Chapter Fifty Nine ~ Tear

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My genin had left, Aiden was retreating, and I stood alone in front of an army of Claws.

Tsunade was out of commission with her last stunt to save the people of this village. Naruto had probably passed out somewhere, after taking on the most powerful member of the Akatsuki by himself. Both Kakashi and I were in no position to fight one claw, much less an entire army. Sakura had probably taken the brunt of the healing work. I'd let her stick to her medical training; even if she could help, there were too many wounded to stray her attention away from.

In other words, we were screwed.

Cashile, what is it? Yamanaka spoke in my head. In that moment, I was very, very thankful for my capable students. Clearly Michiko had notified the head of intelligence so that he in turn would be able to notify others.

The Rising Phoenix - They're here. And this time, they've sent an army. I'm not in any condition to fight. Send all uninjured/capable jonin to the region left of the the wall of hokage faces, facing north. And hurry, I won't be able to hold them off once they take action, I spoke to Yamanako.

Now he would send out a mass message, and at the very least, everyone would be aware of the enemy in their midst.

I leaned over with my palm resting on my quadricep, and tenderly placed a hand over my most recent injury, where my rib had punctured my lung. I took a deep breath in and winced, and in that moment, I made eye contact with It.

The temperature dropped a few degrees, as It tilted it's head, analyzing my weaknesses, which I had provided a very clear view for. Damn my stupidity, damn, damn, damn. Now, It knew I was watching. It knew I was aware. That meant there was no need for the element of surprise. Now It would take action, and I wouldn't be able to stop It.

It would be after me, so if I lured it away from the village, then at the very least I could guarantee Aiden's safety. I would be the priority; I could force the army back, away from civilians and injured ninja who would only get in the way.

But as I began my retreat, It grabbed the throat of a random villager, a man who had just reunited with his daughter, unsheathed a knife, and stabbed him in the back. I stared, eyes wide, frozen in the middle of backing away.

His daughter let out a bloodcurdling scream, and panic arose. Villagers suddenly realized that they were in danger, running from the enemy, pushing and trampling each other in their hurry to get away. I could only watch as a toddler lost his mother, fell among the rushing crowd, and was repeatedly run over.

Dazed, I pushed my way through the crowd, reaching the young boy. He couldn't have been older than three. By the time I reached him, he was bloody and bruised and making awful gasping noises from his crushed throat. Seconds later he stopped breathing. I went to pick him up, maybe to hand him to someone to evacuate or find a medic but before I could, someone snatched him from the ground and kept running. His neck flopped sickeningly with every step.

He didn't matter. I shook my head; I shouldn't have even been distracted by him in the first place. People were screaming, and there was blood on the ground, and I had to ignore it all and push it down and be like a Claw if I hoped to win. I—I had to... to...

A Claw grabbed a genin, one who I had lectured to in Iruka's class, pulled back her head and brutally tore through her throat with a knife. A man scrambled away on all fours, clearly having pissed and shit himself, as a Claw filled him with kunai. A young man screamed, staring at his hand that was cut in half as a Claw disarmed him. People were dying all around me and I was just...

I went to walk, felt my leg buckle beneath me, and locked my knee to keep myself upright. How the hell was I supposed to win? How the hell was I supposed to fight? How the hell was I supposed to survive?

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