Naruto was running out of options very quickly. He had used every trick he could think of. Nothing had worked. He could only think of one last option. He pulled out the scroll his brother had given him.
"Please let this thing be strong…" he said to himself. He performed the technique. He poured as much chakra into it as he could. In a blast of smoke, he found himself standing above the forest canopy, on what looked to be a tail. Looking downward, he saw that he was standing on a very, very big scorpion.
"Why have you called me from the stars?" The scorpion, who Naruto assumed must be the legendary beast Scorpio, asked.
"That thing." Naruto said, floating onto Scorpio's head, as its tail was a rather precarious perch. "The giant sand thing, Shukaku."
"Wake the boy." Scorpio said, clacking its pincers and whipping its tail. "I will deal with the raccoon. You wake the boy." With that, it charged forward. Naruto flew above Shukaku. With its attention on the scorpion, it wouldn't be able to protect Gaara.
Naruto readied a kunai, just as Scorpio met with the Titan. Its tail stabbed clear through the beast, and it seemed to feel pain. The tanuki responded with blast after blast of wind and sand, but Scorpio, being a scorpion, was well protected from the two. Scorpio tore chunks out of the sand armor with its pincers, and repeatedly attacked it with its tail.
Shukaku, however, simply re-grew those sections that Scorpio took away. Shukaku swung its tail in an attempt to crush its opponent, but Scorpio was able catch it in its pincers. Shukaku took advantage of the brief opening this created to bash Scorpio in the side, knocking the giant scorpion over.
As the two fought, Sasuke, who was still on the ground, scrambled for cover. He had long since figured out that this fight had gone well over his head, and there was no real point in him sticking around. He was a hindrance, as much as it killed him to admit it. He was only going to get himself needlessly killed, and he was not going to let that happen.
'I need to gain his strength…Naruto's strength…so I can kill him.' Sasuke thought. 'And I'm not dying until that's done.' Deciding his pride wasn't worth the loss of his ambition, he ran for it. Shukaku, however, had noticed that his two opponents had arrived together. Noting the escape attempt, the tanuki diverted its attention from Scorpio to Sasuke, and blasted him with sand. 'Ah fuck me…' Sasuke thought when he found he couldn't move. Then he felt the sand start to constrict. 'Fuck me sideways.' He thought.
Sakura had been watching the fight, and up until that point, had been too awed by the site of Naruto's summoning to notice that her crush was in a rather bad situation on the ground. When she saw him get covered in sand, she ignored Jade's shouts to stay back, she ran to help him. Sasuke was unconscious by the time she got to him. She tried desperately to pull him from the grip of the sand, but she was unable to budge him. 'Naruto…please…save him.' She thought.
Orochimaru was laughing. The elderly Sarutobi was unable to put up even a moderate fight, as they had both fast realized. Orochimaru had finally taken his skill beyond the mortal realm, with Ares' powers backing him, he was a formidable force.
"As long as that link exists, I am invincible. Even Manda bows to me without question. You should surrender to your fate, old man. Even now, he is preparing to lay waste to this entire village. Of course, I will spare you the pain of seeing it happen. I would prefer you be among the first to die."
"You think Ares will give you power? You will be his slave, Orochimaru. Nothing but a puppet."
"No…he has brought me further then you could imagine. But I don't need his teachings to beat you. I still enjoy my own methods. Edo Tensei no jutsu!" Orochimaru said. Three coffins appeared. The third simply smiled. He was merely keeping the snake distracted, while the Fourth watched, and waited for the right moment.
Taurus, the Myrmidons, and every shinobi they could find were watching Kratos and Ares from afar. Their fight had just started but had already surpassed any display of force the gathered mortals had ever scene. Kratos was clearly putting more of himself into this fight then his men had ever seen him do so before. His energy was not wasted.
"I thought Kratos was supposed to be some great powerful demi-god or something." One snide jounin said.
"Perhaps you didn't notice, but that thing he's protecting your sorry ass from happens to be a full fledged god. Even a demi-god shouldn't be able to lay a finger on him. But if you would get past looking at him as a hired hand, and respect him for the damn good warrior he is, you would see that Kratos isn't normal by any means. So shut your mouth, and watch the damn fight, and remember, he's fighting for your sake. I'm sure if you want a crack at Ares, he'll be happy to oblige." Taurus said sharply.
Even the Konoha shinobi, many of whom saw the Myrmidons as a threat to their lives, had to admit that Kratos was the most brilliant fighter they had ever seen. As he fought Ares, even from a distance, it was obvious that while he was far below the god in terms of strength, he was smarter. Ares would throw a punch, and instead of standing firm, which would probably result in him suffering several shattered bones, Kratos stepped back and spun, deflecting the attack while keeping Ares from gaining a positional advantage.
The demi-god was doing everything he could to keep Ares on his toes, dodging and ducking left to deliver a few quick blows to the side, rolling to the opposite side to deliver a brutal kick, then jumping above to avoid Ares attacks. Every punch left small craters. Kratos was well aware that while Ares barley felt a single blow, one hit from the god was more then enough to send him flying. Leaping back to gain some ground, he was vaguely aware of Ares laughing.
"Really now… quite fun, but you're stronger then this." Ares said.
"You're right…" Kratos said, venom dripping from his voice. He formed a seal over his chest, and several seals became apparent on his body. The enraged demi-god closed his eyes for a moment, and erupted in a short burst of red chakra. "I am!"Kratos said, rushing forward.
Taurus, looking down on the fight, noted that Kratos had changed his swords. The first two were useless against a god. Pyrkagia and Pagono were excellently forged blades, but were the weakest of his creations. Choma, the third of Kratos' blades, was forged with the blessing of Gaia herself, and was an immensely powerful weapon, so long as its user was on the ground.
The blade was beautiful, made of black diamond. It's wielder gained power over the Earth itself. Earthquakes, rockslides, destroying or creating mountains…all were within the blade's immense power…if the wielder shared Gaia's blessing, at least. It's edge was sharp enough to cut through even the protection granted by the river Styx. Kratos hoped it would suffice against a god.
Scorpio and Shukaku were at a draw. Shukaku could regenerate whatever Scorpio tore off its body, and Scorpio was immune to Shukaku's attacks due to it's protective hide. All Scorpio could do was occupy the lesser Titan while Naruto made his way toward Gaara.
Naruto was moving as quickly as he could up Shukaku's back. He didn't want to attract attention with a frontal assault. However, with the constant motion of the beast, it wasn't easy to ascend to its head. Still, Naruto pressed on. At the arch of the Tanuki's back, he was forced to use two kunai as climbing tools. Afterward though, he could see Gaara sleeping peacefully, sticking out of Shukaku's head.
"Now…how to wake him…" Naruto said. He didn't want to hurt Gaara, but he knew it would take an amazing amount of force to wake someone who hadn't slept for years. Naruto thought back on his lessons, but he knew of no technique specifically tailored for waking someone up. However, he had been taught the keys to responding to new situations.
'Consider what your opponent has at his disposal. Consider the possibilities for using his tools as your own. Consider ways of eliminating his tools. If you have the time, test them, find out their limits. Then assess your situation. Hopefully, you will be able to find some hole you can work within. A niche, if you will.' Kratos had said. So Naruto sat, and thought. He couldn't come up with anything.
"FUCK IT!" He said angrily, and began a fire jutsu. "Goukyakyuu no jutsu!" Naruto yelled, and sent a giant fireball at the sleeping Gaara. However, Shukaku was still protecting him, and a dome of sand formed around Gaara, shielding him. It didn't recede.
"Damn it all to hell!" Naruto said, kicking a small amount of Shukaku's sand skin in frustration. He stared at the dome, wondering what the hell he was supposed to do. Then he noticed the cherry-red glow of the sand where the fire ball had hit.
'I can turn that dome into an oven! Hopefully, I can keep a fire hot enough and going long enough that the rise in temperature will be dramatic enough to force Gaara to wake up!' It was a long shot, but if nothing else, Gaara would go unconscious due to heat stroke, and that would solve the problem as well, as Shukaku couldn't control Gaara if Gaara's mind was completely shut down. Naruto shifted into his Titan form, and let a fireball loose. He put as much chakra as he could into it, and held it.
For what seemed like hours Naruto breathed fire onto the sand dome. When Naruto finally let up, it was steaming, and the sand seemed to have turned to glass in several places. "C'mon…." Naruto said to himself, waiting for the tell-tale scream of alarm. Sure enough, it wasn't long before he got what he wanted.
"HOLY FUCKING HELL HOT!!" Gaara screamed. The sand surrounding him receded, letting out a great deal of heat. Small portions of the sand armor directly attached to Gaara had also been glassed. As the sand dome fell away, so did Shukaku. When Gaara fell to the ground, his sand armor shattered, showing him to be severely burned.
The sand had nearly crushed Sasuke, but at the last minute, it fell away, letting him go free. Sakura immediately performed CPR (although she was enjoying a great deal more then she was supposed to the feeling of her mouth on Sasuke's), and got him breathing again. Sakura breathed a sigh of relief, and silently thanked Naruto.
"Naruto… I doubted it…for so long… but you truly do have the strength of Gods…thank you…"
Things were not going well for Kratos. Choma left sizeable slashes on Ares, but the God didn't even notice. If anything, the sight of blood pushed him on further. Kratos was beginning to wear down, even in his lesser Titanic form. He had already pulled out his fourth blade, Anemos, a blade of the winds. But tornados, hurricane force winds, and blades of air could only stall the God of War.
"I have no choice…I have to call on my rage…" Kratos said, delving into his old memories of what Ares had forced him to do. The slaughters, the tortures. All done in the name of a teacher who manipulated him. Ares benefited from every soul slain. Every innocent life taken, the more innocent, the more powerful the God became, and the greater the hold over Kratos he had. Kratos had even killed infants in the name of Ares. It wasn't until Artemis…she had saved him. His devotion to her broke Ares' hold, and saved his soul. As Kratos opened himself to his most painful memories, he let the rage take him.
He attacked Ares with a fury unlike any he had ever summoned. His strength had quadrupled. His speed was unheard of, even for him. He began to beat the god mercilessly. A round house kick launched the god up, followed with a spike of Earth driven through his stomach. Kratos created a vortex of wind with his other blade and slashed Ares to pieces. But the God of War simply regenerated, calling on the dead to fuel him. Kratos kept on, attacking relentlessly. He drove Rasengan after Rasengan into the God of War, and still Ares kept coming.
For every bit of fury fueling Kratos onward, Ares could match it. Bloodlust and battle rage consumed him, and he retaliated with an onslaught the like of which had not been seen since he had faced true Titans. He caught a punch from Kratos, and threw the demi-god into a building. He followed up with a simple, brutish beat down.
Blow after blow fell on Kratos, and he couldn't stop them. Ares had him cornered and on the ground. He tried to roll out of the way but couldn't move. As Ares backed away to gloat, his paralysis became more and more apparent. Kratos called out more rage, more hatred, then he knew he ever had. His paralysis only increased further.
"DAMNIT!" He roared with Titanic fury. Ares laughed.
"Kratos, Kratos, Kratos… you never do learn do you? How did I take your mind from you when I was your teacher? I drove you to hate. I drove you to rage. And that fed me, more than you can imagine. I thrive on battle rage and bloodlust! None can be stronger then he who holds the most hatred for his enemy…but unfortunately for you, I am PURE HATRED. PURE BLOODLUST! Whatever hate you feel…it only feeds me. Even now, my control over you grows. Soon… you will be mine again… and you will feed me all who you care for."
Kratos couldn't speak, couldn't move. He was lost in his hatred… his hatred for Ares, his hatred for himself… for being so foolish. 'Is there no escape from him?!' He thought to himself.
The Myrmidons and the shinobi of Konoha watched the scene play out, with hopelessness in their hearts. Ares was too strong. Kratos was powerful, beyond imagining. The powers he had unleashed were enough to destroy a village, but as Ares had said, they were born from the very things that fueled his opponent. To Ares, Kratos was an almost inexhaustible source of pure power.
"We have to help him!" Taurus yelled in anger. Stratos laid a hand on his shoulder.
"There is nothing we can do." He said sadly.
"Maybe you can't." Said a woman's voice. Artemis was standing behind them, soaked in blood. "But I can." She said, running into the fray.
"How sweet. Your whore is coming to see you be enslaved again. This should be entertaining." Ares said. Kratos could only stare at him in hatred, furthering his predicament.
"Kratos! Baby…" Artemis knelt next to him. His body was shot to hell. Broken bones, internal bleeding, the works. He would heal, if he survived, but it would take months. "Don't let him do it to you… please…" Artemis whispered, crying. Kratos couldn't take his black eyes off of Ares. "LISTEN TO ME DAMNIT!" She said, smacking him in desperation. "It's that hatred… it's consuming you again…please…let me bring you back…"
Kratos gave no sign of recognition, but he heard his lover's words. However, his rage had him in its grip. He couldn't simply let it go…
"Remember… all the nights we spent together? Remember every kiss… please Kratos… bring that part of you out… its your only chance. Think about your brother…your mother…about me, your lover… please… come back to me." Artemis said, placing a gentle kiss on his lips.
Kratos' rage could not hold against that. He felt it subside, and be replaced with something else. Love…for Artemis, for his family. He realized in that instant what he had to do to win this battle.
"Thank you… that's twice now you've freed me. I only wish I could pay you back with more then this." Kratos said, kissing her. Kratos, ignoring his injuries, got up.
"Kratos you fool! Without you're rage, you have no hope of challenging me!" Ares said.
"No. My bloodline… it only reacts to emotion. That doesn't necessarily mean hatred, Ares. I can't beat you with rage… if I fight you with only my hatred of you, as you taught me to do… I will lose. But I can call on something else… I won't fight you for my sake. I'll kill you for theirs… for Artemis, for Naruto… I fight for them!" Kratos said, a golden glow surrounding him. A rush of power flooded through him. He felt his injuries heal, his energy rejuvenate. He turned back to Artemis. "I'm sorry…. But this is goodbye." He said, then rushed back toward Ares.
"So… you think this will beat me?! You may have found out a new way to use that wonderful little bloodline of yours… but it won't be enough! You are no God!"
"Ares… my bloodline has only provided the ignition for this power…what I wield now is my heritage… my right… and my dream. I AM A GOD!" Kratos roared, unleashing a burst of golden chakra, more immense then anything anyone gathered had ever felt.
"YOU WILL DIE WELP!"
"Yes… but not before banishing you, forever." Kratos said, revealing his fifth and final blade. "Lithi is its name… I forged it with one purpose. Opening Oblivion…to trap you there, forever."
"You don't have the power!" Kratos didn't respond. He flew skyward, and pointed the blade at Ares, down below him. He began to form hand seals at a blinding speed. This amazed every onlooker.
"Kratos has never, EVER needed to use hand seals… whatever he is doing… it must be powerful beyond belief." Stratos said.
"We should all hold onto something." Seth said. No one needed to be told twice.
As Kratos neared the end of his technique, he had one final thought. "I love you guys… Artemis, Naruto… Mom, Dad…. I'll miss you." He said to himself. "DIINOICHTHIN LISMONIA!" He yelled, flying downward, surrounded by golden chakra. He drove the blade straight through Ares' heart. He stood there, in front of the God, his body slowly disintegrating. A void tore open behind Ares, and began sucking with incredible force. Rubble from the wrecked buildings, dead bodies, and anything not tied down or otherwise secured went flying into the gap. Through the tear, several immense figures could be seen, too large to fit through the gap.
Kratos struggled to speak, as the toll of the attack destroyed him. "Ares… I have conquered you. I… claim… your… seat… and… I SENTENCE YOU TO OBLIVION!" He yelled. In one final blaze of golden fury, Kratos kicked Ares into the gateway, watched it shut as the God fell through, cursing Kratos every bit of the way. When the gate shut, the golden energy faded. Kratos fell to the ground, his skin badly burned, black in places. His mouth leaked blood. Despite the pain, he smiled once, before giving over to the death he had accepted.
Author's Post Notes: I AM BACK! I hope you enjoyed this LONG overdue chapter. More to come on the other stories, and in the next chapter of HOTW, Orochimaru get's his lilly ass kicked. SORRY FOR THE WAIT EVERYONE!