So here we are. Final chapter. Before you read, there are some things that should be noted:
1) This is the last chapter of One Hit Ninja, but it is not the last you'll see of this story. This chapter of it is over, but the overarching enemies are still there.
2) The next installment of this series will likely be... quite a while away. I (hopefully) have a job coming up. Combined with school leaves me with very little time to write. If I were being paid to write it would be a different story, but I'm not.
But I'm very open to any and all proposals for that though. Seriously. Any thing you throw my way would be appreciated.
3) I have my own blog now with original (and some fanfiction) stories posted there. If enough people are interested, I can send out the link.
4) I have now. While not required, if you want to support me I would be more than happy to show my appreciation. I'm not sure what that is quite yet, probably a five-hundred mini-chapter of a subject of your choosing. The link for that will only be on my blog, though.
Thank you all again for your support all these years. I'll likely be back eventually. Probably before the year is over. But this is it for now. I love you all, and for the few of you who will choose to follow my new blog, I'll likely be interacting with you there.
Or a discord. I can make that too if you guys REALLY wanna keep in touch with me.
One Hit Ninja
The One Hit Ninja
Itachi flipped through hand seals so quickly that even his own Sharingan saw his hands as a blur. He ended in a horse seal just before taking breath so deep that his chest bulged outwards, becoming visible even on the outside of his baggy Akatsuki cloak.
"Fire Release: Great Destroyer Flame!" Itachi released his breath, but instead of air a stream of fire beat onto the ground. The instant it touched it, however, the fire exploded to a width that spanned several blocks of the Konoha thoroughfare. It burnt and demolished all in its path, before eventually fizzling out almost a mile away from the young man.
Itachi sincerely hoped that everyone had already evacuated.
He kept up the technique for just a few seconds— it was chakra intensive and only really suitable for use by the one who created it: Madara Uchiha. Still, nothing else had worked thus far. Itachi really needed something to work.
As the fire dissipated only scorched earth and the barest remains of house foundations remained. Fire flickered in dusty crevices and heat shimmers distorted the air. This part of Konoha would likely be evacuated for quite some time before anyone found a way to use it again.
And yet, somehow, Itachi knew that it wasn't enough.
His eyes quivered, quite unsure as to what they were seeing. From the ashes of the world came the Orange Nightmare. His clothes were singed, his skin patterned black with soot. But he was fine. No substantial damage had been incurred. If anything, the boy only seemed angrier.
Naruto didn't waste any time. His knees bent, and the world cried as he rocketed from his place several meters away from the Uchiha. Itachi didn't waste any time thinking about it, either. Last time he took a second to think in this fight he almost lost his head. No, the rogue Uchiha dodged to the side.
The orange warhead blitzed past him. The earth broke apart where he passed. Itachi grunted as the mere act of the boy missing created a shockwave that hit him like a train. Every nerve in his body screamed as he was battered away, and it was only years of training that allowed him to instinctually roll to absorb the momentum of the blow.
When he finally came to a stop he was several broken bones more wary. Red eyes cautiously looked to follow the blond.
Dull blue eyes stared back. Naruto stood at the end of a crater created by him. The devastation continued deep into the bedrock below in a straight line from where the boy started his attack to where he currently stood.
Itachi gaped. It was all he could do.
"Wh-what are you?" the man asked.
Naruto didn't bother with an answer. If he had, Itachi wasn't fast enough to catch it. The boy blurred from existence once again, and it was all Itachi could do to dodge the haymaker that almost smacked into his chest. The shockwave of that punch was much smaller, but it continued well past where his fist stopped.
I can't get hit, and I can't stay in the path of his punches either, Itachi thought. His Sharingan tracked every minute twitch of the boy's muscles. From that alone he predicted what Naruto was going to do next. It was that knowledge, and only that knowledge, that allowed him to dodge the next swing.
Itachi ducked this time. Naruto's swing went high. The shockwave carried on and broke off the top of the Hokage Monument. Itachi didn't bother to look back to gauge the damage. Every attack was lethal.
On Naruto's end things weren't as complicated. Where Itachi ducked and moved like a leaf in the wind, he held no such fancy inclination. Swing with left, straight with right. Attacks came simply and telegraphed, but with all the speed of a bullet. It was all Itachi could do to maintain the dance that spared his life.
Of course, the elder Uchiha retaliated. Jabs were returned in the spaces between Naruto's deadly strikes. Nothing ever mattered, however. The boy took the strikes as if they weren't even connecting, and soon enough Itachi had abandoned the endeavor. He focused on staying alive under the barrage of attacks that didn't slow even after a straight minute of throwing them.
Eventually the strain of constantly moving and predicting got to the young man. Itachi faltered, for just a second, and Naruto's punch connected with his chest. Instead of being blown into countless pieces of gore and viscera, however, the Uchiha exploded into crows.
Naruto watched them as they flapped their wings and cawed, most likely in an attempt to disorient him. He then reached forward, seemingly into thin air, and grabbed at nothing. The space he grabbed, which seemed to be empty, cracked under his hold. The blond then proceeded to squeeze, and reality itself seemed to fold. Eventually the world broke and fell away, and what remained was another world where Itachi was once again launching large amounts of flame at him.
Naruto stared as the fireballs rushed towards him. He didn't know any jutsu, but he knew how to punch things.
So he did.
Serious Series: Serious Punch.
Sasuke stumbled as the world shook. This was the third time that such a thing happened in the last five minutes, and each time it did Sasuke had to brace himself on all fours in an attempt to stay upright.
He hadn't succeeded the other times either.
Sakura at least had the ability to float, however shaky her psionic flight was at the moment. She wobbled in the air with each earthquake that shook the village, but she too fell to the ground when the gusts of air blew through the streets.
It seemed that Naruto was finally getting serious.
It was a terrifying thought.
"Having any luck waking them up?" Sasuke asked. Before him stood Kiba Inuzuka and Shino Aburame. They were both carrying a girl, Hinata and Aiko respectively, and they were both trying their level hardest to awaken the two girls.
They weren't having the best of luck.
"I don't understand how the hell they could remain asleep through all of this!" Kiba yelled. Houses crumbled under the ambient damage that was radiating outwards from the legendary fight happening in the middle of the village. Luckily everyone had already been evacuated towards the edges of the village, but from the way things were going, the entire village would have to be abandoned.
"I don't know about Hinata, but the Yamanaka was put under a Sharingan genjutsu. It's going to take a lot more than this to break her out of it." Sasuke walked over to the blond, enduring the minor quakes all the while. He pried open her eyes and stared into them. He tried activating his Sharingan to see into her soul, but the girl was too far gone. His Sharingan wasn't strong enough to pierce through to where she had retreated into.
"It's no use," he said, a deep frown joining his furrowed brow. "I can't undo the damage."
"Well, you're going to have to try!" Kiba snarled. "They're the only ones who can stop Naruto right now! If we don't stop him, he's going to destroy the whole village!"
"I don't see you doing anything productive!" Sasuke yelled back. "Unless you think that screaming in the poor girl's ear any more is going to do it!"
Throughout their arguments Shino turned to Sakura, something that the pink haired psychic immediately took note of. The two locked eyes, and an entire conversation took place in the span of three seconds. He shuffled the blue haired girl over to her and waited.
Sakura looked at the Hyuuga heiress. Face set into a grim determination, the psychic stared until she found something useful. With a nod, the Haruno allowed her psychic powers to activate once more. Her eyes went aglow with her ability, and her hair rose on the bed of her psionics.
Slowly, Sakura raised her hand.
When she brought it back down, there was a resounding smack that rang through the area. Everyone looked on in awe as Sakura repeatedly slapped her fellow kunoichi.
"Wake up, wake up, wake up, wake up!" Sakura chanted. "Wake up, wake up!"
"I… thought you were going to use your psychic powers…" Shino said quietly. Sakura spared him a second's consideration before going back to her assault.
"I am using my psychic powers," she responded. "I couldn't smack her hard enough without them. Wake the fuck up!"
This slapping continued for several more seconds before a calloused hand rose to stop her. Hinata was awake, and judging from the glare on her active Byakugan, she wasn't happy.
"I cannot properly express in words how infuriated I am right now."
"Oh good," Sakura said, either unaware or uncaring of the Hyuuga's bad mood. "Now that you're up, you can stop Naruto."
"I will turn your insides to paste."
"And while you're at it, see if you can get him to help fix the village?"
"I will use your hair to knit myself some nice pink gloves to use while I bury your body."
"Oh, can you wake up the Yamanaka too?"
"No one will find your unmarked grave."
"Excellent. While you do that, I'll try to limit the casualties." And like that, Sakura was off, floating on a wave of her own psychic power.
Hinata didn't even blink. She stumbled over to the Yamanaka and started analyzing her. Sasuke, Kiba and Shino stared at one another before shrugging.
They wouldn't question the logic of girls.
Itachi felt something inside of him break. The pain was sharp and obvious, blossoming somewhere in his chest, before creeping outwards like rainwater through cracks in the pavement. Naruto had landed a hit on him, had kept moving despite the genjutsu, and successfully backhanded him through a building.
The building collapsed around him and a hastily applied Substitution had him switch with a rock. He was out of danger from the broken house, but he was immediately in danger to something far worse.
Itachi bent backwards, and a rock— barely a pebble— zipped past where his head was. It continued to pierce everything in its path before breaking somewhere far off in the distance. That pebble was the only warning that Naruto gave before continuing their dance, and Itachi didn't bother to waste it. He was already flowing around a barrage of attacks that destroyed the very landscape with each "miss."
"Death is too good for you," Naruto said. His words weren't fevered or rushed. He spoke with a calm temperance that betrayed the ferocity of his blows. "Stop moving so I can kill you."
Itachi turned, keeping his eye on the boy. The Uzumaki's punch went far, and the ground behind him crumbled.
"I don't think I'll do that." Itachi then brought his hands together. He attempted to use a jutsu, but the boy didn't seem to want to allow him that luxury anymore. A flash in those blue eyes was all of the warning that he got before Naruto seemed to blur.
To blur to the eyes of the Sharingan was an impressive, and frightening, feat.
From the moment that the boy moved, Itachi knew that something was horribly wrong. The entire fight, from the very beginning, the boy seemed to be moving awkwardly. He never moved with much grace. No, his form was sloppy, and his moves were wasteful. But even then, something about his movements always seemed… stiff.
Itachi knew now that the boy was holding back.
A flurry of blows, so fast as to seem simultaneous, rained down on the Uchiha. His Sharingan registered them, but there was nothing that Itachi could do to stop them. He moved his legs, his arms, hell, he moved his eyelids, but nothing seemed to be enough.
The boy would eliminate him from the face of the earth, leaving not even a splattered smear to note his passing.
As the barrage of blows reached ever so nearer, there was only one thing that came to the poor Uchiha's mind.
Sasuke wasn't sure what Hinata Hyuuga did to the girl, but whatever it was involved a lot of staring, and even more ability enhanced slaps. He was sure that whatever it was that the girls were so fond of doing was, in fact, not a medical surety.
But the fact that it kept working meant that he couldn't call them out on it.
The Yamanaka's hand shot out and gripped Hinata's wrist before it could slap her with a Gentle Fist slap. Her eyes were droopy and her chest heaved with every breath, but she was awake.
"My mind was stuck in a trauma and chakra induced coma, and I could still feel your slaps," the blond said. Her eyes, as half-lidded as they were, managed to level a fierce glare on the Hyuuga. "I hope you know that this means death for you."
Whether Hinata gave no merit to the threats or simply did not care, she spoke her next words with a cheerful exuberance. "Oh good, you're up. I need your help in calming down Naruto."
"What?" Aiko asked. "Why is he upset?"
"He thought we were dead."
"He thought we were what?"
Sasuke cut in. "Yeah, this is nice and all, but there is currently a warhead destroying our city and we need nothing less than the combined power of the two of you to stop it. So, if you could stop the banter and save us that would be nice."
Sasuke's sarcasm was thick enough to be cut by a kunai, and he regretted using none of it. Still, the glare he received from both girls was downright venomous. He endured it for a few seconds without faltering, and the girls eventually relented. They turned from him with a huff and stared out towards where the wonton destruction was taking place.
"Well, it seems like we have to save the world… again."
"I always knew Little Naruto would be the death of me."
And the two were off, blurring away with the speed of a kunoichi. Sasuke watched them go.
Then he turned. He made his way towards the edge of the village where he knew that a hotel would be open. The owner was a mean money-mongerer and would take every chance to earn another buck.
He would take Sasuke's money and give him the rest he deserved.
Naruto was furious. It was a burning thing that consumed every inch of his body. It moved his fists to destroy, never mind the consequences, and he felt all too happy to oblige.
The earth crumbled, houses collapsed, and the sky was rent asunder with every attack that landed. And every attack landed, even if not on the delinquent in front of him. The terrain changed with every punch, forcing the Uchiha to constantly change his tactics on the fly.
And in the end, it still wasn't enough. The man somehow evaded all of his attacks and countered. His attacks were little more than butterfly kisses, but they were annoying nonetheless. Eventually Naruto got fed up and switched to being serious.
The Uchiha wasn't prepared. He was caught off guard and would finally die.
Then something happened. Purple chakra exploded from him, forming a literal giant suit of armor. It covered the man like some kind of giant mech, stopping Naruto's punch dead.
The armor cracked where his fist connected, but it was the fact that it survived that broke Naruto out of his frenzy.
"What?" Naruto asked. He pushed against the armor, but it continued to resist his fist.
"Th-this is Susanoo," Itachi said around desperate gasps of breath. Dark red, nearly black blood flowed from his eyes. "This is the Mangekyo Sharingan's ultimate technique. You can't break through."
Naruto wasn't so sure about that. Though the cracks in the armor were starting to mend, he was sure he could break it again. After finding purchase on the ground, he reared his fist back once more.
Itachi, apparently, didn't like that idea. Faster than he could blink, the Susanoo forged a spectral sword and swiped at him. Naruto's arm pivoted from cocked back to a block, and the sword hit him with all the force of a train. He was sent careening through several buildings, before finally coming to rest almost half a mile away.
Naruto pushed the debris off and stood. His clothing was ruined, but that was nothing new.
"Boy," the Fox growled. His voice was rough and curt, showing the irritation that was building the entire fight. "Take my power. The bastard needs to be destroyed."
"I can take care of that perfectly fine by myself."
"You can," the Fox said. "But you aren't. Just take my power and be done with the blight."
"In his eyes, you're probably the blight."
"Well, he's not the one on your side."
"And you are?"
The Fox remained silent.
"I'm not against you," he finally said. "That must count for something."
Naruto didn't reply. His knees bent. When they straightened, he was propelling through the air.
Itachi was not having a good day. The boy had broken his Susanoo— something that had never been done before. He had to break it out or die, and the strain on his eyes was almost too much. Still, it was necessary. He pulled himself and his construct out of the divot that the Uzumaki had punted him into, then looked around.
It was quiet. Far too quiet for a battlefield housing a living catastrophe. Itachi had maybe three more seconds of thought before the world exploded again.
An armored hand raised and caught the flying kick of the blond menace. The Susanoo arm cracked and broke, but most of the momentum of the attack had been absorbed. The boy landed the construct's shoulder and stared into the skeleton warrior's glowing eyes. He cocked a fist back.
Itachi wasn't letting another of those go off. His right eye bled, and black fire erupted on the boy's am.
Naruto didn't even look at it. He tore off the arm of his jacket and tossed it away. The sleeve burned to dust on the ground, but that was the extent of the damage from his attack. Still, it allowed a moment of hesitation, and in that moment Itachi brought his sword down on the boy once more. Naruto was cleaved into the ground, and for a moment Itachi dared to hope.
That hope died when his sword was slowly pushed from the crevice he had buried it in.
"Is this all you've got?" Naruto asked. "Because if it is, you are disappointing."
Itachi cursed underneath his breath. He taxed his already waning chakra reserves and reformed his Susanoo's arm. Now with two, he managed to push the sword down a bit more.
That progress was immediately nullified. Naruto didn't even bother to use another hand. He just used the one to continue to push his way out of the crevice.
"What are you?" Itachi screamed, his voice strained with the effort of trying to keep the boy down. Naruto turned his attention from the blade that even now couldn't pierce the skin of his hand, to the overworked Uchiha staring at him from within the translucent suit of armor.
"I'm Naruto Uzumaki," he said. He squeezed, ever so slightly, and the blade in his hand broke into shards. The shock of it overtaxed Itachi's already bleeding eyes, and the young man collapsed to the ground, his chakra fading around him.
The rogue Uchiha tried to return to his feet, but the fatigue had finally caught up to him. His arms gave out, sending him face first into the dirt.
Naruto stopped right before him. His face was as impassive as a blank wall. "It's over."
The Uchiha wondered if it was too late to mention that they were on the same side.
"You killed my friends."
Well, knocked out one and put the other in a genjutsu. Both were terrible choices on his part, but not nearly as bad as death. Still, he supposed that the boy didn't know that.
Naruto raised his arm, and Itachi could feel the death emanating from it.
"I'll try to make this quick."
Itachi could tell that he probably wouldn't feel a thing. Still, he closed his eyes. He was meant to die by Sasuke's hands but dying to a superior opponent wasn't a bad ending for a ninja either.
He heard the displacement of air as the boy's fist swung down on him. He prepared himself for death, but it surprisingly didn't come.
The earth was kicked up and gusts of wind almost blew him away. He opened his eyes to see the nightmare boy with his fist outstretched. His eyes were wide, however, as he stared down the blue haired girl that stood between them.
"H-Hinata?" he asked, and his voice was very clearly in awe. He took a look at his fist, then quickly retracted it as if it were the vilest of weapons.
"Yes, it's me, Naruto." Hinata spoke with a calm voice. She looked the monster in his eyes as she spoke. "I'm not dead."
Naruto trembled. His hand reached forward and cupped the Hyuuga's cheek. The girl put her hand over his, and the smile she gave as she leaned into the boy's touch was nothing short of angelic.
"Yes, I'm alive. You can stop destroying the village now."
From the look in Naruto's eyes, it almost worked. The impassive stare that hid so much rage under the surface had melted away to a tiny, almost imperceptible smile. He looked like he so desperately wanted to just hold her and walk away. Something popped up in his mind, however, as if something was whispering into his ear, and that rage was back.
He snarled, and his hand tore away from Hinata's cheek and shoved her aside. Hinata, being a ninja, didn't mind the roughhousing. She was confused by it though, if the frown was anything to go by.
"What's wrong?" she asked. She stepped in front again, and this time Naruto didn't move her.
"He killed Aiko."
The sheer rage on the boy's face seriously had Itachi considering just spilling the secret.
"Tch," Hinata sucked her teeth. "And?"
"She's my friend."
"So am I."
Those words seemed to spark something in Naruto. "Y-you are?"
And once again, the Hyuuga was confused. She looked to Naruto rubbed the boy's head as if he were a particularly slow puppy. "What? Of course I am. What kind of question is that?"
Naruto didn't say anything. His mouth hung open, but that's it.
"If anything, we're best friends. We used to spend every day together, didn't we?"
Naruto, once again, didn't say anything.
The girl huffed, then took the boy's hand. "We're best friends. Okay?"
Naruto nodded. "Okay."
"So let's go."
The Hyuuga huffed again. She puffed out her cheeks like an adorable balloon and turned away. "Not that it means anything, but she's fine too."
Itachi could see the change happen.
It was like ice water was poured down his back. It quelled the raging fires and stemmed his anger. A certain shine returned to his eyes, and it was like an oppressive aura had dissipated. The birds had started to chirp once more in their far-off groves and the sun seemed to shine brighter.
Hinata didn't look too happy at his relief, but she nodded anyway. "Yes. The Yamanaka is fine. The only reason she isn't here is because she just got out her coma and couldn't run as fast without being dizzy."
"Out of her what now?" Naruto asked. The oppressive aura was back, and the rogue Uchiha had tried his best to bury himself.
"Doesn't matter," Hinata replied. There was enough collateral damage. "She's fine, we're leaving. Let's go."
Not one to be needed to be told things twice, the boy followed his blue-haired friend faithfully.
"Wait," Itachi muttered. He had pulled himself up from the ground. He was posted on one knee and panting, but he was up. "That's it? You're done?"
Naruto turned around. He tilted his head and frowned. "Yeah. You didn't kill them so I guess it's okay. Don't cause any more trouble, okay?"
Itachi looked around. Destruction and decay littered every waking mile. Most of the demolition was from the boy in front of him, but Itachi didn't have guts to bring that up.
"O-okay," he said. "Then I'll just be… going now?"
Naruto nodded. He moved to turn around and leave the man.
Then a knife plunged through the Uchiha's chest.
"My my…" The voice drawled. It was a smooth timbre but entirely too smug. The words were pulled out long and taunting. "Looks like little Itachi couldn't quite pull off his job."
Something in Naruto froze. Chills ran up his spine in a way that had never happened before. Deep within him, in the part where his demon lay, something wicked and primal burned.
"This voice," the Fox said, its voice low and menacing. There was steel there, akin to a carefully honed blade, that told Naruto that the Fox was just a moment away from tearing away at all in its path. "I know this voice. I know this chakra! It is the tainted chakra of that Uchiha! It is the pupil of that man!"
Naruto's fists clenched. Anger that was not his own was pumping adrenaline into his body. He tried to hold back the emotions, but the Fox was feeling them all too strongly.
"That man! He is the one, boy! He is the one we must kill!"
"Calm down," Naruto muttered through grit teeth. He was strong enough to resist the chakra, but it was a labor when the Fox was this adamant. "We'll get him."
Meanwhile the two Uchiha were in a standoff. Itachi was far too tired to the masked man, but he refused to go down. "I always knew that you would betray me," Itachi said around the blood dripping from his mouth. "Dirty… traitor…"
The man chuckled, his spiral orange mask jostling with every move he made. "I would be a fool not to, Itachi. There aren't many who could oppose me, so it would only make sense that I dispose of the ones who could. No hard feelings, right?"
And without any posturing he used his foot to kick the exhausted Uchiha off of the black metal rod he shoved through his chest. Itachi fell in a crumpled heap to the floor, but not without shooting one last glare at the man behind him. A flash of red, and then black, and the Uchiha scion's eyes slowly drifted shut.
"So much potential," the masked man drawled. "Wasted in loyalty to such a disgusting village. Honestly, I'm glad about what you've done remodeling. 'Destroyed' is such a good look for the Hidden Leaf."
Naruto felt a spark of his own anger rise in his gut, but he held himself back. Hinata, however, didn't have that reluctance.
"Who are you?" the Hyuuga asked. The veins around her eyes bulged as she stared down the man in front of them. "What do you want?"
The man gasped and clutched at the black robe over where his heart would be. "Such venom from such a cute little princess. Almost makes me want to pluck your eyes right out."
Naruto didn't even blink. His hand shot out and caught the masked man's wrist. Hinata, not having seen the man move, stumbled backwards before tripping on her own feet. She scuttled back still before leaping back to her feet.
Naruto, however, hadn't moved. His hand squeezed on the masked man's wrist hard enough to crush diamonds, but the man didn't relent. He just stared into Naruto's eyes using his own red one that peeked through a hole in the spiral.
"My my," the man drawled. "Fast, aren't we?"
Naruto didn't respond. He started to squeeze harder.
"But are you fast enough?" the man asked. Though Naruto couldn't see it, he felt the man's sneer. The man casually pulled his hand out of Naruto's grip, his skin phasing through Naruto's own, before turning around. "You've saved your blue haired friend, and kudos to you on that, but have you saved your fellow blond?"
The dam burst. It didn't take a genius to figure out who the masked man was talking about. Vicious red chakra burst from the boy, flaring up like unholy golden flame.
"WHERE IS AIKO?"
If words alone could cow a person, that would be the quality of Naruto's voice. The people across all of the Land of Fire found an unspeakable pressure weighing down on them, forcing them to their knees.
"W-what?" Sasuke gasped. It was hard to even breathe.
Across from him, the other people in the hotel were either unconscious or well on their way.
The ground buckled underneath him, but he hadn't cared. Behind him Hinata was trying desperately to stay awake. From the looks of things, she was losing that battle.
The man in front of him— Tobi, if the Fox was correct— didn't seem to be affected at all, however. He stood, spine straight, as he stared down the embodiment of the apocalypse.
"Tsk tsk," he tutted, his playful demeanor still present. "That is for a later time!"
"NO." Naruto snarled. "IT IS FOR RIGHT NOW." And like that the boy was on him. A golden fist moved almost instantly through the air, igniting it before impacting Tobi's masked face. Like before, however, the man seemed to phase through it. The punch went wide…
… and everything in the way of it for several miles ceased to exist.
"Nuh uh!" Tobi chanted. "Your punches won't work on me!" He then proved his point by walking through Naruto, body and all. Naruto tried to grab at him, he did, but everything was ineffectual. "Even with the Nine-Tails' chakra, you're just throwing punches." He gestured out towards the destroyed village. "Devastating, to be sure, but not good enough. You're going to need to be so much stronger if you want to protect yourself from what I have coming for you!"
The man then bowed, to both Naruto's and the Fox's great anger.
"And you're going to have to be stronger if you want to get your little friend back. Caio for now, Little Naruto! And I'll see you in the next story of our lives!"
A vortex started to swirl, centering on the man's exposed eye. His body started to be sucked into it and Naruto, never one to let an opportunity slip away, threw a claw of chakra from the cloak that surrounded his body. It reached most of the way before being swatted away.
"I'm afraid not…" a gravelly voice said. "Your opponent is us."
"Oi, Oi! How much do you think his bounty is?"
Between Naruto and the masked man stood two more people in black and red cloaks. One was a hunchback with what seemed to be a plated tail coming from his back. The other seemed to have been stitched together with string.
"We'll meet again, Little Naruto!" the masked man chanted gleefully. "We'll meet again!"
And like that he was gone. The Fox roared.
"NO. HE CANNOT ESCAPE!"
But he already had. They both knew it. Naruto felt like crying. He couldn't follow the man through whatever portal he had escaped through. For the first time in a long time, he was powerless to do something.
A needle evaporated in the cloak of his corrosive chakra. Naruto looked up to see the hunchback with his hand extended.
"Did you forget about us?"
Naruto felt a wicked smile grow across his face.
"No," he said calmly. "I hadn't."
Sasuke wasn't sure what he was expecting when he came to Ground Zero of the fight. He was expecting carnage, blood and lots of dead Uchiha bits.
There was semi-dead Uchiha bleeding out near a crater, but the bits of person scattered around didn't belong to him. No, the bits of person seemed to be… almost doll-like?
"What… happened here?" the younger Uchiha asked. He carefully stepped over the surprisingly realistic parts to make it closer to where he saw the fading embers of a golden flame. He stopped just a few meters away from the boy and waited in silence for the flames to die out.
Never did it occur to him to ask what that ability was.
"I've never went out of my way to cause trouble," he said. Near his feet were the remains of two bodies. One was broken to pieces like many of the other dolls spread haphazardly around the place, but in its chest was a bloody mass of viscera. The other body seemed to be strips of unzipped skin. "I caused trouble, but never to anyone important. I always tried to be neutral."
Naruto turned, and Sasuke felt his heart clench when he saw the wetness in the boy's eyes.
"Why did they take her?"
Sasuke opened his mouth, but he found that he didn't have the right words to say. His jaw shut, and by the time he found the energy to open it again several minutes had passed.
"Naruto…" he started.
"Because they were monsters," Sakura said. She floated into the clearing with a 2x4 trapped in the throes of her psionics. "They're maniacs and insane criminals who want nothing but to watch the world burn." The psychic gestured around her. "If this isn't enough to show you how deranged they are, I'm not sure what more you need."
"They're not the kind to need reason," Hinata said. She walked up behind Naruto and before he could react, she wrapped her arms around the boy. "They do because they can, and no other reason."
"They're right bastards, if you ask me," Kiba snarled. Beside him, propping the real one onto his shoulder, was the Beast Mimicry Clone. The Kiba clone barked their assent.
"But their reasoning doesn't matter." Sasuke said. "What matters is what we do from now on. We have taken—" Hinata punched Sasuke in the shoulder. He winced and continued. "—you have taken down a monster today. That's a cause for celebration. And if you could do it once, you can do it again."
"And if you think Aiko's gonna die you're wrong!" Kiba yelled. "They're using her as bait. All we have to do is get stronger, hunt them down, and break her out, yeah?"
Naruto seemed to relax ever so slightly. He held out his arms, and it was apparent he was expecting the group hug.
The ones that weren't already hugging him suddenly seemed apprehensive.
"Uh… I gotta go back to fixing the village."
"I gotta get to the… vet…"
"My mom is calling me."
Their excuses were useless, however. Naruto was far too fast for them to escape. He caught them all and brought them into a hug before they could even blink.
They were, of course, wary of being hugged by a person who could single-handedly demolish the village, but after several seconds of them not being squished to death they calmed. Eventually they even started to hug back, and soon they were all hugging each other in silence.
It was a beautiful, heart-warming moment.
Then the Hokage walked in.
"What have you done to my village?"
And then it was a heart-stopping moment.