Disclaimer: Yet again, just in case, I don't own anyone but Tomoko and her family. Everything else Naruto-related belongs to Masashi Kishimoto.
The themes include (1) Resallin's piano cover of Rage Awakened — Origin from Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep, (2) the track titled Geranium from Washio Sumi is a Hero, and (3) Brave Shine by Aimer from Ufotable's adaptation of Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works. Battles are going full-force in this chapter, after all.
A warm shout out to the user under the name "Spirit Seer", as their review helped me get the inspiration I needed to keep writing after a year and a half of a few bad things in personal life and COVID.
Enough from me. Please enjoy the updated story!
Chapter 56: Rage Awakened
Hikari ran as fast as she could. She couldn't let go of her spear nor her daughter, but every step she took through her familiar home felt monitored. Heavy. Anxious. Dire.
Every step she took felt wrong when she was supposed to be home.
It was hard to put it into words when even after getting away, she felt like she was leaving someone to die. In her own home. In her daughter's room. Sure, Jim was capable as a former ninja. Sure, he knew Judai before things went to hell. Sure, he could probably kill people with his bare hands because he was a former shinobi. But, with that ANBU and how he snuck past Judai's seals that should have protected them all—
Tomoko-chan had barely twitched once she had fallen into Hikari's arms, her breathing light enough to be a ghost's against Hikari's skin as she ran. This should've been a safe place. Nagareboshi Café was supposed to be a safe place. Tomoko-chan should've been safe in her own room. Tomoko's room was a place that Judai and Hikari had poured blood and tears over years before, trying to decide on a wallpaper color when Hikari was still pregnant with the girl.
It was all supposed to be a safe place.
Her daughter was not supposed to be left drugged and unconscious for anyone to steal her away.
What is this village coming to? Why is this happening?
Hikari would have thought that karma had come to bite her, had she not known better. Hokage-sama, in all of his bullshit, should have prevented this. He should've been protecting the children, not go about leaving them in risky situations.
Where was the help—
There was an explosion and Hikari did her best to duck, cradling Tomoko-chan against her chest as she raised her spear. The metal glint in the moonlight was barely any kind of comfort in the face of total darkness and rubble that made up the new hole in the nearby wall, and Hikari did her best to block out the noise of shattering glass as a picture frame fell.
"Shit," Hikari cursed. "Not again. Where the hell do you fuckers keep—"
"You will not get away." Another ANBU, this time not even giving Hikari the chance to quip. The animal mask made them look all the more foreboding, even if it was a different design from the first bastard that entered the house, and Hikari did her best to breathe past the sudden lump forming in her throat. Ninja wire. They were preparing ninja wire. Where was Jim? Wasn't he— "You have something that we want."
"Like HELL are you taking my daughter away!" Hikari raised her spear, but there was no denying the killing intent layering the area. "Don't you dare call her a thing!"
"Foolish woman," the ANBU said curtly, making a vague motion that looked like they were shaking their head as they took a step forward, but through the mask, it was hard to tell. The autotuned voice made the atmosphere feel all the more sickening. "That girl's powers are needed for the greater good of the village."
Powers? What powers? Hikari thought angrily for a moment. It was the least she could give herself before something got spilled. Hopefully the blood of the person opposing her and no one else's, as morbid as the idea was. You're the ones being shitstains in claiming the greater good by destroying my house!
"Being selfish will not help you." The spool of ninja wire in the ANBU's hands glinted forebodingly in the moonlight as they took a stance. "Now surrender quietly or we will take both of you by force. Sacrifices will be made."
Sweat slowly dripped down Hikari's neck as she swallowed hard. Haggle. She had to haggle, bargain, something. Something to buy time. Kushina and O'Brien — they had to be around. They had to be somewhere and Hikari had to buy time for them to get here because there just wasn't enough of it to go around. "…Whose orders did you follow to get here? The Third should've said that we were off limits."
"The Third Hokage is not ideal for Konoha," the ANBU said without hesitation, and Hikari felt something in her freeze. Who was this person? "He is too soft to lead us out of the war, and the village deserves better. You are preventing us from achieving that better."
Hikari grit her teeth. "…That 'better' involves taking my daughter?"
"Who is too powerful for her own good." The ANBU shook their head slowly, the slightest indication of a frown in their voice. "Let her go if you want to live."
Even if Hikari knew her heart was going to stop in the next few minutes, there was one thing that would never change in the face of anything. "No."
Family meant staying together.
"So be it. Do not say I didn't warn you." The ANBU charged, and Hikari raised her spear in retaliation.
Never again will I let my daughter suffer.
Rin felt the bindings of rope before she could open her eyes. It was chafing, painful, and oh so intrusive. There were various mutterings around her, some of which she couldn't make out from what apparently was a kind of verbal code, and then when she blinked, she realized she couldn't see.
Something was covering her eyes. Why did it feel so rough? Where were her hands?
"Subject is stable."
"What about the Beast?"
Rin was expecting the ominous voices from Konoha's intel and that one "Talk," but the content of their conversations around her did not stop her from thinking a small, Oh no.
"As planned, the Three Tails should rampage in the village as soon as the subject is in possession of it. We should be ready to begin the Sealing Process soon."
Rin could feel the horror start to flood her veins before she could realize she was holding her breath. Yet again, she wished for this to be a dream. That she wasn't tied up, left to the mercy of whoever was out there because Madara Uchiha apparently had plans for her and her friends.
"Starting the process now, sir."
"Make sure to gag the subject so they don't let the others know what is going on."
Thick, dirty rope akin to the kinds that were keeping her bound was suddenly shoved into her mouth, and Rin didn't have time to think about it (or the foul taste, ugh) once a hand was aggressively tearing at the hem of her shirt. In spite of the fear, Rin was grateful for her eyes being covered because she screamed with all the rage and indignation she could muster into the rope digging into her lips once a rough palm laid flat against her belly button. The searing hot pain against her stomach was in no way welcomed, even if it was expected, and she knew she didn't want to see what the strangers were doing to her.
The last thing she heard before falling unconscious from all the pain was the roar of a primal beast. She wasn't sure if it was from the reality outside or what was coming into her body.
"Earth Style: Mud Wall!"
Kakashi didn't flinch once a giant fireball collided with the Jutsu-created shield, and once fragments started flying, Pakkun and Bull were already jumping past him, growls echoing in the air as their jaws both opened at the same time.
"Do whatever you need to!" Kakashi called after them, nodding to the rest of the pack once they passed each other. The dogs didn't have to do anything but nod, teeth in full view just before they bit down on the unfortunate bastard in full range. The opposing nin let out a bellow of pain, falling back into the forest foliage just in time for two more to replace him, and by then, Kakashi was just annoyed. His Mud Wall wasn't lasting long either under fire, so… "Coming in whenever you feel like it—"
The new enemies gave him very wide and disturbing grins.
"GET THE FUCK OUT!"
Kakashi knew that he meant every single bit of venom in those words.
It took a moment for Judai to realize he was close to vomiting. Poking around one of Danzo's apparent old bases for any sign of trouble was one thing. Dust, bits of sand and gravel, the faint scent of poison — it all made him want to sneeze and just go bathe in an ice cold shower. But this—
Sakumo's hands were shaking as he held up the very dusty papers that made Judai this way, but his eyes were scanning their contents faster than Judai could formulate words. "H-He was planning something. With the children. A-And knowing him, he's probably still working on it from wherever he is."
Judai didn't have to read what was in Sakumo's hands to catch a glimpse of that one damning picture that started it all. A glimpse of spiky silver hair and warm blue eyes pointed towards a masked face was all it took to make him want to vomit. Someone had been watching his family, and had been doing so for years. And Judai didn't even know about it. "Pinch me and tell me this isn't real," Judai said immediately, shaking his head. For once, in all of his years alive, he wanted to go to a corner and hide. Look away and pretend that everything was alright, that this wasn't happening. But no matter what he wanted— "Tell me I didn't see my baby girl's face in those documents you're holding, Sakumo."
Reality never went the same way as a fairy tale claimed it would.
"Judai, I—" Sakumo's face still looked apologetic in spite of the pinched lines on his cheekbones. "I'm sorry. I can't. K-Kakashi's here too."
Judai already knew by Sakumo's words that he meant them. It didn't stop Judai from biting the inside of his cheek hard enough to draw blood. It tasted sour in his mouth. "Fuck this. Fuck them, fuck this, fuck all of this. We need to get back home, Sakumo."
"If he was planning this much, how do you think he'll react to my baby girl being at home without us?" It was basically offering his only family to the enemy on a fucking silver platter.
Before Sakumo could put in another word, red alarms blared above them and a snake loudly hissed, accompanied by so much smoke.
Somehow, the traps in the room they were in involved summon animals. And the number of reptiles in front of them did not look friendly in the slightest. Judai just closed his eyes, kneeled down, and spread out an old scroll to pull out a sickle.
"OUT OF THE WAY!"
"Stay back! We're armed!"
"Dunno how armed you'll be when the great Killer Bee can kick your asses!" The tanned man added while standing across from them with A cracking his knuckles. "Start walking out the door or I'll slam you into the floor!"
"Bee," A said with tired-everlasting patience, eyebrow twitching, "that first part wasn't a rhyme."
"Oh! Damn! I'll have to write that down later…"
Obito was steadily getting a headache. Or a migraine. He wasn't sure anymore. Just, oi. What was it with the enemy deciding to sing of all things? Weren't they at war? What made the forest clearing a stage to begin with? "Sensei," he started wearily, ignoring the urge to detach his Wayfinder from his arm.
Even without breaking his stance of holding one of his Shushin Kunai, Minato humored Obito with a tinier, "What?"
"Think we could kill these guys and head back home?"
"I don't think they'll make it easy for us, Obito," Minato-sensei said, but the light twitch of his lips conveyed everything else. "Can you be my backup?"
"I'm gonna need another one of your kunais, Sensei," Obito mumbled in return, but he still kept his eyes on the prize. Sensei knew what to do, even if octopi legs and the like surrounded them. Ew. Obito was seriously tempted to ban takoyaki from his life thanks to their opponents. "And then we need to get ramen when we get home. I can pay for half."
"Ey oh, what's with all the gloomy talk, yo! Just say ho!" The octopus guy was still rapping in front of them, making hand signs that Obito couldn't make sense of, but he was grinning with those irritating sunglasses on his nose. "Can't we just kill each other and get along?"
"Bee," one of the opposing nin said tiredly in Ay's favor, ever patiently raising a hand in the air while loosening the grip they had on a kunai, "that also didn't rhyme."
"Damn it! Maybe I should look into enka…"
Obito simply channeled his chakra (just like Kushina-nee recommended) into the Wayfinder at where his real arm was to create that other arm, making the necessary yet familiar handsigns with it while holding back a sigh. The phantom pains were merely tingles in the back of his brain now. "I want miso ramen when we get back, Sensei." With that request said, he took a breath.
Fire Style: Grand Fireball Jutsu!
Right now, he just wanted something to explode rather than deal with this mockery of music.
"Why would I work for you? For all I know, you're suspicious and I need to get home." The former Zetsu was crossing his arms, but at this point, Madara would take anything. If he couldn't get the original — said copies were faulty?
But 'home,' the clone said. Well, that was just odd.
"You have something I want." Not yet, but soon enough. If you can steal the Sharingan for me— "Join me, Uchiha Obito." The words came out of his mouth almost like a script, dry against Madara's shriveled throat, but he persisted, tapping his sickle of a cane against the cave floor. "This reality is unmistakably hell." After all, Hashirama was dead. The shinobi world hadn't changed since his prime. Nothing in this life had really proven the world to be worth fighting for. "But with you, we can sever the fate of the world together. It doesn't have to stay hell."
"I'm not interested," the not-Obito said immediately, quirking one disbelieving eyebrow at Madara. "Where's Rin and Bakashi?"
Hm. Maybe the reset worked too well. If not for his already aching limbs and the chakra he was siphoning from the Gedo statue behind him, Madara might've started growing a migraine. Instead, he said, "Why would you want to go back to them?"
"They forgot you, Obito. They replaced you. Why would you want to go back to them?"
"Wh—" the not-Zetsu-like Obito was starting to stare at Madara like he was a ghost, eyes wide and disbelieving. "You're lying. You have to be — even if you're my ancestor, you're still an old geezer! There's no way Bakashi or Rin could forget about me! Where are they?!"
Madara felt a small smile form on his wrinkled lips. Finally, something was working. "How about you try moving outside for me to show you?"
The original could attract the clone, couldn't he?
Everything felt foggy. I could've sworn that the last time I was awake, I was fighting something… or someone? I couldn't tell anymore. All I knew was that my limbs felt like jello and someone was carrying me. But who? Was it Mama?
Large hands were under my knees and back, something was vaguely soaking my pajamas, my eyes couldn't open — what was going on?
"—and over the girl now. We can let you live if you do."
"N-No way in all hell, you bitches. O-Over my dead body!"
Mommy? Why does she sound hurt? Is this warmth… her blood? Hisako?
Strangely, my Nobody didn't have any answers for me. What was going on? Where was Hisako? What was happening?
"Then die like the useless piece of space you are."
Even with my vision gone, I could feel the metal of my Wayfinder still clasped in my hand. I had to do something. I couldn't see anything, but Mama — Mommy was in trouble.
I'm not a ninja like Kakashi and everyone else, but if I can do one thing—
My veins were screaming by the time I moved my hand forward, Wayfinder stuck between my fingers. I didn't even have a clue if I was channeling enough of the bullshit that was chakra through my skin to generate the blade. But I had to try. For my family. For the people I could still be with now—
Get away from Mommy!
The next thing I knew, I could hear the clanging of metal and also feel the spill of what was unmistakably blood onto my clothes because of how thick it was. The revolting stench of iron was hard to ignore too. Ew.
Did I get lucky in my amateur sword strike? Or did I hit someone else? I couldn't tell.
"Kushina, wha— you took too long!"
Kushina-nee? Mama… what about Mama?!
My eyes stung enough to nearly burn for some reason, my pajamas were definitely ruined, and I couldn't move my arm. Someone was gripping it, tight enough to hurt, but I could hear a hum of something almost mechanical.
"Wh— why a key? How could a key hurt— When could Judai's daughter produce something like this—"
That was all I heard before I passed out again into the uncaring void. Damn drugs.
Author's Notes: I couldn't finish this chapter until now because of my real life family being my Achilles' Heel. Since my last update, my aunt Di Thuy, the unintentional inspiration behind Hikari herself, passed away from what was apparently cervical cancer in May 2020, right before I could graduate with my bachelor's degree, and now with this update, I'm facing my maternal grandfather passing in 6 months from kidney failure of all things.
If anything, I'm only here thanks to the support of friends and kind readers like all those who left reviews in the year and a half I went offline on this story.
All I can say is, Tomoko's not dead. Things are going to work out. I'm going to try to make things work out too. Sure, I'm in different fandoms now if people have seen my works for Fate/stay night and Fate/Grand Order, but I'm alive. Doing my best to try being happy now.
Dedicated to Aqui and Alex, friends who stuck with me thick and thin. And as of this posting (10/12/2021), it's Alex's birthday. I hope this is a good enough present for you, beloved friend.
It's good to be back.