A/N: I'M NOT DEAD! Ahem, sorry, sorry, sorry about that. Couldn't help myself. I've been on a wee bit of a hiatus as of late, enjoying time off and healing up after sustaining some injuries. BUT I'm alive! And though my legs might be busted up, my spirit hasn't faltered in the slightest. I've also seen the Force Awakens several times, so if you haven't seen it yet SPOILERS ABOUND WITHIN! I seriously suggest you see it, though. It was great!
And, since someone was kind enough to challenge me to do this...here we be!
Anywho, despite the name, this is NOT a part of the Not Going Home series, rather, an offshoot of it, per se. An idea. An inkling.
I mean no disrespect of Star Wars the Force Awakens but SPOILERS AHEAD! This is written for entertainment purposes and for you, the readers. I own none of the content within, only the concept of this story. Now, I proudly present...
...Not So Far Away!
...make of it what you will! On another note, this story starts approximately a few months before the events of The Force Awakens...hope ya like it! I tried to keep everyone in character, given that a certain someone suffers a tragedy in this chapter...but I humbly ask that you be nice and enjoy the story! Yes, yes, yes, Naruto is NOT overpowered in this one, so don't worry...
"Hit me with that stick ONE MORE TIME! See what happens!"
Ever been tormented by an angry goddess?
What am I saying, of course you haven't!
Imagine the worst pain you've ever felt in your life. Now multiply it by a thousand. Think of a planet, exploding around you. The heat of a searing sun, burning behind your brain. Unbearable agony. Your every cell self-destructing, one by one. I could go on, list every possible agony you could experience at the hands/claws Kaguya, Mother of all Chakra, Juubi, whatever you want to call her. But I think you get the point, no? Its not a pleasant experience, not by any means.
My own fault, really. I made a mistake.
And in an instant, everything fell apart.
Ever lost a leg?
A split second of inattention on my part-that's all it took. Then she was on me, and suddenly I was bleeding out. In a sense, I was lucky. Unlucky, rather. Because, well...I lived. Survived. Almost wish I hadn't. Because I was forced to lay there, watch, as she blasted Sasuke into bloody red atoms. Didn't even hesitate. Just one blow and...poof. He was gone. Just like that. What were we thinking, going up against a god? A fucking god?! I realized too late how naive we'd been, staring into those soulless white eyes.
I'd been a fool.
Of course knowing all of this, Kaguya didn't finish me off. Instead she left me there, bleeding. Made we watch as she set upon the others. WATCH as she tore Kakashi-sensei limb from limb. Then she went after Sakura-chan.
Have you looked a friend in the eye and watched them be ripped apart?
It was slow.
By the end, I was almost praying for it to stop; for an end. Something, ANYTHING to make her stop. But of course, she didn't. I tried to stand, to get up, to fight back, anything at all. But I couldn't. Every time I dragged myself up, she knocked me back down. It didn't end there, either. When my friends and family were finally dead, when Sakura finally stopped screaming, she turned on me. Torment doesn't even begin to define the hell that followed in the next few hours. Or was it days?
Consumed by the grief, I did the only thing left to me, all I could think to do as she tore me apart, put me back together, and tore me apart again. I shut down. Stopped thinking. Feeling. Then...
...something went wrong.
One minute, I was staring down a mad goddess, staring certain death in the face. I was certain she was going to kill me. Eventually. Hell, I'd resigned myself to it. Death seemed certain, the price for my failure. I could not protect them; my friends, the world, anyone. So what reason did I have to live? Yes, I'd admitted defeat. I was going to die. Perhaps I should have paid better attention to my surroundings. Perhaps, had I looked a little to my left, I would seen Kakashi-sensei move. Look at me.
...I was somewhere else.
The setting sun burned down out of a cloudless, arid blue sky, washing the vast desert wastes of the planet in angry auburn light. The resultant glare rose off the flat, sandy surface in a wet shimmer of blistering heat to fill the gaps between the massive cliff faces and solitary outcroppings of the mountains that were the planet's sole distinguishing feature.
Sharply etched, the monoliths stood like sentinels keeping watch in a watery haze, offering no solace for the poor souls beneath their vigil.
Tonight, one such soul wondered
Rey sighed quietly and shifted her weight against the ruined bulk of the AT-AT that was her home, chewing morosely on a muffin ration. It tasted bland and chalky in her mouth, but it was enough to take the edge off of the hunger, albeit slightly. Food was food, after all. She chewed slowly, carefully, s
Wandering dark eyes flicked up to the horizon, longingly watching a freighter lazily ascend to the stars.
What she wouldn't give for a freedom like that.
Another day's salvage, another half-portion of rations to scrape by on. Tomorrow she'd venture back out to the wreck of the star destroyer and see if she could scavenge more. Turn it into to Plutt in exchange for some semblance of food. Sleep. Rinse and repeat. Why did she wait like this? Why didn't she just steal a ship, and get off this planet? Putting this moral quandry of taking something that didn't belong to her aside, she knew she could; she knew how to fly just about anything. It would be so easy, too! Surely there was something out there in the galaxy-anything better than this scrap heap she called home.
Yet, Rey was still here.
She supposed she already knew the answer; the reason, why she remained on Jakku, so terrified to leave. Her family. Part of her was terrified they'd return the moment she left, and then where would she be? Alone, all over again. No. They'd come back, she told herself. They would. They had to. They must. The alternative-the notion that they might NOT come back-frightened her more than she could possibly say, so she shoved all of it away into the deepest, darkest corner of her mind and locked it there.
They would come for her, she told herself.
Until then, she just had to wait.
She just had to
A harsh crack of noise shook the young woman from her musings and made her jolt upright. The very freighter she'd seen had just exploded violently, detonating into a brilliant plume of napalm and smoke. The horizon, already near dark from sunset, now lit itself a stark scarlet, punctuated by bits of blackened hull and debris spraying outward in just about every direction. Even from here she felt the shock-wave of the vessel's collapse like a giant thunderclap; as if the hand of an angry god had just reached down and smote the ship from sky.
Idly, she noted the wreckage wasn't too far from her position. Now that would make for some good salvage.
Then she saw it; a streak of light shrieking out of the falling debris in a diagonal line, down into the atmosphere. It didn't slow in the slightest. If anything, the distant object seemed to accelerate before her very eyes as if propelled by some unseen source.
What was that, a pod?
Grabbing a pair of binoculars from her pack, she hastened upright, training the lens on the foreign item.
Screaming, roaring with ferocious hunger and relentless drive it shot across the horizon, the heat and the light seemed to shatter and the dunes themselves tremble. No, wait. That was too small to be an escape pod. A comet, then? Frowning, she adjusted the lens, zooming in. It wasn't uncommon; the occasional passing space rock would sometimes get caught in the planet's gravity and be tugged down to the surface. For one larger than a freighter, now that was rare, so why would it be...odd...what...
...what was that?
Frown deepening, the scavenger followed the plummeting arc of the object, watching it tumble end over end.
It wasn't an asteroid.
Hell, it wasn't even a comet.
Because, as she peered through the macrobinoculars, she realized this was no mere meteor, plummeting from the sky. It was...a man?
At least, she assumed the humanoid shape, glimpsed through the grainy lens, was indeed human. She had just enough time to glimpse him before he passed out of sight; his body battered, his clothes tattered, it was a marvel he hadn't yet burned up in his return to the atmosphere. Still he plummeted, the ground rushing up to greet him like an old friend. There was no way he'd survive the impact. Right? Rey dithered a moment, torn between the prospect of fresh salvage-which could amount to quite a bit of rations-and her own innate curiosity about the stranger who'd fallen from the sky.
In the end, the choice was rather simple.
Without so much as a second thought, she snatched up her staff and set off after the flying man.
(With Our Free-Falling Blond...)
'Okay. Not dead. This...this is...new.'
Bloodshot blue eyes snapped open to the rush of wind, lashing at his face like a whip. An ugly expanse of matte brown and sand was there to meet him. And sand. Lots of sand. Did he mention the sand? Because it was absolutely everywhere. Something struck him in the back, a fiery star of pain erupting between his shoulder blades. Blearily, Naruto turned his head. Tried to look up-or was it down-he couldn't tell. Regardless, what he saw there took his breath away.
Overhead, smoke and flame roared through the sky, an angry red eye of destruction glaring down at him furiously. Bits of broken-whatever the hell that was-rained down around him, peppering his savaged coat in fiery rain He didn't realize he was still falling until he turned around. A spark of life-of alarm-flickered in those dead azure orbs as their owner realized what was rushing towards him.
It was early summer and even in the waning light of the evening, the heat still provided just enough light to illuminate his impending crash. He squinted into fading sun as bits of broken debris swirled about him, kicking up little puffs as he jolted toward the earth at breakneck speed. Flailing wildly, the battered genin thrust out his arms and leg-and despite his best efforts only succeeded in pinwheeling even more fiercely. Chakra, when summoned up, only succeeded in calling his cloak out at the last moment.
The broken shinobi could only close his eyes at the very last instant and braced himself for the inevitable pain; the jolting agony of the incoming impact. Having awoken earlier to find himself airborne was nothing as he compared it to just how rough his landing was about to be. Sure enough, something cracked across his face and sent him sprawling. Something stiff and infinitely unyielding, taking his shroud and shredding it to pieces as he tumbled across the dunes.
Funny, for something that ought be soft, the sand felt awfully hard.
He slapped into the ground hard, and with zero control, broken body flipping over as he skidded onto his back, stomach, back again. He bounced; one, two, three, four times, before the momentum of his impact finally, mercifully, drove him back to dunes. His head kissed something iron-hard, made all the worse by the thickness of his skull. Black spots swam before his eyes and left him blind, reeling. Stunned, he laid there for a long, long moment, saying nothing, seeing nothing, thinking nothing, for what felt like an eternity.
His body stitched itself together slowly, bruises and broken bones bouncing back like rubber as he lay there, breathing. What little chakra he had remaining was just enough to allow him to sit up and move, and even his very soul felt worn to the bone. Depression clung to him like a wet blanket, thick and cloying, refusing to release him. He had no right to be happy that he'd survived-if he actually had indeed, and this wasn't some fever dream cooked up by his subconcsious to escape Kaguya's torment- because he'd failed. That was the truth of it.
They were, all of them...
That was his first real thought when he finally recovered enough to have one, and it gripped him with despair.
They were all gone.
Yet somehow, someway, he wasn't. Instead of being dead, he was here.
Where the hell was here, anyway?
When he finally tried to stand, he sorely regretted it; a broken rib all but drove the breath from his his lungs.
Up, damn you! Get up! Swearing and spitting he got on his hands and knees and tried to stand, eyes watering, ears ringing. Pushing his hands against the gravely and granite soil, he'd made it all of halfway, a half-arsed oath leaving his lips before the shadow fell upon him; before he raised his gaze and realized what exactly he was looking at. He'd landed in a massive crater; packed, and flattened by the impact of his landing, and rough descent.
Now, all he was left with was the pain.
And the ache. It was everywhere. Absolutely everywhere. Radiating outward in his back, shrieking in his spine; even breathing was an effort in and of itself. He couldn't quite pinpoint where it was-or where he was for that matter-only that there was no conceivable way he'd last long out at night.
Unable to sustain the effort required to stand, he flopped onto his back, all semblance of calm evaporating as gazed up into the seemingly endless desert. Where was he? How had he gotten here? Why was he alive? I should be dead. I deserve to be dead. His eyes flicked to his hand, to the mark on his palm. Fat load of good it and those new powers had done him. He'd failed. So why? Why did he yet live, despite that failure?
This arid desert he'd landed in offered no answers for him.
Indeed, it was barren and dry. Almost as if the life itself had been sapped from the soil, buried beneath the sands. No life. I could die out here, he thought blackly. Maybe I should. It was an eerie thought, and one he could not afford to entertain. The clouds where gathering in overhead; a sandstorm of sorts must be coming. He tried to stand; tried to force his body into some semblance of movement, in hopes of finding shelter before he was struck by the full brunt of blast. Once more, he tried to stand-
To say that he failed miserably would have been a massive understatement. He swore, then laughed; it was a harsh, bitter noise, one that sounded ugly even to his own ears. Blue eyes flicked to the sundered stump of his right leg; a savaged mess of charred bone and tissue ending just above the knee. The ruined limb stood in painful reminder to what he'd suffered, and it remained even as he felt some semblance of his strength try to return. He'd never been able to regrow limbs, after all.
There wasn't even any pain down there; the nerves had someone cauterized themselves when he wasn't looking, leaving him with the mangled leg. Kaguya's laughter echoed in his ears, snide and mocking. He recalled that much:
"Don't worry. I'll save you for last."
Her angry screams as something-someone?-ripped him away from her:
"No! NO! You were mine! You belong to me!"
And now, here he was. Alive. Denied. He'd never have the release he sought.
Too many questions, not enough answers.
In the end, the maimed ninja simply gave up. He huffed out a fierce breath and flopped onto his back, gasping. Harsh, angry moisture stung at his eyes, forcing an unwilling blink out of the blond. Teeth sank down into his lower lip, biting until he tasted blood. The pain woke him slightly, stirred his emotions. He knew they would have wanted him to live, to carry on, to be happy.
That made it worse.
"Why me?" he muttered aloud, tears brimming down over his cheeks. "Why me, and not them? Why am I alive?"
Maybe it would be better to just lie down and-
Unfortunately, it seemed fate had other plans for him.
His head popped up just in time to see someone appear over the rise. He could barely see her in the fading light, even his normally keen eyesight was now fading fast in the gloom. Dark hair, bound up in strange knots behind her head. Bright eyes burning on him, intent, inquisitive, and also...concerned? Hard to tell in the light. His vision began to clear somewhats as she hastened down the dunes toward him; he was able to see that the newcomer wore an outfit of homespun cloth/leather a seemed to be carrying what looked a large staff, so he wasn't overly worried about her being a threat.
"You're not dead?" words carried across the sands to him.
Naruto grimaced, fingers knuckling against the ground.
"Not for lack of trying."
Couldn't she-whoever she was-see that he wanted to be left alone?
Apparently not, for the stranger reached his position in short order. She tried to step around him, get a better look at him in the dim light, and he turned away. Pesky woman! Good samaritan or not, he didn't want her help. He just wanted to be left alone. To think. To be. To mourn. The last thing he wanted was to interact with someone. Anyone.
"Oh, god." A sharp gasp reminded him of her presence once more. "Your leg!"
Points for persistence, this one.
"Here, I have bandages-
"...'s fine." When she reached for him again, he swatted her hand away. "Don't feel it. Didn't feel the crash, either."
Indeed, he didn't feel anything...
...until she levered said stick at him.
"Wait...did you destroy that ship back there?!" her voice was suddenly sharp, demanding. "Answer me! Who are you?!"
Despondent as he felt, Naruto still possessed the where-with-all to realize what was happening. Old instincts never failed. His hand snapped up in the same instant, gripping the weapon in a vice. The girl yelped, tried to rip it from his grasp, failed. Courage faltered in her eyes as he glared up at her, her brief moment of bravery vanishing even whilst he looked on.
"Let go!" she cried!
"That depends." he retorted angrily, "Are you going to hit me again?"
The girl glowered at him at moment longer and then in a blindingly fast movement, planted her foot in his stomach and most of her weight behind it. The result was instantaneous. Naruto's broken ribs howled in protest, and his strength abandoned his body dead away, air gusting out his lungs in an abrupt, windy gasp. Bent double, he feebly raised an arm, warding her off.
"Whoa, whoa, whoa!" he lowered his arms defensively towards his lap. "Alright, alright! Could you not do that? Look, see, I'm putting them down-
She must have taken the movement as a threat of some kind; because the next thing Naruto knew, he was lying face down in the dirt, his nose bloodied. A low, exasperated growl snaked itself between clenched teeth, fingers clenching at the sand. Shakily, he rose, forcing his gaze up to meet that of the staff-bearing girl. She twirled her weapon expertly, already bringing it around for another blow. In his weakened state, Naruto had no chance to counter.
"Now wait just a sec-!"
Too late; Rey raised the staff and swatted him again, square in the jaw. Naruto grunted, miraculously managing to remain upright this time in spite of his injuries. When the next blow came he narrowly ducked, wincing as the black metal clipped the side of his head.
"Hit me with that stick one more time!" he growled. "See what happens!"
The girl paused, seemed to consider it.
Then she swung down at his head.
"Today is NOT my day."
That was his last thought before darkness took him.
A/N: Poor Naruto. Sorry if this chapter is so terribly, short, but I needed one for the interlude. Now, before anyone says anything, Naruto is NOT at his max in this. Nowhere near it in fact. In short, he's gotten his arse handed to him, most of his powers reduced/stripped away, flat. Yes, he's stronger than your average human, but don't expecting him to be tossing any buildings around just yet...
So, in the Immortal Words of Atlas...
...REVIEW! And May the Force be with you!
AND ENJOY ZE PREVIEW!
Blue eyes snapped into angry red slits.
"I'm sorry, what was that?"
"I said the scavenger gets one portion." Unkar Plutt rumbled, sneering. "An she should be lucky she's getting even tha-GAH!
A scarred fist crashed through the grate, locked around the crolute's throat, hauling him up and forward almost instantaneously. Through the grate. Rey was still wondering just how the blond had managed to do that when Naruto tugged even harder, dragging the hulking alien out of paddock and pressing his forehead to that of the junkboss. His odd comment about Plutt cheating her suddenly seemed like a distant memory now, as she watched the battered blond stare down the much larger entity.
For a terrible moment, nothing happened.
Then, incredibly Naruto smiled.
"You meant one hundred portions for that salvage, right?" his voice was oddly calm-almost pleasant even-lacking even the slightest amount of menace as he spoke. "Not one?" His opposite hand rose slowly, crushing the comlink in his hand like a piece of flimsiplast. Those scarred fingers opened slowly, allowing Unkar to see the sundered scrap tumble down to the ground. When the blond looked up from the mangled pile of circuit, his smile was decidedly frosty.
"Y-Yes!" the alien sputtered! "One hundred portions!"
"And you're going to GENEROUSLY share the rest of your stash with the good folks behind us?" Naruto continued genially, blue eyes twinkling.
Plutt immediately bristled.
"Now see here-
A clenched fist dented the wall beside Plutt's head.
"I...ah...I mean yes, of course!"
"Right, then." With a grunt, Naruto tossed him down like a sack of rotten garbage. "Now pay the nice lady for her WONDERFUL salvage and shut the hell up."
Rey stared after him, stupified.
Her body distantly registered the new rations and went through the motions; her arms furtively scooping them up into her bag, legs hastening after the hobbling blond. It wasn't difficult; even at what he insisted was a "fast walk" Naruto still moved painfully slow and she caught up with him easily.
"Why did you do that?"
"Don't like cheaters."
Without another word, the broken shinobi limped away, favoring his prosthetic leg.