The Battle Rages On...
Chapter XXV: God's Judgment
Tails flew across the stage, kicking up a gust a wind as he surged towards the Akatsuki Leader, kunai in hand. He aimed for the eyes. Those eyes that stared deep into him, always hidden in the shadows until now, guiding the Akatsuki and being the source of every challenge Tails had faced. Light glinted off the blade as Tails slashed it through the air and dove in for the final battle with the Akatsuki.
A sword of pure black metal flashed out of Pein's sleeve. Blades clashed and Tails' kunai scraped along the length of Pein's sword. Even as Tails pumped his lightning chakra through his weapon, trying to break through, Pein did not budge. Crackling electricity danced along the surface of his sword. His violet eyes gave off a sinister gleam. With a sudden twist of the wrist, Pein knocked Tails' kunai out of his hand. Another blinding flash from Pein's black blade sliced into the fox's face.
With a sharp cry, Tails flew backwards and skidded back to the far end of the stage. A thin cut opened on his cheek with warm blood trickling down his face. Tails held up his hand to see the his white glove running red with blood. Something didn't feel right about that cut. The cut went deep - but something else was wrong. There was a strange tingling in his face that spread through his body, making him feel dizzy. His vision got blurry.
"What the...?" Everything went pitch black as Tails lost his balance and felt himself pulled deep into a black hole. At the center of the endless void was an enormous pair of purple eyes. Pein's eyes. They were staring right into him with a killing intent that hit him like a sledgehammer blow. The inner world where the Kyuubi was kept shuddered. Ripples formed in the shallow pools and the lights flickered sporadically.
"What is this? I don't like this chakra," Kyuubi snarled at the pounding of Pein's powers on his prison door. "I haven't felt such chakra since...No. This guy shouldn't possess such chakra. Snap out of it, Tails. Fight back!"
"Stop messing around with my brain!" Tails shouted as he released a rage filled burst of chakra. A ring of demonic flames forced Pein to leap back and keep his distance. That did the trick as Tails pulled himself out of the blackness. His vision returned from the void and he felt his feet tapping on solid ground again. Tails wobbled around the stage, his head swimming, finding balance difficult.
"Are you all right, Tails?" Kakashi asked, helping Tails regain balance.
Tails rubbed the side of his face. A dull numbness spread across his cheek where Pein cut him.
"That sword does weird things to a guy's chakra," he said.
"I see," Kakashi observed the blood dripping sword in Pein's hand. "That's a chakra disruption sword. A single cut will scramble your chakra coils, making them go berserk. Keep your distance. Think long range and surprise attacks."
"Kakashi-sensei, you're bleeding," Tails said, noting the numerous thin cuts all over his chest and arms.
"Oh, this? Just paper cuts. Pein's lovely assistant is one feisty little mare," Kakashi said, glancing towards the blue haired woman who surrounded herself with razor sharp paper shuriken fluttering about her. "Still haven't landed a scratch on her, though."
"They're strong opponents, aren't they?"
Kakashi nodded. "We're dealing with the masterminds of this organization. They won't be going easy on us."
Pein flicked away the few droplets of blood from the tip of his sword and slowly advanced towards Tails.
"Don't bother helping him, Hatake Kakashi," Pein warned. "Get in the way of my capture and you will suffer painfully."
"Before you attack, try to figure out what his powers are and look for any weak spots," Kakashi whispered in Tails' ear.
"He likes to talk about pain a lot. I think that's his main power."
"You want to see the powers of the Rinnegan? Very well. But know full well that the kind of pain you are brining upon yourselves and your world." A dense, dark chakra swirled in the palm of Pein's hand.
"Bansho Tennin!" (Heavenly Attraction of All Creation)
An unseen force seized hold of Kakashi's body. He fell to his knees and grabbed the side of his face. Kakashi's Sharingan eye bulged, then his eyeball burst out of his socket in a horrific shower of blood. Tails stood frozen in shock and terror as Kakashi's eyeball, its nerves still attached, sailed right past him into Pein's waiting hand. Kakashi collapsed to the floor. Blood flowed out of his empty eye socket and pooled around his body.
"Kakashi-sensei!" Tails screamed out, tears welling in his eyes as he ran over to his fallen sensei. From behind, Tails heard the wet squishing sound of Pein's footsteps across the blood soaked floor. Then, nothing. Pein's shadow was above him now. He could still feel that weird dense chakra roiling in the Leader's hand.
Pein discarded the eyeball and reached a bloodstained hand towards Tails. He paused mid-step. Something was wrong. Kakashi's blood sizzled and bubbled with electrical sparks. Kakashi's corpse emanated rays of bright incandescent blue. Tails had to shield his eyes, but Pein looked straight on and braced himself as Kakashi's body erupted with a crash of lightning and thunder.
"A lightning clone?" Pein swiped his arm and deflected the lightning blasts away until they dissipated into nothingness.
"Tails! Attack him now!" Kakashi shouted. The real one emerged from the shadows.
Wiping the tears from his eyes, Tails glanced to the floor, where he saw lying in the corner, a gun. Probably dropped in the fight. Relieved and renewed with energy knowing that his sensei was alive, Tails dashed across the stage, dodging a slashing arc from Pein's sword, and dove for the gun. He grabbed the pistol in his hands and fired at the Akatsuki Leader.
Pein didn't even try to dodge. He just waved his arm once.
The red hot bullets stopped just millimeter's from Pein's face and reversed directions. They zipped back They struck Kakashi in both arms. Burning pain radiated down his arms and Kakashi slumped down against the wall. Blood came pouring down his arms. Tails tried to fire off another set of rounds, but another slash of Pein's sword knocked the gun out of his hand, shattering it into pieces.
"No lightning clone this time, I see," Pein said as he turned to Kakashi who laid in the corner wall prone, bleeding profusely. "You cannot hide from pain for long."
"So now I know what it's like to get shot," Kakashi said, rather nonchalantly. "It had to happen sooner or later."
"I'll get you help, Kakashi-sensei," Tails said. "I swear I won't let Pein kill anybody because of me."
"Never mind that now, Tails. Watch his movements closely," Kakashi said, in between short breaths, burning pain radiating down his arms and legs. "Focus on his movements. He destroyed that gun quickly. And he didn't use his force pushing ability to do it. Why not?"
"It could mean his telekinesis works on a time interval."
Pein narrowed his eyes as they spoke. Two genius ninjas deducing his powers was a disadvantage.
"Pein, if this keeps up, they'll figure you out quickly," Konan whispered.
Pein nodded to the blue haired woman. A kunai floated from the floor up into Pein's hand, its tip angled at Kakashi's head.
"That's enough out of you, Kakashi," Pein said. "It is time to end your pain and for you to face the cold, empty silence of eternity's embrace."
The kunai flung from Pein's hand and flew towards Kakashi's head.
Tails flew in and caught the tip of the kunai in between his fingers, just an inch before it could bury itself in between Kakashi's eyes.
"If you're going to throw these things, then throw them at me!" Tails shouted, his voice echoed across the vast arena. "It's time we settled this. Just the two of us."
The thinnest ghost of a smile appeared around Pein's mouth. It creeped Tails out.
"When demons rise up from Hell," Pein said, "God in his his righteous judgment will cast them back into the Pit. Wouldn't you agree, Kyuubi?"
Tails shrugged a shoulder. "I don't really know. I'm not sure that you're God, though."
"Then tonight you will learn that I am God through pain. You are young. You have yet to experience true pain. Nor can you comprehend what it means to stand before God. Tonight, you and everyone on Mobius will come to learn both, Kyuubi no Kitsune."
"Don't call me that anymore," Tails said as he tossed the kunai aside. "He told me his true name. It's Kurama."
"That's Kyuubi's real name. All the bijuu have names. Didn't you know any of that when you sealed them up? Shukaku, Matatabi, Isobu, Son Goku, Kokuo, Saiken, Chomai? Recognize any of those names? You murdered their hosts and sealed their souls inside a dark prison. They're all screaming inside there, trying to get out."
"Don't mind their pain. Their Jinchuuriki hosts are long dead. What remains are just chakra constructs. That's what you will become. You are an instrument of my plans for peace, a vessel to spread the light of God throughout the universe. Why should I care about your name?"
"Because," Tails clenched one fist, shaking it in rage, "even if you somehow beat me and if you seal my soul away forever, I'm gonna tell you my name. And everyone in the world will hear it. And then, they will all rise up to defy you, no matter what kind of God you think you are. And we'll fight till the very end with everything we've got, so you'll just have to shove this era of peace of yours right up your ass!"
Kurama started to laugh. "Kit...I'm touched about what you said. You're really fired up about this aren't you?"
"Sure I am," Tails wore a devilish smile now on his face and a gleam in his eyes. "This is it, isn't it? The Leader finally showed himself. This is the last battle with Akatsuki."
"So. This world would rather follow the bloodthirsty whims of a demon over my godly world of peace," Pein looked down at Tails, never once blinking. "Mobius truly is a corrupt world in need of a savior to show them the way of peace."
"You're not the first power mad tyrants who called himself a god and decided to take over the world. We've heard it all before," Tails said.
"Kyuubi promised to remove all pain from you, didn't he? Becoming the demon vessel has clouded you to the painful realities of the world."
"No it didn't," Tails shot back. "It only made all the more aware how Mobius needs someone to protect them. Kurama didn't promise to remove all the pain. He taught me how to fight it!"
Pein raised an eyebrow. "So you think you know pain? I think not. I suffered far more pain than you could ever imagine when I was your age, and I still learned more about true pain. It is an endless never ending spiral of despair. You will see what I mean when I show this world the true face of pain."
Pein spread his arms wide out. An invisible, but dense chakra gathered in his hands and radiated outward. Tails felt the weight of the power pushing him down, but he forced himself to stand strong.
"I'm going to give you a taste of true pain now. We have always performed this technique in utmost secrecy. Now will be the first time we reveal it to the world."
Pein slammed his hand into the ground. A circular pattern of shimmering mystical runes extended from his fingers across the stage floor.
"And you'll be too busy screaming to even remember your own name," Pein finished as the summoning circle erupted into light.
"Kuchiyose no Jutsu! Gedo Mazo!" (Summoning: Demonic Statue of the Outer Path)
Tails heard the Kyuubi's nose flare up in anger, laced with fear. "Shit! He's actually summoning that thing right here? Right now? Tails, we need to get the Hell out of here now!"
Tails felt a cold sweat run down his face. His eyeballs were shaking in his head. When Kyuubi got scared, it was time to run, but Tails' legs felt petrified in the face of the dreaded evil that was about to come.
A ring of dark, purple fire set the floor ablaze. The ground cracked open as Pein summoned a new creature from the shadowy flames. Looming over the little fox was an enormous statue of a monstrous humanoid, made of warped and twisted wood, covered in spiky protrusions. Its arms and mouth were bound in shackles. The statue looked old, older than the world itself. Tails worried about the shifting, creaking chains, that if even one chain were to snap, whatever horror was contained inside would break free. He sensed something stirring inside, a demonic presence imprisoned for eons. Something so absolutely evil, even the Kyuubi felt intimidated by the aura of pure malice that radiated through the statue.
"Kurama...what's in that thing?" Tails asked, his lip quivering.
"A demon. Nothing like me and the other bijuu. You think you get crap from people about destroying the world? That's nothing compared to what's locked away in the bowels of that statue. Don't worry. I don't think Akatsuki plans to actually free that thing. Not yet, at least."
"And the seven bijuu are locked away in there...with something else? Wow...that's a lot of power. It's so big, so evil..." Tails steadied himself, he stopped shaking as he looked up at the towering statue. "We must destroy it."
"Careful around that statue, kit. It spells death for all Jinchuuriki."
"Yeah? Well, we're about to change all that," Tails said, all fear driven out of his mind. "I've been waiting a long time to see what this legendary demon sealing statue looks like. Now's our chance, Kurama."
"Chance? Chance for what?"
"If this loopy eyed jerk thinks he's putting me away in that butt ugly statue, he's got another thing coming. I'm gonna prove to the entire world that this guy isn't a god by smashing that statue open and freeing all the imprisoned bijuu inside."
"Hmph. Don't bother with that, Tails. I know the other seven bijuu pretty well. They're all assholes."
"That's not the point. We can't let this guy walk around thinking he can just capture and seal anyone he wants while make dumb speeches about pain. Robots...Dark magical statues...It's all the same thing."
"Then prepare to embrace pain, Kyuubi. This will be the ritual that will end your life." Pein said and slammed his hand on the ground.
"Fuinjutsu: Genryu Kyufujin!" (Sealing Technique: Nine Phantom Dragons Consuming Seal!)
The ancient statue opened up its mouth with a yawning hiss. It spewed out an ethereal blue mist that took the shape of twisting serpents, glowing with chakra slithered out from the utter blackness within. Tails counted nine dragons altogether swirling around him, all watching him with hungry glowing eyes.
"Tails! Do not touch the dragons!" Kurama warned. "They will eat your soul."
The nine phantom dragons snarled at the presence of the Kyuubi and lashed out all at once, trying to devour Tails. He spun his tails and maneuvered just out of reach of their gnashing teeth and snapping jaws.
"What kind of attacks will work on these things?" Tails asked as he zipped up and down, dodging their bites.
"None. We must destroy the statue."
"Got it," Tails nodded and charged a Chidori in his hand. It burned bight, shifting from blue to reddish purple, mixing and pulsing with demonic chakra . He hovered above the statue's head, still swooping just out of the dragons' reach.
"You can't escape," Pein said, then raised his arm and outstretched palm. "Bansho Tenin!"
That force again. He felt it when Pein used it on Kakashi. Like a black hole, pulling him in. It dispelled Tails' Chidori instantly and seized his body. The invisible force paralyzed his tails. It snatched him out of the air and Tails felt like he was being thrown into the vacuum of space and sent flying towards Pein's open palm. He was heading straight into the dragon's mouth.
It was like splashing into the ocean when the dragon snapped its jaws closed and swallowed Tails whole. Billions of people all over the world watched in horror as Tails lay suspended inside the belly of the dragon. Immediately, Tails felt weightlessness, his strength ebb away as wisps of red chakra seeped through his fur, out his eyes and mouth.
A new kind of chakra Tails had never felt, the mysterious unseen power of the void that was ever present, but hidden beyond all the other elements. Its grip was hard and icy. Tails saw the world going dimmer and blurrier as his life force drained slowly out of his body. He faintly heard the distorted voice of Pein echo in his ears.
"Look deep into my eyes so that you may understand pain before you die," he said. "This is the highest form of pain a Jinchuuriki can feel. When a soul is pulled from this world, separated from the wheel of Samsara, the fate of all heretics who tread the Outer Path of-"
"Shut...up!" Tails yelled, even as his demonic chakra poured out of his mouth. "I can't take any more of this pain talk! Kurama...help me..."
"There's nothing I can do, Tails..." Kurama's voice was faint and distant, more quiet than he had ever heard from him before. "This is the one jutsu where I am powerless."
Tails gagged, chocked, and writhed in agony as Kyuubi's chakra seeped out of his body, from his blank, expressionless eyes and his mouth. Inside the sealed world of the Kyuubi, the great nine tailed kitsune demon's spirit bubbled up and melted through the prison bars. Soon the dark world of his seal crumbled and everything slipped away and tumbled into the swirling black abyss.
"Dark...It's too dark..." "Kurama murmured as the burning light in his eyes disappeared.
"No..." Tails moaned faintly. "Kurama...please don't go."
"Ha. Why so sad, Tails?" Kurama spoke in a still, soft voice. "Remember when we first met? You were so afraid of me. Terrified. So weak you were back then."
Tails remembered everything that happened that day when he woke up inside the Kyuubi's seal. "Feels like such a long time ago...it's hard to remember what life was like before that day. Some people used to call me a demon because of my tails. I guess I was kinda happy when I knew it was true. I actually like being a demon. I don't want you go, Kurama. You're my friend. I need you, Kurama. I need your help to save the world."
It was almost over now. Pein could feel it. The greatest, most powerful of the Tailed Beasts was his.
"Farewell, Kyuubi no Kitsune."
Deep within the heart of Mt. Myoboku, Naruto sat under a waterfall, lotus style. It was a mystical waterfall, where pure golden oil, rich in senjutsu chakra washed over his head. So deep he was in his meditation that he barely noticed his master, Jiraiya coming to greet him.
"I've never seen you this still and quiet," Jiraiya said. "How long have you been like that?"
Naruto opened his eyes. "About three days."
"Damn, that's a long time. Who knew you had such a disciplined soul?"
"I think these chaos emeralds help," Naruto said. "They've got tons of senjutsu chakra in them." There were two chaos emeralds sitting next to him, drenched with glistening oil. The emeralds themselves radiated a soft hum in harmony with the natural energy around them.
"It's like I thought," Jiraiya said as he gazed deep into the pulsing core of the emeralds. "That Super mode of Sonic the Hedgehog is sort of like an advanced Sage mode. It's the outcome of what would happen if you could gather and control all the natural energy in the entire planet. Naruto, if we train deeper into this, if you could get all seven emeralds, you could enter a stage of chakra mastery that will be far more powerful than Super Sonic. No wonder Orochimaru is going bat shit insane over these emeralds."
"Orochimaru..." Naruto had learned to hate that name. "Is that what you've come to talk about, Ero-sennin?"
"Yes, but first let me show you this," Jiraiya unrolled a very large poster from his vest and he made a very stupid grin as he unrolled it and shoved it into Naruto's face.
Naruto pulled the poster back a bit. On Jiraiya's poster was, what else? A whole lot of naked chicks parading around, creating the most most nosebleed inducing picture he had ever seen. On the bottom, he read the title in big letters:
"Icha Icha 3D: Full Frontal Nudity!"
"This is it, Naruto. The latest and perhaps the greatest installment in the Icha Icha franchise. I'm not holding back anything with this one. My movie has been green lit and will appear in 3D. Isn't that great?"
Naruto looked at his sensei drooling with a far off look in his eyes. His hands were fiddling away in the air, no doubt groping an imaginary pair of boobs.
"That's it? Another movie? Why would I care about that?"
"That's important!" Jiraiya insisted. "You have to start thinking about what the ultimate stage of your sexy no jutsu technique might look like. It will be useful during production."
"Huh? You want me to put my sexy no jutsu on screen?"
"You keep on making all these new, more powerful Rasengans. I would hope that you would be equally applying your skills to your sexier line of ninjutsu. I mention this all now because if Orochimaru finds all the chaos emeralds, nobody in Konoha, perhaps nobody in the world will be alive to see my movie. I can't let that happen. Orochimaru...that bastard was always my harshest critic. Nitpicking about every tiny little writing flaw, pointing out all the plot holes, calling the work derivative, mocking the pacing...Laughing at the sex scenes...ARGH!" Jiraiya went rambling on. "He'd do anything to see my grand X-rated dreams go down in flames. This is his ultimate attack against me. He wouldn't know good literature if it was shoved up his snake hole."
"I don't care if he doesn't like it," Naruto said. "I don't like it either."
"Oh, but here's the part you will like. I plan to direct this film myself, so I no longer have time to be lazy on this case," Jiraiya's face hardened. "We've found Orochimaru's hideout. We know where he's keeping Sonic, where he's performing horrifying experiments on him to learn more about chaos energy. We sent a group to his island hideaway just a few days ago. Some of the platoon members are Mobians you met. We haven't heard back from them yet, but Sonic the Hedgehog is definitely there, I've confirmed that much. Whether he's alive or not, I can't say, but there's always a chance."
Naruto jumped up, ready for action. "That's awesome, Ero-sennin! Let's leave right now!"
"We will. Your training is done for now. But there's still one last thing we must do."
"Before we go, the Elder Sage wants to meet with you," Jiraiya said. "He's seen your future and he's a got a prophecy for you."
Naruto looked confused. "He can see my future? How?"
"This always happens when one delves deep into sage training," Jiraiya explained as they headed over to the Sage's mountain palace. "By opening yourself up and becoming attuned to the natural energy of the world around you, pathways start to open up and you can see how you fit with the greater pattern of the Universe. Once you ascend to these cosmic heights, the truth of your destiny will be made clear. Spend a few hundred years mastering the art of senjutsu and you too will see the future in your dreams."
"Did you ever get a prophecy, Ero-Sennin?"
"Yes," he said. "Just like you, when I learned Sage training. And when I heard it, it changed my life forever. He said I would become the world's biggest pervert. That I would travel around the world and write books."
"You don't need to be a prophet to know those things," Naruto said, unimpressed.
"You did back then," Jiraiya said. "I was a shitty writer and no girl would ever talk to me. Now all that's changed, of course. And then he said some other things. Some surprising things."
"I'll tell you later. Let's just see what the Sage has to tell you. By the way," Jiraiya stopped him just before the cave entrance to the Sage's chamber, "The Sage may look like a senile old fool, but he's really an ancient sacred being. He's very powerful and very wise. Please show your respect."
They entered the hall of the Elder Toad Sage where Naruto met the wrinkliest old toad he had ever seen. The giant toad sat on a throne of stone hewn from the mountain, eyes closed, unmoving, probably busy contemplating the deepest mysteries. He wore a tasseled professor's hat on his head and and a necklace with a mystical purple orb. "That must mean he's smart," Naruto thought, looking up at the Sage's cap. The two elder toads Fukusaku and his wife, Shima, stood on each side of his massive throne, wrapped in their cloaks, waiting in silent reverence for the great Toad mystic to speak.
"Hey, Geezer Sage," Naruto's loud voice reverberated in the sacred hall of the Toads. Jiraiya smacked his forehead. "Ero-sennin says you have a prophecy for me."
The Elder Sages's eyes cracked opened and he squinted down at Naruto with a warm, grandfatherly smile. "Yes...I believe I do," the Sage spoke in a soft, withered voice. "Just like with all who have come to train under these mountains like Jiraiya-chan here. Now your time has come, Uzumaki Naruto. I had a dream about you. Your path has become opened to me."
"He remembered your name," Jiraiya said, smirking as leaned against the pillar. "We're off to a good start."
"Let's see if I can remember it, though...ah yes," The Sage closed his eyes, deep in thought. "Times are changing. You will be a part of the dawning of a new age in history, whose effects will stretch far beyond the Five Nations, covering over the planet and extending to the stars above and the realms beyond. Indeed, the very heavens will shake with what's to come. The time will come when you must battle for the sake of the universe, the very fabric of reality. For an era will come that will be unspeakably..."
Naruto drew in closer to the throne hanging onto every word. "Yes? Yes?"
"Evil? What do you mean "evil?" Naruto asked.
The Sage spoke his words slowly and carefully. "As we speak, there are forces at work that are moving swiftly and will cover the world in utter darkness."
"Wait!" Jiraiya interrupted. He looked even more upset than Naruto. "Er...by any chance, do you see anything about my new movie in this prophecy?"
The Sage leaned back on his throne as he thought it over. "Oh, that? It will flop."
"No!" Jiraiya went blue in the face as he felt his blood drain away. "How badly?"
Fukusaku closed his eyes and shook his head, grumbling, "Bah. After all that talk about Naruto needing to show respect for the Sage, to see you bring up such a crude topic, Jiraiya-chan. Shameful. Absolutely shameful."
"Time has moved on and your series has grown old and stale," the Sage continued, now speaking to Jiraiya. "You've taken too long to publish new books and they are now viewed as tired and cliche'd. The series will die unless-"
"Hey! This is my prophecy!" Naruto shouted and kicked Jiraiya aside. "You already had yours, Ero-sennin! What's gonna happen to me?"
The Sage turned back towards Naruto. "Oh, you? What was I talking about with you again?" the Sage asked absently. "Were we not just talking about adult movies? I forgot the other thing."
"Something about evil coming into the world!" Naruto shouted. "Get back to that!"
"Fine. Carry on with that boring prophecy of doom you were doing," Jiraiya muttered. "Like I hadn't heard those before..."
"Yes. Please get back to that and finish already," Shima said. "I've got dinner burnin' on the stove. Got some fresh slugs stewin'. New recipe I've been cookin' up. I can't wait to see Naruto-chan gobble it up and then see how much he likes it."
"Now's not the time to be worryin' about yer dinner, Ma," Fukusaku said. "This is the end of the world we're talkin' about. Hardcore evil comin' to the world."
"So? I got a prophecy too once. Right here in this sacred hall. That my cookin' is what's gonna save the world. Maybe you just have ta feed the Kyuubi. He just needs a decent meal!"
Naruto cringed and looked ready to vomit.
"Ah, yes. Evil. That's what we were talking about," the Sage beamed with a smile.
"Terrible evil. It will begin when the eyes of Rikudo Sennin will once again return to the world in full power. This will be the first sign of the new age that awaits us. An age where demons reign."
"Demons?" Naruto repeated.
"Those who want to capture the bijuu are making a terrible mistake," said the Sage. "They will soon break free and will run amok, spreading their chakra all over the world. And there are many more out there than the Nine Tailed Beasts. The Demon chakra will leak out into our plane of existence, more abundant than ever before. The Legions of Hell will arise. Ancient horrors will be awakened from their slumber. Creatures of chaos and evil and madness entering through forbidden gates. The demons that already dwell among us will become even stronger. Fiercer. Even the good ones won't be able to contain their bloodlust. One is destined to lead them, to command the armies of Hell. Calling upon the storms of chaos, he will strike form the darkness and scorch the earth with hell blazing lightning. When that happens...there will..."
A trickle of blood leaked from the Toad Sage's mouth, dripping over his old wrinkled lips. A dark foreboding presence hung heavily in the air, pressing down on them. The Sage struggled to get the next words out.
"...then, there will be a war. Nations of shinobi clashing along with forces that have not entered the mortal world since eons ago. How this war will end, I cannot say."
Naruto sighed and groaned. "Why are these prophecies always so vague?"
"You need more specifics?" asked the Sage. "Well, you can expect to fight a giant octopus monster at one point. Defeating it will lead to a higher state of enlightenment. Keep an eye out for that one. But there is one other thing I see..."
Naruto looked right into the Sage's eye as he spoke.
"You will die, Naruto."
"Die? I'm going to die? When?"
"How am I going to die?"
"Brutally. By the hand of the one of the most vile of Demon Lords."
"What kind of demon is this?" Naruto asked.
"Are you sure you want the answer to this, Naruto?"
"Tell me, Old Grampa Sage!"
"You've met the demon already. You've carried his soul within you your whole life, but he has been passed on to another. You know of whom I speak, don't you? The demon I saw in my vision. The two tailed fox."
"Is that the name you call him? The name I heard whispering in my dream was "Miles Prower."
A deep silence fell over the vast hall of the toads.
"Bullshit!" Naruto finally said. "This is so stupid. Do you have any idea what you're talking about? Why would Tails wanna kill me? You just got the wrong prediction, right?"
"I was not the first to hear this prophecy," the Sage said. "It has been passed all around the realms of the spirit animals all over the Earth. The Elder Snake Sage revealed these same visions."
Jiraiya gritted his teeth. "Damn! Orochimaru must have heard this same prophecy. He must know everything."
"What do I do about this?" Naruto asked.
"The only way to change your fate is to kill the demon first. Whatever happens, one of you must die. Then the fate of the rest of the world can be decided."
"I gotta go," Naruto said hurriedly and started his way out.
"Where are you going, Naruto-chan?" asked the Sage
"I need to get to Mobius as soon as possible."
"How do you plan on doing that?" Jiraiya asked.
"I don't know. I really don't know. This whole prophecy was so stupid...," Naruto said before slamming the doors behind him.
The doors opened again and Naruto poked his head in.
"...Except the part about fighting a giant octopus. That was cool." He slammed the doors again.
The Sage shook his head. "Go after him, Jiraiya-chan. Tell him about what I told you long ago."
Jiraiya heaved a sigh. "This was handled very poorly."
Naruto stepped out of the sacred hall and made his way back to the Toad couple's hut. He didn't care how disgusting that dinner would be. Food was the furthest thing from his mind. The part that foretold his death didn't bother him. You don't dream of becoming a the world's greatest ninja if you're afraid of death. No. The worst part was who his executioner would be. Would he have to fight Tails? Would he have to kill him? Could he actually do that? Would it even be possible for him to do evil, let alone end the world?
Yeah. I know he could, because I could also turn evil and kill everyone if things were just a little different."
Yes. It was a bitter thought to swallow. Naruto knew Tails could go evil because he knew that he too could do the same thing. Many days of training and meditation opened Naruto up ti a dark side living inside him. A shadow borne from all the hatred and sadness. It was crazy to imagine it, but had it, too. And Kyuubi's been playing around with the kid's dark side, bringing it closer to the surface every day.
"Tails, you're a good kid. I know you are. You're not gonna let that dumb demon fox turn you evil and plunge the world into darkness. Are you?"
"What are you looking at, you creepy doll?" Naruto scowled at the Tails Doll he picked up in the desert. "Damn, you're freaky. I bet this is all your fault," he grumbled and kicked the doll across the hut.
"That didn't turn out as well as we thought, did it," Jiraiya said as he entered the hut, bending low to avoid the ceiling. He shook a jar if sake. "Here. Come drink with me."
"I don't drink," Naruto said, clearly frustrated.
"Sure you do. I spike your ramen all the time," Jiraiya poured him a cup, filling it all the way to the top. "It helps loosen the coils. You'll be a Sage soon. You can hold in a lot of alcohol. And you'll need something to dampen the taste of that disgusting swill those Toads keep shoving down your throat."
"I don't want to talk about that bullshit prophecy if that's why your here" Naruto said. "Just tell me. Do you know of any technique that would send me to Mobius right now?"
Jiraiya shook his head and shrugged. "Not that I know of. You idiotically let the Sword of Izunagi get shattered, remember? The Yondaime didn't make any more of those."
"So let's go find Orochimaru. Take me to that miserable snake island. After we kick his ass and save Sonic, we can use his sword to get back there. Then we can-Uuuughhh." Naruto fell to his knees as a wild, sharp pain jabbed him in the stomach.
"You feeling all right?" Jiraiya asked. "If you're out of it, there's no point in messing with Orochimaru now and getting yourself killed."
"I'm fine. Really," Naruto insisted. To prove it, he took a swig of the sannin's sake and sat down. "And I've accepted the Geezer Sage's prophecy. It doesn't change anything, though. I'm not gonna kill Tails."
Jiraiya gestured for Naruto to toss him back the sake jar. "Nobody said you had to."
Naruto threw the sake back into the Sannin's hand. "Do the Geezer Sage's prophecies always come true?"
"He claims they do," Jiraiya sat at the table across from Naruto and poured himself a saucer of sake, mumbling something about young people who always drink out of the bottle like yakuza thugs. "Personally, I can only tell you from my own experiences when he told me prophecies about my own life."
"What did he tell you?" Naruto asked. "It wasn't just about being a huge pervert, was it?"
Jiraiya shook his head and took a sip. "No. It wasn't. After he told me all those things, he told me about the prophecy of the Chosen One. The Child of Destiny. And that I would train him as my apprentice. He was supposed to be the one who would bring peace and balance to the Shinobi world. The Sage didn't tell me who it would be, but I have thought about those words every single day."
"Your prophecy sounds a lot less depressing than mine," Naruto said glumly.
"Really?" Jiraiya looked surprised and set the sake saucer down, "because that prediction turned to be one of the biggest sources of misery in my life."
"Why?" Naruto looked at him in surprise. "Training the chosen one destined to save the world sounds awesome."
"It didn't turn out that way," Jiraiya said, contemplating his reflection in the sake bowl. "Because I've seen many of my pupils die. Their lives taken by war and suffering. I met many great ninjas who wanted to fulfill the role of the Chosen One, like Tsunade's lover Dan, or her little brother, Nawaki. For awhile I thought the Yondaime would be the Chosen One, but then I saw him die, too. It's been a long, bitter journey since I heard the Sage's words and the world is still no closer to finding peace. I watched as my sensei grew older and weaker as he donned that Hokage hat again. The stress drained the life out his bones. Tsunade became a drunken gambler and Orochimaru turned into a murdering psychopath. The whole damn village became a much nastier place. You know what I'm talking about. You grew up with them. Senju Hashirama's vision for the Leaf was starting to become lost. I felt much better to live in exile. That prophecy that gave me so much hope in my youth ended just serving me only to point out all the failures I made in my life."
"Maybe that Geezer toad should stopping making predictions if they all suck so much," Naruto said. "Tails turning evil...killing me...destroying the world...it doesn't have to be that way. I'll be there for him. I'll be there to pull him out of the brink ."
"Remind me about something," Jiraiya asked. There was a Didn't Tails grow up as an orphan on an island. All alone? Starving to death? No family? No friends?"
"Yeah. He doesn't like to talk about that, but I saw it all."
"In the middle of a war with Dr. Ivo Robotnik who pretty much took over the world?"
"And he had a certain gift that changed his appearance? That set him apart from everybody else?
Naruto eyed his sensei suspiciously. "Yeah. Why're you asking?"
"No real reason. It just reminded me of a someone I knew from my past. He was all alone in the world, too. I thought I'd lend him a hand. Train him to fight and find his way in the world. I hoped to make something good come out of that miserable run down village. Wow was he special."
"Maybe it won't, but as depressing as this prediction sounds, your little friend Tails murdering the shit out of you and everyone in the world, you should still take the Sage's words seriously, because..."
"It can happen. I had many great students besides the Yondaime. There was one in particular. Someone I met in my travels outside the village. Now that boy was special,: Jiraiya said wistfully. "Something you would only see once a millennium. I just knew he was destined to fulfill the prophecy and save the world. All the signs pointed to him, but..."
"He died, didn't he?" Naruto asked.
Jiraiya nodded slowly. "That's what I heard. He didn't turn out at all the way I expected. And I'm talking about somebody who used to be a really sweet kid. A gentle, sensitive, peace loving soul. But I guess his war torn past caught up to him and he couldn't hold onto the incredible power given to him. People can develop in all kinds of unexpected ways."
"Anyway, I think you already made up your mind for how you're going to handle this. I hope you guide your fox friend well. Heaven knows an eight year old's gonna need help managing an ancient demon living inside him. In the end, you guys will save the world and when it's all over, you can bring him to the premiere of my new movie. He's pervert from what I hear, isn't he?"
"Don't corrupt him. He's really really impressionable."
"Ha ha. I'll make him one of my biggest fans. Far better he should grow up a fan of my series than whatever crap the kids are watching these days."
Naruto clutched his stomach. A stabbing pain returned worse than ever. It like nothing he ever felt shot through him as if someone stuck a flaming knife in his stomach and yanked his guts out. and he collapsed to the floor.
"Naruto! what's wrong?"
"I don't know," Naruto strained to speak. "I just feel like shit for some reason. I can't really explain it."
"Are you going into labor or something? Because that's what you look like. Has this ever happened before?"
A cold sweat ran down Naruto's face. "Remember when you tried to open my my Kyuubi seal? It's like that. I think it's Tails. It has to be. Someone's messing with Tails and the Kyuubi. They're separating."
Naruto lurched forward, dragging his feet towards the door. "I've wasted too much time here. I can't stick around here while my little brother is suffering and I'm not there for him.
"Calm down, Naruto," Jiraiya urged. "Breathe deeply."
Naruto squeezed his eyes shut and took a deep breath. Images of Tails trapped in faraway place surrounded by darkness, alone and terrified. He was chained down and strange serpentine beings were tearing through his flesh while the little fox could do nothing but cry out in agony as the Kyuubi's spirit was being pulled out of his disemboweled stomach. A shadowy figure loomed above, watching everything with dark violet eyes. Circles rippled across the man's eyes as he reached out with a hand to take the Kyuubi.
"Tails...what the hell is happening to you?"
The Statue's eyelids began to slowly creak open, revealing nine hideous, alien eyes. The chains loosened. It's limbs twitched to life. The bit that sealed its snapped off. A hiss of musty air escaped as its mouth opened wide and exhaled a mist from deep within.
Tails felt his life and soul draining away, disappearing into the black maw of the dark statue. His bright warm fur grew cold and his body went limp as the strands of red chakra were growing smaller and thinner.
Tails let out a strangled cry. "Kurama, please talk to me. Say something. Anything."
Pein was amazed the little fox had so much chakra inside him. "It took a long time, but we finally have it. Just one more left..."
It was tough work. Even for the man who called himself God. Normally, it took all of Akatsuki to help seal a demon, and even then, the process took days. This time, Pein did it alone in only minutes. His mastery over the Rinnegan, his bond with the Gedo Mazo was getting stronger. There wasn't even a need to seal the bijuu in tail order anymore. Soon, the Kyuubi would be sealed away in the Outer Path, and Tails's soulless corpse would crumple to the floor dead.
"...and the Nine Tails is mine."
"Not yet," a voice called out from above. One very familiar to Pein. He swerved his head only to be met with a blinding flash of light, followed by an explosion that shook the arena.
The whole stage became shrouded in smoke. Even Pein's godly eyes couldn't see through the thickness of the smoke, but he heard the unnatural, haunting moan of the statue. It grunted as if in pain as bits and pieces of wood and stone crumbled off its face.
"The statue..." Pein looked up. Someone dared to attack the Statue of the Outer Path.
The smoke of the explosion cleared away and a silhouetted figure emerged.
He hung onto the side of the statue's face, his long black hair and cloak billowed gracefully behind him in the winds of the explosion. His gazed down intently into Pein's Rinnegan. Pein leered back. The eyes of the two dojoutsu masters locked onto each other for a moment, their fearsome chakra brimming between them, waiting to see what the other would do next.
"Shinra Tensei!" (Heavenly Push of the Omnipresent God)
In that split second that Pein launched his deadly gravity attack, Itachi flicked out a kunai and jammed it straight into the creatures eye socket. The bone shattering force of Pein's attack hit him dead on, causing Itachi to burst into a flock of black crows. They flapped and squawked all around the statue. Itachi materialized out of the swarm behind the Akatsuki leader with his kunai. Pein spun around and met the traitor with his sword.
"Even you can't fool my eyes, Itachi," Pein said. "Did you think I wouldn't see you?"
"No. I'm just a distraction," said Itachi, "so that you wouldn't remove the tag I pinned to Gedo Mazo."
Attached to Itachi's kunai was a small scroll with strange arcane sigils. The letters flared to life, jumped right off the page, and crawled down the statue's rocky face, and into its mouth. A violent tremor and a deep rumbling emanated from its bowels. The statue's entire body crackled with unstable energy.
"What have you done?" Pein demanded
"Reversed the chakra flow."
Gedo Mazo howled another terrible cry. The Nine Phantom Dragons twisted their long serpentine necks, thrashing wildly back and forth, making piercing screeching sounds that could make a mortal's ears bleed. Their pale blue forms turned into a dark fiery orange and and all the demon fox chakra that was stolen rushed back into Tails' body with the full force of a tsunami. As the sudden power of the Kyuubi's chakra crashed into Tails, the fox was thrown out of the dragon's mouth out into the open air.
The statue raised its head upwards to the sky. A prismatic blast of seven colorful energies sprayed out of its mouth.
"The other demons..." Pein rushed through the seals to dispel the statue before the unthinkable would happen.
"It's too late," said Itachi. "Those who do not wish to die should leave now. I don't know exactly what's going to happen myself."
Finally, the concert goers jumped out of their seats, screaming and scrambling for their lives. Even the untrained could sense the wave of primal killer intent rising up from within the statue.
Tails slowly opened his eyes and tried to sit up, rubbing his aching head. "Unnghhh...Kurama...? You're back?"
"Yes. Look, kit. Above you."
Gedo Mazo roared once more as its dark, fell body was engulfed in shining light, then exploded in a blast of demonic fire. A pillar of light shot out into the heavens that was seen all across the continent and sensed all over the planet. The spirits of seven demons spewed out the statue's mouth, finally released from their dark prison. They swirled around in a kaleidoscopic spiral of yellow, blue, green, red, white, silver, and orange energies. Tails heard their ecstatic howls, celebrating their freedom. It was terrifying to behold, and overwhelmingly beautiful. Tails felt so alive and energized as the demonic winds rush past him, electrifying his fur. He heard the voices of the demons whispering in his ear.
Tails could briefly make out their spectral forms, but he could see them smiling. A sand raccoon, a flaming shadow cat, a hulking sea monster, a fiery gorilla, a swiftly galloping silver horse/dolphin, a gray slug, and a giant bug. After circling around Tails, reveling in their freedom, they blasted off into the night sky, scattering all over the world in seven different directions, leaving comet trails of sparks in their wake.
"Looks like you got what you wanted, Tails. The bijuu are free. All of them."
"Where are they going?" Tails wondered, gazing up at the open night sky.
"Wherever they want. They're free."
The Kyuubi chuckled. "It seems we have an unexpected ally," Kurama pointed to Itachi and Pein facing off.
"Itachi? He saved us?"
Pein didn't show any emotion on his face as he calmly dispelled the statue. A gate of dark, purple flames reached out and engulfed the Gedo Mazo statue, pulling it back into the nether realm whence it came. But not before it reached out and snared Kakashi in its grip.
"No! Kakashi-sensei!" Tails sprang up and grabbed Kakashi's hand, straining to pull him free from the statue's stony grip.
"Tails...it's okay," Kakashi said softly, smiling beneath his mask. "I don't want you to get pulled in with me."
"Go, Tails. Run."
With one final moan, Gedo Mazo sank into the darkness of the gate, taking Kakashi with him. Both of them disappeared into a the dread world of dark flames and living shadows.
The flames snuffed out and the concert hall was dark and silent as a tomb. The demons were gone, leaving behind just few passing wisps of chakra. The statue was gone. Tails stood there alone and right in the middle of a standoff.
"What happened to Kakashi-sensei? Was he-?"
"Sent to the nether world along with the statue," Itachi said plainly. "Even I don't know his ultimate fate. Maybe dead."
"Is it sinking in now, kitsune?" asked Pein. "The pain of losing your sensei? That is only the beginning."
"I didn't lose him," Tails said, staring hard into the Akatsuki Leader's multi-rimmed eyes. "He'll get out. He has to."
"Fear not, Tails-kun," said Itachi. "Kakashi might be able to return. Unfortunately, you can't rely on him for now."
"It's your fault things happened this way, Itachi," Pein said. "I expended a great deal of chakra to decrease the sealing time, because I knew someone would come to rescue the kitsune, but I never thought it would be you, Itachi."
Itachi stared at Pein impassively.
"Everything we worked for, Itachi, you have destroyed," Pein said. "Even I never could have predicted that you would betray us."
"Then your eyes can't see as well as they say," Itachi finally replied. "I was never truly interested in your plans to create this bijuu weapon of yours, or this senseless plan for world domination."
Pein brought the tip of his sword close to Itachi's eyes, ready to cut them out with a swipe of his blade. "In all of Akatsuki, I held you in the highest regard. I entrusted you to lead the capture of the Kyuubi. With your mastery of the Mangekyou Sharingan, you were like the eyes of God. Now you have violated my word and damned yourself forever."
Itachi said nothing.
"A pity. You were a true shinobi, Itachi. I don't know what your motive for this betrayal is, or why you would want to release all the bijuu," Pein went on, "but you're probably planning on protecting the kitsune now. I can't let you interfere."
Another Akatsuki ninja stepped out of the misty shadows. He was like Pein, with the same eyes and thick piercings, but with longer red hair. Pein motioned to the second Pein who slammed his hand down and produced a summoning cloud.
"Damn. Don't summon me like that," Deidara stumbled out of the cloud in daze. "Being thrown through space time like that makes me wanna puke, un. It's been a rough, rough night."
"Deidara," the first Pein spoke. "You want to kill Itachi so badly? Then do it. Akatsuki's orders."
Deidara's tired eyes lit up madly and he smiled as he turned to Itachi, who looked as stoic and uncaring as ever. "Really? Well that changes everything. So you're a traitor, Itachi? How interesting, hmm. Can't say I'm surprised, though. Your eyes wouldn't know loyalty if it exploded in your face."
"Loyalty amongst the likes of you doesn't interest me, Deidara," said Itachi.
"Yeah, I'm sure you said that to your clan just before you slaughtered them all, and your little brother, too." Deidara reached into his satchel for his clay bombs "I"ll see to it that you'll know death once I blast it in your face."
"Wait!" Tails called out and ran between them. "Itachi! I just have to know. Why? Why did you help me? Whose side are you even on? Why did we have to go through that whole fight?...And don't say something lame like it was to test me."
"It was to test you."
Deidara groaned. "Damn it, Itachi. We're all tired of your enigmatic idiocy. Just die, already."
Itachi kept his gaze fixed on Tails, ignoring Deidara's ranting. "Tails-kun, there are far more powerful jutsus out there that you will have to face one day. If you could succeed in dispelling my jutsus, you might stand a chance against even more powerful techniques. Like Pein's. You've done well tonight." Itachi swished a new pair of shades over his eyes. "I'll leave the defeat of the Akatsuki Leader in your hands." Itachi then pulled out his guitar for one last wicked solo, then disappeared in a swarm of flapping and squawking crows.
"Is there anything that human does that isn't supercool and sexy?" Kurama wondered, watching as the crows took flight.
"...Hey, Kyuubi?" Tails piped up. "I don't ask for much while you're living in my head and everything, but could you not think about creepy stuff like your Itachi crush while in there?"
"Come on, kit. You were thinking it too."
"I totally wasn't!" Tails protested. His white cheeks blushed red.
"Now, don't be jealous, Tails. You'll always have the number one spot in my heart."
Tails clutched the sides of his head, closed his eyes and screamed. "AHHH! Get out of my head right now, you freaky fox!"
"Hahahahahahaah!" the fox demon laughed uproariously. "You are so much fun to tease. It's great to be back inside you, kit. I wouldn't wanna be anywhere else. Now let's have some fun and go on a crazy rampage and crush Akatsuki!"
"Hey, kitsune boy," Deidara hovered on his clay bird directly above Tails. "I'll settle things with you later, after I'm done with Itachi. If you survive the Leader's wrath that is, un. Don't disappoint me."
Deidara flew off on his hunt for Itachi, leaving Tails alone to face Pein.
"Kakashi's gone. So is Itachi," Tails said to himself. "But he said I could beat him alone. Guess I'll just have to believe in him."
"Don't even bother," Pein said, "After what you just experienced, having your soul nearly ripped out of your body, it'll be awhile before you can properly mold any chakra."
"Hey! You worry about your own chakra. I'll worry about mine. I'll still fight the two of you!" Tails said defiantly.
"Two? You are mistaken about the paths of Pain, kitsune," Pein said. "I told you before that you have yet to experience the meaning of true pain," he made a grand circling gesture with his arm. "Swirling through the ever turning wheel of Samsara, there are many paths that lead to pain, but they all come from different sources. From the realm of Demons, the realm of Hell, the realm of Humans, the realm of Animals, the realm of Ghosts, and the realm of God. All these are pathways to pain."
Tails quirked an eyebrow. "What is this guy talking about?"
"I really have no idea," said Kurama. "But look around you, kit. The place is empty. It's just us in here. Go ahead and release a couple of tails. We'll incinerate him."
Tails glanced around the empty arena. Not a soul was left.
"Yeah. That sounds good to me," Tails unleashed a tornado of red chakra that spiraled around him, threatening to tear down the massive arena.
"Preta Path. Come," Pein called.
There was a rush of wind and a heavy shadow descended over Tails. A great big hand shot out from the shadows and grabbed his head in a thick vise. Tails briefly caught a glimpse of the surprise attacker. He had Pein's eyes and red hair, and piercings, but he was huge. Like a vacuum in his palm, his touch sucked Tails' strength away. His meaty hands burned red hot as they siphoned away Tails' chakra. Just as soon as his Kyuubi chakra came back and he got the chance to enjoy releasing an explosive storm that rushed through his fur. Now it was gone again, sucked into the arms of the third path of pain. Tails fainted on the floor. Even the color in his eyes and fur were darkened away, leaving him looking drained and withered. Only the dimmest flicker of chakra remained, burning steady in his heart.
"Preta Path. This is the path of pain of the Hungry Ghost Realm," Pein said as Tails' unfocused eyes closed and he slipped away into unconsciousness.
"Search his body," Pein ordered his other. "He might be hiding something."
Preta Path kept a tight grip on Tails as he searched his body. To break contact would give Tails a chance to recover. Looking through his tails, he found a small out a small gem.
It was a small green emerald, glowing with incredible power. When Pein removed the gem, it magically grew into a brilliant man-sized emerald.
"This is the Master Emerald," said the summoner Pein. "So the kitsune had it all this time."
"We'll take it," said Pein. "Mobius won't need guardians anymore to protect their most sacred artifacts. Not in my era of peace. Come, Asura Path."
The fourth Pein came stomping in from the shadows. A hulking brute of a man - his misshapen face was barely human, dotted with gruesome spiked piercings and thick black rods plugged into his skin. With a savage grunt, he reached a hand through the folds of his cloak and tore open his own chest. A thick biomechanical fluid dripped from inside his robotic carapace. He took the giant emerald into his hands and sealed it up inside his stomach, drenching the Emerald's surface in alien fluids. The robot Pein's Rinnegan eyes glowed, fluctuating between a pale violet light and a radioactive green.
"Asura Path will protect the Emerald," the leader Pein said. "It will be useful to us later. We will now return to base and restart the sealing process again in secret. It may take awhile before the statue is ready, so the kitsune will need to be locked away in a place where he can't escape."
"I can create a prison like that," Konan offered. "We will make a dungeon fashioned from paper, set deep in the earth, fortified to block chakra sensing. Nobody, not even the best chakra sensors will be able to find him."
Pein nodded. "Good. Now prepare yourself, Konan. There's going to be a big battle waiting for us outside."
Pein blasted the main doors down with a gesture of his hand and stepped into the open air. His opponents were waiting for him, just as he expected.
Downtown Station Square was now set up as a war zone.
The Guardian Unit of Nations had arrived and barricaded the city center. With his all seeing eyes, Pein scanned the entire perimeter. Thousands of GUN soldiers came rushing in, the clamoring of their boots and their guns locking in place echoed in the streets. Marching in with them were the Hunter series of humanoid robots armed with laser rifles. Tanks came rumbling down the road, holding enough firepower in its cannons to vaporize a small town. Ever since Chaos ravaged the city, and the Black Arms invasion, and then Orochimaru, GUN decided to get serious. Snipers hid on the rooftops, crouching behind the upper windows, moving through the shadows in silence. They thought they were concealed, but Pein counted them all.
He looked up to a massive warship with the GUN insignia proudly displayed. Atop the airship's bridge, the Commander of GUN stood proudly on the edge, in full view of his armada. His long black leather coat flapped in the breeze. Light glinted off the medals on his chest. His hands held on tight to a decorated sword by his waist. A very imposing presence indeed, Pein thought. They need him here to boost up the morale.
A brave man, Pein thought from the look in the man's eyes. No chakra trained powers whatsoever and yet he dared to challenge him in person. Pein knew nothing of GUN's leader, but he recognized the bat agent hovering by his side. He knew that she had been spying on Akatsuki's affairs for a long time. He was aware about her gifts for stealing and spying. She could probably give even Zetsu the slip. She had fought well against Akatsuki before, even managing to wound Deidara. She could be useful to Akatsuki if she lives through this, Pein thought. Perhaps she could be tested.
The message of this setup was clear: The forces of Mobius were ready to raise Hell against him.
"Good," Pein thought as he looked up towards the sky. The skies turned blood red. Dark red clouds, saturated with the chakra of demons. "I will show them Hell."
The GUN Commander stood dangerously close to the bridge's edge, looking down on the Akatsuki Leader.
"Agent Rouge. What intel have you gathered about Pein?" he asked.
"Well, he's wealthy," Rouge said, grinning a little. "His group made a lot of money off the bounty hunting market, and collected tons of treasure."
"Did you steal anything from them?"
Rouge looked at him, shocked. "From these guys? Oh, no. Hon, I love jewels and gold enough to pull some crazy stunts, but steal from that guy? Nooooo thank you!"
The Commander furrowed his brow. It troubled him to see his top spy look so unnerved. "I'm assuming he can see things the rest of us can't?"
"That and a whole lot more. Everybody in Akatsuki takes orders from this guy. He's been setting up a presence in Westside Island for the past few months, leading Akatsuki through the shadows, hunting down Tails, tracking down bounties, and assassinating our own people. In the short time he's been here, he's amassed a very large following of people who worship him as a god. Most of his worshippers and cultists are also based on Westside Island."
"Why Westside Island?"
"That's where Tails was born. The people on that island have been ranting about Tails being a monster for the past eight years. When it became clear that Akatsuki wanted to capture and seal away the demon, they all jumped on board with Pein's cause. To them, he's the god that will purify the world from demons and bring peace back to Mobius."
"Ludicrous," the Commander scoffed. "Such backwards, brutish islander behavior. Slavishly bending their knees to the first sign of power. To think that this still goes on in our day and age. Those primitive islanders have always been so behind the times."
"That's another reason why they claim Tails is a demon. They think his inventor skills are fiendish gifts."
"His followers worship him. He claims to hate evil and loves peace."
"Don't they all? That's usually where the trouble starts with these people," said the Commander. "Do we know what his abilities are?"
"I don't think he received the title of "God" by personality alone," Rouge said. "He's strong. Very strong. What can't he do is probably the better question."
The Commander lifted up a pair of binoculars and used them to look directly into the Akatsuki Leader's eyes.
"He does carry himself well, with a divine presence around himself," the Commander said. "Not like that grinning psychopath, Orochimaru. That gaze of his...it's like he really thinks he can wipe us out just by looking at us."
"There's something very funny about those eyes," Rouge said. "They're not human. I've never seen anything like them."
"I have," the Commander said.
"I was a long long time ago. I never thought I would ever see those eyes again, and I never imagined I would be fighting someone who has them. Do you know what he wants?"
"Their original purpose was to seal the fox demon in Tails to power up some kind of super weapon. Now they want to take over Mobius so that they can use this planet's resources for their war on whatever planet they came from."
"I see they've managed to capture Miles Prower. I thought it was just rumors. Is it true that he is a demon host?"
"It's all true," Rouge said, she gazed down at Tails, who was held captive by the big Pein. "The poor little thing. He looks so helpless. Like you'd never think there's anything evil inside him."
"It's a clever hiding place for a demon," the Commander said. "But you saw it, didn't you?"
Rouge nodded slowly. "I saw him transform once. When he got angry and desperate. It was scary. Like a total personality switch. One minute, Tails is this sweet little happy fox. Next thing you know he's on a raging warpath, destroying everything in sight. When the faced the enemy shinobi, Uchiha Sasuke, Tails tore him to shreds easily. He crushed his bones with his bare hands. Even that Orochimaru snake was nervous and had to retreat."
"I see. And there's no way to control this?"
"Not by any means we have. Unless we can find a way to exorcise the demon."
"Pity. Then we'll just have to take this opportunity to eliminate him. Now. While he's weak."
Rouge almost dropped her binoculars. "You're going to kill him?"
"His status as a wanted criminal still stands. If the fox boy dies, the demon dies with him," said the Commander. "Or at least it gets sent back to Hell. Isn't that right?"
"Yes...that's probably true." She didn't like where this conversation was going.
"This is a golden opportunity, Rouge. We might not get a chance like this again. We'll take Pein out along with the demon in one hit."
"Commander. That's Sonic the Hedgehog's friend. He's-
"Just his measly sidekick. More of a liability that got in the way that any actual help the way I see it."
"Still, You can't just kill him like it's no big deal."
"Sonic can find a new sidekick. There are millions who can take his place. Probably someone better. Anyway, Sonic's not here and he may never come back."
"He's helped us before. Tails has a brilliant mind. We can't-"
"Enough!" The Commander cut her off. "I watched that monster vaporize some of my best men. I'll never forget the look of devastation when he turned them to dust in the blink of an eye Whether this fox was a friend of yours at some point doesn't matter anymore. This isn't an act of cruelty, Rouge. It's mercy. That demon is probably torturing him on the inside. We're going to free him from his pain."
"Sorry, Tails..." Rouge put aside her binoculars and turned away.
Pein began to step forward. The soldiers in the front lines flinched, their rifles were shaking in their hands. A few almost dropped.
"I have what I came for," Pein announced. "Stand aside and you may all live for today."
"What an arrogant son of a bitch. Look at him. Cooly mocking us like that. Like he's so above it all. He's still a man. Even if half the planet thinks he's a god, he's not. Tonight we'll show what a charlatan he really is." The Commander unsheathed his sword. "Fire at that bastard. Fire everything we got!"
GUN's forces unleashed the force of their arsenal on Pein. The cool night air lit up with heavy fire. Missiles, bombs, lasers, and bullets all went flying towards the one man who called himself God and his outstretched palms.
That's all it took. It hit them like a nuclear blast. Just two words spoken by the lone man in the black cloak had the power to turn everything upside down and tear the planet's mightiest army to shreds.
The air rippled with a force that grabbed all missiles and threw them right back at GUN. Pein's power pulled the streets up like a dusty old rug and GUN's tanks and jeeps went flying into the air, only to be ripped apart. The soldiers were tossed around and pummeled to death by the unrelenting force. The high gravity force of Shinra Tensei massed their bodies into a human paste. Their remains splattered on the ground and smashed into the sides of the buildings.
The remaining survivors climbed out of the rubble and fired their rounds towards Pein. Asura Path rushed in to protect him. Bullets riddled holes in his cloak, but bounced harmlessly off his hard cybernetic shell. Then, his head opened up. Where his brain would have been, dozens of tiny missiles launched out of his skull and spread out in all directions. The missiles were tiny capsules, the size of human fingers, but when they stuck into the sides of GUN's giant tanks, the ensuing explosion reduced them into piles of scraps.
Animal Pein, the summoner in the ponytail slammed his hands on the ground, producing a cloudy mist. Out leapt a giant mad dog with blood red fur and foaming at the mouth. Watching its prey scatter for their lives, it and pounced on the army, pinning dozens under its massive paws. The dog popped as many bodies as it could fit into its mouth. It feasted on them all, snarling hungrily with dead limbs and ragged flesh hanging from its blood encrusted teeth.
Pein gave Konan a stern look. "Your turn."
Konan closed her eyes and sprouted wings from her back. Pure white angel wings made from sheets of paper and soared above the smoke and flames into the chilled night air. With a flap of her wings, a storm of paper rained down on the city.
At first, the soldiers found the flimsy papers that stuck to the tanks laughable. Until they saw the papers were soaked in acid that melted right through the metal. Those soldiers unlucky enough to find paper slapped on their skin screamed as it boiled and ate through flesh. They struggled to pry the sheets off, but they stuck to skin like glue. Blood and molten flesh slid off their bones. With their dying breaths, they reached up with their skeletal hands, screaming and begging for the pain to end.
Another Shinra Tensei was uttered from afar. Konan bowed her head in honor of God's words and watched as the force ground up the victims' bones and scattered them like dust in the wind.
Konan was known among the Pein worshippers as God's angel. Tonight, she served as his angel of death. Gazing down on her victims impassively, she heard the screams and saw them writhing in agony, chocking to death on poisonous fumes.
The putrid fumes of blood boiling with acid along with the peoples' dying screams reached all the way up to the top of the airship. Rouge couldn't believe what she was seeing. The sight made her feel sick. The biggest city on Mobius, the strong and shining Station Square was quickly being reduced to burning pit of destruction and death. Each minute, the man with the mysterious eyes was opening those people up to new levels of horror.
Robotnik was never this cruel. "We...we have to retreat," Rouge said, her voice shaking.
"I see what he's trying to do," the Commander said, his nose wrinkled to prevent inhaling the fumes. "Striking fear in us with horrifying terror attacks to demoralize us so that we never challenge him again."
"And it's working."
"That won't help," the Commander said. "It'll only get worse. If he does manage to take over the world, it'll be like this everyday on Mobius. Just more terror. We can retreat, but he'll just come and do the same thing at Central City. Then again and again. I'll have none of that! So help me God, I'm going down there to challenge that Akatsuki Leader myself!"
He didn't see that another cloaked ninja sprang out of the smoke above him.
"Commander! Look out!" Rouge shouted as she drew her gun.
The red headed ninja smacked Rouge aside. The gun flew from her hands, and before she could recover, a black blade slid out of his sleeve and stabbed her wing. Rouge let out a scream as blood poured from her wing and splashed into her back and into her face. Her vision ran red with blood. A swift kick to her stomach sent Rouge plunging off the side. She slipped into unconsciousness in midair and landed on the ground with a hard snap.
The Akatsuki nin looked over the edge to see the bat woman lying in a pile of flaming rubble, her eyes closed, her limbs bent and twisted in horrible unnatural ways, and blood seeping out of her mouth and wings. Satisfied, he turned towards the leader of this whole operation.
"It's overwhelming, isn't it?" the ninja said. He was a craggy faced older man with a husky voice. "Deva Path's power. It takes a deep knowledge and mastery of the elements to learn how to control the fundamental forces of creation like that. That's why Deva Path is the realm of God."
"Spare me," the Commander said, fearlessly raising his shining silver blade to meet the enemy's black sword. "And who are you supposed to be?"
"I am Pein. We are all Pein. This is the Naraka Path. It follows its own way of pain."
"Those eyes," the sword felt heavy and started shaking in the Commander's hand. "Now I know where I've seen those before. It's been so long, but those eyes could only be the ones of..."
"Do you understand now? Now that your city has been demolished, do you see what pain is?"
He was so mesmerized by the glare in Pein's eyes, that the Commander almost tripped off the edge of the ship and fell to his death.
"I knew it," the Commander said, breathless. "Now that I see them myself up close, there can be no doubt. Those could be none other than the eyes of...Uchiha Madara."
"How do you know that name?" Naraka asked, placing the tip of his sword against the Commander's neck. "Speak."
"I wish I could forget them," the Commander said in a pained whisper. "When I was just a kid, he was there. I remember them from my nightmares. I was terrified of those eyes. Like they would suck my soul away and send me straight to the gates of Hell."
Naraka Pein drew in close to the Commander's ear and whispered. "And you were right."
Naraka Pein gently placed his head atop the GUN Commander's head. A cold, enervating energy sapped away at his strength, reaching straight down into the depths of his soul. A creature rose up from the floor, wreathed in dark violet flames. The demon faced thing also possessed the Rinnegan eyes. Its mouth was wide enough to swallow a human whole. Behind that cavernous maw and flame tipped teeth lay the spinning vortex of dark energies that was the entrance to Hell.
"I have summoned before you the King of Hell," Naraka Pein said. "Answer me truthfully and you live. Don't and your soul will be devoured for all eternity."
"Guess I was right," the Commander said ruefully. "Hidden behind those eyes, in the midst of those circles, was the entrance to Hell."
"Give the order for your men to drop their weapons and to swear their allegiance to me." As Naraka Path spoke, a putrid, oozing tongue slithered out of the Hell King's mouth and wormed its way up the Commander's legs up to his torso. "You can all continue on serving as my army that will keep the peace."
That tongue, soaked in a foul ichor stained the Commander's spotless uniform. There was a cold, ghostly feel to it, like it wasn't all real. It seeped through his clothes, through his skin and bones, down to the core of his soul.
"Will you kneel?" asked Pein.
The Commander hardened his eyes and spat in the pierced man's face.
"The Hell I will."
"Then I have no choice but to send your soul to Hell, for an eternity of damnation and pain."
"Go ahead and do it," the Commander said wearily, tilting his head up away from Pein's eyes towards the reddening smoke filled sky. "I'm tired of living in this world full of freaks and monsters running amuck, abusing their godlike powers. I've spent my whole life trying my damn hardest to protect this world from aliens and chaos gods and demon, wrecking havoc on this world. All those years and I've got nothing to show for it. But I challenged those gods. Even if I am just a man."
He found the strength to lift his head up and look Pein right in the eye. His mismatched gold and blue eyes met the Rinnegan. "Maybe you're just a man, too."
"You don't really believe you're a god yourself," the Commander said. The slime drenched tongue slid up to his neck. "Sure you convinced them down there by blowing them all to hell, but this old man has seen it all before. Young punks that somehow get these godlike powers. It's all an act. A damn good one. But still just an act."
The King of Hell's tongue reached the Commander's Head. The tortured voices of the damned came calling to him from deep within the Abyss. He didn't care.
"Go ahead and try to pretend you're God," the Commander finally said with a dying whisper. "Judge those poor souls as if you were their creator if you must. Your kind always loses godhood eventually. And when that day comes, I'll see you in Hell."
The King of Hell forced its tongue down the Commander's throat. The last thing the Commander felt was something like a gust of wind blowing from deep inside him. There was a feeling of weightlessness, like being thrown suddenly into the cold vacuum of space. Then, his soul was sucked away. The GUN Commander's body, a dead, empty shell lay sprawled out on the ship's deck. His blue and gold eyes were like a pair of lifeless marbles.
"Defiant to the end," Pein said before kicking the empty soulless body off the edge and let it smash into the broken, jagged streets.
Konan released a storm of paper. Deva Pein, with Konan at her side stepped through the streets that were now piled with the dead and the dying.
"This pitiful planet, even with their superior weapons, are helpless against my Paths of Pein."
"The GUN Commander is dead," Deva Pein said as he stepped over the Commander's body. "The rest of them have sealed their fate."
Seeing their Commander dead and the vacant expression left on his face, the soldiers dropped their guns and started to run, as Pein knew they would. Asura Path was on them in moments, barring their escape, slicing men to shreds with every saw and bladed weapon he had hidden in his body. He butchered them all, doing so with a smile on his grotesque face.
One figure strode forth through the burning, corpse filled street towards Pein. A white haired young man who carried with him a giant sword. His chakra radiated a gleaming chill that kept the flames flickering at bay. They lapped and hissed at him as he walked by.
"Well, what have we here? You're Kisame's boss, huh? Nice work," he said approvingly as he looked around at all the carnage. "Figured you'd be a pretty tough if you managed to rope a big guy like Kisame until your little gang."
"Hozuki Suigetsu of the Mist," Pein said. "You have abandoned your service to Orochimaru and have been following us for some time, hunting down Kisame. What is your relationship to him?"
"You could say that I'm the guy that dropped him," Suigetsu said. "Now that he's out of the way, I'm gonna need a new challenge. Since I've already made myself an enemy of your group, I might as well see what the toughest guys in Akatsuki can do. You look like you're handy with a sword," he nodded hungrily at the black sword in Pein's lowered in Pein's hand. "Care to go a few rounds?"
"I'm not interested in wasting time with a wild animal."
"Huh? Say what?"
"You're just a empty brute with no worthy cause," Pein said. "you kill for fun, without purpose. Not fit to be on the battlefield where true shinobi battle for. Even the most violent members fight for something. But not you. You belong in a cage. Away from the sight of God."
Suigetsu's grin faded away, replaced by a frown. "Tch. You're more depressing to be around than Sasuke. Of course I got a purpose for joining this fight," he said as he extended his blade. "Drop that fox."
Pein's eyes narrowed as he saw the icy sword in Suigetsu's hand. "There's a spirit living in that sword. In that case..."
"Suigetsu, this man has more blood on his hands than everybody in the Mist Village combined. Be careful," the spirit of Haku whispered from within the sword.
"Ha! Now I'm really fired up, Thanks for telling me that."
Animal Path clapped his hands and one more red haired Rinnegan wielded leapt out of the cloud and to Suigetsu's shock, grasped the giant sword with his bare hand.
Pein number six.
"Who the Hell are you?" Suigetsu snarled at the newcomer's entrance.
This Pein clenched his hand on the frigid sword, allowing ice cold blood to slowly drip down the blade. With a sharp pull, Haku's ghost was forcefully ripped out of its vessel. The gleaming blade of ice dimmed and melted into a pool of water.
"NOOOO! The Hell did you just do?" Suigetsu snarled.
"If there truly is a spirit inhabiting your weapon, then the Human Path can draw it out and neutralize your sword's powers. He briefly saw the ghostly apparition of Haku, hanging from Human Path's hand before he vanished away.
"Forgive me, Suigetsu. I was not strong enough to withstand his attack. Tell Tails that...I'm sorry."
"Asshole!" Suigetsu shook his empty hands. "I have to get a new sword now!"
"The fate of your weapon will be the least of your worries," Deva Pein said. His hand was held right in front Suigetsu's face.
The power of Shinra Tensei fell upon Suigetsu. Pein popped Suigetsu like an exploding water watery remains rained everywhere. A cloud of steam rose up from the street with a hiss. Pein lifted up Suigetsu's liquid remains into an empty glass bottle.
"This may be useful to us later," Pein said and turned to his angel hovering above. "Konan. This just shows that the other members failed to kill the kitsune's friends. Find them. Those time travelers, the hedgehog musicians, the pirate girl, the Hyuuga girl. Even the little rabbit girl. Snuff them all out."
"Yes," Konan said. "What will you do now?"
"I am going to burn this entire city down to a pile of ashes."
Asura Path grinned. Its Rinnegan eyes glowed green and its body changed. It grew. It towered over the Station Square skyline as a Kaijuu sized killer robot. Charging up with the energies of the Master Emerald, it fired a deadly beam of light that incinerated everything in its path. Buildings collapsed and crumbled to dust, engulfed in green flames. The giant mech laughed an ugly robotic laugh is it heard the screams and breathed in the smoke and flames of the dying city.
Deidara cackled manically as he launched clay bombs from his satchel, trying to blast Itachi out of the air. ripped the mechanical scope off his left eye and glared hard at Itachi. He dared to look straight at Itachi. Ever since their last battle where Itachi handed him a humiliating defeat, Deidara spent every day training his eye to overcome genjutsus. He wes confident that the fated had come where he would see past the Sharingan's illusions
This wasn't the final battle he had expected, though. Itachi was running.
"Where are you going, Itachi? Come and fight me!"
Itachi never looked back. He kept on running.
"That Mangekyou Sharingan must takes some toll out of you, un. Abusing all those techniques like that. So even the unstoppable Uchiha genius has his limits. You can't have much chakra left."
"You talk too much, Deidara," Itachi said without looking back.
"And you don't talk enough. I gotta know before I kill you. Why did you betray us?"
"You wouldn't be able to comprehend the depths behind my motives, but I'll leave you with this. I just released seven very destructive demons to run freely across this planet. I created a greater work of art than you ever will."
Deidara laughed. "You an artist?" Deidara opened up his cloak and reached a hand into his giant chest mouth. Out of his mouth, he pulled out another weapon. A white longbow, made out of clay. Then he pulled an arrow from his mouth.
Deidara nocked the arrow into his bow and pulled back. "I think you can guess what happens if one of these arrows gets near you."
He let the arrow fly. Itachi dodged it in time, watching the arrow whiz by his hair. It kept on sailing through the city until it landed in the ocean.
A vast explosion erupted from the waters. He didn't let it register on his face, but Itachi was impressed. If that hit him unprepared, it would have killed him instantly.
"There's a lot more where that came from. Next time, I won't miss, un."
Deidara prepared another explosive arrow and as he pulled the string back and was about to fire, The winds picked up. A sandstorm blew in that. Locked sky, obscuring Deidara's vision. All he could see of Itachi was a faint black blur.
Deidara cursed his bad luck. "Damn! What rotten timing! If this keeps up, Itachi might escape. I have to–"
Amidst the howling winds, Deidara heard faint laughter. A small chuckle, at first. But soon, it picked up and the winds were filled with shrieking madness.
"That voice. I know I've heard it before..."
"AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH! Remember me, Deidara-chan?" yelled out a high pitched voice. The sandstorm grew a pair of alien green eyes, then the face of a demon raccoon materialized in the air.
"You!" Deidara shouted in horror. "No! Not you!"
"Yeah. It's me!" emerald eyes shone wickedly "You shoved a bomb up my ass and tried to kill my host. Way back in Suna! I felt that, you jackass!"
"Shukaku! Sabaku no Gaara's demon!" Deidara snarled.
"Payback time," Shukakau's clawed arm and snatched Deidara off his bird. He snapped the bow in two and flailed Deidara into the air. The sand tightened around his arm.
"No! No! Not my arm, you bastard! Not fucking again!"
"Oh, yes again! Yes! YES! FUCKING YES!" the demon howled like a maniac, reveling in his crazed bloodlust.
Shukakau's eyes glowed a sickly green. With a drunken laugh, Shukaku pulled. Deidara's arm popped as it was torn off his shoulder. His scream was silenced by the raging sand filled winds that pelted his skin and stung his eyes. Blood sprayed out his shoulder and mixed in with the swirling sands.
Shukakau opened his mouth wide and happily drank the blood that drizzled over his face. "Damn! That felt good!" He lashed out with his one massive tail, knocking Deidara off his clay bird and sent him crashing into the ocean.
After his laughing fit, the Shukaku frowned, looking bored. "Eh, that was over too quick. I shoulda slowly peeled off his eyes. Or made him swallow his own liver. Ah, well. Let's see what kind of fun I can have in this new universe."
Deidara lost his arm for a yet another time. He lost count of how many times this happened.
"Never again," Deidara sputtered, coughing out a mouthful of sea water. "I'll kill that demon. When I'm through with him, he'll be begging to crawl back into that statue. My next bomb will-"
The once calm waters been shifting, making waves. Deidara sensed a shadow of dark waters beneath him. Something alive rising up from the depths. Something big. Demonic. Angry.
"Oh, shit! Not another one!"
A terrible dark shadow loomed above Deidara. A grey and purple scaled crustacean with a three coral encrusted tails and covered in a rocky spiked shells glared at him with a single glowing red eye. The snapping of its claws and the alien clicking noises form its mouth made Deidara cringe.
Isobu, the three tailed monster of the sea had resurfaced. Another of the bijuu he captured. All his work for Akatsuki had come back to haunt him.
"I never should have joined this clusterfuck of an organization..." Deidara muttered as he swam away for his life. With a ravenous hiss, Isobu snared Deidara in one of his tentacles and pulled him under the churning waves.
"Hn. Farewell, Deidara," Itachi said. And then, a flock of black crows flew across the red sky. Itachi vanished amidst the black swarm.
Cream twirled her ears with all her strength to push her way through the biting sandstorm that enveloped the city's skyline. Through her Byakagun, Hinata saw rapid heartbeat of the young rabbit. Cream sounded sacred. "I am too," Hinata thought. "I have no idea what's going on."
"I can't see anything with all this sand! Can you see anything, Hinata?"
"Yes. Just barely." Even with her Byakagun, Hinata could barely see more than a few meters in front of her Not with the sky saturated with demonic chakra, making he eagle eye gaze of her eyes like watching snow falling on an old screen. Her Byakagun picked up some heavy chakra activity on the coast and down in the center of the city, but she never felt a chakra like that before in her life. It was like a mixture of all five elemental nature's colliding into each other at their most intense. Tails' chakra was there in the middle of it all, but she could hardly feel it.
"I can't fly anymore" Cream said, panting. "I need a safe landing."
"It's all right, Cream. There's a rooftop just twenty meters below us" Hinata pointed down. "You can drop us there."
When the rooftop came into view, Cream set Hinata down, then she herself plopped straight onto the ground, exhausted.
"We should be safe up here," Hinata said. "Thank you, Cream. We never would have made it out of that explosion alive if you weren't there."
Cream slumped down against the corner with Cheese next to her, gasping for air. "It was nothing...I was glad I was able to help. I just hope Tails will be all right. Can you see him?"
"Yes. I see him," Hinata said, scanning over the rooftop's edge. "But six Akatsuki men have him."
Cream gulped. "Oh, no! Six?"
"Six with the strongest chakra signatures I've ever seen," Hinata said. "United by a powerful dojutsu."
Cream, who just seconds ago was ready to pass out, now jumped to her feet. Her flapping ears were going nuts. "We have to get down there. We can still save him. Can't we?"
"I-I think there's still time," Hinata said, her voice unsteady, "but wait. Someone's coming."
Hinata spotted a black dot flying through the sky, coming towards them. Upon closer examination, Hinata spotted a woman on angel wings gliding through the sand swept winds with ease. She stopped to hover above them. Loose papers detached from her wings and fashioned themselves into a sword in her hand.
"My name is Konan," said the icy blue haired woman. "My Lord Pein sent me here to kill you both. He knew you would come."
"Get behind me, Cream," Hinata said, blocking the way to Cream with her arm while keeping her eyes focused on the Akatsuki woman. The stinging grains of sand pelted into her eyes. She was dying to shut off her Byakagun and close her eyes, but she dared not take her eyes off Konan for even a second. Just blinking could cost her her life. Those seemingly harmless papers were saturated with deadly chakra.
"It's nice to finally see a fellow konoichi here," Konan said. "Still, it was stupid for you to come here and get in our way. It's only fitting that you die by my hand."
"Nobody else needs to die tonight," Hinata said calmly but firmly. "We just want to help Tails-kun."
"See all this sand that blots the sky? Feel all that demonic chakra that scorches the air? Your kitsune demon friend let those demons loose and caused all this chaos. And you want to protect him?"
"That's a lie!" Cream rushed in front of Hinata armed with a kunai. Cheese followed his master with his own made for chao sized kunai. "Tails didn't do anything wrong. None of that would happen if you didn't try to capture him!"
"Cream, I'll handle this alone," Hinata said. "You go get Tails and fly him out of here. He's back at the arena. Six blocks down. Can you do that?"
Cream shot off to the roof's edge.A wave of courage replaced the fear in the heart. "Yeah. We can do this. Right, Cheese?"
Hinata had to smile as she watched Cream twirled her ears and flew off the rooftop. She was really going down there to free Tails from Pein's grip. Without any fear at all. The little rabbit girl had guts.
"You just sent that girl to her death," Konan said. "Pein will never give up the kitsune so easily."
"Neither will we." Hinata's signature blue chakra started to flow and hum along her fingertips.
Konana twirled her paper made sword around, getting a good feel for it. It was lighter than any sword, but sharper and harder than the finest katana.
"You seem like a nice, quiet girl. I won't get any pleasure out of killing you. This is simply for the sake of Pein's quest for peace. I believe in that dream, Hyuuga. Maybe you'll live just long enough to see it."
Hinata didn't move form her stance as Konan moved in to strike. She took in a deep breath and let the chakra gather around her. Strands of blue light rose form her fingers and up flowed up her arms like a gentle river traveling upstream. She twitched her fingers and a rumbling growl emerged. Her chakra formed teeth ands eyes around her hands. A living shield of chakra sprouted to life in front of Hinata, flowing like lion's mane. Two ghostly lion faces came to fight with her.
"Juho Soshiken," (Gentle Palm Twin Lion Fists) Hinata spoke the name of her jutsu with gentle airy whisper, but she struck Konan without mercy.
A ferocious lion's roar erupted from the rooftop and echoed across the sky. Konan's paper sword was torn to shreds.
"It seems I'll need more paper to get past your Jyuuken chakra," Konan said as hundreds of sheets of paper fluttered from beneath her cloak. Something was different this time and Hinata noticed it immediately. They were red. This time, the paper was soaked in blood. With a murderous smirk, Konan reshaped them all into tiny shuriken blades.
"Zan: Hyakuretzu Oukazan: (Paper Killing Technique: Hundred Raging Cherry Blossoms Strike)
Konan gathered together a thousand thin sheets of paper, soaked in the blood of her victims. She launched them at Hinata all at once. A hundred razor sharp papers like cherry blossoms slashed into her flesh. With her hands held up to her face, she pressed on, ignoring the torn clothing and deep gashes in her skin, the slicing of paper blade cutting veins and scraping bone. Hinata ignored all and summoned all her chakra into her hands.
"Hake Kuihekisho!" (Eight Triagrams Vacuum Wall Palm.)
A burst of intense blue light flashed from Hinata's hand, followed by a dense blast of chakra that dispersed the paper petals and swept Konan off her feet.
"I can't believe you're still alive," Konan said, dusting off her cloak and watching Hinata lurch to her feet, blood dripping freely down all over her body, "let alone still standing after that attack. Is this the result of that will you Konoha people are known for? What was it called?"
"The Will of Fire!" Hinata shouted, then grunted and clutched her chest. A suffocating feeling took brought her to her knees. "It's not a Leaf thing. The people of Mobius its heroes have it too. Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, Cream, Amy, even Shadow has it. Didn't you have something like that in Amegakure?"
"You can't imagine the pain we faced in Amegakure," Konan said. "We had a sensei from Konoha, one of their greatest, and even he couldn't prepare us for the horrors that soon came. There's no Will of Fire that can survive under that rain. There were moments where each rain drop hurt like icy knives cutting through our flesh."
'I'm sorry. It must have been hard. Maybe if our Hokage knew, we could've-"
"The Hokage is a useless title," Konan spat. "We have a god that will be a savior to the world. I follow Pein's will and I believe in his dream for peace," Konan said. She summoned an endless paper storm. "You can't create peace with something as unrealistic as this Will of Fire. Now die and know discover true peace."
"This is the end," Hinata thought as Konan unleashed another volley of paper knives, drenched in flesh eating acid. "Now I'll be skewered alive and melted down at the same time." As Hinata waited for death, she thought of Cream succeeding, of Tails being freed. Of them getting together to stop Pein end ending Akatsuki. She smiled thinking of them, of Naruto-kun.
Then, everything became fire.
None of Konan's razor sharp paper knives could touch Hinata. They burst into flame before they could reach her. Tiny cinders flicked past her skin while a dark haze of fiery chakra descended.
Konan looked up to see the source of the fire storm.
A fire demon flew straight towards her. One of the escaped bijuu. A feral cat with two tails wreathed in shadowy flames. It headed straight for Konan, leaving a comet's tail of demonic flames in its wake.
Hinata knew exactly what the beast was doing when it opened its mouth and a dense flaming sphere gathered in between its jaws.
"Another demon," Konan said. "Möbius truly has become a land of demons."
The demon roared and spat out the fireball. With nowhere to run, Hinata dug her feet into the ground in a balanced ready stance, one foot in yin, one in yang, and waited as the fireball comet came screaming down on the rooftop.
"Kaiten!" (Divine Whirl)
Hinata whirled around in her dance, creating a blue dome of chakra. The fiery explosion slammed into it and danced like mad when blown away by the Jyuuken chakra.
Burning air filled her lungs as Hinata gasped for air and collapsed onto a pile of smoking debris and ash. The fireball's explosion wiped the rooftop clean. She could still hear the demon roaring off in the distance somewhere, but at least where Hinata was, things were deathly quiet.
Konan was nowhere to be seen. No trace of her body was left. No chakra signature. Nothing left except the black tatters from her cloak.
It was like they never left.
Silver and Blaze travelled down the time stream thousands of years into the past, escaping a war torn era plagued by demons and endless bloodshed. Their dream that they fought for was to set right what went wrong. But now, as they teleported into the city, it was like everything right back where they started.
This was Crisis City all over again. Demons flying through the sky. A city engulfed in flames, sinking into chaos. Great pillars of fire and thick plumes of smoke rose into the darkening sky as a monstrous robot rampaged across town, raining emerald death upon the world.
The searing heat that wavered through the air sapped what little strength Silver had left in him, and he could barely stand, or even keep his eyes open. That brutal battle with the tentacle wielding ninja had taken its toll on him. The blood that soaked through his fur felt hot and sticky. The smoke and ashes and the blood that soaked through his fur turned his fur into a gray mess. The gaping wound in his chest reminded him of his narrow brush with death.
"I was too careless...unghn." Silver almost toppled to the ground before Blaze caught him.
Blaze helped him steady his feet on the ground. "Don't say that. We would've all been dead if you didn't stop Kakuzu. You fought valiantly like a true warrior."
"It wasn't enough. It took everything I had to go up against that monster, but I don't know if I could go any further," Silver coughed, spitting up blood. "I'm dying, Blaze," he said in a hoarse voice.
"No! No, you're not," Blaze said with a reassuring smile. "We'll get you help. You're going to live through this and see victory. We'll prevent the Crisis and return back to a bright and shining future. I promise."
"And you'll be queen," Silver added, managing his own small grin.
"I'll still need you to serve by my side," Blaze said. "So that the skies will be free of demons once again. Promise me you'll be there when we restore our kingdom once again."
Silver closed his eyes, feeling the Princess' words enter his heart, driving away the pain in his chest. Her could see those clear blue skies already."You have my word, your Highness."
"Silver, I don't see Marine anywhere. What happened to her?"
"I don't know. I'm sorry. I couldn't concentrate on my teleportation properly," It pained him to tell the princess of his failures. "She let go of my hand...must've fallen into the ocean."
Blaze showed him an encouraging smile. "She'll be all right. Maybe it's safer in the ocean. I sense something big coming this way."
"Is it Akatsuki?" Silver asked. He too felt an eerie presence lurking behind the shrouds of sand. "I can barely see through all this sand, this haze. What the hell happened here?"
"A demon. This is the power of a fire demon, burning with the essence of eternal flame. Hot as the sun itself. It's coming for me, but I'm not sure why."
"If it wants to fight, I won't let you face this creature alone," Silver insisted.
"Here it comes," Blaze stood still and watched as a dark foreboding shadow came closer. "Strange. There's something so familiar about this presence...like it knows me."
A giant cat demon with two tails revealed itself before them, completely covered with midnight blue flames that danced mesmerisingly around her body. Not raging crackling like a wildfire, but ebbing and flowing in harmony like an endless ocean of fire. A pair of golden yellow eyes, like two miniature suns stared intently at the hedgehog and the cat.
"Those flames...they're so hot," Blaze said, wiping sweat from her brow.
Silver had never seen her sweat before. He never saw the regal princess look this faint before. "Fire burns through your blood. I thought you never get hot."
"I don't. Unless-"
"This is not normal fire," the demon cat spoke.
"Who are you?" Blaze asked, looking up into the cat's eyes, unable to take her eyes off this fire spirit.
"Princess Blaze the Cat, I am Matatabi, the flaming two-tailed demon cat." Her voice was powerful but had an air of nobility. "I have not come to harm you, but to offer you a choice."
"A choice? W hat kind of choice?"
"Join me and become my Jinchuuriki. I seek a new host who can contain my power."
Blaze felt a need to bow, or at least kneel before the giant cat. "Why would you want to seal your spirit into the body of a lowly mortal such as I?"
"A bijuu's power is stronger if it is bound to the right host" said the demon cat. "I sense a kindred spirit in you. You are a cat and a master of the art of fire. You will make a worthy host to contain my flames. I offer you now the chance to harness a type of flame like nothing you ever experienced."
"You are no mere demon," Blaze said. "She is a true master of fire, I thought I understood the secret of fire. I was wrong. So very wrong."
"Be warned. My flames are not easily controlled. Your soul will share in the essence of chaos and demonkind. And in the end, our bond can only be undone in death. It will be difficult, but there's no one I can see on this planet who is more up to the task than you."
Silver pulled her arm, moving her away from the demon's face. "Blaze, tell me you're not seriously considering this, are you? To seal a demon inside you? Do you know what this means? You'll be come just like-"
"Just like the Kyuubi," Blaze finished his sentence. "The same creature that we came here to kill. Yes. I know. But he wasn't what we thought he was. Perhaps our relationship with the demon world isn't as simple as we thought."
"You have no idea, Princess," Matatabi smiled, baring her flame licked fangs. You merited the ability to travel thousands of years through the time stream. I am part of a power that has existed since the dawn of time. The thousands of worlds I've seen, the millions of beings out there. There are so many secrets and mysteries waiting to be uncovered. Join with me and you will find untold power. And the promise of a new future."
Blaze turned away from Silver and stepped closer the demon. "I accept. I will become your new Jinchuuriki host."
"Blaze, wait! You don't know what you're getting yourself into!" Silver shouted.
"No. I don't," Blaze said firmly. "But neither did we know what we'd be getting into when we travelled to the past. Maybe this is what the future needs. Maybe this is what I need. Maybe this is why we came here."
"I'll prepare the sealing ritual now. Last chance to back out, Princess."
Blaze did not flinch as the demon cat reached out to her with its claw extended. "I swore that I would do whatever it takes to save my kingdom and end the scourge of demons. I'd gladly give up my life, my very soul. Even if it means becoming a demon myself."
"Then ignite your flames. Our fires will now merge and join together as one."
"Just one thing first," Blaze said forcefully, causing the demon cat to retract her claw. "I will only use your demon powers to do good. Not to feed some savage demonic hunger for death and destruction. I won't allow your flames to harm any innocents."
Matatabi laughed. "As you wish, Princess."
"Why are you laughing like that?"
"I was just thinking of my old host. Yugito was a good woman. She's be honored to have you as her successor."
Blaze turned to Silver. "I don't know what will happen to me now, Silver...if something goes wrong here, if I lose control...then kill me."
"Yes, your Highness."
With one flaming claw, Matatabi drew a spiraling circle of flames on Blaze's stomach. Their eyes met and Blaze's eyes flared with the bijuu's demonic chakra. Blaze screamed as her entire body was engulfed in hell fire. The giant two tailed cat turned into a whirling tornado of dark fire that rushed itself into Blaze's chest. Blaze yowled in pain, but her screams were nearly drowned out by the roaring flames that were sucked into her stomach. Smoke filled her lungs. Her blood boiled. Her flesh was on the verge of melting clean off her bones.
Silver looked on it in shock at the princess writhing in pain, the hellish flames consuming her. He didn't know what to do. Should he grab Blaze? Run away? Kill her?
"It's all right," Blaze shouted. A pillar of fire erupted from her like a volcano and shot up into the sky. "I can do this. I can control it. I COMMAND ALL FIRE!"
Blaze stood up slowly as the flames died down. A strange smile crossed her face as she looked at her hands and dark sapphire flames danced around her fur and the demon cat's voice echoed in her head.
"You are now Princess Blaze," declared Matatabi in her head, "Jinchuuriki of the Two-Tailed Cat."
Blaze was back on her feet, black wisps of smoke came from her body. Her new aura of demonic energy was an inferno of blue and black flames. The raging fires quieted down and bent themselves to her will. There was a powerful gleam in her eyes, the hint of users power that infused her being.
Blaze cupped her hands around Silver. The fires were cool to the touch.
"Silver. I know it must might be difficult to see me like this," she said. "Please trust me. It is me. I feel stronger than ever. I'm ready to fight against Pein. Teleport yourself to a hospital and get help. I can do this alone."
"Yes. Your Highness." Silver bowed and teleported away in a flash of green light.
Now alone, the newly created Blaze the Demon Cat looked to the city's sky line where the titan sized Pein rampaged through the city. A grotesque smile crossed the creature's face before he opened is mouth to fire its energy beam.
"That mechanical behemoth must be destroyed."
"And now he can be," Matatabi assured her.
Blaze rocketed upwards to face the giant rampaging Asura Path. It was easy to get his attention. He sensed the overwhelming spike of chakra that broiled everything near her. It could only come from the power of a bijuu. He turned around and met the cat, floating in front of him, shrouded by a sea of flames.
"I knew that sooner or later your kind would return to face me, Nibii no Bakeneko," Asura Pein's voice boomed. "You must be furious. Was it so painful to be ripped out of your host body and sealed into the statue of the Outer Path?"
"Your men killed Yugito. The months I spent trapped in the world of the Outer Path were nothing compared to the pain of losing my comrade. You murdered her."
"I never expected the bijuu would seek out new hosts so soon," Asura Path said, showing his gigantic metal teeth. "Now I will have to kill your new host." He raised his monstrous hand to swat her away. Blaze jetted to the side so fast, the giant robots moved like a glacier. Blaze never imagined she could move at such speed.
"Blaze. Pein has grown stronger than ever. He won't hold back. I wish there was time to help you train and get used to your newfound powers, but we can't hold back against this killer. Let us create a Tailed Beast Bomb."
"How do I do that?"
"It's risky to use one so soon, but we can do it. Relax and gather all the flames in your body. I will add my fire to your own. We will combine our energies, yin and yang, and demonstrate a power like none other on Mobius."
Asura Pein saw his opening and swiped his saw blades through the fire that shielded her and sliced her across her midsection. Blood stained her royal purple garments, dripping downwards.
"That...was a mistake," Blaze hissed through gritted teeth.
The blood that dripped from her wounds burst into flames and floated in front of her face small red globules. Each droplet, saturated with chakra gathered around Blaze's mouth and opened wide. Her insides were brimming with a dark energy. The demon cat's flames crept out of her hosts mouth and mixed together with her blood. Blue and orange flames merged together and a dense of ball of fire was formed.
Pein recognized the technique that was forming. A desperate attack done by all bijuu.
"The Bijuu Dama..."
The darkest, hottest fires in existence erupted through Blaze's fur, turning it pitch black.
Asura faced the flaming cat with an ugly smirk. It unleashed a barrage of missiles at her. All of them evaporated into harmless vapor when they neared her burning chakra aura. With a titanic roar, he opened his mouth wide and fired a high intensity blast of brilliant, green light.
"Do it now, Blaze!" Matatabi shouted in her head as Pein's attack surged ahead.
Blaze hurled her giant fireball from her mouth. It collided with Pein's energy beam in center of the sky. Asura Path roared as as Blaze's fire bomb pushed agains the emerald force and threw its energy beam back in Asura Path's face face. There was a guttural chocking sound coming for his throat when he swallowed the super hot, dense mass of energy.
The giant mech lit up like a dying video game boss, with white hot rays of light emanating from every crack and pore in its body. Asura Path erupted like a supernova, taking a good chunk of the city away with it. Blaze was almost blown away herself, but her new demon power shielded her and helped her ride the waves of the explosion. When the shockwaves died down and the smoke cleared away letting the city still to a dead silence. The remains of Asura Path's body, all blasted away into tiny shards, and rained down on the city.
Blaze looked around for the Master Emerald, but the power of the blast pulverized the Emerald into a fine dust. It was everywhere now, gently falling from the sky like sparkling green snow. Each tiny flake, as small as a grain of sand, glimmered with light.
Blaze clutched her stomach in pain. The wound had already healed, but the chakra storm boiling inside her was too much to take. "This chakra is so overwhelming. How do I shut down?"
"We can't shut down yet, Princess," said the demon cat within. "You did beautifully in destroying one of the paths of Pein, but there are still five more left."
Blaze moaned in pain. "It feels like my insides are frying. I don't think I can take much more of this."
"Take a deep breath, Princess," Matatabi said in a gentle, caring tone that Blaze never thought would come from a demon. "The Bijuu Dama takes its toll on even experienced Jinchuuriki. Keep yourself centered. Let your chakra coils accept the fires coursing through them. Let the flames wash over you like a waterfall. Feel its inner coolness. Don't focus on the destruction. Let the fire be a healing light for you in the midst of all this darkness. Just a little bit longer. Let's at least do enough to pay our debt to Kurama and his young host."
"Is the Kyuubi a friend of yours?"
Matatabi chuckled. "Not really. Kurama is a mean, arrogant, boorish creature who thinks he's stronger than every demon just because he has more tails. And he's a pervert. But if not for him and his host, we wouldn't be free. For that, we owe them. If we can free them from Pein's grasp, maybe that kitsune demon will learn to appreciate the rest of us, if only a little bit."
"So what do we do now?"
"Pein will be on his guard now. Our next battle will be even harder. We go for the fat Pein. The one known as the Preta Path. He can absorb any energy based attack."
"Even our demon chakra? Then what's the point?"
"He'll have to drop the kitsune to focus on absorbing our energy. That will give us an opening while someone grabs the kitsune."
"We'll need someone to help us."Blaze sniffed the air. She picked up the scent of a rabbit. Sure enough there was a young rabbit hovering above with her chao.
"Usagi child. Come here. Don't be afraid."
Cream floated over to Princess Blaze. Her royal purple vestments and her white fur was now wreathed in a halo of dark blue fire. It was like the night became alive and Blaze wore it as her royal cloak.
"Princess Blaze. Is that really you?"
"Yes, Cream. I look a little different now. I'm not sure myself what I've become, but it is me. Right now, we need your help. Tails needs your help."
"You want to help your friend, don't you?" Matatabi's voice rumbled from within Blaze's throat.
Cream nodded her head vigorously. "Yes. I'll do anything to help Tails."
"See that man over there who holds the kitsune captive?" Blaze pointed to the fat Pein. "He is preoccupied with absorbing Tails' demon chakra. We will cause a distraction to separate him from Tails. It will be too risky for him to hold onto Tails when I attack him head on with fire and physical attacks. When he drops Tails, you grab him and fly away. Understood?"
"Yeah!" Cream beamed with a happy smile. "Let's go save Tails! Ready, Cheese?"
"Chao!" Cheese buzzed around her, pumping himself up.
"What does that weakling rabbit girl think she's doing?" Preta Pein saw the little rabbit hurtling towards him on the attack. "Does she really expect to-"
"PEIN!" Blaze called out. A halo of flame flared up around her. Preta Pein swerved around to see the cat. "For the sake of the future, in the name of the jinchuuriki you've slain and the bijuu you captured, you will pay!"
"Hmm. So you destroyed Asura Path. You won't be enjoying that new Jinchuuriki state for long. Prepare yourself for a world of pain."
"Take your pain and burn!"
Jets of fiery chakra exploded out of Blaze's hands. Searing flames came pouring out her eyes, her nose, and mouth. Her body was engulfed with light and energy, blazing like the heart of a star. Everything around her in a twenty foot radius heated up to a million degrees and melted into slag. A massive tidal wave of fire exploded outward and rushed towards Preta Pein. He tossed Tails high into the air, out of range of the fire blast. With both hands creating a blue chakra barrier, Preta Path reached right into the massive conflagration. He stood within the fire storm untouched. The Preta Path, god of the Hungry Ghosts, drank the fires and siphoned them all into his body.
Blaze kept pouring it on, unleashing hell on the Akatsuki Leader."He's absorbing all of my fire chakra. Just as I thought. It's all yours now, Cream."
High above the raging fire storm, Tails was still unconscious and was about to fall back towards the earth. Cream darted towards Tails and caught him in her arms.
The other Pein, the one everyone called Leader of Akatsuki, snatched Cream and Tails out of the air with his telekinesis, pulling them towards his outstretched arm.
"Foolish rabbit. Did you think that our eyes would be off him for even a second that you could so easily save him?"
"Let. Him. Go!" Cream cried and tried to pull Tails away, but there was no way she could compete against the inescapable pull of Pein's Heavenly Attraction. Soon, everything in the vicinity was pulled into his vacuum. A street lamppost was plucked from the ground and smacked Cream in the back of the head. Tails slipped from her fingers as she fell onto the street, while Tails was sent flying into the vortex in a spiral of flame, dust, and smoke, heading straight for Pein's open palm.
"Taaaaaaaiiiiiiiiiiils!" Cream cried. She shut her eyes, afraid to look at what horrifying thing Pein would do to him.
Just as Tails was about to meet Pein's hand, his eyes flashed open. He plucked a shard of broken glass from the air. In an orange blur of speed, Tails sliced through Pein's wrist. His severed hand flung away from his wrist. Gushing streams of blood geysered from a ruptured artery and splashed into Tails' face.
With Deva Pein's technique dispelled, everything caught in the pull of his gravity powers, all the rocks and debris came crashing to the ground in a huge cloud of dust. Tails stepped out of the cloud, now fully conscious. With his blood stained broken glass acting as a makeshift kunai, he got into his battle stance.
"Playing possum," Deva Pein said. "Most impressive."His face suggested that he wasn't at all impressed.
"Tails!" Cream ran over to Tails. She rushed into him and hugged him, delighted to see him awake and his tails wagging freely. "Tails! Are you all right?"
"Hi, Cream." He looked really happy to see her, too. "Yeah. I'm fine. Thanks for coming."
"You have no chakra left," Pein said, coming closer. "I will show you how weak you truly are by killing your rabbit friend right before your eyes while you will helplessly look on."
Pein gestured and soon, all the five Peins were there, surrounding him in a circle. Five pairs of rippling eyes stared at the fox and the rabbit with pure killing intent.
"Wh-what we do now, Tails?" Cream hid behind him.
"Where's that Chao gun I gave you?"
"I lost it in the fight with Deidara when the airship exploded."
"No worries," Tails said. "I'll make you a new one when we get out of this."
"How are we going to do that?"
"I'm not really sure," Tails said, frowning. "We still got Blaze to help us, don't we? Doesn't she have all that crazy demon firepower."
"I'm afraid not," Pein said.
Pein motioned again and another Pein leapt to the fray, riding on the head of a giant polar bear. A frigid arctic mist hissed out of his mouth, but worse was that Blaze was there, bloodied and unconscious, trapped between his icy bloodstained teeth.
"He beat Princess Blaze?" Cream shivered with terror at the sight of beautiful Princess Blaze captured in the jaws of the ice beast. "Tails, he's too strong."
"I am the master of all the elements. It was stupid of her to think her fire would have any effect on me."
The giant polar bear dumped Blaze's body on the ground in front of Tails' feet. Blaze managed a crying gasp. Blood leaked out of the gashes in her torso onto his sneakers.
"T-Tails...," Blaze opened her eyes and said in a chocked whisper. "Don't let him capture you again."
"Becoming the Jinchuuriki of the Two-Tailed Cat didn't help her," Pein said. "She was defeated easily, just like the last time we captured her. Your demon brethren can't save you. Freeing the bijuu accomplished nothing. I'll seal them all away once again soon enough. The world will worship me for ending the demon scourge that you brought to this world."
"SHUT UP!" Cream shouted as she ran up and stared hard into Pein's eye. "You're the bad guy, Pein. Tails will beat you. You haven't captured him yet and you never ever will!"
"She dies next," Pein said simply. He gestured with a finger and the elder craggy faced Pein snatched Cream in his hand.
Tails spun around when she screamed. "Cream! What are you gonna do to her? Which path is this one supposed to be?"
"The Path to Hell," Pein answered.
The King of Hell opened its yawning mouth and formed a powerful vacuum. It sucked in the shards of Asura Path's body. When the trash pile of broken metal parts gathered in, the King of Hell chomped down and started to chew.
When it opened its mouth again, a brand new Asura Path stepped out of the Hell King's mouth.
"As you can see, any damage dealt to the Six Paths of Pain is meaningless," Pein said as he reached his arm into the King's mouth. He drew it back out of Hell's gate with his hand reattached. "We will always come back."
"Can't you just let Cream go?" Tails asked. "Haven't you killed enough."
"The King of Hell seeks out lies and devours them. If she speaks the truth or obeys my command, she lives."
Tails let out a slight chuckle. "It's ok, don't have to be afraid of that. You probably never told a single lie in your whole life."
"Please, Tails. Just forget me. Fly away."
"Fly?" Heh. I've been hearing that a lot lately." Tails shook his head. Not this time. If I don't put an end to this now, he'll never stop."
"Tails!" Cream begged with tears in her eyes. "Don't-"
"It's why I'm here." Tails said softly.
"You must feel pretty stupid waving a broken piece of glass at six god level shinobi when you have no chakra," Pein said.
"I know," Tails said, "but that doesn't mean I'm useless," he took out a small remote control from his glove.
"Some invention of yours?" Pein asked.
"You're not the only guy who can summon things," Tails said, pressing the button.
For a few seconds, they waited and nothing happened
"Aaaany minute now..." Tails tapped his foot impatiently the way Sonic always did. He looked around at the circle of six Peins, feeling really stupid that he was holding a broken piece of glass and zero chakra. "Come on. Get over here, you dumb thing."
After a few agonizing seconds, a faint buzzing filled the air.
"He's on his way," Tails sighed with relief.
A tiny robot dog that resembled a mechanical Tails flew down by Tails' side.
Tails giggled when the robot pup licked. "Hi, T-Pup. I wish I could play with ya now, but first we got a problem."
T-Pup flew up into the face of Deva Pein and growled.
"Yap! Yap! Yap!" T-Pup barked at the Akatsuki Leader as he zipped around him with twirling helicopter blades.
Without looking, Pein swatted the small robot dog away like an annoying fly. The little robot dog yipped as he came crashing into the street.
"Was that it?" Pein asked, getting impatient. "That was your summon?"
"Huh?" Tails looked at him confused. "No way! T-Pup just happened to show up first, cuz he's the faster than the other one."
"The other one?"
The earth started to shake. Something with huge amounts of energy was closing in fast. All six paths of Pein looked to the sky. A comet streaked across the night sky with a blazing tail of fire, lightning, and ice. It was getting bigger, coming towards them. Whatever it was, it was heading towards them within that ball of fire. And it was big.
"That would be my summon," Tails said, grinning.
The comet landed on top of Pein's polar bear, smashing it into the ground, crushing the giant bear's flesh and bones to a mushy pulp that baked on the sides of the newly formed crater. From the bottom of the deep crater, a pair of giant metallic paws climbed out of the pit. A demonic looking three headed robot dog. It made a metallic snarl as it emerged onto the street, baring its mouths full of gleaming fangs. Each mouth was brimming with energy of a different kind. One head's teeth was crackling with lightning. Its eyes glowed white. Another head breathed out a cloud of frost. Its eyes were icy blue. The final head had a mouth filled with hellish flames. Its eyes were like pools of magma.
"This is my second robot pet...T-Cerberus."
"Y-your pet?" Cream asked aghast as she beheld the snarling three headed robot monster dog.
"T-Pup is one of my first pet projects," Tails explained. "I had so much fun making it, I'd thought I'd try another one. I made him a bit tougher. You know, in case I don't have Mecha Kyuubi around. Don't worry, Cream. He's actually very friendly. Just now I've activated him for kill mode."
"T-Cerberus," Tails pointed to the circle of Peins. "Rip these guys apart!"
The robot beast roared and charged forward, raining down fire blasts, lightning bolts, and icy rays on everything its path. Preta Path dove into the front line, activating his energy barrier. Animal Path was behind him, leaping away from stray breath attacks and slammed his hand on the ground.
Animal Pein summoned his own monster. T-Cerberus lunged for the dog's neck, bit into it, and savagely tore its head from its neck.
The headless dog's neck twisted and shifted and multiple heads grew in its place. T-Cerberus made a rumbling sound like laughter before it reared its head back and belched out a deadly wave of energy that struck the summoned dog squarely in the chest with all three elements at once. Tails watched with amazement as the lights reflected in his eyes. Rings of lightning shocked its nervous system, immobilizing it. A beam of ice that froze the dog's insides to a brittle crystal, while at the same time, the flames roasted the flesh off its bones. T-Cerberus kept pouring its energies all at once until the multi-headed dog's death howls faded away and and the giant beast was reduced to a smoky pile of ash.
Pein uttered the words of his signature technique and before T-Cerberus could slurp up the blood on its mouth, Deva Pein waved his arm and lauched the giant mech flying high into the sky.
"Ugh!" Tails' ears went flat and he looked crestfallen as one of his favorite creations went flying into the stratosphere. "That has got to the most annoying technique I have ever seen."
"Not as annoying as your tiresome inventions," Pein said. "Now you see that there is nothing you can build that is too powerful to withstand the Almighty Push of God. Now I will show you how a god handles machinery."
The newly resurrected Asura Path stepped forward and held out his cybernetic arm, its metal twisted and reshaped itself into a cannon mounted to his shoulder. Waves of intense sonic energy fired from his gun arm. Sound waves so loud, so piercing, that windows shattered and and stone crumbled all around them.
Tails screamed and fell to his knees, clutching his head in agony as the sounds reverberated through his skull. Blood leaked out of his twitching ears. His brain felt like it had melted into mush and would soon spill out next.
Pein carefully observed the little fox squirming on the floor as he was bombarded by sonic waves. He had to be careful. A few minute longer and Tails would drop dead right there on the spot. Luckily, there was still time for more pain,
"Shinra Tensei!" Pein lifted Tails into the air only to smash him into the concrete ground. Five seconds later, he did it again, pulverizing Tails' face into the earth, snapping his bones apart all white bombarding him with sonic waves.
"Stop it! You're killing him!" Cream cried.
"Only to a point," Pein said and pushed her away. "I still need this vessel intact."
Another five seconds passed. Tails floated up and came crashing down again hard. He could barely open his eyes. The sonics were murdering his ear drums, liquifying his insides, but even through that, he still made out Cream's broken sobs.
"You're about to slip away, kitsune. By the time you wake up, everyone you know will be dead."
There was a still silence in the air as Asura Path cranked his sonic gun up to full power. Tails painstakingly crawled out inch by inch of the small hole he made in impact. His limbs trembled and his head hang low. Every torn muscle, every cracked bone in his body screamed in pain. Tails fought through it all as he crawled on his hands and knees out of the grave Pein made for him. With a weak grunt, Tails lifted up his eye and stared down the barrel of the cyborg's gun arm.
"I can take it," Tails said with a grim smile on his blood smeared face. "I can take anything you throw at me. That's the Kyuubi way."
"Know true Pein." Asura Path fired. Tails' world exploded into white light.
"Huh?" Tails waited for the screaming onslaught, but felt nothing. When the white haze cleared away, Tails saw that Asura's gun arm was blown away clean off its shoulder.
A blazing white energy ball flew out of nowhere and struck Asura Path dead on, sending the brutish cyborg crashing into the nearest building.
Deva Pein swerved around in the direction of the blast to face this interloper.
"Sorry I'm late, Tails!" a familiar voice called out.
It was Kakashi, galloping on the back of a giant shining white horse - with a dolphin's head and five tails.
"Ka-kakashi-sensei..." Tails said in a weak voice with tears forming in his eyes. "You came back."
"A little trip to the nether world never stopped anyone, did it?" Kakashi reached out with his hand and pulled the little fox onto the demon horse's back and held him close to his chest. "Tails, you poor kid. We better get you out of here." Kakashi commanded his mount to gallop away, but not before it snatched up Cream and Blaze with its tails.
"Kakashi-sensei! Where were you?" Tails asked.
"Learning to ride a five tailed demon dolphin-horse," Kakashi replied. "I figured we'd need the help. It's quite fun, Tails. Hang on. Show him how fast you can go, Kokuo."
The Five Tailed Demon took off at full speed. Silver streaks raced down the city streets, scattering the fires wildly, running away.
"I don't feel so good, sensei."
"Sonic attacks are something you will want to be especially careful of in the future, what with those sensitive little ears you got there. But don't worry. You won't go deaf."
"Greetings, Lord Kurama," the silver horse dolphin spoke. "It's been a long time since we joined together on the field of combat."
"I thought that Itachi freeing all the demons would be disastrous, but these guys are actually real handy to have around," Kakashi said. I was lucky to bump into when I escaped from Gedo Mazo."
Kurama let out a nasty snarl. "Why have you come to help, Kokuo?"
"Becasue we have a common enemy." Kokuo said simply.
Animal Path was above them, soaring on the back of a mutant demonic bird with a horrendously wicked looking beak shaped like a harpoon.
Kakashi sighed. "Pein's not giving us a break, I see. He'll chase us to the ends of Mobius."
"No worries. I'm the fastest of all the bijuu," said Kokuo.
"Hmph," Kurama chuckled to himself. No you're not, pony boy."
"I hear you grumbling down there, Kurama. But I still maintain that I am the swiftest. Easily faster than even Sonic the Hedeghog."
Kurama snorted. "The Hell you are. I still think that Rikudo Sennin must've been drunk off his ass when he created you. A horse and a dolphin hybrid. Someone explain that to me."
"One of the fastest runners combined with the fastest swimmers. It always made sense to me."
"Is this the kind of thing that bijuu talk about with each other?" Kakashi wondered.
"I know how your pride must feel, Kurama, receiving help from your siblings that you have always looked down upon, but I suggest you put those feelings aside and help us. Start by giving your poor host a little healing."
"We can't keep on running forever," Kakashi said. "I have to get Tails out of here and come back with reinforcements."
"I understand. I'll hold them off," Kokuo stopped in his tracks and gathered his demonic chakra into a Tailed Beast Bomb.
"Where are we going?" Tails asked weakly.
"To find someone who can help us defeat Pein."
Kokuo fired a diamond blast just as Kakashi's Kamui swallowed Tails and himself in a sea of red, sucking through the dimensional wormhole. The Bomb exploded in midair, scattering Animal Path's forces into the wind. When Animal Path got his bearings, Kakashi and the kitsune were gone.
Tails opened his eyes and found himself in an alien world.
The skies were green. He was on a hilltop, overlooking a vast tropical valley. A golden sun shone from a bluish green sky. He could hear the forests and swamps below teeming with life. Huge waterfalls cascading over moss covered mountains. The grass under his shoes was springy and sparkling with dew, and the earth was soft and squishy beneath his feet. A spray of mist softly hissed in the air.
He definitely wasn't on Möbius. If Robotnik ever discovered this place, he'd torch it to the ground and build a giant factory on top in a second.
"Kakashi-senseeeeeeeeiiii!" Tails called out.
"I guess Kamui isn't the most accurate teleportation jutsu. He must've landed somewhere else. What is this place?"
"A good place to chill, that's what," Kurama said. "I'm exhausted as all Hell!"
"Me too. I can barely stand," Tails winced with pain with every breath he took and collapsed into the grass. "My ribs are broken. Probably half my bones too."
"Do you have any idea what you look like now?"
"There are people that look a whole lot worse," Tails said. He picked up a walking stick and trudged down the hill towards the swamp. "Sure, maybe old Tails would've ran away and let Sonic finish things, but Mobius doesn't have Sonic now. It's up to me."
"I'm also starving to death."
Tails put a hand to his gurgling stomach. "I'm hungry, too. Maybe we can find some food around somewhere."
"At the first sign of wildlife, kill it and eat it. I don't even care what it is."
Tails started to hike down the hill and through the marshy grassland. The mountain birds with plumage of all colors flew freely in the sky him. The song of the birds chirping sweetly filled the air. "The birds are way too pretty to eat. They remind me of my pet flickies...Wait a sec. I knew there was something familiar about this place. This feeling in the air..."
"What is it?"
"It's sort of like when Sonic becomes Super Sonic," Tails said. "Or like when I became Super Tails. You can feel his energy rippling for miles all around. This whole valley is pulsing with that same kind of energy. I actually feel a whole lot better just walking around out here," Tails stopped to look into a pool of water and saw in his reflection the blood and bruises slowly fading away from his face. "There might even be a chaos emerald nearby."
Stepping out of the dense jungle brush, Tails discovered a waterfall. It looked like a shrine was set up by the mountain side. A circle of statues, all of toads silently deep in meditation surrounding a shimmering pool of oil.
"Something tells me that a lot of the power from this place comes from that pool," Tails said. Curious, he bent down and stuck his hand into the pool of oil.
"Strange..." Tails said, puzzled. "This isn't normal oil. I wonder what kind of properties it-"
"You there!" What do you think your'e doing?" a harsh voice called out. Tail spun around to meet an elderly looking toad about half his size holding a large oak staff in his hand.
"You can't touch that," the old toad said and smacked Tails on the hand.
"OW!" Tails yelped in pain. "What was that for?"
"Don't go touchin' things that you don't know what they're for," said the toad. "And you're radiating a strange chakra, young fella. Looks like demon energy to-Hey! Watch where you going..."
"Yaah!" While nursing his hand, Tails slipped and fell right into the pool. Oil splashed everywhere.
The old toad shook his head. "What a klutz..."
The toad was waiting for him at the edge of the pool with his staff in hand. Before Tails could lurch to his feet, the staff came crashing down on his head and Tails was knocked out cold.
"Feeling, better, Naruto?" Shima asked as she stirred the simmering contents of her dinner over the stove.
Naruto sat hunched over at the dinner table, feeling queasy over the fumes wafting over from Shima's cooking.
"A little. That pain, and those visions are gone, but I still feel like crap. Now I've got this headache that feels like someone's bashing against the inside of my skull. What if I'm being bombarded by psychic signals from another dimension and something like a giant robot is gonna explode out of my head?"
Shima blinked, then went back to stirring her slop. "Ah, you've just been watchin' too many cartoons on an empty stomach. Little Jiraiya was the same way. My cookin' straightened him out."
There was a hard pounding at the door.
Shima looked after throwing some maggots into the frying pan. "Ooh! Dinner guests. I wonder who it could be-"
"Naruto," Fukusaku barged in, dragging along with him a dazed looking two-tailed fox. "You have a visitor. I think you know this guy."
Tails stumbled into the hut like a drunkard and found his way to the table across from Naruto.
Naruto stood up, staring at the newcomer wide eyed. "Tails?" He couldn't hold back the huge grin on his face. "What are you doing here?"
"Ughnn...my head. Hi, Naruto. Whaz fer lunch?" Tails waved and his head collapsed onto the table.
Naruto shot a glare at the old toad. "What did you do to him?"
"He took a dip in the sacred oil fountain," Fukusaku said. "I had to beat him over the head or else he woulda turned into a petrified toad statue by now."
"You beat the shit out of him!" Naruto exclaimed. "It looks like a monster truck ran him over."
"Hey! That's a great idea for my next mech," Tails perked up suddenly. "A big fiery red Kyuubi monster truck! Thanks for the inspiration." He plopped his head on the table again.
"Most of his injuries aren't from me. I found him like this," said Fukusaku. "He was in a fight before he got here, from the looks of it. A real serious one. His chakra's been severely depleted, too. Someone with a very cruel nature turned your fox friend into a punching bag."
Naruto dug his fingers into the table. "Anyone who would lay a finger on Tails has got to be a soulless, cold hearted bastard," Naruto growled. "I'll kick their asses."
"Ah, you're all just exaggerratin' too much," Shima waved her hand dismissively. "Sure, maybe Tou-chan gave him a concussion, and he got a little tenderized, but that's nothin' that can't be cured with some good eats!" The old toad started piling dishes onto the table.
"Do foxes eat this kind of stuff?" Fukusaku asked.
"Looks like we're about to find out..." Naruto said with a smirk.
"This is exactly the kind of thing he needs right now," Shima insisted "My meals are the healthiest you'll find in this mountain region. Packed with protein and vitamins. Not like all that ramen you eat with all those salts and fats and those dreadful simple carbohydrates. Ya can't train a great Sage on that junk!"
"This chubby little fox could stand to learn a thing or two about carbs himself," Fukusaku added, poking Tails' belly with his stick.
"You'll see that after I serve him up this grub, he'll be all patched up and back to full strength, better than ever," said Shima. "He'll be so pumped up, he'll be jumping up and down, beggin' for seconds."
"I don't know about the seconds part..." Naruto muttered.
"Here's the secret ingredient," Shima hed out a handful of black spiders with orange spirals on their backs. "You know your Uzumaki lineage is known for some powerful life force. These are Whirlpool spiders, named for the spiral design on their backs. You can find 'em crawling all over the Whirlpool Country." She crushed them in her hands and sprinkled them onto the dish.
Naruto smirked as he saw what the kit was about to eat. "This is gonna be great. He's so out of it, he doesn't know what's coming."
"Oh just one warning. There's a lot of energy in this grub. I pulled out all the stops. He might get a little too energetic. Maybe a little aggressive."
"I'm sure he could use a little more of that," Naruto slid a full bowl of the stuff in front of Tails' face. "Ya hungry, Tails?"
Tails nodded absently. "Uh-huh."
"Good, because I'm not eating this stuff."
Tails picked up a pair of chopsticks and slurped up a mouthful of juicy maggots, worms, crushed spiders, and crispy fried custard filled grasshoppers.
Crunch Crunch Crunch
"That's right. Eat up, little buddy." With a cruel smirk, Naruto slid him another plate.
"Mphh...! " Tails' face turned a sickly shade of green. His eyes turned watery.
"Look at how much he loves my cooking!" Shima cried.
"BLURGH!" Tails puked his guts out along with the pasty horrors of chewed up bugs onto the floor. Naruto ducked away in time to avoid getting spewed on.
Tails was fully awake, panting heavily, letting his tongue hanging open. The grimy taste coated the insides of his mouth. He would be brushing his teeth for a week straight.
"Wha-what the heck did I just eat?" he cried.
"AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!" Naruto pounded his fist on the table, cracking up so hard, his sides hurt and tears were leaking from his eyes.
Tails sat and stared at Naruto dumbfounded for minute while Naruto continued to laugh his ass off. He started to growl. His tails swished back and forth angrily.
Naruto wiped a tear from his eye. "Oh, Tails. You dumbass! You stupid, stupid little dumbass! That face you made, the way you stuffed those bugs on your mouth, it was perfect! HAHAHAHAHA!"
While Naruto was laughing his ass off, Tails growled as he leapt across the table. He slammed Naruto in the chest and tackled him to the ground. Naruto made a stunned what the hell expression as the wind got knocked out of him.
"You made me eat bugs, you jerk!" Tails yelled and decked Naruto in the face. Naruto knocked Tails aside and pinned the squirming fox down.
"Ease up, fuzzball. It was just a-" Tails kicked him in the gut, sending Naruto flying, crashing through the wall, and rolling down the hill into the swamp.
Naruto got up with an aching moan. "Damn, that kid is strong..."
Tails twisted his two tails and pounced on top of Naruto again and proceeded to pound the crap out of him. Naruto punched him right back and the two of them rolled around on the ground, kicking up a violent dust cloud.
Jiraiya was one his way to the Toads' hut humming a peaceful tune to himself, looking forward for a quiet evening of distraction free writing. The next day, he would be on his way to confront Orochimaru and this was easily going to be one of his last stress free nights. All he wanted to do was set is mind at ease and let his creative juices pour out onto the page. That hope was shattered when he noticed the gaping hole on the side of the house and Naruto engaged in a wrestling match with a little orange fox creature. At this point, Naruto had his hands around the fox's throat who was thrashing away with two tails.
'What's all this commotion about?" Jiraiya asked, scratching his head. "Huh? A two tailed fox? Is that...when did he show up?"
"Just today," said Fukusaka, appearing beside him. "I think he and Naruto-chan are busy getting to know each other again."
"Geez, when the Sage said there would be an epic death battle between Naruto and the demon fox, I didn't think it would happen today."
While fending off Tails' punches, Naruto dug his hand into the soft earth and pulled up a handful of worms. In his other hand appeared a Rasengan. "You didn't finish eating yet, Tails. Now you can either eat this handful of worms I just plucked out of the ground or see what this Rasengan tastes like."
"Oh, yeah? Well, I'll feed you this Chidori!" Tails shot back, countering with a thousand chirping, crackling lightning bolts fusing to his hand.
Jiraiya looked on in fascination. "That fox learned how to use Chidori? Let's see how tough it is."
"Stop them, Jiraiya-chan," Fukusaku protested, "before this gets out of hand and they kill each other!"
"Very well," Jiraiya sighed and stepped in between Naruto and Tails. "All right, I don't know what this is all about, but I think you two need to break it up. Someone's gonna get hurt."
Too late. Tails and Naruto rocketed towards each other, their hands pulsing with charka that set the toad swampland aglow.
"Oh, crap..." Jiraiya croaked just before both the blinding force of a Rasengan and a Chidori plowed into him.
"EEEYAAAAAAARRRGGHHHH!" A blinding explosion sent Jiraiya flying off into the clouds, only to later crash into the distant mountains.
"Look what you did now, Tails," Naruto shot an accusing finger at Tails. "You killed my sensei!"
Tails' ears flattened and stared at his smoking hand in disbelief. "But I-I didn't...I mean he was in the way...I couldn't stop..."
"Heheeheeheheh..." Watching Tails squirm so nervously, Naruto couldn't hold back anymore and started cracking up. Tails was left feeling very confused. "Sorry, Tails. I just love messin' with you."
"Heheheheheheh..." Tails found himself chuckling and soon, he too couldn't hold it in.
They both laughed and ran into each other. Tails jumped up and hurled himself into Naruto's arms, knocking him to the ground again. Naruto grabbed Tails into a headlock and noogied the hell out of him, laughing the entire time.
"Ah! Lemme go!" Tails cried and wriggled free from Naruto's grasp.
"Heh. It's so great having you back, little buddy. Life's been boring here without you. I haven't had this much fun in a long time."
"Fun?" Jiraiya growled when he made his return. He gritted his teeth as he dragged his feet along the ground, glaring at Naruto with a pained expression on his bruised and ashen face. "You think it's fun getting electrocuted and blown halfway across the mountain? If my line of apprentices didn't invent those jutsus, I'd be dead by now!"
"Oh, hey, Ero-sennin," Naruto greeted. "This is my little brother, Tails, the super awesome ninja fox. Tails, that's my sensei. He's an even bigger pervert than you are."
"Well met, Tails," Jiraiya extended his hand and shook Tails'. "It's an honor to meet a fellow pervert."
"Wha?" Tails looked confused.
"Don't be so modest," Jiraiya said, grinning. "I would love to have some of your input for my research. Naruto really likes to go on all the time about how smart and skilled you are. There's a lot of beautiful women I'd like you to meet, Tails."
"R-really?" Tails blushed, feeling the blood rushing to his face. He mentally forced back an incoming nose bleed.
"Have you read any of the volumes in my Icha Icha series?" Jiraiya asked.
"Not really, but I saw the musical."
"Because I have a problem," Jiraiya said gravely. "The old Sage said that my work was going stale. Maybe you're the answer to breathe some fresh new life into the franchise. Tell me, Tails. Do you think you could invent for me, say, a pair of X-ray glasses?"
"Sure. That's easy."
"Yes!" Jiraiya cackled and started drooling. "I've got lots of other good ideas that could use a genius of your caliber to work on. Ever wanted to make a movie?"
"Much as I'd love to see the great sannin at work, first we have some business to take care of," Kakashi interrupted, casually strolling down the hill.
"Kakashi-sensei! You came here, too?" Naruto asked.
"I teleported here with Tails. Looks like he got here first."
"You were on Mobius this whole time. Weren't you, Kakashi?" Jiraiya asked.
"Tails needed a sensei and I needed to get away for awhile. It worked out pretty nicely for all of us, I'd say."
"And if you came back, then you must need my help," said Jiraiya, crossing his arms. "Who are you fighting?"
"The Akatsuki Leader," said Kakashi. "I know you've always been interested in him."
Naruto's went ridiculously wide eyed. "No way! You fought the Leader? Tails, did you kick his ass?"
Tails looked away from Naruto. "More like he kicked my ass, really," he mumbled. "Oh, man. He's tough. And he did it all those evil looking eyes, staring right into me," Tails started shaking, holding one his tails tightly. "That guy scares me."
Jiraiya bent down and looked Tails in the eye. "Scary looking eyes, huh? Can you tell me what those eyes looked like?"
"They were purple with all these rippling circle patterns," Tails said. "Creepiest eyes I've ever seen. He called it the Rinnegan."
"The Rinnegan?" Jiraiya's face froze. Now it was his turn to start shuddering. "I see. So he's alive," he muttered under his breath. "We must get to Mobius right now."
"Am I coming too, Ero-sennin?" Naruto asked eagerly.
"Absolutely! We need everything we can get to throw at this madman. Time to see if all that training of yours paid off."
"Sick!" Naruto pumped his fist in the air. "You're coming too. Right, Tails?"
"Uh, yeah. Sure thing," Tails said with a lump in his throat.
Naruto sat down next to Tails and pulled and arm around him. "Hey, don't be nervous, little buddy. This is big exciting stuff. I'm really looking forward to see what what it feels like to fight with you on my team. I know the guy hit you hard, but I bet you didn't take any of his shit lying down. He threw everything he had at yo, but you didn't give up for a second. Am I right?"
Tails calmed down a little and his eyes lit up. "Yeah. You're right. I really didn't."
We'll get him this time," Naruto said. "We'll beat his ass together. I promise. We're gonna save the world. And when it's all over, you're gonna be Mobius' greatest hero ever."
Tails' face positively glowed. "Wow, we'll really be fighting together. Side by side. Naruto and Tails. Do you think that has a good ring to it?"
"Yeah, but before we go out there, I need you to promise me something."
"What is it?"
"We're doing things differently than what you're used to. None of this sidekick crap. That might've worked for Sonic, but not with me. I never wanted one before and I don't want one now. If we're going to defeat the Akatsuki Leader, we do it as partners. We fight as equals. I can't be like a sensei to you. Hell, you probably know more techniques than I do by now. It''ll be more like you teach me and I teach you."
"Like...Pokemon?" Tails asked.
"Yeah. Like fucking Pokemon. So get your Thundershock ready, Pikachu. We're going to blast those Akatsuki bastards to Hell and back. Together. What I'm saying is," Naruto placed a warm hand on Tails' shoulder and smiled down at him. "I trust you my life, Tails."
"You okay with this, Jiraiya?" Kakashi asked warily. "We'll practically be handing Pein his target."
"Numbers are our best advantage over the Rinnegan," Jiraiya said, gathering an armful of summoning scrolls. "Trust and teamwork will be more important than ever in this situation. Your favorite thing, Kakashi. You might even say that you've been preparing your whole life for this battle."
"Really? Then if we're all suited up and ready for battle, I'll transport us all back to Mobius."
"Hold it," Fukusaku hopped over to Naruto and placed a sealed scroll in his hand. "The Sage wanted you to have this."
"What is it?"
"That's the prophecy you were given written down," said Fukusaku.
"What do I need this for? The Geezer Sage really thinks I'm gonna forget all that crap?"
"All prophecies are considered as part of the sacred writings of Mt. Myoboku," said Fukusaku. "Anyone who receives a prophecy must keep the recordings of his vision with him. You never know when it might be important for later."
"Fine. I get it. I'll take the dumb scroll," Naruto crumpled the scroll up and stuffed it into his pocket.
"Hye, Jiraiya-sensei?" Tails looked up at the sannin with hopeful eyes. "Can we really do it? Can we really beat Pein?"
"Pein. Is that what he's calling himself these days?" Jiraiya asked. "It's possible. I don't know for sure, but if he's running loose on your world, then I have the responsibility to go there and stop him."
"Because I trained him."
Ash fell from the sky.
Billions of flakes of cold ash fluttering amidst burning cinders blackened the sky and cast a grim shadow over the ruins of Station Square.
With two empty handguns lying before her, Hinata emptied a fresh new box of bullets into her hands, knowing that she would need every single one.
She knew what was to come. "I'll have to fight Pein eventually. I can't hesitate this time. I'll have to do it like Shadow-kun taught me. Right between the eyes." She locked her magazines into place. Pein seemed to be an unbeatable force. Maybe it was stupid to let Cream go down there. Was Konan right? Did she really send Cream to her death? She closed her eye to shut out the negative thoughts. The Akatsuki Leader's chakra was so overwhelming, with all five nature elements and yin yang chakras coming together, it overthrew the precious balance that came form standing in the center of the Eight Triagrams. She breathed from the center of her stomach.
"Naruto-kun is always so positive. I have to be that way, too." she thought. "I'm ready for you, Pein."
A harsh breeze blew past her accompanied by a sinister chuckle and it was then that Hinata was not alone.
"Really? You think you can challenge an almighty god when you still have to get through me?" the woman's voice sneered.
Konana had returned. She has risen from the cloud of ashes, like a dark phoenix. Her Akatsuki cloak was gone, but now she wore a new, much more revealing one. It was a skin tight, sleeveless coat that opened up to her reveal her midriff. She plucked the pale blue flower form her hair that was now blackened by soot.
"This city will crumble to ashes. And from those ashes, Mobius will see the rise of a new god."
"Ano, I think you're all taking this whole "god" concept a little too far," Hinata said. She took careful aim with both guns.
A swirling storm of hot ash surrounded Hinata. "Even if my paper is destroyed, I can still control the ashes and the fire."
Konan spread her wings and took to the air, flying over Hinata. They were no longer angel wings but now took the form of a pair of skeletal wings made of ash, burning with deep embers. Hinata opened fire. Her bullets sailed through the smoke. Her aim was perfect, but the dark angel swooped low and dodged - the gunfire passed through her ash born wings harmlessly.
Hinata backed away, shielding her eyes with her arm against the stinging, burning cinders and the putrid taste of smog. Konan was nearly invisible to Hinata's eyes, now nothing more than a ghostly gray shadow. A cold blue fire flickered in her eyes. She lashed out with a tendril of ash that invaded Hinata's mouth and snaked its way down into Hinata's throat. She gagged and chocked as the bitter taste of burning black ash went down her throat and filled her lungs.
"You are going to suffer a very painful death by asphyxiation," Konan said. "The ash will clog up your lungs until they explode inside you. A horrible way to go."
"Na-Naruto-kun..." Hinata tried to say, but the ash chocked her into silence.
A gust of wind blew from behind The horrible mass of blackness that squeezed Hinata's lungs was expelled out of her mouth. Hinata gasped and chocked as she fell to the ground. She could breathe again. The screaming winds blew her hair in her face. She couldn't see a thing except for Konan's frustrated face as her precious ash techniques were neutralized.
"The winds...like a hurricane? Where are they coming from? Show yourself, coward!" Konan screamed into the howling winds but her voice was barely heard.
"I'm through with you," Konan kicked Hinata in the gut, throwing her off the edge of the roof.
Hinata fell through the air. Nothing to grab onto. Just a straight thousand foot drop to her death on the streets below.
"I'm sorry, everyone" she whispered to herself. "I was so weak." She closed her eyes and waited for the end.
Seconds passed. Hinata felt something touch her hand. Something warm. She opened and to her shock, she found herself suspended in midair. "Am I dead or dreaming or..." Hinata looked up and saw the last thing she ever expected to see in this place.
"I must be dreaming."
Naruto. Naruto-kun was flying in the air holding tight onto Hinata's arm. The red coat he wore fluttered behind him like a superhero's cape. Naruto-kun had swooped down, flying in form nowhere to save her.
"Relax, Hinata. I got you," Naruto said.
"B-b-but who's got you?" she stammered.
"I fly now, Hinata. I ride the wind," he said. "Lucky you I saw you falling."
"You came for me!" Hinata cried and wrapped her arms around Naruto tightly.
"Hey, Hinata," Naruto said as they floated back to earth, "you really got your ass kicked. It must suck having to handle Akatsuki on your own. Why don't you stick with me and we'll beat Pein together?"
"Ano, Naruto-kun, I..." Hinata, already so breathless passed out in Naruto's arms.
"She fainted. Figures. Guess I'll have to fight Pein alone," Naruto said as he set Hinata down. One of the toads would come to watch over her. "If we get into trouble, I hope you'll wake up in time to help us out. I'll need you, Hinata-chan." As he turned away, a faint smile crept around Hinata's mouth.
"Ahhh!" Manic yelped as that miserable force attack ravaged his body and shoved his face into the asphalt. he staggered dizzyingly trying to get back to his feet, but the shadow of Pein was already on top him. Pein grabbed the green hedgehog by the throat and lifted him up so that Manic was forced to stare up close into those deep rippling eyes.
"You thought you could hide from the all seeing eyes of God? Tell me. Where is your sister hiding?"
Manic simply shrugged. "If you're so all knowing, you tell me. We split up when things got crazy. Why would I bother telling you, anyway?"
"Because I'll kill you if she doesn't show up soon," Pein said, squeezing his neck tighter to the point where it nearly cracked.
Manic let out a strangled laugh, a trickle of blood escaping from his mouth. "Yeah? Dude, you'd kill me anyway."
"That was your mistake," Pein said. "If you hadn't interfered with us, you could have been spared. But you came into this conflict seeking glory. All you will find here is pain."
"Hey, man," Manic flashed him a bloody little smirk. "It's like Bob Marley always said, One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain."
"PEIN!" a loud voice echoed across the empty streets." Drop that hedgehog!"
Pein kept his grip tightened around Manic's neck as he gazed down the road to see a ninja walking out of the smoke. They had never met before, but Pein recognized him immediately. He had been watching him for a long time, but since his campaign on Mobius, Pein had almost forgotten about him.
"Uzumaki Naruto," He had to admit that the boy carried a stronger presence with him. He looked almost like the Fourth Hokage, especially with that red cloak with black flames on the bottom. Yes, there was something very Hokage-like about him. "I have no interest in you anymore. Your Jinchuuriki left you and so you are worthless to me."
"I don't need to prove my worth to the likes of you," Naruto said. "I'm just here to make you stop trashing everything on Mobius."
"Hn," Pein threw Manic aside like a pile of trash. "Look around you. This planet is already mine. Did you really think coming here would make a difference?"
Naruto smirked. "Yeah. I thought it would, but in case I'm not enough, I didn't come alone."
A massive thunderclap cracked above. In a flash of lightning, Pein swerved around to see a new group of ninjas. And toads. A whole gang of giant toads armed for battle with swords and axes. All kinds of samurai weapons. In the middle sat a giant red toad with a scar on his face who smoked his pipe. On top his head sat a man with long white hair. The Toad Hermit who summoned them here."
"I can't believe it. You certainly look different, but the same eyes are there. The Akatsuki Leader...it was you all along."
"Greetings, Jiraiya-sensei. My name is Pein now."
"Very well, Pein. Whatever you call yourself, it is my duty as your sensei to put an end to this madness."
"I am not interested in a reunion, sensei. He's with you, isn't he? Where is the two-tailed kitsune?"
Jiraiya chuckled. "All right, Pein. My last gift to my beloved apprentice. I'll give him to you."
Another deafening thunderclap and a chaotic dance of lightning ripped open the night sky, burning bright as day. Tails flew down, surrounded by a blast of radiant blue lightning. He was different now. Pein could see that in the fierce look in his electric blue eyes. The little fox's body was brimming with chakra of all kinds. He looked different too, now wearing wore a long coat just like Naruto's, but his was black with red orange flames licking the behindhim i nthe hot breeze as he stepped in to face the Akatsuki Leader. His forehead protector flashed a shining blue in the storm light.
"So the Nine Tails return to do battle. With friends." The Six Peins gathered together. "I've slain everyone who has gotten in my way until now. You will all be next."
"Would you listen to this guy?" Naruto scoffed. "You ready, Tails? Ready to save the world?"
"Yeah," Tails nodded with an eager grin that showed off his sharp teeth. "Let's do it, Naruto."
To Be Continued