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Special Jounin

Deep underground, in an unnamed stronghold of the now diminished Black ANBU, the organization’s de facto leader reflects on the circumstances that have been laid out before him: The imprisonment of his master, the desertion of several of his lieutenants along with a large portion of the Black ANBU’s manpower, and the eagerness of key business partners to back away from the deal once they believe the shadow of Enaka to no longer be looming over them left the organization with only a fraction of the power it once had. Worse yet, he could not actively seek to retaliate against the deserters or two-faced businessmen and politicians that turned their backs on him due to the pressure he now felt from the Hokage’s personal crusade intent on destroying everything Hataro had worked so hard to build.

What made matters worse was the lack of communication from Enaka from within the prison. Hataro knew that such pedestrian means of imprisonment could only confine Enaka as far as the Orochi regent would allow. The only question that remained was why he had not taken action? Why he had sat quietly in his cell while all of their work began to undo itself? Enaka had something in mind. He always did. But he had also always confided in Hataro the plan. This time, however, when the puppeteer ached for the guidance of his master he found only silence. He was alone.

The gravity of the situation would likely have been enough to break a lesser man, drive him to flee just as so many others had. Hataro, however, was no lesser man. In fact, most, including himself, would laugh at the idea of him even being described as a “man” at this point. Hataro had worked tirelessly to shed as many of the constraints of his human body for years. What remained now was as much machine as it was man. His consciousness could still feel emotion, but his body was no longer enslaved to such primitive frivolities. What was left of the man Hataro once was now existed as little more than a genius intellect, an undying loyalty to his master, and an intense focus on the mission.

That is not to say that Hataro was without his pleasures. In this stronghold, surrounded by machinery he was in his natural element. His creations were his pride and in them he found an almost therapeutic means of clearing his mind to deal with the challenges that were being thrown his way. And on rare occasions, he found joy in the company of others. This night was one such occasion…





Special Jounin
“Well, if that isn’t a familiar face,” the guttural, raspy voice of Hataro rang out from a dimly lit doorway, accompanied by the echoing sound of hard boot soles thumping against the concrete floor, “And I almost convinced myself that you had abandoned us following the unfortunate incarceration of our leader. But you aren’t like the rest of them… are you Kyohei? You’re special.”

The rather aggressive sarcastic undertone in Hataro’s voice was only slightly more noticeable than the condescending tone so typical of the Black ANBU’s master puppeteer, but there was something noticeably different about the man’s voice that caught Kyohei’s ear. The Uchiha was more than familiar with the practice of masking his current emotional state with wit and haughty quips. It was a skill that was practically necessary for his survival from a very young age. Apparently Hataro’s years of being near the top of the food chain had made cultivating that skill unnecessary. He was angry.

“That’s what Master thought, anyway,”
Hataro continued as his armored body stepped out from the shadowed corridor into the room where his guest was waiting, “We brought him at least a dozen of your kind, most with longer resumes and better credentials than you, but to him they were nothing more than research specimens and test subjects. You on the other hand, he allowed to prance about our ranks freely, making a mockery of the organization I have dedicated over a decade to building…”

Hataro would pause his monologue as he came to a halt right before his guest, taking a moment to survey the situation. The room was relatively small, no more than twenty feet by twenty feet, with bare, concrete walls & flooring, and no windows or doors to speak of. Aside from the acting leader of the Black ANBU, the only other occupants were Kyohei, with his hands and legs bound to a black, steel chair, the only piece of furniture in the room, and two Black ANBU members, indistinguishable from one another while in uniform, each standing on one side of the Uchiha and facing their master.

“I do hope your accommodations are to your liking, Kyohei,” Hataro resumed, glaring down at the seated Uchiha whose eyes were just as defiant as he remembered, “It’s less spacious than our base of operations that you are familiar with, but with the sudden exodus of allies in the absence of Enaka I felt a downsize was in order. I think it has a cozy feel to it. A home away from home if you will… Oh, but here I am going on. Please, you’re the guest of honor. I’m sure that you have much to say…”

Hataro paused, and focused his attention on Kyohei once more, already imagining in his mind the miserable, distressed, and hateful words that the Uchiha was sure to have for him…

489 | 929~


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Naruto and Naruto Shippuuden belong to © Masashi Kishimoto.