Chapter Fifty Six - Survivors

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"Cashile? Are you sure you brought us to the right place?" Kakashi asked, staring at the unrecognizable destruction that surrounded us.

I mutely pointed at the Hokage Mount, where the face of Tsunade looked out to the world alongside the past Hokage. At a first glance, there was nobody to be seen, only splintered wood and concrete and destruction. "I..." I studied my surroundings for another long moment before setting my mind to the next task. "I need to find my team."

My heart pounded against my chest as I took in the newly sculpted landscape of the village. So this is what the akatsuki were capable of. Not the akatsuki. Just one of them. I breathed quick, shallow breaths, recognizing the signs of an active sympathetic system. The normal physiological response of my body as my mind tried to wrap around what I was looking at, and who I was thinking about.

A grip on my arm disrupted my thoughts. "Cashile," Kakashi spoke, voice sharp but understanding.

I pulled my arm back and replied. "I know. I know. The villagers are safe, for now." Most of them. "I'm going to find my team. I'm assuming that you'll be able to rendezvous with Sakura and the others in your current condition."

Kakashi nodded, so I took off with not a moment to spare, searching for Aisa's chakra signature. I stepped over a bloodied, outstretched limb, the rest of the body hidden under rubble, and took a split second to verify that it was no one I knew. I continued running, footsteps echoing in the eerie silence that was only just beginning to be pierced by the wails of survivors.

"Cashile-sensei!"

I turned abruptly, pivoting on the spot as I heard the familiar voice of one of my students ring out. Michiko stood on top of a pile of rubble, waving to me and I relaxed slightly, making my way over to her.

"We were so worried!" Michiko exclaimed as I picked my way through the rubble to her. "As soon as the blast was over I tried searching for you, but I couldn't sense your chakra anywhere, and we thought maybe..."

"I reversed summoned myself to a secure location before returning," I informed her. "Where are the others?"

"Kento hurt his leg, so Aisa stayed with him when I went out to find you after your chakra reappeared. What's going on?"

We finally caught sight of the other two, Aisa wrapping a bandage around Kento's calf. They both looked up as we drew into sight, and Aisa hurriedly tied off the bandage before hurtling toward me.

"What happened? Where were you? Michiko passed out because of all the chakra from whatever jutsu did this and so by the time she woke up, which was only a few minutes, don't worry, she said she couldn't sense you and everyone got worried except I knew you'd be fine, of course, you are fine, right? Kento hurt his leg and so it was being healed by a slug but the slug like swallowed us and when it let us go again the village was like this, and--"

"I'm fine," I cut his rambling off. "Now can you three give me a succinct report on your conditions?"

"I have a mostly healed injury to my calf from debris. It might cause some mobility issues but I should be fine otherwise," Kento told me.

"I passed out from the blast of chakra but wasn't out for more than a couple of minutes, according to Aisa and Kento. Sorry, sensei, I wasn't prepared for the sudden blast so my shields were down because I was about to look for you. So now I have a headache and all our chakra is low, but we should be fine for a while more."

I nodded toward Michiko, silently holding out the last of my water which the genin took eagerly, sharing it among themselves. "Aisa?"

"I'm mostly fine," he informed me between sips of water. "Bruised from some falling debris, and this one girl we were extracting dug her nails into my skin and almost choked me, but I guess that's understandable, because she was scared, obviously, and I'm tired, too, but like Michiko said, we'll be fine."

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