Author's Note's: Not the largest chapter, but it's an update!
There is something I took from another writer on this site, JMenace that shows up in this chapter. It's the part in the Bingo Book. There, credit where credit is due.
I just recently looked and this story is now officially over a YEAR old! Our baby is growing up so fast! Thank you everyone who has been patient with me and my ridiculous update times. If you've stuck around this long, you're a true fan of my work! Thank you all so much!
Thanks to my fantastic beta! Dreaming of the Phoenix is by far by best pal on this site! Go check him out.
Hero or Monster
Chapter Twenty Seven – Blood
The Iwa garrison sent to Kiri was five hundred strong, full of some of the most elite shinobi from Tsuchi no Kuni of the generation, and they all marched for the capital village of Mizu no Kuni with one intent in mind. The Godaime Mizukage would submit, or she would be overthrown, and Kiri would be taken.
Awaiting orders from their commander, the Tsuchikage's own son-in-law, Kitsuchi, the army of deadly ninja prepared for an all-out war with the foreign village. Kunai were sharpened to its absolute maximum, and shuriken were ready to pierce flesh. They were ready to slaughter everyone, the men, the women; even the children would see no mercy. They were ordered to erase everyone that did not wear an Iwa hitai-ate from the face of the planet. Orders were orders, and theirs was to commit absolute genocide.
And maybe they would have, had they not been intercepted.
"We are Hope's Blade…" Uzumaki Naruto spoke. "Let us cut away the misery."
Vanishing in gilded light, Naruto, Sasuke and Itachi left the rest of Hope's Blade to defend Kiri from the men and women who marched, unjustly, on a village that had nothing to do with their ire.
With Naruto – the Second in Command – gone, the commander of Hope's Blade spoke to his shinobi, his family. And even though he had only spent three years with some of them, they were just as much family to him as those he had known for much longer.
"We will politely ask them to cease their march and turn around." The man who could now challenge the godslayer on equal ground spoke with a commanding voice.
"And if they refuse?" A man whose gentle disposition was the pinnacle of deception asked, a few birds adorning his broad shoulders.
"Then we make them leave." The commander spoke, his words absolute law. "Let us go." He said before vanishing in a Shunshin (Body Flicker) that had no swirl of leaves or small gust of wind. And in the blink of an eye, the others were gone as well, absolutely no traces of them ever being there, or leaving, present. They were like ghosts in the wind, true master shinobi.
The Mizukage's office had never been so silent or tense before. Ever. The presence of Uzumaki Naruto was enough to cause extreme panic. Kurotsuchi and her father immediately raised their guard, ready to fight their way out of the building, or die trying. The latter was the most likely scenario, but Iwa did not yield.
"N-Nar…" Anko whispered breathlessly, surprised more about his appearance than his presence. The last time the purple-haired jonin had seen the blond, she had been taller than him. While he had been taller than most his age, Anko still could claim to be taller. But now… now Naruto was significantly taller than both her and Mei. And where his hair had been quite wild, now was a bit more tamed, and shorter, a lot shorter. His face was more developed, a gentle yet firm look about him. A white cloak with red flames flicking at the bottom – the same as Itachi's and Sasuke's – adorned his body, covering the black shinobi pants and long-sleeved shirt. In Mitarashi Anko's opinion, Naruto had changed a lot.
And she very much liked it.
With his eyes still ablaze with gold, the Bringer of Hope glanced at the Iwa-nin in the room, making them tense even more in preparation.
Naruto smirked. "Hello, Iwa Shinobi-san." He greeted Kitsuchi. "I don't believe we have ever met. I'm-"
Before Naruto could finish, the kunoichi from Iwa interrupted. "We know who you are. What are you doing here?" Her tone was rather rude and her father was now cursing under his breath. He had never before been so irritated with how his daughter had seemingly inherited her grandfather's impolite attitude.
Naruto just continued to smile at them, his expression never changing. If he was upset with how the girl was speaking to him, he didn't show it. "Well, you see…" the Kamikage began. "I came here for a private matter regarding the Mizukage." Here, Naruto pulled the giant sword on his back that no one seemed to notice until then out in the open. He graced Mei with a bright smile – which made the woman's heart flutter, not that anyone else would ever know – before looking back at the rude kunoichi. "I've only come to this beautiful island for peaceful conversation. So you can imagine my surprise when I come upon an entire Iwa battalion marching for the very village that I once assisted to liberate."
Mei's good mood instantly disappeared, her narrowed eyes falling on Kyoya. If glares could kill, the "ambassador" would have dropped dead a thousand times over. The Mizukage could no longer suppress her anger, and the office shook and cracked due to the pressure of Mei's incredible chakra. She was a Kage, an S-ranked shinobi and wielder of two bloodlines. She may not have been the one to end Yagura's life, but she had held her own against him and that in itself made her a dangerous ninja. So for these people to so easily dismiss her and her people with this kind of disrespect… it brought out the killer in her.
"You would dare…" Mei spoke. With every word, her chakra increased, making these pests witness why she was made the Godaime Mizukage. "You would dare come here under the false pretense of an alliance, only to strike at us when we are unprepared?" The tone of the auburn-haired woman's voice was so dark, so terrifying, that Kurotsuchi was now seriously regretting this mission.
"Do not forget about the missive from Tsuchikage-sama." Kyoya said. He was definitely scared at how many powerful, enemy shinobi were now surrounding them, but he fell back on his training, and kept his relaxed, in control façade.
Naruto sighed. He really did not like the way this man was talking to Mei. "You should really learn how to properly address a Kage of a foreign village. You're being horribly disrespectful, you know."
At this… scolding?... Anko and Mei looked at the man they loved with strange expressions. Blinking almost comically, Mei went to say something, but was stopped by Sasuke.
"Proper respect is important if you yourself wish to be respected." The younger of the Uchiha brothers added onto Naruto's explanation, nodding his head sagely.
Anko was now worried that these people were not Naruto and Sasuke. They were acting too out of character…
"And if one does not wish to be respected, then they cannot complain if they are disrespected…" Naruto continued. "And I was so hoping that we could have a nice, respectful conversation…" He shook his head in false disappointment. "Ah well," he started again after seeing the glares of the Iwa-nin, "have it your way…"
That's when the Naruto everyone knew showed his fangs.
Kitsuchi and his daughter had thought Mei's demonstration of raw chakra was impressive, so much so that the two – who were talented, skilled jonin – had actually begun to sweat. Her chakra was enormous and had a distinct heat about it. It was truly the chakra of a Kage, a shinobi befitting her position as the most powerful ninja in her village. That, however, was almost nothing compared to what came upon everyone in the office now.
Chakra so warm it could take the sun's place and heat the planet brushed up against everyone, giving those present different feelings entirely.
When Naruto's chakra came to life in the office, Anko felt like strong, yet gentle arms embraced her, declaring to the world that she belonged to them. It was like nothing she had ever felt before, the feeling of complete safety, of absolute possession, of protection. The chakra that could warm the world held her, caressed her, whispered to her that she was wanted and missed. Everything and everyone was gone. Anko was lost in the feeling of bright possession, and she had never felt so at peace and in harmony with the world before in her entire life.
Sasuke just smirked when he felt the so very familiar touch of his shishou's chakra. He was quite possibly the most familiar with this feeling – though, as his brother, that was warranted. The strength and confidence Naruto's chakra always brought him was present, and words like "invincible" and "unassailable" were the only ones that could possibly describe it.
Itachi just closed his eyes and inhaled, feeling Naruto's chakra – which had more life energy flowing through it than entire nations of people combined – practically rejuvenate him. Things like sleep and rest were all but obsolete when this chakra was flowing freely. It was absolute synergy.
Mei was much in the same boat as Anko. The warm, powerful chakra engulfed her, washing over her with a tender gentleness she had not expected to feel from another human being. Naruto was the embodiment of carnage and destruction, but at this moment, with his chakra drowning the office, she had never felt anything so soft and beautiful in her entire life. Every inch of her was his at that moment, every pore was being drenched in life, and she could feel him holding her, devouring her in a way that made it hard to breathe, but in a good way.
The others were not so lucky.
Kyoya, the foolish man who thought he could treat one of the Godslayer's women – even though he did not know of such relations – with such disrespect, almost lost control of his bladder. The weight and intensity of the chakra that fell on his head was literally almost able to kill him. He couldn't move, he couldn't blink, and he couldn't breathe. Sheer terror was a term he had never experienced, until now. He was so terrified that he couldn't even shake. He felt as if he even twitched, he'd be slain. The nephew of the Earth Daimyo could absolutely not believe that Naruto was human. The chakra that was literally drowning him was otherworldly. It couldn't have come from anything but a god – or a devil… The latter sounded the most appropriate. Uzumaki Naruto was a devil dressed as a man, Kyoya was sure of that now.
Kurotsuchi was a jonin, and even though she was one of the younger of the prestigious rank, she definitely earned her position. Being the granddaughter of the Tsuchikage had nothing to do with her promotion. She had a powerful bloodline and skills that outshined most seasoned shinobi. She had been confident in her own power, and she had never been scared to face anyone. She wasn't afraid of anyone, and she had made sure to have as strong a bite as her bark. But now, with this… was this even chakra…? Whatever it was, with it pushing down on her like she was nothing but an insect, she actually felt fear. She was terrified of this man, of Uzumaki Naruto. Was that why her knees were shaking…?
And finally, Kitsuchi, a seasoned, powerful jonin of Iwagakure no Sato, could now understand why his father-in-law was so obsessed with ending the "absolute threat" that was Uzumaki Naruto. "Godlike" was a term the aged jonin had only associated with people like Sarutobi Hiruzen or the Shodai Hokage… but right now, in the room that felt like it would explode with the incredibly powerful chakra that flooded it, another shinobi earned the right to be feared. Absolute authority… the boy had absolute authority of them all. All control was his. It almost felt like the right to breathe was his alone, and Kitsuchi did not have permission to breathe… Was that why he was holding his breath…?
The voice of a man who could destroy all living life on the planet spoke, his tone deep and his words sharp enough to cut through armor. "I will only say this once." Naruto stated. "Iwagakure and all of Tsuchi no Kuni will cease its idiotic attempts of waging war on Konohagakure and her allies. There's a much bigger threat out there, and you people want to act like children?" The blond shook his head. "I haven't the time or motivation to save you from your own asinine ideals. If you continue to provoke us, we will end you. There will be no mercy, not for the men, women, or children. I will personally obliterate your entire country if that is what it takes to stop you." If they could, the Iwa-born present would gulp or whimper, but as it was, they were paralyzed, absolutely unable to do anything but stare at the "god-boy" who held them prisoner with nothing but his presence. "Congratulations," Naruto met the eyes of Kitsuchi, gilded, slit orbs meeting charcoal black. "You've got my attention." He then looked at Kurotsuchi. "Now flee from my sight before I really get upset."
Just as fast as it appeared, the feeling of Naruto's chakra disappeared, allowing the three from Iwa to finally breathe again. Kitsuchi sighed deeply, his shoulders falling, but otherwise, he was able to compose himself. His daughter, however, almost fell to her knees, unable to withstand the sudden lack of extreme pressure pushing down on her from above. She managed to stay standing, but everyone saw her stumble. The tears falling from her eyes were also very noticeable. Kyoya, a civilian by most standards, did fall to the ground. The moment his knees hit the office floor, the man vomited, and if the smell was anything to go by, wet himself. After thoroughly embarrassing himself, Kyoya lost consciousness, falling face first into his own stomach fluids.
For a moment, no one moved, unsure if they were actually free to leave. The fact that they were allowed freedom when the young shinobi could so easily have ended them and be done with a possible threat was strange to them. Kurotsuchi didn't trust it one bit, so she was a little scared when her father began to slowly move. Kitsuchi picked Kyoya up and tossed him over his shoulder, ignoring the smells the man gave off like the seasoned jonin he was. If left in the position he was, Kyoya would have drowned in his own vomit, and that would make him and his daughter look incompetent.
Moving around the blond with extreme caution, Kitsuchi reached the door, still very, very wary of the situation he got himself in. With a sharp gesture, he motioned for his daughter to follow, wanting to leave the country as fast as possible. The siege would never happen, and thus the mission would be a failure, but he wasn't willing to risk the lives of everyone on the slight chance that they could overwhelm the godslayer. The Tsuchikage couldn't do it with a thousand shinobi; there was no way Kitsuchi was going to try with only a few hundred. With deliberately slow movements, Kurotsuchi made her way to where her father was, and the two of them exited the room with a pace that expressed their fear.
Strangely, the seven jonin they had traveled with were still waiting for them where they stayed behind. That wasn't what was strange, though. What was strange was the fact that they acted as if they hadn't felt what just happened in the Mizukage's office.
"Kitsuchi-taicho." One of them greeted. "Are we proceeding with the rest of the mission?"
Kitsuchi looked around nervously, expressing anxiety and… fear?
"No." Kitsuchi answered. "We're aborting the mission. It was a complete failure…" He looked at the hall that led to the Mizukage's office. "We need to retreat now. We need to warn the others." He spoke very fast, and his breathing was heavy.
"Retreat?" another jonin asked, this time a woman. "Retreat for what?"
"Y-you didn't feel that?" Kurotsuchi asked with wide eyes, even more terrified than her father. "How could you not have felt it!?" her eyes were large and she, too, panted.
"The Godslayer is here." That sentence alone was enough to get everyone moving. Everyone had read that man's Bingo Book entry…
Name: Uzumaki Naruto – Previously entered as Nezumi – (Kamikage, Bringer of Hope, Godslayer)
'FLEE ON SIGHT!' 'FLEE ON SOUND!' 'FLEE ON MENTION!'
Affiliation: Konohagakure no Sato, Mount Myoboku
Clan: Uzumaki (Deceased)
Family: Namikaze Minato (Father), Uzumaki Kushina (Mother), Jiraiya (Godfather)
Height: 178.2 cm
Hair Color: Blond
Classification: Sage, Sensor, Jinchuuriki (Sanbi, Yonbi, Kyuubi), Medic-nin
Notes: Uzumaki Naruto is the first shinobi to ever reach SSS-class, a position that's rightfully his. So far above all others, a rank had to be made to explain the power this deadly shinobi wields. Three Bijuu obey his commands, and he is rumored to have studied senjutsu more thoroughly under the honorable Toads of Mount Myoboku. Has faced the Death God and still lives. [Out of Date]
Recommendations for approach: Do not.
Bounty: Anything you wish – Iwagakure / Dead or Alive
"Follow them." Naruto ordered the Uchiha brothers. "They won't risk taking us on, but I want you to make sure they all leave. Tell the others what happened." Sasuke and Itachi nodded, turning to leave – the two still outside the window – before Naruto stopped them. "They all live, understand?" The blond looked Sasuke and Itachi in the eyes, something that would be completely foolish for anyone else to do. Again, the two Uchiha nodded, accepting Naruto's orders without question.
And then they were gone, leaving Anko and Mei alone with Uzumaki Naruto for the first time in nearly four years. Mei was frozen behind her desk, torn between making sure the Iwa shinobi left her country and tackling her lover to the ground and never letting go again.
Anko, on the other hand, had no such conflicting emotions.
"Naruto!" the purple-haired woman shouted in joy as she leapt at the man she loved. Said man smiled at her and caught the excited jonin in his arms, embracing her, sighing in content. He took in her scent and sighed again. He missed this smell, the smell of Mitarashi Anko… she smelled of dango.
Seeing Anko relish in Naruto's arms – which were now considerably larger – was enough to sway Mei into a decision.
"Naruto…" she whispered breathlessly as she too rushed to be held by the man who brought her happiness just by the thought of him. Being separated for so many years truly drove home just how much they all meant to each other and those feelings were now all flowing out at once.
"Anko… Mei…" Naruto whispered as he held the only two women he ever loved so intimately in his entire life, almost losing himself in the embrace. They were only pressed against him but that was almost enough to make him forget about the rest of the world. "I've missed the two of you so much…" he couldn't even explain how much he truly wanted to be with them the past three years. He thought of them every day, wishing he could be with them without having to worry about his "duty".
There was a long, comfortable silence as Anko and Mei just felt Naruto, finding more happiness in just being held by the man they loved than they thought they would. He was so warm, and he felt safe, like nothing mattered as long as they were in his arms.
… No… there was something else that mattered… something more important than any of them… even Naruto…
Mei shuffled a little in Naruto's arms, an uncomfortable gesture that both Anko and Naruto himself read instantly. Mei broke away from them, causing Naruto to look at the auburn-haired woman in confusion.
"Naruto… I…" Mei went to speak, but was soundly interrupted by the sound of an explosion. Gone was the unconfident and unsure expression on her face, and in its place, Mei now looked serious and ready to defend her people. "What was that!?" she asked of Naruto, already about to rush out the window of her office and race to where the sound originated from.
Naruto grabbed Mei's wrist before she could leap out of the office, still concerned about why she had looked so… terrified of him? "It's nothing. A couple of the Iwa shinobi broke off before the main group arrived here. They weren't aware of the call for retreat and attacked a building on the edge of the village." He wasn't very worried at all, since he could clearly feel the familiar chakra of Zabuza and Haku. They'd have it all under control in no time, after all. There were two others as well, a rather powerful chakra source he wasn't familiar with and…
Mei's and Anko's eyes widened, fear and terror washing over them in thick waves. "No!" Mei shouted as she pulled her arm out of Naruto's grip and jumped out of the window. He saw her sprinting to where the battle Zabuza and Haku were engaged in, with speeds that equaled her fright. Anko, as well, looked terrified, and went to rush out of the room just the same as Mei, intent on following her.
Before she could leave, however, Naruto stopped her. "Anko, what is going on?" He asked, slightly confusing her. Shouldn't he have discovered it all by now?
"Y-You don't know yet?" she asked with grief on her face.
"Know what?" Naruto asked, slightly worried now at how sorrowful Anko looked.
"What happened to your empathy?" She asked, still looking… ashamed?
"I finally mastered it while I was away." Naruto explained. "I've learned to turn it off. Why?" Just as he was about to activate his empathy ninshu, Anko shook her head, grabbing him by the arm and giving him a look that all but screamed "I'm sorry".
"We need to get to Zabuza now! There's no time to explain, you'll have to see for yourself." And with that, the snake-user dashed out of the office, trying her best to reach Zabuza, to reach her.
Zabuza was an extremely powerful jonin, even more so since he rejoined Kirigakure, but even he couldn't defend her from too many enemies, even with Haku and Chojuro with him. And if anything happened to her before Naruto even got to meet her…
Anko loved Naruto with all her heart. She was his completely. Her heart, her soul, her body… it all belonged to Uzumaki Naruto. Not once had she ever been truly scared of him. Not once…
But the thought of what he would do if anything happened to that girl…
Anko had never been so thoroughly terrified in her entire life. Ever.
Deciding to follow and see what was going on, Naruto left the office, hot on Anko's tail.
Momochi Zabuza, the Demon of the Mist, and a member of the Seven Ninja Swordsmen of Kirigakure no Sato, was nervous.
With Haku at his side, he always felt like he could do anything, complete any mission, but right now, with five fully fledged Iwa jonin staring at them with eyes that expressed more killing intent than their actual killing intent, he wasn't so sure anymore. Even Chojuro, the kid who was now also a member of the Seven Ninja Swordsmen was there with them, yet Zabuza was still nervous, scared even.
The reason? Simple. It was not because Zabuza feared for his life, or even the life of Haku and Chojuro. No, they were all skilled shinobi who could handle themselves. Even outnumbered as they were, Zabuza was fairly certain that two Swordsmen of the Mist were capable of taking care of them.
What Zabuza was actually terrified of was the little girl that clung to his leg, hiding behind him, terrified of the men who had somehow discovered her. The bloody demon wasn't exactly afraid of the girl, but he was scared for her. If anything happened to her…
Zabuza had to shake the thought from his mind. The man had forced the fucking Yondaime Mizukage to change his graduation ceremony for the academy because of the shit he had done as a kid, and even he was terrified of what the girl's father could do. Hell, her mother was also not to be trifled with. Those who proclaimed her as a false leader were idiots. That woman was powerful enough to gain the loyalty of Momochi Zabuza. That was an incredible feat in and of itself. Respect. Terumi Mei had earned Zabuza's respect, and because of that, the Demon of the Mist would die for her, all she needed to do was ask.
Zabuza looked down to meet gazes with the little girl again, her fearful expression causing his heart to ache. He had… grown close to the little girl. He felt something of a guardian for her, a protector. It was similar to how he felt about Haku, but more protective, gentler.
Zabuza turned to face the Iwa-nin again, his deep eyes glaring, the full force of his killing intent flaring. A warning.
The enemy didn't even respond.
"You're no ordinary jonin, are you?" the demon asked. When they didn't respond, he smirked underneath his bandages. "Let me guess…" his eyes glided over them, examining the way they stood. "GOLEM?" Again, none of the Iwa-nin responded, but that was all the answer Zabuza needed. "Hey, kid." He spoke to Chojuro, though he never took his eyes off his prey.
"Yeah?" Chojuro asked, still staring at the enemy as well, his hand gripping Hiramekarei tightly.
"We probably aren't going to survive this one." Zabuza admitted.
Chojuro was silent for a moment, just staring at the men who had invaded his home. His precious Mizukage personally asked for him to guard the little one from any harm. He'd gladly die to serve his village, his country, his Kage. That was the kind of leader Terumi Mei was – the kind people would die for with smiles on their faces. She was the one who fought for freedom and equality for the bloodline clans, and with the help of the Bringer of Hope, liberated the entire country from the tyrant Kage Yagura. So his answer was actually quite simple. Then, he smiled. "I'm okay with that."
Zabuza returned this smile, taking his bandages around his face off, showing off his deathly sharp teeth. "Haku, take the girl and leave this place." He ordered of the man he called son. "I'm about to show these people why we were once called the Bloody Mist." There was a look in Zabuza's eyes, a look of both excitement and peace.
Haku didn't move for a moment, just staring at his best friend and father figure, before bowing to his master and taking the girl who didn't want to let go of her friend, ready to vanish away… ready to leave his family for the sake of another's.
Zabuza pointed Kubikiribocho at the men he knew to be members of GOLEM, smirking. "Let's have some fun then, shall we?" And then he brought the full force of his chakra down upon them, leaking considerable amounts of energy. It was enough to finally make the enemy react.
Four of them went into defensive stances, while one rushed at Zabuza with the intent to end the man's life.
"Don't underestimate me!" Chojuro screamed. The bandages around Hiramekarei fell, revealing the blade to everyone. "Hiramekarei Kaiho (Hiramekarei Unleashing)!" Chojuro was on the GOLEM operative in an instant, chakra forming around his blade, creating what looked like a giant hammer, a hammer that hit the red-clad shinobi from Iwa with the force of an enraged bull, sending him flying back to his comrades.
The injured GOLEM operative was caught by his comrades, blood leaking from the side of his mouth. He tasted the iron on his tongue and smiled. Chojuro narrowed his eyes, before widening them, realizing what had happened.
Before the young swordsmen could react, Zabuza was already at his side, ripping the explosive tag off of Hiramekarei that the Iwa shinobi planted, and tossed it at the enemy. Before the explosion went off, the five enemy-nin scattered in different directions. Zabuza looked back, making sure that Haku was gone. When he saw no signs of them, he smiled.
"I leave it all to you now… son." The demon of the mist whispered. When he turned to face the enemy, his face was twisted in a snarl, his anger finally let off its leash. The demon craved their blood.
With a fierce roar, Zabuza launched at the shinobi who were about to take pleasure in killing the girl he swore to defend his entire life. At his side was an equally enraged Chojuro, his blade screaming as they all but sailed through the air. Zabuza tightened his grip on Kubikiribocho, getting more and more excited at the idea of falling in a great battle with his fellow swordsmen.
They'd send as many as they could to hell, where they'd kill them over and over again for their ignorance.
It was going to be so fun.
The instant his blade was about to do what it was built to do, the air suddenly became hot. Heat that was surely unnatural washed over what was going to be a battlefield – and a graveyard – like the sun's light washing over the shadows. Everyone started sweating, it was so hot.
Zabuza smirked when he saw Chojuro bend his knee, mirroring the kid. In a flicker of air, Terumi Mei, the Godaime Mizukage of Kirigakure no Sato was in between her swordsmen and the GOLEM agents that were planning on murdering her child, her daughter.
Mei had never hated anyone more than she hated Yagura, but one would find that hard to believe if they saw the way she looked at the invading Iwa-nin. Pure, unadulterated rage filled Mei's eyes, her heart and her soul. She was so mad, so livid…
"Where is she?" she asked Chojuro who, like Zabuza, still knelt behind her.
Chojuro never raised his head. "Haku-san took her and fled, Mizukage-sama." He reported. "He'd follow protocol, so they're most certainly deep within the Blue Room."
The presence of a Kage made the GOLEM agents pause, reassessing the odds of actually accomplishing anything or dying without purpose. Retreat, when faced by an S-ranked shinobi who was also a Kage, was usually the only thing one could do, if even that. They were deep within enemy territory, and there were absolutely no sounds of other battles… which meant that the order to invade Kirigakure was changed… It was now that the GOLEM operatives spoke.
"Shouldn't you be defending the village, Mizukage-sama?" A man with dark brown hair and weary eyes asked. His voice was deep and his face was rough, fitting a shinobi from Iwa.
Mei brought her gaze to the man who spoke, delivering all her hatred and rage to just him. The man, as an operative of GOLEM, didn't even flinch. GOLEM agents were born from stone, they didn't show fear. Ever.
… Until today…
"You see," a new voice spoke directly behind the GOLEM cell, surprising them all greatly. "That's the neat thing about a 'FLEE ON SIGHT' order." There were two sensors in their little team, and neither of them had felt the presence of life or even chakra anywhere near them that they weren't already aware of. They all turned as quickly as possible, coming face to face with the one person that they were taught to be very afraid of. "It doesn't just apply to individuals." One of them turned back to the Mizukage when they heard yet another newcomer appear. It was the Konoha kunoichi who they suspected to be the Leaf's representative. "It applies to entire armies as well."
The temperature dropped considerably when Uzumaki Naruto entered the battlefield. Everything just felt… hopeless when the man who was described as a nation killer appeared.
"Y… You…" one of the Iwa-nin whispered breathlessly. "W-why are you here…?"
Naruto looked at the man who asked him a question with uncaring eyes, like he was looking at a lower life form… like he was looking at nothingness. "The better question is, what are you doing here?" The blond sat upon the giant sword Hoshigaki Kisame made famous, Samehada. "Why was a cell – who is obviously comprised of GOLEM agents – so far away from the invading forces? Why this location?" Naruto ignored the way Mei and Anko flinched. Silence greeted him, so he continued. "Kitsuchi-san has already called for retreat, GOLEM-san. If you answer my question, you can be on your way." His tone was almost sincere, a stark difference to the near bloodthirsty ANBU operative Nezumi.
Still the agents were silent, until finally, one cracked. "There's a rumor that the Mizukage gave birth to a child…" a man with light hair and a smoother face admitted. He'd most likely be branded a coward if they made it back home, but he'd at least have saved their lives in his cowardice. "We were to either take the child with us, or forcefully cease the possible threat…"
Naruto was still for a minute, not looking at anyone or speaking at all. He was just… still.
"A… a child?" he finally spoke, his eyes meeting Mei's. The auburn-haired woman diverted her eyes, unable to look into his. It was at this moment that Naruto decided to activate his empathy ninshu, not wishing to be in the dark anymore.
And that's when it hit him.
A small, innocent soul that felt so similar to his own – minus the "innocent" part – glowed in his senses, standing out in its beauty. If he was the sun, all-encompassing and merciless, this soul felt like one of the small stars that twinkled in the night sky. It… it was blood.
The huge revelation almost dropped the blond to his knees, and it would have, if something else hadn't welled up within him. The fact that he apparently had… a… child… was almost drowned out entirely now by the last thing the Iwa-nin said.
"Forcefully… cease?" he questioned, his eyes hidden from the world.
Zabuza was the first to notice it. His hands… Naruto's hands… they were shaking. It wasn't long after that both Anko and Mei noticed it as well, followed shortly by Chojuro and the GOLEM operatives. The Godslayer's hands were shaking…
And then they went perfectly still, time seemingly stilling along with them.
It was at this moment that Naruto gazed upon the team from Iwa; his golden eyes slit vertically, and brought his hand up, his palm facing them. His almost serene, peaceful face that had slightly shocked Anko and Mei earlier was now so thoroughly twisted in rage that it actually scared the women who he loved.
It was then that the Kamikage whispered the words that ended the lives of many before them.
Naruto made a grabbing motion, and when he pulled, all five of the invading shinobi dropped to the ground, their lives ended.
They were reaped.
The four-man Ro-Han contingent stood before the Godaime Hokage, their backs almost as stiff as the feeling in the air. Ookami, who was Ro-Han's lieutenant now, had just finished giving his report to Tsunade-sama, and now the woman was trying to digest the information, a wrinkle in her brow from her frown.
"And you're certain?" Tsunade asked. She immediately sighed, though. Of course they were certain. This contingent of Team Ro was comprised of the most elite ANBU she had under her command. They wouldn't make mistakes like this. But that thought didn't make her feel any less worried.
"If Iwa has actually brokered an alliance with Kumo, then the war we've been trying to prepare for might begin sooner than we had hoped." Tsunade continued, sighing again. "I hate war…"
"If I may, Tsunade-sama…" Nezumi-Two began. And once Tsunade nodded, he started. "We now know that Iwa is serious about starting the Fourth Shinobi World War. And we were all alive when the last one took place…" There was a brief silence in the Hokage's office as everyone took a moment to give thanks to Nezumi-Two for his actions in the Third Shinobi World War. After all, he had practically won the whole thing for Konoha, being able to fight on just about any battlefield he wished that was marked with his special formulas. "I know that we've got an alliance with Kiri, but that may not be enough. Both Iwa and Kumo are renowned for their military might. They've got bodies in bulk." The blond ANBU operative explained. "I think we should try looking into brokering an official alliance with Suna, or even a few of the smaller villages, like Taki."
Tsunade rested her chin upon her folded fingers, thinking over her most powerful ANBU agent's words. "It makes sense, but I don't know if Suna would go for it… We kind of took their Bijuu…" she shook her head. "And Taki might be worried that we merely want to take theirs from them as well…"
"I suggest preemptive strikes on both Iwa and Kumo." Ookami added. "Strike at their food and water supplies. Soldiers can't fight on an empty stomach." His voice was deep and somber.
"It's almost impossible to do that, though." Nezumi-Two started. "We tried in the last war. Even I couldn't get that far into enemy territory undetected. And even if I could, getting out would be even harder." He shook his head. "Subterfuge isn't really an option with these guys. Both villages have so many military precautions on everything, even spiking the civilian supplies would be too much of a risk."
Tsunade sighed and nodded. "You're right, Minato." The Hokage agreed. "I hate saying it, but Konoha is going to have to rely on you and Naruto on this one." She tried to ignore the way Karasu-Two clinched her fists. "He should be back in the village soon. We'll just have to wait until then."
Minato nodded. It was his duty to serve the village, and his son's as well. If that meant they had to slaughter thousands to keep their home safe…
Nezumi-Two inhaled sharply. "Hai, Hokage-sama." He bowed deeply to his leader.
Then so be it.
Author's Note's: So? How was it?
A lot of people keep asking me how powerful Naruto can become, since he's already so strong? All I can say is that 12-13 year old Naruto would get his ass whooped by 16 year old Naruto. You'll see soon enough.
And no one's pointed out my little Easter egg from last chapter. Hmm… I wonder if you'll see it in this one. It's small, but kind of important at the same time.
I asked my readers on KiK what Naruto and Mei's daughter's name should be. I decided not to introduce her this chapter so everyone else can give me names as well. Let me know what you think her name should be! And if her name coincides with her hair, then I'd be willing to make her hair color fit the name, too.
Please review! I really like to read everyone's thoughts!
Question: What should Naruto's and Mei's daughter's name be?
Fact: My life is finally turning around. It's getting so much better! Unfortunately, that means it is also getting busier. Less time to write really sucks when that's what you love to do the most.