Chapter 1: Not on Rishi Anymore
"Go on soldier, shift your shebs!" Fynta screamed as she hauled Vik up by his pauldron and shoved him towards shelter. Her feet were slipping in the mud as the deluge from a sudden storm raged around them. Purple lightning spread out parallel with the ground and Fynta dove for cover. The electricity that filled the air just above her head sent a tingle up her spine. She could see the boots of her soldiers disappearing ahead of her, Jorgan at the front, but Dorne and Theron were lagging behind.
Rolling over onto her back, Fynta unholstered her Verpine and began firing down her body to provide cover for the others. This was supposed to be a simple rescue op, snatching Theron back from the Revanites. They hadn't been prepared for the man himself to be at the shabbing place when they raided it. "Theron, do you have eyes on Dorne?"
"Yeah, got her with me," Fynta's comms started buzzing in her ear and she swore.
"Sir, come in, can you hear me?" Jorgan's rough voice cut through the interference to settle the nerves that put her teeth on edge. "Everyone is back, no casualties, just you three. Get here now, Fynta."
"You heard that right, you two? Quick goofing off and move!" Fynta could see Theron's hair cresting over the ridge, his arm thrown over Dorne's shoulder for support. Fynta was beginning to scramble to her feet when the air was sucked from her lungs. It didn't make any sense, her helmet was locked in place, environmentally sealed, nothing could get through. The next thing Fynta knew, she was on her back gasping for breath as white light flared around her.
"Fynta. Fynta come in. damn it woman answer me!" She couldn't answer, could barely think. Only one thought was conscious in her mind as the white light began to darken around the edges. Aric Jorgan. Everything went black.
"I don't even know where this stupid plant is supposed to be," Naruto grumbled as he walked through the forest. Team Seven was on yet another D-rank mission to find some kind of medicinal plant. As soon as Sakura heard the name, she'd begun rambling off its uses and places where it could be found but Naruto had tuned her out. He hadn't paid attention at the academy so why pay attention now? It couldn't be that hard to find a plant with purple streaks on the underside of the leaves. Could it?
Kakashi-sensei had brought them here then told them to split up and find the plant. Something about testing their survival skills rather than their teamwork. Naruto hadn't been listening to that either. He was going to find the plant first and show Sakura that he could be just as good as that idiot Sasuke.
Not terribly far from where Naruto was complaining, Kakashi sat nestled in a tree with his favorite book. The plant his team was looking for grew at the base of this particular tree and eventually, all three genin would find their way here. Kakashi didn't feel bad for not telling them where to find their objective. They needed to learn to do things on their own; that was the whole point of training.
So while his genin trained, Kakashi sat with his legs stretched in front of him, reading. He ran his fingers reverently over the familiar pages, single eye tracing the lines he knew almost by heart. Kakashi had just got to one of the best parts when something caught his attention. A small flock of birds rose from the trees, screeching their displeasure. He narrowed his eye and heard a pop of noise from the same direction, then the forest fell quiet again.
It's not my problem, a tiny voice whispered in the back of Kakashi's mind. Except, it was. He was a jonin of the Leaf and if there was a disturbance that could even possibly affect the village, he needed to investigate. That, and his genin were somewhere out there. Briefly, he wondered if Naruto was the cause of whatever the disturbance was. Probably. Sighing, Kakashi tucked the book away in a pocket, forced chakra into his feet and sprang in that direction.
Naruto continued grumbling under his breath about stupid low ranked missions and kicked idly at a branch on the ground. Suddenly, there was a deafening crack up ahead. Frowning, he increased his speed toward the sound. He came into an opening and found three forms sprawled on the ground. The boy never considered they might dangerous as he darted forward. Two of the figures were wearing white and black armor like he had never seen before. It looked heavier than the flak vests that jonin wore.
"Hey, are you okay?" Naruto approached them. He thought the white armored bodies might belong to women but he couldn't be sure since their faces were hidden behind masks. The third was definitely a man, probably handsome by female standards, wearing a red coat. "What happened to you guys?" The man's face was bruised and battered but there weren't any enemies that Naruto could see. He was just about to reach down and shake the man's shoulder when he heard the chirping. It was almost like a bird but none that Naruto had ever heard.
Fynta took a deep breath, more of a gasp, but it felt good. There may as well have been fire in her lungs and her head was pounding. "Fierfek," she rasped, forcing her eyes open. The leaves above her looked just like the leaves that had been above her before, but the sky was all wrong. It had been storming while they made their escape from Revan, yet now, the sun was shining. How long had she been out?
"Shab." Fynta pushed herself into a sitting position, head swimming, and fought down the urge to vomit. "Sitrep," she said with a swallow. "Everyone still alive?"
The boy froze as one of the figures started to move, sitting up slowly and propping a hand on the strange looking mask. Her back was to him, so Naruto was pretty sure he had managed to stay undetected. Fynta's comm crackled painfully in her ear and Elara's voice filled her helmet. "I'm here, sir. Unharmed. I think."
As he watched the forms stirring, something else caught Naruto's eye. Naruto picked the item up. It was about the size of a book but thinner and heavier than it looked. The chirping sound was coming from whatever this thing was. Naruto turned it over a couple of times in his hand trying to figure out what the sound was. "What the heck is this," he asked no one in particular.
Then the man at Naruto's feet spoke, rolling over with a groan as he did so. "I'm here." Naruto wasn't sure who he was talking to, but the man sounded rough. The other woman was moving now and Naruto took a step back, still holding the datapad.
"Hey, put that down." Theron grunted, scrambling unsteadily on hands and knees towards the little boy with the yellow hair. "That doesn't belong to you, kid. Hand it over," the man growled. Fynta sighed and pushed herself slowly to her feet, all the while reminding herself to talk to Theron yet again about his people skills.
The kid took a step back, hugging the device to his chest. "Not until you tell me what it is." Fynta looked on with some amusement as Theron lunged for the boy who kicked one foot off the ground and launched himself into the tree branches above.
"Oh," Elara said as she joined the others looking up into the tree.
Fynta nodded as she tracked his progress through the limbs before finally stopping to squat and to peer down at them with two bright blue eyes. "He's a shabbing Padawan, Theron," Fynta said, pulling off her helmet and shaking out her braid. The cool breeze was pleasant as it ruffled through her bangs and cooled her face and neck. Some important detail tickled the back of her mind but it wasn't until she locked eyes with Elara's that she realized what it was. Rishi was a tropical planet, hot and humid. This place was . . . nice. Crisp air and the smell of flowers on the wind.
"Sir," Elara began but Fynta raised a hand to stop her.
Hooking her helmet on the back of her belt, the woman who had woken up first cupped her hands over her mouth to shout up to the little Jedi in the trees. "Hey kid. We're Republic soldiers, we won't hurt you but I need you to come down and answer some questions for me."
The boy's head tilted slightly to the right and his face split into a wide grin. "Soldiers huh?" He leapt from the tree, turned a flip, and landed lightly on his toes. "Where's the Republic?"
Fynta spared a glance for her two companions. Elara had moved off to explore their immediate surroundings, datapad in hand, while Theron caught Fynta's eye and shrugged. Squatting down to put herself eye level with the boy, Fynta looked him over carefully. He moved like a Padawan but that orange jumpsuit was not the regulation brown robes she was used to seeing the younglings in. Something wasn't sitting right in her gut. "Where are we exactly?"
The kid's eyebrows pulled together as he squinted at her first, then the others. "Did you hit your head or something? How can you not know where you are?"
Theron snorted and crossed his arms, coming to stand just behind Fynta. "This kid sure talks a lot."
Fynta ignored him, instead, looking over her shoulder at Elara. "Dorne, got anything for me?"
The medic shook her head, still staring down at the device in her hands, "No sir, I can't find any records that match this flora." The woman's blue eyes were full of wonder as she looked up at the trees around them. "It appears we've ended up on an uncharted world. Although, I'm not sure how. Do you remember anything?"
Fynta shook her head and turned back to the boy. "Listen kid, it looks like we're a little lost."
Theron muttered irritably, clicking his back teeth to switch through all the main frequencies his comm implant could usually pick up, trying to find some way of contacting base. Finally he had to admit defeat. "I can't get through to command, Fynta."
Ironically, waking up on another planet wasn't the weirdest thing that had happened to her that day. If it was uncharted, then, of course Theron's frequencies wouldn't work. Later, when she figured out where the shab they were, Fynta would try her encrypted line to see if she could reach Jorgan. Until then, this kid would have to do. "Mind giving us directions to the nearest city."
"No way, I don't know you. You could be rogue ninja or something." The boy took a step away from her and stood with his feet apart, ready if she made a move to attack.
Putting her hands flat on her thighs, Fynta pushed to her feet in silent frustration. She didn't have time to play with the wayward Padawan, not when Revan was still a threat to her squad. Turning away from the unhelpful kid, Fynta addressed what was left of the six men she'd left base with. "Theron, just leave the datapad, it's a burner anyway. Dorne, we need to find civilization and figure out where we are."
Naruto stomped his foot and followed after the three adults, "Hey! You can't turn your back on me. You see this?" Fynta glanced at him briefly to note he was pointing at a piece of cloth on his head. Satisfied it wasn't a weapon, she resumed trying to plan out their next move while he raged on. "This means I'm a leaf shinobi! My name is Uzumaki Naruto and I'm gonna' be the next Hokage, the greatest ninja around!"
There were a whole lot of words in there that Fynta didn't quite catch, but the one she did peaked her curiosity because it was the second time he'd mentioned it. She faced the boy and put her hands on her hips. "What exactly is a ninja?"
Naturally, it was Dorne who spoke up from where stood scanning the horizon, helmet back in place in order to run her mapping program. Her voice sounded disturbingly robotic as she spoke through the filters in her helmet. "Sir, if I may, I believe a ninja is a form of archaic warrior. Quite skilled if I understand it correctly."
Fynta reconsidered Naruto and crossed her arms while he beamed up at her with the cutest blue eyes she'd ever seen, bouncing excitedly in his toes. "Archaic, that's sounds awesome!"
"Yeah, sure it is. Means outdated, kid," Theron remarked, planting a palm on the kid's face and shoving him a safer distance away. "Can we shut him up? His voice alone is going to fry all my implants."
Naruto's expression went from enthusiastic to livid in a second. "You can't treat me like that." Fynta turned to explain that they really needed to figure out where they were and how to get in touch with the rest of their squad when she was brought up short. His hands were flashing in a sequence of gestures that were moving too quickly for her to follow, letting the datapad crash to the ground. Then he shouted something about shadow clones.
Two more versions of the boy popped into existence and Fynta reacted, slinging her rifle off her shoulder and training it on the one in the middle before her brain could process what she was looking at. Her sudden tension alerted the others and in the blink of an eye Fynta was flanked by Theron with his blaster and Elara with her rifle. "Easy kid, what are you doing?"
"Sir, he's just a boy," Dorne said hesitantly.
The last thing Fynta wanted to think about was a galaxy full of self-replicating Jedi. "You remember us at that age?" She asked without taking her eyes off the boy, boys. Every member of her squad had been trained killers by the age that this boy was. Jedi, Sith, or soldier, it made no difference to Fynta.
"Nobody gets to disrespect me," one of the Naruto's growled. "When I'm the Hokage everyone will have to acknowledge me."
It was at this point that Kakashi arrived, pausing in the shadows of the trees to take in the scene in front of him. Two clones and Naruto were facing three strangers who had weapons trained on the boys' chests. The stranger didn't seem to want to hurt Naruto but they were clearly on edge. Naruto could have that effect on people.
One of the women had an interesting marking around her right eye. It was almost like a bullseye but Kakashi had never seen it before and had no idea which clan or village she might belong to. He could probably take them out or at least scare them off but their weapons gave him pause. They didn't seem likely to kill Naruto but that wasn't a risk he could take. Kakashi quickly dispatched a clone to the village for backup and was preparing to move when he heard a sound behind him.
Three shuriken glinted in the sunlight as they flew toward the strangers. Kakashi had pegged the strangers for trained soldiers and as he expected, they reacted to the new threat. Fynta turned into the attack, moving in an effort to cover the armorless man. She wasn't quite fast enough though. The shuriken clattered off the women's armor while one embedded itself in arm the man raised to protect himself. There was a moment when time seemed to slow, then several things happened at once.
"Get down, Naruto!" Sakura's voice rang out and the blond boy flattened himself on the grass. For once, obeying orders without question. Maybe because it was Sakura and not Kakashi? The jonin didn't have time to worry about why.
"Damn brats," Theron spat, cradling the injured arm to his chest as his teammates reached him. Fynta glanced over her shoulder to make sure he was alive before swinging her weapon toward the genin again.
The other woman on their team was beside them, fussing with the weapon sticking out of Theron's arm as blood began to darken his sleeve. Their attention snapped up when Sasuke stepped forward and began weaving signs.
"Fire style: Fireball—" The Uchiha yelled.
Kakashi moved before the boy could finish casting the jutsu. He appeared suddenly in front of his students, putting himself between them and the perceived threat. "Enough," he growled, placing one hand on Sasuke's chest and pushing him backward. The protests began immediately. "I said enough." Kakashi's tone was deadly and the jonin felt all eyes turn toward him.
Eye-smiling at the newcomers, Kakashi raised empty hands. It would be foolish to assume him harmless for not having a weapon but maybe they wouldn't know that. It seemed unlikely that they wouldn't recognize him on sight this close to Konoha. "What did you do this time, Naruto?" Kakashi's hand itched to raise his headband and release his sharingan but he didn't want to escalate the situation if he didn't have to. Maybe these three were innocent travelers and maybe they were enemies. Their answers would determine whether or not he let them live.
Fynta balked, resisting the urge to take a step back from the man who simply appeared in front of her. Lana Beniko had a way of doing that and it pissed her off. Her trigger finger twitched until the man raised empty hands and . . . the shabbing lunatic was smiling at her, she could tell by the way his one dark eye creased around the edge.
"What the hell kind of Jedi are you people?" She asked, raising her head slightly to take in the new players. The man's head, human she assumed from the parts of his face she could see, tipped to the side much the same way as the boy's had earlier. Maybe these people were part of that offshoot academy that had been spreading through the rumor mill. The one where Jedi could marry, have families, and take on as many Padawans as they could handle.
The newest arrival certainly didn't look like any Jedi Master she had ever seen. His clothes had the look of a uniform and, though she couldn't be positive, Fynta got the impression that his green vest was more than a simple fashion statement. He had the same cloth on his head as Naruto but it covered his left eye. How he could possibly see anything with that thing hanging down in his face was a mystery. Surely a cybernetic eye would have been more convenient. And if that wasn't bad enough, a mask covered everything from his nose down.
Fynta was momentarily transfixed by the guy's gravity defying hair before pulling her attention back to his question. Sparing a glance at the blond haired boy again, Fynta cleared her throat before the boy could answer. "I'm Major Fynta Wolfe, Republic special forces. Commanding officer of Havoc Squad." She wasn't ready to introduce the others yet, not until she understood who exactly she was addressing. If they knew her name, fine, she wouldn't give up Theron and Elara's identities so easily though. Fynta's face was all over the blasted holonews anyway.
Theron swore as Elara pulled the shuriken from his arm, leaning back on her heels to study the weapon she had just excised from the wound. With a sigh, Fynta lowered her rifle barrel to the ground, ready, but safe, "It would appear my companions and I have gotten lost in your forest. I really need to get to a holo to contact the rest of my squad, we don't want any trouble with your people, Master. . . ." She paused, hoping the man would be forthcoming with some information of his own now.
Republic special forces? Havoc Squad? Though Kakashi didn't know those terms, commanding officer was clear enough. He glanced at the woman with a new measure of calculation. "What happened to the rest of your squad?"
Kakashi barely got the question out before Naruto butted in. "You mean you don't recognize him? Everyone knows Kakashi-sensei." The boy pushed himself up, completely oblivious to the tension entering Kakashi's shoulders at the mention of his name. Fynta's grip tightened on her rifle instinctively when the kid rose to his feet. If he started duplicating again, she would have no choice but to respond with force. She couldn't risk her squad's life, even for a kid.
"Shut up, baka." Sasuke rolled his eyes at Naruto, while Sakura moved forward to get a better look at the strangers. Kakashi mentally face palmed. Why had the Third Hokage given him such foolish genin?
Theron grunted as he got back to his feet, waving Elara away when she tried to examine his arm further. He leaned in to whisper something when Fynta held up and hand, watching the interplay between the kids that surrounded the adult. One of them had pink hair, really pink, like bubblegum. Fynta almost smiled, remembering a time when she'd gone through a similar phase.
When no further noise came from the kids, Fynta focused on their master, teacher, whatever and considered whether or not she was at enough of a disadvantage to answer the question. Or if she even had an answer. Kakashi-sensei, the name sounded Twi'lek despite the obvious lack of lekku. While she considered her options, Elara stood, removed her helmet again and held out the weapon. "Simple steel, sir."
Fynta took the weapon and turned it between skilled fingers a few times before eyeing the man again. Jedi hadn't used steel in thousands of years. Where the shab were they? Holding the blade loosely as not to be perceived as a threat, well, more of a threat, Fynta answered the question. "Not entirely sure, that's why I need to find some form of communication, I'm missing half." Maybe the idea that there were more soldiers out there like them would buy her some time to figure out what was going on.
"Did your radios stop working?" Kakashi asked, wondering how advanced their technology was. The answer would help him narrow down where they were from.
"How do we know you aren't spies?" Sasuke looked at Fynta challengingly, face set in the dark scowl only an Uchiha could perfect.
Kakashi half-glanced over his shoulder and rapidly counted to ten under his breath before speaking. "That's it. Not another word from the three of you or I promise you're going to do nothing but run laps around the village for the foreseeable future. Not even a D-rank mission," he glanced meaningfully at Naruto.
Radios. Fynta hadn't heard that word since the academy when they were forced to train with those blasted handhelds. Glancing at the raven-haired boy briefly, Fynta decided it was best to simply ignore the kids and focus on the adult. It was hard to decide just how much to tell this Kakashi-sensei, who she was starting to think might not be a Jedi after all. Perhaps this was a planet like Voss where the native population was naturally Force sensitive. Fierfek. Fynta hated being at a disadvantage.
Three kids and a skinny guy in little to no armor. Fynta decided to take her chances. Flipping the safety on her weapon, she slung the strap over her shoulder and crossed her arms, meeting the man's stare with a subdued amount of defiance. "Perhaps," she responded at last. Theron's implants should have picked up a signal by now and if Elara was removing her helmet, it meant she'd given up on reaching someone as well. They were truly stuck. "We forgot to change the batteries," Fynta replied with a shrug.
Theron stepped closer to her right side, casting a warning glance that she ignored. His arm was pulled tightly to his chest, sleeve rolled up to expose the quick bandage job that Elara had managed before taking up her post again. The man looked like osik, they still hadn't managed a proper medical exam since busting him out of that compound. Whatever was going to happen here, Fynta wished it would happen soon. She had men to find and a wounded SIS agent to tend.
"It looks like you ran into some trouble before you got yourselves lost," Kakashi said, glancing at the man whose name had yet to be given. "I can take you to the hospital and get him treatment, but you'll have to surrender your weapons. Just until we can get this all sorted. You are still strangers, after all." He shrugged almost apologetically.
Fynta looked at Dorne then back to the man. "We have our own medic, a place to finish her scans would be welcome though," she responded, intentionally bypassing the thinly veiled request for information.
Taking a hesitant step forward, hands out by her sides, palms up, Fynta dipped her head to the man. "We appreciate your willingness to help. I'm going to hand over my rifle now, as are my companions." Reaching up slowly, Fynta took hold of the strap on her shoulder to slide it down her arm and hold it out to the man. "Ever shot one of those before?" Last thing she wanted to do was deal with the fallout if these people shot themselves. Judging by the knives, she was guessing blasters weren't an everyman's weapon here.
Kakashi reached for the weapon Fynta was holding out to him. Had he ever shot what? The Copy Nin assumed she meant the weapon and ignored the question with a casual shrug, taking it from her hands. He swung the strap over his shoulder. At a faint sound, Kakashi turned and inclined his head to the three ninja who appeared suddenly from the trees. Fynta, placing another weapon on the pile growing at Kakashi's feet, muttered something under her breath that sounded like shabbing mystics but he ignored her.
Fynta nodded to her teammates, Elara forfeiting her weapon without hesitation while Theron simply glared at everyone for a few heartbeats before finally pulling his blaster from his hip holster and flipping it around to hand it off. Fynta and Elara followed suit, though watching her Verpine blaster hit the ground at the other man's feet tugged at her heart. Even if she lost the others, she'd be getting that one back.
Izumo, Kotetsu, and Genma seemed totally at ease as they watched the scene but Kakashi knew better. His shadow clone had brought reinforcements with more than enough skill to subdue the strangers. "Hey Wolf," Genma offered with an easy grin that made him appear nonthreatening. The senbon between his teeth revealed the lie, however. "Imagine meeting you out here."
"Do I-" Fynta began even as Kakashi offered a soft 'yo' in response. The pair turned to look at each other in confusion. Genma had been referring to one of the many code names Kakashi had used on ANBU missions with him.
Before the situation could be figured out there was a resounding crack and Sakura and Theron screamed. Their pitch was almost identical. Naruto gasped and dropped the weapon that he'd picked up from the pile of blasters. It was Fynta's Verpine, she'd forgotten that one didn't have a safety switch. The ground in front of Theron had been destroyed and there was an impressive crater smoking at his feet. A few inches closer and his leg would be gone. "I-I didn't-um," Naruto stuttered as Kakashi rounded on him.
"Over there," Kakashi pointed vaguely toward Sasuke, "and do not move until I tell you that you can." Genma was laughing, the stranger was cursing, and Kakashi was looking at the weapon with new respect as he tried to figure out what it was. He counted to twenty before turning back to them. "Sorry about that," he eye-smiled though he was cringing beneath his mask. "Kids," he chuckled and shrugged.
"Di'kut," Fynta growled, putting her hands on her hips and leveling the white haired man with a glare. "Don't you guys at least teach your kids basic firearm safety?"
Kakashi raised one eyebrow in her direction. "Let's call it an accident and move on." What in the world was firearm safety? He divided the weapons between himself and Genma, who was still chuckling between Naruto's pale face and Theron's red one. "Come on, we'll show you where you can get some medical attention and we can figure this all out."
They were halfway back to the village before Kakashi realized he'd never told Naruto he could move again.
Chapter 2: Insult to Injury
Something resembling a plot arrives and Fynta gets to meet Genma. Kakashi is not amused. And Elara finds a new subject to be fascinated with.
Theron Shan harrumphed as he flopped down in the chair to let Lieutenant Dorne resume her medical scans. Since all of the equipment and programs were tied into her beskar'gam, all Elara had to do was replace her helmet and run through the standard triage programs. Fynta took a deep breath and stared out the window while one of the three extra ninja stood by the door without speaking.
Fynta was tempted to ask what happened to his face to require the bandage that stretched across the bridge of his nose, but she didn't think he'd answer. Dark blue eyes took in every detail Fynta could register, from the colors of the roofs across the street to the lack of armor on most of the population. This place had all the makings of a happy, family community but Fynta found it hard to trust anything that looked so quaint. Places like these simply couldn't last against the horrors in the rest of the galaxy. They would be found eventually.
Kakashi had vanished to send away his genin, leaving Fynta and her companions alone with their new guard. Not that she blamed these people. While Fynta's initial look at the village reminded her of similar places on less advanced worlds, she couldn't help but feel things weren't exactly as they appeared. Again, Fynta wondered where the hell they'd ended up.
Elara removed her helmet finally and Fynta took that as her cue to check on the irksome patient, that's what Dorne had called Fynta and Jorgan on more than one occasion."What's the prognosis, Dorne?"
"While not life-threatening, I'd rather not clear him for combat without giving his body time to mend, sir," the medic answered, much to the chagrin of the man seated in front of her. "Perhaps a kolto bath." Then Elara paused and looked around, "If they have a tank, that is."
"Absolutely not," Theron complained. "I'm fine and we need to get back. No telling what is happening while we're stuck here playing doctor."
Fynta pursed her lips and shot a quick glance at their guard, a subtle warning for Theron to shut up until she could figure out how much to tell these people. Normally, a city's allegiance was clear if you knew what to look for. Everything from the models of the hover cars to the flags flying above buildings indicated which side that civilization leaned toward, even in the Outer Rim worlds. Here, though, everything was unfamiliar and Fynta couldn't be sure if they were Republic, Imperial, Revanites, or who knew what else.
Squatting down next to her team, Fynta lowered her voice. "Either of you recognize those symbols on their headgear?" Everyone was wearing a belt or headband with a design that was almost reminiscent of a swirling teardrop.
Elara glanced casually behind Theron, whose back was to the door, before shaking her head. "I did a search while we were walking here, but I couldn't find anything." Theron also gave a slight shrug, indicating he had nothing either. Fynta sighed and pushed back to her feet to look out the window again. Her mind was already running through possible escape plans and to what degree she should cooperate. In that quiet moment, Fynta's thoughts drifted back to Rishi where her aliit was still fighting. A wave of panic at not knowing their fates threatened to wash over her before she calmed herself with a few deep breaths. She just had to be patient, they would figure a way out of this.
"I want to stay and see what happens." Naruto's plaintive voice was loud enough to carry through the door and Sakura's green eyes echoed his sentiment. Sasuke looked bored as usual, arms crossed over his chest.
Kakashi almost rolled his eyes but he was a jonin and they weren't supposed to show emotion, even annoyance. Eye-smiling, he dipped a hand into the pouch at his hip and pulled out a plant. It was only a little wilted after the excitement. "Because you have a mission to complete." And because you almost killed one of them, he thought to himself.
"You knew where it was the whole time?" Naruto sputtered, unbelievingly as Kakashi handed the plant to Sakura.
"Of course. Now go, you're done for the day." Kakashi shooed them out of the hallway before turning toward Genma. The man had an insufferably smug look on his face. Kakashi glared at him. "One word about mothering and I'm going to hit you."
The tokujo laughed and nodded over his shoulder toward the room. "So, what's the plan?"
"Get a medical nin to look at the man. He's been fighting someone and until we know who, we treat it as suspicious." Kakashi suggested. He glanced at Izumo, who had accompanied them into the hallway. "You and Kotetsu can go back to gate duty. This is nothing Genma and I can't handle."
The ninja were still holding the strange weapons, including the one that nearly took off Theron's legs. Kakashi looked at it and resisted the urge to pick it up and examine it. "Here, give me the rest of those," Kakashi indicated the other weapons which Genma proceeded to pile into his arms. With an awkward shrug, Kakashi smiled at Genma. "I'm going to inform the Hokage about everything. Good luck," he smiled under the mask. "Oh, and Genma? Don't let them kill anyone." Kakashi disappeared and Genma cursed under his breath. Damn Hatake, leaving him to clean up this mess.
Putting on his usual, easy smile, Genma stepped back into the room and touched Kotetsu on the shoulder. "I've got this." The man stiffened, glancing at the three strangers for a moment, then nodded. He didn't make a report, so Genma assumed nothing had happened while he and Kakashi were in the hallway.
Turning toward Fynta, he offered his best grin. "Everything in order on your end? We'd like to let one of our medics examine your friend there. Better safe than sorry, right?" His tone was almost cheerful but he shifted the senbon between his teeth from one side to the other while waiting for her answer, revealing his readiness to act if she refused.
Fynta turned from the window to face the newcomer, wondering where the silver-haired guy had gone. This was the one she thought might have known her, although his informal nature proved her mistake. There were a lots of wolves in the galaxy, so it shouldn't surprise her to run across one here. At least she could see this one's entire face and better gauge his reactions. He gave off an almost friendly vibe, which put Fynta immediately on alert, so, she matched it with her own smile, not quite as wide, but hopefully amicable enough. She was a little out of practice with friendly lately.
"Minor injuries, but if you want to bring in your own medical personnel, be my guest." If she could get a look at their medical equipment, it could tell her something about which side of the galaxy they'd ended up on. "I'm sure Sergeant Dorne wouldn't mind a second opinion."
The medic dipped her head politely, as was her way. Elara had full confidence in Fynta, even if she didn't always understand what the woman was planning. Theron, on the other hand, was not willingly going to submit to anyone else poking or prodding his body in the near future. "No, absolutely not. I'm not consenting to this exam, Fyn-"
Fynta rounded on him and narrowed her eyes, putting hands on hips to emphasize her point. "That wasn't a request."
Genma chuckled under his breath as he watched the exchange. He silently prayed that he would get a chance to see this woman argue with Kakashi. Both of them seemed to like their authority and if they were together for long, he could see them butting heads. It would be worth interrupting his entire day to watch that.
Theron stood and threw his arms up in anger before pacing the room. Fynta gave him time to work through all the possibilities for her actions. She knew he'd come to the right conclusion eventually. As expected, the man stopped suddenly, crossed his arms, and glared at her. "I used to be your boss, remember that?"
Fynta grinned at him, proof of the absolute vindication she felt inside, which only darkened his mood further. "Yeah, and now I outrank you. So sit down and be a good little patient for the, uh, whatever they bring in to have a look at you."
"Medical-nin," Genma offered helpfully, filtering away the information about their ranks as he opened the door and waved the man forward. Kusushi entered the room, pushing up his glasses as he walked. Dark eyes widened slightly at the strange sight before until he found Theron, clearly the injured party in the group.
"It speaks!" Fynta exclaimed in mock surprise, offering the new guard a cheeky grin.
Genma flashed Fynta a sly look. "I do a lot more than that, but you have to ask nicely first."
Fynta's grin grew exponentially at the response. Throwing a quick glance back at her two companions, she laughed. "Oh, I like this one. Definitely preferable to the other."
"And better looking too," Genma grinned in her direction, wondering if Fynta would actually fall for his flirting. Women were so easy sometimes. Kakashi had never understood that sometimes a flirty smile got more than a glare. Of course, with the mask he was uniquely suited to glaring rather than smiling.
Crossing one arm under her breast and resting her chin in the other hand, Fynta tilted her head slightly. Her dark blue eyes thoroughly examined Genma, then she noded. "Yes, I think I can agree on that one as well. A full face is preferable to a single eye, wouldn't you say? I like to know what a man has to offer." It was like being back on Nar Shaddaa with Jonas Balker again, only this time, Fynta would have to keep herself in check.
"Is that so?" Genma enjoyed the way she was openly appraising him and stood straighter, stretching slightly and watching her eyes follow the movement. Seduction missions had always been a favorite of his. Unfortunately, his uniform kept him from using his muscles to their full advantage right now so he offered his most disarming smile instead. "I've been compared to your masked guard a few times but I usually come out on top."
"Doesn't surprise me," Fynta remarked with the wave of her hand. "Not all women are interested in the strong silent type. Some of us prefer a man to knows how to use his tongue." Theron rolled his eyes and sighed loudly, hoping to catch Fynta's attention before she went too far with this charade of hers. It wasn't that he cared if she pissed off that furball she called a husband or not but there really were more important matters than flirting right now.
Elara watched the scene with mild interest while Genma slowly rolled the senbon from one corner of his mouth to the other then laughed. "Guess it's your lucky day."
Kusushi shook his head at the pair. "If you two are done, I have a patient to examine." Fynta sighed at her fun being cut short, and watched the medic as he moved toward Theron. "Please, move to the bed so I may begin my exam." His tone was soothing but it didn't seem to have much effect. Theron shot a dirty look at Fynta and muttered something about old times before unfolding himself from the chair to sit on the bed. "Lie back, this will be over soon enough."
Theron cast one last, venomous glare at Fynta before complying. She spared a final wink for Genma before turning her attention to the medical nin and Theron. It was cruel making Theron of all people submit to an unknown procedure after the torture he'd just been through before they arrived, but she needed intel, any intel. Short of shooting herself in the foot, he was their only ticket.
"Let's see," Kusushi pressed lightly against Theron's chest, a green fire like glow surrounding his hands from fingertip to elbow. The man on the bed immediately tensed up and squeezed his eyes shut, expecting the pain to start again at any moment. Even with his implants, torture was still unpleasant. "Stop being a child, it isn't going to hurt," the medical-nin mumbled, closing his eyes in concentration. "You've bruised several of your ribs, three I think, maybe four. There's a fracture in your cheek as well, a lot of abrasions and cuts." Fynta smirked just a little. That fractured cheek hadn't been from Revan.
Elara leaned forward, completely enthralled by what she was witnessing. "Sir," she whispered, "That man is bioluminescent. I've never seen that in a near human species before." Fynta nodded without taking her eyes of the SIS agent, only partially hearing the woman's words as she prepared herself to intervene should it be needed. The chakaar might get under her skin constantly, but Theron's safety was still her responsibility.
Leaning against the wall, Genma watched the women curiously, hazel eyes flicking between their faces. Their medic was completely captivated by Kusushi's work and the leader looked ready to kill him if he gave her cause. Genma could respect that, but most medical ninja would help enemies, why did she seem surprised? Especially when her own medic appeared so unfazed.
The glow flared for a moment then bruises began to fade from Theron's face and the swelling around his cheek started to vanish. Even his breathing grew easier as his ribs were healed. Kusushi exhaled and withdrew his hands. "You have internal injuries as well, but I've stabilized them. I'm not strong enough to heal those entirely but the chakra should speed your recovery."
Again, it was Dorne who gave voice to what the three newcomers were all thinking. "Excuse me," Elara took a tentative step forward to stand on the other side of the bed. Lifting her helmet from the floor and putting it on without securing it, Elara ran through her triage programs again.. Theron was gaping at the healer as he took a deep breath that only stirred up the slightest twinge of discomfort.
At last, Elara pulled the helmet off again and looked at Fynta. "He's right. Most of Theron's injuries have been mended." The woman turned her amazement back to Theron, reaching a hand out to prod at the man's ribs. "I've never seen anything like it. Even the most skilled Jedi or Sith would require multiple sessions." The Havoc Squad medic took a shaky breath before looking up at the medical nin. "Can you explain to me how this works? Is the bioluminescence somehow tied into the Force, or is it arbitrary and the healing ability comes from something else?"
Fynta didn't fight the amusement that always worked its way through her every time Dorne found a new topic to become engrossed in. The blond haired medic flipped open the cover on her forearm plate and produced a stylus to begin taking notes on the small screen embedded there, waiting with rapt attention.
So they've never seen medical ninjutsu, Genma thought with surprise. That was unusual for an advanced attack squad.
Kusushi looked up at Elara in surprise. "Bioluminescence? Force?" He shook his head, removing his glasses to wipe them on his uniform. "It's simple chakra healing. By feeding the precise amount into a wound or injury, we are able to speed the body's own recovery. More chakra for graver wounds, less for minor. With-" he stopped suddenly when Genma's hand closed on his shoulder.
"Thanks for having a look at him but that's enough." Genma maintained his easy demeanor while guiding the medical ninja to the door. Fynta watched with interest "We'll send for you later if anyone else needs healing." Kusushi glanced back at Theron, looking like he might protest, then he nodded. Grinning, Genma closed the door behind the medic and leaned against the wall, tucking one foot beneath him, the picture of casual ease.
Fynta was surprised the guard had allowed the healer get as far into the explanation as he did even if he was the chatty one. Granted, it wouldn't have mattered, Fynta hadn't the slightest idea what he was talking about. She generally left that stuff to Elara and Yuun. The Havoc medic, on the other hand, was scribbling frantically when she realized the medical ninja had stopped speaking. Looking up, she was just in time to see him being escorted out of the room and the door shutting behind him. It was a grave disappointment because there were so many questions she wanted to ask. Instead, she unhooked her datapad from her belt and took the chair that Theron had vacated to begin puzzling out what she had just witnessed. The SIS agent simply sat on the bed, silent for a change, staring down at his shirt as if expecting it to catch on fire.
When Kakashi pushed the door open, he felt rather than saw Genma tense. Hazel eyes met his and the man relaxed. Theron was looking better, most of his bruising gone that Kakashi could see, which meant the medical nin had already come and gone.
"Wolfe?" Kakashi had been puzzling out the woman's reaction to his own ANBU nickname and finally remembered that her last name was Wolfe. Her response to Genma made a lot more sense now. Fynta looked up, nodding at her name after sparing a raised eyebrow for Genma. It almost looked playful. "Would you accompany me to the Hokage? The rest of your team can remain here." His tone made it clear that it wasn't a request.
Fynta kicked Elara's boot to get her attention before answering. "Sergeant Dorne, stay here and keep Theron out of trouble. I won't be long."
Elara glanced up, then to the men by the door, and nodded. They had done this many times before. If Fynta wasn't back within allotted amount of time, it would fall to Elara to escape with Theron and find their way back to the rest of the squad. Fynta accepted the response and walked casually to where her guards awaited. "After you, Kakashi-sensei."
Kakashi raised one eyebrow and Genma dropped the senbon out of his mouth, catching it in a hand as the pair swept past him. So this woman didn't understand the basic honorifics either. Kakashi couldn't think of a single village anywhere that wouldn't undrestand the term sensei. He filed that bit of information away for later. "Before I take you to the Hokage," he paused outside the doorway, conscious of the eyes on him. "I'm going to need the rest of your weapons."
"What makes you think I haven't given you everything?" Fynta asked, raising an eyebrow again. The duo had Elara and Theron's full attention and the tension in the room flared from tolerant to strained in a heartbeat.
Kakashi stared at her with his single, visible eye. "People like us would never give up all our weapons on the first attempt. Only the obvious ones."
Fynta flashed her most innocent smile, making a show of pulling off her gloves and handing them over. Eventually, someone would notice the flamethrower, no sense in pushing her luck too far. These people weren't as naive as she'd originally guessed, so Fynta mentally ticked through the list of weapons still on her person and tried to sort which ones would be less likely to be found if she were searched.
Bending her knee to lift her right boot, Fynta pulled the hunting knife hidden within and handed it over, then unclasped her belt and chest plate, offering them up as well. Surely that would be sufficient for her to withhold a few items of defence. "Better?" She asked. She hated being without the chestplate, but her bodysuit was blaster and blade resistant, so theoretically, she should be fine.
Kakashi took the proffered items and inclined his head slightly. The chestplate was considerably heavier than the one he was used to in ANBU, but that was another thing for him to puzzle out later. Right now, he had a job to do.
"You can drop the innocent act with me, I'm not buying it." Kakashi met Fynta's smile, watching it fade. "Don't mistake me for a fool. If you put so much as one foot out of line, I will kill you." Minato's face flashed through Kakashi's mind but he pushed it away. "Do I make myself clear?"
Fynta stowed the smile and decided to act like the military officer she was supposed to be. It didn't look like her flirting would work on this guy like it had the other. "Crystal," Fynta replied in her most convincing voice. I wonder if they'd bring back that other one of I asked really nicely. Instead, she stayed on mission. "I'm assuming a Hokage is your boss?" She asked, following him at a respectful distance down the hallway. She was tempted to mention the same could be expected if any harm came to her own men, but she bit off the remark. Fynta would settle for actions over threats.
"Village leader," Kakashi answered as he guided her out of the hospital and through the streets toward the Hokage's office. He moved quickly, making her lengthen her stride to keep up in hopes of not having to answer any questions from other shinobi or the woman herself.
There was a single guard in front of the Hokage's office since Genma was posted back at the hospital. "Hatake-san," Raido said, bowing in acknowledgment of Kakashi. "The Hokage is expecting you." The door was pushed open and Kakashi stepped inside.
"Hokage-sama," Kakashi bowed to one knee.
Sarutobi Hiruzen turned to look at the jonin and the stranger, sharp eyes taking in every detail from the abnormally heavy attire to the unusual markings on her face. The white robes of office were bright in the dim space, as was the hat shadowed most of his features.
"So this is your wayward warrior, Kakashi? What's your name girl?" Though no one else could see it, Kakashi smiled beneath his mask. He didn't know her age but he could guess she would rankle at being called a girl. Almost as much as he would for being termed boy.
It was time to stop playing games and do her job, which had recently developed a political aspect when Fynta accepted her promotion. Meaning Fynta had to take a back seat to Major Wolfe now Given that she had absolutely no clue about any of these people's customs and her own guide couldn't be bothered to stick with a single name, Fynta fell back on training and snapped off a sharp salute before settling into a position of rest. It was only polite, after all.
Taking a deep breath to buy her a few seconds to sort her thoughts, Fynta allowed herself a polite nod towards the elderly man. Generally speaking, she didn't trust anyone who survived to an old age simply because it was such a feat among her people. It usually meant they were twice as deadly. "Major Fynta Wolfe, sir. Republic special forces."
Hiruzen inhaled deeply as he looked at the woman, sizing her up. He had been around a long time and didn't know anything about this so called republic. "And where is this republic from, exactly?"
Fynta's mouth fell open to answer before she realized she didn't know how to. It took a few seconds, but she finally worked out what she hoped would be a decent enough explanation. "The Core Worlds, sir." The Republic and Empire had been at war off and on for thousands of years. Even the most remote planets knew of them. Shab. They must be further off the beaten path than she expected. "Which sector of the galaxy are w-"
Before she could finish her explanation, another form materialized in the office. The man was nearly as tall as Kakashi, wearing the black pants and sleeveless shirt beneath grey flak vest that denoted him as ANBU. There was a sword peeking over his right shoulder. The mask was vaguely feline with red crescents around the sides of the eyes and green streaks above and below. Short, messy, brown hair could barely be seen around the mask. "Hokage-sama, there's been an attack." The man spoke before realizing they weren't alone. Then his gaze fell on Kakashi and Fynta and, to his credit, he didn't react at all.
"Fierfek," Fynta muttered, this time taking a step back. Why couldn't people just use a shabbing door and show their faces? News of an attack sobered her quickly and that all too familiar tingle ran up Fynta's spine. Her gut told her their little stay in, wherever they were, wasn't going to be a relaxing vacation.
Chapter 3: Unsteady Truce
There's been an attack. The words struck Fynta as the shock of the man's sudden appearance wore off. Shab. She and her squad had only been here a few hours and now there was more trouble. It didn't take a genius to follow the pattern of blame. Fynta moved, not necessarily going anywhere, just shifting under the weight of her pent up nerves. In an instant, Kakashi wrapped a restraining hand around her upper arm. Fynta looked at the man for a moment, resisting the urge to break his wrist. No doubt that would send the wrong impression and she'd never hear the end of it from Theron.
"Why don't you tell us what happened to the rest of your squad?" Kakashi's voice was calm but the pressure of his grip was a clear warning.
Fynta's eyes snapped up to meet his. "We were separated during an op," she replied, yanking her arm away with enough force to indicate she didn't want to be touched again.
Kakashi looked more amused than intimidated and anger flared in Fynta'schest. She was just able to keep her tone level. "I think I've given you enough information for the time being. How about a little give and take. Like where the hell are we?" Her objective was too important to let herself be jerked around any longer.
"You're in no position to be making demands-"
"You are in Konoha, in the Land of Fire," the Hokage offered, cutting off Kakashi's words. "Which, unless I miss my guess, means as much to you, as knowing you're from the Republic means to me."
Fynta ran both hands down her face and paced a few steps back and forth, habits she'd picked up from Jorgan. "Fierfek." How many times had she said that word today? Coming to a stop in front of the older man, Fynta was forced to concede again. "Fair enough," she replied after reining in her temper. "We were in the middle of an extraction operation, pulling one of our allies from enemy territory, when my squad was separated. My second in command commed me to report that the rest of the team made it back to base, but Sergeant Dorne, Theron, and myself were held up." Fynta turned her attention back to Kakashi. "Then we woke up in the forest."
Fynta was on the verge of asking to see their star maps when she was hit by the sickening realization that she had seen no evidence of spaceflight capabilities. Fynta remained silent as her mind began frantically running through every contingency plan she could imagine. Without a ship, there would be no way for them to get back to Rishi.
"They had weapons pointed at Naruto," Kakashi gave the Hokage a significant glance. Both of them knew what it meant for the nine-tails host to be at risk. Grudgingly, he continued. "Though, they did surrender without conflict in the end."
The Hokage looked at Fynta. "What did Naruto do this time?"
Fynta bit the inside of her cheek to keep from smiling at the old man's assumption that Naruto had been to blame for the misunderstanding. "He came into possession of some valuable intel. When we tried to get it back, he started multiplying. You can imagine our surprise, we thought he was a Padawan, but last I checked, they didn't have that particular talent." Thank the Manda. "My team reacted, but we never intended the boy any harm." This time, Fynta allowed her amusement to show in the form of a small smile when she thought back to the incident with the Verpine. "I get the impression he causes enough of that on his own."
The old man laughed. "It seems you've gotten the measure of him after only one encounter. You're unfamiliar with the clone jutsu then." The Hokage's tone made it clear that he wasn't asking a question. Understatement of the shabbing year, Fynta thought, but things were finally moving forward, so she held her tongue.
"Cat, accompany our guest into the hallway so I may speak with Kakashi privately." The Hokage looked at the masked man, then back to Fynta. She nodded and followed the new guard out of the room.
Once they were alone, Kakashi waited and it didn't take the Hokage long to ask the question he knew was coming. "Are they a threat, Kakashi?"
The former ANBU thought before answering. "Yes, but I don't think they're a threat to us. They are definitely dangerous. The weapons they carried are unlike anything I've ever seen." It was Hiruzen's turn to wait for more information. "A single use did equivalent damage to the ground as I could do with chidori."
Kakashi paused to think through the information he'd collected since meeting the strangers. "Her story sounds true, though. One of their companions was injured, so I can believe it was a rescue." He wisely didn't add that Sasuke's shuriken hadn't helped matters, thankfully, Kusushi hadn't asked any questions. "None of that explains how three heavily armed soldiers came this close to the village without being seen."
"If Naruto had been their objective, they could have taken him before I got there." The admission rankled the jonin
The Hokage nodded. "Let's bring her back in and hear about this attack."
Fynta was leaning against the wall with her arms crossed when the door opened again. She'd said two words to the guard in the feline mask before coming to the conclusion that he wasn't interested in small talk. Fynta thought back to guard watching Theron and Dorne, deciding it wouldn't be so bad being stuck out here with him instead of the silent pussy cat.
Kakashi looked between Fynta and Tenzo then touched the man's shoulder and nodded toward the office. Once everyone was back inside, the Hokage looked at each person in turn. "It seems that for the moment, we are going to have to trust each other. Your name was Fynta Wolfe, correct?" At her nod, the Hokage smiled. "I am Hiruzen Sarutobi, Third Hokage of the Leaf." He gestured at the other two men. "Kakashi you know, though I'm sure he didn't give his name. And," he paused, looking at the impassive ANBU, "this is one of my personal guards."
Fynta nodded her head to each man, though she made sure to spare a small smirk for the one in the half mask. At least I know what to call the chakaar now. Her smile twitched slightly wider as she considered all the names she could substitute for Kakashi, though she probably shouldn't. Something about the man rubbed her the wrong way, but she had undoubtedly worked with worse.
"The report, Cat." The Hokage turned his attention to the ANBU.
Tenzo shifted slightly, not looking toward Kakashi or Fynta. "One of our patrols found Taiyo completely destroyed and estimated the attack two to three hours ago." Fynta straightened, gut tightening at the words. "Buildings and walls were flattened or destroyed, use of a fire or lightning jutsu is suspected. They hadn't found any survivors as of the last report and our men found strange burns on the bodies they were able to recover."
"What sort of strange burns?" The words were out of Fynta's mouth before she could stop them.
Tenzo looked for the Hokage's nod before answering. "Holes charred through their chests," Tenzo shifted and glanced at Kakashi, who was tensing his right hand into a fist, then releasing it thoughtfully. "The holes were similar to chidori, but much smaller and perfectly circular."
A prickle of cold dread ran from the top of Fynta's skull all the way down her spine as the implication hit her. "Fierfek." She really should start keeping a tally, this day might be a new record.
"What?" Kakashi turned, assuming the word was a curse as often as he'd heard it today. Maybe that was her alternative to counting. He had to admit, it had a certain appeal.
Fynta looked at him out of the corner of her eye even as she put her hands on her hips and shook her head. "I know those wounds, they are from a lightsaber." But whose? There was no doubt in Fynta's mind that Lana Beniko would cut down anyone who stood in her way, although flattening an entire town sounded a bit extreme for the cheerful Sith woman. Don't be an idiot, you know exactly who it is, Fynta's inner voice scolded, and for once, Fynta couldn't afford to ignore it.
"What's a lightsaber?" Kakashi asked.
How the hell was she supposed to explain the weapon a bunch of Force mystics used? Fynta didn't understand the shabbing things herself, just that she needed to get out of the way when they swung in her direction. If only she'd brought Elara with her, what would the brains of Havoc say? "It's a weapon of pure energy. Kind-of. Harnessed in a way that the wielder can direct where it goes, like a sword."
Kakashi's mind flashed back to the sword the Second Hokage had used. Pure energy radiated from the hilt, strong enough to cut through nearly anything. "I see," he nodded. As far as Kakashi knew, Tobirama's Sword of the Thunder God had been stolen years ago and never resurfaced. "The person you were extracting your team member from uses one of these?" Fynta was impressed he connected the dots so quickly.
"I know several people who wield these weapons, and I'm not fond of many of them, but to answer your question, yes. I believe this might be man we snagged Theron from." If they weren't a part of any factions in her galaxy, then an SIS agent would mean no more to them than Hokage meant to her. Theron's cover would remain intact. "His name is Revan and he's a three hundred year old psychopath who will kill anyone that gets in his way." Fynta crossed her arms and looked the Hokage in the eye, "I need to talk to Theron. He gathered the intel." Then she paused to look at Kakashi. "Do you still have that datapad the kid grabbed?"
"If it wasn't with the weapons, Naruto probably still has it. I assume by datapad you mean the square thing?" Kakashi hated sounding unsure.
Fynta suppressed a groan at the fact that a kid still had possession of highly valuable intel. Taking another steadying breath, she answered in a calm voice. "Yes, we carry information in those devices. I'm sure Theron managed to get data, otherwise he wouldn't have left." After all, he had been making his way to the surface when Havoc showed up to pull him out.
"I'll have Pakkun fetch him," Kakashi said and Tenzo snorted out a laugh before he caught himself. Fynta raise an eyebrow at both of them while Kakashi wove the necessary hand seals, then slammed his palm onto the floor, black symbols spidering out in multiple directions.
A small pug in a miniature blue headband and vest appeared from the smoke, dark eyes taking in his surroundings. "'Sup boss?"
"Seriously? Why do you people even have doors?" Fynta gaped at the little four legged creature. Truthfully, she thought it was a nifty trick, one she wouldn't mind learning.
Though it was ruined almost entirely by his mask, Kakashi smirked. "Pakkun, get Naruto and bring him to the hospital." Kakashi frowned. "And tell him to bring the thing he picked up in the forest." The pug nodded then disappeared and Fynta shook her head.
"I need to brief my team on these new updates and Theron is the only one who can read that datapad," Fynta said. That tight ball of tension was sneaking back into her gut. There was so much planning to do if Revan was here and she didn't have the first clue where to start with only two Havoc members and an unarmored SIS agent.
"Well, let's go meet the rest of your team then. Cat," the Hokage turned to the ANBU, "you're dismissed. Report to me immediately if there are any developments."
"Do not engage him," Fynta took a step forward, hand held up, then stopped herself. "Please." Tenzo inclined his head without speaking and disappeared in a puff of smoke. Fynta tilted her head slightly, wondering if they would tell her the trick to vanishing if she asked. Probably not.
Fynta didn't expect to be allowed to return to Dorne and Theron alone, but the fact that the Hokage was tagging along made her eye twitch. She walked with head held high and hands balled into fists. There were three options that she could see so far: the rest of Havoc Squad was being held captive, they were dead, or they were perfectly safe on Rishi. The first two options caused her heart rate to spike and Fynta took a few breaths to get it back under control. What she really needed to do was to hit or shoot something. Preferably Revan himself, though the infuriating Kakashi might not be a bad substitute.
The trip back to the infirmary felt longer than the one to the Hokage's office. Elara was on her feet as soon as the door opened. Judging by the concerned look on the other woman's face, she'd been monitoring Fynta's vitals and had seen the panic attack. Instead of letting the conversation start off with Dorne suggesting a medical screening, Fynta smiled. "Been keeping an eye on our guard, Dorne?"
Elara's brow furrowed the way it always did when she was sorting through the underlying meanings of something Fynta said. "Indeed, sir. He's quite chatty." Fynta threw a wink over her shoulder at Genma, who chuckled in return.
Theron's eyes slid to the door when Kakashi and the Hokage entered behind Fynta. His eyebrows rose slightly at the odd looking, triangular hat and assumed Fynta had managed to find one of this place's decision makers. Elara, true to form, was openly studying the new arrivals, absorbing every detail, before returning her attention back to her commanding officer.
"Let me introduce you to Sergeant Elara Dorne, our medic, and Theron Shan." Fynta left any identifying ranks or titles out of his name by habit. Taking one more deep breath, Fynta began pacing back and forth, not quite crossing the room, while she tried to sort through and categorize the revelations from her meeting.
"I know that look," Theron said from where he was leaning against the wall with his arms crossed. "What's wrong?"
Fynta stopped and held her hands out. "You want the good news or the bad?"
"Is there a difference in our line of work?" Theron snorted and Kakashi gained a little respect for him.
"Good point," Fynta smirked. "Bad news, I think Revan is here. Good news, he's not on Rishi trying to bring the emperor back to life." When Fynta said this, Genma looked at Kakashi who raised a hand to stop the questions he knew were coming.
Theron's mouth dropped open in surprise while Dorne blinked at Fynta, then down at the datapad in her hands. It took a few seconds for the news to sink in. Theron broke the silence. "You're kidding, right?"
Fynta shook her head. "Nope. And we aren't anywhere near the Republic or Empire, best I can tell. No space travel either. So," she clapped her hands together, the sound being louder than she expected without her gloves to buffer it. "I'm open to ideas on what to do next."
Kakashi glanced at Genma and took a great deal of pleasure in the surprised expression on the man's face. They had been friends for years and the jonin could read emotion in the way his lips curved down slightly and his eyebrows rose, even if he didn't speak.
"Major, it may be inconsequential, but I've been doing some research and I have a theory as to what happened." Elara was looking at her datapad again, focused on something Fynta was sure she wouldn't understand.
"There are many legends about people who were able to alter time and space. Most of these are unfounded tales, of course, but the sheer number of them must mean there is a grain of truth, no matter how infinitesimal." The medic was fully in her zone, typing while she talked, oblivious to the eyes turning towards her. "These may seem like fanciful tales until one considers that the notion that linear time is nothing more than our mind's way of condensing information-" Elara looked up when Fynta cleared her throat and felt her cheeks color. Everyone was looking at her with the same blank expression that she had grown accustomed to on the Thunderclap when she spoke with anyone other that Yuun.
"What I mean to say, is that time and space curve and bend, much like lightwaves. Our own manipulation of hyperspace is proof enough that it can be done. If Revan learned how to focus the Force, perhaps to set a trap, he could have inadvertently transported us here. His presence lends substance to my hypothesis, I do not believe he has full control over it yet."
Theron was uncharacteristically silent on the matter as he stroked the perpetual stubble on his chin."Out with it," Fynta said, crossing her arms. When he was silent, it usually meant an idea was brewing.
The man looked up and shrugged. "Sergeant Dorne could be right, things on Rishi were getting weird, even by our standards. I would need my datapad to know more."
The words were hardly out of Theron's mouth before the door opened to reveal a sheepish Naruto. "I wasn't planning on keeping it but it might have been important." His cerulean eyes sought Kakashi and found the Hokage instead. "I didn't try to kill him; that was an accident. Kakashi-sensei can tell you. Right Kakashi-sensei? Tell him I didn't mean to." Fynta bit back a smile as Naruto glanced at Theron. This kid reminded her of someone, a few someones actually.
The jonin shook his head. "Naruto, give Theron the datapad.." The blond's face scrunched up at the unfamiliar name and Kakashi carefully didn't lose his temper. Today was beginning to frustrate him, more so than most days with Naruto.
Seeing the struggle between the two, Fynta intervened. She walked over to the exuberant, duplicating boy, squatting to his height. "The thing you took is called a datapad and we really need it back." Naruto eyed her suspiciously and Fynta saw a lot of herself in this kid, so she looked him in the eye. "It's important," Fynta added, choosing to believe it was her tone, not Kakashi's thump on the back, that got Naruto to comply.
After thanking him, Fynta carried the device back to Theron. The datapad chirped to life when he slid his thumb across the screen and Theron's brown eyes skimmed over the information, "Here's all the intelligence I was able to gather while," he paused and flicked his gaze to Fynta, "during my visit."
Fynta accepted the datapad and read through the information with an unpleasant expression before heaving a heavy sigh. Activating the holographic program built in to display a large compound, her irritation grew. "Well, this would be great if we were still on Rishi," she muttered. It was brilliant that Theron had managed to map the place out, but that wasn't going to help them here.
Theron rolled his eyes and came to stand behind her, reaching over her shoulder with comfortable familiarity to pull up an image of the masked Force user himself, along with an extensive list of names that meant nothing to her. "Stop touching things," he grumbled. "You'll end up deleting something. Here, try this."
Another list appeared as Theron smacked Fynta's hand away from the screen so he could open the file. "Ah," Fynta said. "So, he shoots lightning, carries a lightsaber, can lift things with his mind, alter a person's brain-"
"He sounds like the coolest shinobi ever! Almost as cool as Lord Fourth. Who is he?" At Naruto's exclamation, the room fell silent. Kakashi tightened both hands on the boy's shoulders and pulled him away from the newcomers. This time his counting reached thirty before he felt calm wash over him.
Fynta smiled and made a mental note to look into the possibility of a Sith Lord Fourth in the area, before leaning closer to the list. After a minute, she looked over her shoulder at the SIS agent. "Theron, where is the part that tells us how to kill him?"
Theron snatched the datapad out of her hands and stalked back to the other side of the room. "We didn't get around to that portion of the conversation," he grouched.
Ever the peacemaker, Elara stepped forward to speak in clear, concise tones. "Sir, perhaps it would be prudent to gather information from this world instead of the old information from Rishi." Theron snorted in contempt but both women ignored him.
Fynta nodded, a scan of the area could give them some indication of whether or not Revan was wounded, or if he'd managed to bring along any of his lackies. Turning her attention back to the gathered natives of Konoha, Fynta risked an outrageous request. "I'd like to see the site of the incident."
"I think that is acceptable," the Hokage answered. "The attack was on Taiyo, a town two or three days travel from here."
"Sir, the time would give us an opportunity to gather our bearings," Elara whispered.
The Hokage nodded. "Kakashi can take you."
"Hokage-sama," Kakashi paused at the upraised hand.
Seeing Kakashi's frustration, a cruel smile pulled at Fynta's lips. "I'd like to request an addition to the team, sir. That one," she nodded at Genma, ignoring the way Theron scowled in her peripheral. Fynta got the impression that these two guards together would make the trek entertaining. "It would be nice to have someone willing to answer our questions. Only the pertinent ones, of course."
Genma grinned and Kakashi groaned inwardly. Hiruzen looked between them, then dipped his head once. "That can be arranged. He has certain skills that could be useful on a mission like this." Fynta barely resisted throwing another wink at Genma. If she had judged him correctly, he appreciated the Hokage's remark as much as she had.
Kakashi's eye flicked to the strangers and he shook his head. " In addition to Genma, I'd like to take Guy. His taijutsu skills could come in handy if we run into any problems and he'll help round out the team."
Fynta spun around to snatch her helmet off the table, flipping it between her palms as she faced the men. "My armor won't be as efficient while I'm missing pieces. Will any of our weapons be returned to us?"
"They will be returned to you after the mission,not before," Kakashi answered.
"Wonderful," Fynta responded in mock enthusiasm, but she wasn't surprised. Havoc would have done the same.
Genma grinned at the tense pair and attempted to ease the tension. "Don't worry, I'll protect you." He smirked in Kakashi's direction. "Both of you, if need be." Kakashi's lips compressed beneath his mask. If this mission was anything like today had been, his calming count was going to be in the thousands before it was over.
Fynta flashed Genma a coy smile, intent on not being outdone by the charismatic guard, but Kakashi cut her off. "We need to move fast to examine the damage. You can bring one of your team members with us." He left it unspoken that the other would be a prisoner to ensure their good behavior.
There was absolutely no doubt in Fynta's mind who would have to stay behind.. Theron met her eyes and nodded, for once both of them being in perfect agreement. "Theron could use the rest and Dorne is an unparalleled combat medic."
Kakashi inclined his head. "We'll provide you with a uniform similar to our own to blend into the forest."
Fynta eyed the lightweight cloth and vests and pursed her lips together. That would leave her and Dorne completely exposed to a plethora of weapons she couldn't even begin to conceive. Eventually, Fynta shook her head, "Plates, fine, but I'm not taking off this fibermesh." She tugged at the collar of the skin tight bodysuit that all her soldiers wore under their armor.
Kakashi considered her request and nodded. Genma openly admired the curves under the mesh while Fynta pretended not to notice. "I need a moment to discuss matters with my team before we leave." She looked at the three men pointedly, "I'm trusting Theron will be treated well?"
"Of course," the Hokage said with a disarming smile. "He will remain here under the care of our medical ninja until he is well. Then he'll be an esteemed guest at the Hokage's residence."
With a nod, Fynta turned towards Theron and Elara, lowering her voice in an attempt to keep their conversation somewhat private . She leveled Theron with a serious stare, all vestiges of playfulness vanishing in an instant. "Theron, I know you understand what to do should we not return." The man was an expert at escape and evasion. He would sit tight unless they missed their check in window, then he was to get himself out.
Theron shook his head. "No way, you really expect me to go back to Jorgan and tell him I don't know where you are?"
Fynta pressed her lips into a tighter line. "I expect you to do your job," she hissed.
Elara watched their guards out of the corner of her eye while the major and Agent Shan continued their hushed argument. The man with what appeared to be an elongated needle in his mouth gave the impression of disinterest, but she had been observing him while Fynta was in the meeting. She noted the way his eyes slid over the room and how his muscles were tense even while he appeared relaxed. Elara sincerely hoped that Fynta was not underestimating these people.
Theron threw his arms up in exasperation, a familiar act that Fynta managed to elicit from most of the men in her life, before growling and crossing his arms. "Fine." The major wore a mildly triumphant expression.
While they continued glaring angrily at one another, Elara had already begun removing her beskar plates and stacking them neatly in the corner of the hospital room that doubled as their cell. It had been years since Elara last entered into a hostile environment without her armor, so it didn't surprise her that her stomach twisted into a tighter knot with each piece she set aside.
Fynta's hand on her shoulder came as a surprise. The major gave it a quick squeeze before turning to remove the rest of her own plates and boots. When she was finished, the major looked up at Genma and her smile returned. "Sure hope you've got something in my size."
"I most definitely-"
'We do,' Kakashi interrupted before Genma could get another word in, which was almost certainly a good thing. "Genma, take them to get some gear. Surely you can handle both women at once?" Fynta's eyes narrowed as she tried to determine if Kakashi was making a joke or if it was merely coincidence. She grinned regardless.
"Of course, I can," Genma offered an arm to each of the women as the Hokage chuckled and opened the door. The man shared a look with Kakashi and stepped into the hallway, shutting the door behind him again. The shinobi turned to face Theron now that they were alone, sizing him up.
Theron didn't miss the fact that he had been left with the guy who found them with weapons drawn on the kid. Every muscle in his body tensed as he prepared for the expected blows.
Kakashi noticed the tension but remained unmoved. "Your commander certainly seems confident."
"You have no idea," the SIS agent said, shaking his head.
"I don't suppose there is any more information that you can give me about what I might be up against?" Kakashi's tone made it obvious he meant Fynta as much as Revan. Theron raised an eyebrow at the man, who had to resist rolling his own. "Is she a threat?"
Theron snorted and crossed his arms, "Fynta is a threat to everyone, herself included." Then he sighed and figured that probably wouldn't help relations with the village. "She's a skilled soldier and she's loyal. Don't cross her and you shouldn't have anything to worry about."
He paused, considering whether or not to add anything else, then puffed out a breath of air and continued. "Try to make sure she doesn't get herself killed, alright?"
Memories of Obito and Rin forced their way into Kakashi's mind. He inclined his head as his eye grew harder. "I'll protect her with my life. Both of them."
With nothing left to say, the two men nodded and Kakashi stepped out of the room. Once he did, Theron dropped back into one of the chairs and shook his head. Kakashi was probably going to come to regret those words. It was inevitable that he and Fynta would push each other too far before this was over. A smile pulled at the corners of his mouth; it was a shame he wouldn't be there to see it.
Chapter 4: Involuntary Trust
It was late afternoon before the ninja stopped complaining about their slow moving travel companions. Which was good, because Fynta was ready to deck one of them. She liked Genma too much to hit him, but Kakashi and Guy were fair game. All three ninja had bounded into the trees and vanished from sight not long after walking through the gates of Konoha. Fynta and Elara had shared a glance, then began walking down the road. Eventually the ninja caught on and fell back to walk with the women.
"You know," said Guy, the exuberant man in the green jumpsuit with the enthusiasm of a used speeder salesman. "I'd be happy to create a workout routine for you. With enough hard work and passion, anyone can master taijutsu."
Elara beamed at the man she claimed reminded her so much of her beloved husband, Balic. "I would be most interested in hearing your advice, sir." Fynta nodded along with Elara, though she still wasn't exactly sure what taijutsu was. If it was anything like the Force, Fynta was perfectly fine without it.
"It starts with endurance," Guy gushed. "Endurance and leg weights." Fynta smirked at Elara's expression and wondered when the woman would go for her datapad. Leaving the two to discuss matters, Fynta sped up to put herself even with Genma.
Kakashi smiled beneath his mask as he listened to Guy chattering. Elara seemed eager to learn every fact that she could fit into her brain and Guy never tired of talking about training, they were a good match. The other pair was more worrisome. Not that he anticipated either Fynta or Genma being blatantly unprofessional while on a mission, but flirting could get in the way of their objective. Shaking his head, Kakashi pulled out a much worn orange book to pass the time while walking.
Movement caught Fynta's attention, along with the flash of vibrant color. Glancing over, she squinted at the book Kakashi held in front of his chest. She couldn't read the title, but the cover depicting a man chasing after a woman, was graphic enough for her to get the idea. "That looks like fun reading," she teased. It surprised Fynta that the uptight Kakashi would be into anything of that sort, maybe she'd misjudged him. The jonin eye-smiled at her, holding his silence.
Elara glanced up to see what the major was talking about, then shook her head and returned her attention to Guy. The man's theory for strength training was sound in concept but some of it sounded quite impossible. Perhaps later Elara could request a demonstration to better understand how the simple application of willpower and leg weights could so dramatically increase a man's speed and endurance.
"Kakashi," Guy grinned back at the silver-haired man. "Why don't you put that book up so we can race? We haven't had a test of strength in at least three days. We'll show these outsiders what Konoha shinobi can do."
"I don't know," Fynta cut in. "I'm rather intrigued by the book." She stood on her toes while they walked, trying to look over Kakashi's shoulder. Without turning to face her, he held the book closer to his flak vest.
Guy's brow furrowed. "Intrigued by my eternal rival?"
Elara cleared her throat, "The major is often intrigued by things that are better left alone."
Fynta smirked, and though she looked at Genma when she spoke, her words were clearly meant for Kakashi. "Is he shy, or just not fond of sharing?"
"Secretive, broody, and emotionally unavailable from what I've heard," Genma responded with grin that earned him a glare from the man in question. "Stand-offish, arrogant, and impossible to work with, from personal experience."
"I'm going to circle back and make sure we aren't being followed," Kakashi said, snapping his book shut, then leaping into the trees.
Turning her face towards the canopy, Fynta's eyes strained to see which direction Kakashi had gone. "See, now you've run him off and I'll never get a peek at that book," Fynta scoffed through her cheeky grin.
"Guy, would you be able to teach us to do that? Or does it tie into the chakra the medical ninja mentioned?" Elara asked, looking up into the trees as well. Of course she had seen Sith and Jedi use similar methods, but these men appeared to be neither. Just normal, human males. The doctor who tended to Theron had acted surprised that Elara didn't know what chakra was, which led her to believe it must be a common trait among the natives of this world, unlike the Force, which only manifested in a small number of individuals.
Guy beamed at the prospect of having someone to train and Elara made a willing student. "With enough hard work and sweat, anything is possible."
Fynta was intrigued for a new reason and Guy was the least secretive of her travel companions. "What else can you people do?" She asked. Even without seeing them in battle, there was clearly something different about the inhabitants of this world
"Are you implying there's something I can't do?" Genma grinned before Guy could answer. Then, assuming it was a serious rather than flirty question, he thought for a moment. "There isn't much that can't be accomplished with one type of jutsu or another."
Fynta nodded, though her curiosity was far from satisfied. Tugging at the collar of the flak vest, which was bulkier than the armor she was used to, Fynta motioned to the pouches on their belts. "You don't have blasters, but every warrior needs a physical weapon." She smiled and reached up to flick the needle-like weapon he never seemed to be without. "I'm assuming this is for more than making you look sexy."
Genma laughed and removed the senbon, holding it between thumb and index finger thoughtfully. "There's nothing wrong with looking attractive." He grinned. "I'd wager that you understand appearances are more important than weapons sometimes. You wouldn't be flirting with me if you didn't think it was going to work in your favor, would you?"
Fynta gave an innocent shrug, cutting her eyes over at the man in the bandana. "Are you saying that things might work out in my favor?" Genma laughed again, there was something familiar about his, though she couldn't put her finger on it. If Fynta weren't already married, this conversation might have taken a more interesting turn. Instead, she shifted seamlessly into her next question. "I've already been acquainted with those triangular daggers of yours. What else do you have? A girl's got to know how to protect herself in this light armor," she grinned, once more tugging on the flak vest.
After capturing the senbon between his lips again, Genma pulled out a shuriken and kunai. "Most shinobi fight with shuriken for ranged and kunai for close combat." Genma offered the weapons to Fynta and didn't insult her by warning that the edges were sharp.
"Shinobi are in peak physical condition, so we can hold our own in a fight, but every ninja has unique skills too. Guy is a close range fighter who excels at hand-to-hand. I function best in medium to long range, and Kakashi excels no matter where he is on the battlefield." He gave Fynta a smile after his explanation. "And what's wrong with our armor? I like it on you."
Fynta looked up from examining the blades, impressed that he'd put them in her hands at all, and couldn't help but respond in kind. "Alright hot stuff," she said, flipping the blades over to hand back to him. "Show me what you're made of."
Genma offered a roguish chuckle. "I'm not sure you can handle me." He tilted his head to the side, listening to a faint bird call that nearly blended into the other noise in the forest. Fynta raised an eyebrow at his challenge but didn't speak, sensing a change in the man's playful attitude. Genma spoke again, this time without meeting her eyes. "Why don't we continue this when we stop for the night?"
"Hm, night maneuvers. I'm sure I can manage," Fynta replied to save face, casting a wary glance back at Elara and Guy, who were also surveying their surroundings.
"Sirs," Elara interrupted when she found a suitable break in their banter. "Is Kakashi often gone this long? It seems unwise for one man to branch off on his own, no matter how skilled he may be."
Genma wasn't looking at either of the women, instead he had adopted a loose slouch that signaled readiness. The faint rustle of leaves that didn't match the wind was enough of a warning for the veteran shinobi. Genma pivoted on one foot, moving between Fynta and the forest as a kunai sailed from the canopy. He responded, spitting the senbon from his lips with enough force to deflect the weapon midair.
Fynta's body reacted on years of training without conscious thought. Still holding the kunai, she dropped into a lower position and flipped the blade around, taking up a defensive stance. "Dorne find cover," Fynta ordered in the same calm tone she used every time they were attacked. Elara obeyed, hurrying to the tree line in the opposite direction from the attack. Until she had a proper weapon, the best thing the medic could manage was to stay out of the way and aid any wounded.
"Friends of yours?" Fynta asked Genma with an upturned eyebrow.
"My friends don't usually try to kill me. Yours maybe?" Genma asked, pulling another kunai from the pouch on his hip and a second senbon as well.
Fynta glanced at the weapon on the ground and shook her head. "Mine would have shot us." Something metallic bit into Fynta's arm but didn't stick. She swore, realizing that attack had come from a different direction. What she wouldn't give for her blaster, but at least the fibermesh was proving adequate for now.
Genma was moving as Kakashi dropped out of the trees, rolling when his sandals hit the ground. The men met in the center of the road, shoulders bumping against either other as they watched the trees, while Guy advanced to cover Elara.
"I counted at least four. They're shinobi, not ones I recognize," Kakashi said in a soft voice.
"Where?" Fynta asked, eyes on the trees. It seemed the most logical place since that is where her guides had gone first. She remained still, waiting for more information before running blindly into a trap.
Kakashi glanced back at Fynta, then to Genma. "You gave her a weapon?"
"Seemed like the logical thing to do, we were under attack." Genma hedged. "Are they after us or them?"
"I didn't stay to ask once they started throwing shuriken," Kakashi growled. The first enemy dropped from the trees. There was no identifying headband to keep the man's hair from falling into his inky eyes. He flew through the seals, ending in tiger, and Kakashi reacted, hands a blur. When the fireball formed on their enemy's lips, Kakashi slammed his hands into the ground, creating a wall of earth between them and the flame. He sprinted up the vertical wall and leaped off the top, using the moment of surprise to throw a kunai.
Genma's raised his weapon to deflect the shuriken flying from the shadows. Fynta had taken a few steps back once fire entered the picture. That's a new one, she thought as Dorne reached out to grab the back of her vest. Fynta spun towards the unexpected contact to find Elara squinting into the tree line opposite them. The major crouched and followed the medic's line of sight.
A man of average build, brown hair, nothing particularly special, was slinking through the trees. With all the chaos on the path, Fynta couldn't be sure who his target was, only that he was an enemy. Taking one step forward, she exhaled and snapped her arm, sending the kunai sailing towards the assailant.
The man turned at the last second, avoiding a mortal strike but sinking the blade deep into his shoulder. Pulling her personal hunting knife, an item she was sure Kakashi wouldn't be pleased to know she'd had stashed away, Fynta ran at the man. She was nearly on him when their eyes met and he sprang upward, her blade narrowly missing his thigh. "Shabuir," she growled up after him.
Suddenly, there was a cry of dynamic entry and a whirlwind of green spandex and fists came between Fynta and the ninja, who'd dropped back to the ground behind her. Guy's outstretched leg caught the enemy full in the face, sending him flying. As stunned as Fynta and Elara were, this must have been a common occurrence because neither Kakashi nor Genma turned. "Don't worry ladies, Konoha's Magnificent Green Beast is here." Guy turned to the side, presenting a smaller target, and put one hand on his hip, stretching the other toward the enemy in a challenging pose.
"Oh my," Elara said, glancing at Guy before looking back at Fynta. His speed was unimaginable and the strength required to produce that amount of kinetic energy was staggering. Elara was considering whether or not Guy would allow her to perform a bone density scan when Fynta drew her attention back to the problem at hand.
"Dorne, you still have that modified injector?" Fynta hated guerrilla warfare, but if their attackers could be lured in close enough, she might have a plan. Without dwelling on what a massively bad idea it was, Fynta edged back out onto the path within speaking range of Kakashi. "Think you boys can use some of those tricks to round our guests into a tighter area?"
Kakashi and Genma had separated now that three of the enemy had shown their faces. Genma was using his senbon to keep one enemy away from the rest of the group while Kakashi fought the other two hand to hand, kunai flashing.
"Round them up for what?" Genma glanced over his shoulder to look at the two women and Guy, who was still waiting for his enemy to dislodge himself from the tree.
Elara dug in one of the pouches on her belt, grateful that they had allowed her to bring some of her medical equipment, and removed a device of her own design. Fynta flashed a grin at Genma before remembering he couldn't read her mind the way the rest of Havoc could. "I need a four meter blast radius." Not being able to use private comms annoyed Fynta. She didn't like the risk of tipping off their attackers.
After assuring himself that Elara was okay and involved with helping Fynta, Guy tapped his foot. "Where's your youthful passion?" In two quick leaps he was moving into the forest after his still dazed enemy.
After resigning herself to the fact that she would likely not see her creations again, Elara tossed the injector to her commanding officer. Fynta knelt, using her knife to remove the housing, then began tinkering with the wires inside. Genma had moved closer to hear the rest of her plan and Fynta couldn't say she blamed him. "I'll rig this to blow," she explained to Genma's back. "Get them together, toss it in, boom. All our troubles are over."
Elara sighed, having seen this all before, and grateful that she left the schematic aboard the Thunderclap should she ever need to build another one. "This would be a lot easier with my blaster," Fynta muttered under her breath while she worked.
Genma glanced back at the thing in Fynta's hand and nodded. Guy's enemy was back on his feet, scrambling away from the glinting smile toward the other enemies for support.
"Genma, Guy," Kakashi raised his voice to be heard over the sound of fighting. "Get Elara out of here. Fynta and I can finish them off." The silver-haired ninja shared a single glance with Genma, who nodded.
Fynta wasted no time in making the final adjustments on her improvised explosive before replacing the housing cover. "Dorne, go with them, we'll be right behind you." Moving from her sparse cover, Fynta hefted her blade while backing towards Kakashi. The two men he'd been fighting were watching him warily, bleeding. "How long do you need to make that thing work?" Kakashi asked softly, lips barely moving beneath his mask.
Fynta hefted the now volatile medical device in her hand, "It's ready."
"Can you trust me?" Kakashi's tone was strained.
Fynta looked over her shoulder, trust was a tall order. Then again, Kakashi was going along with her harebrained plan, so what the hell. "Do I have a choice?" She asked.
Kakashi reached for the device she held. Fynta hesitated, looking at the outstretched hand while keeping another eye on the advancing men attempting to encircle them. The memory of the incident with her Verpine was at the forefront of her mind. With a sigh, Fynta realized it didn't matter who dropped it, because she and Kakashi were now at ground zero. So, she surrendered the bomb over to Kakashi. "Just drop it? No hand signs?"
Fynta balked for the briefest moment. Hand signs? It didn't matter, she'd figure that out later. "No. Press the button, then toss. We need to get out of here fast when that happens, there won't be much of a delay."
"Got it," Kakashi took the weapon then closed a hand around Fynta's upper arm, spinning her back against his chest. The kunai in his right hand pressed against her throat as he held the weapon with his left. "She's the one you're after, right?" His gaze took in the advancing ninja. Fynta snarled in her throat but for once kept her mouth shut. Kakashi's question of trust rolled through her mind as she fought down the urge to strike out.
"Maybe," one of the ninjas said. "We just have to kill her though."
Kakashi shook his head. "Wouldn't your boss be much happier if you brought her back alive?"
Elara was balanced precariously on a tree branch between Genma and Guy. How she arrived up in the canopy of the forest was still a bit of a blur, but that was inconsequential as she leaned forward to watch as Kakashi trapped Fynta and offered the major to their attackers. Instinctively, Elara shifted forward again, desperate to somehow free her commanding officer. Genma's arm wrapped around her waist at the same time Guy's hand grabbed her shoulder, both men holding her fast.
The fireball ninja appeared to be in charge, so Kakashi turned toward him. "I bet he would reward you for taking her alive. They don't have any jutsu, so she's not really a threat." Fynta almost snorted, just catching herself, and promised to make him eat those words if they survived this.
"Why should we trust the Copy Ninja?" The man's eyes narrowed at Kakashi. "I know who you are."
Fynta squirmed in Kakashi's grasp as if trying to break free before leveling the guy with a flat stare. "Who the shab is your boss?" Then she cut her eyes back to Kakashi. "Can't be any worse than this bunch, famous or not." She had a hunch, of course. There was only one person in this world who could possibly know who she was, much less want her dead.
The men took another step forward, staying just out of reach of conventional weapons, and Fynta wondered what Kakashi was waiting on. There was a stab of panic as she considered the fact that he might not be bluffing after all, in which case, she would need to activate the bomb herself. Still, something in the way he'd asked for her trust stayed her hand. Looking back at Kakashi again, Fynta gave him what she hoped was a significant glare.
Sensing that the men were close enough, Kakashi opened his hand and dropped the smoke bomb he'd palmed when putting up his kunai to take the weapon from Fynta. Thick grey smoke filled the area. He released Fynta briefly, spun her around, then pressed the button. Launching himself forward, Kakashi lifted her against his chest and sprang for the trees. His sandals hit the branch as the explosion went off.
Fynta let out an involuntary gasp, then shut her mouth as the smoke plumed around them. Suddenly, her feet were no longer on the ground. Instinct urged her to shut her eyes but curiosity kept them open and Fynta's blood froze in her veins as she caught a glance of the men advancing towards a woman with a dark blonde braid just before the bomb detonated and they were all engulfed in flame. The image vanished, replaced by Kakashi's green flak vest when her feet touched down on a solid surface again. Fynta was vaguely aware of his arms around her, shielding her from the heat of the blast below.
After the noise faded and the heat had eased, Kakashi loosened his grip. Fynta wobbled unsteadily when she tried to look around Kakashi. There was nothing but a charred crater where the four men had been. When Fynta looked her rescuer back in the face, far too close for her comfort, she meant to thank him. Instead, the words that came out of her mouth were a lot harsher. "What the shab was that?"
"You're alive, aren't you?" Kakashi shot back, shaking his head to clear the ringing in his ears. Without waiting for her permission, he hooked an arm around Fynta's waist and carried them both back to the ground. When their feet hit, Kakashi released her and felt the prickle of vindication when she stumbled.
Regaining her footing, Fynta grudgingly forced herself to look at the carnage her explosive had left behind. There was no evidence of the other blond woman. "Sir," Elara called. She let out a puff of air when Genma deposited her on the ground, then rushed to Fynta's side. "Are you alright?"
"Fine, Dorne," Fynta replied, slapping the medic's hands away from her face with an old familiarity. Fynta's eyes never left Kakashi while she gathered her wits, eventually settling for a curt nod. "Thanks."
Guy grabbed Kakashi almost the same way Elara had with Fynta but slapping his hand away wasn't quite as effective. He spun Kakashi first one way then the other, eyeing him up and down and touching the fine points of his silver hair. "I'm fine, Guy," Kakashi pulled away. Fynta was amused to see she and the broody ninja had at least one small thing in common.
"Sir, I really must insist that you submit to a medical exam. You've never been exposed to an explosion of that magnitude without your armor," Elara continued, putting her hands on her hips and giving Fynta a look that meant she wasn't taking no for an answer. "At least, not while I've been your physician."
Looking over at Kakashi, Elara's brows drew together. "It would be wise for you as well, sir." Elara eyed the silver-haired ninja in a way that, were it from any other woman, Fynta would have called indecent. "I imagine your physiology is still basically human, despite your enhanced abilities."
Fynta just barely restrained her laughter.
"You hear that Kakashi? You're not a god among shinobi after all," Genma slapped him on the back, missing the grimace Kakashi's single eye showed at the contact. "Just basically human." Elara narrowed her eyes at Genma too, then threw her hands up in frustrated defeat. These men were not all that different from the ones in Havoc squad when it came to their personal health. The medic turned away from them muttering in Huttese. Fynta's eyebrows shot up, it had been awhile since Elara had been exasperated enough to use that harsh of a language.
Kakashi shifted away from Genma. "I'm fine. Now, since we've made enough noise to wake the dead, I think we should move before someone comes to investigate."
"He's not wrong." Fynta intoned. Bombs were a noisy business anywhere, but especially so in a sleepy forest like this. "Any medical screening can wait until later, Dorne. Deal?" The medic crossed her arms and nodded, making it clear to Fynta that this battle was not won.
Checking herself over, Fynta was pleased to see that both flak vest and fibermesh underarmor were intact and she hadn't lost any blood. As far as battles went, it had been rather tame, apart from the fire breathing humans, of course. She waited until everyone was moving again with Kakashi setting a faster pace this time to distance themselves from the scene of the attack, to approach the man. Fynta would have preferred to hang back with Genma, but Kakashi was the one with the answers she sought. Guy was hanging close to his side, looking ready to catch him if he fell. Seeing Fynta, he moved away, but his dark eyes lingered on Kakashi.
Taking a deep breath, Fynta cleared her throat. "I saw something shortly before the blast. What was it?" Kakashi turned toward her without speaking, waiting for her to continue. Maybe I'm going nuts, she thought, then pushed it aside. "There was a woman, standing in the middle of the men." Fynta couldn't bring herself to admit that the woman looked like her.
"You've seen the shadow clones that Naruto makes," Kakashi's tone implied that she should have been able to make the logical jump from there.
Fynta raised an eyebrow at the man, ignoring his tone in favor of getting answers. "Shab, you can make those things look like anyone?" It was comforting to know she wasn't insane, however, knowing that this man could copy her appearance made her instantly wary.
"We can as long as we know their appearance well enough to mimic it, though casting it on a shadow clone isn't as easy as casting it on oneself. Most shinobi can do it, even Naruto can." Kakashi shrugged. "It has its uses."
Instead teasing Kakashi about how he knew her appearance so well, Fynta exhaled, "I'll say." Kakashi wasn't the flirty type and if she was honest, Fynta wasn't feeling it at the moment either. There was too much information for her to decipher. So she fell in step with the famous Copy Ninja and walked in silence. Eventually, she'd ask about that too.
Kakashi realized it was getting late. They weren't even halfway to their destination, but pushing the women to travel at night was asking for trouble. Broken legs or sprained ankles most likely, and Kakashi knew better than to ask if the women would consent to being carried. "We should make camp for the night and get an early start tomorrow."
As much as it rankled, Fynta was forced to agree. No light and no night vision meant she and Elara would slow the men down even more. "Fine, but we start at first light."
Having had enough of Kakashi's charming silence, Fynta dropped back to join Genma. "Sorry I lost your Kunai, I'll make sure to replace it when we get back," Fynta winked, ignoring the eye roll from Elara.
Genma laughed and shook his head. "I have dozens more of those but there's only one of you. I'd say it's a fair trade."
Fynta smirked, "That line really work on the women around here?"
"I don't know," he leaned closer. "Does it?"
"Sir," Elara interrupted as Fynta opened her mouth to respond. She leaned around Genma to glare at the medic. "I believe Kakashi has found a suitable spot to make camp." Elara kept an eye on the major as the woman leaned back to continue her conversation with Genma.
Fynta flashed Genma a cheeky grin. "Well, I'm not exactly tired yet, perhaps you could show me a few of those tricks from earlier." Fynta paused just long enough to let half formed ideas ramble around in Genma's head before continuing. "I was particularly impressed with this," she said, thumbing at the senbon in his mouth. "You definitely lived up to your earlier boast."
"I live up to all my boasts," Genma chuckled. "I doubt you could learn how to use a senbon in one night, especially the way I do. Shuriken and kunai, maybe."
The smart thing would be to bypass his challenge, but that simply wasn't in Fynta's skillset. "I think you'd be surprised by what I can learn in one night."
Elara's mouth dropped open in surprise. "Sir, really," the woman scolded, clearly affronted by the direction their conversation had turned.
"I can teach you too, if you'd like," Genma offered, winking at the medic.
"What are we going to be teaching?" Guy asked, picking up on the conversation later than he should have.
"Genma will not be teaching the major anything for the time being, there are protocols to follow, sir," Elara said pointedly.
Fynta raised an eyebrow at her longtime friend, "Don't I outrank you?"
A coy smile pulled at the medic's lips and Fynta saw the trap after it was too late to avoid it. "When it comes to the physical wellbeing of the squad, no, sir, you do not." Elara lowered her voice but kept her tone harsh. "Given your history, it would be irresponsible to-""
"Fine, Elara," Fynta cut the woman off with a sigh. When Elara was like this, it was better to concede defeat. Sparing an easy smile for Genma, Fynta continued, "This won't take long."
Genma winked and rolled the senbon from one side of his mouth to the other like he had at the hospital. "Don't keep me waiting."
Chapter 5: Coming to an Understanding
Golden rays of early morning light filtered through the canopy of leaves as Elara and the party walked through the forest. She skimmed over the results of the medical exams from the night before. Guy had been kind enough to submit to her examination, just as curious about the result as she was. Kakashi weathered the whole ordeal in stoic silence, while Genma removed his shirt, along with his underlying armor, and told her to help herself. Of course, Fynta had complained during the entire exam like a petulant child, but Elara expected nothing less.
Fynta nudged Elara's elbow, nodding to the open file when she looked up. "Anything interesting in there?"
"Perhaps." The medic glanced ahead at Kakashi, whose file she had open at present. It had grabbed her attention, if only for the familiar story it told. "If you'll pardon me for a moment, sir. I need to speak with Kakashi." Unless these men were declared the enemy, Elara was still bound by her pledge to patient privacy. Fynta raised a questioning eyebrow before nodding and falling back with Genma and Guy while Elara quickened her pace to reach Kakashi.
"How is your arm," she asked to broach conversation. A piece of metal shrapnel from the explosion had embedded in the back of Kakashi's arm while he was covering Fynta. The man had grunted slightly when Elara removed it, whereas Guy had been impassioned over the small wound until Kakashi pushed him away.
Elara positioned herself on the Kakashi's right side to remain in sight, though she got the impression that he could see her no matter where she walked. Regardless, she wanted to be courteous, even if manners weren't one of the silver-haired man's strong suits. He slid his eye toward Elara, then flexed the arm in question. "It's fine." Obviously Kakashi wasn't interested in talking about his injuries. Luckily, years of being a medic in Havoc Squad had prepared Elara for just such an unwilling patient. Tapping on the screen, she held the datapad out in front of the man, shaking it slightly to ensure he understood her intentions.
"Have you ever seen a scan of your injuries?" This world might have access to radiograph technology, though Elara doubted they needed it. Not if what she had seen from the medical nin was any indication.
Kakashi took the device and glanced at the pale green images on the screen before looking back at Dorne. She offered a kind smile before reaching over to magnify one of the scans in particular. "These bright white areas are scar tissue where the bones have knit together. In your case, some of them have done so more than once." With the flick of her finger, another image appeared. "Same with the muscle density scans I ran." Kakashi gave the medic what was meant to be a flat expression, but it was difficult to read through the mask.
Elara sighed as she withdrew her hand, leaving Kakashi to look through the scans if he desired. "All in all, these look much like Major Wolfe's." She cast him a sidelong glance. "You two have more in common than you'd like to admit." Kakashi made a sound that might have been agreement.
Fynta watched Dorne carefully while bantering with Genma at Guy's expense. Seeing the pathetic excuse for a conversation between Elara and Kakashi die off, Fynta called out to her friend. "Hey, Dorne, these guys are dying to know if you discovered anything impressive in those medical files of theirs."
Genma offered a playful smile. "We're exceptional specimens after all, even if Kakashi is still just basically human." Elara collected her datapad from Kakashi and began rummaging through her notes, remaining intentionally oblivious to the innuendos that Fynta and Genma seemed incapable of speaking without.
"Actually, I believe I have." Guy had given Elara the idea to run a bone density test. She wanted to understand how their bodies were able to withstand forces that would shatter the bones of herself and her colleagues. Genma had agreed, and she hadn't bothered asking Kakashi before running the scan. "Upon closer examination, I've determined that your bones are thicker than the males of our galaxy."
Had Elara used those words in any other company, Fynta might have been able to ignore it. Her mouth fell open as a huge grin spread across Genma's face. She was still speechless when Guy put his hands on his hips. "Fascinating, I wonder if opening the eight inner gates would—" Kakashi and Genma started talking over one another in an attempt to cut off Guy's next words. Of course, Fynta completely misinterpreted their motives, staring at all three in stunned silence.
"I believe you said something about thicker bones?" Genma asked, somehow managing to maintain his composure. Fynta inwardly cringed at the thought of how much trouble Elara could get herself into by trying to explain that statement to this particular man.
In an attempt to halt the downward spiral, Fynta broke her own rule about not sharing personal information. "Careful, Genma. Dorne's husband is twice your size." When Kakashi groaned, Fynta realized she probably should have chosen her words with more care.
Genma's grin never faltered. "Size only matters in the bedroom, and I've never had a complaint."
Elara turned towards Genma, tipping her head slightly to the side as if considering a mathematical equation. When she spoke, there was no hint of jest in her voice. "I believe you are likely adequate for your body mass. However, Balic is twenty-two centimeters taller and forty-five kilos heavier." Elara's lips twitched into a small smile. "He too, is quite adequate for his body mass."
It took at least four full heartbeats for Fynta to get over the shock and burst into a fit of laughter that doubled her over. Kakashi laughed despite himself and clapped Genma on the back. Fynta swore she heard him murmur likely adequate, but she couldn't be sure because she was still in a state of shock over the fact that Kakashi had laughed at all. Genma looked at Elara, dumbfounded as Guy asked them to explain what was wrong with being adequate. Fynta couldn't tell if the overly enthusiastic man was feigning ignorance or if he really was that clueless.
Genma was still uncharacteristically silent as Fynta bent to pick something up from the ground. She carefully wiped the senbon on her vest before holding it out. "I think you dropped this." He took the weapon numbly from her hand.
Sensing that things were probably going to go from bad to worse if they continued this line of discussion, Kakashi moved up next to Guy. "Don't worry about it, Genma will remember how to speak eventually. Let's just enjoy the silence, shall we?"
Fynta patted the disheartened ninja on the back. "Try not to think about it." She was on the verge of complementing Genma's personality, then decided it might be best to avoid rubbing salt in the proverbial wound.
The rest of the day passed slowly compared to the excitement of the day before. By the time they made camp, Fynta had already challenged both Genma and Guy to another kunai throwing contest. She was determined to master the weapon before their mission was complete, and Guy seemed eager to help Fynta accomplish her goal. Genma snickered when Kakashi grumbled about being stuck with yet another hard headed blond.
The third day looked like it would pass in much the same way until midmorning, when Kakashi alerted the group that the village was close. The smoke had cleared, but uneasiness hung heavily over the group as they neared Taiyo. The chill in the air was heightened by the sense of dread that pressed in from all sides. Fynta and Elara tensed at the familiar sensation then shared a glance. Elara nodded, noting a change in the ninja as well. They were more alert, muscles coiled in preparation for an attack. "There is no doubt, sir. I haven't felt anything this strong since Korriban."
"If we can feel it," Fynta's hand strayed to her right hip out of habit, where her blaster should be, "then Revan must have used a massive amount of the Force."
"What do you mean?" Kakashi asked softly, single dark eye scanning their surroundings.
Elara forced a deep breath in an attempt to assuage some of the unnatural pressure. "The Force is similar to your chakra, from what I can tell, except there is a light side and a dark side. However, only a few individuals can manipulate it. Most beings are completely ignorant to the subtle changes Force users impose on the environment."
"Meaning," Fynta cut in. "If we can feel it, then Revan exerted a lot of power to destroy this village. Mainly dark side." Fynta's countenance switched from flirty and playful to serious as she ran over the possible scenarios for an impromptu battle with the three hundred year old man. The ninja possessed skills that Fynta hadn't expected, she'd give them that, but there was still concern about how they would handle going up against a Force user. Not to mention, how was Fynta supposed to protect Dorne with a shabbing pocket knife?
"How far are we from the village?" Fynta asked, trying to gauge whether or not they could reach it by nightfall if they stepped up the pace.
Kakashi sensed the urgent tone of Fynta's voice then shook his head. "We should get closer and make camp, then decide our plan of attack for tomorrow."
Fynta chewed the inside her cheek, impatience warring with caution. Somehow, Revan was the key to getting her people home, but the major wasn't sure she was willing to risk the lives of the locals to reach that goal. In the end, Fynta was forced to concede. "Fine, one more night."
Kakashi led them as close as he dared before stopping, then sent Genma and Guy to scout the area while he held Fynta and Elara back. Genma grumbled something under his breath about Kakashi taking the women for himself, but one glance from the jonin silenced him. There was no banter or amusement in Kakashi's eye.
It was the first time Fynta had seen Kakashi send his men away. Normally, if the ninja grew irritated with them, he sprang into the trees, then returned whenever he felt like it. Still, it was a poignant reminder that Kakashi was leading their mission and something was bothering the man. "Dorne, see about getting camp started. Nothing too extravagant, I plan to leave at first light." Elara offered a curt nod, departing without a word. Fynta turned her attention to Kakashi, put her hands on her hips, and stared directly into his visible eye.
Kakashi met Fynta's glare. "I know you don't like me," he stated simply. "You don't have to, but I need to know that you'll follow me tomorrow. Genma and Guy will obey me, Elara will do whatever you say, so that just leaves us."
Fynta snorted, "And here I thought it was the other way around." She waved away the comment before he could respond and continued. "I'm a soldier and you have home ground advantage. I'll follow your lead. You should know, though, Revan is a serious threat. He isn't fragile like myself and Dorne. The man leveled a shabbing village with his mind."
Though Fynta couldn't see it, Kakashi smiled beneath his mask. "I've dealt with geniuses before; I won't underestimate him. We should work in teams of two, leaving one person free to help either group if necessary."
Fynta silently reminded herself that it was bad form with wish ill on an ally, so she swallowed her retort and nodded. "My squad is used to the buddy system concept. My only condition is that Elara is paired with the stronger of the two. I'll leave that to your discretion."
"You should pair with Genma." Kakashi sighed at the admission, then continued, "You've picked up enough skill to be passable with kunai and can supplement his medium range fighting style. Guy will stay back and cover Elara, he's the strongest among us in hand to hand, so he'll be able to protect her. I'll fill in wherever I'm needed."
Fynta narrowed her eyes at the masked ninja, trying to decide if she trusted him or not. Then came to the same conclusion as before: she didn't have a shabbing choice. "This would go better if we had blasters," Fynta muttered and Kakashi counted to ten under his breath.
"Alright, Elara and Guy stay back, Genma and I go in, and you do whatever it is you do. If we happen to come across Revan tomorrow, try to avoid any frontal attacks." It was obvious, of course, but at least if one of the ninja got themselves killed, she couldn't be cited for negligence. "And if he tries to start a conversation with you," Fynta paused, thinking back to all the men and women whose minds had been twisted by Revan's perverse idea of justice. "Well, just don't give him the chance."
"I don't intend on making friends with him," Kakashi replied irritably. Fynta smirked. "I also don't intend on losing anyone if I can prevent it."
Kakashi's final words struck a chord with Fynta and her smile vanished to be replaced by a new understanding of the obstinate man before her. He'd lost men before, meaning he knew the pain their sacrifice brought. Fynta decided to cast away her earlier suspicion and work cohesively with Kakashi. "Then we have an understanding," she said in a gentler tone than before. "We'll watch each other's backs."
The shinobi recognized the change in her tone and knew that he'd hit a nerve. Rather than inquiring further, he dipped his head at her concession. "I don't expect Genma or Guy to find anything, but we should double up on watches tonight." Fynta nodded, and the pair separated to complete their tasks.
Elara monitored Kakashi and Fynta with calculating eyes, but didn't pry into the details of their conversation. Truth be told, it was nice to finally see the two treating one another cordially. When Genma and Guy returned, there had been no sign of the enemy, but both men were more on edge than usual. Kakashi went over the plans for watches, Genma and Fynta taking the first, Guy and Elara the middle, and Kakashi the final, then their attack strategy for the next day.
Later that evening, and much to Fynta's surprise, Genma was a serious soldier when on watch. As much as she respected the change, it certainly made the night pass slower. Kakashi's words still rang in her ears and Fynta scolded herself furiously every time she opened her mouth to pry into the shinobi's past. It wasn't her business, however much she wanted to figure out what made the man tick.
Finally Fynta broke down and asked Genma. "So, what's Kakashi's story? The man's pep talks are . . . unique." Genma was sitting at her side in the dark with his arms outstretched over the tops of his knees. Fynta could just make out the tilt of his head in her direction. "I believe his exact words were 'I don't intend on losing anyone if I can prevent it,'" Fynta replied to the unasked question.
Genma leaned back against the tree behind him. "That sounds like him. Kakashi's a good soldier and an excellent commander, but he's lost a lot of people close to him." Genma glanced briefly toward where Kakashi was sleeping then shook his head. He didn't say that he'd seen his share of death as well, nor did he ask Fynta.
"I get it," she replied, the two lapsing into silence again.
"He means well, even if he doesn't have the sparkling personality of yours truly," Genma laughed.
Fynta smirked, "So you're saying that there's a good guy under the old grouch veneer? Believe it or not, I know a guy just like that, he growled more, I think. I eventually won him over."
"I'm sure you did." Genma pushed himself off the ground and turned to the woman. "I'm going to stretch my legs. You're good?" Fynta nodded and settled in between the roots of the tree while Genma vanished into the shadows.
The rest of the night passed without event. True to her word, Fynta woke before dawn, shattering the last hour of Kakashi's peaceful watch. She insisted of starting out immediately, accidentally tripping over Guy, who woke everyone else in the camp with his enthusiastic morning cardio ritual. Kakashi was convinced that it had been intentional by the triumphant smirk on Fynta's lips when they broke camp before sunrise.
The group had been on the road for no more than an hour when the first evidence of the attack came into view. They had all seen destruction, that was a part of war, but the senseless violence and death that lay before them was staggering. Elara let out a quiet gasp while Fynta pressed her lips together angrily. Kakashi and Genma's faces remained impassive, but Guy looked around him in bewilderment as he took in the destruction. "Why would someone destroy so needlessly?"
Apart from the heaps of rubble, there was little evidence that a village had ever existed. Dust had settled over everything, blanketing the scene in a tan hue that softened the harsh lines of jagged stone. Fynta crouched at the village's edge, and scowled down at a toy kunai lying in the wreckage, unbroken and barely dirty. She felt she should apologize to the ninja for bringing this chaos to their world, but it was an empty gesture. Fynta was as powerless here as she was in her own galaxy, but she'd give her all to keep to keep the people of this world from suffering further.
"What do you think, Dorne, temper tantrum?" Fynta asked, keeping her voice devoid of the emotions rolling in her gut.
"Quite possibly. I imagine he didn't mean to end up here himself, simply attempting to rid himself of a nuisance."
Fynta's lips quirked into a forced smile. "I've been called that quite a few times with varying degrees of ire, but being zapped to another dimension is a new one on me."
Elara nodded, her eyes taking in the destruction, only half paying attention to what the major was saying. "It does seem extreme, I'll admit."
The ninja didn't speak, simply observed the conversation, becoming more alert. It was entirely possible that they had friends in this village, but none of them would let that impact their watchfulness. Genma moved closer to Fynta while Guy stepped closer to Elara, as discussed the previous night. "Can you tell if he's still here?" Kakashi asked as the group began to pick their way through the village. His hand twitched toward the headband that slanted across his left eye.
Fynta wandered around, finally stopping to kick at a piece of charred wood angrily. "He's not here, otherwise I'd be dead." The major had her hands on her hips, scanning the surrounding tree line. Elara realized she'd been hoping to use herself as a decoy to draw Revan out and scowled at the woman.
Turning back to face the group, Fynta growled in frustration. "We need suggestions. Where would he go next? What is he doing?" She needed to bounce ideas off of someone and Lana wasn't available, not even Shan. That thought tickled something in the back of her mind. There was something Fynta was missing, just on the edge of conscious thought.
"You would know more about his objectives than we would, "Kakashi answered her frustration with his own. "Did Theron have any more information on the datapad?" He asked, though the words tasted strange in his mouth.
"If there was more, Elara would have caught it, no doubt she has every blasted detail of his report memorized by now," Fynta answered, staring down at her boots and grumbling. "Theron spent twenty-four hours in Revan's company and didn't learn anything past genealogy." That niggling thought slammed into the front of Fynta's mind so suddenly that she nearly stumbled. "Fierfek."
All eyes turned on her. "I know where Revan is going." Elara's eyes widened as she came to the same, silent conclusion. Fynta looked around at the ruined village. "He'll go after Theron."
"Why would he go after Theron, and how would he know where to find him?" Genma asked, arching one eyebrow.
Fynta looked to Elara again, deciding the Havoc medic was more qualified to answer any questions involving the Force. The woman nodded and began speaking in the calm tone of a teacher. "Theron is Revan's grandson by nine generations. Even though Theron has no talent for wielding the Force, now that they have met, Revan will be able to distinguish his grandson's imprint soon enough.
Kakashi paused mid-step. "We have to get back to Konoha." He turned away from the group and made a low whistle. There was a flicker of movement and the two women looked on in surprise as Cat, the guard from the village, suddenly appeared at Kakashi's side.
"Get this information back to Lord Third," Kakashi paused and looked at the women. "Have him move Theron to isolation and inform the Intelligence Division, Inoichi in particular." Genma's lips compressed to a thin line as the ANBU nodded, then bounded off in the same manner he'd appeared
Fynta narrowed her eyes and took a step closer to the silver haired ninja, "This is for his safety, I expect, because if it's not—"
The air grew too thick to breathe, like drowning on dry land. Searing brightness blotted out the forest and sound vanished in the time it took to gasp. Fynta and Elara understood what was happening a second too late, and of all the ninja, only Genma was prepared. There was an explosion of white light, then darkness.
Chapter 6: A Whole New World
DimiGex and I haven't forgotten about this story, but real life tends to get hectic this time of year, making it more difficult to collaborate. Thank you all for your patience, and hope you enjoy this new chapter.
"Yeah, heard you the first time, Captain," Vik grumbled into the comm. Four days of around the clock patrols in this heat was enough to irritate anyone. Now, Captain Fluffy had him wading knees deep through a swamp while Yuun messed with the fabric of space-time.
Cormac ignored the argument between the captain and the Weequay, keeping his eyes open for anything out of the ordinary, and his ambient volume on maximum. He'd hadn't slept more than a couple of hours over the past week, and the setting sun wasn't helping his fatigue. Cormac shook his head, if he didn't look sharp, Jorgan would send him back to the ship. Not that the Cathar had much room to talk. Even if Jorgan wasn't out on patrol, he was hovering over Yuun, or staring at the monitors.
Both soldiers stopped when Yuun spoke. "Sergeants, Yuun has detected an anomaly in the natural flow of this planet's atmosphere. Stand by for coordinates."
"On it," Cormac answered, suddenly awake. His heart pounded, that was the first time Yuun hadn't called himself Gand all week, something he only did when he felt like a failure, unworthy of his name. There was a loud crack off to the left, and Cormac started running.
"Ah shab," Fynta groaned. Her eyes were screwed shut, and while this time wasn't as bad as the initial shock, it wasn't pleasant. "Dorne? You okay?" Fynta rolled over and opened her eyes to see someone's knee centimeters from her face. Following it higher, she discovered it belonged to Kakashi, who was just beginning to regain consciousness.
"I'm here, sir," Elara managed, the temporal disturbance leaving her feeling weak and queasy.
"Is everyone alright?"
There were resounding, unintelligible complaints from the men, except Genma, who hooked his hands under Fynta's arms and pulled her upright. "Already on your back, and I haven't even made my move yet." He grinned down at the blond while she clutched at his forearms.
Fynta used the jonin to gain her balance, letting her stomach settle, and laughed but it sounded forced. It only took one experience with whatever the hell kind of transportation that was to know they weren't in Konoha anymore. Genma made sure she was steady before going to check on Kakashi.
The others were starting to clamber up, and the two moved around the group, checking for injuries. Satisfied that everyone made it through unscathed, Fynta put her hands on her hips and took in their surroundings. "We must be near Kirigakure. This humidity is intense," Genma suggested.
The major shook her head. She knew this heat, the sound of lurkers in the distance, and the familiar constellations in the darkening sky above them. "We're on Rishi."
The name was familiar to the ninja, though only in passing, but Elara's heart surged. "Balic." His name slipped from her lips as a whisper, and Gai moved closer to put his hand on her shoulder. Elara smiled at her new friend, before returning her attention to Fynta. "Sir, we need to get to a holoterminal to let the rest of the squad know we've returned."
"This is where you came from?" Kakashi asked, looking up through the fat leaves at the alien sky beyond. Fynta's story had seemed unlikely until this moment. The air smelled wrong, and the animal sounds of the jungle were nothing he was familiar with. Kakashi tipped his head to look at Fynta through the corner of his eye. "You're sure?"
As if in answer to the ninja's question, a grophet sow wandered between the gathered humans. It paused to consider them with deep, brown eyes, before grunting to her three young. The tiny grey grophlets bounded around the stranger's feet without fear, the two males playfully ramming underground horns together. Just as quickly, they vanished into the thick shrubbery.
A long silence filled the space between the travelers, until Fynta laughed. "Yep. This is the place, and that would have made one hell of a dinner." Genma and Kakashi stared at her silently, while Gai leaned a little further to see if he could get another glimpse of the hideously adorable baby pig-things.
Glancing up at the sky, Fynta frowned. "It'll be dark soon, we need to get going before the lurkers come out."
"What's a lurker?" Genma asked, jogging to catch up with the major.
Naturally, Elara answered. "Lurkers are amphibious bipeds that to travel in packs. They are nocturnal, and generally quite timid when alone, however, a larger pack can strike with frenzied intensity."
"So, basically, we don't want to come across a pack of lurkers after dark," Fynta added. She received little more than concerned glances for her quip, but that wasn't what had her on edge. All the animals had gone silent, and that was never a good thing. Fynta slowed, squinting through the twilight that was quickly falling over the jungle. Kakashi had his head tipped to the side as well, as if he'd noticed the absence of sound.
A moment later, Fynta dove to the side, hooking an arms around Genma's waist to drag him to the ground with her. The tree to their left exploded into splinters. "Shab, walker," Fynta called, scrambling to her feet. None of them were geared for taking on the piloted weapon. Plus, that walker had night vision, and she didn't. "Run!"
The trees groaned as the hulking, four and a half meter tall mech forced its way through. Elara led the group, guiding herself by the slivers of sky she could see through the jungle foliage. She'd taken the time to learn this planet's constellations when they arrived, never knowing when if might come in handy. If her calculations were correct, they should be heading towards a smuggler's outpost, one she knew had a holo.
Fynta gave Gai a shove to get him moving. "You can sightsee later, go!" The man sprang into a run beside her as another explosion tore apart the ground at their feet, throwing them forward.
Genma turned back to the noise, shifting his senbon toward the center of his lips in preparation for something he wouldn't be able to fight. He had taken Fynta's order to run seriously, and was a few dozen feet ahead of the others. Kakashi had reached up and pulled his headband away from his eye to reveal the spinning red orb of his sharingan.
"Sir." Elara stopped and turned to check on her commanding officer, who was making slow progress at getting off the ground. The medic was starting back towards the battle, when Kakashi hooked an arm around her waist, throwing them both to the ground as another missile struck where she'd been standing. The ground erupted, sending soil and debris into the air. Elara's ears rang and she couldn't catch her breath from the weight of the silver haired ninja's body draped across her. She didn't grow concerned until Kakashi remained motionless, and she felt the warmth of blood between them.
Meanwhile, Balic and Vik were working their way through the jungle by night vision towards the sounds of destruction. A flash of light a klick away signaled a large scale attack, and the two commandos ran toward it. They followed the trail of scorched trees and smoking shrubbery until the familiar, metallic grinding of large gears reached Balic's ears.
Vik stopped, and lifted his rifle. "I've got the guy, looks like walker's attacking some . . . hell, pirates, maybe?"
Balic punched the Weequay in the shoulder when he started lowering his rifle. "Pirates or not, we need to take that thing out." Balic switched channels to report to base. "Jorgan, we've got a walker going after some locals, requesting permission to cut the thing down to size."
"Granted. One less thing we have to worry about," the Cathar growled in return.
Balic looked at Vik, who was already pulling out some new toys from his bag of tricks. He had a few things he wanted to test as well, and they wouldn't find a better target. "Let's get this over with," the Weequay grumbled.
Fynta's head swam and her vision doubled as she watched Gai leap to his feet in one fluid moment from his back. The man paused to brush the dirt from his black hair and flash her an enthusiastic thumbs up. Fynta scrambled to her feet, and was promptly knocked flat again when the shabbing walker exploded. Instead of wondering what caused the impeccably timed detonation, Fynta focused on her friend. "Elara, are you alright?" She dropped to her knees beside the figures on the ground, noting the faint smell of burning hair and scorched skin.
The medic rolled Kakashi over, then immediately began running her hands over him in the dark. "I am sir, but I believe Kakashi was struck." She clucked her tongue, unable to see the extent of the damage in the faltering light, but her palm came away damp when she touched him.
Further exploration revealed a large piece of wood had impaled itself just below Kakashi's ribs, barely missing his spine, if they were lucky. Elara pulled the kunai from one of the pouches on her belt and cut the fabric around the wound, before pouring a coagulating agent into it to stem the flow of blood. It was the best she could do without access to medical equipment or an adequate light source.
Suddenly, Elara was lifted off the ground, and the world spun under her. When it settled again, she was looking into the familiar faceplate of her husband. "Balic!" Her arms were instantly around his thick neck.
Cormac hugged Elara tight, and the difference between his armor and her lack thereof proved to be substantial. Elara had to ask him to loosen his grip. "Where is your armor?" Balic asked, ripping his helmet off with one hand so he could shower her with kisses. "And where have you been?"
"I need your helmet," Elara said, instead of answering his questions. She snatched it from his hands, as soon as her feet hit the ground.
Elara slipped it on and started the rudimentary medical programs that all of their armor came equipped with. Now that she had night vision and access to tech she was familiar with, the medic could see that the damage was worse than she feared. While the wooden splinter had missed anything vital, Kakashi's lungs showed signs of hemorrhaging, his left eardrum had ruptured, and there were substantial burns across his epidermis. Elara kept the helmet on, though it bobbled slightly, and reached into her husband's tool belt for one of the medpacs they all kept on them at all times. Balic looked down, but Elara ignored him and set to work excising the piece of wood so she could effectively treat the wounded ninja.
By this point, Fynta was on her feet again, being steadied by the big Weequay. "Our armor is back in Konoha, as to where that is, I haven't got a shabbing idea." The major looked around at their small group, then up at the now completely dark sky. "You two have a speeder?"
"About time you showed back up," Vik said, keeping his rifle loosely training on the three strangers. "Boss number two has been surlier than normal. Think he and Lana nearly got into a fist fight the other night." The Weequay nodded his helmet at the ninja. "What's their story?"
"Those questions can be answered later, that walker likely reported out positions. We need to move," Fynta replied, holding her hand out for Vik's sidearm.
Removing the helmet, Elara found Gai and Genma kneeling across from her. "He's badly wounded, but I've stabilized him to the best of my ability." She looked up at Balic, who appeared to be standing guard by her side, then back at Fynta. "Kakashi needs a kolto tank, sir."
Genma pursed his lips together, taking in their surroundings with a furrowed brow, while Gai began to fret over his friend. Elara was setting the medpac to do its work, when the excitable ninja reached out to pat Kakashi's hair, much the way he had after the bomb back in the Land of Fire. Elara slapped his hands away and clucked her tongue again. From this moment on, she was solely in charge of this man's survival, and she'd tolerate no interruptions to her treatments, well-meaning or not.
"Right," Cormac said before looking back at Fynta as Vik grudgingly handed over his blaster, something that Balic realized he'd never seen the woman without. "We've got two speeders a few klicks from here."
Fynta bypassed the safe house, heading straight for the ship where the Thunderclap hosted better medical equipment. Meanwhile Cormac filled Jorgan in on their return to the ship with a badly wounded ninja.
"A what?" The Cathar asked over the comms.
"Elara called him a ninja, I'm not sure what that means, but the ladies seem pretty concerned about him."
Jorgan sighed. "Fine, I'll meet you there."
As they rode, Genma spent his time studying Elara's husband. While he agreed that the man was quite large, he was sure there were many things that bulk kept him from accomplishing. A list began forming in his head at once, just to see if his theory was accurate.
"The furball won't be happy to see you brought home strays," Vik said as the group came to a stop. Fynta ignored the Weequay, watching Elara direct Gai and Genma up the ramp and into the Thunderclap. To their credit, neither of the ninja gave the slightest hesitation. Cormac followed, not quite ready to let his wife out of his immediate reach.
Vik walked alongside Fynta, stopping just inside the airlock. "Wait, aren't we missing someon-"
His words cut off as a snarl rippled through the open airlock, causing Fynta to pause in the middle of the ship. Heavy boots pounded down the hall, and Jorgan paused at the top step, his brow bones pulled together. Jorgan was aware that he looked thoroughly pissed, but clenching his hands and teeth were the only way to keep himself from closing that gap between him and his wife too quickly. Fynta smiled, unsticking the Cather's feet.
Genma stepped out of the medbay, having been evicted by Elara, just in time to witness the newest arrival. He moved to intervene, ready to put himself between Fynta and the angry looking creature, but she stepped forward into Jorgan's reach. The Cathar took her face roughly between his hands, bending to place his forehead against hers. "Blast it, woman. Don't do that again," he breathed quietly.
Fynta turned her face to kiss his palm before responding. "Sorry, riduur. It wasn't exactly planned, and it's not over."
Fynta glanced towards the medbay where Elara had shut the door, leaving both ninja in the main room. She waved a hand at the other two ninja openly appraising her ship and realized this was going to take a lot of explaining. "This is Genma and Gai, the one with Elara is Kakashi." Suspicious nods were exchanged between the men before she continued. "Boys, Captain Aric Jorgan, my second in command." Fynta paused when she saw the way that Gai was openly appraising her husband, having finally pulled his eyes away from the door concealing Kakashi. "Ah, you don't have Cathar in Konoha."
Genma tore his attention from Kakashi long enough to size up the Cathar critically. Elara's husband might be large, but this one seemed irritable as well. He met the woman's blue eyes once then shook his head ruefully, clearly, there was something between these two, though Genma wasn't exactly sure how that worked, and he didn't want to know either.
Gai tilted his head slightly to the right, and Fynta noticed his voice didn't carry quite the same amount of vigor as it had since she'd met him. "I see. Is he some sort of experiment, perhaps a more advanced version of a ninja cat?"
Even Fynta wasn't sure what to do with that remark. Genma raised his to his forehead with a groan, then quickly dropped it when he realized the move was identical to what he'd seen Kakashi do when Genma and Fynta flirted. Jorgan rolled his eyes, took a calming breath through his nose, then looked Fynta over. "What are you wearing?"
"And where's the spook?" Vik asked, leaning against the wall without his helmet now, and looking completely unimpressed by the reunion. Judging by the men's expressions, they'd never seen anything like a Weequay either. Just wait until they meet Yuun, Fynta thought with an inappropriate amount of amusement.
Returning her attention back to the complication at hand, Fynta looked directly at Jorgan. "That's part of the problem, Theron didn't come back with us, but these three did," she answered, gesturing towards the ninja.
"I'm still not seeing the problem," Jorgan snorted, crossing his as Vik chuckled.
"My armor is there too," Fynta added. "Along with my Verpine."
That, at least, got Jorgan's brows to rise. She knew how much he disliked Theron, but Fynta wasn't buying her husband's callous act. "Not to mention, Revan is there, and a lot of people are going to die if we don't do something about it."
Jorgan sighed and ran a hand down his face, buying time to gather his thoughts. This job left little room for a relationship; his reunion with Fynta would have to wait. Finally, the Cathar activated his comm, and Yuun's strange, clicking dialect emanated from it. Gai and Genma exchanged glances when Jorgan started speaking. "Yuun, see about finding us a ride back to . . . wherever they came from, so that we can end this before it gets more out of hand."
"Yuun will see it done," the Gand responded, and Jorgan cut the line.
Fynta put her hands on her hips and glared at the Cathar. "This technically wasn't my fault."
Jorgan snorted, his eyes trailing over Fynta again, leaving no doubt in Genma's mind that these two were together. "You need proper armor."
Genma opened his mouth. "Hey, our armor-"
"Right, but first," Fynta spoke over Genma, "We need to get these two caught up, and figure out the situation with Kakashi."
"What are were going to do about my eternal rival," Gai fretted. "Shouldn't he be waking up by now? What's wrong with him?"
As if summoned, the medbay door opened to reveal Elara stepping out to join them. "Kakashi is stable. I was able to repair the damage to his ear drum, and his lungs will heal with time. We've put him in the kolto tank for the time being, though, I've given him a sedative to keep him calm should he wake up sooner than expected."
Gai bounced on the balls of his feet, eager to see his comrade, yet wary of the petite medics wrath. Elara smiled kindly and stepped to the side. "You may go in, Gai."
The jonin rushed past with a blinding grin, nearly colliding with Cormac in his haste, and vanished inside. Sparing one last look at Fynta, Genma drifted lazily towards the door too, and frowned at what he saw. Kakashi floated in a vat of green liquid, wearing only his loose fitting shirt and pants. His mesh armor lay discarded on the floor, soaked with blood. A breathing apparatus covered the silver haired jonin's mouth and nose, expelling small bubbles with each breath. So this was a kolto tank. Genma remembered Elara talking about the fluid's healing capabilities back at the hospital in the Leaf. She'd been obsessed with discovering how chakra worked compared to their technology. Genma hadn't had much to offer on the subject when asked, although, this hadn't been what he pictured.
Fynta eyed them from the doorway. "Kakashi will be fine. Elara may not have chakra, the Force, or some osik like that, but she's the best medic in the galaxy. Come on, we should probably get you both in something blaster proof. I think Yuun's clothes would work." Fynta knew the Gand wouldn't mind sharing. He put no value on worldly possessions, only accepting what he needed and giving the rest away.
"He could breathe fire? Really?" Balic was asking his wife as Fynta led the ninja back to the main room. The big commando was seated in a chair, Elara perched in his lap, regaling him of their activity over the last few days. As usual, Cormac was soaking up every word with wide eyed excitement.
"Where are the others?" Genma hedged, spotting no sign of the two, non-human occupants of Fynta's strange crew.
"As I said, Jorgan is second in command, someone has to carry on while I get you settled. I sent him and Vik back to the safe house. We'll join them shortly, while Elara stays here to look after Kakashi," Fynta responded, grabbing Genma by the collar, and pulling him forward when he stopped to look inside the armory. She didn't let go until they were standing in front of Yuun's storage locker in the barracks.
"By herself?" Gai fretted again.
Fynta riffled through the Gand's gear as she answered, "The Thunderclap is a rapid assault craft. Once sealed, it is practically impenetrable. Not to mention, an automated weapons system that will fire on any unauthorized person. So I suggest you two stick to visiting hours until Kakashi is up and about again." Finally, Fynta came up with two fibermesh shirts and pants.
Turning to face the two jonin, Fynta held the clothing out, sparing a wink for Genma. "This might be a bit tight on you, but I doubt anyone will mind."
Genma grinned around his senbon. "I'm sure you wouldn't complain," he commented, accepting the shirt and examining it. The fact that Fynta was already in a relationship with a walking, talking cat did little to change Genma's flirty nature.
"Exactly. Now, you two get changed, I've got my own kit to check." Fynta patted both their shoulders as she walked by. "Cormac, be a good man and make sure they don't get lonely."
Balic filled the doorway and crossed his arms, nodding politely. Genma sized the man up while he changed, accounting for possible weaknesses and strengths. In the end, he came to the conclusion that he could probably take the man, if he moved fast enough.
Likewise, Cormac didn't take his eyes off the ninja. Fynta had warned that they were quick, and while they might be small fellows, each sported an impressive number of scars that told the story of a hard life. He'd be sure not to underestimate these two.
They were waiting in the main room, Gai examining everything that Balic would let him near, and getting shooed away from things he couldn't touch, when the door opened next to the stairs. Fynta walked out in the skin tight pants of her undersuit and a sports bra, with the matching shirt thrown over her shoulder. She held a holo in the palm of her hand, set to audio only. "Yeah, I heard you, we'll be back soon. I need to grab some old armor for Dorne and myself." She nodded to Cormac, who slapped her the shoulder playfully.
"You're not seriously thinking about going out in that garbage, are you?" Jorgan's gravelly voice emitted from the comm. Genma took the opportunity to examine the patchwork of scars lining the major's back and arms, gaining a new respect for the woman.
Fynta waved at the ninja, motioning for them to follow, while she answered the Cathar. "You expect me to stay at the safe house?" Her question was met by silence. "Until Dorne and Yuun have something figured out, we need to cause as much damage here as we can." Genma raised an eyebrow, while Cormac grinned like an idiot at her remark. "I'll meet you back at the safe house soon. Wolfe out."
Casting a glance over her shoulder, Fynta appraised the two men, now both wearing fibermesh undersuits. "Not bad." Ideally, she'd put them in some armor, but heavy durasteel took time to acclimate to, so they would have to settle for fibermesh. Granted, she had no doubt that Gai would rise to the challenge. Given the weights he usually wore, it might not be such a noticeable change. But Genma was a different story.
"We need to get you some proper weapons for this world," Fynta called back to them. "I'll bet my pension that you can't deflect a blaster bolt with senbon."
Chapter 7: Information Update from the Authors
Chapter by Cinlat
Informational post on the future of Havox x7.
Follow us on Tumblr:
Hi everyone, Cinlat here. Sorry, this isn't a chapter update, but it is a story update, of sorts. As you all know, Dimigex and I co-author this fun tale. It's tough for the two of us to get our schedules together in the best of circumstances, however, when life throws a whole bunch of unexpected nonsense at you, it gets ever harder. Over the last several months, however, we've decided to give this story an overhaul. So, I'll be systematically taking the chapters down and replacing them with refreshed versions as we go along. I'm not sure how long this will take because life is unpredictable. But, I can assure anyone still following that we haven't given up on it. Thank you all for your patience!