldn't see the bald ronin who was originally charging her. Immediately she tensed up for a moment, realizing how bad this situation was. Her and Haruki were surrounded by potentially two opponents that she couldn't see.

"Haruki, stay where you are!" Mizu ordered out, trying to gain any bearings on where her opponent might be. Caught in the middle of the smoke, she couldn't advance as she could stumble in a trap, but remaining where she was could prove fatal as well as she was a sitting duck. The bandit didn't give her much time to debate however. From the blanket of smoke, the flash of a blade lashed out toward Mizu. With no time to react and block, Mizu tried to weave her body out of the way, but the blade still caught the side of her arm. Her sleeve was cut open, and a stinging sensation instantly overcame her bicep; she was cut. How bad it was, there was no time to tell.

Mizu had to act, they couldn't sit here anymore. She put her hands together and made a single handsign: She was making a shadowclone! Hastily, she a clone formed next to her. The clone then charged out of the smoke, in a similar direction as to where she was cut from. Her clone lunged out, of smoke, and was instantly met with the blade of the bald ronin. He'd been waiting for her to try and escape that way. But the clone made an audible popping noise as it turned to a small cloud of dust before the ronin's eyes.

In the smoke, Mizu heard the pop, and its direction. That was her cue. She grabbed Haruki by the shirt and ran of the smoke in the opposite way. Fortunately this led them to be right next to Tetsuo. Mizu released Haruki, then readied herself again. Glancing over at Tetsuo, she quickly realized what happened. He was the one who threw the smoke pellet! That asshole could have gotten her killed! Still feeling a stinging sensation, Mizu glared down to her upper left arm. There was a gash in it. While it wasn't too deep, it was deep enough to be bleeding.

Once again, she wouldn't have a lot of time to think. The bald ronin was charging them from around the smoke, readying to strike once again.


Tetsuo stopped in his tracks when he heard coughing. He realized that not only had he blinded his opponent, but by a stroke of luck, it had choked him too. When he heard the dusty, sputtered coughs and gasps of air retreating from the smoke cloud, he knew what he had to do.

His heart drummed violently in his ears and set the pace. Quickly, with practiced hands, he grabbed the wire spool, and cut the wire midway, then tossed the kunai down into the earth. With his hands free now, he grabbed two shuriken and fed the spool through them, securing them with a simple knot. He cast the shuriken out in the relative direction of where he'd heard the coughing. It didn't matter if the ronin was in the direct path of the shuriken. In fact, Tetsuo spaced them far apart in hopes of missing and charging right past the man.

He let the wire, dragged forward with the shuriken's momentum, glide over his palms. Then when he felt it had traveled enough, he jerked the wires to arc the shurikens' path. If his estimates were at all right, the shuriken would cross over each other and circle his opponent, ensnaring him in metal wire.

Haruki, meanwhile, was still not doing anything. The situation had been bad enough, but the smoke had made everything worse. He could only see Mizu, not the death that was rushing to confront them with a long, polished blade.

He registered Mizu yelling at him, ordering him to stay still, then yanking him by his shirt to run elsewhere. He ran with her, but his movements felt slow and clumsy. His mind was working at a blitzing speed - far too fast for him to actually comprehend - but his body felt like it was wading through molasses. He needed to do something, but what he did was fall to the ground when Mizu released him and stayed there while his heart tried to jump out of his chest.

With horror, Haruki's eyes trailed down Mizu's arm and saw it bleeding, and he with a sinking feeling, he knew it was his fault. He couldn't do anything.

Tetsuo glanced back at Mizu and Haruki in surprise. If they were here, then where was the other ronin?

Shit! he thought, realizing they were being charged. He bit down on the wires, feeling them pull against his teeth with force, but gritting down on them anyway. He started weaving a quick series of handsigns, but before he could activate the actual jutsu, he stopped himself. Those two numbskulls were in the way! He growled in frustration, knowing if he used his lightning style now, they'd get shocked even before it could hit the bald man.

If Mizu didn't do something to block or counter the attack, he'd have to retreat back, and probably mess up everything he'd done to trap the other man in his wires.


Bear With Me Here ?
Still trying to clear his longs, the tall ronin had little time to react to the metal wiring, and quickly succumbed to their entanglement. His sword dropped from the pressure, and he fell to his knees. However, he wasn't out of this just yet. Slowly, he inched his way toward his katana on the ground, and began rub his metal wiring up against the blade, trying to free himself from its grasp.

Mizu, meanwhile was dealing with her opponent. Haruki was still being no help. As frustrating as it was, there really wasn't much that Mizu could do about it. Much like before, the ronin was charging her and Haruki's position again. This time though, Mizu wasn't going to wait for him and risk getting caught in crossfire. She wanted to get away from Tetsuo, while also ensuring Haruki's saftey. The best way of doing this, she concluded, was playing offense.

Mizu dashed forward toward the ronin, not about go give up anymore ground to him. He throusted his blade at her once again, but this time Mizu was prepared. In a defensive motion she parried the blade away to the side, before bringing her staff back and thrusting it into the Ronin's head in a stabbing motion. The attack worked, and the ronin backed up in pain from the blow, wincing in pain from the cold metal of her staff. In retaliation, he swung at Mizu. However, at this point Mizu had begun to get an idea around the timings of his attack. Lifting her staff up, Mizu once again parried the attack, but this time she countered with a powerful kick to his head.

This swordsman must not have had much experience with fighting shinobi, because the counter worked. Her shin dug right into his jawline, stunning her foe and sending him back once again. Having connected with two solid blows, Mizu continued her offensive. She fake jabbed-the front of her staff at his head, then swung the back end of her staff low and straight into his knee. The mtal bashing against the kneecap sent a brutal cracking noise against the bone, and the bald man screamed in pain, falling onto one knee. "GAH!"

Mizu quickly leaped back a few meters to avoid staying in range, to asses the situation with Tetsuo and Mizu. Though her opponent was by no means out of the fight, she was confident enough he'd be slowed down enough to be handled.


Tetsuo watched Mizu charge forward, meeting the bald ronin's offense with her own parry. Haruki was still just sitting there, he noticed, watching Mizu with a haunted, wrapt attention. Then she disappeared beneath the smoke veil, which was now thinning.

With their fight taken elsewhere, he returned his attention back to his own. He felt the wires in his mouth tug, try to loosen. He was either being tricked, or he had bundled the ronin in wire and he was struggling now.

Tetsuo took the wires out of his mouth and yanked them back, attempting to resecure the hold he had on the ronin. He repeated this tugging as he then dashed up along the wire to where he then saw the man on the ground. He say now what he was feeling was the samurai inching his way up to the katana and wriggling against it to cut the wire.

He sprinted forward. In front of the ronin now, he stamped his foot to pin what of the blade he could down and tried to kick his leg back to get the sword away. As he worked his legs, he had grabbed another kunai from his holster, holding it in the same hand as the wires. He passed the wire to his other hand and grabbed for a fistful of the man's hair to yank him up. Tetsuo twisted around to straddle the back of his neck, then position his kunai to hold it up to an exposed throat.

He looked over then to where he heard the bald man give a pained cry and saw he had dropped to one knee. Mizu was not too far off, and she was looking back at Tetsuo. He noticed then the cut on her arm, but she still looked strong and focused. He called over to her, "Don't let them escape! We need them for questioning!"

Left behind, Haruki was struggling where he seemed to have been rendered inert. One thought managed to break through to his awareness: he needed to get out of the smoke. If he didn't one of the ronin could easily charge back into the smoke and end him with one slash of the blade.

He reached over to pluck the kunai from the ground Tetsuo had left behind. His saw his hand shaking with violent tremors.

Slowly, he got to his feet. Haruki's legs were jelly as he walked back, away from the conflicts he heard, out of the smoke the stung his eyes and dried his nose. He held the kunai to his chest as though it were some rare, precious item to be held, and as if he didn't carry at least fifteen basically-identical ones with him at all times.


Bear With Me Here ?
Frantically, the ronin tried to pry the metal wiring into his blade and free himself. However, it was too late. This odd shinobi, much younger than himself pinned the blade away, and blocked any attempt of escape. Then, before he knew it, pain shot through the back of his head as his hair was yanked up to put his head up. The feeling of a cold metal edge then went against his throat, disrupting his normal breathing. It didn't take a genius to figure out that his genin had basted him, and held a knife up to his throat. The ronin pushed his head back as far as he could, trying to make as much room as he could for the blade while also still being able to bleed. His contract would pay him a hefty sum, but it cetainly wans't worth dying over.

Mizu, on her other end heard what Tetsuo said. He was right, she had to make sure she didn't damage him enough to the point that he couldn't answer questions. By no means was Mizu a killer, but her original intent was not to leave him in a state to be interrogated. As far as she was concerned, she was going for the knockout. For a moment she glanced over to Tetsuo once again. At this point, it was obvious he had the situation under control. Right now, Mizu's main objective was disposing of her enemy so that he could be questioned as well. However, unlike Tetsuo, she had no intention of tying him up.

While he was crippled, her opponent was still armed with a sword. Any attempt to get close would likely result in getting slashed at by the sword. To make up for this, Mizu came up with a quick game plan. First, she heaved her staff back behind her, before she chucked the staff with all of her might toward the crippled ronin. Then, she quickly rushed behind the projected staff. No matter what, this bald ronin would have to block her staff, as he didn't have the mobility to get out of the way. True to her plan, the ronin did just that, blocking the staff with his sword before trying to slash at Mizu to get her away. However, at this point it was too late. Mizu slid beneath where her staff made contact with the criminal, and slammed her foot up against the chin of her opponent. This time he didn't wobble, the bald man hit the ground, knocked out from the impact.

Quickly, Mizu tried not to waste a second more than needed. Much like Tetsuo, she took out a piece of metal wire and began to tie up the unconscious criminal. Once again, she glanced over to Tetsuo to see how things were going on his end.


Tetsuo looked back down on the ronin he sat on top of. The man was no longer struggling, other than to pull his head as far back from the kunai as he could. It seemed for now, he was resigned to his defeat.

Tetsuo glanced back to Mizu's side, where he could see her opponent was laid flat on the ground, his sword having fallen away from him. He watched for a second longer, just to make sure the ronin had been knocked out and there was no immediate danger for her or need for his interference before returning his attention to his own situation.

"Haruki!" he called out as a mean of summons. When he got no response, nor saw the redhead running to him, he quickly became annoyed. "Haruki, get your useless ass over here!"

Tetsuo waited again. He counted the seconds with every lift and fall of his chest, still breathing with the energy of combat. He registered in his head that the battle was over, but it was taking a lot longer for his body to feel the same way.

After a while, the smoke cloud thinned out enough to where he could see Haruki barely moving, practically just standing there on the other end.

"Oh for fuck's sake," he muttered to himself, flipping the kunai away from the man's throat and replacing it back in his holster. Tetsuo yanked the man's hair again, bringing him closer to his face. "Try any funny shit and I swear to God I'll fucking kill you." He shoved his head back down in the dirt for emphasis.

Tetsuo stepped off the ronin to crouch beside him. He prodded at the metal wiring that bound him, checking to see that it hadn't already snapped before tying the loose end. He then moved down the legs, and took what wire he had left to tie him up at the feet.

When he felt secure that there was no chance of escape, he got to his feet and just breathed for a second.

Tetsuo gave himself no time to process what just happened though. They still had things to do, he couldn't waste time just thinking over how it was his first real fight. Looking back at Mizu's situation, he reaffirmed to himself that she had finished the bald man off, one way or another. Looking at her, he was reminded again of the gash on her arm.

He swung his bag around. First he fished out his phone. When he flipped it open, he saw no messages, and no signal either. He put his phone back away, then started to fish out what little first aid he'd packed. "Mizu, when you're done, get over here and I'll patch your cut."


Bear With Me Here ?
The tied ronin grunted when Tetsuo shoved his face into the dirt. He gritted his teeth together in anger, all while trying to keep the dirt out of his eyes.

"You have no idea what you're in for, kid!" He muttered out, face still shoved into the ground. Even though he had a weapon to him, tied up in restraints, he still was testing the boundaries. The bandit would continue to push his strength against the wires, while also trying to slip his head away from Tetsuo's knife.

Mizu finished tying up her opponent, before standing up and letting out a small sigh. That was her first real taste of combat. She'd been in street fights before, but those were nothing in comparison to what had just happened. Those men were trying to kill them. This wasn't sparring, or a fight to knock someone out, those samurai were actually throwing killing blows at them. Worst of all, they hadn'ed it rather poorly. Haruki completely froze up, and while Tetsuo actually fought back, he still deployed the smoke pellet wrong and cost Mizu an injury.

She held her wound, putting pressure against the cut. It wasn't deep enough to need stitches luckily, but she'd still need to patch it up. Mizu took one more glance at her prisoner before she started to make her way to Tetsuo. However, once she turned to Tetsuo she froze in place. Her face looked panicked, eyes wide like a deer caught in some sort of spotlight.

In the tree above Tetsuo stood a man, casually leaning against the trunk of the tree from the branch he stood upon. His cold blue eyes pierced right into Mizu's, sending chills down her spine. It was obvious he knew he was noticed, but he still just leaned there casually. Mizu didn't know how long he had been there, but the last time she looked in Tetsuo's direction she was almost certain that he was not there. How did he get there without any of them noticing?

The conscious ronin, tied to the ground seemed to notice Mizu's reaction. Instantly, he knew what had happened. "Genzo!" He called out. "They're after the girl too!"

"Then why are they still alive?" The man, who presumably went by Genzo replied casually. His voice was cold, and he seemed extremely calm for the situation.

Genzo leaned off of the tree, and hopped down right next to Tetsuo. He said nothing, still just looking at each of the three genin that stood before him. Mizu, in turn, looked right back at him. She was unsure of what to do herself, still looking over this man's appearance and trying to get a read on him. He wore a black fisherman's hat, with the brim surprisingly wide for the hat. It loomed down over his head, partially veiling his blue eyes from the world around it. The wrinkles of his tan skin around his eyes suggested he was a man of age, as well as his greying black hair. While the hat covered most of his hair, he had sideburns that ran down to the end of his ears of his otherwise cleanly shaven face. If Mizu had to guess it, he was probably in his upper 40's or early 50's.

With his face memorized, in case she'd ever have to describe it, Mizu went on to try and get the rest of his appearance down. Much like the tied up ronin struggling on the ground, Genzo towered over the genin at a height of roughly 6'2. Unlike the two ronin, he was a lot better dressed than they were. Aside from his hat, he wore a black collared shirt, with a grey denim jacket over it. The jacket was very streamlined in appearence, having no pockets and being slightly oversized for his medium body build, with its sleeves running slightly over his hands. For pants, he wore black slacks, with black toeless shoes on his feet. Mizu had to go over him again before she saw the most concerning thing about his appearance: tied loosely around his neck was a Sunagakure, or sand village headband with the insignia crossed out. This was no ronin, this was a missing-nin!

(Here's what he mostly looks like)

Casually, Genzo reached down to his side and drew out a chokutō blade. It was light, and could he held in one hand unlike the two samurai's much larger katanas. Also unlike the two samurai Genzo did not charge them. He simply just stood there, spitting out what could be assumed to be chewing tobacco. Slowly, he began to pace toward Tetsuo and a relaxed manner. His blade, though drawn, was at his side, not up in an offensive position.
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Tetsuo squinted in confusion when Mizu froze. He froze, himself, hand still in his bag holding onto the small container of ointment. She was no longer staring at him, though. She was looking above him.

Something dropped in the pit of his stomach. When the ronin behind him called out, everything clicked in his head. He recognized the name. Genzo, their boss.

He looked up, but the angle was awkward for him, with the boss standing right above him. All he could make out was the wide brim of a hat.

This wasn't good. He had planned on interrogating these thugs and getting more information about this man. But he was here now. They knew nothing about him other than he commanded at least two ronin, both of which seemed to fear him on some level. He didn't know weapons, the reason for looking for the girl, nor did they have the location where they could plan an ambush. The ambush was happening now, and they were on the other end of it. The worst of it was that he hadn't noticed him at all, and Matsuda's caution came bludgeoning in his head again. He then had a thought: do samurai even use trees like shinobi?

Tetsuo didn't have to think this over for long, because in the next second the man was next to him, the crossed out headband thumping against his chest. Tetsuo took a startled few steps back, looking the man over. He may have been angry that this man was acting so casual about this, asking why they weren't dead yet, except that there was something dead and hard in what he could see of this man's eyes. There was a self-assuredness that spoke not only confidence in his ability to kill them, but also that he wouldn't feel a thing doing it. He remembered Katsuro's eyes, which had also startled him the day before, etched in with an unspoken trauma. But this was different: these eyes were lethal, and they were coming for him.

His head scrambled, readjusting his course of action in his head. All this man had done was lazily unsheath his blade, but he knew this man wasn't like the other two. You didn't get to be a rogue ninja as just a genin, or someone that could be bested by genin. This was a seasoned veteran of age, and they were a ragtag collective of genin. Maybe they stood a chance of defending themselves if they worked together, but he had only scratched the surface of cooperation with Mizu, and Haruki, who had just barely started moving after they squared off with the ronin, was standing frozen again. This was what Katsuro had been trying to teach them yesterday, he realized with frustration.

Katsuro. If there any guarantee they were going to get out of here alive, it would be with him. Tetsuo's hand slowly moved from the ointment to the flare gun. Katsuro was going to be pissed. He'd told him to use the flare gun if they found the girl, and there was no girl here. In fact, these men were barely even a lead, because they were looking for her too just the same. But maybe, he thought, these men were the biggest threat towards the girl's safety. He might be mad at him anyway, but he figured, what else was new? You can only be so angry at a dead body.

As quick as he could, Tetsuo grabbed the handle of the flare gun, raised it over his head and shot it into the air. He focused chakra in his feet, readying for the evasive maneuver he felt certain he would need.


Bear With Me Here ?

Tetsuo played his hand, and fired what appeared to be a flare into the air. Genzo didn't panic, or shift his step. It didn't take a genius to figure out that he was signalling for help. It was just an inconvenience and nothing more. As far as Genzo was concerned, he'd just kill the help when they arrived, reguardless of what the rank was. That would make his job of getting this girl much easier with less competition to worry about. In the meantime, he had these three to deal with.

Genzo raised up his blade, and leaned forward slightly. Right before he could pounce to Tetsuo, Mizu sprung into action once again. She made three shadow clones, then charged with them all straight to Genzo. Her opponent noticed her technique the moment she sprung out the handsign and adjusted himself accordingly. All four Mizu's charged right at him, swinging their staffs with great power. With grace, Genzo slid out of the way of the first attack thrown at him, then ducked under the second attack, swiftly countering both clones with two slashes from his blade. One by one they popped, leaving only two Mizu's left. Both these ones came at him from different angles, trying to flank him from opposite sides. Clever tactic, but it wouldn't work on Genzo. Though it was just a few exchanges, he'd gotten Mizu's attack timing down. Waiting for just the right moment, slipped several shuriken from out of his sleeve into his free hand. At the exact moment both Mizu's swung, her swiftly chucked his shuriken into the face of one, popping her like a balloon. His sword immediately blocked her staff, and Genzo countered swiftly with a hard punch.

The impact of the punch rocked Mizu's head back, and sent her back to the ground a few feet away. Visibly shaken by the attack, Mizu got up slowly. At that moment she realized that not a single one of them could probably beat this guy on their own, they'd have to work together!

"HARUKI, GET IT TOGETHER WE NEED YOU!" Mizu screamed in desperation.

Genzo wouldn't give them a chance to rest. In a flash, he turned his attention over to Tetsuo and dashed to his flank with an impressive speed, and slashed his blade right toward his back, trying to get as much damage in as he possibly could.


Haruki's hands felt slick with a cold sweat. He had watched as Mizu, without fear and regardless of her injury, charged the man with her clones. She and Tetsuo seemed so cool and ready compared to him. Even as her actual self got launched back with the force of Genzo's punch, she was calling him to action.

But what could he do? What should he do? This felt completely different from the mock battles they had at the academy. Nobody used swords there, least of all with the intent to kill. How could he hope to protect himself from this guy?

His knuckles whitened as he squeezed Tetsuo's kunai in his hand, tears pricking his eyes. He was trying to get it together. He really was.

He hitched a breath as Genzo flanked Tetsuo with such speed, the small genin barely had time to turn and face him. Haruki's heart stopped when the blade slide clean through him, his teammate, ripping him into two shreds.

But then he saw Tetsuo falling right behind Genzo, and Haruki realized it had just been a substitution. With a concentrated grimace, Tetsuo used his fall to attempt dropping a kick right on the missing-nin's head.

It took all of Haruki's willpower then to pull his arm back and throw the kunai at Genzo's front. He huffed a breath and stamped his foot with the force of the throw, surprising himself with his action. The timing was off, though, and Genzo would have already had time to counter Tetsuo's dropkick before the kunai even reached him.

His movements were clumsy, he knew, and he didn't feel at all like he knew what he was going to do or even what he was going to do now, but willed on by the desperation of Mizu's voice in his head, he started charging for the discarded katana that lay on the ground.


Bear With Me Here ?
Genzo heaved his blade straight through Tetsuo, or at least what he originally thought was Tetsuo. Much to his dismay, it wasn't Tetsuo, only a substitution. Having years of experience under his belt, Genzo knew that an attack was likely following and searched for where Tetsuo could be. Just at the right moment, he spotted Tetsuo's shadow and the glimmer of a Kunai knife in the sun. Immediately the rogue ninja caught on to what was happening, and made dashed over to his right side. With any luck, the kunai would intercept Tetsuo and do Genzo's work for him.

Genzo turned to his body so that all three genin would stay in his line of sight. Tetsuo had impressed him with how smooth that substitution went off. Had he timed his attack a little sooner he definetely would have made contact with his attack. But when did he have time to make a substitution? Thinking back, the only moment that Genzo could think of when he wasn't watching Tetsuo was when Mizu was attacking him with her clones. He noticed Haruki fumbling to pick up a blade, but Haruki wasn't a concern. So far, the redhead had been no help to his comrades. However, he'd still have to keep them all in his line of sight.

"You three must be genin, judging how you handled my samurai's...." Genzo spoke, breaking the odd silence of combat. He then pointed his blade to Tetsuo and Mizu. "You two are above the average genin. You can make shadow clones...." He said to Mizu. "And you pulled off that substitution Jutsu without a hitch. If the sun wasn't still up you might have even caught me...maybe."

"I do wonder though....how talented your instructor will be...considering you're a jinchuriki." Genzo said, regaurding Mizu. Though the average person on the street might not be able to pick out a jinchuiki, Genzo knew what they'd looked like. She had the whiskers on her face, just like those pictures of Naruto Uzumaki...he'd heard a while back that the kyubi had been sealed back in someone, but he'd never figured it would be just a child.

"I didn't want to waste chakra on the three of you, but considering we'll have company soon I can't waste time."

Genzo made a handsign, and emmited a field of chakra large enough to try and encapture Mizu and Tetsuo into a genjtsu.

Mizu, still trying to regroup herself from her earlier beating, succumbed to the genjutsu immediately without realizing it. Before her very eyes, the world around her faded from a dense forest into a vast desert, almost seemingly endless. The air was dry, and the heat from the sun was slightly painful, burning against her skin. Though it took her a moment or two, she quickly realized what happened. Genjutsu! She tried to convince herself what was before her eyes wasn't real, but it was too late. The sun on the landscape started to grow larger and larger, and the heat around her began to intensify. Beads of sweat started running down her entire body, and she was overcome with a burning sensation that only intesnified as the sun grew larger. She screamed in pain, though could do nothing.

In the real world, outside of her mind mizu just stood in place, paralyzed by the genjutsu yet visibly pooling with sweat.


Just before he made contact, Genzo's body slipped out from under Tetsuo. Made worse by this, he felt the sting of a cut open up on his cheek. He grunted in a pained surprise. Landing on the ground, he rolled to dodge any possible counterattacks made by the missing-nin. Genzo made no move of this sort, however, so Tetsuo just glared at him, cupping the cut on his cheek. It felt sticky with blood. He would've been glaring at Haruki, but he didn't want to take his eyes off the missing-nin for a second.

It was probably the rush of combat, the stinging in his cheek, and the way this man was so casual about this to stop and have a fucking conversation that all made him temper flare. He didn't want this lowlife's praise! In Tetsuo's eyes, this man was absolute scum. What possible reason could this man have to abandon his village? And for what, leading some group of worthless thugs chasing after some girl in a forest?

Tetsuo might have said something along those lines, too, but he was still shocked that not only did he give so few shits about this to just stop everything where they were and have a chat, but also that he knew Mizu was a jinchuuriki and didn't seem perturbed at all by this. By the time he had processed all of this, Genzo had weaved a handsign, and the entire landscape transformed before him.

He blinked in surprise as the forest floor was ripped up and turned to sand. Just what kind of jutsu was this? Had he teleported them all?

Shit, genjutsu! Before he could do anything about it, the sun had ballooned and an unbearable pain washed over him. He was no longer thinking about the genjutsu. All of his thoughts were focused on trying not to scream, but it was as if his skin was burning and cracking as if to release the screams from out of every dried up pore in his body. His blistering lips opened up to scream out of.

Back in the real world, Tetsuo had fallen to his knees from where he had been crouching, and he had the same absent look in his eyes, with his face flushed and sweat pouring out of him profusely.

Haruki had managed to grab hold of the hilt of the katana, but just when he was thinking of charging, he noticed his teammates both being very still. He froze again. He could not do this alone. "Guys?" he said timidly, as though to request an audience from them.

They didn't respond.

What had this guy done to them? Haruki was overwhelmed, not thinking straight. He broke out into a cold sweat of his own.

He clutched the katana uselessly, just letting the blade hang in the dirt due to its weight. His back and shoulders were already sore from the bag he was carrying.

His heart pounded furiously, and if he didn't think he was screwed before, he thought he was really going to die now. But at least since Genzo was talking now...

"Why are you doing this?" he turned and asked, feeling pathetic and desperate. "What would you want with that little girl so bad that you'd kill other people just looking for her?" He frowned, then tried thinking that maybe he could be reasoned with. "We don't have to be doing this at all. If you let us go, we'll just leave. I'll make- I'll make them leave. We can just say we found the girl dead already, or something."

In the back of his head, he was just starting to piece together what had happened to Mizu and Tetsuo.


Bear With Me Here ?

The Genjutsu went off without a hitch, both of his targets were caught under the genjutsu. Genzo didn't bother tying to put Haruki under one, as so far he had shown little to get in the way of Genzo. If anything, putting him under the genjutsu would be just a waste of chakra. There was no way this genin would be able to stand against him on his own. Judging by his pleas and questioning, the redheaded boy knew this himself.

Genzo walked over to the ronin that was still conscious, just a few feet away from Haruki and began to cut him free. His cold blue eyes looked into the eyes of Haruki while he methodically cut through the metal wiring. A smug smile grew across his face, almost as if he was daring the young Haruki to try and swing that sword at him.

"That little girl is worth a lot of money." He stated in a smug tone between the cries of Mizu, as he started cut away at the last metal wiring between the ronin's legs.

"If I left the three of you alive, you might find her before I do. Don't need you geting in my way."

It was obvious that the ronin Genzo was cutting free would be out if Haruki didn't intervene. With Tetsuo and Mizu out of action, the only question is would he? Genzo continued to stare into Haruki's eyes as he methodically cut through each rope, like he was getting some kind of enjoyment out of watching Haruki's inner turmoil.

Meanwhile, Mizu was not making any progress in freeing herself from the genjutsu. At this point, the sun had grown so large and so bright that she was forced to cover her eyes with her arms for fear she'd go blind. The sand beneath her feet acted like hot coals, burning away at her feet. She wanted to fall to the ground, but she knew it'd only hurt more. This was genjutsu, she knew that this wasn't real...yet at the same time it was real. Right now her thoughts were racing with all of what she was taught on how to get out of genjutsu, but it was no use. All she could do was wait, and hope that Haruki or someone would do something to get her out of this state.


Haruki walked back, heart thundering in his chest with every step Genzo took in his direction. But he soon realized that it wasn't to attack him, but to release the ronin that Tetsuo had tied up. As if his mind hadn't already been a nervous scramble before, it was made worse by the excruciating cries of his teammates. He saw Genzo's mouth moving and he heard words coming out, but it took him much longer than it should've to understand the meaning of those words. It really was just that simple: it was about money for this guy.

Haruki felt uneasy, like he was trying to stand on water. "But we're not trying to get her for money," he protested in a quiet voice, forgetting that they were already working for commission, as if it would make a difference to this man either way. In that moment, he realized there was no talking his way out of this.

He couldn't cry, but his eyes felt dry like they wanted to. He didn't like the look in this man's eyes. He didn't like looking back at those eyes, which bore into him, but he was staring back anyway. Those eyes were bright in color, but dark in character. Haruki had never felt his life was being measured as meaningless before, least of all just by a look someone was giving him. It made him feel small, and more than anything, that he was in real danger. Very real danger.

For a second, he genuinely wondered if he could make it if he ran away. Would this man pursue him immediately? If he didn't, would he be able to catch up? Would Katsuro show up in time to save him? His stomach turned thinking about what he'd do to Mizu if he decided to take care of her. Even Tetsuo, who no doubt wouldn't be getting any mercy from the ronin he'd roughly handled before. They were screaming and screaming now with Genzo not even doing a thing, Tetsuo's voice growing hoarse.

It finally hit him what he needed to do, what he really needed to do. How could he have been so stupid to not realize it sooner? It was a genjutsu. He knew how to handle this.

Without warning, Haruki turned to make a mad dash for Mizu. He dragged the sword along with him with both hands. He stopped when he got to her. He took a hand off the katana, slapped it on her back, and pushed chakra into her to disrupt the jutsu. If it didn't work, he would just keep trying. If he needed to defend himself or her, even if his mind felt like it was floating in some free space far away from his body, his body would obey his commands, and he would use that sword to defend them.
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Bear With Me Here ?
Just as Genzo had almost cut his man free, Haruki suddenly made a mad dash toward Mizu. He was taken back by this slightly, as he was fully expecting Haruki to not do anything as he did previously. The arrogant smirk left his face, and his expression reflected more of annoyance than anything else. Was this kid really gonna drag this on further? He should have just wasted the chakra and put him under the genjutsu as well. That would have been way easier than this. In a swift slash, Genzo cut away the final restraints and his ronin was free. Immediately the ronin ran to get his comrade, and nothing at the moment stood in his way.

Genzo, meanwhile, now focused his attention to Mizu and Haruki. He reached into his pouch and began to put things together. The red-haired genin's efforts had succeeded, and he freed Mizu from the genjutsu. In the blink of an instant, the desert disappeared, and Mizu was no longer burning. She fell to her knees in relief, inhaling and exhaling rapidly as she was out of breath from all the screaming. She looked up gratefully to Haruki, smiling at his new found courage. However, Genzo would not let the moment last. Flinging his hand out of his pocket in one fluid motion, Genzo launched a paper-bomb attatched to a kunai knife right between Haruki and Mizu. It thudded in the grown precisely between the two of them, just as Genzo intended.

Mizu stared at it briefly, before she realized what had just happened. Though she was exahusted, she sprung to her feet and sprinted away. She needed to get out of the blast radius. Frantically she sprinted forward, stumbling in the process from exhaustion. But it was too late, and she was caught on the outer edge of the explosion. The shockwave slammed into her back, shooting pain all throughout her body. Its force through her into the trunk of a nearby tree, which sent a blunt pain throughout the front of her body, primarily through her shoulder. Had she not been so exhausted, she may have been able to avoid it.

Though she was exhausted, and her body beaten up badly, Mizu knew she couldn't stop fighting. Tetsuo and Haruki needed her, and Genzo wasn't going to relent. Slowly, she raised herself to her feet. As she stood, the pain in her shoulder only became more apparent. It didn't feel broken or dislocated, but it'd be a bad bruise. Wiping the dust off of her face, she looked to see where her staff was. Scanning the battlefield, she saw its glow near where Tetsuo was....speaking of Tetsuo, he was standing there, with a blank look in his eyes and a painful expression. He must have been caught in genjutsu as well. Much like how Haruki woke her up, Mizu now needed to wake up Tetsuo if they were to last before Katsuro arrived.

Mizu held up her hands into a handsign, and focused her chakra. "Shadow-clone Jutsu!"

Once again, three other Mizu's appeared next to her. They were ready to spring into action at any time.


By some miracle, it worked. Haruki had done his share of practice, applying chakra to others in one of the academy's courses, but he was equal parts shocked and relieved that it had worked when he needed it to. In his head, this man would've had the skill that only some advanced transference of chakra would've worked to break his genjutsu. As Mizu collapsed to the ground and ceased her screams, Haruki started thinking maybe this Genzo guy wasn't as invincible as he'd originally thought.

But even looking at his teammate smiling up at him, Haruki couldn't smile back. He felt shot with a nervous energy. He couldn't relax for even a second.

There was a solid thunk, then the telltale sizzling of a paper bomb, before he registered the kunai that had been thrown right in front of him. Without thinking, he turned to run the opposite way. This wasted precious time. He had barely made any headway out of the blast zone when it detonated. He cried out in pain and alarm as the heated blast launched him his through the quarry. He lost his grip on the katana, which flung much further away. He felt a second wave of heat push him through the air, and it sent him head-first crashing into one of the old, decrepit cranes abandoned in the quarry.

For a moment, his vision blacked. It wasn't the darkness of his head being pushed into worn metal. It was the kind of heavy black that weighed down his eyes and tempted him to fall over. Haruki stumbled, but the blanket of darkness started lifting from his eyes just in time for him to see the ground, and catch himself on one arm.

He didn't stand back up so much as swayed back into an upright position, fumbling a few more steps. While his vision cleared, Haruki gingerly prodded at the crest of his head. By some miracle of God, his skull hadn't split open, but there was definitely blood matting his hair.

It was by some unprecedented willpower that he forced himself to stay conscious, turning around to face their opponent again. He couldn't even be bothered to think about the ronin that had run off to God knows where. Even though he still felt like his head was being propelled back from the force of the explosion, he knew he had to fight still.

He heard Mizu summon more clones from where she was. He needed, or they needed, to get Tetsuo back in this. The other boy was sweating profusely, and at this rate was going to be dangerously dehydrated very fast. Haruki didn't know what Mizu's plan was, and he didn't know if Genzo would let him move as freely as he'd been able before, but he saw no other options left than to try something.

When he started charging back, he had no clue if he just felt like his body was being unresponsive, or if he really had slowed down from his sprint from earlier. Either way, he dashed to try to reach Tetsuo. He grabbed two kunai, one for each hand. If Genzo tried throwing a kunai again, he might be able to deflect it this time. The other kunai was for whatever other attack he may make that he had no idea how to predict.
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Bear With Me Here ?
Genzo watched both Mizu and Haruki get hit by the explosion. Both of them were definitely out of the lethal zone of the paper bomb explosion, but there was still a chance that they could be rendered unconscious. Meanwhile, the now free ronin ran over to his tied up comrade, and threw the unconscious bald man over his shoulder. He immediately ran into the woods and out of sight. This didn't seem to bother Genzo whatsoever. In realities, he was glad those two were out of his way. He'd deal with them later. For now it was back to the genin.

Both of the genin got up from the explosion, both showing they'd taken a fair amount of damage. But they still didn't quit. Mizu made shadow clones and Haruki drew out two knives. Haruki then made a beeline straight for Tetsuo. It was obvious he wanted to free his comrade from the genutsu as well. Mizu also caught onto Haruki's plan, and sprung into action as well. While Haruki ran over to rescue Tetsuo, she intended to distract Genzo to keep him at bay. This wasn't going to be easy, but she would change her tactic from last time.

Mizu's and her clones surrounded Haruki, and ran with him. She knew that she wouldn't be able to keep up with his speed, so instead she'd just run to where he was going anyway. With her beaten up shoulder, her staff was becoming harder to handle. But she'd have to endure and adjust, their lives depended on it. Genzo rushed for Haruki and Mizu, hell-bent on stopping them from freeing Tetsuo from the Eternal Desert Genjutsu. Seeing Genzo approaching close, Mizu's closed rushed over to Genzo as soon as he got close, cutting off his path.

With his route cut off by Mizu, Genzo had no choice but to engage. Hopefully he could get rid of these clones quick enough to make it over to Tetsuo and Haruki. However, this time they didn't all just charge in. They utilized their staff's range to keep Genzo back, and lessen the chance of being countered by Genzo's movement. In unison, all of the Mizu clones began to jab and swing at Genzo in a range. He parried and dodged them, but countering proved more difficult than last time. After a few more exchanges between Genzo and the clones, he finally caught on and began to side-step and counter the attacks. One by one each clone popped, until it was just the real Mizu and Genzo once again. Mizu still stood at a range, blood now running down her chin from a cut near the edge of her mouth. Hopefully by this point she had bought Haruki enough time, because she wasn't going to last much longer against Genzo alone.


Katsuro followed Toshio down the hill, and eventually the openings of the forest. The forest before them had many open glades in various patches surrounding the areas. With various debris scattered throughout the area, as well as craters and abandoned structures Katsuro had little doubt that this whole area was once a battlefield. Upon approaching the largest open glade, his suspicions were confirmed. In front of Katsuro and Toshi sat a large, bright red sign. 'WARNING, DO NOT ENTER! ACTIVE MINEFIELD.'

"Where does the trail go from here?" Katsuro asked his summoning impatiently.

"It goes..." Toshio paused, sniffing the air again as if to reassure himself. "Right into that minefield."

"The fuck?" Katsuro asked in disbelief. A confused, and uneasy feeling presented itself inside of Katsuro. Just what the hell was this little girl doing running through an active minefield?! He thought long and hard, trying to justify why she would do such a thing. Something didn't add up. However, his knowledge of explosives did shed light on one thing.

"Maybe she's too small to detonate the landmines. I sure as shit don't see a corpse out there."

"Well, guess we gotta go through and find ou-"

Toshio suddenly stopped talking, and shifted his head back toward the hill. Katsuro took notice immediately, and also turned back to the hill. Floating above the hill in the distance was a bright flare, floating higher and higher into the sky. It let off a audible popping noise as it peaked, before fading away into the surrounding sky. Did they actually find the girl? Though he couldn't place why, Katsuro had an uneasy feeling about this. Him and Toshio immediately took in a running pace to get back to the group as fast as possible.


Thanks to the work of Mizu and her clones, Haruki was able to reach Tetsuo safely.

With a little more care than before, likely because of the kunai in his hands (either that, or not wanting to deal with the boy's temper), Haruki placed a hand on Tetsuo's shoulder and pushed his chakra in. Tetsuo, evidently broken from the spell, visibly sunk deeper into the ground. At least his screaming stopped now.

Haruki grimaced and shook his hand, as though to dry off the dampness he'd felt on Tetsuo's skin. His teammate looked up at him, as though trying to evaluate whether the redhead beside him was real or not.

Tetsuo sat there, panting, and trying to ground himself in reality again. Everyone had moved since he'd last seen the forest. Mizu was engaging with Genzo directly. Haruki was actually standing with him, looking engaged, and there was a dark patch of blood that superseded the usual sheen to his hair.

"Haruki," he croaked. The help Mizu was implied, as Tetsuo's eyes locked on the scuffle ahead.

Haruki nodded. He ran a little to flank Genzo's left from a distance. He didn't really want to get any closer than that. He threw one of the knives at him, but there was clearly no exact plan, because he stopped just to see if it would connect, which was unlikely.

Tetsuo gingerly touched his knees, then sank his palms over them. His mind expected them to feel just as they were before - dry, peeling skin that stung, and grains of sand that had ground its way deep into his exposed flesh. Instead, they were smooth with skin still intact. They were slick with sweat, and the only grains he found were of salt when he rubbed the tips of his fingers together.

It was disorienting. Nothing was as he expected it to be. His face was flushed with the heat of a desert's burning sun, but cold chills were crawling down every inch of exposed skin he had. When his chest compressed with coughs, he was no longer gargling blood from a cracking throat. It was just sore and dry. He desperately needed a swig of water, but he knew he didn't have time for that.

Looking back at Haruki, he saw his bulky bag still hanging down his waist. It was covering up his tool pouch.

"Get rid of that stupid bag," Tetsuo ordered him. His voice was hoarse.

Haruki hesitated, then obeyed. With both hands, he lifted the bag off of him and threw it to the side. Almost instantly, he felt a small rush of relief. The weight had been taken off his back and shoulders, and he felt so much more free to move. He didn't know exactly what to do with this newfound freedom, but he knew it better to do something than nothing now. He switched his other kunai back to his dominant hand before throwing it. This time, he grabbed four shuriken from his pouch, and followed up with throwing those too. If nothing else, he hoped he could buy Mizu some crucial distance from her opponent, or distract him enough to make an opening for a strike.

Tetsuo raised himself to a crouch, but still adjusting to reality, he didn't jump back into action immediately. Instead, he tried to watch Genzo's movements to see if he could come up with any hint of an idea.


Bear With Me Here ?

Keeping his attention to all three of his opponents, Genzo noticed Haruki to his left to flank him and throw a kunai at him. Mizu noticed this as well, and dashed over to Genzo's right flank and swung her staff toward toward his midsection in a sweeping motion toward his midsection. Realizing he had attacks coming on both sides, Genzo wouldn't have time to counter either attack. Instead he was forced to leap back and give up ground to the genin, having to reset himself and adjust. However, the genin weren't giving him a break. Mizu continued to dash toward his right, and Haruki now had a collection of Kunai and Shuriken coming toward him. Genzo's brow narrowed in frustration as he realized he'd have to use more than just simple genjutsu and taijutsu on these genin.

Hastily Genzo dropped his sword, putting one foot under it, and formed handsigns. "Windstyle: Whirlwind!"

The air around Genzo's rapidly spun around his body in an outward motion. Though it wasn't enough to inflict damage, the gust of wind made visible by shifting dust was enough to blast Mizu back about 8 meters and to blow away the kunai and shurken coming his way. Genzo didn't stop here. He ran up the side of a nearby tree while doing handsigns.

"Water style, water clone!"

A perfect copy of Genzo liquefied on the side of the tree. It immediately leaped high into the air, landing right in between the genin and the real Genzo. The clone stabbed the sword into the ground, then did the same exact handsigns as earlier. "Windstyle: Whirlwind!"

This time however, the wind didn't push outward, but rather inward. It began to suck the three genin straight toward the clone with a strong force. Mizu, fully expecting to get blasted back, fell victim to the suction immediately. Knocked off her feet, she was drug forward toward Genzo's clone. She grabbed out a kunai-knife, stabbing it into the ground to slower her travel toward the vortex of dust forming around the Genzo clone. The clone seemed to notice, and intensified the pulling force, making Mizu travel closer and closer to the clone. Desperately, she looked over to see what her teammates were doing.


Haruki hitched a breath in surprise when the gust of wind blasted him, Mizu, and his tools back. He crossed his arms over his face to try to buffer the wind, as well as shield himself from his weapons. He grunted as a couple of shuriken dug into his arms, and another cut his shin.

In his head, he was still being blown away when he landed. He pulled the shuriken out of his arms with a pained hiss. Luckily, they hadn't embedded too deeply in his arms where he needed immediate first aid. By the time he refocused on Genzo, the clone had already replaced him - an exchange which Haruki would have completely missed if he hadn't heard the missing-nin activating the jutsu earlier.

Much like Mizu, he braced himself for getting blown back again, and was caught completely off guard when it sucked them in instead. Haruki tumbled toward him before flipping on his stomach and digging his fingers into the earth. He quickly realized this anchorage wasn't sufficient, and grabbed his own kunai to stab the ground. He looked to check on his teammates and found them both looking at each other, then him.

Tetsuo hadn't been blown back the same way they were before, having more distance between himself and the clone originally. He had been trying to find some pattern or opening, but Genzo had switched up his moves and wasn't allowing it. Now holding his ground somewhat with a lone kunai, he saw an opportunity, though the window was small for it.

"Hold on!" he tried shouting to his teammates over the howling wind. Tetsuo meant this much more for Haruki than he did Mizu. Even if Haruki wasn't just standing around anymore, Tetsuo no longer had any idea on how much time had passed, and he'd barely seen anything that the other boy had done.

It took every ounce of his strength to reach into his back pouch without dislocating his other arm. He flicked his fingers, and two paper bombs were sucked into the vortex at blitzing speed. He had only meant to loosen one, but two would have to do. As quick as he could, Tetsuo clasped his hand back around the hilt of his kunai to form the snake seal and detonate the bombs. He just prayed this happened before either of his teammates, or he himself, got pulled in too close.


Bear With Me Here ?
Having been watching her teammates, Mizu saw the paperbombs flying toward Genzo. Immediately she dug her kunai knife deeper into the ground, and focused chakra into her feet to try and get a better grip to get away. Both the paperbombs were sucked into the dusty vortex, and successfully exploded. Both paperbombs combined had caused a nasty explosion that engulfed the entire votex into a fiery explosion. Genzo's clone was obliterated in the blast, water flying everywhere as a result. If any more confirmation that the clone had been destroyed, the end of the vortex would surely do. A moment or so passed, and the dust kicked up from the votex and explosion had finally passed, revealing an unexpected casualty. Mizu layed face down on the ground, motionless. Though she wasn't close enough to the explosion to be dead, she was close enough that the shockwave had knocked her already weakened state unconscious.

Genzo made another series of handsigns "Wind Style: Feather!"

The air around Genzo began to shift, and he sheathed his blade. He then leaped high up into the sky, the wind around him aiding him in his ascent upwards. He was at least 50 yards in the air, his shadow looming down on the genin. Slowly, he began to float down to the earth. His feathering technique was channeling the wind to slow his descent, making it look like he was almost a feather drifting down. Now would be the time he ended this. With the genjutsu, whirlwind techniques, and now feathering he had used up about a quarter of his chakra reserves. Genzo made more handsigns.

"Wind Style: Wind bullets!"

Genzo heaved out his chest, inhaling vast amounts of air. He then fired out multiple bursts of sharp, compressed air down on the genin. Three were headed for Haruki, three were headed for Tetsuo, and two were headed toward the unconscious Mizu.


It was only in hindsight that he realized two bombs were too much. One bomb was also probably too much, made worse by the second. In his head, the wind would have vacuumed up the entire explosion, shockwave and all. The clone would be gone, barely any chakra wasted, and they would escape the wing jutsu completely untouched.

This was not the case, however. This was made abundantly clear when, instead, the vortex had ceased, and a shockwave pulsed out from where the obliterated clone once stood. Tetsuo, alone with Haruki, were pummeled by the force of the shockwave and sent tumbling back.

The earth beneath Tetsuo spun and spun, and by the time he came to a stop, he felt a wave of dizziness. His skin stung where tiny pebbles had pelted him, a shards scrathing at the cut already on his cheek.

He knew he couldn't just lay there and wait to recover. He stumbled to his feet, looking to find his teammates. Haruki was shaking, trying to support himself on one elbow and sit up, but he was slow. Mizu was completely flat and still. Shit.

A shadow fell on them and Tetsuo squinted up, where the missing-nin and that stupid hat practically just stood there midair, backlit by the sun. What the hell kind of jutsu was that?

He didn't have time to think about it. An attack was coming and it was coming for all of them. He thought, as he formed the tiger seal, maybe he might have enough time to save one of his teammates. If he managed to reach Mizu, all he could do was maybe move her out of the way. She wouldn't be any more help in the fight though, so in terms of their survivability, that was pointless. Haruki was conscious and might actually be able to help him, but it was also for that reason that maybe he'd be able to move himself out of the way in time.

He was too indecisive, and when he used the body flicker technique to move, all he could do was jump back to get himself out of the way.

Tetsuo watched as the ground in front of him exploded with compact, yet powerful, bursts where the air bullets struck. He felt dizzy again, looking around at his teammates. Haruki had not gotten out of the way like he'd hoped, and had instead tried shielding himself, from the looks of it. His arms were cut bad now, and Tetsuo didn't have time to decide if he was still from shock or he had been knocked out. He didn't dare bring himself to look at Mizu for long.

In the quarry, he was completely exposed to the missing-nin looming over him. He took off running, to try to at least make himself less of a still target. Fatigue was obviously starting to weight down his gait. Even though he hadn't used much chakra for any jutsu at all, the sheer exhaustion from everything, especially the genjutsu, was enough to have whittled him down to half his usable energy.

He didn't know how mobile the missing-nin would be while in the air, and to test this, he looked back and procured, then threw, two kunai up at him. His aim was much less precise than if his head didn't feel like it was floating, but at least one of them might have a chance of grazing him.


Bear With Me Here ?
As the wind bullets pelted against Haruki, as well as Mizu, two figures suddenly dashed out of the foliage, both moving too fast to get a good glimpse of them. One grabbed Haruki, and yanked him out of the way just in time to avoid the last wind bullet. The other grabbed the unconscious Mizu right before she could get hit by a 2nd wind bullet, an act that may have just saved her life. Both figures quickly dashed off into the woods, before the familiar sight of Toshio the bear was spotted running up to the both of them.

The polar bear immediately ran up to Mizu, and began to sniff her over thoroughly. After determining that Mizu was not in fact dead, just incapacitated, he approached Haruki, and began to sniff him over as well trying to figure out his condition.

Up in the air Genzo immediately spotted the two kunai flying up toward him. At this point in the air, his arms and legs were sticking out of his sides to ensure maximum surface area, and thus an even slower descent. Jutsu still activated, Genzo shifted the wind around him, and he veered to the right in the same fashion that a glider would to avoid both weapons. Though he was still expending chakra to remain afloat, Genzo made it look almost effortless. With a fair amount of dust kicked up from the air bullets, he couldn't see that Haruki and Mizu had been moved. It was safe to assume that they'd been hit by all the bullets and were now no longer an issue.

Genzo drifted himself left again, then leaned his body forward in a diving motion. He dived through the air straight toward where the kunai were thrown at him. Speed accelerating greatly, Genzo reached down and unsheathed his sword, sticking it straight out in front of him as he flew closer and closer to Tetsuo's position. It wasn't long before he spotted Tetsuo, and he adjusted the wind to aim him straight at Tetsuo. His black shadow, with a bright shining blade in front of it was now rocketing straight at Tetsuo at incredible speed. This was one of Genzo's signature moves, The Crow's Dive, and he rarely ever missed with it. In Tetsuo's state, dodging this would be almost impossible.

In that exact instant, Katsuro bolted by Tetsuo and pulled him out of the way. Genzo's black mass came whistling by, blasting through several trees that were behind Tetsuo. Even though it missed, Katsuro could still feel the breeze generated by the force of their opponent passing over them just now. That was close, too close. He put Tetsuo down, not taking an eye off of Genzo for a second. Past the trail of destruction, Genzo stood completely in tact. He too, was staring right at Katsuro.

Katsuro's nostrils flared, and he sneered toward the sight of Genzo. His breathing intensified, and he tightened his fist. Behind his glasses, Katsuro's eyes were locked right onto Genzo, who was about 100 yards away. Long range. This man, for whatever reason, had tried to kill his students. Therefore, he was Katsuro's enemy. His blood boiled just thinking about this. Reaching into his flak vest, Katsuro pulled a black ball, most likely an explosive of some kind. In his other hand he slid several smaller explosive out between his fingers. Judging from that technique, this was an advanced shinobi...probably Jonin rank or higher at one point. Air manipulation of that precision required a vast amount of experience and precision, the likes of which only a jonin could get to.

"Tetsuo." Katsuro said, breaking the tense silence. "I need you to tell me everything you know about this guy, from fighting style to chakra affiliation. Then go back to Haruki and Mizu. Toshio will be over there, and he'll protect you."

Genzo seemed to be content with waiting and just watching Katsuro. He kept his sword drawn at his side, while hovering his other hand over his gear-pouch in anticipation of anything that could be coming his way. Just by the way he was standing, it was obvious he was taing Katsuro more serious than the genin.


Tetsuo grimaced, seeing the missing-nin sweep out of the way of his kunai. Had he always been getting closer, or was it just now when he was dodging?

He didn't get to think about it for long, or what he could do now that he knew Genzo was mobile even when he was in the air. In that moment, the sun glinted off the blade he'd drawn, and he was aiming straight for him at an almost imperceptible speed. Tetsuo tensed. He had to dodge one way or another.

He was startled to find, just as he was about to make a jump that would've been too late, something strong clamped down on him and pulled him out of the way.

A gust of wind pushed against his back, and it took him a moment to realize he had stopped moving.

Tetsuo was wide-eyed, shocked when he looked up and found a man standing over him. His brain felt rattled, and it wasn't until the stench of cigarettes kicked in his head that he realized it was Katsuro. He couldn't quite register the relief he felt yet. Tetsuo traced Katsuro's line of sight, where the missing-nin stood calmly over the rubble he'd kicked up. He started shaking, wired with adrenaline, and now realizing he'd almost just died.

He looked back at Katsuro, who had started pulling things from out of his flak jacket, which Tetsuo could only assume were explosives.

He was getting more and more rattled when Katsuro told him to report the situation, and the reality of it was starting to catch up to him with reflection. Tetsuo looked blankly back at Genzo, who was still standing there. He didn't have the time to just be gawking at this man though. He may have been pulled out of the fight, but that didn't mean the fight was over.

Tetsuo shut his eyes and dug his forehead into his knuckles to concentrate, making sure that it hurt him. It took him a second to gather his thoughts before he looked up again toward Genzo. "He's some rat bastard rogue from the Sand. He's used genjutsu, and some wind and water style." He tried clearing his throat, which was still hoarse from before, but it just scratched his throat and hurt him more. "He can make water clones, and has some jutsu that pushes air and pulls you in. Just now he was floating in the air or some shit, and he's got that stupid sword." Tetsuo waved his hand to point it out while he tried to think about what stuff he's forgetting. It felt like this fight had been going on forever, but he'd been out for some amount of time that he didn't know at all. "He shot that air like it was bullets too... I guess he's a ranged fighter," he said, remembering the only time he'd gotten close was when he'd made that substitution, but he also remembered him parrying all of Mizu's attacks that he'd seen. "But he can still use that sword up-close."

It was hard just then not to think of this man as just being invincible. None of them had landed an attack on him that he'd remembered, not counting the incident with the clone. Katsuro was different though. He was a jounin, and he'd survived an entire war, at that. He couldn't think of any more tips to give him for the fight.

"He's running some stupid gang of samurai. They're looking for Rei too, and they're killing anyone else looking for her." A thought crossed his mind, and he looked for where he'd left the ronin tied up, and Mizu had flattened the other one unconscious. "There were two ronin, but they're gone now..." Whatever happened must have happened when he'd been in that genjutsu. "He's on a completely different level from them, though," he said, quieter now, because he didn't want to say anything to stroke that asshole's ego.

"They'd called him Genzo," he said finally, before glancing back up at Katsuro to see if he recognized the name, or if he was satisfied enough with that summary.

Haruki, meanwhile, was probably even more shaken up. He felt lightheaded from the blood loss, and he had no idea how he'd gotten out of the way of Genzo's attack. His body burned with stings all over from the cuts and scrapes covering his body now.

He flinched when he saw the snout of a bear puffing at him. First he panicked and shakily pushed his body back, certain he was about to be eaten. Then he noticed the white fur of a polar bear, and thought to himself that he was hallucinating now. But then he remembered Katsuro's summon. "Toshio," he said, sounding winded from relief. He wanted to bury his face in that furry pelt and hug him, but Haruki didn't even have the energy for that.

"But if you're here..." He tried to look around the bear's hulking frame, but all he could see was however many hundreds of pounds of ursine. "Is Katsuro-sensei here too?" he asked the bear.


Bear With Me Here ?
Katsuro intently listened to Tetsuo's description. A swordsman who liked to attack at a range? Odd combination, but that would do. He also factored in his use of water and wind. The name Genzo was then mentioned by Tetsuo's attention, catching Katsuro's surprise.

"Genzo Yoshikazu?"

That name was familiar to Katsuro. He was in the BINGO book, and for good reason. At one time he was an infamous Sand shinobi, famous for his deeds in desert warfare against the Land of Earth. He was probably just as famous as Katsuro...though not for the right reasons. While he was respected as a war veteran, that reputation was tarnished the moment he left his village to pursue bounties set by the Naku Shita - One of the most powerful underground criminal organizations in all of the five great nations. So, why would a class A criminal like Genzo be doing out here? Whatever the reason, this fight wasn't going to be an easy one.

"Go back, and help Haruki and Mizu. Your teammates need you right now. Leave Genzo to me."

Katsuro already had a gameplan in his head, and he intended to make the first move. He yanked a pin out of his large black bomb, then hurled it straight for Genzo. In the blink of an instant, Katsuro then sprinted forward with all his speed toward his target. The grizzled shinobi kept his other explosives still locked in his other palm, waiting to be thrown. Genzo leaped away from the explosive, but underestimated just how much of an explosion the bomb would make. Before he knew it, the flash had caught up to him, and he was violently tossed back by the explosion.

Quickly regaining his footing, Genzo readied himself for Katsuro's attack, but much to his surprise Katsuro had already covered the ground. Whoever this Jonin was, he was faster than Genzo. Much, much faster. Instinctively Genzo sliced his sword at Katsuro. Katsuro ducked his head down, just underneath the swipe of the blade before delivering a powerful left uppercut right into the ribs of Genzo. The force of the punch, due to Katsuro running chakra into his fist, sent Genzo flying back once more. Immediately Genzo keeled over in pain, with breathing being much harder. No doubt that he had broken a rib or two. He couldn't take another direct hit like that.

While he was getting himself up, Katsuro hurled the explosives in his other hand at Genzo. Seeing this, Genzo quickly made his handsigns and whirlwinded the explosives away from him. Quickly, he picked his sword back up and paced himself out into an open area. Katsuro followed, and once more the two stared at each other in stalemate as Genzo clutched his blade tightly, anticipating Katsuro's next move.

Meanwhile, Toshio was dealing with Mizu and Haruki. "Katsuro's here. He's dealing with this guy. But nevermind that. We gotta get the two of you patched up. There's first aid supplies in my pouch, take them out and start helping out your teammate. I'll help out how I can, but I have to keep watch for any more trouble!"

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