The Beginning of The End[Private]

Nanjirou Soku

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The Santaru leaned against the pillar of IchiRaku Ramen. The shop was busy as usual, people yelling their orders and the chef bustling here and there to satisfy their request. The ANBU took a quiet spot in the cornee of the spot, her ANBU mask which was styled in the fashion of a fox with slits for eyes. Today, Soku was tense. She had been tense since the past week. Her left arm was wrapped in a sling, a injury from the misson she had sustained from the Frost shinobi. Soon, when that time came, all these shops, all these people, who knew how much damage would be sustained. A random patron whom was entertaining the crowd doing some odd tricks with cards he had hidden up his sleeve turned towards the Santaru, a look of glee on his face when he recgonized the ANBU uniform."Heya! ANBU girl! Wanna help me do a joke?!"Soku sat motionless and the ramen owner paled as he recgonized what a grave mistake the comedian had done. Her red gleaming Sharingan which loomed out at the joker through her mask began to give him second thoughts as a trickle of sweat broke out."Does it look like I want to play your little game?"The man backed away shaking hjs head nervously."N-No.
Of course not. Please forgive me!"


Sighing, the girl took a swig of the drink she had, black brewed tea. How the hell could these people be so at ease with the threat of a village at the forefront. Soku needed someone to talk to, if only he had recieved the clone she had sent out. He had been transferred out of the branch and ever since then, she felt lonely. He was like a brother to her but there was a huge gap in their interaction now. Being in the ANBU, she know understood what it felt to be cut off. From your friends, your loved ones. Ziren fell under another Sennin now and she shook her head."Damn it Ziren. I miss you."She whispered to herself taking another drink watching the joker do his trick trying to rip herself from her negative thoughts.
[Req.Ziren]
 

Akane Mirai

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The man had been watching from afar. He had gotten the message from Soku's clone, but, even as an ex-AIT, Ziren stayed back, surveying the situation. Taking note of all the faces and their blood flows in the area. Even though everyone is smiling and all, they can't hide the truth from him. Their blood flows were going fast, filled with adrenaline, as if they are all tense.

And then there was Soku. Even wearing her mask, he knows it is her from her blood flow. He has heard of her promotion. Even out of the branch, Ziren has kept an eye to make sure that those in the branch stay vigilant and keep their identities hidden.

Because of this, especially now, with the Frost Ninja right outside the Walls, he is taking every precautions he can take. In a moment, he summoned up the soul that he now commands, Nara Anyu. He gave the soul a letter, and told him to give it to Soku.

The soul had black hair, pale skin, and wore a black shirt with blue jeans. He looked like just a regular human being to most people. "Excuse me Miss. But I have a letter for you. From your Brother." Ziren didn't expect that to come out of the Nara soul. Especially since of how he claimed the soul.

On the note, it said:
Sis,
Would like to meet with you right now, but under these grave times, we both need to be careful. Of your own identity and others inside the branch. Especially if they find any special affiliation of you with me, or your boyfriend. Yes, I know all about Him. We'll catch up more in a bit. First, go civilian mode, and either come find me in my new home, or ask me to come to your clan house.
Miss you with all my heart,
Big Bro
P.s. congrats. I'm so proud of you.

On the back of the letter were directions that would lead Soku to his home, if that is what she wants. As she would look up to talk to the messenger, she would see that he has disappeared.

Ziren went to intercept the jokester giving Soku a quick smile before he drew the joker's attention, so she wouldn't be stopped by him.
 

Nanjirou Soku

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A voice would interrupt her peaceeful silence and as Soku reached out to grasp the letter, the kunoichi glanced to see the messenger only to find no one there. Scanning the contents of the letters, Soku folded it and put it in her pocket quickly getting up from her chair and proceeding to leave the establishment. Once outside, the Santaru would need to don something that attracted less attention. Heading back to the clan estate, Soku quickly underwent a change donning some jeans and a green shirt before heading out again. It was not hard to find Ziren's home. After all, she had been here numerous times but yet, she couldn't remember the last visit she had. Her implanted Sharingan pupils scanning the area as usual, for any threats. She never let her guard down, not even when on a casual visit. Anytning could happen at any given time and she wanted to be prepared.

She stopped outside Ziren's front door knocking gently. It had been a while since she had been here and she was secretly happy to be here once again. "It's me."She would speak hoping he would be able to distinguish her voice. The kunoichi did not for obvious reasons announce her name out loud. If the ANBU had taught her anything, it was that the enemy were always watching, listening. She was being very careful about all this. Heck, she had purposefully taken the long way to throw off any potential pursuers or spies. Just in case someone happened to be listening, Soku made a comment to throw off any eavesdropper."I have that mail you sent me the other day."Anyone who was listening was sure to be confused. The girl only prayed Ziren would catch on quickly. It was a old trick in the book. Change up the converstation to throw off any foe. It was one of the very first skills she had learned. Ziren, being a former member of the branch, was still capable of recgonizing this feat, she assumed.
 

Akane Mirai

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Ziren had the house to himself, new and all, with him building it himself, a home for him and his family. Now lies empty. Hana had begged him to come with her with some people who were already evacuating into the bunkers, but he couldn't just stand and wait as these people destroy their home.

Now, not even her or his children to keep him company, he is left alone in here. In the time it took Soku to change into more proper attire, to avoid having a set of eyes on her, was the time it took Ziren to get back to his own home.

He heard her blood flow nearing his home. When he heard her knock and say that it was her, Ziren waited a bit, before opening the door, knowing that if they are being watched right now that they could use anything and everything against them.

He opened the door and gave Soku a small smile, "I told you that you don't have to pay me back, remember? I paid for you to go gamble away some money, and paid those guys to make sure that they won't hunt you down for not being able to pay them back. It's what family is for."

He let Soku in and he closed and locked the door behind him. If anyone was listening in, they would guess that Ziren himself is just a family member who has money and would rather throw money to avoid conflict than to actually be there when it happens. Still painted himself as a target, with them thinking that if they take him, they can have a lot of money.

Frankly, it was half right, as Ziren does own his own business.

The placid neutrality was gone after he closed the door. He walked over and gave Soku a big hug. "I missed you so much Sis! And congratulations! I heard about at least of the promotion. The arm in the other hand..." He looked at her arm in a sling.

"I'll be able to mend your arm if you want to. Now before we get to the business and dark stuff, if what's been happening the past while now, how about we talk about all the good stuff that we have each other missed? So, first things first. Tell me about your boyfriend? I've already talked to him before, and he thinks very highly of you."
 

Nanjirou Soku

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Walking inside, the door swung shut providing them with a sense of security and peace. The Santaru female turned to embrace her elder brother with the one arm she had smiling in return."It's been a while since we talked. I haven't seen you since your reassignment from the branch."She said, her expression suddenly giving in to a look of surprise when Ziren brought up Hoheto."Oh. You know? Hoheto is a great guy. I don't see any reason why I can't trust him."She reflected a bit recalling the day he had visited her apartment."He's quite nice actually and was a bit..shy when he came to visit me." Soku said, a small chuckle escaping her lips. A faint blush tinged her cheeks speaking on the matter and she asked curiously."I am curious though. How did you manage to run into him?"Hopefully, Ziren hadn't scared the poor Uchiha too badly. A shinobi who could manipulate blood and summon all sorts of dark and deathly creations sounded pretty scary to her.

The female glanced at her injured arm."Although, I fear all this peace we have now, it may soon be over. This last misson...was...diffcult. Quite...difficult."She said the image of the Frost shinobi engraved into her head, striking her again and again, the blows had just kept coming. Sure, she had gotten a promotion out of it but Frost didn't care if you were some kid or the Hokage. They were coming to hurt, injure and kill. "How about yourself? How are the kids, Hana? I hope the main bra ch isn't too lonely for you."She said glancing around the residence. It seemed fairly empty. Had Ziren been liiving here by himself."Are you the only one here?"She asked questioningly looking at the Chigokai. Perhaps he had been more lonelier than she expected.
 

Akane Mirai

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Ziren felt familiar with Soku, like his old self. She was like a little sister to him and he would give her anything she wanted.

He smiled down at her as she asked about her boyfriend. "Yeah, I know. And I can tell that he cares about you very much."

Then she had asked Ziren how the two of them had met. He remembered back that day. It was early in when he first came to have these powers to summon the dead and all that. "I was at the Hokage Rock, enjoying the view when he also came to relax. We talked. He brought up you. Told him if he really likes you, and if you really liked him, that I am glad for you two. Just keep it to a date night and nothing more until you are at least older."

Then she went on to talk about the peace, coming to an end. Ziren nodded, and held his hand out to her broken arm, using his normal chakra to mend it as best as he can. "Everything may look grim now, but never lose hope. And remember this, you are much more stronger now, then you were back then."

Then she brought up Hana and the kids. Ziren let out a small sigh and picked up a picture frame that he had of his family. "I've already sent them to the bunkers, of those who actually fast enough to hunker down. Even with them giving us a week's warning, a lot of people haven't started to move yet, which worries me."

He brought out a map of the Fire Country. "Let's start with what we know. You can give me any information you can of these people, though, I understand it if you are not allowed to. But we can at least start with the basics."

He pointed to Crater City. "I think the Frost Ninja are here. Reason why, is that would be the only place to house an army, or even just a small group of people. I know of who they are from a personal talk with the Main Branch Sennin. They believe that they are judge, jury, and executioner of everyone in Leaf. They believe that everyone in here are criminals who have done wrong and needed to be punished."

He waited to see what Soku would think of the situation. Being as she had actually met these Frost Shinobi, she would most likely know more about them.
 

Nanjirou Soku

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She felt her arm beginning to mend the injuries quickly fading away as quickly as they had come. She offered a nod of thanks in his direction. Ziren was like her protector in a sense. He looked out for her jn times of duress fulfilling the role of that brother she never had. However, it was time to get to buisness as he produced a document that was none other than a fully-fledged map of the Fire Country. She listened to his comments and let him finish speaking so she could start"Firstly, it would be a grave error to say they are a small group of people. They are a fully functioning village, Ziren. They have a Sennin,
a Kage and hell, even a war council. I heard things and saw all this. They are no mere bandits. They are out to kill and we need to be on our tippy toes. My misson even though I can not reveal all the details deferring to the ANBU code of secrecy, I can tell you this. Do not try to take them on by yourself. I was in combat with them and the difference in power...was shocking"


She eyed the map taking in the various landmarks and borders before her finger tapped a small town not far from the Fire Country's border."There. That was where my encounter was. A small inn near a forest on the edge of the country. Your assumption of a army would be correct. They had with them a caravan which contained loads and loads of weapons. I assume they are massing those for a armyof quite some size. Crater City is too close and easily reachable by Konoha forces but I would not be at all surprised if this army of theirs was grouping there. I even think we should perhapa have a team out there to keep an eye on things."

Several thoughts were going through her head. Possible tactics, teams and how well they would fare. Most importantly however, for the first time in her life, the Santaru felt fear, true fear. She hadn't felt like this since that night. The night her father had died by her hands."I'm scared, Ziren. I fear for our loved ones, the possible deaths that will occur. The causualities. What if something happens to one of us? I am willing to take the fight to those bastards and kick them back to whichever hell they came from but war comes at a price. All shinobi know that."She paused, eyeing the Leaf logo on the map. It loomed out at her, a symbol of pride and hope. It demanded respect. She looked at the Chigokai, her sharingan gleaming intensly at him."But, I'll be damned if I hide in some hole. Let them come, I didn't work this hard to only have it taken away like that night. Besides, we can't let them destory the Valley of th end. THat's our favorite spot!"She jested smiling at him.
 

Akane Mirai

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Ziren had listened as his little sister had talked. He nodded, knowing that his assumption of an army was right, and hoping that it was just a small group was wrong. He never underestimated these Frost Ninja, for they have indeed kidnapped Maki, and from his talks with Kenshin, knows that these people are not messing around. And then she told him to not take them on by himself. A small smile came upon his face.

"A lot has changed Soku. You won't have to worry about me running in alone on dangerous situations such as that."

Then she pointed out the area of which had she met these Frost Ninja. A small area, in which they were carrying loads of weapons and crates. An army, per se. She had concluded that it isn't much of a possibility that they made Crater City as their place of operations, but it is safe to assume everything.

He could tell that she was scared of the whole situation at hand. Ziren knows that he can't make any promises to her. But... He hugged her once more.

"I know things look grave now. But we have both been through hell and back. Our numerous times of facing off against the likes of Moro Ibumo and Chigokai Jirosho. Both of which were just as much of a threat to the Leaf as these Frost Ninja are. These guys are just more scumbags to check off the list. The best thing you can do, is never lose hope. Be strong for those who can't fight for themselves. Because a time will come when people will look to you for answers. Even to lead them. I have no doubt of the abilities you possess as a strong shinobi."

He let go of her, and stared back into her Sharingan eyes. He was not scared, but in fact, had a look of determination. Ziren knows that he should be afraid of these people. But moreso, he is angry at them. For hurting Soku. He closed his eyes for a second, before calming down. A clear head is needed, especially for this situation set out for everyone.

Then Soku made a joke, to lighten things up. Ziren took a look at the map, of where the Valley of the End was. That was where they first met, and ever since that, they have grown to be friends, and even moreso, turn to think of each other as actual family. Brother and sister.

He smiled at her. But then a thought hit him. It wasn't on the map, but he remembered the ANBU meeting. "Soku. What about the hidden tunnel? The ones that lead right into Konoha? From the still kinda new ANBU head quarters? They could effectively get past a lot of resistance without losing a lot of their own. That's if they know where it is. But still something vital to look into." He spoke of this, barely even audible, seeing as this alone was super secret, and that if the enemy knows of this, they could definitely use this to their advantage.

He wondered if they have quadrupled the security there at the hidden entrance especially when it was announced that Maki was kidnapped. He won't be able to go to Kenshin for this, for he doesn't know if even any of the other Sennin knows about the secrecy of the ANBU.

"You will need to tell one of the higher ups about this. Because if Frost finds out about this, it could be very bad." Ziren had a very change of demeanor. Yes, he can be happy and all. But when it comes to ANBU business, it is all seriousness mainly because he has been in the ANBU for a long time.
 

Nanjirou Soku

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Soku pondered what Ziren had said."The hidden entrance tunnel that leads directly to the ANBU compound is well-guarded and kept a secret by all branch members. Although if the Frost were to gain access to this, it could prove disastarous. The secruity has been tightened since Maki-sama's kidnapping and the only I see the enemy gaining access to this valuable information is through a inside source or perhaps their own intel. I will make a note to bring this possibilty up to the ANBU Sennin."The prospect of a enemy force using their own tools against them was something she did not want to think about. Looking at Ziren, she leant forward to confirm the Chigokai was listening."However, the ANBU compound is nestled deep inside the village as you well know, Ziren and for the foe to penetrate that far mean something must have happened at the front lines. That's why we're counting on your teams, Ziren. If the Main Branch forces are able to deter them at the front then that risk is nonexistent."

Of course, while the main branch were doing their duties to protect the village, the ANBU would be acting as well. Although she could not discuss the contents for security purposes, one thing was clear, the role the branch was going to be undertaking was one that involved absolute secrecy. The chance of it getting to the wrong ears was far too great and as such, she dared not speak about it openly even behind closed doors. She trusted Ziren but he was not a ANBU anymore and as much as it tore at her, Soku had to adhere to the harsh guidelines of the branch. Besides, who knew who else was listening. That chance was something she was not willing to risk.

"I've also been keeping a vigilant eye on the students. If they are trouble now, imagine the recklessness they will cause when we are under attack. There will be no senior shinobi around to babysit them and as such, we have to make sure they either get with the program or there is going to be more trouble than Frost. My conern is especially Hideki Riku. The boy who attempted to get away with the cameras in Tea before I accosted him."The image of his face flashed across her face and she frowned, a deep deep frown. This war was going to be quite demanding. They were on the brink of battle and issues were rampant inside the village. The Santaru sometiems wondered hiw ready they were for the enemy to attack.
 

Akane Mirai

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Once Soku had told Ziren that she will tell Maki to keep some extra eyes on the hidden entrance, he calmed down a small bit. Then she brought up the front lines.

He nodded. "About front lines..." He hated what he was about to say. "Me, Hoheto, and Asuka are on the front lines. It is a counter attack against the Frost. But I ensure you. They will make it out alive of this along with me."

Ziren knew that it would be a lot to take in. But he knows that he can't just not go on without telling her this. It would be wrong to do so."As for whatever assignment you have, I guess that you cannot talk about it. But you will need to be strong, know that me, Asuka, and Hoheto has everything under control."

Then she brought up about the student situation. He sighed. "I have been personally working with Nitish after his big incident about stealing some Uchiha eyes, under Kenshin's order. Safe to say, when I explained my own history up to this point, a lot to take in by the way, and asking him what ever happened to the old Nitish, along with explaining to him that he needs to work with us, against the Frost, he may have opened up his eyes. But as far as the students go in general, they are to be just escorting the rest of the people who haven't yet evacuated, into the bunkers. Then they too, will also be in the bunkers. If Riku does decide to go rogue, then he has decided on the wrong day, for the Frost are ruthless, and not everyone can be around to make sure that even the trouble makers are safe."

Being as he was once ANBU, Ziren was always aware of the facts. Sometimes that makes him a cold person at times, but he also makes sure everyone knows the kind of situation that they are in, that scenario A might happen, but then scenario B happens instead.

"We have the home terf, and the way of the land. I have no questions about the skills of our fellow shinobi, our friends and family and how they will fight. We all trained to become the best." He could tell that Soku was having some doubts and worries about this war. "Clear your mind, Sis. Worrying too much can turn into an issue, as one cannot think straight."
 

Nanjirou Soku

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She nodded, a small sense of relief flooding into her brain."I am calm. It's just that I don't want anything detrimental to happen to the village. I have been raised here since I was born and worked my way up. I do not want to see all that taken away. My childhood was ripped from me once, I will not let a repeat of last time occur again."Soku sometimes pondered the possibilty of a true peaceful era. But she knew a world like that was impossible. If the world was void of conflict then there would be no need for shinobi. The shinobi existed as a reactionary force, expert-well-trained ninja trained to put down any internal and external threats to their family, village or life at the cost of their well-being. It took a special type of person to fulfill that role and the Santaru was glad she could be counted among their ranks

Ziren's comment about Riku made her realize just how cold the world is. If he didn't wake up soon, a certain doom awaited him."Sometimes, I wonder why he does the things he does. I feel like the proper way to reach out to these students is to find a weakness in them. Perhaps a inner confloct they are experencing. Perhaps they act up to cover some hidden past or experience we have no knowledge about."This reminded her about her first encounter with Yukio. She had been cold and distant before this but a chance encounter with the Captain had opened her eyes to the world and now here she was, a fully fledged ANBU of the Hidden Leaf. If only the other students set their effort to other things then pranks, perhaps they would be better off.

"I also think it wise to analyze where Frost is obtaining their information."The female said turning to the matter at hand. There would be time for babysitting lessons later."For example, when our ANBU Sennin was taken. How did they know where to find him?
I find it hard to believe they merely stumbled upon him. Either, they had done some recon before or were fed information. If so, I want to find the leak and dispose of it."
If there was thing Soku hated in people, it was their willing nature to turn their back on the village for some incentive. They deserved to be removed from the lifeblood of the shinobi world.
 

Akane Mirai

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Ziren nodded back to Soku. "I know what it feels like to have that torn away from me, in fact, I don't think I ever had a childhood. I want to make sure that that doesn't happen to you."

His thoughts went to the past for a brief moment. It all started to go to hell when Jirosho had ordered a mercenary to kill their parents. His own life blood brother. Even after Ziren was taken by a caravan, the mercenary followed, killing them all. Though out the first half of his life, Ziren has lived with fear, resentment, anger. But these are different times. He won't let these people take everything away from him that matters to him.

When Soku talked about Riku, Ziren listened. "Perhaps that might be the case. Both you and I both know each other's history well enough to know that we both had kind of a rocky start. But even so, he will need to learn quick, if he wants to not be in the middle of all of this. Do his part in getting to the bunkers and not causing troubles."

Ziren remembered how much of a hard time he has had. Even after coming to the Leaf, there were still problems arising for him. Learning about his own powers over blood. Being scared to use that power. His split personality, that rose up from when he had that one class with Maru. His brother...

He focused back on Soku as she went on to talk about how the Frost were getting their information. "That is something that poses as a threat. If there is a spy..." Ziren thought about it for a second. "Crap. Anyu get in here and make a shadow dome thingy around me and Soku, make it as small as possible so it won't be noticed through the windows."

The spirit of the Nara poked his head out of one of the walls. "First of all, it's called shadow dimension. And secondly best to go in the hallway where there are no windows."

Ziren took Soku by her hand and dragged her to the hallway. In a few seconds, they were enveloped in darkness. "So. If there is a spy, I think that there is a chance that they know if the placement that Kenshin has all the squads at. And as for the kidnapping of Maki. I'm sure this spy might be part of the ANBU, or at least is using that as a front, a disguise.
 

Nanjirou Soku

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She observed most curiously as the Chigokai's soul counterpart revealed himself enveloping them in a domelike structure. Obviously,it was to conceal them from any prying eyes that might be watching."Useful abilty you have."She said a little bit impressed by Ziren's control over the soul. Soku had never seen or witnessed a Dark Sage's abilty and to see one in action was a rare sight to behold. Coming back to the topic at hand, the Santaru pondered over what had been said."If there is an outside leak, they will be found out very quickly. A plan I suggest would be to announce a false plan of action to the general shinobi population and set up interceptors at the gates to see if word of this leaves the village. If so, we find the person and apprehend them. A leak needs to be dealt with quickly and effciently. It could prove a problem when the village prepares for combat."

The kunoichi had just the squad in mind for the task too. The intelliegence division run by Yukio."Perhaps we could have some extra Main Branch ninja at the gates keeping an eye on all items and documents leaving the village and keeping an eye on any suspicous persons. If a leak is found that concerns the safety of the village, I say we hand them over to the ANBU for questioning to deem whether they are a credible threat or not. This way, we can root out a potential traitor if there is one."Soku knew her plan would have flaws and maybe perhaps the leadership had already thought of this but she wanted Konoha to be as battle ready as possible with as little issues. No way she was going to let some possible Leaf traitors snatch her life away from her. Soku glanced at Ziren, a questioning look."With that said, do you have anyone that comes to mind?"
 

Akane Mirai

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"Thank you, I try my best to impress." The Soul said. Ziren sighed and dismissed the Soul.

"This is my sister, Anyu, I don't want you speaking that way to her." He then turned back to Soku, "It seems like a good plan as any, but one problem. The Village is technically on lockdown. Nobody comes in or out unless it is absolutely of necessity. Kenshin told me that after giving me my own passport. If the spy were to try and get information out, it would most likely be at night. Or if they are good enough at Genjustu, at day. And if anyone were to make the spy talk, it would either be you or Yukio. You two have a way with words."

Then she asked him if anyone comes to mind of being a spy. "The crew, the seem always to get in trouble for no particular reason. But I find it highly unlikely that the kids are skilled enough to get past the Gates, especially now that it is highly guarded. Then there is one of my squad members. He seems kind of shady, at times, but I think deep down, his heart is in the right place. Just goes about things in a different way, if you know what I mean."

He then turned the question back to Soku, her, being part of the ANBU would know a lot more people that could cause some troubles. "Do you know anyone that fits the bill?"
 

Nanjirou Soku

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Pondering on this a moment, Soku thought of all in the branch. They were all good men and women, no one particular came to mind. Although there was one person...though he was a exile now."If I had to say, you do remember Maru. I would suspect him. He is a former Leaf shinobi and what's to stop him making a extra buck off selling info on the village to the enemy. He owes allegiance to no one now and was always greedy. That is the most likely suspect that comes to my mind as of right now."Of the others in the branch, the Santaru could not find any problems. The Captains and Sennin were honorable as ever to the village and the AiT were mere genin, they usually did nit get involved with the buisness of the higher ups. She tapped her finger in thought as a idea struck her."You know...I've akways wondered. What if the leak isn't from a inside source? What if someone is providing them information from the outside? As unlikely as it seems, it's happened before.There are many Leaf missing-nin who wish nothing more than to see Konoha burn to ashes,"

The female frowned as she went over her mental list again. If there was a spy, he would found and dealt with. That much, she would make sure."Regardless, I do think it is wise the watch at the gates is doubled. We need to prepared for an attack at any time. Passports should be examined with extreme scrutiny if we are going to be letting anyone enter or exit the village at all. These Frost folk can be quite decpetive. One of them has the body of a puppet as I found out rather quickly."If it was up to her, no one would be allowed even near the Fire Country and the students would be rounded up and thrust into shelters with locks in place. But of course, things were not that easy. There was always something that went wrong."Ziren...I dont want to think of this but if one of us does fall in battle.......what then....?"She looked at her elder brother, serious as she ever could be. She didnt knkw hiw she would cope if she lost a loved one....again.
 

Akane Mirai

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Ziren nodded when Soku brought up Maru. How he could be a prime suspect in acting as the spy. "It does seem like he could be part of this. But, me and you, we both have known him for quite a while, and he seems to only have his own set of goals. While I have no doubt that he hates the Leaf and everyone in it, Maru is also the kind of guy who does stuff solo. Only trying to make others want to be part of the darkness like he is. Remember, he had once acted somewhat of a good guy, protecting you in his own kind of way when Ibumo was alive. And if he was, there probably would have been reports, or even someone bringing his body in as part of the bounty to get a reward off of his death." Maru was always such a shinobi that never really could have been understood. Ziren himself tried his best to see from the dark shinobi's perspective, but Maru has a lot of ignorance to not take that into consideration when Ziren has tried to talk to him, minus his deep talks about darkness.

Then Soku brought up the situation of missing ninja. Of how they could very much well be giving the Frost the information. "I could see that happening. Considering how they no longer care about Leaf, and probably think that the people of the Leaf have done wrong, I could see that maybe even some of these Frost shinobi were ex Leaf members, missing ninja forming their own kind of Village filled with nothing but hate towards the Village they had once grown up in."

Then she talked about how the Gates need double watches. And how one of the Frost is a human puppet. "Well if they have a human puppet, then I will be able to stop that guy right at the Gates. Since I take note of everyone by their own blood flows, if I see someone who lacks a blood flow, I could stop them right then and there and have that place swarmed with both help and my own army in just a few seconds."

Then she asked something else. What if one of them falls in battle. "You won't need to worry about it. With spending time in the medical branch, I have even learned how to bring someone back to life. Me, and the rest of the medical branch has everyone's backs. And no need to worry about me. I have the Will of Fire burning in me. And I still am looking for some missing pieces of my life, I'm not going to give up until I have all my questions answered. One cannot finish a puzzle if they are missing some pieces."

He pulled his sister close to him and hugged her for a long while. "Listen here Little Sis. Have a defeatist attitude and that's what we'll get. Never lose hope. Never lose that determination. Never... Lose that Will of Fire."

The shadow dome dissipated, and Ziren sat down at the table in the kitchen. "Let me tell you something. Something, I haven't told you. Something I am ashamed of, and hope that you don't see me any differently as you do now."

He took off the metal arm, Soku would hear a hiss as chakra that connected the stump and the contraption together was released. "The night I killed my brother... He burned down my previous house. Told me to come find him at the Valley of the End, to finish what he had started so long ago. Just me and him. Izumi witnessed the fire. Tried to stop me from going and doing this all on my own. I didn't want him to get involved, afraid that my brother would kill him. So I used my blood lines binding justsu on Izumi. It almost killed him. After finally killing my brother, Takeshi summoned me. Had me fight him, I lost. Made me cut off my own arm to save my wife from having her eyes taken out. I stayed in the Forest of Death for a bit, before being summoned, this time, for the ANBU meeting. My wounds were not tended. Afterwards, some days later, me and Takeshi were at it again. Heated argument. I said what I thought, and I got demoted."

He paused. And then he said, "And then things finally started to look up. I was back at Genin. But it's not just that, I was one of the very few Genin to be chosen to be part of the squads that are going to play a crucial role in these upcoming days. I've personally talked to Kenshin, the main branch Sennin and head of the Hokage Guard, trained underneath him, and learned more about the Frost from him. I've went to donate blood at the hospital and ended up to be a chunin level Medical Ninja, promoted by Mikasa, the Medical Sennin, herself."

Ziren let that sink in. "These past few months have been hell, especially for me. I'll be honest, I was missing an arm, I did lose hope. I lost who I once was. But upon hearing about Maki's kidnapping, I found my purpose again. To be strong. Strong for those who can't be strong themselves. To be that shining bright light of a future that can light all the other candles. From that point, even after I got demoted, I've kept that same determination I've always had. I never lost hope. And I will not lose it when the day finally comes for when the Frost do finally attack. I've learned my mistakes. I have learned who I am. I can't change the past. But I can change who I am right now, to who I want to be. A better person. Someone that others can look up to."

He then decided to close his little speech with this, "Never lose sight of who you are. Who you want to be. Once you know who you are, and who you want to be, you will never lose."
 

Nanjirou Soku

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Soku stared him comprehending his words. She had no idea he had been in a conflict with Izumi. Heck, she had no knowledge that the Hokage had damn near killed him. A mixture of emotions flowed through her. She held great respect for Takeshi but there were times she questioned him and this was one of those times. In a sense, Soku thought he would have been better off as the ANBU Sennin but he was the most viable canidate for Hokage at the time. She replied quietly."I'm sorry...I didn't know. I knew you had been involved in some fight costing you your arm but I never imagined Takeshi was the one responsible. That really ticks me off..."Soku said clenching her fist. What done was done but still...a part of her was disturbed by this.

He started speaking about attituides and the such."The only ones who will be having a defeatist attitude are those frosty goons after I run them through with my blade."She said darkly running her fingers across the hilt of the sword that hung at her waist. It had seen many battles and suffered many nicks yet it still endured."Besides, without you around, Anyu would get lonely."Soku jested. The soul was a amusing persona at times, almost like a another side of Ziren.

Clasping her fingers together, a furrowed brow creased her forehead."If theres anyone I'm concerned about at the moment, it's Asuka. She's changed a lot since that incident that left her in a coma.
Now, she's....just a robot. Blindly following directions....no emotion....it's like I dont even know who she is.
I hope this skirmish with Frost will open her eyes somewhat."
The ANBU said in a serious tone. "As for that Will of Fire, it burns birght within all of us. After all, fire beats frosty cold ice."She said cracking her knuckles in a determined fashion thinking of the oncoming foe.
 

Akane Mirai

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When Soku had told him about what she thought, of Ziren's predicament, he was at least glad that she wasn't mad at him. "I've lost respect for him these past few months. But as long as he keeps his promise as Hokage to protect this Village, then I will not have a problem with him."

Then she talked about how she does not have a defeatist attitude. He smiled and ruffled his hand through her hair, like the big bro that he is. "That's the little sister I know! Frost won't stand a chance." Then she joked about Anyu. "Anyu... Well... There was a reason he is a Soul. He isn't the sanest of Naras."

And finally she brought up Asuka. He sighed. The Uchiha girl sure has changed. "I know. It was bad enough that I tried to get an emotional reaction out of her by trying to get her angry. That didn't work. I even took away her rights as a god mother of my children. Tough love and didn't work too." Ziren then smiled when Soku had the Will of Fire will beat the Frost. He nodded and sat back in his seat, "They are out of their element, and fighting at a disadvantage. They barely know how we operate."
 

Nanjirou Soku

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"Souls, huh, it seems we kewrn something new about each other every day. If that is the case then I have something to tell you. You probably sensed it earlier but there is an Youkai spirit present in the room. My youkai contract, in fact. Sumino, reveal yourself."There was a immediate blast of cold air that swept through the room followed by a sound of some dark laughing and a aura of fear would fill the place. Before them stood an imposing spirit, she was black and red in color, her face was obscured by her dark colors and she hovered a few feet above the ground. Upon her hands were razorlikeclaws that were clasped together as the faceless spirit stared down at the duo. She spoke, coldly, void of any emotion."What iss it you desssire...Master?"The Santaru held up a hand to calm the Youkai smiling at her."Come now, Sumino. No need to be on guard. This is Ziren. He is no threat.
Ziren, mert Sumino. She is an Youkai that came into contractship with me after I stumbled into her deep in the Forest of Death. Simply put, she is a sort of guardian. A persona of the darkness that I once was. I onoy call on her if the situation is dire. I pray that never cones but if that does, her combat abilites are...terrifying."


Sumino nodded as if affirming the fact."The lassst mortal who thought he could sssslay me ...I sssent him to the afterlife in fifteen seperate pieces. I counted."She said as if this wasn't a huge deal. The Captwin looked warily at her contract. She had a knack for intimidating people caring not for their reaction. It was one of the reasons she was so dark."Anyways, if Frost ran into her, they would have a very, very bad day."The Youkai upon hearing the mention of Frost grinned showing a row of sharpened teeth."They are mere mortals. No match for the spirits of the underworld. Bring them to me. I shall make their bodies hosts for the dark forces."The Santaru gave her a look that said only one thing. Sit down and be quiet. Sumino was her guardian but sometimes she tended to forget that role. She was purely for defensive measures, not to be used offensively, only if the cirumstances allowed it."You remember the binding terms we signed upon the contract?"She said speaking gently to the dark spirit. Sumino said nothing, merely muttering as she fell silent eyeing the Dark Sage."Speaking of evil and darkness, I sense another ghost here. Reveal yourself, faker!"Soku sighed. Probabky Anyu she was talking about. "She also tends to get very curious in her own way if there are other spirits around as you can see."
 

Akane Mirai

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Ziren listened as Soku talked about her contract, being an other worldly spirit. A Youkai. He has done research in them, but not really a lot. From what he understands, they are much stronger than the average run of the mill spirit. Things that are usually avoid at all costs kind of things. For Soku to have made a contract with such a creature will prove useful for this upcoming fight with the Frost. He was aware of the presence of the Youkai, but sensing that is harder than to find a random ghost person.

The creature in question was terrifying if a normal person seen it. Ziren, seeing bizarre and lots of scary things in his time waved to Sumino.

Then the Youkai called out for it felt dark evil presence and knew there was another ghost about.

"For dark evil presence, it might be me, I am a Dark Sage after all. Made a binding contract of my own to an Entity, cost me part of my soul. But don't worry. Though my soul is tainted, my heart is pure. As for the other presence... He is really annoying to say the least."

"But you keep me around for the giggles!" A ghostly apparition poked his head out from the cieling. "And as for you being all darkness, blood boy, you got that wrong, I do shadow stuff not you. And not a faker, just a poor ole Soul having to do ones bidding. Say... Where's your face?"

Ziren sighed, "As you can tell Soku, and Sumino. Anyu is rude, and that is putting it lightly. I found him... Trying to abandon Leaf. He tried to kill me, so he forced my hand to kill him. I then took his soul and have him under my command until he learns to be a shinobi. Until I can forgive him for what he did and he feels true guilt for what he has done. Until that time comes, he will be aiding us with this upcoming war effort "

The Nara Soul nodded. "Sadly, that was the deal he made with me. Or rather, the Entity thing that took another part of his soul to keep me bound on this Earth."

Ziren took a breath. "You have my promise Anyu. Once you have learned to show compassion to others, and not think of just yourself, then I will let you go on to the after life."