Sixteen years old Rei and Konan, and twelve years old Ringo stood in the Mizukage"s office.
The man was eyeing them proudly as he turned to Rei.
"As of now, I declare you Rei Yotsuba, a jonin of Kiri." The Mizukage smiled and turned to Konan.
"As of now, I declare you Konan Yotsuba, a jonin of Kiri." He repeated and then turned to tense Ringo.
"As of now, I declare you Ringo Ameyuri, a chunin of Kiri." His features softened.
Rei and Konan grew bitter. They knew his features softened only because Ringo was proving her loyalty and drive to protect the village and become one of the Seven Swordsmen of Kiri. They could only sigh as the girl was already lost to them.
"With this, your team is also disbanded and Ringo will be put under the tutelage of the current wielder of Kiba. Rei and Konan will stay as a team. You may go."
The trio bowed and left the office.
"Well, shall we go celebrate it somewhere?" Rei asked the girls but noted that Konan was staring at Ringo.
"I want a spar." Konan told Ringo who looked at her in confusion.
"A melee spar." Konan elaborated as she took out her fan. She practiced a lot with it and wanted to know how good she was against Ringo.
Ringo slowly nodded. She knew that Konan was a ranged fighter but now she challenged her to a close-combat weapon spar? On one hand, Ringo was excited about such a fight. On the other, she was afraid she would lose to a long-ranged fighter in her specialty. Illogical fear it might have been but after sparring with Konan long enough, she learned to expect the unexpected.
The trio came to their clearing and found a lone figure of Mei practicing her katon. She was passable in futon so Rei decided to start katon as that was the nature she would need for both of her bloodlines.
Rei came to Mei and saw dried tears on her cheeks. He clicked his tongue. The Mizukage"s idiocy did a number on the girl. The villagers really didn"t like her and feared her and from time to time, some of them struck her. Well, Rei showed them exactly what he thought about that and since then Mei was practically worshipping the ground he was walking on... Konan was a bad influence like that.
Mei was quickly taught Henge and trained in it so she won"t have to endure the glares. But the girl said she doesn"t want to use it. Rei was really at the end of the rope with her. She wanted to be glared at!
Unknown to Rei, Mei hated the glares. She hated the civilians. And she despised Kiri. Konan really did make Mei open-minded. She never gave Mei any opinion or a way to look at things. Nor did Konan actually try to brainwash Mei. She just told her the things as they were. However brutal it was. She was blunt, honest, and precise when she explained things. This made the young mind of Mei mature faster. The very frequent injection of nature energy and elemental chakra through food Rei cooked only fastened this process exponentially. Mei Terumi started seeing things as they were. The subtle fear-driven hatred the civilians showed her. How other kids shied away from her. How the teachers were always awkward when she asked a question. Even if the last one was a shocker since they were chunin and should know better.
Mei started to form her own opinions. Her somewhat mature but still childish mind thought simply. People who hated her were on one side. Rei and Konan on the other. And those who hated her didn"t deserve respect or acknowledgment from her. Mei Terumi officially hated Kiri with her whole heart. She was just good at hiding it, thanks to Konan"s lessons.
There was only one thing Mei loved...
Rei came closer to Mei and firmly grabbed the distraught kid"s chin, turning her face towards him. He saw the big purple bruise on her cheek and sighed. He put his hand on it, making Mei wince but her expression turned to a relaxed one after Rei started using soothing water chakra to relax her bruised muscles.
"Better?" He asked Mei who nodded.
Rei picked Mei up while she yelped and shunshined onto the lake, sitting there while putting Mei into his lap.
"Konan is going to fight Ringo. Watch, okay?"
Mei excitedly nodded as her very observant mind didn"t want to miss even a second of the fight between the two strong kunoichi!
Konan stood opposite Ringo, holding her folded fan at the ready. Ringo, holding two swords, nodded at Konan, signalizing she was also ready. Just then a gentle breeze rushed through the clearing and when it settled... the battle started.
Ringo ran at Konan with her two swords, slashing one in a downward motion, aiming from above at Konan"s head. Obviously, Konan raised her fan and blocked it, instantly opening herself for an upward slash of the second sword of Ringo, as it aimed at her belly.
Konan twisted her body and stepped to the left, evading the upward slash, her fan still clashing with Ringo"s other sword. Konan slightly relaxed the hand holding her fan, unbalancing Ringo"s hand and then Konan tensed her muscles, jerking the fan alongside the sword to the side while her body stepped into Ringo"s guard.
Ringo was sent flying as Konan punched her in the gut.
"Don"t underestimate me, kid." Konan snorted as Ringo sprang up on her feet, a sullen pout on her face.
Ringo did indeed underestimate Konan. She didn"t find the fan threatening. In her mind, it was less than kunai! But it stopped her sword...
"Okay." Ringo accepted the rebuke and her swords sparkled with raiton chakra.
Konan smiled and her fan glowed in futon chakra.
On the side, Mei tugged on Rei"s sleeve, making him hum and look at her.
"What"s going on?" She asked, pointing at Konan and Ringo.
Rei smiled. Konan was parrying slash after slash in a high-speed clash with Ringo. Ringo was good. Strong. FAST. Extremely fast. But Konan"s body was nurtured with nature energy. She might not be a close-combat fighter but she was fast enough and her mind was used to controlling thousands of papers. Split-second decisions were not a problem for her.
"The fight is a struggle between Ringo"s strength as a swordsman and raiton user. She is natural and very strong. But Konan is more experienced and her mind is used to do fast decision-making. She is holding Ringo off by offsetting any momentum or deflecting any power she uses into the slash to the side, making Ringo unable to start her fast-slashing combo."
"Yes! But how! They both coat their weapons in elemental chakra!" Mei exclaimed as Ringo"s sword again bounced off of Konan"s fan, forcing her to regain her balance. Rei saw that Ringo was frowning hard. She was faster, better, and stronger than Konan but she was always interrupted mid-combo or always somewhat missed.
Rei patted Mei"s head. The girl was very inquisitive and perceptive about matters she shouldn"t know for at least a decade yet.
"The foundation of raiton is high-speed vibration. So fast it is actually cutting power. Futon, on the other hand, is sharpness itself. Raiton is weak towards futon. You can see it here." Rei pointed as sparks flew from yet another clash between Ringo"s and Konan"s weapons. "Konan"s futon is so sharp it makes Ringo"s raiton vibrations literally bounce away instead of letting them cut it. That sets them into opposite motion, sending Ringo"s sword back, unbalancing her, therefore stopping any momentum she may have gained and making them reposition herself. Which must be a hell of a pain in the ass for somebody whose fighting style is based on speed. She is getting a stopper to her acceleration every time they clash." Rei chuckled.
"Oooh." Mei nodded and continued to watch the fight.
Ringo was frustrated. She would be seething mad if it was not so damn depressing! She couldn"t build her momentum. She couldn"t build her chakra! She was attacking and attacking, always moving around, looking for openings and Konan was still in that damn defensive stance, almost standing near the place when the battle began! At times side-stepping Ringo"s slashes, at others parrying them.
Yes. Parrying her swords with a fan! It was ridiculous!
Ringo was faster and stronger. It was obvious. But Konan was patiently chipping away her strength by steadily guarding herself. She wasn"t even attacking! Just waiting for a major opening!
Ringo decided that enough was enough. She charged at Konan again, gripping her two swords and her left one quickly slashed from the left side in a side-swipe at Konan"s mid-section. It was her fastest possible speed and Konan would be forced to block it! She wasn"t fast enough to dodge!
Konan did just that. She blocked. And Ringo was expecting it. Before their weapons met, she did what she was taught to NEVER do. She let go of her left sword and inwardly noted that it bounced from the fan and flew away.
Ringo didn"t care and her right sword slashed at Konan. Konan wouldn"t be able to block! Her fan was on the left side and the sword was coming from the right!
In her excitement, Ringo made a fatal mistake. Her swipe was too fast and too high. Only at the last moment, she realized. Her sword entered Konan"s throat and her head... was sent flying.
Ringo"s elation at hitting her opponent quickly fell as horror filled her. She could hear a childish horrified scream from the side but her mind was mostly blank, as she stared forward. Her world stopped to crawl as she watched the headless body in front of her, as her sword was moving in a crawl, away from the neck it just exited. Konan"s head flying up, inch by inch, her serious expression still on her face, no signs of realization on it.
Ringo was mortified at what just happened that she missed one important detail.
Suddenly the arm of the headless body sprang up, unfolding the fan and sending a quick, concentrated, and strong but small tornado into Ringo"s unguarded stomach, sending her forcefully flying and painfully rolling on the ground.
The detail was... there was no blood.
Konan"s head reconnected with her body as papers re-created the neck that she previously changed into paper and "vanished" before Ringo"s sword could slash it.
Konan sighed and looked at her unfolded fan and then at the unconscious Ringo on the ground.
"Well. This is my loss as I used ninjutsu." She shrugged and went to kic-, ahem, wake Ringo up...
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