Disclaimer: I don't own anything.
Warning: Complete list of warnings and notes at the prologue chapter :)
A/N: I've received lots of favorable reviews for this one, so thank you! I hope that people are still reading my fics?
It was a name of an organization that terrorized the whole continent of Fire. There were no available data about the members, the organization, their goal, their abilities. Those who managed to see a glimpse of the organization's members disappeared quickly from the living world. Only fearful whispers about the elite group of fighters who honed extraordinary skills reached the headquarters of each country.
At first, the countries suspected SYNCHRONI to come from Konoha, since Konoha has long been hailed as the place where the best ninjas dwell. The suspicion was easily squashed when the group raided the most important temple of Konoha a few months ago.
It was a group that moved beneath the shadows, manipulating everything into its hands. The darkness served as its ally; the scent of power is its guide. Everyone is plagued by seemingly-random attacks of SYNCHRONI.
Nobody knew if SYNCHRONI was an abbreviation for the members' names, if it was an anagram, if it was an ancient word that represented the group. Nobody knew if there were only nine members, or if they were a part of a larger syndicate, or worse, a country. Nobody knew if they were an ally of Konoha, or of Oto, or of any group. Nobody knew anything about the organization.
It was completely shrouded with mystery.
Nobody knew what they were after, but Tsunade knew, that as Fifth Hokage, it was her duty to protect Konoha from SYNCHRONI.
The Godaime clenched her fists as the top brass of Konoha were called for an emergency strategy meeting. It didn't take long for the Council to assemble; it has just been a few minutes since the news of the Lightning Country's loss of half its military power to an attack by SYNCHRONI.
A battered scroll was spread on the table, unfolded and containing crease-marks from where Tsunade held it.
Konoha is next.
Myriad of Emotions
Part Two: March of SYNCHRONI
The faint beeping of the machines was the only sound that trickled into the silent room. Doctor Uchiha Sasuke stifled a yawn; the rhythmical sound was gently lulling him to sleep. He stared at the blond test subject who was still inside the cylindrical container, still asleep, still oblivious to the chaos raging on outside.
The news of the attack on Lightning Country shook everyone's morale—coupled with the unveiled threat of Konoha being next on the sights of SYNCHRONI.
Sasuke wondered how Naruto would feel once he was given clearance to leave the container. The records state that Naruto went out of his cage once before, but he was treated as a fearsome demon. It couldn't be helped, Sasuke knew, but still—
The beeping sounds stopped.
Sasuke's shoulders stiffened, and he slowly lifted his eyes away from the mountains of paperwork and the glare of the computer screens.
Naruto was still in his frozen sleep, bubbles still floated in the cylinder, providing only enough to keep the Kyuubi host alive, but not giving anything more than that. As a scientist, Sasuke understood that, as a fighter, Sasuke still understood that. But there was something sad about the blond teenager being locked up in such an uncomfortable container, in such narrow space, held in such a tight leash.
The beeping sounds returned after the short pause.
There was Orochimaru and Otogakure, and then there was the threat of the mysterious military force, SYNCHRONI.
The main priest of Konoha's major temple was killed by that outrageous attack that demolished the landmark. Everyone feared SYNCHRONI. Everyone hated the war, yet everyone's lives were shaped by it—Sasuke knew that it would be impossible for people to imagine a life without this cycle of fighting.
Maybe SYNCHRONI will bring that much-needed jolt that would push people away from this endless cycle. Maybe SYNCHRONI would make everyone unite in fear. Maybe SYNCHRONI will give everyone the long-lost reason for fighting.
Sasuke swallowed as he graphed various tests to be done for his specimen tomorrow. Today, they tried inserting chakra electrodes to Naruto's navel and injected jolts of wind-based chakra. Even just the lowest dosage elicited an intense chakra reaction: small spheres of chakra began concentrated on the blond's fists. Sasuke immediately injected the stabilizer then, because he knew that there would be trouble if the sudden chakra surge broke the cylinder and woke Naruto up prematurely.
In a way, Sasuke pitied Naruto. The blond might be the one savior everyone is waiting for, praying for, but he will never be perceived as a hero, as a human being. He will always be seen as a demon, with demonic powers, as a fearsome being that would bring deaths to the enemies.
Sasuke's hands shook as he thought about his specimen. It was wrong—researchers were not supposed to empathize with their test subjects, because it will blur their objectivity, restrict the tests they want to do. But even so—even if he was entrusted with the research that took his brother's time and life…!
Uchiha Sasuke, principal research investigator of project: KYUUBI, wrote down a project proposal for Tsunade to wake Uzumaki Naruto up and let him participate –in the real world?- in some physical exercises.
It was strange.
Sasuke somehow expected Naruto to be more cheerful, more alive, when he went out of his prison. But now, while doing some training with the computers' battle simulations, Naruto still looked like that fragile, lifeless doll stuck inside the cylinder. He punched the air in time to the attacks from the computer, he kicked when he needed to, but aside from the small bead of sweat, and the slightly-labored breathing, and the obvious movement—it was like Naruto was simply a robot.
"Will this really help in controlling the Kyuubi?"
Tsunade silently asked the question, but Sasuke knew what the true content of the question is—He's not going to go on a rampage, is he?
"Exposure to the outside world is important too," Sasuke replied in a very business-like voice, despite the fact that he knew his reasoning isn't that clear-cut, "since the battles are held outside."
"You didn't put any stabilizers or suppressors on him," Tsunade still sounded worried. Tired too, and it was obvious with the slight dip of her shoulders, with the wrinkles in her eyes. Sasuke couldn't blame her—it's been years since she took on the position of Godaime Hokage; it's been years since the war started.
Sasuke hesitated for a brief moment before he firmly answered his boss. "It will interfere with the data."
Tsunade patted him gently on the shoulder, "You're kinder than Uchiha Itachi."
"It will be helpful if he had some trainers," Sasuke commented after seeing the rough sets of movements that Naruto made. "Great power or not, he is not invincible. He'll need to learn actual techniques."
The Godaime sighed. "You're aware that nobody would be willing to practice with the Kyuubi vessel, right?"
"He was a genin, right? Before—"before you captured him and locked him up.
Tsunade averted her eyes away from Sasuke's searching stare, away from the sight of the training Naruto. "His memories have been completely wiped clean. It seems everything, including previous battle instructions, previous fighting experiences were wiped out."
But it was for the betterment of Konoha, of the other countries, and in this time of war, what does one kid's life and memories matter, compared to thousands of suffering people?
"My good genes are restricted to only books and experiments," Sasuke said, "I will not be able to provide ample fighting experience for Uzumaki-san."
Tsunade lifted her gaze away from the floor and focused it on the lead researcher. Sasuke didn't flinch, didn't fidget.
With a tired sigh, Tsunade commanded Sasuke to continue the tests and submit the report later.
Sasuke stared at the spot his boss left, before he tried to remove any traces of guilt as he added another battle simulation for Naruto to clear.
When there was a rush of orders and footsteps the following day, Sasuke wasn't surprised. Wartime has brought Sasuke a sense of hyperawareness, so he was expecting an attack like this.
The first defense line was completely defeated, and the soldiers were unable to identify the affiliation of the enemy.
What surprised Sasuke was the set of orders that enabled Uzumaki Naruto to go to the borders of Konoha, where the attack took place. Naruto was given the assignment of eliminating all the enemies in the perimeter. Sasuke knew and understood desperation—but sending an inexperienced fighter to the frontlines, without any preparation, without any assurances that he wouldn't go to a rampage like what happened years ago—
"Uchiha Sasuke, you are to accompany the Kyuubi vessel to make sure he stays under control."
Naruto didn't even twitch with those orders. He simply bowed his head in acceptance and walked out of the room.
"Where are you going?" Sasuke asked once they were far from the office filled with the higher-ups, slightly confused that Naruto was heading back to the laboratory. "I thought you didn't use any weapons—"
Naruto stopped in front of the door leading to Sasuke's office. "You need my suppressors, right?"
It was only those simple words, but Sasuke felt his heart clench in a mixture of guilt and pity.
Even with the emotionless look that graced the vessel's form, Sasuke thought that he has never seen something look so broken and beautiful.
Naruto fought without any trace of finesse or technique, even as he started shooting chakra waves towards the enemy, even as he threw punches backed-up with his impure chakra. There wasn't any pattern to his movement, making him unpredictable, but to more experienced fighters, such naïveté in fighting style have tons of weaknesses.
The only predictability in his actions was that, after defeating each enemy, he would search out Sasuke with his eyes, as though reassuring himself that he wasn't fighting alone. Sasuke knew that he should feel a bit irritated at such ridiculous notion, but he couldn't summon even the slightest bit of annoyance. Instead, he just felt mildly comforted by the fact that the secret weapon of Konoha isn't a lifeless, soulless demon god that the people feared.
Observing the lightly-charred ground, Sasuke thanked the fact that the attack relied mostly on quantity and not quality—tons of bombs were apparently thrown into the area using long-range catapults, before waves of genin-level soldiers took advantage of the chaotic surroundings and stormed into the defense lines.
The researcher jotted down notes on Naruto's performance and chakra levels, since he was basically asked to make sure that the values didn't fluctuate to dangerous levels. Sasuke realized that the more immense leakage of the Kyuubi's could be expected at times when Naruto was distressed or cornered, and such small-fry would be unable to trigger that.
With that thought in mind, Sasuke immersed himself at taking Naruto's data, easily ignoring the weight of the transmitter clipped in his collar, unaware of the wildly-grinning assassin who already had a gun trained at the back of his head, unaware of the rare expression of shock on Naruto's handsome face.
Sasuke was jolted out of his concentration with the sight of that look of surprise and urgency, but before he could properly turn around—
"…Is it really a good idea to send out a researcher to the field?"
"But we need someone to keep tabs on that demon god—"
"We already sent them. So far so good—"
Tsunade crossed her arms across her ample chest, eyes narrowed as she tried to assess the situation. There was immense damage to the landscape no thanks to the rain of explosives, but they managed to stop the advancing soldiers. There were no symbols on the intruders' uniforms, but the prisoners were already sent to the Intelligence Department for Ibiki to handle.
She had to send out a fresh batch of troops to replace the defense line now; she had to consult with Shikamaru for the most advantageous formation; she had to summon Katsuyu so that the hospital's burden would be lessened.
The transmitters planted on Uzumaki Naruto and Uchiha Sasuke remained normal, no spikes, no sudden changes—
There was a sudden whirring sound, and an unfamiliar shout, and—
Uzumaki Naruto's transmitter registered a sharp spike, which coincided with the rough-voiced cry of 'Sasuke!'
Tsunade's hands met with the desk in a firm clap to silence the sudden gasps and conversations that erupted in the conference room.
The Godaime's fingers shook slightly at the sight of the steadily-increasing chakra levels radiating from the vessel. "Shizune! Contact Sasuke immediately! He needs to calm him down—"
There was a sudden static, and both chakra pulses disappeared for a brief moment. It reappeared again after a few seconds, but—
"Tsunade-sama…!" Shizune's voice sounded anxious. "Uchiha Sasuke's chakra signature has…!"
Tsunade can only stare in horror at the blank meter for Sasuke's chakra.
"Another Uchiha has…!"
To Be Continued
I've noticed that a couple of people are saying that it's going to be better if Naruto is in Orochimaru's lab… however, I feel that it would make it too cliché? (As if this one isn't cliché already 8D) But thanks for the suggestions, anyway! –hugs- Besides, Ireally want to make a fanfic where Orochimaru chases after Naruto (actually, everybody here is chasing after him XD)… Anyhow, I hope you all enjoyed this, and I hope that you all would continue supporting me! :)
I also hope I can keep up this pace of updating? :D Hmm, I want to draw a doll!Naruto. SasuNaru interactions (as in, outside-the-lab ones XD) will be available next chapter!