The Unfallen Strike
"Burning lance of red destiny
Shatters the heavens, touches the sky
Smoke and terror trace our limbs in a foul caress
and despair gives a howl of victory as light itself dies"
- The Lance of Heaven, fragemented poem, Collapse Era, author unknown
"Teme, when even I think an idea is completely stupid, you should just go ahead and realize its really stupid" - Naruto to Sasuke
To the Five Shadows and the esteemed High Daimyos, gathered high priests, and others;
The report we have been tasked with creating is now done. We appreciate deeply the work performed by the Shinobi Union, particularly the efforts of the Hyuga and Dasanto volunteers, and of the Hoksuka diver corps.
Gathering this information has taken more time and effort than expected, and we are grateful for your patience and forbearance. That being said, our research has indeed proved useful, and while it has raised more questions than it has answered, our course is at least now quite clear.
As suspected, the device known as the Ama no Hoku is indeed dangerous. How dangerous, and how much impact it has had on our very existence, however, was shocking. I know many, including the representatives of the Temples, may take exception to our findings. Thus, we have included rubbings and other copies of what lead us to these conclusions, as well as the best overview that we can provide.
It is our sincere hope you will be able to utilize this information to determine our next course as a people, as nations, as humans - as the stakes are even higher than we originally thought.
History and myth have a way of twisting each other through the long lens of many years, especially when records are passed down verbally and through song or rote memorization rather than being recorded in documents.
Little enough was known about the so-called Dawn Nations, those ancient precursors of so long ago. Myth states many wondrous, almost silly achievements – machines that could fly among the stars, computers so advanced that they could think on their own, cities that reached into the very vault of heaven to challenge the gods.
Scouts who have ventured far from the Elemental Continent over the sea return telling only of horror and waste. Of lands blackened and torn, of the skeletal remains of cities turned into ancient crumbling charnel houses. The lands are sick and will not bring forth life – no chakra swirls over these ruined shores. Even fish and birds will never approach these lands.
Of the four landmasses of our world, three are blackened, poisoned ruins, choked with the detritus of a war that seemingly ended the world. Indeed, our own landmass is not free of such ruin – some have a believe that the odd shape of the Kanshii Ocean is actually the impact of some giant explosion, and that the sundered channel of the Kazuko Sea is another.
That is a terrifying possibility, one that brings to mind the sheer power of the Dawn People – and horror at what they have done to our world.
Myth tells us the survivors fled here. Once, if our understanding of weather is correct, this land would have been buried in snow and ice, much as the frozen lands of the north are. The myths state that the war that broke the world sundered the weather, turning all into hellish deserts – reports that match what the scouts have found.
The civilization that arose in the wake of these wars was, for a time, at peace. Much of what technology we have remaining was the legacy of these refugees, and we can only glimpse at how much we lost. We know that the world once held staggering resources that were almost entirely used up.
There is not enough coal or oil to recreate the mighty legacy we once held. Iron we have in abundance, but simple things such as copper and quartz, aluminum and lead – these we have not found. If any such deposits remain, they are beyond our technology – and chakra techniques – to reach. The survivors thus abandoned much of their technology slowly, gracefully falling from their heights.
The lands of Rain are dotted and indeed dominated with ancient cities of that time, built in remembrance or perhaps mockery of the cities of old, reaching for the sky. It is known that the survivors reached the land that would be the nations first at the ruins of an ancient city in Wind Country, then moved north towards the ruins of Tani on the outskirts of what is today Tanikagure, before settling for some time in Rain Country and then spreading in all directions.
The myths and stories tell us that as the technology failed, strife arose. Intermixed into this were the old tales and legends of 'gods' and the like.
Until recently, such fantastical stories, and myths of the Sage of Six Paths, were all we knew of the past. While certainly morally troubling in some fashions, the research of Orochimaru into the true history of our world, and his interest in ancient ruins, spurred much investment by Lord Hokage as peace finally settled across the land.
Every historical document we have found thus far has been examined, as have Orochimaru's records, and many conflicting myths and stories. But the most critical of the finds was discovered recently in a small cave outside the Hole near Tonika Village – documents carefully recorded by those who survived the ancient war of the Dawn Nations, and did not trust myth and song to record the horrible truths they had learned.
We have, per the Hokage's instruction, attempted to form some kind of coherent timeline from the information we have gathered, but this is secondary to the true nature of what we have uncovered. While the Hokage has already moved six divisions of the Danketsu gādo-ryoku to the Hole and the remains of the machine, the warnings of our ancestors – those who had survived a war that ruined an entire planet – should not be discounted when they claim what they unleashed was worse than hellfire.
The Dawn Nations Fall
Very few details can be ascertained, even with all of the research we have, about the Dawn Nations. There have been some attempts at using various clone jutsu combined with blood seals to create scouts that can survive in the Black Lands that cover the rest of the world, but the lingering death-fire – what the ancients called 'radiation' – is too strong to survive for long.
Some pieces can be put together. The Dawn Nations were not numerous, the world had been combined into power blocs – two, perhaps three in total. They had long centuries of peace, but as resources dwindled and pollution increased, tribulations arose.
When famines and horrifying diseases swept through the lands, the nations went to war. The savage nature of such a conflict – and what it has done to our world – are visceral indeed when read in the ancient words of our surviving ancestors:
"The Unity of People [translation unclear] against the danger of the Holy United Lands of the Son, their immoral 'God' notwithstanding. The war that resulted was [untranslatable] and was fought with all the horrors of technology – artificial intelligences and drone(?) armies, [metal-in-flesh?] war-golems and mass combat, and when other means failed, spears of nuclear [meaning unclear?] fire.
The disaster that swept over the land broke the nations, but it took almost a century for the survivors to realize all was lost. Radiation swept the globe in [untranslatable, something akin to a river of air?] and millions sickened and died.
Terrraforming(?) of the arctic region was a drastic act that we knew would doom the rest of the world to slow, painful death. The additional blast [untranslatable] was carefully redirected and as expected, combined with [untranslatable] modifications to the hue of the moss, global temperatures rose rapidly.
Thank the holy fathers that the Vaults of the Forbidden will be drowned in a mile of water, that the military bases and [untranslatable] will be buried in tons of sea mud. We have erected force shields using the last of the [untranslatable] – they will no doubt falter in mere centuries, but by then the fallout (?) should be clear of the atmosphere. We have moved as many mixed [something about races?] to the evacuation ships even as the riots rise, and almost as many to the [moon lands?] colony.
They come. The ships are away, safe, even as the seas rise and the militia howl for our blood. We have doomed the world … we have saved humanity. Take this record and remember our folly."
From our understanding, the ancients somehow changed the nature of weather to make what we now call our home habitable, at the cost of raising the temperatures over the rest of the world to such a degree that they were unlivable. This again matches with our scout reports – even as little as five hundred miles south of Kiko Island, temperatures were unbearably hot without the air jutsu for cooling.
The idea that the sea rose – thus covering many of the coastal and more likely developed areas of the Ancients – is intriguing and disturbing. Why would they be so glad to flood these places? What treasure and secrets might be recovered? Kiri shinobi are confident with proper seals and jutsu we could descend to the ocean depths to find out, but the Hokage has suggested such things might be unwise.
The Old Empire and the Collapse
The refugees who arrived in what we now call the Elemental Nations were apparently not from one nation, but several, and there was a rather high amount of tension. Archaeological expeditions at the ruins of their ancient landing sites in what is now Wind Country found the rusted, decayed hulls of hundreds of ships, many showing signs of partial dis-assembly. It appears that the survivors cannibalized their ships for building materials and technology.
The ancient city was built in a similar if less grandiose style to the megaplex at Tani and the towering constructions of Rain, but it appears as if the majority of the city was given over to a large series of heavily reinforced bunkers containing strange machinery that is so rusted and scavenged that we can no longer determine its function. It appears that this culture still had significant resources and technology and that most records were kept electronically and were thus lost when their command of technology and resources faltered, but some records were inscribed in books with highly resistant paper.
That these books have survived at all is mostly due to the dry climate of Wind Country, but they are still in poor condition – and provide an incomplete picture still offering many puzzles. What is known is the refugees attempted to live in peace for several decades, slowly migrating north in search of better farmland and cooler temperatures as the events their ancestors wrought to change the weather made the south hot and inhospitable.
An empire was eventually hammered together, although details are scant – traces of the peculiar globe-in-wings symbol have been found as far west as Mountain Country and ruined installations as far east as the Land of Vegetables. The empire attempted to bring stability, but was racked by internal troubles, political infighting and failing technology.
Without supplies of petroleum (which apparently ran a great deal of their technology), copper (necessary for power transmission, no doubt) and other more poorly understood resources, their technology began to fail. Building up the sort of industrial power-base they must have had before the Fall was impossible in such a short period of time with no real resources.
While we have some technological advances today – refrigeration, electricity, computers, telecommunications – it remains our belief that our limited use of these things is only possible because of the many abilities chakra gives us. Power generation is almost entirely handled by fuinjutsu arrays gathering lightning chakra, and in areas from transportation to medicine we remain much more primitive than our ancestors.
One thing is clear, however – they did not have access to chakra, and thus were utterly reliant on their technology. And as it failed, it left behind people who had no idea how to survive, much less thrive, without the support of such technology.
It was this lack of support that lead to the Empire fragmenting and then collapsing into brutal warfare, as factions within the Empire battled to control what few resources and working technology remained. The end result was merely death, the destruction of much of the remaining technology and infrastructure, and the shattering of the lands political landscape into fragments we still have not unified entirely to this day.
After the Collapse
The Collapse of the Old Empire was defined and demarcated by the loss of the last real technology base of the inhabitants, and a decent into a more primitive level of technology. Projectile weapons such as guns are of course known, but as there are no large-scale sources of magnesium manufacture of gunpowder was slow and the formula lost for many years.
Still, evidence remains from digs and ruins that primitive firearms dominated warfare for almost a hundred years after the Collapse, until there were literally no factories to make them or artesians with the knowledge to do so. Early power blocs formed in what is today Demon Country and Sky Country in the east, and in southern Fire Country and bits of Mist Country.
While there were other early nascent nations, these fell quickly between the warfare of the two larger groups. And as technology failed and guns gave way to sword, bow, and spear, both nations appear to have begun to look for alternative forms of power generation and technological prowess.
The land of Sky retained the most technological advances of the earlier eras, including the ability to manufacture many aircraft such as gliders, balloons, and even flying machines, although these were not longer able to fly due to lack of fuel. They began building a massive construction, a literal floating city, powered by some ancient device known as a 'reactor', but at some point that device failed, leaving them with no way to power their war machine.
Likewise, Demon Country began experimenting in several radical directions, although the details are unclear. Much of their work seems to have been focused around certain mathematical concepts that have vague resonances with modern fuin symbology, although none of these formulas produce anything in the modern day. Even so, the patterns are striking and evocative, although seal masters find them somehow disturbing to look upon.
At some point – well over three thousand years ago, by our best estimates – the war had become something of a stalemate, as food production continued to fall and the last bits of technology became inert. A few primitive power stations using wind and water power continued to function, the ruins they are today showing heavy fortifications around them.
With no real way to regain their technology and facing decreasing food yields, the old nations may have put aside hostility to find a new path to prosperity.
The Rise of Chakra
Conventional mythology states that the Gods, seeing mankind despair, sent down a portion of their power in the form of a magical God-Tree. This tree supposedly 'healed the land', allowing for food production to grow and easing weather patterns around the Elemental Nations. Eventually, as war restarted, one of the ruling members of the nations partook of the fruit of the tree – which was forbidden by the gods for mortals to eat – and became empowered with the ability to use chakra.
This goddess then bore children, one of which was the famous Sage of Six Paths, who taught mankind how to use chakra to replace their lost technology, in the hopes it would be used for peace.
Given the events witnessed by all not so long ago, when the Hokage and the Shinobi Alliance threw down the so-called 'Rabbit Goddess' in ruin, the myths of long ago seemed fairly accurate. However, further investigations show that it is very likely this fantasy story was actually put in place to cover up a more sinister – and potentially dangerous – truth.
That something like a God-Tree existed no one can doubt – enough ancient drawings and records of such a thing exist to confirm it was real. And yet the ancient writings do not attribute this to Kami, but to the hands of man.
Much of the accounts we now have come from the ruins of the Otorumo, the massive mountain complex just west of what is now Mimusa. This complex is believed to be where the God-Tree once stood, and was definitely the capital of one of the ancient nations.
The records here, badly preserved in scrolls or carved onto tablets, are hard to decipher, but provide key insights, albeit without context:
"The [annointed?] Family has spoken of the need to escape the jaws of failure that encircle our entire race. Truly, science has become a failed religion, with all hopes now pinned on energy fields that smack of magic. Yet what choices have we? The [untranslatable] field failed long ago, the reactors dead without more [untranslatable] fuel rods (?) – and we have not the facilities nor the [ghost rock?] to make more.
Our only hope is to attempt to use what bio-sciences (?) we have left to come up with an organic solution. The [untranslatable] and the algae modifications have worked well, although coral [untranslatable] means seawater temperatures are unlikely to be optimal. Already the vast crater from the [fallen star?] at [untranslatable] is filled with water.
Electricity we have for now, using tidal dams and waterwheels, but every day we lose more than we gain. Our computers have not worked for decades, we are reduced to scribbling in books and parchment. Our [untranslatable] is still functional for now, even though it is way past its warranty date. Sequencing [untranslatable] or even finding good (staffs of life? Ladders of life?) is going to be rather tricky when we're forced to rely on waterwheels for energy.
The other part of the project – the energy field – sounds like bad science fantasy. IF it works, though, combining it with the [tree of life?] might actually fix our problems...assuming the work of those idiots on the [moon?] colony is not just made up trash.
I should be thankful – the [moon?] colony reports their [places of food growth?] are failing. They've managed to piece together a craft they think that will survive [entering again?] but if they get the trajectory wrong they'll come down over what used to be the Holy Union. Given what was crawling around there that set the war off in the first place, that would be a death sentence.
What I wouldn't give for a single [sun power?] station."
Another excerpt speaks less generally:
"The [Divine?] Project is moving along slowly. The theory of those pale freaks from the [moon?] colony is sound enough, but no living thing would support growth to that size – did they just decide to ignore the inverse-square law or something?
No matter. If the [Doorway?] Project succeeds, the power from that might be enough to create a stabilization field around the plant. In theory. Assuming we can find the materials to rebuild [projector?] emitters again.
The [Doorway?] Project in and of itself is troubling. I understand the basics of dimensional fatigue theory, and the concept that [many places at once? Many states at once?] mechanics implies we should be able to access another … reality. But the resources being poured into the Hole are going to ruin us – the [Rainfall?] Collective has already mostly collapsed, refugees fleeing in all directions.
Some of the theories are also making a lot of possibly dangerous assumptions. On paper, the plan is simple enough. Tap into the [substrate? Bedrock?] level of [building block? Tiny block?] using a focused [untranslatable] [untranslatable], and you would get a kind of 'tunneling' effect.
Assuming the [foam of many possibilities?] doesn't collapse due to observational impact (and whoo boy, making sure that won't happen will be fun, won't it?) then you can tap into the energy [substrate?] at will, redirecting it as needed. But that assumes whatever energy we find will be what we're expecting.
If this other dimension or [untranslatable] has incomparable physical laws, though, what happens? This entire project could blow up in our faces, leaving us with almost no resources. And the Earth is ruined – the bauxite, aluminum, coal, oil, [ghost rock?], and other rare resources are simply gone. We used them up, and any that remain are so deep in the crust we can't get to them, especially since all we have now are shovels and steam, not [untranslatable]."
One final snippet was particularly intriguing:
"The [annointed?] Family and the survivors of the [moon?] colony are finally ready to proceed. The Device we've built is … impressive. It took the last of our [untranslatable] and having to dissasemble and repurpose the reactor from the [untranslatable], but that wasn't going to be making any more trips anyway.
There are enough fuel rods – in theory – to run the machine for several days. No telling what the [divine place of punishment?] is going to happen. The people from the Ōtsutsuki Institute claim the power of the Device should supercharge the framework we've built for the [cleansing tree?] and even dredge up minerals and nutrients from the ground, enhancing soil fertility.
Not sure I believe that, but we've got no other real choices. It's getting hotter every year, and now the southwest is slowly turning into a damned desert. If we don't do something the warming will turn this place into a wasteland, just like the rest of the planet, which would be utterly ironic.
They're powering up the Device now. Given how crazy powerful this mess is, the fact they used a sonic encryption activator is interesting."
Based on all information, we have deduced the following.
The survivors of the fall of the Dawn Nations fled to the lands we now inhabit, slowly losing much of their technology due to lack of resources and infighting. Some technological advancement of a much higher level was retained by a colony of people somehow living on the moon. At some point, warfare had ruined almost everything and the soil was failing, even as temperatures continued to rise.
A desperate gamble by all parties – the moon people and the nations of the survivors – lead to the creation of what we now call the Ama no Hoko. Its purpose was apparently to 'open' a way to another dimension, to draw energy from it and allow the creation of a massive biological construct to heal the damage to the environment and stabilize temperatures. We suspect this 'biological construct' was indeed the God-Tree.
Several references to the "Ōtsutsuki Institute" would seem to indicate they were the ones from the moon, while this Divine Family is much less understood.
What happened when they fired the Ama no Hoko was not what they expected. The below passage, recovered in the ruins of the Hole itself, speaks to that:
"The Project has … both succeeded and failed.
Whatever was on the other side of the doorway the [Spear of Heaven?] opened, it was not a place for humans. The energy radiating out from it was very nearly lethal, in a way our sensors can't even describe. And it emitted something like terror, or worse – almost fifty people died of heart attacks, and more have gone mad.
The vast bulk of the energy was … absorbed by the [Healing flower? God-Tree?] and it seems to be preforming as we hoped. Temperatures are down nine degrees already. But the damned thing is growing much larger than expected, and the root systems have ruined several of the bunkers.
The [Spear?] itself is … corrupted? The energies did something to it, and our best guess it that the machine is now trying to shift our reality into the one beyond the [doorway]. We've had to shut it down, and so far the [Healing Flower] is still going strong, so there is that.
The physicists are going crazy over the amount of energy released. It actually washed over the entire planet in a shockwave, and we're not sure of what that even entails. I worry this energy wave will have dire side effects, given the foul nature of what must be on the other side of that portal.
We've disassembled the activator for now, and the [Spear of Heaven?] is shut down. I worry that won't be enough, because something was trying to get through the [doorway?] we opened, and it probably wasn't benign in nature."
The Rise of the Rabbit Goddess, and recent events
Record-keeping became much more slipshod at this point, as the strain of building the Ama no Hoko appears to have bankrupted the nations. War broke out, destroying much of any surviving technological items that remained and sending technology levels back to the high iron age.
The God-Tree became a symbol of worship, as most people did not understand it had been created and empowered by strange energies. It eventually began bearing fruits, which had no seeds in them, but if planted were capable of reviving the soil and fertility of the Earth. It became traditional to never eat these but only to bury them as was intended, although how our ancestors knew this remains unexplained.
Well over a thousand years ago, as the wars became intense enough that even the God-Tree's neutral ground was threatened, the leader of one of the nations, a princess, decided she had to take actions into her own hands. Thus, she ate of the Fruit, and it changed her body, allowing her to utilize and generate chakra.
Medic-nins have told us that chakra coils and the Eight Gates means there was always chakra, but we have also seen that natural chakra is rapidly diminished by even light artificial constructions and logging of forests. Its possible mankind once was able to manipulate chakra in some fashion, and lost that power as technology reduced the amount of natural chakra present.
The gateway they opened seems to have brought forth a huge burst of what we would commonly call demonic chakra. Somehow, the God-Tree was able to 'filter' this, for lack of any better word, into natural charka. Indeed, the God-Tree spewed forth natural chakra all the time, creating a bubble of sorts that allowed life to flourish in the Elemental Nations.
Myth tells us that after the princess ate the fruit, she used her powers to subdue humanity and stop the wars, only to be defeated by her sons and imprisoned in the moon. The God-Tree itself was somehow connected to her, and was also 'banished'.
Yet, ultimately, that myth tells us almost nothing. The Hokage has told us that he battled a creature that meets the ancient description of the Rabbit Goddess, so it is very likely that some of the story is based on truth. But the source of the God-Tree's powers – and hence, our own chakra, is not that of the Gods.
It is of the poisonous, hateful energy drawn to us by the Ama no Hoko. A hateful, poisonous energy that sounds much like the aura of the bijuu.
It is our contention that the bijuu, the God-Tree, the Rabbit Princess, and even our own uses of chakra are all connected to the Ama no Hoko. That whatever tales the Sage of Six Paths thought up, it was to prevent us from tampering with the device again.
The Kage Summit Research Team Resolution
Its brief activation some time ago, by all accounts, was able to return chakra to the world. Yet the scientists who created the device shut it down and vowed never to use it again. How much of the truth was obscured, we may never know.
The Hokage is concerned that some future group may attempt to use the Ama no Hoko again one day – the fact that Orochimaru was attempting to utilize it is troubling, as are certain Akatsuki connections. But there are also other concerns.
The primary concerns are as follows:
Something resulted in the original war that destroyed the world. A number of cryptic references to "Vaults of the Forbidden", "Shattered Bearers of His Glory" and other strange names have been found in ancient ruins talking about one of the old pre-war nations. Whatever happened was extremely dangerous and more than one ruin speaks of the gladness that the Holy Lands of the Son were lost beneath the rising oceans. Whatever is so dangerous may still retain its danger
The world appears to be very slightly beginning to cool. It must be kept in mind that whatever the ancients did to alter the world was very artificial, and nature will attempt to restore its own balance over time. That means eventually the Elemental Nations may all resemble Glacier or Ice Country, or worse the endless fields of ice and death that lie beyond the Knife Edge mountains far north of Glacier. If that happens, sea levels would drop and we would be forced to possibly evacuate – into lands that cannot and will not support life.
The Ama no Hoko itself punched a hole in reality, and its brief reactivation was horrifying, as vile chakra covered the entire sky. Cryptic references would seem to indicate that Orochimaru was attempting to empower something else, what we suspect was the so-called 'Zero-Tailed Beast' found in the Land of Sky's floating city of Ancor Vantian. We can only imagine what would have happened if those two had been linked, but the fact remains that the Ama no Hoko is a chakra generator of nearly limitless power, the small fraction of which escaped created every one of the bijuu, the Rabbit Princess, and all modern chakra uses. If reactivated again, it might not destroy the world, but it would certainly cause problems, given that there is now no God-Tree to purify such chakra
Finally, and perhaps most disturbingly, is the concept that something was trying to 'get in' via the doorway the Ama no Hoko created. We know the bijuu are not malevolent by nature, but the very sinister nature and corrosive power of tailed beast chakra cannot be denied. Fractured evidence also points to the possibility that the creature inside the Box of Bliss was a denizen of the so-called 'other side' of the doorway. Given how titanically powerful that thing was, if anyting else came through the entire world would be threatened.
It is thus the recommendation of this research team that the Five Kage immediately and forthwith find methods to destroy the Ama no Hoko and invest heavily into researching methods to stabilize our environment. We have no idea what lies in store for us in the future, but we cannot afford to repeat – or outdo – the mistakes of our past.
A/N: If you are already familiar with my other work in the Mass Effect Universe, you may know I write up 'documentation' type stories to provide world-building and backstory. Given the absolutely ridiculous bullshit that comprises most of the ending of Shippuden, I have decided to rewrite history, so to speak, when I prepare the background for my eventual Naruto complete AU overhaul.
Given that my primary focus is on the Mass Effect universe now, don't expect rapid updates (or even slow ones) for some time.
The basis of this series of stories is investigations into the ancient history of the world of Naruto, and what kind of culture would produce the shinobi we see today, instead of less sneaky types. It attempts to dismiss both the ridiculously stretched thin mythical connections of the canon story while bringing in more disturbing and horrific sources for things.
Lines are blurred. Some aspects of this will borrow heavily from concepts you will find in SCP's and others from more obscure sources, but the ultimate goal is to make the Naruto universe a much darker place than canon, and to lay the groundwork for me to provide my own vision of Naruto much as I have done with Mass Effect.
Feedback is welcome!