Chapter Eighteen ~ Dual Duel

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Well. Well. Shit.

I glare at the genin when they spring into battle ready positions and simply shake my head.

"No," I order. "Get back."

Aisa shoots me a look. "C'mon, Cashile," he complains. "We took on those bandits back in the village—"

"I said," I cut him off, allowing the persona of the Claw to take over slightly. All three genin pale and step back as the killer intent in the air doubles. "Stay back."

"But we're a team--" Michiko begins.

"No," I breathe. "You three are a team. I am your leader. And this enemy is nothing like the bandits you faced in that village. If you were to go up against them... You would be killed in an instance. So. Stay. Back."

I realized, in a split second of clarity, that I was far more terrified of fighting these Claws than I ever had been. Was it because I was out of the familiar territory of the Land of Fire? I dismiss it. I had fought in a variety of different territories as the Claw. Then was it because there were two of them? I dismiss this as well. I was wary, of course: two Claws could strategize and attack in synch. Incredibly dangerous, but there was no reason to be terrified of this—especially with a team of ANBU backing me up.

Was it because these three genin could easily die before the end of the day?

My heart skips a beat at the thought of the three of them dead, and I must acknowledge the truth of it. I didn't want to see these stupid little genin die.

Of course. It made sense. If they died here I would be responsible for it as their Sensei. I would be the one who would have to go to their parents (and brother oh god) and explain why they had died. People would treat me differently; Tsunade might think that my "rehabilitation" was interrupted and that could offset my plans for power—ANBU.

It made sense that I didn't want to see these genin die.

In a blur, the ANBU spring from hiding to join me, further cutting off the genin from the Claws.

The genin stood in shock, amazed. "Hey! Where did they come from?" Kento exclaimed.

"Shut up Kento, can't you see how dire the situation is? Just stay back and let Cashile sensei fight!" Michiko whispered aggressively.

Atta girl, I thought, keep them in check, don't let them do anything stupid.

I pulled out the twin knives from the sheaths on my forearms and held it in a defensive position in front of me. The Claws unsheathed their swords. They decided to go with swords instead of the double blades that I was more gifted at. Smart. I had dabbled with a sword as a genin, I muse, recalling the forest of death. I soon discarded it: boring and rather limited.

"Two of you watch the genin, two of you take the Claw on the right," I ordered the ANBU. There was a 82% chance that we would lose this fight if we didn't break the two Claws off from one another. When they were separate...well, the odds got slightly better.

Then I charged.

Of course I was aware of everything around me, just as I'd been trained. The three genin looked terrified as my knives clanged loudly against the Claw's sword in an x shape. They were grouped together tightly, and an ANBU stood on both sides of them.

The two ANBU weren't faring well against the Claw. I predicted this of course. As the Claw, I could take out at least 3 ANBU with no doubt or hesitation. ANBU—no one, really—just weren't prepared for the fighting style of the Claw. No regard to safety. No care for injuries or loss in life. There was just the mission. It was disconcerting and terribly difficult to defend against.

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