Author's Note: Wow...it's been almost two months since I've updated. Sincerest apologizes guys but, schools been keeping me on a tight leash. On the flip side, semester is almost over, so I will be updating more frequently once I'm done with finals.
For those of you who follow me (thank you for your support) you've noticed I've written an alternative to Founders' Legacy called the Other Legacy. In that story, Naruto finds Hashirama instead of Madara in the founders' scroll. From there...well it gets a lot more interesting. That story will be secondary to this one so expect most updates to be here not there.
As always, hope you enjoy and send me your thoughts.
Chapter 9: Shattered Ice
His beady little eyes kept sifting through the pages. For the underground crime world, the shinobi bingo book was more of a shopping catalogue and right now, Gato was in the market for some extra muscle. He had everything planned out too. Once that useless muscle-bound idiot Zabuza fought against the Konoha shinobi, his new hired help would take out the surviving, albeit exhausted, winner. This way he could clean up the mess of this nasty bridge building business and the best part was he didn't have to pay a single penny. Whoever he hired to get rid of the pesky shinobi could just claim Zabuza's head as reward and he wouldn't have to pay a dime out of his own pocket.
It was perfect.
The only hard part was finding the person to carry out the task. The shinobi would have to be of high quality skill but, dumb enough to fall for his manipulations. A certain piece of information drifted to the forefront of Gato's mind as he flipped the page. He remembered hearing about a mercenary group consisting of powerful shinobi but, he didn't want anything to do an organized group. They tend to stick together and taking advantage of them would prove to be extremely difficult if that was the case.
There was a knock on the door and he looked up. "Enter," he said in his gruff voice.
His wire rimmed, glasses secretary entered. He had hired the man due to his extensive experience with logging the books as well as his particular ability to forge documents with impunity. "What is it?" He growled out.
"Sir your…ah…entertainment for the night has been procured," he said with a mischievous smile. Gato blinked before breaking out into a wide grin and chuckled wickedly.
There had been a particular daughter of a noble he had taken a liking to back in a visit to Tea Country. Unfortunately, this noble had been one to possess some semblance of morality. A rarity to be sure within their ranks and it had kept the man from selling his daughter to him. Months of planning and maneuvering had finally been achieved in the form of her kidnapping.
He licked his lips hungrily and eagerly asked, "Where is she?"
"In your private quarters, sir."
Throwing the bingo book onto his desk, he pushed his chair back and quickly hopped out of it. He hastily swept passed his secretary and sped off towards his chambers as fast as his stubby legs would carry him. As he turned the corner, he stumbled and nearly tripped. Catching himself he went off again towards his room.
He practically burst into the room, past the guard that was posted there. Nearly frothing at the mouth and panting heavily, he frantically looked about his private room. His gaze finally fell upon the large bed.
There she was. Lying unconscious and perfectly asleep. Gato felt his loins stir just at the sight of her. He licked his lips and cupped his crotch as he slowly approached. Her long black curls of silk, spread out on the sheets and the glistening of her skin gave the illusion of her floating on water. Her snow pale skin and white dress of frills made her look almost angelic.
Tentatively he reached out to touch her. A sick smile spread over his lips as he cupped her full breast in his hands and started to grope it roughly. He waited for her to stir. He wanted her fully awake for what he was going to do. He wanted to see the fear in her eyes as he deflowered her. Not to mention the screams. The cries of fear and terror that set him off on a high. Oh, he could practically feel the elation as the bulge on the front of his trousers grew moist and warm.
Getting on the bed, he mounted her and ripped the dress to expose her breasts completely. When he grabbed them crudely, he gasped and nearly fell backwards. She was cold. Much too cold. Shakily, he reached for her neck and, this time, he did fall off.
There was no pulse.
As he contemplated what was going on, he noticed a faint trail of purple dust floating in front of his eyes. His eyes automatically following the trail, his neck turned towards the open window. Sitting there, gently flapping its wings, was a dark purple butterfly. Almost reflexively, he got out of bed and walked towards it. As the small insect opened its wings, he became mesmerized by the pattern imprinted on them.
A pattern, resembling a pair of crimson eyes.
The Night Before
Naruto stared down dispassionately at the prone body of his Uzumaki cousin. His blank charade, perfectly masking the sense of pride he had felt, even as he had delivered the final blow to her. She was strong. It was that plain and simple.
Even shattered and left on the verge of extinction, the Uzumaki and Senju clans still held the strength to leave a distinct mark upon the world. He knew. He was certain. The woman who was unconscious before him, she would most definitely indent her name on history's pages. After all, given her reason for being here, he doubted that she would lead a very quiet life.
It wasn't all that difficult for him to piece together why she was here in the first place. Undoubtedly, she was part of the bloodline rebellion that had resulted from Yagura's madness and, given her obvious martial skill as well as having the company of a Shinobi Swordsman and a very talented jounin, she was someone who ranked high within the rebellion.
Which begged the question of why she was here in this unimportant country, when her fellows were on the front lines and fighting for the right to live. To him, the answer was obvious. There was only one thing in Wave that would attract the attention of the Bloodline Faction or rather, someone. Zabuza Momochi.
The reason the Demon of the Mist was in the bingo book in the first place was his failed attempt on the Yondaime Mizukage's life. The rebellion would greatly benefit from a shinobi of caliber, not to mention the morale boost it would bring to the troops to have one of the famed Seven Swordsmen of the Mist alongside them. The only thing Naruto couldn't discern was whether the Mist shinobi were here to retrieve Zabuza or to provide him back up. If it was the latter than the former, then he would have to show his full strength to drive them off. After knowing what he now knew, he had no desire to kill them or at the very least, her.
Naruto took one last look at his relative before placing the great fan onto his back and turning to leave. However, even as he had turned his back, a cry reached his ears. "Mei-sama!"
Naruto turned back around to see the young swordsman come out of a cluster of trees and throw a concerned look at the woman's figure lying in the mud. Soon enough, his head snapped towards Naruto's direction and he snarled at him. "What did you do to her?!"
Naruto simply gave an impassive gaze.
Charging forward, the swordsman swung the double handled sword that was blazing with chakra towards his head. With near lazy movements, Naruto simply reached out and caught the sword before it could meet his body. As the force of the blow and the chakra that amplified it caused winds to thrash past him, Naruto frowned.
'I wonder if the little fool realizes that had I dodged, that the very person he's trying to avenge would have been cut in half.'
With little effort, he threw the unobservant imbecile back a few meters, sending him sprawling across the ground. As the swordsman moved to stand up, Naruto blurred and launched a powerful fist that dug into the swordsman's solar plexus. The force of the blow lifted the Mist shinobi off his feet and caused his eyes to roll into the back of his head.
Naruto then quickly spun on the spot, bringing one hand to slap the face of the swordsman still floating in midair and the other to snatch a kunai that was moments from his head, twirling it in his fingers, then sending it back in the direction it came from. His efforts were rewarded with the sound of a body dropping onto the earth and the soft thud of metal hitting flesh.
All this occurred in the span of four seconds.
Turning his head in the direction of his right shoulder, from where the kunai had come from, Naruto saw the jounin with the Byakugan, pull the very blade out of his bleeding shoulder. Before the man could even make a move, Naruto dropped any pretenses of continuing the little skirmish. Glancing back at the wom-at Mei, he spoke in a low voice to the now confused yet, wary Mist jounin.
"She fought an honorable battle. She did her ancestors proud."
Naruto glanced back at the man, who was thoroughly bewildered man. "Although," he said with a wolfish grin. "Tell her that next time, I won't hold back."
With that, he launched himself into the air.
A Week Later
As Naruto played the battle with Mei and her cohorts over in his head, he couldn't believe how foolish he acted. He started an S-class battle without considering his environment and total disregard to his current mission. The chance of facing a strong opponent and the excitement of learning of a survivor from his mother's clan left him high on adrenaline and he acted without thinking.
The tiny island nation shook under the battle between the Uzumaki and, no doubt, had attracted all sorts of attention. Sasuke, Kurenai and the Hyuuga headache had come searching for him as they felt the tremors of his battle with his cousin. They had found him shortly after he had retrieved his two katana that had been buried under rubble. Although, while their faces had been quite entertaining when they passed the lake of molten rock, he was forced to give an explanation for the sheer destruction.
He had pulled Kurenai aside and told her that he had run into possible reinforcements for Zabuza and was forced to rely on his powers as jinchuuriki to drive them off. When she asked on how he had managed to cause a pit of bubbling lava, he honestly told her that one of the shinobi had a bloodline that allowed them to manipulate lava. When she pressed for details upon the combative capabilities of the foes he faced, he told her that he couldn't give her them as his mind was too split between defeating his enemies and retaining his sanity. He wanted to keep those kinds of secrets to himself for the time being and would speak privately with the Hokage. Plots within plots.
All of that had occurred exactly three nights ago and currently he sat upon the roof of Tazuna's house in a right foul mood. Things had been moving far too slowly for his liking and he had to wait for Hatake to recuperate completely if he wanted to get everything over with. Despite Sasuke's argument that they were only here for combat support, their actual orders were to remain with Team 7 and guarantee the success of their mission.
No doubt, while he stayed here until the bridge was completed, the workload in Konoha would pile up. As well as the number of opportunities various political opponents could take while he remained absent from his seat of power.
"Report," he commanded with a monotone voice.
A female ROOT ANBU rose out of the roof tiles and quickly kneeled. "Sir," she said in a professional tone. "The Daimyo has agreed to your proposal and has sent a missive to the Hokage which he has already received and approved. You will be receiving new orders by tonight."
"As of last night, he has been acting to within the parameters of your genjutsu. He has been liquidizing the majority of his assets and funneling them into numerous dummy businesses where our agents will collect them."
Naruto nodded to himself, obviously pleased. As the money would be channeled into these false investments, his ROOT would be able to take the money and direct it into Konaha's interests without any way to trace the stolen money.
"And the loose ends?"
"Several key officials within Gato's empire are being assassinated. There will be no one who will be able to trace or reveal where the investments were placed initially and all documents are being destroyed."
The gears in Naruto's mind were spinning madly as he worked out every detail of his plan and all the directions it could take. This was a vital way to fund any ventures for future military operations with the Fire Nation. Not to mention the boost to the economy with so much extra cash in circulation.
Naruto raised a hand and swept a few strands of hair out of his eyes and sent his gaze toward the grey veiled sky. "What does Gato's total worth, liquidized, amount to?"
"We estimate 13.7 billion ryo, sir."
Naruto's eyes widened but, he quickly composed himself. That was quite the bit of money. Naruto's net worth was double that but, even he didn't possess that much in liquid assets. Most of his money was tied in investments and realty. Only the Daimyo could surpass that kind of money. Although it was no surprise. The Fire Country's current GNP was around 4.8 trillion ryo.
"I see," he said. "And what of the treasury receipts signed by the Wave Daimyo?"
"…We have…been unable to locate them, sir."
Naruto's gaze quickly flashed from the sky towards the female ROOT operative and he could tell, even though she was wearing a mask, she had flinched. "Unacceptable. We need those to prove Wave's government had sponsored the building of Tazuna's bridge and provided him with the money to hire Konoha. Once we have them in our possession we can charge Wave with hiring Konoha under false pretenses rather than some old man who we could gain no benefit from."
Naruto could see the woman struggle with herself for a moment. Secretly, he was pleased. He had worked hard to change ROOT's emotionless philosophy. Danzo's archaic thinking had ruined too many shinobi. What good was a soldier that couldn't think for his or herself? Konoha didn't need mindless drones who only knew how to follow orders and get results. Konoha needed efficiency that could turn good results in great ones.
"If you have something to say then you have permission to speak freely."
"…Sir…even if we procure the receipts, wouldn't Wave charge Fire with undue espionage in a minor nation with no military? Wouldn't that ruin our standing in the international community?"
Naruto smiled slightly to himself. Thinking along those lines meant there was hope for this lot after all. "That, soldier, is a concern for the Daimyo's court. Let the politicians handle the delicacies of spinning lies."
Naruto turned his gaze back skyward and asked, "What is the time frame we have been given to clear out Gato and finish up business with Momochi?"
"The Daimyo is planning to send a contingent of diplomats and is stationing a few ships from the navy on the southern border. He has asked the Hokage that everything be taken care of by the end of the week as he is uncomfortable with taking away any ships from the eastern border at the moment."
'Undersatndable,' Naruto thought. The Lightning Daimyo would also be attempting to take advantage of Water's current civil war and capture new territory out in the sea. And, no doubt, the Fire Lord would attempt to do the same. So this gave him a time frame of five days. Gato's business would belong to Fire within three and on that same day Zabuza should be sufficiently recovered to attack once more.
Naruto looked at his agent again and said, "Return to Konoha and tell the Captain to give new orders to the infiltration units in Water. They are to gather intel on a woman named Mei. She is most likely an officer of the Bloodline Rebellion. It is possible the name is a codename used on missions so also inform him that she possess Yōton."
"It seems you are recovered."
Kakashi looked up from his book with surprise to find himself looking into a pair of cold, frigid azure eyes. Eyes that seemed to be too empty and devoid of emotions. The same eyes that he saw every time he looked into the mirror. It made him uncomfortable that a fourteen year old. Even worse was that the eyes were hauntingly identical in shape and color to the late Fourth Hokage.
"Ah, Senju-san. Or is it Uzumaki-san? Eh…I'll just call you Naruto-san."
The youth stared at him, unimpressed. Talk about no sense of humor. Kakashi felt a serious sense of disappointment when he realized that Naruto walked around all uptight and proper like the Uchiha and the Hyuuga. It was the complete opposite of his parents who were always so open and exuberant. Both Minato and Kushina had been filled with life and were considered some of the most energetic people in the village. To see their only son and surviving legacy so devoid of emotion and utterly impassive was disheartening.
"…Soo," Kakashi said as the uncomfortable silence dragged on. "What can I do for you?"
"Zabuza will likely have recovered by now and given that we now know that he, most likely, has reinforcements, will you be able to operate at maximum efficiency? If not, then we will have to plan accordingly to make up for your lack of prowess."
Kakashi felt a twitch at the corner of his eye at the 'not so subtle' jab, regarding his screw up. However, he smiled, closed his book, and said, "Now, now. Don't you worry about a thing." With that he got up and began to walk away until Naruto called after him.
"Seeing as how you are the commanding officer on this mission," he said as Kakashi turned around. "And one of the enemy is an A-ranked missing nin and the others managed to fight a jinchuuriki in his released state to a standstill; I believe there is sufficient reason to worry whether or not you will be an asset or liability in the upcoming battle."
Kakashi turned around with a minor glare in his eye and, for the first time, forced himself to really scrutinize one Naruto Senju. Taller than most for his age, though not as tall as him. The boy had pale blonde hair with black roots, pale features that perfectly mirrored his parents yet, at the same time, were completely alien to his gene pool. He was dressed in proper shinobi garb lined in black, with the only skin showing being that of his face.
Kakashi's eyes narrowed even further when he saw, in those dark frozen eyes, a mischievous glint. Why that little brat! He was trying to play him the fool! And the sad part, Kakashi realized, was that it was working.
"Like you said, I'm the commanding officer," he said in a faux-amiable tone. "So I order you to not worry about."
"Oh, but Hatake-san," the brat said in a tone that was mockingly genuine and made all the worse by his serious expression. "I can't help but be worried. After all, we don't want even more…blunders…to be filed in the mission report to the Hokage, now do we?"
At this point, Kakashi began to flex his fingers. Sensei's son or not. He was feeling an unquestionable urge to grip the kid's neck. "Oh you know," he said in a forced voice. "Paperwork tends to get lost all the time."
This time, the corners of Naruto's mouth twitched just a tad bit. "Yes, I know all too well about that. At the same time, certain documents can be streamlined straight to the Hokage's desk."
"Really?" Kakashi drawled.
"Indeed. For instance, right as my team left the village, Konoha's Association of Mothers put forward a petition for a bill to have all adult reading material, made contraband within the village."
Kakashi's heart clenched as he instantly went pale. Naruto, however, just continued as a small, vicious smile grew on his pale lips.
"Yes, I hear it's garnering quite the support within the village and is even rallying a good amount of similar sentiments across the Fire Nation. Who knows? If someone with the correct political capital and financial resources decided to back the bill, why even the Daimyo could be convinced to make it a national law."
Kakashi stared horrified at what should have been his younger brother like figure instead of this vile, wretched child. "Y-y-you can't d-do t-that…," he half mumbled half stuttered out.
"Hmm? I'm sorry, did you say something?"
With that, the natural order of things in Kakashi's mind broke and he was no longer able to cope with it. His failing mind, unable to support the rest of his body, completely shut down and he fell forward. The last thing he saw was a feral grin, all too reminiscent of a wolf.
"Naruto is everything all right," Yakumo asked him as he came down the stairs in Tazuna's house.
"Yes. Why wouldn't it be?"
"Huh? Oh it's just that I we heard a thumping sound like something falling." She said with a worried expression mingled with curiosity.
"It was nothing. Hatake-san simply stumbled."
"Oh," she said with a little bit of disbelief. "You know, for a jounin, he really doesn't act like it."
"Hn," Sasuke grunted from the corner he was leaning into. "Don't let him fool you. Hatake is considered one of the best jounin in the village. He's the only surviving student of the Fourth Hokage."
"Really," Yakumo said in an awed voice. "Then how come he's so…so…bland? I mean all he does is make weird comments and giggle creepily when he reads those books."
As Naruto went to lean against the wall next to Yakumo, Kurenai, who was seated at the dining room kitchen, let out an audible sigh. "Kakashi Hatake is anything but bland, Yakumo. He's incredibly eccentric and difficult person to understand. But, there's no questioning his abilities as a shinobi."
"So Hatake-san is just some weirdo with a lot of skill?" Yakumo asked, summing up Naruto's and Sasuke's thoughts.
Kurenai looked at her disapprovingly and said, "He's still your superior Yakumo, so be nice. And don't call him Hatake-san. Call him Kakashi-sensei. He's not even that old."
"He does look old, Kurenai-sensei." Yakumo said with an eyebrow raised.
"Asuma looks older," Sasuke said with a glint in his eyes.
"Asuma is not old!" Kurenai said defensively, while whirling to face Sasuke.
"Yes he does," Yakumo giggled. "That beard makes him look at least forty. And Hatake-san's grey hair doesn't help much either."
Naruto's lips twitched in amusement as his sensei huffed in annoyance. "They're both, only, a few years older than me!" Kurenai said with indignity.
There was a heavy 'THUNK' and Naruto's and Yakumo's eyes flashed to the corner where Sasuke was standing. The young man was still leaning against the wall with an infuriating smirk that came natural to all Uchiha. Except, now, his neck was craned to the side and just a few inches from his ear was a kunai embedded deep into the wooden wall.
Yakumo stifled laughter behind her hand and Naruto had a smirk that mirrored Sasuke's. Grabbing the still outstretched arm that had lunched the Kunai towards Sasuke, Yakumo said, "Oh, come on Kurenai-sensei. We're just playing with you. Besides, you shouldn't have gotten so defensive when Sasuke brought up Asuma-san. Something you want to tell us, hmm?"
Naruto's eyes narrowed and they bore into Kurenai simultaneously as Sasuke's. Said woman went a shade of red that could match her eyes. She quickly composed herself, however, and crossed her arms with a defiant stare towards Yakumo. "I have no idea what you're talking about."
"Oh really?" Yakumo smiled.
As Yakumo and Kurenai, steered their conversation in another direction, Naruto's thoughts drifted elsewhere. Being in the casual presence of his teammates made him think about Mikoto. The Uchiha Matriarch often got him to lower his guard, not all the way but, enough for him to display more emotion than usual. There were perhaps a handful of people in the world where he felt comfortable around to even feel somewhat sentimental. Of them, Mikoto Uchiha brought out the most in him.
It was in her soft yet, fierce nature that often captured his attention in his more vulnerable moments. The way her eyes danced with soft onyx embers whenever she was amused. The way her mouth would set in a quiet manner when upset. Or even the flash of her Sharingan when her rage peaked. Though that last one, was a rarity as most of her thoughts now a days were sober or morbid.
He was rather curious as to what she was doing now. She hadn't taken on a mission in years as she was forced to manage the Uchiha Clan's affairs. Most of the days, he knew, she regulated the massive investments that kept the Uchiha holdings afloat, though without shinobi regularly taking missions, the Uchiha funds were strained. Naruto could have helped her but, as a clan head himself, he knew there was too much pride in the way to accept any help from others in an internal clan affair.
On darker days, when he let his emotions run rampart, he wondered if without Sasuke or himself to hold her down, would she have taken her own life in grief? It was no simple thing to have to watch your own son kill his father and the majority of your family only to protect you. To make it worse, she had to watch as her son was branded a criminal and forced to live as a hated traitor when in reality, he was hero without peer.
As Naruto let out a sigh that he didn't even know he was holding in, his eyes went wide and he took notice of the shocked expressions of the rest of Team 8 as such behavior was abnormal for him.
Once again, Yakumo asked with concern, "Are you okay Naruto?"
Naruto quickly schooled his face and put a lid on his emotions as he said, "I am fine." Mentally, he was berating himself for having lost control of himself. Naruto's mind ran at the speed of light as to why the sudden moment of irrationality came upon him. Normally he knew better then to allow himself to lose control of his feelings easily. It disturbed him that he had drifted so easily to a state of mentality that was unsettling for during a mission. Going over the basic psychology that he was familiar with, he attempted to diagnose himself.
This was the longest mission they've had yet so logically speaking, his masked slipped the moment his mind relaxed in the company of his teammates. Normally this would never happen but, he usually had an out for his emotions. Briefly he frowned when he thought about the battle he had with Mei. Was that not enough release? He certainly acted outside of the approved mental parameters for a mission. Or was the battle lust a completely different set of suppressed mental dispositions?
Further analyzing the past five minutes revealed that the trigger was the ease caused by the close proximity of his teammates. The product being, thoughts towards Mikoto. So what had…ah.
'Now I understand…'
It was so simple. How could he have been so thoughtless? It was obvious that he was in some form of relapse. It had been over two weeks for him and he had to admit, it was quite addicting. The rush of endorphins to his brain caused a bliss like no other and, not to mention, the physical release as well. Yes, he needed to get some to relieve himself of the tension that had built up over the weeks. However, he was set to remain on this damn country until the island was finished!
'Dammit all! I want sex!'
Three Days Later
Sasuke flinched as he pulled the last needle out of his body. The hunter-nin was proving to be quite the challenge. Though, he knew he could win. His Sharingan was fully developed and he could easily see all the movements of his enemy as he flashed from mirror to mirror. Not only that but, he had experience battling Hyoton users. Admittedly he never dreamed he would find one out here on this massive headache of the mission.
Sasuke jumped backwards as several senbon needles, his eyes counted five, narrowly missed the top of his head. Flicking his wrist to the right, he launched three shuriken from the tips of his fingers. He saw that he had just barely missed as several strands of ebony silk fell to the bridge.
He flipped forward as another barrage of needles was sent from behind him. This was getting old real fast. The moment he could make an opening in the dome of mirrors, he would unleash a Katon jutsu and roast the stupid mask wearing freak. He would emerge victorious. He had asked Naruto not to interfere and the blonde had respected his request. He would not shame himself.
"Can you do it?" Came the haunting voice from all the reflections in the mirrors.
He dodged right and with a swipe of his kunai managed to draw blood.
"Can you harden you heart as a true shinobi?"
He rolled forward and threw the kunai to his left, being rewarded with sound of the ground being splattered.
"To bear the sin of death?"
This time he barely moved in time as he saw a thin, silver needle, clip the bridge of his nose. It was a surreal experience, he thought in the midst of battle. To see every detail as steel carves its way through cartilage and blood right between your eyes.
"To live yo-"
'Now!' Sasuke's mind screamed.
His hands moving in a blur, they settled on a familiar hand sign as he thought he shouted the jutsu in his mind. [Katon: Gōkakyū no Jutsu] Fire Release: Great Fireball Technique
As the stream of fire exploded from his mouth, the hunter-nin was forced out of the ice dome or risked being burned severely. As soon as the steady stream of inferno ended, Sasuke moved in a flash and was on his opponent.
He was out of the fucking ice construct and he came out of his dash with a kick aimed at his kneeling foe. The masked shinobi was able to move in the last second, however, Sasuke's heel clipped his shoulder, so he lost balance.
Capitalizing on the opening, Sasuke pivoted on his foot as soon as it made contact with the floor and spun so his other leg would crash into his adversary. Looking over his shoulder, Sasuke saw that the hunter-nin managed to get his arms up in time to block the kick. However, the momentum behind the kick caused the hunter-nin to skid back a few feet.
As his foot landed beside his other one, Sasuke charged immediately and engaged the hunter in a taijutsu battle. He didn't want to give the senbon user a chance to utilize his dangerous ninjutsu. As the two battled against one another, Sasuke's superior speed coupled with his Sharingan allowed for him to slip past the hunter-nin's defenses.
After Sasuke managed to land a particular vicious blow to the ribs, the hunter-nin jumped back a few feet and Sasuke, not wanting to lose the advantage he had gained, pressed forward. However, as the masked shinobi thrust out a hand in a knife shape, his Sharingan slowed the world down for him. His eyes narrowed as he focused on the coalescence of chakra before the tips of his enemy's fingers.
The water molecules gathered together, drawn from the mist, and the chakra turned an iridescent white. As he could see the ice solidify slowly and lengthen and sharpen, the world returned to its natural speed and Sasuke veered off to the left quickly.
The icicle thrust had left the hunter-nin completely wide open on his left side and Sasuke grabbed his arm and yanked him forwards, towards him, with as much force as possible.
The forward momentum of his jab added with the strength of Sasuke's pull, heaved the Hyoton user completely off his feet. Sasuke plunged his knee deep into the abdomen of the masked shinobi and felt a savage glee when he let out a pained grunt and folded over like paper.
Not leaving anything to chance, Sasuke spun on his foot so he was standing next to the bent over hunter and grabbed the black bun of hair and tore it backwards.
Flicking a kunai forwards from his wrist holders, he drove it for the hunter's throat in one fluid motion. However, what he had not seen was that the Hunter's mask had loosened and was slipping off. Even as his unparalleled vision caught sight of the unveiled face and his eyes grew wide in horror, he was unable to stop the steel from piercing flesh. Consequently, spraying his face, as well as the face he knew he remembered all too well.
Naruto stood on the bridge with his arms folded as his sensory abilities picked up all the commotion taking place within the thick mist, obscuring his vision. Shifting his eyes towards the Hyuuga next to him, he could see that her dojutsu was active and taking note of all the action happening in front of them.
The bridge builder was quivering behind them and Naruto took note to how the man kept edging slowly to the other end of the bridge, away from the conflict. Pathetic coward.
As they had correctly deduced that today would be the day that Zabuza would choose to make an assault, Kurenai, Kakashi had chosen Sasuke, Hinata and himself to come along with them to the bridge as their combative proficiency was the highest. Yakumo, Kiba and Shino would stay behind and protect Tazuna's family. They realized that the bridge builder's family would be prime targets and shouldn't be left unguarded.
Once they had arrived, they found the bridge littered with the corpses of Tazuna's workers. Zabuza had made short work of them and openly challenged the Konoha shinobi, which left Naruto puzzled on how Kiri had managed to survive so far if this is what constituted as a viable assassination method there. That, or Zabuza had obviously suffered from some damage to his mental capacity from his battle with Yagura. Walking right up to the target and their protection detail was not the standard in assassination methodology.
The worst part was when the Swordsman and Kakashi began some useless drivel between the two and somehow managed to bring Kurenai into it. Needless to say, Naruto felt like banging his head against the ground over and over again. When he had glanced at Sasuke, he could tell by the sour look on his face, that the Uchiha shared similar sentiments. They were trained assassins. This was an affront to their sense of professionalism. Luckily Yakumo wouldn't hadn't been there or, no doubt, she would have vocalized her discontent with the situation.
Once the jounin had kicked off their battle, Naruto had quickly deflected several senbon aimed at the constantly intoxicated bridge builder with his gunbai. When he had been about to ready himself for battle, Sasuke had asked to handle the matter on his own. Naruto had acquiesced and allowed his distant relative the opportunity to test his capacity.
That was relatively twenty minutes ago. So far no one else had attempted something on the old man's life and he was left with Hinata.
'At least she's acting like a kunoichi and not fawning over me,' the young Senju thought dryly.
However, as the battle began to draw out, a sense of apprehension filled him.
Where was Mei?
Was his hypothesis wrong and she had some other purpose aside from recruiting Zabuza into the ranks of the Bloodline Rebellion? Or did she already achieve whatever her mission was and leave Wave already? He knew that with the Byakugan user with her, he couldn't send out some of his ROOT to observe her actions. And he highly doubted that she was still incapacitated from their battle. He hadn't hit her that hard.
Frowning, he crouched down and placed two fingers on the ground. He sent a pulse of chakra and let his senses flow outward and be carried by the wave of chakra.
"Naruto-kun?" the Hyuuga asked. "What did you do?"
Naruto grimaced. It really irked him that the girl was so overly familiar with him when he barely spoke two words to her. He wanted to do nothing more than to chew her out but, do to her station within Konoha, he couldn't do that…yet. So he simply settled for ignoring.
Catching the life signs within the immediate vicinity, Naruto could feel the chakra signatures of all those present on the bridge. The girl standing next to him had a fair amount of chakra, however, it was very light and fluid; as was common for the Hyuuga. The old man's was faint and tarnished with all the alcohol in his system. The lingering chakra in the various corpses scattered across the bridge dimly pulsed. Kakashi's was conflicted as his implanted Sharingan raged against his body. Kurenai's was strong and perfectly smooth, befitting a genjutsu expert. Sasuke's was fluctuating wildly and seeming of raging fire. The last caught him by surprise. It was a chakra nature he would recognize anywhere. His eyes slightly widened as he caught the dense and sharp flow of Ice Release.
Sasuke would be in for a fight.
Letting his senses flow even further, he ignored the various villagers, the seeming army moving in their direction and the various wildlife. Nearly a mile away, he found what he was looking for. Two very strong signatures and one that dwarfed anyone else's for miles around save for his own. A small smile formed on his lips as he felt the stolen Byakugan wielder's chakra spike momentarily. He was watching the battle and no doubt informing Mei of everything that was occurring on the bridge.
'Most certainly, he was probably, now, informing her of them being discovered by yours truly.'
Hiding his satisfaction at Mei being still within the vicinity, he returned his attention to the battle. Kakashi and Kurenai were slowly pushing Zabuza back. Kakashi was on the offensive and Kurenai was providing support by layering genjutsu after genjutsu, disrupting Zabuza's chakra control.
Sasuke had managed to find himself surrounded by a dome of Hyoton chakra but, it seemed he was hanging on and fighting back. He could see flashes of the Hyoton user's chakra going from one side of the dome to another. The speeds were rather impressive and Naruto wondered began to regret letting Sasuke take the masked shinobi. He would have enjoyed a battle against a fellow ice wielder and, perhaps, learn a few new techniques.
More time elapsed and eventually he noted that Sasuke had managed to push his opponent out of the layer of Hyoton chakra and engaged his adversary directly. It seemed outside of the sheet of Ice chakra, the Hyoton shinobi speed had dropped drastically. Sasuke would make short work of him soon enough.
He then switched his attention to the jounin battle. Kakashi and Zabuza were both injured although, it seemed that Kurenai was unharmed for the most part. Naruto's expression took on a grim look. If Zabuza injured his sensei there would be hell to pay for the Swordsman. He would tear the man to pieces without any part of him being left for a positive identification. And he would give Kakashi a similar if not toned down beating. No one hurt those under his protection. Especially not the woman who treated him like a regular human and continuously showed concern for him.
Suddenly, Naruto's concentration was seized from the jounin by the frantic and harsh fluctuations of Sasuke's chakra. Naruto frowned. He was in obvious distress. But why? His foe's chakra was slowly beginning to fade and Naruto knew that killing was something that Sasuke had long come to terms with.
"Hinata, what is going on with Sasuke?"
"I'm not sure," she said, as her brow furrowed in concentration. "He's alarmed and seems to be panicking. The enemy kunoichi has a kunai lodged in her throat so I'm going to assume this his first kill."
"No, this is hardly his first ki-…" Naruto blinked slowly. "Did you say kunoichi?"
"Yes, the masked hunter-nin is a female."
Naruto twisted the words in his mind. Was this Sasuke's first time killing a woman? It was a known fact that, if your first kill was a man, you might have to relive the experience with the first woman you kill. There was just something different about seeing the life drain out of the eyes of a woman. Particularly a young one.
"Wait, he's bringing her over here." Hinata said with surprise.
"W-what's going on?" The bridge builder's voiced carried from a few feet behind them.
"Shut up and fade into the background," Naruto replied.
Soon enough, Sasuke broke through the mist, carrying what appeared to a bloody corpse of a young woman with three inches of steel, buried into her pharynx.
Desperation clearly written on his face, Sasuke said, "Hyuuga! You have to save her!"
Naruto's eyes went wide. He knew that all tracker teams had at least one person within the cell who was adequate with medical techniques and Hinata was that person on Team Seven but, this was something only a fully qualified med-nin could heal.
"S-Sasuke-san, I-I don't thin-"
"HEAL HER!" He roared.
Hinata quickly stumbled back and Naruto stepped forward, attempting to calm him down. "Sasuke look I-"
"No Naruto!" He snarled. "Not this time!"
Naruto's eyes went wide at Sasuke's hostility and taking advantage of his silence, Sasuke turned back to Hinata and hissed out, "Heal her! Or else you can join her in the grave!" By the time he finished speaking, Sasuke's Sharingan was spinning madly and pulsating chakra. Realizing what was happening, Naruto turned to a wide-eyed Hinata and said, "Do it."
Her head snapped towards Naruto as if she couldn't believe what he had just said however he simple responded to her look by saying, "Just do it."
"Okay," she said while letting out a shaky breath. "Put her down."
Once Sasuke had settled the woman down gently, Hinata looked her over carefully with her Byakugan. "Her ribs are broken in multiple areas. And even more dangerous than the obvious damage to the throat is the one that isn't. She's got internal bleeding. By the time I can stop the bleeding internally, she will have bled out from the hole in her pharynx. And that holds true for vice versa"
Sasuke ran a hand through his blood matted hair furiously and asked with obvious agitation, "You have to be able to do something."
"I can fully focus on the internal damage if I cauterize the wound on her throat…but, if I do that…she'll never be able to speak again."
Naruto felt sympathy for Sasuke when he saw the Uchiha flinch visibly, despite not knowing just what was going on. With Sasuke's chakra spiking, Naruto knew that Sasuke had little control left in him. So he quietly said to Hinata, "Do what you must."
Naruto saw Hinata bite her lower lip hesitantly and Sasuke gestured wildly with his hands, "Just do it already!"
Sasuke's wild eyes, the sheer desperation on his face; Naruto knew that if this girl dies, there would be another pair of Mangekyō Sharingan in the world. Which begged the question as Naruto gazed down onto the dying girl.
'Who the hell are you?'
Omake: Clash on the Big Bridge
Naruto stared at the numerous corpses littering the bridge with Kurenai, Kakashi, Sasuke and Hinata besides him. With the Demon of the Hidden Mist as their opponent, they somewhat expected this. What the five of them couldn't comprehend was Zabuza lying dead on the bridge, his sword impaled into the bridge, and a strange colorful looking dog/wolf hybrid panting on top him.
Kurenai turned towards Kakashi tentatively and asked, "Kakashi…is it one of yours?"
"…I've never seen that thing in my life!"
Suddenly, the thing let out a very loud howl and all of them were forced to cover their ears. "What on earth," Naruto heard Sasuke mumble.
A dark laugh echoed across the bridge.
They all turned towards the direction of the laugh and what they saw caused their jaws to hit the floor. Well except Naruto. His eyes simply went comically wide. "What the hell!" Kurenai exclaimed.
The reason being? There was a man flying toward them. He was covered in dark red cloak with gold bands across his arms. He came soaring towards them laughing evilly, unfortunately, when he tried to land, he missed the bridge, hit the ledge and, with a cry, fell over.
As the sound of water splashing reached their ears, they all had massive sweat drops on the back of their heads. They waited a few minutes to see what would happen and, if possible, the dog/wolf thing looked absolutely mollified.
Suddenly the other side of the bridge erupted in a column of water and the strange man jumped onto the bridge. They all stared disbelievingly when they realized that the strange man had greyish-green skin and six arms. And each arm held a sword.
"Hey!" Kurenai yelled. "That's the Nidaime Hokage's Raijin!'
"And that's Samehada!" Kakashi yelled.
"And that's Cloud's Buster Blade!"
All of them looked at Hinata with questioning looks and she went bright red and mumbled, "Never mind.'
"Mwahahaha! It Is I, Gilgamesh! I have scoured the farthest reaches of the world looking for the Blade of Legends!"
He grabbed Zabuza's cleaver and hefted into the air effortlessly.
"Now, we fight!"
Author's Note: I wanted to wrap up the Wave Arc with this chapter so I skipped a lot of the cannon crap but as I wrote this chapter I felt it was good opportunity to explore Naruto's bonds with his teammates and his inner thoughts on other characters.
I also wanted to lay the foundations of what would be the future interactions between Sasuke and Haku. I've expressed my views on the dynamics between before and I'm surprised I've yet to find a serious fic with those two involved.
Obviously the relationship between the two will be very convoluted and heavily marred by violence. Sasuke is a passionate character and Haku being the strong yet soft natured person, will have difficulty accepting him. Their romance will be one of dark, heavy emotions, carried on by crushing grief and loneliness and a desire to vent their anger. As an author, writing about the darker aspects of a relationship such as desire, possessiveness and obsession is a rare opportunity. Especially in the Naruto World.
Oh and the last bit, well every time I've watched the Wave Arc or read that part in a fic, I've always remembered FF12. I just had to add it.
Let me know if you actually want me to write a fight scene for Gilgamesh.