-1Here we are, Monday at last and the votes are in. Overall I'd say it was a very close decision for both sides. Now comes the results. In terms of reviews, there were five total. Four of them all requested that I just post the next chapter today. However, the fifth not only okayed the changes but also gave a very solid and well written reason why she/he said yes.
Now we get to the PMs which were few in number but quite determined to bring dominance to their respective sides. Clocking in with two more 'No, please post it Monday' and six 'I understand that the changes may significantly affect the fic so go ahead and make them' plus two 'It doesn't matter to me just continue to do your best with this awesome fic' it goes without saying that I'll be making the changes.
Six nays and seven yays are the final results. However, I still feel that I should give my awesome readers something and so I'll leave an important scene from the next chapter that may no longer be there once the changes are in effect. Either way, please continue to enjoy Konoha's Hidden Dragon Clan. We'll try posting the next official chapter again in thirty days time.
The very air seemed to shimmer with turbulent maelstroms of tainted energy. Naruto was sure it had nothing to do with the endless stretch of shadows over purple stones and everything to due with the heated breath hitting his back. Shaking his head in resignation, Naruto quickly spun around only to go wide eyed in shock.
Looming directly behind the blond haired boy was a five hundred foot tall living shadow. A shadow that currently was in the guise of a nine tailed fox made of pure darkness! The colossal beast had its' bluish fiery voids for eyes locked solely upon the tiny figure that was Naruto. The blond audibly gulped.
An ear splitting roar echoed throughout the area like thunder and Naruto only just noted that already darkened skies were beginning to fill with gloomy thunderclouds. Visibility begun dropping until only the eyes of the Bijuu imitation were visible. To make matters worse, the floor behind Naruto collapsed preventing him from fleeing back the way he came in. The only comfort he took from the situation, and it was rather small at that, was that the dark imitation of the vixen sealed in his naval was still sitting instead of preparing for a pounce or something worse. The mega fox's eye areas were constantly glued on the tiny boy in an impassive stare.
Unable to go back, Naruto steeled his nerves as best as he could and ventured forward looking braver than he truly felt. The last time Naruto had been forced to battle a replica of the actual Bijuu Queen, he had tons of help. This time however, he was on his own.
"Kyuubi, I really hope that isn't you. If it is, then the joke isn't very funny," whispered Naruto in a small voice as he cautiously approached the giant mass of darkness, not entirely sure whether the actual Kyuubi would've passed up an opportunity to try and eat him either.
Naruto had just made it within ten yards of the beast, more than close enough for it to strike if so desired, and still the Shadow Bijuu merely stared. Of course, Naruto wasn't naïve enough to think for an instant that he might be in the clear. His next footfall only served to prove that correct.
The ground beneath the dark fox groaned in protest as it shifted its' weight and rose up on all fours in a proper fighting position. Only then did Naruto understand the purpose of this trial. Able to now peer between the legs of the dark entity, the blond saw a simple doorway in the far wall behind the creatures. A doorway that was unleashing a large emission of bright white light. Light in such a place was surprising enough, to be sure, but it was the next surprise to grace Naruto's eyes that truly transfixed him.
A person, no, a young girl was advancing through the door. Someone else was here in this place with him! Someone who might just have the answers he was looking for!
That was the young Jinchuuriki's first thought. A completely different dimension from the following train of thinking that came after getting a good look at her just before she faded from view beyond the door. Though made deceptively darker by the angle of the light, the girl's lengthy hair had been as red as could be. As for her clothing, the girl appeared to be wearing a purple tunic with black pants and matching slippers. Since Naruto had only gotten a glimpse of her backside, little could be said about what her face looked like.
However, a couple of unique details still managed to fully mystify the blond haired boy. From her cranium, two lengthy appendages with reddish fur sprouted. Rabbit-like in appearance, the girl possessed truly unusual ears. But it was what was attached to her spine that truly baffled the young Jinchuuriki. Nine dangling tails that looked exactly like those of the Kyuubi swished gracefully behind her.
Now as Naruto had only seen all of this for a few seconds, his initial and completely understandable impulse was to question his own eyes. Had it been a trick of the light or was he really seeing what he thought they were? The boy wasn't given the opportunity to ponder it for long.
Not fond of being ignored it seemed, the shadow fox recalled the boy's attention with a throaty growl. That was all it took to get the boy to visibly pale once more as the weight of the dilemma took root. Fight the fox and possibly be crushed to death or rush after the mysterious girl and risk leaving his back exposed? Some choice…
"Shit! Shit! Shit! Shit!" begun the hopeless mantra in his mind as he frantically sought out anything in the environment that might aid in slowing down this colossal monster. "I'm so not ready for this yet!"
The blond could at least admit that much to himself. Sure he had improved a great deal but frankly he was no match for this creature if it was anything like the actual Kitsune sealed in his naval. Hell, he had even been utterly annihilated when he had help from the Forth Hokage for cry it out loud! Still, Naruto found his body automatically getting into the familiar tempo that only combat could bring as he eased into a ready position. He may not be able to win but that wouldn't stop the boy from giving this bastardized version of his spiritual tenant hell.
The thought had the positive effect of calming him and allowing the spiky haired blond to truly focus just the way his body had been trained. With that true focus came subtle observations that his initial panicked state of mind hadn't allowed him to notice before. Although he couldn't mentally speak with his tenant to confirm it, small clues loudly suggested that this wasn't the true Bijuu Queen. For starters, the mega fox was noticeably smaller from what Naruto could recall of the two times that he had actually seen the Kyuubi.
Indeed it was still freaking huge, but the decrease of about a little more than half of it original's size seemed to make it a little less imposing. Secondly, though the boy wasn't sure if the creature had a life force needed to generate one, the beast harbored no killing intent at all. The mind numbing pressure of malevolent chaos that had all but paralyzed him during the Genjutsu encounter was more or less absent. But the most major difference that truly confirmed his suspicion was the presence of a large, freshly formed scar on the creature's under belly that was bluish in color. Had this truly been the Nine Tails, surely such a simple wound would have healed by now.
The beast was a fake, no doubt about it. Narrowing his eyes into a glare, Naruto briefly wondered if the injury had been caused by that mysterious girl before he charged. Naruto's leg muscles steadily swelled with primed power inducing chakra as the speed of his movement elevated to incredible heights once more. Forming the seals of the Dragon Clan as he moved, his most powerful weapon soon materialized in his hands. The Silver Sword of the Wind Dragon.
As if the chakra blade were a signal, the shadow fox roared in fury and countercharged the blur before it. Both combatants heightened their senses to the absolute peak just a split second before colliding. A massive paw came crashing down upon the boy's arrival point with peak perfect timing. The loud sound of struck earth echoed as a cloud of dust obscured the blue clad boy from sight. Not even a second later, the dust wall surged upward in quick movement before parting as said boy burst free. Landing on the Bijuu imitation's lengthy forearm, Naruto let loose a war cry while dashing along the shadow given solid form.
The fox incoherently vocalized its' outrage as it sat down on its' rear and used its' free arm to try and bush the high speed boy off as if he were a beetle. It didn't do the vulpine creature any good. A well timed high jump propelled the boy well above the beast's paw. Naruto could see the way the fox's muscles rippled slightly from the resulting impact. Had it not looked so much like pure shadow, the young Jinchuuriki could have almost sworn that he was fighting a living entity.
In any case, a deftly executed aerial skip found him vanishing from view to impale the top of the monster's paw very deeply with his sword thanks to the extra momentum. It was probably only a pinprick to the creature but it still snarled in prideful anger at being dealt the first blow. Anchoring himself in place with chakra directed to his feet, Naruto yanked his blade free resulting in just a tiny wisp of inky black smoke rising from the wound. While this went on, the giant monster had frantically tried to squash the boy on the back of his paw in a sandwich clap maneuver.
Undeterred or inhibited, Naruto sprang upwards off of the Kitsune's targeted paw directly in front of the nose of the beast. The blond imagined that if the shadow fox were indeed capable of thinking, it would've felt foolish indeed for holding its' paw so close to its' own face. Naruto skillfully scored seven vicious slashes to its' wet nose before being blown quite a distance away by a fetid roar at such close quarters.
With a bit of effort, Naruto was able to twist his body enough to land heavily on his feet. The force of the landing was still enough to make him stumble backwards into a involuntary roll that ended with him on one knee and one palm. Teeth gritted and eyes hard, Naruto buoyed his head to find a decidedly ticked off Kitsune rising back up onto all fours. Playtime, it seemed, was over for the big bad fox.
For once agreeing with the creature, Naruto rammed his sword blade first into the ground to free his hands. A steady supply of chakra begun flooding his chest and the boy was slightly made aware of a dull heat in that same general area as he ended the seal sequence with the tiger. The fox charged.
"Katon, Karyuu Endan!"
A heavy barrage of fireballs launched repeatedly from the small boy's mouth in the direction of the incoming Bijuu. Fully aware that the bastard fox was much too large to really be affected by the simple Ninjutsu, Naruto wisely targeted the beast's face and eyes. The fake Kyuubi wildly bucking it's head about was all the evidence Naruto needed to know he has struck his mark true.
No time was wasted as Naruto seized his sword once more and accelerated his movement to max to take advantage of the golden opportunity he had gained. Still trying to shake the momentary blindness out of its' eyes, the shadow fox remained unaware of Naruto's ascension along its' arm until the pint sized kid leaped directly into its' giant ear. A sharp and admittedly painful assault on the Bijuu's eardrum followed resulting in a true howl of real pain.
The beast was frantic and bound forward with huge strides towards the nearest walls while inky black smoke poured out of his invaded ear. Unceremoniously, the snarling and whimpering beast struck the wall with a full blown head butt that caused the area to shake. When that didn't cease the barrage of sword blows to the interior of the Kitsune's ear, the giant vixen copy begun banging its' head over and over again repeatedly and desperately. Damn it all, the attacks really hurt!
Naruto himself was more concerned about the inky blobs of what looked like earwax as he held a deep breath while hacking away at anything in the creature's ear that looked sensitive. The need for holding his breath being due to the thick cloud of smoke flooding the giant tunnel of tissue and ear bones. So far, Naruto had been blindly hitting things for the last one thousand swings before he stopped counting. As a result, his sword was shiny bright with the largest amount of pent up energy he had ever seen.
Naruto knew without a doubt that the main attack of his weapon would have no problem bringing a new world of hurt to his otherworldly opponent. That was why he was trying to last as long as possible on that precious breath of air as he struck repeatedly and strengthened the attack even further. He was already nearing his limit but the wait would surely be worth it, wouldn't it? The boy was more than determined to find out.
His lungs finally beginning to call for fresher air, Naruto raised his glowing chakra blade over head and set his expression to one of focused determination…
The fox imitation was still desperately slamming its' head against the wall without concern for personal safety when it dimly registered that the chaos of pain in its' ear had lessened for a few seconds. Just as the Bijuu was going to look about its' surroundings in search for the boy that it hoped had been dislodged from its' ear, a massive pressure invaded its' skull. With it came literal mind numbing pain as the howling of wind echoed in the shadow's head.
A giant and surprisingly blue colored tongue lopped free of the creature's mouth. It was then that the beast's eyes grew wide as a sizable portion of the right side of its' head begun swelling as if a tumor were trying to force space in its' head. A sharp intake of breath later, the right ear and a large chunk of the side of the shadow's head surged outward in a gruesome explosion of black smoke! A high speed funnel of chakra infused wind followed whistling and howling from the gaping hole in the beast's head!
Five seconds later, a dark blue blur shot backwards out of the smoke. Naruto's expression was tired but victorious and it showed in the feral fox grin he wore as he freefell. Just before making use of the aerial skip to safely touchdown upon the ground, Naruto double thrust both hands forward and flashed the mutilated Bijuu both of his middle fingers.
A resounding boom reverberated for quite a time as the mega fox dropped onto its' left flank and laid panting on its' side with increasingly slowing breathing. Bad luck on its' part for being unable to copy the real Kyuubi's regenerating abilities.
Naruto waited, breathing heavily and fully on guard, for what felt like an eternity for the shadow's breathing to stop altogether. Only then did the blond haired youth grasp his knees and hang his head while panting. Like always, prolonged used of his best move was ridiculously draining. In all honesty, the kid wasn't sure what he would've done if his brilliantly crazy plan hadn't worked. He was just grateful that the ordeal was over at last.
For a few minutes, Naruto rewarded his body with some much needed rest before straightening up and shifting his gaze to the only exit in sight. The door that the mysterious woman had used earlier still shone just as brightly as ever with no concern for the defeat of its' guardian. Not wanting to spend another moment longer than he had to in this strange place, the young Jinchuuriki made to approach it only to freeze at the sudden scratching of sharp nails on a hard surface sounding behind him.
Naruto had no opportunity to react. A large tail crashed into him from behind with rib shattering force that drew a pained cry from the targeted victim. Naruto slammed hard into the stone wall in front of him and was promptly pinned their by the furry feeling appendance pressed to his throbbing back. The boy didn't need to see the owner to know that Foxy-teme wasn't through with him yet. The oversized bastard had been playing possum!
Naruto could feel the heavy weight on his back slowly crushing his chest to the wall and had to grit his teeth to cope with the pain. However, the boy's arms had been left free. That was all he needed to try and turn the tides on his literally half brain-dead foe. His favorite seal was quickly formed.
"Tajuu Kage-Bunshin no Jutsu!" the boy sound with the small bit of oxygen he forced to his lungs.
Naruto didn't bother to ponder the just now noticed fact that he and his large playmate seemed to have corporeal bodies in this place that hardly seemed to apply to the laws of reality. Nor did he bother to comprehend how he was able to use chakra. All that mattered was breaking free so that a little more nine tailed butt whipping could be administered to this brute.
One hundred and twenty-three Narutos materialized from clouds of smoke and shot forward all at once to land perfectly synchronized kicks to the Bijuu's lower muzzle. Practically as good as an uppercut from someone its' own size, the mega fox's head snapped backwards causing it to topple over onto its' back. The real Naruto wasted no time in escaping with a little help from his clones just as the beast scrambled back onto all fours.
Furious, a deadly swath was cut through the clone army as it used every single limb it possessed to try and destroy them all. Tiny little blond haired children were swarming its' body like the insects of the Aburame Clan as the beast swiped, smashed, roared and smacked at anything that moved. With half a brain gone, it was about as intelligent as a the creature who's form it vaguely resembled. Not nearly as challenging it seemed.
All nine of the creature's tails were stabbing out like over agitated snakes, each trying to home in on the heart of any clone in their paths. The result was a chaotic disorder of numerous platoons of tiny blue clad blurs dodging with minimal lost for Naruto's side and maximum irritation for the giant woodland creature. Irritation that served to further heighten when one of the pests appeared in a flash atop its' snout. A familiar feeling of déjà vu overcame the boy who was in fact the real one standing on the shadow mass's nose.
From the way Naruto thrust his fist forward to the way his gaze held steady to the creature's own. Just as he said to the Kyuubi within Jiraiya's Genjutsu, the silent message was clear. Naruto was going to take this stuffed animal down. So it was, the colossus was made to suffer quite a bit when the seemingly random movement of the blond annoyances revealed their true nature. Distracted by the boy on its' snout, most of the clones moved unhampered to the large blue scar on the vulpine shadow's breast.
Readying dozens of primed exploding tags, one of Naruto's favorite tactics was put to play once more via a chain reaction of over two hundred suicidal detonations. True pain sounded in the Kyuubi's voice as the largest smoke cloud of all engulfed the site of the conflagration zone. Naruto stumbled slightly to his knees due to the sudden shaken of the Kyuubi imitation brought on by wobbly limbs. The Bijuu was panting and its' single remaining eye was fighting slightly to stay open. From the looks of it, Naruto had successfully nailed a critical weak point!
Convinced that the beast was of no further threat, Naruto sprang backwards off of the thing's nose into a perfect moon vault. Naruto's gaze remained narrowed in warning as he dropped the reasonable distance back to ground level. Only a tiny bit painful, the boy rose to his full height without problems. Other than following his every move with its' eyes and growling a little, the Bijuu remained stationary. Smoke steadily continued to billow from the chest wound speaking volumes for Naruto's improvement as a Shinobi.
Of course, the satisfaction it brought on was small. Naruto knew that he was still far from a match for the true Queen of Bijuu. This petty imitation was nothing at all by comparison but still not to be sneezed at either. Guard up, Naruto slowly begun to retreat backwards to the illuminated exit he knew was somewhere behind him. That had been a mistake.
Within every living creature there exists the most basic of survival needs. Be it the hunter or the hunted, the warrior or cadet and even the strong and the weak, that instinct reined. Based on that principal, any event in which the possibility of death raises its' head will peak that basic instinct to the surface during mortal combat. Therefore, all who are existing on the brink of death during times of strife always deliver the last blow with all of their soul behind it. As such, Naruto found himself on the receiving end of just such an attack.
The Kyuubi roared again, but this time it seemed to have something besides feral rage in mind. Very small at first, a tiny sphere of jet black chakra materialized in front of the Kitsune's mouth. Swiveling each one of its' lengthy tails, the tips of its' swaying appendages hovered above the orb of energy. Slowly, the tiny ball begun to swell as smaller black spheres from its' own body begun to collect and merge within the maw of the beast.
Naruto found himself warily backing up with a stunned expression schooling his features. The ball may have been small, but the power and pressure it radiated was anything but small. The boy had never felt so much concentrated energy in his life!
"Damn it! Whatever he's planning to do with that thing is out of my league! If I get hit I'm toast!" thought the blond fearfully as the fox ultimately claimed the advantage.
By this point, the orb had achieved roughly the size of a small house. Apparently satisfied with its' bulk, the fox did the strangest thing. Opening its' mouth impossibly wide, the giant woodland creature swallowed it whole! Then the most bizarre sight of all befell Naruto's bright blue orbs. The thin beast expanded in size until he looked as if he could pass as a convincing Garfield with black fur. The fat fox then gave a rather creepy grin and crouched down low to take proper aim. The titanic paws causing large craters to form in the purple mineral stone that passed as the floor.
"Shit! Shit! Shit! Shit!" repeated the boy once papa fox opened its' mouth to reveal a bright light much like a warming up cannon gun.
Speed or no speed, the boy knew that he would have no chance of escape. Life could be such a bitch…
The bright light of Kyuubi's attack reached its' climax. Likewise Naruto grimly removed his chakra sealing band, held up his right hand and waited as chakra steadily begun building up into a high speed humming ball of energy. The tattoo of the wind dragon bled into existence on the back of his wrist once more. The tiny orb was all but useless in this situation but since it was clear that he was going to die anyway, again, there was no reason not to try and defend himself to the best of his ability.
"Bring on your poison," Naruto whispered just as the beast let loose and fired.
To say that the wannabe fox demon's attack was not beautiful would have been a flat out lie. The massive white beam of speeding power glittered beautifully from the dancing swirl of energy particles snaking around it. The width of the blast was easily just as far spread as Konohagakure and more than twice as large as the castor itself.
Naruto reared back his Rasengan arm with the acknowledgement that while death would probably suck, at least he wouldn't go out in an unsightly manner. In mere seconds, the rapidly thinning fox's attack had entered range. Naruto quickly acted.
"Shuno no Rasengan!" the blond cried, his arms already in motion.
The wind dragon joined the Spiraling Sphere on contact with the opposing energy source inciting a one sided power struggle between wind element energy and the epitome of destruction. Naruto further braced himself by having his left hand support his violently trembling right arm as he steadily slid backwards to the waiting wall. The boy knew that once his back made contact with the stone wall it would all be over and that the only reason he had yet to barbeque into ash was due to using every last drop of chakra he could squeeze out in his defense.
Even then, the two tremendous heat sources were already beginning to make the skin on his palm and arms peel to expose bloody flesh. The boy's teeth were clenched fully in pain and yet there was no way he was giving up until the very end. That end was drawing ever closer as he continued to slide back with increasing speed. Five seconds was all the time he had left and so Naruto spent them delving within his most intimate memories…
Okay! This is Aninene, signing off!