Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto nor The Gamer. I own nothing, really.

Chapter 69

[Hiruzen Sarutobi]

"What have you done with Eiji, Orochimaru?" He asked, his tone holding none of its usual calm and collected nature. No, after all that had happened to his precious village and to the people in it, after all that was still happening around them, this was the last thing he wanted to deal with.

He'd wished it wasn't true, that his Anbu had been wrong somehow.

But they weren't.

When he had been told that Eiji had woken up he'd been elated. That joy died a quick death when the guard that he'd placed in the boy's room had added that he had Orochimaru's eye instead of his. That had brought up fears that he'd buried deep inside himself since the day Eiji had been Marked.

Now, Hiruzen had to sit there, watching the boy he'd trusted with his surrogate grandson lie on a bed, like he'd done for days already. He'd been forced to know that he was there, more scarred than some veterans already so soon in his career, for mistakes he'd made. Knowing that both major scars of his were because of Hiruzen's own oversights, both because of his former student, to add salt to the wound.

Furthermore, he now had to face Eiji, the boy he'd regularly visited, conversed and played with. Hiruzen had to look him in the face and see his only visible eye being Orochimaru's.

The Hokage had many failures in his past already, but it never got any easier to be confronted with one.

"Eiji needs help, Sarutobi."

Of all the things Hiruzen expected Orochimaru to tell him, that wasn't one of them. He was especially surprised that he'd been addressed as "Sarutobi" as opposed to the now usual mocking "Sensei" that his former student loved to insult him with. Shocked as he was with that though, it made him frown. Was that a trick or something else?

"I'm not Orochimaru, or his Shade," Whoever was possessing Eiji said. Hiruzen was pretty sure that this was his student though. It even sounded like him, which made for a terrible cover. That could be intentional though. "I'm Hachi, a construct that Eiji based on the Shade of Orochimaru left by the Mark. I was supposed to keep an eye on his Mindscape and the Shade itself."

Hiruzen blinked at that and turned to Inoichi, who had come for the interrogation, same as Ibiki.

"It… How did he do it?" Inoichi asked, clearly looking out of his depth. It would have been a telltale of a plot, if not for Eiji's knack for doing things that nobody else could.

"He willed a copy of the Shade and then placed as many safeguards on me as he could think of. He regularly goes over them and corrects or adds to them too," The being answered calmly. It was eerie, really, to hear Eiji's voice but knowing it wasn't him. "I'm incapable of going against Eiji, not that I would anyway. Shade and I are entirely too afraid of him to do anything."

"Forgive me if that sounds hard to believe," Hiruzen replied with a scowl.

"It wouldn't, if you had seen what we have. Ask the Yamanaka, although I'm sure he's reported to you the special kind of hell that awaits me or Shade should we try anything," The thing shot back instantly, clearly unimpressed with his distrust.

The reference to the Void as everyone that knew of it seemed to call it, made Hiruzen pause. It was true that he wasn't as impressed with it as everyone that had witnessed it seemed to be. However, after seeing its effects on Kabuto Yakushi, he could very well believe that it was something worthy of respect, at the very least.

He chanced another look towards both of his advisors on the matter, who kept their eyes firmly on Eiji's body. Inoichi gave a nod almost immediately, Ibiki soon followed, slower and much more reluctantly. At that, Hiruzen took a deep breath in.

"It sounds like you've been around for a while. Why didn't we know of you?" Hiruzen asked.

"Because Eiji has secrets, just like everyone else," Hachi replied, for once seeming to put his guard up. If Hiruzen and several others hadn't put Eiji through background check after background check and scrutinized his life as they had, maybe he'd have suspected that the boy was a spy. He might trust the boy, but Konoha always had to come first.

However, if that wasn't the case, then what did the boy want to hide from them? Or, maybe, it was just him trying to get some privacy when they'd had someone regularly entering his mind. Hiruzen couldn't even blame him that much if that was the case. He knew grown adult ninja that would have reacted much the same.

That wasn't the issue at hand now though, so he pushed that aside for the moment.

"So, you said Eiji needs help?" Hiruzen asked. Regardless of his wariness, this was one of his genin's life that was on the line. It was also someone he cared about and someone Naruto cared about. He could afford to see if this was truly as… Hachi said. That didn't mean that he wouldn't have Anbu guards around him again. This time, for a completely different reason.

"Yes, the three of us have several theories," Hachi started. Hiruzen was suddenly struck by the fact that he was including the Shade of Orochimaru in that. Or, maybe, it was another construct like himself. 'But… he did say that the Shade was too afraid too,' The Hokage noted. "The most likely, we think, is that the Hachibi chakra, the Cursed Seal and the… changes Eiji made to the Mark's effects, had an unexpected, very unpleasant consequence."

"What consequence would that be?" Hiruzen asked, his eyes narrowed.

"We believe," Hachi started answering, looking very unsure of what he was saying all of a sudden. "That it might have created a Chakra Beast."

[}-o-{]

[Eiji Satou]

"You think they'll find a way?"

"I don't know," Eiji replied with a grimace. His eyes were fixated on what could only be considered an eldritch abomination. The creature he was currently trying to contain in a mind-made forcefield didn't have any distinctive features, really. It's body changed shapes all the time, from what they had been able to see.

Sometimes, it would sprout tentacles, sometimes legs, sometimes arms with hands, sometimes it would be pincers and so on. Sometimes it wouldn't even have limbs, turning into an amalgamation of flesh, or bone, or shell, or all of the above at the same time. It didn't even seem to be able to decide which color it was supposed to be, to the point that, on occasions, Eiji wouldn't even be able to tell which it was or if it was even a real color in the first place.

It was an unnerving sight, to be sure, but the worst part was the sounds it made.

Gurgles, wails, chirps, cackles, roars and all manner of sonic based manifestations that shouldn't even come from a living being, or anything at all, really. The worst part was that Eiji couldn't ignore either its looks or its sounds, since he couldn't risk missing something from such a… being. The last thing he needed was for it to surprise him in any way.

"I sure hope they do though," Eiji muttered to himself, eyeing the twisting form of what they considered to be a new Chakra Beast. 'How the fuck did this happen? I remember something about the Hachibi being able to reform from a piece, but this isn't a Hachibi clone, damnit! I didn't even try to absorb this, was it because of proximity alone? Did the Curse Mark really screw me over in the end?'

It would have been almost funny, if that was the case. After all, just when he thought he had Orochimaru's stupid seal under control, it found a way to mess everything up for him. The Snake Contractor wouldn't let him have any peace, it seemed. Even when he wasn't around or even doing anything.

"So do I," Shade agreed with a nod and Eiji glanced towards him out of the corner of his eyes.

'I wonder about that,' The boy thought but didn't say. He'd made a desperate decision when he'd woken up in his Mindscape while it was being decimated by the Beast. He'd called on Hachi to help, even if it was just keeping an eye on things and reporting damages. Then, when it became obvious that even that wasn't enough, he'd let out Shade and hoped Mark's manifestation wouldn't screw him over.

He'd been that desperate.

So far though, Shade hadn't done anything that guaranteed sending him to the White Room or the Void. 'That I know of,' Eiji corrected himself, focusing back on the Beast. Still though, he could try and see if he was being screwed over later when he didn't have a Lovecraftian entity rampaging in his mind.

"It's preparing again," Shade warned him and Eiji cursed under his breath. Indeed, the creature was curling up, its mass pulling into itself until it was only half the size it had been. He'd made the mistake, back when it first happened, to think that it was losing power, that he was winning this weird battle of sorts.

He'd been wrong.

It was a theory that was proven wrong again and again, just like in that moment, as the creature unleashed all its power in one move. Eiji's defenses broke, shattered like thin glass and the rampage started once more. The boy staggered back for a moment, feeling like he'd just taken a sledgehammer to the skull, before stumbling forward and trying to get his defenses up.

It was why he could only try to contain it.

He'd never be able to do that, if his experiences so far were anything to go by.

"They are happening more often," Shade unnecessarily pointed out. Eiji really wanted to snap something at him, but he had to focus on the Beast. It wasn't like the Mark's manifestation was wrong either. It was just something that was worrying the Satou more and more as time passed. What was worse was that Eiji only had one way to try and fight back a little harder.

Give Shade power in the Mindscape.

A risky move, to say the least, but he was feeling the effects of the Beast's damage in his Mindscape. He was feeling sluggish, he reacted slower, he forgot things more often and he struggled to remember even more. He just couldn't repair damage as fast as the Beast destroyed, and if it continued throwing its overpowered tantrums more and more, then his chances of even keeping his mind were slim.

He needed an edge and Shade could be that.

The problem was that Eiji didn't trust him. At all.

He'd have to risk it though, just as he'd risked it sending Hachi out to look for help and inform the outside of what was going on in his Mindscape. Even more frustrating than not having any idea of how that was going was that he didn't even know how the Invasion had ended. He wasn't even sure what was going on while he was awake back then.

When he'd been unable to maintain Wit's End on Killer B, even with the increased regeneration that he'd gotten, the man had made quick work of both Gaara and Eiji himself. A moment later, the Kumo Jinchuriki had demanded he put A, the Raikage, his brother in the same Genjutsu. Why, Eiji had absolutely no idea, but he'd done so, because why wouldn't he? It couldn't make the situation worse. Or so he'd hoped, at least.

He'd used Mortal Reminder on the Kumo leader though, because he knew he was too weak to maintain the advanced form for any duration really. He hoped it would be enough, just before he passed out.

Next thing he knew, he was dealing with an aberration inside his own mind.

'I just can't catch a break, can I?' He thought as he managed to imprison the creature once more.

"This might take a while," He heard in his head.

"Hachi?" Eiji asked back, concentrating as much as he could considering the circumstances. They'd never spoken like that, but he didn't have it in him to question that.

"Yes. This might take a while, Eiji," His creation told him and he grimaced.

"So, last resort?"

"I'm afraid so," Hachi answered and Eiji could almost see a grimace on his face. "If it's any consolation, I don't think he'll backstab us."

"Shade," The Satou called out, breathing deeply to calm his nerves.

"Yes?"

"You are helping me with this," Eiji told him, concentrating on the permissions he was giving Shade. He lamented the fact that he couldn't place restrictions or make changes to him like he'd done with Hachi. "If I so much as suspect that you'll betray me, I'll throw you in the Void, even if this thing turns me into a vegetable," He warned, because no way he was just leaving it at that.

"Understandable, but I won't," Shade nodded, as if he'd been expecting that, which might have been the case. "And please, could you call me something other than Shade?" He asked, making Eiji blink, bemused by the request.

"Like what?" The boy shot back, because he had no time to think of a name, of all things. That, and he was sure that Shade had something in mind already.

"Kage," Was the response he got and he almost laughed. It was basically the same shit, wasn't it? Except that this one was more pretentious.

"Fine then, Kage, let's see if we can keep this thing under control between the two of us."

"Yes, let's," The formerly named Shade agreed easily, turning a determined gaze towards the Beast.

[}-o-{]

[Orochimaru]

How had this happened?

Looking around at his almost empty cell, he could only wonder about that, the whole time he was in his cell. All his plans had been perfect, just a few months before the Exams. Then, the Leaf had decided to get involved in the Mist's war and that had thrown all his plans out the window really quick.

At first, Orochimaru had thought little of it. The Bloody Mist could hardly be considered an inconvenience of any kind, too weakened by fighting itself for so long. What did it matter if Konoha got them to form an alliance after helping them?

However, that little change had brought Kumo and Iwa to the Chunnin Exams, and that wasn't good for this scheme. Orochimaru still thought his plans were salvageable though. Especially after the Cloud had decided to join his side. There was no lost love between the Sannin and them, but there was even less between Kumo and Konoha. And after offering to let them kidnap a few Bloodline carriers, they'd been set.

As for Iwa, it was supposed to be easy. A little manipulation here and there had seen Onoki's daughter crossing paths with the Ichibi Jinchuriki, and everyone knew that wouldn't end well for anyone. Except, the girl hadn't died. None of them had died.

That was fine though. Kumo had thrown its matches in the preliminaries, as they had agreed. Yugito Nii, infiltrated as one of the members of the Kumo team, even gave up before the fights began, taking off to do what she did best. Sabotage.

And sabotage she did. Exploding tags were spread over almost all of Konoha. Everything was going perfectly according to plan… or as perfect as it could.

Then, another problem surged.

Kabuto was captured.

Orochimaru had been confident though, that his spy wouldn't reveal anything. Except, he did. The Sannin realized that as soon as the Exams got delayed, or, at least, that's when he started suspecting that Kabuto had given in, for whatever reason. That was fine too though, the situation was still salvageable. There were many things that the Yakushi didn't know.

So, he'd expanded on his already altered plans. Used the time he was given to do a few more things, like calling for some reinforcements and gathering Rasa's body to use the Impure World Reincarnation on him too. There was no way that the other three Kage would stand a chance. It simply couldn't be done. Defeating the resurrected leaders was impossible without him consciously giving up and that would never happen.

However, once more, his plans failed.

His barrier fell and Killer B turned on them, closely followed by A himself. How had that happened? Orochimaru had no clue, but he refused to believe it was something that Eiji Satou had done. There was no way a genin, even one that had caught the eye of the Snake Sannin himself, would have such a jutsu…

Was there?...

That's what Orochimaru had been wondering ever since. Most of the things that had gone wrong could be attributed to him. Many of those only through speculation, but still… Once, could be coincidence, but more than that and it guaranteed suspicion.

The Mist was out, Eiji didn't have that much of an influence, least of all back then. And that also took out the presence of Kumo and Iwa. However, young Kurotsuchi's survival was definitely his fault, that much Orochimaru had confirmed. Kabuto's capture could be his doing too, but that was only a maybe, only because he'd been the one to interact with the Yakushi the most.

He could even be involved in his spy's surrendering of information. After all, if he could turn Killer B and A of all people, who was to say that he couldn't do the same with Kabuto. And that also brought the last point too, the way he had made Orochimaru's allies turn against him.

Possible vessel or not, Eiji Satou had made an enemy of Orochimaru. For that alone, he would pay, dearly.

He blinked when the metal door of his cell opened. Surely they didn't expect more interrogation/torture to work. Little Anko had tried, poor girl, but only got laughed at. Same as everyone else. Pitiful attempts, really.

How had Kabuto broken under these people? The boy might not have been as good as Orochimaru himself, but surely he could endure this much, right? Even the Yamanaka weren't all that for a mind that had been trained against them specifically. So-

The Sannin's thought process was interrupted as something unexpected happened. Through the door came a bunch of people, instead of the usual only interrogator. That alone wasn't too surprising though. No, the shock came from the one that was being pushed in on a wheelchair.

"Well well, don't look so well, do you, Eiji-kun?" He mocked with a nasty grin that by itself irked more than one person. He personally found it highly amusing that a smile could set people off. Most of them could be so very… stupid, honestly.

The assessment was true though. Not only did he have to be pushed around, but the carrier of one of his Cursed Seals had bandages all over his body, the most notorious patch covering his right eye. Even more so, the boy was slumped against the wheelchair as if even sitting required too much effort from him and the paleness of his skin certainly pointed that way too. He didn't even have his eyes open.

Orochimaru almost thought he was sleeping.

"Hm," The boy hummed. "At least I'm not in a cage like a rat, am I?" Eiji shot back at him without even opening his eye, taking the Sannin off guard. That was his eye.

For a split second, Orochimaru almost thought that his seal had taken over the boy. However, that couldn't be it. Konoha wouldn't let something like that happen and least of all take that person to his cell. The Sannin's eyes moved towards Morino, who stationed himself on one side of the door after leaving Eiji sitting in front of the prisoner. On the other side of the door stood the Yamanaka Clan Head.

"Is this some kind of trick?" Orochimaru asked with a raised eyebrow, unimpressed.

"I wish," Eiji replied lazily. "Unfortunately, it isn't. So, I'll need you to tell me everything you know about the Cursed Seal."

"And I'll just tell you, right?" Orochimaru mocked with a chuckle. "I'm very disappointed, Eiji-kun. I thought you would be better at interrogation after being taught by my student."

"I'm not Eiji and I'm also much better at getting information than you think. After all, Kabuto sang like a bird, did you know?" So it had been Eiji's doing. Why did he say he wasn't himself when it was so utterly obvious though. "You can call me Hachi, that's the name I was given and I like it."

"Sure thing, Hachi-kun," Orochimaru replied with a patronizing smile.

"So, I assume you aren't going to comply with us the easy way, huh?" The boy looked almost… bored with that realization. "A shame really. After spending so much time and effort trying to escape death, you just give up like that. I'm very disappointed, Orochimaru," He added, giving him a grin that he knew very well. His smile, the same one he'd just put on for Eiji.

Or what he thought was Eiji.

This couldn't be him though. Those eyes, that expression… those words. How could he possibly know what his goal was. Nobody knew that he had been trying to find immortality all that time. Everyone thought he just wanted power, jutsu and nothing else. So, how…

"Are you… me?"

"No. I'm not you. Never you. I'm pretty close though. After all, I'm a product of you putting the Cursed Seal on Eiji," The… thing answered, his grin growing wider. "So, thanks for that, even if my existence wasn't all sunshine and rainbows."

"I created you and you just… Turn against me?" The Sannin accused through narrowed eyes.

"You didn't create me," The being, Hachi, denied instantly. "Eiji did. What you created was Shade. Though let me tell you, I have it on good authority that he'd turn against you too. He's not too happy that you left him at Eiji's mercy."

Orochimaru blinked, for once not understanding anything of what someone was telling him. What did this Hachi mean with that? For that matter, what was this… thing even trying to tell him. What point was he trying to make?

"Anyway, we've chatted long enough. I feel tired and I really can't be bothered with more of this. Let's stop beating around the bush," Hachi mused, almost as if he was talking to himself. Then, slowly, almost as if it required a huge effort on his part, his hands rose and started going through hand seals.

"It's cute, that you think any jutsu you have will make me talk," Orochimaru told him, more curious than afraid. What could he have done to break Kabuto? Now the Sannin wanted to know.

That is, until the technique was applied.

'Is this what death is like? Is that what he was talking about?' Those questions plagued Orochimaru's mind as he floated senselessly in… nothing.

He'd meditated before, in his attempts to harness Senjutsu. It was actually a lot about letting go of one's senses and focusing on the energy around one. Thus, Orochimaru thought he had a pretty good idea about how not feeling anything would feel like.

He had no idea what it would feel like.

What the Genjutsu, as he had quickly found out, did much worse than whatever he may have experienced before.

First, because it was forceful. Meditation was a conscious action. This, however, was someone else taking away his senses from him in a single moment.

And second, as a conscious action, meditation could be stopped pretty much at any moment. This, however, he couldn't break out of. It was the most horrifying thing, really. Genjutsu was supposed to be breakable, especially those not coming from a Sharingan user.

But there Orochimaru was, unable to dissipate it.

Unable to escape the hell that demon had put him in.

'Is this what death is like?' His mind repeated, sounding distant, muddled.

Was it his mind at all?

Was there even a voice to begin with?

There was nothing, after all.

'So… in the end, I… failed?'

And he had.

Death had touched him in the end.

[} Chapter End {]

Hey guys! How's it going?

So, a few explanations to things that people might have been curious about regarding the Invasion and so on. I hope they at least cleared some doubts and that there aren't too many holes in there.

I made Orochimaru's experience with the Void quite short in text, I know. That's because I did a lengthy one with Kabuto and I didn't want to just repeat stuff written a bit differently. I hope that was the right call.

For the longest time, I didn't know if I wanted to go the way I did regarding the Hachibi chakra and the Beast and such. I decided to do it, even if I'm very nervous about the whole thing. Hopefully, you guys will like it.

I've also, obviously, decided to go for it with the Third Person PoV with Eiji too, I hope people aren't too upset about that.

Discord Link: discord .gg/UTDransjJZ

As always, if you can't wait until next week for next chapter, there's up to three new chapters in my Pa tre on:

P a treon . com (slash) AdrianKing

Random Question: I might have asked this before, but I think it's an ok question to repeat, actually. Do you have a favorite part, chapter or scene in this story? Which is it?

See you.