Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto or RWBY.
AN: Wow, guys. I mean, two thousand reviews? Let me say that again, slowly and with emphasis to let it sink in: Two. Thousand. Reviews. Give or take a flame or seven, that's...that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I mean, wow. This started out as something I was BS-ing for shizz and gigglez...hell, I don't I even know where I'm going to go after I finish the Vol. 3 story, but now I really have to consider it. Because you know what? I want this to be the first fic of mine that reaches 3k reviews.
So hold on to your buttstallions and grab an umbrella, because shit's going to get messy.
Let's get started!
XLII: Food Chain
"I. Fucking. Hate. Vegans."
Kurama's growl caused Haku and Sasuke to exchange a quizzical look with one another. Those were not the words they expected the Faunus to say when they dug him out from underneath the rubble he was buried under. They were expecting a proclamation of gratitude or perhaps even maybe an appreciative bro-hug. One of those brief, but often used fist bumps would even be acceptable.
The declaration of a dislike for a select group of individuals with a specific taste in food was far from their minds as being a plausible reaction.
"O...Kay. Would you care to elaborate on that?" Sasuke asked while he offered Kurama his hand. Kurama scowled at him, opened his mouth, and then paused. A beat passed before he accepted Sasuke's help and allowed himself to be pulled to his feet.
"No," he said. The Faunus brushed off the lingering dust and pulled a spare set of sunglasses from his pocket. A portion snapped off and fell from his hand to the ground. Red eyes glowered at the ruined shades. "Son of a bitch! These were my favorite shades!"
"You have sixty pairs of shades," Sasuke said, an incredulous look on his face. He held his hands up in defense when Kurama snarled at him. "Which is normal, perfectly normal. Not strange at all."
"Kurama," Haku said as he put a hand on his friend's arm, "Aside from your sunglasses, are you hurt?"
"No. At least, I don't think so," Kurama said. He glowered at the remains of his sunglasses and then tossed them to the side. He kicked Ri Kudo up into his hand and squinted as he looked around. Once his eyes adjusted to the brightness of the area, they widened to the size of dinner plates.
"Guys," he turned to his two teammates, "What happened?"
"That's what we want to know," Sasuke said. He and Kurama stared out at the crater that used to be their home. Sasuke sighed and patted Kurama's shoulder. "We won't learn anything if we just stand around like a couple of bowling pins."
"And where do you suppose we go, fearless leader?" Kurama asked. A loud explosion drew their gaze to the right. The remains of a two-story building fell to the ground and from it rose a large plume of smoke.
"I would guess that way," Haku said. He reloaded Snowfall and glanced at the current team leader. He blinked in confusion at the annoyed stares sent his way. "What?"
"Naruto broke you." Sasuke and Kurama grumbled. Haku chuckled and they rushed off towards the fallen building. They arrived in time to find Guy pulling himself from the remains.
"Unyouthful fiend," Guy said. He tried to get to his feet, let out a pained grunt and fell to his knee. Sasuke caught him and lent his shoulder to help the man stand. A bright grin with a massive gap caused by a missing tooth was given to him. "My gratitude for your help, Sasuke! Your flames of youth burn most brightly!"
"Guy. Please never say that to me again," Sasuke said. His eyes narrowed. "Or I will drop you."
"Ha! There! Such burning youth!" Guy's hearty laughter shifted into a pained cough, droplets of blood escaping with each rough hack. Haku moved to help keep Guy upright and looked at his back. He grimaced and looked at Kurama.
"He's got an open wound easily three inches from his spine. Something punctured his lung," he said. Kurama winced.
"Oum almighty. What the hell happened, Guy?" Kurama asked. Guy used a hand to wipe the blood from his mouth, all hints of amusement or humor gone from his face.
"Pein. The leader..." Guy broke into another coughing fit. Kurama growled and tightened his grip around Ri Kudo.
"Kurama, see if you can find any other injured-" An explosion cut Sasuke off. The three Huntsmen in training turned to the newest and nearest tower of smoke. Sasuke looked at Kurama and saw his friend's eyes narrow. "Kurama..."
"Nearest aura that feels like a healer's is about forty clicks away to the east," Kurama grumbled. He rolled his neck and shoulders. "Get going."
"Kurama, now isn't the time to-"
"Whatever is coming our way is oozing bloodlust, Sasuke!" Kurama glared at his friend. He turned towards the smoke and shifted Ri Kudo into its spear form with a jerk of his arm. "Guy will bleed out if we all have to play defense, and you'll move him faster if you and Haku work together."
"How bad is it?" Sasuke asked. He scowled when Kurama didn't answer and the fox's expressive tail remained pensive and still. Guy's wheezes started to sound flooded. Sasuke cursed and looked at Haku. "Let's go."
"Right." Haku nodded at Kurama. "We'll be back as fast as we can. Don't do anything stupid."
The Faunus nodded and the two boys picked Guy up. They headed east in hope to find Guy some help so that they could return to their teammate. The teammate in question slid into a defensive fighting stance, his spear held horizontally in front of him and his left leg shifted back.
"Yeah… No promises on that, Haku." Kurama muttered. He braced himself and tightened the grip on his weapon.
Seconds ticked by like hours, and the sun began to hide amongst the clouds.
Kurama narrowed his eyes and reached out with his semblance to get a feel for what was coming. He was unprepared for the tsunami of aura that lashed out at him in retaliation. As though physically struck, he stumbled back. Red and black eyes were as wide as dinner plates, sensitivity be damned.
"What the actual fuck is that?" He breathed out. The sheer amount of rage that was intertwined in the aura he sensed was palpable. Hell, it practically boiled his soul! He had to take a second to ponder why it felt like the blood lusting aura boiled, rather than burned.
In that second of contemplation, the owner of the aura closed whatever little distance was between them, and a large bandaged mass barreled into Kurama's stomach. Whatever was left of his natural aura shield was gone, and blood rushed from his mouth to spittle through the air. He kept on his feet, but there were slight trenches beneath them now. Squinted eyes trailed up from the weapon in his gut to the shark-like grin that stared down at him.
"Well, well, well. Would you look at what I found," the man said. His teeth spread into a toothy grin, almost like a shark's. "A fluffy snack for Samehada."
"Oh... crapbaskets." Kurama gasped as the sword he doubled over was pulled away. Instinctively, he wrapped an arm around his stomach. Shit! I think he actually broke something!
"Does it hurt?" The man asked, his bandaged weapon draped over one shoulder and held up by one hand. Kurama looked up and glowered at the man, though the blood trail from his mouth diminished his intimidation factor. The man's toothy grin widened before he laughed. "Not backing down, huh? You've got guts, kid! I like that in a meal!"
"Hoshikage Kisame," Kurama rasped out. The shark-like man smirked and held one hand out in a grandiose fashion.
"Pleased to eat you."
"I don't swing that way."
"Ha! Say hello to the funny guy, Samehada," Kisame said, smirking. To Kurama's horror, the bandaged weapon began to shudder. The bandages fell away to reveal a jagged, scaled ...thing.
"Did-did that thing just laugh?" he asked, unable to comprehend any sort of weapon having sentience. Or a physical mouth.
Kisame's smile vanished and his eyes grew hard. A leg shot up and nailed the Faunus in his ribs. Kurama was sent back several feet, but managed to stay on his knees by using Ri Kudo as a brace. Kisame dropped the weapon from his shoulder and leveled it at Kurama. The Faunus gaped at the toothy grin that was at the tip of the weapon. It began to lap at the air with a long grey tongue, and then licked its chops. The remaining bandages exploded off of the weapon and revealed a shark-like form.
"Samehada," Kisame began to rear his weapon back with a scowl on his face. "Is not a thing. Samehada is my partner. Calling him a thing is like calling me a thing! I'm not a thing, I'm a human!"
He dropped his arm, and released Samehada's grip in a makeshift throw. The sword's mouth opened and a bestial roar echoed through the area.
Kurama paled as rows of teeth flew at him with the speed of a freight train. He dove to the side and rolled out of the way, swallowing the pained cry that wanted to escape his mouth from aggravating his injuries. Again, he used Ri Kudo to get back to his feet, panting heavily. His mouth tasted metallic, warm, and overly hydrated. He spat to the slide, decorating some rubble with his expelled blood.
Samehada struck the ground behind him, bounced, and then flipped around to face him. It laughed again, a shrill shi-shi-shi-shi that made him want to rip his ears off. The sword's scales lifted up and Kurama's danger sense flared. He leapt back when the scales shot out of the sword, and then the hair on his tail stood on edge again.
No, don't tell me-! The realization hit Kurama almost as hard as the fist that cracked him across the jaw and knocked him through the remains of a stone pillar. Ri Kudo flew from his grasp and he landed in a heap, shuddering and coughing up more blood.
"Like I said," the crunch of dirt beneath feet made the Faunus look up at the Maskless Grimm. Kisame had a smile on his face once more, but there was now a glint in his eyes. A glint that reminded Kurama of a doll's eyes. Empty. Lifeless. Like a shark's eyes. Kisame reached down and grabbed the Faunus by his neck. He lifted him from the ground in one hand, the other balled into a fist and pulled back for a punch. "Samehada is my partner. I'm a human. And you? You're lunch."
Kurama's eyes squeezed shut as the first fist flew.
Something wrapped around his waist and pulled him out of Kisame's grasp. He was caught by a frail form with a familiar aura signature. A relieved sob escaped the Faunus' mouth.
"Haku, I take back half of the bad things I've ever said about you."
"Only half?" There was a slight smile on the androgynous boy's face. Kurama leveled him with a small scowl.
"I think he broke my ribs, you ass."
"Sorry." Haku unwound Snowfall from his friend's waist and lowered him to the ground, but kept his wary gaze on the intrigued face of the man watching them. He helped Kurama settle against a piece of debris.
"Don't mention it." The Faunus peered around in a daze. "Where's our fearless leader?"
"He got held up." Haku formed a mirror, cracked Snowfall through it, and retrieved Ri Kudo. He handed the staff to his friend, receiving a grateful nod in return.
"With what?" Kurama tried to get up, but hissed and wrapped his arm around his chest. Haku put a hand on his shoulder.
They'd just dropped Guy off with the startled, horrified and confused Sakura that had just arrived via bullhead. They left the injured man to be tended to without more than a few words to the girl. The MEDC didn't chide them, thankfully, and instead focused on doing her part to help. Sasuke and Haku immediately turned back to sprint to Kurama's aid, but the former stopped abruptly, his gaze locked in a thousand yard stare.
"Sasuke? Sasuke, we have to go back and help Kurama," Haku urged, grabbing his friend's arm to jostle him out of his stupor. A shock made him jerk away. "What was that for?"
"Haku, make a mirror." Sasuke ordered. The androgynous boy blinked and then followed Sasuke's gaze.
Standing several feet away was a raven haired man in the Fourth War's cloak. Extending from either sleeve were two hooked blades. The man's eyes were apathetic, as if what was to come didn't interest him in the slightest. He tilted his head.
"Sending away your teammate, Sasuke?"
"Yes." Sasuke drew Amaterasu in a single gesture and sparks of aura danced along his arms. He glanced at Haku. "Go."
"...Fine." Haku sighed. A mirror rippled into existence behind him and he backed into it. He stopped halfway and gave Sasuke a pointed glare. "But if you die because you did something stupid, I'll kill you."
The androgynous boy vanished through his mirror and the two brothers stared each other down.
"Foolish little brother. You ignored my warning." Itachi held his swords out, feigning a lowered guard by leaving his front open for attack. "Now, you must be punished for your unruliness."
"This ends today, Itachi." Sasuke lifted Amaterasu and turned to his side as he fell into a ready stance.
A nearby wall cracked.
The brothers' eyes narrowed.
The brick wall fractured and fell.
The brothers' grip on their swords tightened.
The rubble fragment hit the ground.
The brothers' dance began.
" Stay here. I'll keep your new friend busy," Haku said. He rose up to his feet and shifted Snowfall into its ranged form. The act drew an even larger smile from the shark-like man.
"Like I have a fucking choice." Kurama muttered. They both looked at the grinning man, who had yet to move from his spot, apprehensively. "I don't think I have to tell you who that is."
"He drains aura. And his sword is-"
"Alive, I know." Haku nodded. He reached behind him and pulled out the mask that he kept clipped on his belt. Kurama shot him a bewildered look.
"He's from Fog, Kurama." Haku lifted the mask to his face, but stopped. He stared at the mask's interior for a minute.
"Y'know, if I owned a watch I'd be staring at it really condescendingly right now!" Kisame called over to them. "Especially since I have such an delectable lunch waiting for me!"
Whatever hesitation that Haku had vanished and he pulled the mask onto his face. He balled his free hand into a fist while the other that held Snowfall tightened around the grip. When he stood ten feet away from the blue-skinned behemoth of a man, he stopped.
"Hoshigaki Kisame. Maskless Grimm of the Bloody Fog." Haku narrowed his eyes behind his mask. "I'd say it's nice to see you again, but considering you've just tried to beat my teammate to death, it would be a terrible lie."
"Have we met?" Kisame arched a brow, though his grin didn't dim in the slightest.
"Haku Yuki. Former apprentice to Zabuza Momochi."
Kisame whistled. "Well, ain't you the hottest shit in town? Though, based on the state of this shithole that's not saying much"
"I believe I should tell you that for your crimes against the people Remnant, Faunus especially, I'm not going to try and take you in." If the man could see Haku's eyes, they would look like walls of steel. "I'm going to kill you."
"Are you now?" Kisame chuckled. He beckoned with his hand and Samehada jumped to it. The massive sword was swung up and rested on his shoulder. "Hear that, Samehada? Momochi's former apprentice is going to kill us."
"I'm going to say this once, and only once. Surrender, and you might live to see another day."
"You are precious!" Kisame laughed. Haku sighed, he figured it wouldn't work, but it was worth a shot.
"I'm sorry it has to be this way." He held Snowfall up and fired. A single dust needle shot past Kisame's arm, nicking his sleeve. The criminal eyed the damage and laughed harder.
"Was that a warning shot? I thought you were going to kill-Garh!" Kisame dropped Samehada to the ground and stumbled back, revealing a small ice mirror that had formed beneath his feet. The shark-like man grabbed onto the needle that had pierced his groin and yanked it out. Lucky for Kisame, nothing vital was hit, but now he was wary. That needle had bypassed his aura shield. How the fuck did it do that?
"Your death will not be quick. It will not be painless." Haku steadied his aim with his other hand. "For every person, Faunus or Human, you ever did wrong, I shall deal back their pain with interest. I'll start with your intestines."
"Cocky little shit, aren't you?" Kisame took Samehada in both hands and his eyes glazed over as he got back to his feet. "I'm going to enjoy this..."
Steel clashed as their swords locked up. Itachi's twin blades crossed in front of him while Sasuke's Amaterasu tried to slice through the defense. The struggle caused their faces to be inches away from one another, two black coals glared into crimson orbs. The elder gradually gained the advantage, though he didn't seem to be straining.
"You are still so weak, Sasuke. You lack hatred. That is why you will never kill me." Itachi's eyes narrowed and shifted to reveal his semblance. The red within them darkened and three commas appeared around the pupil. Slowly, the commas began to widen and merged, while also displacing the pupil from its place in the center of the eye. "It seems that you must be taught again."
Sasuke's widened eyes suddenly scrunched closed and he grit his teeth.
Itachi let out a small breath that anyone with a smidge of talent in reading Uchiha micro-mannerisms could tell he was amused by the act.
"No." Sasuke's eyes snapped open, revealing crackling orbs of black aura. A large smile spread across his face to reveal a mouth and teeth that matched the eyes. "Winning."
Itachi's eyes narrowed when the figure in front of him began to turn into a manufactured duplicate. He disengaged and leapt away before the lightning construct exploded. He stood upright, his blades held at his sides.
"Impressive. You learned Kakashi's 'Lightning Clone'. Must have switched out with it during our clash. Explains why I started to win without pressing" The elder brother spun and slashed his left blade down, slicing the remains of a crumbling wall down the middle.
Sasuke moved when his brother had turned. He leapt over the wall and shifted Amaterasu into its bow form. A volley of lightning arrows rained down onto Itachi. The elder Uchiha remained impassive, and his right sword shifted, rolling inward and then expanding to create a spiralling shield. Debris shot up to latch onto the shield and protected the man from the energy fired down upon him.
Sasuke moved as soon as his landed, he raced around his brother and fired arrow after arrow. Itachi remained still, using Susanoo to guide debris into the arrows' paths.
Mid-shot, one arrow dissipated and Sasuke collapsed. He was out of breath, out of aura, and out of luck.
"Wow, think we have enough people?" Naruto asked, looking over the assembled horde of warriors gathered at the front of the Temple. He uncrossed his arms and tried to count the heads of one row. "Seventy-three, seventy-four, seventy-five – Would you all stop moving? I'm trying to count!"
A slender arm slung around his shoulders and before he knew what was happening, the side of his head was pulled against two bountiful pillows. A soft rumble, almost a purr, reverberated through the mounds. A soft, tanned cheek pressed against the top of his head and began to rub against his scalp.
"Anyone ever tell you that you're so cute when you're frustrated, Tiger?" Leone asked.
Naruto reached up, put his hand on her face, and pushed her away from him. He did his best to hide the burning red cheeks he had gained from her affectionate gesture. She would only become more animated if she saw them. Ever since the day they'd met at the Ramen stand, the lioness Faunus had made it her personal duty to fluster him whenever he had time to spare. She was either a sadistic tease or her torturous flirts were sincere, and he hoped to Oum's Holy Broth that it was the former. It would save him – and by extension his friends at Beacon – from a lot of potential drama.
"Pryde, stop jerking the punk around and fall in," a man growled.
The man towered over Naruto by a head and a half, and wore what looked like pajama pants held up by suspenders. Bandages were wound around his mouth and neck, and a lopsided headband hung from the side of his head, branded with a slashed through insignia of Fog Academy. He had camouflaged arm and leg bands that concealed various types of dust cartridges, and slung over his shoulder was the largest sword Naruto had ever seen. Despite his attire, the man was very intimidating. The fact that the man's eyebrows were missing made him all the more imposing.
"You suck, Zabu." Leone glowered at the man before she hugged Naruto one more time. She playfully nipped at his earlobe and gave him a kiss on his now bright red cheek. "See you later, Tiger. If you get too banged up, let me know. I've got a doctorate in overnight house calls."
"PRYDE!" The man Leone called 'Zabu' barked at her. Behind him, the squadron under his command straightened and bullets of sweat shot from their brows.
"Yeah, yeah, yeah. Don't twist your suspenders in a knot, Zabu!" Leone rolled her eyes as she walked over to her spot with the man's squad.
Naruto tried to ignore the pointed exaggerated sway in her steps, but he was only mortal. The glance he may or may not have taken would have allowed him to compare Leone's toned rear with the same firm behind that his Yanging girlfriend had. There would be no way for him to determine which was better, because no matter how hard he might have tried to compare them (if he did hypothetically take a look), both bottoms were matched in shape, form, and size.
Blessed be the Toad Sages that came before me, for my mind was wandering to dangerous territory! Naruto thought, relieved to have something draw his attention away from where it was moments prior. The blond looked down to his left at the elderly woman that stood beside him.
"'Sup Ma?" He asked. Shima, who insisted to any that interacted with her (save for a certain lava-using asshole that Naruto did not get along with) to call her Ma, had a red cloth bundled in her arms that she offered up to him. Intrigued, he took the offered gift and held it out. It unfolded to reveal a cloak with three-quarter sleeves, and black flames along the hemming. His eyes went wide and he looked back down at the elder.
"Yer father wore his often after he started our training," Shima said. "It's symbolic more than anything, but most will recognize it for what it means."
"And what's it mean?" Naruto slipped the coat on, and found the sleeves to be large enough to not hinder his movement or his gauntlets. And the length wasn't too long to trip him up when he backpedaled. He missed the way the others gathered around him stared at his back, or rather, what symbol had been stitched into his new coat.
"Oh, never you mind that, dear. Be ready. The signal could be sent at any-"
Shima, Naruto, and the other gathered combatants all snapped their heads up. A strange feeling, like something tugged at the inside of their stomach, washed over the group. They were all enveloped in a large cloud of smoke, and when it cleared, none remained in the area.
The smoke cleared and the mass of warriors from Mt. Myoboku went quiet. Horror, shock, anger and disgust crossed their faces. None more outraged than one of the two that were at the head of the group.
"Unforgivable." Shima muttered. She trembled and fought back the sting in her eye. There would be time to mourn after the fight has been won. She looked at the boy beside her and found him looking around, bemused. "What's wrong, Naruto?"
"Aren't we supposed to be at Kon? I thought Pa would use his magic teleport thing to bring us to Kon?" Naruto scratched his head. "I mean, don't get me wrong, this place needs help too, but...I was expecting to-"
"Naruto-boy." Fukasaku dropped down from the rubble he used as his perch to summon his forces. He landed in front of the blond without a sound, looked around sadly, and then back at the expectant teen. "This is Kon."
"Wha-How…?" Naruto stared at his master in shock for but a moment before he grit his teeth, ducked his head and balled his hands into fists. His gauntlets unfolded around his hands without a word and he lifted his head, his eyelids now covered by a light orange marking and his eyes a toad-like yellow.
"Kid!" Naruto whipped around to meet the gaze of Bunta, the owner of the Mysterious Tree, when he stepped up and crossed his arms. The pipe in his mouth swiveled around. "I'm the Boss of the Mountain, I keep the family in line, but you're the Sage. What's your call?"
"You're asking me?"
"It's your house, it's your show." Bunta shrugged. Naruto pursed his lips in thought.
"You, Hiro, and Ken are with me, Ma and Pa," He said. The triad, Bunta, Hiro and Ken, would be useful to have as backup, and their semblances weren't useful to helping others outside of a fight. He looked around and frowned at the area. He felt weak aura scattered around the ruins. "Everyone else spread out and find survivors. Stay with your teams, and keep in contact with others. This isn't a covert op, guys. Search and rescue first and foremost."
"What if we find any Fourth War members?" A teen named Jugo - who had awesome orange hair and orange eyes, the lucky bastard - asked.
Naruto's knuckles cracked when he tightened his fists.
"Do whatever needs to be done."
The Wanderers' nodded and dispersed, running through the ruins in different directions, some grouping up and heading towards the sounds of gunfire.
Naruto closed his eyes and reached out through Remnant. He felt his teammates, his friends, suffering. He felt out the Wanderers' locations. A hand went up to his ear, pressing down on the Scroll accessory he'd begrudgingly inserted into it. (He'd never really liked the RedNail wireless accessories Kakashi used to force on him, they never worked when it mattered.)
It became clear after he'd instructed two specific groups to go to his teammates' aid. The aura that Fukasaku described as faint and unnatural, a simplification if ever there was one. The aura was cold, detached and in torment, while simultaneously angry, bitter, and hot. His eyes snapped open, and an unnoticeably small slit appeared to bisect the toad-like pupils.
"Found him." He narrowed his eyes and frowned. Wordlessly, he and the elders shot off towards the aura's location, the Triad following them. He pressed his fingers to his ear again. His eyes flashed, and the slit became a bit more pronounced, to the point that if you looked for it you would see it. Unbeknownst of the growing issue, Naruto pressed on the RedNail earbud.
"Stay away from the Commander's Monument. Pein is mine."
AN: It's been a while, but I'm back! My new school has a weird set up, and what with the holidays and all. I'm determined to keep updating as many stories as I can. If you ignored the above AN, that's fine. If you didn't, then you all know I want you to do!