Original Publish Date: 20th-September-2015
Update Date: 17th-July-2016
Extended Summary: This is a dark story. The only tag at the top reads 'Tragedy'; it is for a damn good reason. I know how this story ends, it's not going to be pretty. If you're looking for a Harem fic, you're going to be disappointed. There are two possible love interests tagged in the description, this is because the relationship between the protagonists is going to be 'complicated' (what a wonderful word).
On the plus side, what you can expect from the story is excellent grammar, a kickass but deeply flawed post-war Naruto travelling back for reasons unknown. He will be wielding Fūinjutsu, and you can expect in-depth discussions of chakra and it's vagaries. The characters will be multi-faceted and deeply thought-out. The decisions they make will be the same. Some of them will die. Others...will die eventually (as will we all). There will be rough language, there will be adult situations. I'm as yet undecided on the topic of lemons. As far as possible I will try to avoid using the usual fan-fiction cliche's. Expect humor, but not the slapstick variety. I've had this story in mind for YEARS, so don't expect me to abandon it. That's my promise to you, on my dream as an aspiring author.
This story is widely acclaimed to have hit it's stride around chapter 13, so if you can make it till then, I guarantee you will not regret it.
I write extended author's notes, and I don't like hearing complaints about a few hundred extra words, because my story will likely cross 1 million words before it gets over.
On with the show.
**READ THE DAMN DISCLAIMER; ESPECIALLY THE PART IN BOLD**
Disclaimer: 'Naruto' is the property of Masashi Kishimoto. 'Lungs', 'Ceremonials' and 'How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful' is the property of Florence + the Machine. 'Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords' is the property of Obsidian Entertainment and LucasArts. "The Tragedy of Repetition" has been written by SoulShdw on this site. This story is inspired by all of the above, and is a reflection of parts of my life as well. Please read, review and enjoy.
Chapter 1 – Nightmarish Sacrifice
"Have a look around, my pretty, we are surrounded by Death in all forms – just the two of us are still alive –"
― Simona Panova, Nightmarish Sacrifice
Gentle starlight peeked out from underneath the blanket of the velvet night sky; only the sharp gash of the moon hinted towards the horrors that were lit up by the soft glow. I'm not usually one for poetry or fine writing, but tonight, at the end, it seemed appropriate. Not that there is much else I can do, lying on my back as I look to the sky while awaiting the inevitable.
My name is Uzumaki Naruto, and I am about to die.
Nearby, Orochimaru is screaming in Sasuke's voice with unholy terror. Perhaps that had something to do with the fact that the Shinigami was in the process of tearing out and sealing his soul? In any case, I could hardly care less, and I returned to my contemplation of the night sky. Why couldn't the moon have been red tonight? That would at least have made for an appropriately ominous setting. Even a full blue moon would have sufficed, the symbolism of hope for the future would be befitting… but no, all we had was a sickle shaped gash that epitomized the horrors that humans wreak on each other.
When I was still a child, I had once asked the old man Hokage if he knew where my parents were. With a somber countenance, he informed me that they were dead. Being a naïve child, this did not have the impression on me that it should have, and it only made me more curious as to where they had gone. So, with a sad smile, the old man held my hand and took me to the top of the Hokage monument, where we had a clear view of the stars. He then pointed at the sky and told me that upon death, every one becomes a star.
What star I will become, I wonder?
I was rambling, I realized. Usually by this point Kurama would have bitch-slapped me a couple of times and brought me back to focus. But as of half an hour ago, the Nine Tailed Demon Fox had been ripped from my gut and dissipated. Log only knew how long he would take to reform; I certainly would not be alive to witness that.
Speaking of being dead, I realized that the screaming had finally abated. That could only mean that Orochimaru's soul, and by extension Sasuke's, had finally been sealed by the Shinigami. The blight upon the Elemental Nations had finally been burned away.
Good riddance, motherfuckers. And it had only taken the death of every registered shinobi in the elemental nations. I included my twenty three year old self in that, because very soon, I, too, would be dead.
It was at this point that I realized that the very weight of an otherworldly being's gaze was upon me in its entirety. How I had managed to ignore it to the point of distraction was well beyond my comprehension. It had an overwhelming presence that overtook all my senses. I had known the price I would pay when I activated the technique that summoned him, but now that the moment was actually here, I was terrified. Wildly hoping it would distract the Shinigami, I blurted out "Orochimaru, my mortal enemy, I call you forth for combat!"
The Shinigami gave no reaction, which meant that all of Orochimaru's fractured consciousness from his cursed seal freaks had been summoned and sealed. On the other hand, this meant that it was time to pay the price of the technique.
With my soul.
With no ceremony at all, the Shinigami's arm, burning with cursed seals, shot forward and sank into my stomach. I've been stabbed before, and while it was no picnic, it paled in comparison to the sheer agony that spread throughout my being. It was cold, far colder than anything I instinctively knew that existed on our planet; it reeked of being from a cold dark dank place in the universe where no sun had ever existed or would exist; infinite cold where the only thing that reigned was the silence of the grave. The burning cold froze my body and my soul, and left no room for anything else.
Through the cold I frantically struggled to draw a breath, and then I died.
The Shinigami suddenly appeared far more threatening and powerful and…simply more than before. His horns were red, red the colour of blood, red the colour of life, red the colour that all living things had before they sacrificed themselves to him; his eyes were grey, grey the colour of the sick, grey the colour of the dying as they waited for him to reap their souls, his skin was purple, purple the colour of mottling flesh of the prey as they awaited their inevitable death after being rent apart…
Every aspect of his appearance signified death, because death was what awaited all living things.
I recoiled away from the Shinigami, the God Who Embodied Death. Of course, he still grasped me by my metaphysical stomach, so I couldn't exactly fly (float?) away. I tried to focus on anything else around me, but all around me was the vast emptiness of the universe. But as I spread my awareness, I realized…
That the universe was around me. It was alive.
Somehow, I was fundamentally connected to the universe, and it was breathtakingly beautiful. From the smallest quarks to the largest galaxies, I could feel and see and comprehend the universe on such a minuscule level that the only feeble comparison I had, Sage Mode, looked like a child's finger painting against a masterpiece. I could understand the nature of the quarks that made up the protons and electrons…I was less than an hour old and was crying, unknowingly lamenting my dead parents…I could understand why the sky appeared blue…I was six years old and nobody would play with me at the park…I could see new colours that did not exist and understood that they were the frequencies beyond the visible spectrum…I was eight years old and the old man Hokage was treating me to ramen and everybody was saluting the old man and giving him respect and I wanted everybody's respect…I could comprehend the reasons living beings could not regenerate lost organs or limbs…I was thirteen and Sasuke had just speared me with his lightning coated hand while I foolishly just scratched his headband…I could understand all the mathematics and physics I could never grasp while in the Academy…I was sixteen and I had lost control and hurt Sakura-chan while trying to kill Orochimaru on the Tenchi bridge…In fact, I could comprehend far more of the physics that existed on my world, right now I could easily build weapons that could blow chunks out of the planet itself…I had just turned seventeen and the Fourth Shinobi War was in full swing and the weird tree had just sprung up…I just realized, there were other beings outside our planet, and they were already there…I had just turned seventeen and the Fourth Shinobi War was in full swing and the weird tree had just sprung up…they were right there, and we were blind to them, and they were trying to tell us…I had just turned seventeen and the Fourth Shinobi War was in full swing and the weird tree had just sprung up…The were telling us, I could hear…
With a deep shocking breath, I came back to life.
I was absolutely sure I had been dead a moment ago. I had felt myself die, and that was a feeling I was absolutely sure that I could not have been wrong about. I was also sure something monumental had just occurred, but I had missed it, on account of, you know, being dead.
Also, I could see a lot of freaky colours that I was pretty sure didn't exist.
And I could see inside things. I could suddenly comprehend their nature. I could also see outside the sky and watch things that I was absolutely sure I had no idea existed only moments before. I could watch distant suns and space dust and interstellar events and they were breathtakingly beautiful. I could instinctively understand how far apart they were and how they interacted with one another and how they had come to be. I realized that somehow, I was fundamentally connected to the energies of the universe. And now that I paid attention, there was something else…I could hear….
That was when I realized that the Shinigami still had his hand in my stomach.
With my heightened senses, the Shinigami suddenly appeared far more threatening and powerful and…simply more than before. His horns were red, red the colour of blood, red the colour of life, red the colour that all living things bled as they sacrificed themselves to him; his eyes were grey, grey the colour of the sick, grey the colour of the dying as they waited for him to reap their souls, his skin was purple, purple the colour of mottling flesh of the prey as they awaited their inevitable death after being rent apart…
Every aspect of his appearance signified death, because death was what awaited all living things.
I tried to recoil away from the Shinigami, the God Who Embodied Death. But it was pointless, when an otherworldly being decides to get a grip on you; your only choice is to be gripped. Right at the point I decided to do something stupid like yell at the God Who Embodied Death, I suddenly realized that the world around me had gone unnaturally still. In fact, it was not just the world; the entire galaxy was not moving. The spinning of the sun had stopped; the constant increasing of the distance between the galaxies had stopped, and my head was not large enough to compute exactly what was happening, but I knew it was massively significant. For some weird reason, I got the feeling that it had something to do with turning back time.
But that was paradoxical, because time travel is impossible.
On a very basic level, picture this; while walking, if you retrace one step by walking backwards, does everything around you go back as well? Of course not. Even if you managed to get everyone in any given area to do something backwards for a single second, does that mean that everyone went back in time? No, because the rest of the planet continued to move forwards in time. For time travel to be even remotely plausible, you would have to know where everything from the largest planet to the smallest speck of space dust had been, and force it all to synchronously move backwards along its path. The energy cost alone would be beyond staggering, let alone the computational power to understand how everything had acted during its entire time. From a human beings perspective, it was impossible, and I was freaking connected to universe, so I knew what I was talking about.
Of course, the Shinigami was not human.
With a horrible wrenching, groaning sound, the planet around me gave a lurch and started rotating the wrong way. The sickle shaped moon started rising as it traversed the sky in a way that affronted my ninja senses, the sun's light and heat was sucked back into it and our galaxy started moving infinitesimally closer to the center of the universe instead of always expanding away from it.
If not for the increasingly painful screeching, it would actually have been pretty cool.
With each passing (regressing?) second, the sound became louder and louder till it reverberated throughout my core, and I distantly realized I was not on our planet anymore but in the blank blackness of outer space, and the only reason I was still alive was because the Shinigami, the freaking being who could turn back time on a whim still had me in a death grip on me and the screaming became louder and more primal like the sounds of everything dying and the universe itself screamed because it was not supposed to turn backwards this way and I was at the center of it all because the Shinigami was and I had no idea why he was doing this…
Even though I was overwhelmed with the sense of wrongness the universe was vociferously exuding, something on the distant horizon still managed to capture my attention for all the wrong reasons. Initially it was just a dot, but as it grew closer and larger I could occasionally make out features on its spinning surface.
It was the Earth.
As it grew closer and the screaming got louder I got increasingly terrified. My body was already in complete agony just from being a witness to the atrocity the universe was undergoing, but I instinctively knew that this would be far, far more painful than anything I had ever dreamed of. I tried to brace myself, but my body was already reverberating and I was hoping against hope that it would not hurt as badly as my senses were telling me it would but it was getting closer and it was far bigger than I could possibly comprehend and the screaming was intensifying and I started yelling in anticipation of the pain and it got closer closercloserclosercloser…
And then it hit.
The pain was singularly the most intensely unbearable sensation I had ever experienced. It was like being buried alive in a molten lava of pain; I could not breathe because pain, I could not move because pain; and I was certain I was screaming but I could not hear because pain; all I could see was pain.
The death of every single organism that had existed during the time that was being reversed was literally on my conscience. From the tiniest bacteria to the largest sperm whale; from the most peaceful death in the sleep to unborn babies being forcibly torn from their mother's womb; from the slowest growing coral to the fastest growing insects; I felt every death, because I was responsible for bringing them back to life.
And I did not even know why.
Suddenly, it was gone. The intensely overwhelming pain was gone, but the screeching of the universe had grown to such an extent that I was surprised that it wasn't tearing the fabric of space-time. I was sure that the human body was not meant to handle this amount of stress; in fact, I was absolutely convinced that I should have died within a second or two of experiencing that pain. If not for the Shinigami, I would have become a drooling vegetable due to my mind breaking from the strain.
Of course, if it wasn't for the Shinigami, I would not have experienced that pain in the first place.
The unholy screeching was almost a relief once the miasma of pain had ebbed away. As long as it was not me being tortured, the universe could burn for all I cared. My mind could not survive another assault like that. I watched the planet of life and death recede until it was lost behind the sun. But even looking at the light and heat and radiation reconstituting the plasma that made up the sun, I knew exactly where the earth was behind it.
And then it rounded the sun and started coming closer again.
I started hyperventilating and panicking and I even turned to the God Who Embodied Death and started incoherently rambling and begging him to stop the pain. I even offered him my life, my soul and he just showed me his sharp teeth, teeth that were meant to rip, to kill, to devour, to consume….It took me a moment to realize that the Shinigami was smiling. My immortal soul, the only chip I had to bargain with, my very essence was worth less than nothing to the being whose dominion was Death; and me offering it to him was amusing. It was almost worse than the pain I had just undergone.
The pain hit again. It was worse than the first time, and I was wrong. The pain was worse than knowing that my soul meant nothing.
By the fourth time I had begged, pleaded, reasoned, raged, thrown every emotion I could think of at the Shinigami, but all he did was smile mockingly; smile with those sharp teeth that could devour my very essence at me.
By the seventh time I broke. I gave up caring. I could no longer process the pain, my puny brain, the so called best machine in the universe, was not anywhere near enough to process this amount of pain and suffering and death. I no longer cared why the supreme deity of death was doing what he did; it was probably my karma coming back to bite me on the ass.
By the ninth time I developed a sick anticipation. I had never ever felt anything so intense in my entire life, and this was a rush unlike any other. The pain was just a side effect, this was far better than any drug I could imagine.
Thirteen times. Thirteen times the planet of life and pain and death passed through me and thirteen times I felt the very worst that my planet had to offer. I had given up offering my soul because compared to the suffering of every creature that had died what was my one tiny soul worth? I had offered everything I owned; I prostrated myself to a higher power and I was deemed inconsequential.
Suddenly, halfway during the thirteenth time, my body was separated from the Shinigami's, and for one second; one blissful second that lasted an eternity, I, too was moving backward through time. My vocal chords, which had long torn from screaming in pain, were healed. The blood I had lost during my jaunt through time was refilled. My injuries were far more severe than that, but at the very least I would not die immediately. The shock of the sudden healing, the sudden stopping of the screaming of the universe, plus my body hitting a wooden surface and me looking up at a familiar ceiling were more than I could handle, and I let myself be knocked into unconsciousness.