Where are you: Flood? What flood would that be? I live in central Europe and thar be no floods here xD.
I'm really sleepy right now, so I hope I'm not forgetting to mention something important. I'm too tired to make a proper spellcheck right now, so I hope any grammatical errors aren't so bad that they can't wait till tomorrow. Either way, onwards tot he chapter proper.
Oma smiled to herself as Kazehana left. The Wind Sekirei was coming along nicely, her deeply hidden insecurities now much reduced. She'd even stopped drinking quite as much, though her love of alcohol and high places obviously wasn't going to ever vanish completely.
Oma hadn't expected to end up giving counseling to these Sekirei that Naruto had brought with him, but that was how it had turned out.
Her advice on the continued development of the Empire was no longer needed as much, though she did still offer it from time to time, but she was spending more time than ever on Erius.
This was due to the fact that her fellow ascended had been giving her the cold shoulder lately... well, more than what they normally did at any rate. They had never quite gotten over the fact that Naruto and Xanna were stomping all over their no intereference law and that they couldn't do anything about it. Naruto's infrequent visits to the Astral Plane just to cause some chaos didn't help and her own blatant involvement had caused their dispositions to steadily curdle over the past few centuries. It had gotten to the point where she was preferring to stay inside the physical body provided by either Naruto or Xanna instead of returning to the Astral Plane.
Not all of them were so bad though. Orlin for example, had seemed interested in what she was doing. Unfortunately, Orlin was currently exiled to Velona, a planet that now held only the ruins of a civilization that he had tried to protect from the Goa'uld. He had given them an advanced orbital weapon so that they would have the means to defend themselves.
He had misjudged the Velonans however, as they began using the weapon to conquer other worlds soon after.
In a display of callousness that showed just how much the Alterans had changed since their ascension, the others had destroyed the Velonan civilization and condemned Orlin to wander the ruins indefinitely, which he had been doing for the past century and a half.
It was hardly the first time that they had displayed this kind of behavior, as evidenced by the situation with Chaya Sar in the Pegasus galaxy. Punishing her for protecting a planet from the depredations of the Wraith by forcing her to remain there and then being petty by allowing her to protect only that one planet.
The Alterans had lost much of themselves during their time as ascended beings. Some more than others, but all had lost something. Oma had found herself relearning a great deal during these enforced stays in a mortal body. Though originally displeased by it, she had come to appreciate it.
Regardless of the reasons, she now spent months at a time in a physical body instead of only coming around to give advice. Naruto's repeated propositions and attempts to seduce her had even started becoming mildly amusing.
Particularly when she'd overheard a conversation by two of the masseuses in the palace.
One of them had been new and rather intimidated by Naruto's size and fearsome appearance. The older and more experienced one had comforted her by comparing him to a big dog. He might look scary, but the worst he would do was drool on you, possibly literally.
The horned man had surprised her however, when he had contrived a situation where she ended up giving counseling to Kazehana.
The Wind Sekirei had been merely curious to meet her, but Naruto had wanted to do something to help her with her feelings of loneliness and insecurity, so he had maneuvered them into an improvised sort of counseling session.
While she had been unprepared for it, Oma was fully capable of listening to the woes of a semi-drunk woman and offering some advice.
After that, he had brought others, many of whom had issues that he didn't know how to deal with.
Yashima still felt sullied by her time under her abusive former Ashikabi and tended to shy away from meeting new people despite wanting to have someone special in her life.
Benitsubasa exhibited extreme levels of jealousy and had driven off more than one man already simply because she couldn't stand the thought of some other woman stealing them from her.
And those were just two examples.
Naruto had tried to help, but in this case he had no idea how. He knew that low self-esteem was something that people could suffer from, but true understanding of the problem escaped him. His protection and enthusiastic acceptance helped, but it eventually came to the point where someone more empathic than him was needed.
Oma didn't really mind. She had nothing better to do anyway and there was a certain satisfaction to seeing them becoming happier over time. She was also glad to be able to focus on the individual again, that being something that she had always been more comfortable with despite her acting as an advisor for the past few centuries.
Naruto could have used a licensed psychologist for this of course, but several of these Sekirei could be a bit prickly at the idea that they needed counseling. It was easier to simply introduce them and let the Sekirei's own curiousity bring them back. Oma had always been good at coaxing people towards important realizations about themselves.
Naruto and Xanna were notable exceptions to this. Both of them were brutally honest with themselves and much too willful to be coaxed into anything, be it good or ill.
Oma's introspection was interrupted by the arrival of another ascended, much to her surprise. The others had barely spoken to her since before Naruto and Xanna's arrival and pretty much ostracized her since then. A visit had been the last thing she'd been expecting.
"Ganos, to what do I owe the pleasure?" She asked once the momentary surprise had passed.
Ganos Lal took a moment to look back at the considerably older ascended woman that seemed suspiciously comfortable in a mortal body before answering. "The others have sent me to ask you to cease your interference in mortal affairs."
"On what grounds?" Oma asked with a frown. "I haven't bent the law of non-interference any more than usual and it can hardly be termed a mortal affair when Naruto and Xanna are involved."
"I know." Ganos admitted. "I do not personally agree with this decision, but the others feel that you have helped them too much."
"I have given them no technology or even knowledge." Oma pointed out. "Indeed, they would have refused to accept it even if I tried to. Apparently, that would be cheating."
"But you have advised them."
The simple reply seemed to leave Ganos at a bit of a loss, but Oma didn't care. She had been worried if it was the right decision too, but it had proven to be. Naruto and Xanna would have probably done well enough on their own, but she was glad to have curbed some of their worst ideas. Despite the rather objectionable name they'd chosen for their nation, she was proud to have helped the Celestial Empire become what it was today and looked forward to the day when the Goa'uld would be toppled.
"The others are demanding that you stop." Ganos warned, wishing that it didn't have to be her to come here and issue threats, especially when she didn't even agree with them. Unfortunately, most of the others would likely be less than diplomatic and possibly draw the ire of the two horned troublemakers.
"I do not care." Oma said bluntly.
Her time spent helping along the growth of the Empire and its people had brought the hipocrisy of the Ascended into stark relief. They would destroy an entire civilization because Orlin had given them an Alteran weapon, yet they did nothing as the Goa'uld used scavenged Alteran technology to dominate the whole galaxy. The destruction of Velona had more to do with punishing Orlin than keeping them from using that weapon as a tool of conquest.
Naruto and Xanna at least owned up to their hipocrisy every single time without fail and never made excuses for it.
"Some have been pushing forward the idea of forcibly descending you." Ganos cautioned.
"I...do not think that would be wise." Oma said slowly.
The threat didn't frighten her in particular, having gotten more or less used to living in a physical body. Rather, she was wondering what Naruto and Xanna's reaction to that would be. She was certain that if she decided to leave and never return, they would not bother her ever again, but a forced descension?
Both of them could be terribly petty and Oma doubted they would take kindly to that act. Not because they were particularly attached to her, but because they would be angry that someone was interfering with their games.
She was well aware that they'd been trying to corrupt her just as she had been trying to get them to adopt a few basic ethics. It hadn't really gone one way or the other.
"Neither do I." Ganos admitted. "I suspect that many of the others are doing this because they feel that you have turned against them rather than any concerns over interference."
"I have never made a secret of my stance on the Goa'uld, we should have never allowed them to do as they pleased. Naruto and Xanna are a better alternative, so I chose to help them."
"Their civilization is strong now, they do not need help anymore." Ganos pointed out diplomatically. "You could return and the conflict would be resolved."
She was hoping to head off the conflict this way. Too many of the Ascended had started adhering to the law of non-interference with an almost fanatical devotion, especially in the wake of the incidents resulting from every case of interference so far. Oma's continued skirting around that law for the past centuries was driving ever more of them towards the idea that they should do something about it. It was all coming to a head now that the Celestial Empire looked to be almost ready to launch an assault on the galaxy.
Her own experiences with Moros(or Merlin as he came to be known later) had made her adopt a more practical stance, but she was just one person.
"Return where?" Oma asked rhetorically. "The others have ostracized me completely and I would not be surprised if they descended me as soon as I was no longer involved with Naruto and Xanna."
"They would not do so." Ganos asserted, but there was a sliver of doubt in her tone. She could honestly not be sure that they would not do exactly that.
"I do not share your faith in their non-existent sense of forgiveness."
There was a bite to her words that would not have been there centuries ago. Perhaps Naruto had managed to get to her after all, or maybe one of Xanna's cynical speeches had done the trick, or maybe it had just been time spent around mortals that had worn her down. Either way, her opinion of her fellow ascended beings had taken a sharp dive and she wasn't willing to bend to their rules anymore.
"And I have no wish to leave at the moment regardless of that. I take pride in what I have done here and I intend to see it through to the end, especially as the Goa'uld will soon be destroyed as they should have been long ago."
Ganos was silent for a time, just staring contemplatively at the other woman for a while before speaking again. "You've changed Oma. You would not have sponsored anyone who intended to conquer the galaxy before involving yourself with the Outsiders."
Oma sighed, returning Ganos' stare with an almost sad one of her own. "Would it be so terrible if they ruled the galaxy? Certainly they cannot do any worse than the Goa'uld and they will eventually grow bored of it and leave anyway."
"It is not right that higher beings lord their power over mortals." The visiting Ascended said.
Despite becoming convinced that they should take a more active stance against the Ori, she still believed that ascended beings should not meddle in mortal affairs.
"When did we become so heartless Ganos?" Oma asked, speaking as much to herself as to her visitor. "It is so easily within our ability to end the Goa'uld and the Wraith, both of which have risen to power due to our mistakes, yet we do nothing. Our long time friends and allies, the Asgard, were dying and we did nothing. Even now they are under threat by the Replicators and we still do nothing."
"We are not part of this plane of existence any longer." Ganos argued.
"No...we are not." Oma agreed slowly. "But that does not mean we should treat it and its denizens so contemptuously."
Ganos resisted the urge to demand where this atittude had been while they were being steadily pushed back by the Wraith. Oma and many others had already been ascended by then and could have helped, yet they didn't.
She knew that it wasn't Oma's fault, nor were the Alterans of the time(herself among them) blameless in the situation. She had eventually accepted this once they had retreated back to Terra and the last remnants of their people devoted themselves to ascension.
Regardless, she was not here to argue about this subject. It had been argued over many times before and it always came down to the fact that the majority had decided that it was for the best that they not interfere in the lower planes.
Oma had been one of the dwindling few that had continued to argue against it and it seemed that the past few centuries had only reinforced her belief. She clearly had no intention of stopping.
"I will attempt to convince the others not to act rashly, but I can make no guarantees." She finally said and left.
Oma sighed and went to prepare herself some tea.
When had dealing with her fellow ascended become so tiresome that living as a mortal had turned from being a tedious chore into a welcome respite?
"How are we doing with the construction efforts over here?" Naruto asked, pointing a clawed finger at a certain area of the holographic map of the planet currently being displayed on the table.
"84% complete. It has slowed recently as the man in charge is asking when he will be payed." Kochō answered promptly.
"Annoying little shit." The horned man muttered. "Tell him he'll be payed when it's done and to stop stalling."
The Sekirei acknowledged the order wordlessly and used the pad computer in her hands to send the message immediately.
"I can't believe we're still dealing with this crap," Naruto griped. "I thought for sure that money would fall out of use soon."
"I did warn you that it was unlikely." Xanna pointed out.
Contrary to Naruto's expectations, money had not fallen out of use. Though all the basic necessities of survival were free, that didn't mean that everything was free. Money was no longer needed for survival, these days it bought only luxury and privilege instead. The better your job, the more luxury and privilege you could afford. The unemployed lived comfortably, but not luxuriously.
"Nor can you expect these idiot children to cease equating wealth with power and struggling to grab as much of it as they can." The horned woman added scathingly, her opinion on the matter clear.
Despite her low opinion of that kind of behavior, she had to admit that it did at least keep the overly ambitious busy as they chased after profit. It seemed childish and stupid to her, but she hardly expected anything better from humans.
Naruto rolled his eyes and raised his hands in a gesture of surrender.
Yes, perhaps it had been a bit overly optimistic to think that money could be done away with entirely, but in his defense he had never considered it important.
He and Xanna had always acted based on available resources rather than how much money was in the coffers. That policy had caused no end of headaches for people who operated on money, as they frequently messed up the numbers. He had never quite managed to think of money as anything other than an imaginary means of accounting for things and tended to ignore it wholesale if he knew that there were no other problems with a given situation save for a lack of funds.
Xanna's problem with money was that she considered everything in the Empire as belonging to her and it was therefore superfluous.
Many had had their personal business empires ruined during the Machine Revolution and many of those continued to cling desperately to some semblance of that world where they'd felt powerful.
Naruto and Xanna didn't particularly care. Clinging to the past was always ruinous behavior and they would eventually be forced to adapt. Since working for bare survival was no longer needed, it was also impossible to run a large business like a personal fiefdom...you couldn't be too much of an asshole when any of the people working for you could quit their jobs without any particularly dire repercussions after all.
That had gone a long way towards curbing personal power plays, an unexpected but welcome side effect. Though those had been fairly rare either way. Neither Naruto nor Xanna were shy about seizing everything that any given person owned if they tried to be too ambitious.
There was still the occasional special snowflake like the previously mentioned man who was in charge of constructing a large building complex. The vast majority of his 'employees' were machines and the greedy idiot was still trying to finagle some extra profit out of the deal. If he pushed much further he might find himself replaced.
"What about our space based mining efforts?" He asked.
"The fleet of asteroid cracker ships is performing 7% better than expected. Material acquisition is keeping up with demand for the moment." Kochō answered.
"Excellent." Naruto drawled with a grin.
Unlike terrestrial mining, asteroid mining could be maximally destructive without needing to worry about cave-ins or environmental damage. The mining ships would basically just cut the asteroids into sufficiently small chunks if needed and then grind away all the useless rock until only the useful minerals and metals were left.
So very nice of the Goa'uld to ignore space based mining in favor of inefficienct slave labor.
"And the warships?" Xanna asked next, an eager gleam in her eye.
Going on raids held no appeal to her, having gotten bored of that kind of thing long before meeting Naruto, but she'd never had a spaceship before.
"The prototype testbed is at 97% completion, but will need to be taken on a trial run before it is pronounced a success."
"I have some ideas on where to take it for a trial run." Xanna said with a hungry smile. She wasn't often impatient, but how often does someone get their first spaceship?
The ship wasn't named, nor would it be since it was only meant to be used to test the various systems for functionality, but it was still the first space worthy warship that the Empire had produced.
"What of our moon installations?"
"Mostly finished, but your command for a giant cannon to be built on them has met with setbacks."
"What kind of setbacks?" Naruto asked with a disappointed sigh. Was turning Erius' moons into giant weapons platforms really too much to ask?
As Kochō proceeded to explain, he realized that perhaps it was. There were problems with sufficient power generation, but that could be handled. What couldn't be handled was the fact that the moons were constantly spinning around the planet and might therefore be out of position a lot of the time.
"Alright fine, I guess we'll keep them as secure research facilities for dangerous experiments." He conceded. "We'll put the giant space guns on orbital stations instead."
"We will need to have that finished by the time we are ready to declare ourselves openly." Xanna said contemplatively. "It will not take long for our location to become known and we will either need a dedicated system defence fleet or powerful enough static defences if we want to avoid the need to personally destroy any invaders."
"True, but we really do need to test our weapons before we commit to building either one of those." Naruto mused.
"Oh, we will." Xanna purred. "I will test them personally."
He grinned, finding her obvious eagerness to use a starship to blow things up both endearing and arousing.
Xanna grinned to herself as she settled into the captain's chair of the prototype warship, tails shivering in excitement behind her. Giving into the urge to wiggle around a bit in the chair ended up drawing some blushing looks from the crew as a result. They wouldn't normally be embarrassed about giving a woman a once over, but she was the Empress.
She'd chosen to dress a little differently than normal this time. Instead of her usual revealing white kimono, she was dressed in a tight black bodyglove made of a stretchy spandex-like material that left nothing at all to the imagination. Over the bodyglove were pieces of gleaming silver armor that was more decorative than functional. It was basically just a breastplate that ended just shy of her belly button and was designed to draw attention to her chest, along with shoulder pads, bracers and shin guards that reached up to her knees. Her feet were bare as always. Though she suspected that a pair of armored boots would further enhance the image, she wasn't willing to sacrifice the comfort of going barefoot for it.
The armor was of course entirely unnecessary, since her skin was far tougher than any armor would ever be, but she'd felt like dressing up a bit.
"Heika, we are ready to depart." The actual captain of the ship said.
"Then do so Darius." She purred. "There is a minor Goa'uld out there waiting to have my ship tested against him."
Darius nodded and began professionally giving out orders for departure, unbothered by the way she had called it her ship even though he was the captain. It was a well known fact that the Empress was an arrogant woman and people had long since gotten used to it for the most part. It was just the way she was and she didn't usually rub anyone's face in it.
Xanna raised an eyebrow at the man, surprised that he wasn't at least a little embarrassed by the way she'd spoken to him. He'd also been one of those who felt no lust towards her, the others being the two women in the room.
A quick peek into his head resolved the minor mystery. He felt honored to have her on the ship even though she had usurped his overall command, but he was also hiding a fair bit of disappointment that it wasn't Naruto in her place.
Oh husbaaaaaand. She sing-songed through their mental link, feeling his amusement at her good mood become even more pronounced.
What is it dear? Miss me already?
No, but captain Darius misses you. He has this marvelous daydream in his head of pleasuring you while you bark out orders to fire on the Goa'uld, finishing it all in a glorious...explosion.
Now that is indeed quite the interesting little fantasy, but alas, I like the people who pleasure me to be female. Definitely something to think about doing though. On a side note, I am heartbroken that you do not miss me yet.
Well if it is merely a side note then it is obviously not so bad.
You wound me with your cruel words!
Perhaps Akitsu and I will defile the Goa'uld's palace by ourselves if your heartbreak is just a side note.
Xanna smirked as the prototype warship entered hyperspace, breaking off the amusing conversation with her husband as they did so.
"What the fuck are you grinning about?" Karasuba demanded, staring at Naruto.
Several soldiers that were meandering around and going about the business of getting preapared gave her scandalized looks, which she ignored. Emperor or not, the day that she talked to him the way that everyone else in the Empire talked to him would be the day that she threw away her sword.
The Black Sekirei hadn't changed much. She still had a predilection for black leather clothing, though it was faux leather by necessity these days, her silver hair was still long with most of it held back in a messy ponytail and she was still a battle junkie.
Her haori wasn't the grey of the Disciplinary Squad anymore though, but rather a black one with a deep crimson crow motif on the back that looked as if it was dripping blood. A little gag gift by Naruto, but she liked it.
"Nothing much, just bantering with Xanna." He answered with a lazy grin.
"Right, how long is it going to take her to get to the planet again?"
"A couple of hours."
Karasuba sighed in boredom and gave him an insistent look. "Can't you speed up time or something?"
"I could, but I won't...but I could."
"Your nipples agree."
"I will cut you Naruto."
"Oooh, so scary."
Xanna made her way back to the bridge with Akitsu close behind her. They'd spent the past few hours napping in what passed for the captain's room. The room was quite small and basic, but since the ship itself would likely be recycled to make use of what was learned from this little excursion, there had been no point in building anything more comfortable.
It didn't take them long to reach the armored core of the ship that housed the most critical of the ship's systems, the bridge being one of them. The crew made way for them with small bows whenever she encountered them, much to her satisfaction. They didn't ignore her, nor did they waste time with elaborate demonstrations of devotion.
Captain Darius rose out of his chair to make room for her as soon she entered the bridge and she wasted no time setlling herself back into it., absently conjuring a comfortable seat for Akitsu as well.
"Heika, we are approaching the Dalios system and will be ready to drop out of hyperspace within the hour."
"Have there been any notable developments?"
"There is a slight resonance in the hyperdrive engine that forced us to travel slower than we had intended, but not by much." Darius admitted. "The engineers have already isolated the problem and will be able to correct it once the drive is disengaged. Other than that, everything went as expected."
"Good, very good indeed." She said a bit absently, noting that the crew visibly preened under the praise.
It's your turn Naruto.
Back on Erius.
Naruto got to his feet upon receiving the message form his wife, prompting the soldiers around him to become rigidly attentive. A hundred anf fifty men and women in dark grey armor turned towards him. The only decoration it had was the spiraled Eye of Samsara on the left shoulder and a few personal touches that a few intrepid souls had decided to paint on it. He hadn't told them that they couldn't do it after all.
The armor itself was a new design that hadn't been tested in combat yet, but he felt fairly certain that it would perform well. It was a forerunner to the much anticipated power armor and had only been produced in limited quantities for testing purposes. The outer armor plates were made of an artificial pseudo ceramic that was highly heat resistant, there was even a shield emitter mounted in the bracer of the left arm that would activate when the arm was bent as if holding an actual shield. Underneath the armor plates were packets of extremely shock absorbent gel that would disperse the majority of the force from a staff blast and most other forms of attack. The innermost layer was simply a comfortable bodysuit to prevent chafing or even worse...wedgies.
For a first attempt, Naruto thought it was pretty good. It would only block one or two hits from a staff before it was compromised beyond use and the people working on this stuff hadn't quite figured out how to negate the disruptive energy of a zat'nik'tel yet, but he was sure they'd get there eventually. The only thing that made him sad about the armor was the chest area.
He had been sorely tempted to make boob plates for the women, but practicality had forced him to admit that having two protrusions on one's chest was not necessarily a good idea even if it looked sexier. For melee combat, it was an outright horrible idea as it would direct the force of blows directly into the breastbone instead of deflecting it to the sides in the way that armor was generally supposed to. Even though they probably weren't going to be attacked by some nutty Jaffa with a mace, sword or spear and even getting hit by their ungainly staves wasn't very likely, flat and slightly convex chest pieces were still far more practical. Despite having the shock absorbent gel padding instead of simple cloth, there was no reason to make stupid design choices. For all that the ma'tok staff was a poor weapon, it kicked like an angry mule.
So it was that Naruto silently mourned the tragic missed opportunity. At least video games could still have midriff, cleavage and shoulder baring armored push-up boobie cups and chain mail bikinis for women.
"Alright boys and girls, lets get this party started." He said loudly enough that everyone could hear.
"Finally!" Karasuba grumbled, fingering the hilt of her nodachi. Aside from Naruto, she was the only one present that wasn't armored.
"Helmets." Setsuna snapped commandingly from beside him, pulling on her own headgear even as she did so.
The faceless visor fit comfortably over her head and sealed itself with a small hiss. A systems check scrolled past her vision and within half a minute, she had a heads up display showing her the status of her subordinates and how much charge the arm mounted shield had. She would have felt better without a helmet, but there was no deyning the advantages of having it.
This was the first trial run to see how the new armor and its various features in a combat situation and she was interested in seeing how it performed.
Naruto waved his hand at the stargate to activate it and started walking towards it with Karasuba right next to him.
Dalios system. Throne world for the minor Goa'uld Berat.
The silence of the night was broken when the stargate opened with its characteristic whoosh of unstable plasma before settling into a calm event horizon. Moments later, Naruto and Karasuba stepped through and looked around in confusion.
"He left the gate unguarded? Really? Really?" The Black Sekirei asked in disbelief, having come prepared for resistance.
"You'd be surprised how often that happens." Naruto said back dryly. "Never underestimate the Goa'uld ego."
"He did at least have someone watching the gate from a distance though." He continued, pointing at a spot in the distance.
"Well at least he's going to know what's coming."
"Oh, I very much doubt that." He said wryly.
Behind them, the stargate began disgorging soldiers.
Setsuna grinned to herself as she lowered her laser rifle after putting down another pocket of Jaffa resistance.
They had stopped using stolen Goa'uld weaponry some time ago and she could not be more glad of it.
The ma'tok staff was a clumsy thing that barely deserved to be called a weapon. It had a lot of punch, but a person using it would be lucky to hit anything beyond a range of 25 meters and even that was being generous.
The zat'nik'tel sidearm was somewhat more useable, but still far from an optimized weapon.
In comparison, the laser rifles issued to them now could fire accurately as far as they eye could see(even further with a scope). The Jaffa were hilariously outranged and their armor was as useless as ever against them. It was almost a shame, she hadn't gotten to draw her sword ever since they'd gotten the new weapon loadout.
She had to be careful not to empty the gun's capacitor by firing at full auto for too long and triggering the recharge cycle, but other than that, ammunition was not an issue. Its compact liquid naquadah power cell could keep it going for years.
That was not their only advantage in this battle though.
As soon as they had deployed, a hover-drone had been released into the air and began scanning the area, providing them with a top down view that was reflected as a minimap in their helmet HUD. More importantly, every enemy Jaffa that the drone and its controller caught in its scans was also shown on the minimap. The helmets even outlined enemies in a red border to make them easy to see in the dark.
Allies were outlined in green and there was a subspace communication line open to every squad leader.
Berat had over two thousand Jaffa on the planet. Not a truly significant number on a galactic scale, but enough that he could try going independent instead of serving a stronger Goa'uld.
Setsuna's hundred and fifty specialist were tearing them apart with almost boring ease. The regular troops that didn't have all this fancy new armor wouldn't even get to fire a shot at this rate.
Jaffa tactics had never been able to adapt since they had never left anyone behind to spread the word of how they fought. They were half blind in the dark and attempting to close into the range where their staves were useful had cost them dearly enough that they had dug in and were fighting a purely defensive battle at this point.
There was only one thing that the enemy had which could pose a problem...
A curved blade of energy howled through the air, hitting an Al'kesh bomber at an angle and shearing off a section of the hull, causing it to rapidly lose altitude with its crew flying out of the newly made hole.
A medium sized boulder rocketed into the wing of a death glider and sent it spiralling out of control.
"Spin to win!"
Another energy blade hit a death glider, making it crash with an explosion.
"Crash and burn!"
A fork of lightning from Naruto's fingers blew up another.
"Damnit Naruto, you can't just say 'one-liner' if you can't think of anything better!"
...But Karasuba and the Emperor were apprently having an odd little competition to see who could bring down the Jaffa's air support in the most entertaining way. They'd even told the people manning the larger laser cannons to not fire on them unless told otherwise.
Then she could only watch with exasperation when she saw the silver haired Sekirei charging across the battlefield and towards one of the more entrenched Jaffa positions.
"Squads 3, 4 and 6 redeploy to position beta, Karasuba has decided to assault alpha."
Ni'tar grimaced in pain as he fell to the ground, bleeding from a deep cut along his chest and armor hanging limply off his body. The wound wasn't fatal, merely painful, but he doubted that he would have time for it to heal.
"What a disappointment." The silver haired she-demon that was the cause of his predicament said idly. "And you call yourselves warriors?"
Ni'tar would have really liked to defend his honor and pride as a Jaffa, but knew that the words would ring hollow since he was surrounded by the pained groans of a hundred of his brothers that had been cut down by her sword.
He had known that they were likely doomed the very moment that they had caught sight of the horned man at the gate and noticed that he was barefooted, but he had been determined to stand his ground and fight to the last as a warrior should.
The small army of faceless soldiers with absurdly powerful weapons had taken a fearsome toll of casualties before they had even managed to get into range. It didn't help that the dark grey color of their armor made them nearly invisible in the dark of the night.
All he could do now was wait for this demonic woman to kill them and hope that his god would manage to escape. He wasn't holding out too much hope of that though, considering that none so far had done so.
He watched with a sick aprehension as the silver haired woman stared at her bloodied sword and then ran her tongue along the blade.
"Not even worth killing." She said derisively after a minute and walked off.
Ni'tar wasn't sure if he should be relieved, insulted or both as he stared at the image of the crimson bird on her back.
Berat was, to put it mildly, panicking. He was also cursing himself for not running sooner. He hadn't wanted to abandon his planet and be forced to become a lackey for a stronger Goa'uld, but now he was distinctly in danger of losing not only his planet but also his life.
Like all Goa'uld he knew about the unknown enemy that had plagued them for so long, emptying worlds of slaves and stealing resources. Despite all the effort put into attempting to suppress talk of it among the Jaffa, the legend had grown to obscene proportions. The Jaffa had come to fear the unknown enemy as much as the Goa'uld, simply because the mystery of it had blown his reputation completely out of proportion.
He should have started running the very moment that his Jaffa had reported that the World Eater had come.
He definitely should have been on his Ha'tak already when it had fired on the enemy only to hit an unbreachable red barrier of some sort.
He absolutely should have been half way to Ra's territory to beg for protection by now, instead of only just barely making his way to the ring platform.
In spite of his well justified fear, he made it to his ship without issue. His Queen had been forgotten in his haste to escape, but he supposed it didn't matter anymore. Ra would have likely executed her or put her to use for his own purposes anyway.
Berat breathed a quiet sigh of relief when he sat on the command throne. "Set course for the-"
"My lord, an unknown ship has appeared!" A Jaffa interrupted urgently.
Berat was too busy experiencing a sinking feeling to take offense by the way that his Jaffa had cut him off.
The newly arrived ship was of an unfamiliar design. Rather than the pyramidal structure of Goa'uld vessels it was elongated, perhaps even boxy looking and just under a kilometer long. Its weapon ports were rather obvious in many cases and he couldn't see any obvious launch bays for fighters. It was also completely unpainted and lacking in decoration.
All in all, Berat thought that it was a very ugly ship.
"My lord, they are hailing us." One of the Jaffa reported.
"Answer them." Berat commanded.
The viewscreen activated to show the image of an incredibly beautiful, white haired, horned woman with a mass of white fur behind her that he recognized with a shock as being multiple large tails. She was wearing a very flattering set of silver armor and sitting in her ship's command chair in a crosslegged position that was terribly suggestive. Under normal circumstances, Berat would have already been making plans to take her as a pleasure slave. Such an exotic beauty from an unknown species could have been offered for the use of other Goa'uld in exchange for raw materials or their military aid.
Any such plans were forestalled by look in her unnerving slitted crimson eyes. She was looking at him as if he was some mildly interesting insect.
"Consider yourself fortunate worm, you are the first of your kind to lay eyes on me in centuries." She said, revealing an array of sharp teeth with every sillable.
Her voice would have been beautiful to listen to, if the tone of it didn't positively ooze with the type of derisive superiority that even Ra had never quite managed.
Despite fearing for his life, Berat was still Goa'uld and thus incapable of having his ego challenged in the slightest way without attempting to assuage his sense of superiority.
"Insolence!" He snarled angrily.
"The only insolence here is that you are not yet groveling for me to spare your worthless life." She said back, the derision in her tone somehow managing to get even more thicker. "Do so immediately. Get down on your knees, push your face into the floor and apologize for daring to exist in my presence."
By the time she finished talking, Berat was nearly frothing at the mouth with rage.
"FIRE! DESTROY THEM!" He yelled at the Jaffa.
Xanna smirked to herself as the connection was broken. The unfounded indignation of the Goa'uld when someone insulted their pride was always amusing.
"They are firing weapons." The woman manning the sensors reported. "Three direct hits, our shields are down to 85%."
"Hmm, somewhat more damage than predicted." Xanna mused, looking at a tablet with various projections that Kochō had prepared.
Kochō was a very competent woman and it had definitely been one of Naruto's better ideas to employ her as their personal assistant. Her ability with data analysis and management was most impressive.
"Return fire with the primary laser cannon." She ordered.
The tactical officer did so. A short delay later, the space between the two ships was illuminated by a brief flash.
"Enemy shield strength down to 70%"
Xanna frowned. That was less than expected.
"Try the particle accelerator cannon."
This time a near invisible stream of particles was blasted towards the Goa'uld ship, lighting up its shield as it blocked the attack.
"Enemy shield strength down to 45%."
"Even less effective." Xanna muttered.
"Heika, our shields are down to 30%." The sensors officer reported nervously.
"Have no fear, it would not be much of a test flight if we were destroyed." Xanna replied, reaching out with her mind towards the shield generators and recharging as well as cooling them.
"Shield strength back to 100%." Though she hid it well, there was still a note of relief and some awe in her voice.
"Open fire with the secodary weapon banks, if their shield collapses then target the weapon emplacements."
Berat was feeling fairly good about the situation despite his initial fear. When a single shot from their weapon had drained his shields by a considerable margin he had been worried, but the lack of any significant follow up made him relax a bit. His own ship apparently had a much higher rate of fire and would have the enemy vessel at his mercy in short order.
Perhaps he would yet be able to take the horned woman as a slave. It would be all the more satisfying to beat the insolence out of her.
"Keep firing until their shield collapses, then disable the ship. We will board it afterward." He commanded.
"My lord, their shield has returned to full strength!" A Jaffa reported urgently.
Any further conversation was cut off as multiple points of bright light lanced from the enemy ship, rapidly draining the shield and then destroying the plasma cannon emplacements in short order once it had collapsed.
"Launch the Al'kesh and Udajeet to delay them!" Berat ordered with poorly veiled panic.
The Jaffa complied and sent out orders to the hangar bay.
Meanwhile, Berat was frantically trying to maneuver the Ha'tak out of range, but the other ship simply followed placidly, not even firing anymore. He turned the ship around while doing this, hoping to fire back, but all that achieved was to get those destroyed as well.
As soon as every Al'kesh and death glider was launched, Berat tried to engage the hyperdrive, only to find that it refused to work for some reason. Repeated button mashing got him nowhere and a quick diagnostic only spat out an unhelpful bit of gibberish that would translate in English to 'Error: Unknown Error'.
Xanna smirked to herself again as she felt the idiot Goa'uld trying to escape via hyperdrive. For as long as she was projecting a bubble of absolute reality on the area, there would be no bending of the laws of physics or burrowing into hyperspace. Not without an infinite amount of energy at any rate.
"Heika, enemy support craft are closing in." The captain reported.
"Allow the Al'kesh to drop a few plasma bombs to gauge their effectiveness, then disable them. Track the gliders with the point defence weapons, but do not fire on them."
The crew did as they were told, keeping the weapons ready but not returning fire.
"The plasma bombs of the Al'kesh drain an estimated 7% shield strength each. Their plasma cannons are negligible, as are those of the gliders." The tactical officer reported and began firing at the engine area of the Al'kesh, easily disabling the unshielded craft. Their crew would be picked up later.
Well that was more or less as expected at least. The design of the death glider had not been improved since its creation millenia ago. Its weapons were so obsolete that it was far past hilarious. The plasma bombs of the Al'kesh were a slightly different matter, being surprisingly powerful...which made it all the more baffling as to why no Goa'uld had ever attempted to make a torbedo or missile variation.
For all that the first space worthy warship produced by the Celestial Empire was an ugly kludge, it was still a lot better than what the Goa'uld used.
Xanna leaned back into her tails and reversed the position of her legs, regally ignoring the slight moistness between them. Ah, but this was a lot more fun than she had expected it to be and she was already eager to meet up with her husband again. He hadn't seen her in this new outfit yet and she was sure his reaction to it would be interesting.
"How did the point defences perform?" She asked.
"Well enough, though there were a few blind spots where we were unable to track the enemy vessels."
"That will have to be fixed." She muttered to herself before addressing the ship captain. "Darius, the bridge is yours. I am going to board that Ha'tak."
"Shall I assemble a boarding party to accompany you?" The captain asked.
"No need for that. Come along Akitsu." Xanna didn't wait for a response as she left, Akitsu following behind her sedately.
Darius made a small frown, obviously not liking the idea of letting them board an enemy ship by themselves, but he shook it off quickly enough, figuring that there wasn't anything there that could really hurt them anyway.
Xanna and Akitsu did not meet many Jaffa on their way to the Ha'tak's bridge(otherwise known as the Pel'tak) and even those they did meet offered no resistance, instead merely stepping out of the way.
Their entry was met by stiff backed Jaffa and a nervous Goa'uld that was doing a passable job of not being obvious about it.
Berat was indeed nervous. She was far more intimidating in person, towering over him and all the Jaffa present. Her presence suffocated the room, helped along by the mass of tails behind her making her seem even larger.
The other woman to have come to his ship all but vanished into the background next to her. She had a forehead tattoo similar to a Jaffa, but didn't look like a warrior. Perhaps a personal attendant of some sort?
He very briefly considered ordering the Jaffa to take them prisoner before discarding the idea. He doubted they would have come here alone if that were a possibility. No, he would have to make a play for his survival another way.
His attempted greeting was ignored as the horned woman settled herself on the command throne, Akitsu moving to stand beside it and taking one of the tails in her hands to pet it.
With a thought, the throne darkened until it was a much more palatable looking thing of curved, dark stone.
Berat swallowed at the display of power, suddenly understanding that he had never stood a chance. With that understanding, the last of his resistance vanished and he wasted no time in lowering himself to one knee, the Jaffa in the room following his example immediately after. Hopefully the horned woman was in the mood to accept a surrender.
"I surrender unconditionally and would be happy to serve you in any capacity you deem fit my lady."
It wouldn't be so bad, Berat told himself. Ra would have no doubt put him to work in some forsaken backwater and whatever this strange woman had in store for him could hardly be any worse.
"Why do you continue to test my patience?" Xanna asked coldly.
Berat raised his head to look at her with his forehead creased in confusion.
"Are you too much of a dimwitted simpleton to even remember my earlier words?" She continued, even colder than before.
The kneeling Goa'uld very quickly reviewed their prior interaction. There had been something about how he should be glad to even lay eyes on her and then...oh.
Gritting his teeth and swallowing his pride, Berat repositioned himself so that he was on both knees and then slowly lowered his forehead to the floor.
The Jaffa moved to do the same, but Xanna spoke up before they could actually do it. "Not you, you may stand. Only this worm that styles himself a god."
Bewildered, the Jaffa stood up and exchanged glances before looking at their supposed god. He wasn't looking very godlike at the moment.
"I apologize...for daring to...exist in your presence." He forced out, hating every word of it.
"You do not sound like you mean it." Xanna pointed out idly. "Repeat it, this time with more feeling."
Berat stayed silent for a while, clenching his jaw furiously and refusing to speak. A feeling of terrible foreboding grew heavier with every passing moment that he remained silent until his nerve broke and he repeated the words, managing to keep his anger out of them.
"I apologize for daring to exist in your presence."
The feeling of foreboding quickly dissipated.
"I suppose that is the best I can expect out of the likes of you." Xanna said with a disapproving sniff.
Berat started to raise his head, only to freeze as she spoke in the same dangerously cold tone as before. "You will keep your face on the floor if you want to survive past the end of this sentence."
Berat pushed his face back down, a small 'smack' audible due to the haste with which he did this.
A tense few seconds passed in silence, then a minute. Berat's forehead beaded with nervous sweat in the oppressive quiet. In his current prostrated position, he could see nothing and the only sound was the quiet tail petting and the occasional clink of armor. By the time that five minutes rolled around, he was sorely tempted to say something just for the sake of saying something, but her dangerously mercurial mood kept him silent.
So it was that when she next spoke, he twitched violently despite her pleasant tone.
"Did you know that you are the first Goa'uld to see our new ship? I am interested to know what you thought of it."
Calming his racing heart, Berat took a moment to decide on an appropriate answer. Telling her that he thought it was ugly was definitely out of the question, so he settled on flattery.
"It is a most impressive vessel."
"Do not lie to me!" She thundered, the terrible rage in her voice contrasting sharply with the almost friendly tone of before.
Berat shrunk into himself and babbled out a nearly incoherent apology, every fiber of his being screaming at him to find the deepest, darkest hole he could find and hide in it for the rest of his life.
"The truth now, if you would." She said after a few moments, her tone even warmer and more pleasant than before.
The prostrated Goa'uld relaxed almost against his will before he remembered that the soothing cadence of her voice belonged to the same person that had nearly made the ship vibrate with her anger mere moments ago.
The clacking of claws on stone reminded him that she was still waiting for an answer, so he hurried to blurt out the next few words in hopes of forestalling any further irritation on her part.
"I thought it was ugly."
Berat cringed at the neutral answer, both in tone and content, half expecting her to burst into rage again.
"And what did you think of me when you first saw me?" She asked, her tone noticeably less warm than before, but still rather pleasant.
Berat felt an ice cold terror grab at his heart. If she had been upset upon hearing that he'd thought her ship to be ugly, than what would happen if he told her that he had been intending to enslave her and whore her out in exchange for various favors?
But he couldn't lie to her either, she would know and she obviously did not take it well when people lied to her. Could he risk it? Which was the lesser evil?
Claws once again started clacking impatiently against stone, making Berat flinch and frantically try to think of a way to answer her question without offending her.
"I thought that you were the most beautiful woman that I had ever seen." He finally said, telling the truth but leaving out the worst parts.
"Of course you did." The horned woman responded in a manner that suggested he had just said that water was wet. "But what else did you think?"
The previous ice cold terror seemed positively balmy in comparison to what he was feeling now.
Was it just an idle question? Did she want more flattery or did she already know what he had been intending to do and was merely toying with him?
"I thought that your tails are most magnificent." He finally said.
"So they are. Was there anything else you thought of when you first laid eyes on me?"
She knew, she definitely knew. He was already dead and was just being played with by this horrifying woman.
The clacking started again, seeming to pull at the fraying strands of his sanity with every collision of claw against stone.
Berat wallowed in terrified indecision, too afraid to lie, too afraid to tell the truth and too afraid stay silent. If only she would stop clacking her claws like that and let him think of an answer that wouldn't get him killed!
Suddenly he realized that the clacking was gone. The silence seemed so horribly loud now.
"I am waiting."
Berat shuddered. There was more power in those three words than the Goa'uld could ever dream of having and perhaps worst of all, now that it was said without anger, the previously pleasant cadence of her voice had become downright intoxicating.
Unable to take it anymore, Berat told her everything. He babbled out all of his plans for her, how he was intending to torture her and violate her for the way she'd spoken to him and how he was planning to use her after he was satisfied, keeping her young with a sarcophagus indefinitely and possibly even tracking down her world to get more of her kind.
She listened with a stony silence and never interrupted. There had been a strange chill in the air for a while before it had vanished as inexplicably as it had appeared.
When he was done talking, he cowered on the ground, acutely aware of how his fine silk clothing was now soaked through with sweat that he hadn't managed to suppress. He knew that he was going to die, probably in an excruciatingly painful way at that, but he was relieved that it was at least over.
Another minute of silence passed, during which Berat guessed that the horned woman was probably marshalling her rage and thinking up an appropriately gruesome execution.
"See? Was that so hard?"
Where was the rage? Where was the torture rod? Wasn't he going to be punished for daring to have such thoughts about her?
A hysterical giggle rose up in his chest that he only barely managed to force down. She probably wouldn't appreciate that.
But was that really all? Had all that fear been for nothing? Could it all have been avoided if he had but told the truth from the start? He wanted to ask but didn't for fear of squandering this small amount of tolerance for him that she seemed to have now.
He was just starting to think that he was going to survive and be able to continue in the service of a new master that was incomparably more powerful than Ra when the attack came. There was no warning, one moment there was nothing and the next some invisible force was proppeling him across the room to crash heavily into a wall, not hard enough to break anything but plenty hard enough to be painful.
Unthinkingly, Berat picked himself up and resumed his previous prostrated position. He had no idea what he had done to annoy her, but he hoped that his continued subservience would be enough to stave off any further retribution.
Xanna's smile had a cruel edge to it as she stared at the quivering mess that used to be an arrogant Goa'uld.
Psychological torture was so much more fun than physical, especially when someone was made to choke on their own pride. If you cause people pain, all they did was scream, whereas mind games had so many possible outcomes. Sometimes, you could almost hear people's will breaking.
Turning to one of the silent Jaffa in the room, she spoke to him in a tone of command. "You there, kill this useless piece of trash."
All the Jaffa stiffened at being spoken to so suddenly, having been fairly disturbed themselves at what they had just seen. The one that they had believed to be their god had been reduced to a sweat soaked wreck right in front of them with nothing but words and implied threats.
Granted, the horned woman was incredibly intimidating and obviously powerful, but they had still lost all respect for Berat due to his lack of fortitude.
So it was that the Jaffa that Xanna had spoken to did not hesitate for more than a moment before pointing his staff at the Goa'uld and priming it.
"Wait!" Berat pleaded desperately. "I would serve you."
"You can serve me as fertilizer for the planet under us." Xanna said coldly and nodded at the Jaffa, who did not hesitate to discharge the weapon at the Goa'uld's chest.
The Jaffa now stood expectantly, cleary waiting for orders.
"My name is Xanna, God-Empress of the Celestial Empire." She told them. "Unlike to Goa'uld, I do not require your worship, but neither will I stop you if you wish to give it. For now, take that idiot's body and show it to the Jaffa still fighting on the surface, tell them that there is no more reason to fight."
With a firm acknowledgement, they did as they'd been told and marched out with Berat's corpse in tow.
Once they were gone, Xanna leaned back into the remade throne and rubbed her thighs together, making the tight bodyglove she was wearing rub over her moist nethers. It had been far too long since she'd had a proper power trip like that.
"Aaaah." She sighed contently. "That was fun."
Akitsu had enjoyed watching Xanna do her thing too, up until the Goa'uld had admitted what he had intended to do to her. She'd been too angry to enjoy it anymore at that point.
Xanna seemed in a good mood though and Akitsu had an idea that she hoped the horned woman would like. Leaning over, she whispered her idea into the horned woman's ear.
A pleasant little shiver went through Xanna's body as Akitsu's chilly lips brushed her ear, inflaming her mildly aroused state just a bit higher. A grin bloomed on her face as the Ice Sekirei explained her idea.
It was an interesting idea and she was very much in the mood for it.
Instead of a verbal agreement, she pulled Akitsu into a deep kiss that left her breathless and grinned at her. "Lets go make the preparations."
When the Jaffa with Berat's corpse had sown up, the fighting had ended quickly and all that was left was the cleanup and the standard evacuation. Over the years, the entire process had become so streamlined that Naruto's personal involvement wasn't really needed anymore.
So it was that instead of helping with that, the horned man prowled through the empty Goa'uld palace, following a nagging mental tickle that he knew was coming from his wife but was otherwise too vague to pin down.
He had no idea what was going through her head but there was a playful feeling to it, which made him terribly curious.
As he turned into another non-descript hallway, he was suddenly brought up short by the sight in front of him.
There was his lovely wife, wearing a very enticing set of silver armor over a skintight bodyglove. Next to her was Akitsu, who was for some reason dressed in a suit of leather armor that didn't look any more functional than Xanna's, but was just as pleasing to the eye.
"Now that is my kind of armor." He said with a wolfish grin.
The two women didn't reply, but instead ran behind a corner, a faint giggle being heard.
Naruto blinked, unsure which of the two had just giggled. Neither one was the giggly type, but he tentatively assumed it had been Akitsu. She was the more likely culprit.
It was of little consequence either way, because he wanted to get a closer look at their armor...and what was under it of course, so he gave pursuit almost immediately.
Several turns later, he had only gotten glimpses of them as they turned corners and was now staring at an odd door that didn't fit in with the surrounding architecture.
It also had the distinct feel of a space-time portal.
With another grin, he went through it, instantly finding himself in a fairly uninteresting square room made of stone. The only thing of note in it was a raised dais with an aged looking bit of parchment on it.
By now having discerned that they were going to play a game and that the note must hold the rules of engagement, he wasted no time pondering the situation and went to read it.
Knowing you as I do, I am certain that you were lamenting the unflattering nature of the armor your female minions were wearing. With this in mind, I thought you would appreciate the sight of my perfect body in something more interesting.
"Best wife ever." Naruto whispered to himself, a genuinely happy smile on his face as he read the first part of the note. The mild self-flattery Xanna had inserted into it barely registered after so long of dealing with her narcissism, not that it had ever bothered him much.
Akitsu had predicted it as well, but had a more expansive idea.
Unless you have become immensely dull since we last saw each other, you will have noticed that you have been transported into a pocket dimension. In this pocket dimension, we will be having a little competiton that makes use of our armor.
Create a suit of armor for yourself in any design you wish, as well as a weapon and then step into the portal that will open once you put down this note. It will lead you into the arena proper.
As you are the most skilled with weapons, Akitsu and I will have the advantage of knowing the battlefield while you will start ignorant of it.
Obviously, use of power is prohibited and your strength, endurance and other physical abilities as well as senses must be lowered to match to the level of a peak condition baseline human. I have reduced Akitsu and myself to the same level.
P.S. Choose your weapons and armor carefully, as you will be unable to change them later.
P.P.S. Do not concern yourself about harming Akitsu, she will respawn in a safe zone such as this one once her body takes fatal damage and I have changed the receptors in her brain to report damage with pleasure instead of pain.
P.P.P.S. The one with the most kills at the end gets to decide the nature of the celebratory sex, or if there will even be sex.
Yours if you win,
By the time he was done reading, Naruto was grinning wildly and almost hopping in excitement.
He loved these kinds of games! It was even better because of the inherent challenge in it. His if he won? Damn right he was going to win! And then he would peel those two lovely ladies out of their armor and have his way with them. Or maybe he would keep them in armor and just open holes in all the right places, it would be such a shame to get them naked too fast when they looked so good in it after all.
Naruto violently shook his head to clear it of a fantasy of having the two sexily armored women on their knees in front of him while he gave orders from the command chair of his personal(and currently non-existent) starship.
Xanna would never go for that though, the position being a bit too subordinate for her liking. He could get her to do it if he forced her and she would go along with it then, but that was the type of play that they didn't even let Akitsu join in on. She was let in on a lot of things that would be considered seriously abusive as it was, but they took care to employ tricks such as the pleasure/pain switch that Xanna had mentioned in her letter to keep it from being as bad as it sounded.
Some things she simply couldn't be allowed to participate in though. It was far too violent for mortals to survive, not to mention that it probably wouldn't end well if the general public learned that their Emperor and Empress often had sex in a manner so violent that anyone else would have been tried as criminals for it. If nothing else, there were too many idiots that would want to emulate them, not understanding that he and Xanna could enjoy that, but regular people would quite possibly die attempting it.
There was also the fact that a certain level of 'keeping up appearances' had to be maintained due to their positions, something that had taken Naruto a ridiculously long time to adapt to. Like it or not, their actions and behavior had a massive influence on the society they had created. Maybe one day...on a private starship with no crew...
But this was no time to be thinking of that! He had to figure how he was going to approach this game.
Xanna and Akitsu were dressed in a manner that would support a more agile and dexterous method of combat, their armor being decorative rather than effective, if they hadn't changed it that was.
Despite his appearance he would usually prefer the same, but if he was reduced to merely human levels of physical ability, then a lot of that would be out of the question. Besides...he didn't want to go about it the same way as them.
With that in mind, he created a heavy suit of armor for himself, complete with a greatshield and a bisento.
As a final touch, he conjured up a hairband and bound his hair into a tight ponytail to keep it from getting in the way.
"Ready or not, here I come." He muttered to himself and walked through the portal.
Upon entering the arena proper, he immediately became suspicious.
He hadn't been sure what to expect, but the futuristic metal corridors were not it.
Since the other two players in this game knew the lay of the land and he didn't, they immediately had a considerable advantage over him. For this reason, he walked slowly and kept his shield up, internally wincing at every clank that his armor made in the silence. He had also somewhat underestimated how quickly carrying all that metal around was going to tire him, despite his powerful physique. He had gotten so used to having unlimited endurance that he'd forgotten what it was like to get tired, doubly so since he had never exactly been 'baseline human'.
Perhaps heavy armor had not been such a great idea? What was done was done according to the rules though, so it was too late to change his mind. The difficulty would just make the victory sweeter anyway.
Several minutes later, he came across a crossroads with half a dozen connecting hallways. An almost imperceptibly light tread of feet reached his ears and he immediately identified it as belonging to Akitsu.
Grinning, he waited for her arrival, wondering how she would fight him. Akitsu wasn't incompetent with melee weaponry, but she wasn't even close to being as good as him. It should be interesting.
Those thoughts promptly fled his mind when he saw her however, because Akitsu wasn't carrying a melee weapon.
She was instead toting a fully automatic plasma submachine gun in each hand. A few soldiers liked to use those instead of the more prevalent laser weaponry, though not many since they had a slower projectile speed and less range.
They blinked at each other in momentary confusion. Naruto surprised at that Akitsu had that kind of advanced weaponry and Akitsu surprised that he didn't.
"I guess this is the part where I find out that Xanna included firearms on her list of allowed weapons?" He deadpanned.
Expression unchanging, Akitsu nodded and pointed her twin submachine guns at him.
"I don't suppose I could prevail upon your sense of fair play to give me one of those and then we could peacefully go our separate ways until our next meeting?" He asked hopefully.
Akitsu simply stared blankly at him for a while, before the tip of her tongue poked mischievously out from between her lips.
"You shouldn't have brought a knife to a gunfight master." She said helpfully and opened fire.
Naruto tried to hide behind the greatshield, but the heavy lump of metal was quickly blasted apart by the rapid fire plasma weapons, after which they turned him into a lump of charred flesh just as quick.
Laying on the ground and staring at the ceiling of the respawn room, Naruto took this as a valuable lesson about getting too excited and thinking with his dick again, something that still happened every so often. It probably wasn't the last time either.
Now that the enlightening experience of getting tenderized by plasma was over, he also began to suspect that Xanna had deliberately led him to think that this was going to be a match with melee weaponry in various subtle ways, but without actually saying so, which of course meant that he couldn't cry foul about it.
"Why, I do believe that I've been had."
Setsuna looked askance at Karasuba as the silver haired woman huffed in boredom.
She had been doing that a lot the past couple of days.
Not that Setsuna really blamed her for it. Even she found the after battle evacuation somewhat boring and she had a lot more to do.
The bodies of the dead had to be hauled back to Erius and dropped into a giant sized resurrection room that had been built from what they had discovered about the Goa'uld sarcophagus. Though the technology was fundamentally flawed and damaging to the psyche with repeated use, its benefits were too great to be abandoned completely.
Not everyone could be saved, but many could.
Of course, some of those Jaffa tended to cause problems later on, but the Empire had centuries of experience in dealing with belligerent Jaffa. They would be re-educated and assimilated just as those before them had been, or else disposed of if they proved abnormally stubborn.
The civilians underwent a similar process, but without the disposal option. They would be assigned to pre-prepared living spaces where they could be comfortable and have only partial contact with the general culture of the Empire.
As it had advanced, they had discovered that the culture shock to new arrivals had become progressively more severe. It hadn't been anywhere close to as bad in the beginning, since things were still fairly familiar, but the Empire had long since become a truly alien and frightening place for people that couldn't understand anything more advanced than a hammer.
It was inconvenient and unfortunate, but also unavoidable.
It was also unfortunate that it forced them to structure the Empire in such a way that these new arrivals had the smallest possible influence on their children possible without outright having them taken away. Guides, teachers and the wider society shaped those children just as much as the parents, sometimes even more.
It was an insidious tactic that more often than not made those children strangers to their parents, the generation gap between them being massive and wide, but it was also necessary. Those primitive people would unknowingly stunt their children with their well intentioned ignorance. This way, most people were fully assimilated into the Empire within two generations.
They had tried to just let it happen naturally once. It had been a disaster. People that knew nothing had the unfortunate tendency to believe they knew everything.
Setsuna was glad that it wasn't her job to handle that. Killing Goa'uld and freeing slaves was a lot easier than dealing with the aftermath. Even organizing the standard looting and evacuation was easy compared to that.
There had been a few interesting things to happen though.
She had been glad to find out that the armor worked as intended. One of her own men didn't need a resurrection thanks to the chest piece having absorbed the staff blast.
Perhaps the most amusing thing had been a steady stream of disbelieving Jaffa coming to challenge Karasuba to a fight because they didn't believe that anyone, much less a woman, could easily defeat over a hundred Jaffa with just a sword.
The Black Sekirei had been amused at first as well, but her good humor had dried up almost two days ago. With nothing to distract her, she was starting to become irritable and even angry.
Setsuna hadn't been sure if letting her come on these raids was a good idea and the Emperor had shared that doubt but hadn't wanted to deny her either.
Karasuba wasn't a soldier. She didn't fight because of duty, honor, patriotism or what have you.
Karasuba was a warrior, she carried the conflict inside her and brought it everywhere she went. On a battlefield, she was basically a weapon of mass destruction that could be pointed in a particular direction and told to do her thing. She would listen to Naruto and Xanna because she recognized them as being far stronger than her, but that was all. To this day she refused to admit that Naruto was a friend, even though she sometimes seemed to forget herself and relax.
Setsuna was not the type to mention it, but thought of the Black Sekirei as a friend too, even though Karasuba seemed hellbent on besting her in a swordfight and considered her a rival.
Despite those feelings, she knew that the Black Sekirei was not someone that should be left to stew in her own boredom for too long. Having gotten used to challenging fights on a fairly regular basis, there was no telling what would happen if that went too far.
Fortunately, it was almost over, which was why the two of them were now moving through the stripped bare palace of the dead Goa'uld. His Queen had already been executed, the servants evacuated and everything of value taken, leaving the building a dark and empty shell of its former self.
Naruto, and Akitsu had been the only ones inside if for the past few days of evacuation, and it was not hard to guess what they were doing.
Setsuna knocked on the door of the room they had taken residence in when they reached it.
A few seconds of waiting ensued and then it opened, carrying with it a blast of musky air so heavy with the scent of sex that it was almost like a physical force.
That mostly went unnoticed however, as the sight of Naruto was a great deal more surprising, especially for Karasuba.
He was naked, but that wasn't particularly unusual. What was unusual were the two breasts on his chest and his generally female body, though he was just as tall as ever. The only thing not female about him was the penis hanging between his/her legs, which was the same one she was familiar with.
"Did you two need something?" He/she asked, quirking an amused eyebrow.
"What the fuck?!" Karasuba squawked, stepping back in shock.
"Something wrong?" He/she continued to ask in the same tone, finding Karasuba's shocked reaction to be very amusing.
Sadly, the amusement didn't last long as the Black Sekirei mastered her shock and composed herself again.
"Huh...I didn't think you were into this kind of stuff." She commented nonchalantly, acting as if his appearance hadn't shocked her at all.
"Five hundred years is plenty long enough for one's inhibitions to decay even further than they'd been before." He/she explained wryly. "But I'm actually not in this form by choice."
"What was it this time Heika?" Setsuna asked, having not so much as twitched at his odd appearance.
"I brought a knife to a gunfight." He/she replied with a scowl.
Setsuna nodded as if this explained everything and changed the subject. "The evacuation is almost complete, we will be ready to leave this planet inside of three hours."
"That's good." The temporarily futanari Naruto said with a nod. "I think Akitsu will probably want to take advantage of her victory for a while longer so don't hesitate to leave without us if we're not there by then."
A faint wet slurp sounded just then, accompanied by female grunting and moaning, serving to punctuate Naruto's words quite effectively.
Karasuba facepalmed, recognizing the sounds of penetration easily after all the times Naruto had done it to her. However, since Naruto was here, that meant that Xanna was also doing the futanari thing.
"Hey! I thought you said you weren't going to start without me." Naruto called back.
"You were taking too long." Xanna's voice drifted back, pitched in a way that definitely indicated exertion of some sort.
Naruto gave the two women in the doorway an apologetic look before he closed the door in their face.
Setsuna merely sighed and shook her head with an amused smile before turning and leaving.
"Is that a frequent occurence?" Karasuba asked, hiding just how awkward it felt to be asking that.
"Not really." The smaller woman admitted. "I only come across them like that once every decade or so, though it likely happens more often than that. From what I've been able to guess, it is most often done at Akitsu-sama's behest."
"Weirdoes." Karasuba muttered.
There we go, another chapter done.
The next one is already 4k words done thanks to a miscalculation I made, which is also part of the reason that this one wasn't posted sooner. This means it should in theoretical theory be posted sooner.