Title: Echoes.

Author: Loki Nishizaki
Beta: None

Email: I have a livejournal, but I rarely actually use it. It is useful if you want to reach me quickly though.
Rating: Most probably M or NC-17
Warnings: Violence and maybe some mild sexual content. Don't hold your breath though.
Kyuubi and probably Morrigan, though that is subject to change. As far as I know, he could end up with Kurenai.
Summary :
This is an entry in Kraken's Ghost's Fall/Winter Contest. You can find a better summary there. It also won second place.
Naruto is a concept owned by Kishimoto while Darkstalkers is owned by Capcom.

As a young boy, ten years of age, Uzumaki Naruto was seen as being both childish and mature. The most common outlook was shared by everyone that spent a minute in his company. His excessive boasting, the extreme embellishment of his non-existent adventures, skills and overall intelligence and the many diverse pranks, creative as they may have been, all contributed to his perceived immaturity.

The maturity in his personality could only be seen after spending enough time around the boy to realize that no matter how much the boy postured and no matter how he forced himself to act; he wasn't and would never be a normal boy. In Naruto's lifetime, less than a dozen people managed to realize this fact. Surprisingly, most of these are or were at one time enemies.

Naruto bore no sugar-coated illusions when it came to his future and his aptitude in perceiving possibilities was second to none.

He knew that if he became a ninja, he would die. Sooner rather than latter. That knowledge didn't stop him from trying his hardest to become a genin, hoping to gain as much respect and trust among his peers as he could.

Unlike most of the children, he knew what road he was on and he knew where it would most likely end. It didn't stop him from moving forward, hoping that he would eventually reach a concealed junction. He knew that when his life came to an end, it was highly likely that he would be cold and alone. He also knew that his death wouldn't be as meaningful as he'd like. It would've been great if his death was a sacrifice for the greater good, but he knew he wasn't that lucky. His dream was to become Hokage before death caught up to him, because even though he had no idea why he thought like that, he knew he was living on borrowed time.

Six years later, on the way back from a covert solo mission… the last grain of sand fell from his hourglass. The top container was now empty and the bottom was filled with grains coloured both blue and red.

Even though he could see the dead end he was heading towards and acknowledged its probability, that knowledge didn't affect his pace in the least. Naruto possessed the capacity to move towards his own death, while possessing full knowledge of that fact. What makes this dangerous is that perception normally decreases the closer you get to death. Naruto is an exception in that to him, he wasn't walking to his end; he was walking towards the small opportunity that was concealed behind it… the opportunity that couldn't be seen from far away, the one that could only be found if you looked closely, with great care. To find it, you had to look for it at all times. That constant vigilance depends entirely on belief and perception.

In spite of all that has happened to him, in spite of all the sadness he felt and the hatred he was subjected to… Uzumaki Naruto has never felt despair. He has never completely lost hope. He always believed. Now that he was at death's door, that fact didn't change. He was still active, taking care of loose ends before his hourglass broke … hoping that these last actions would help those who deserved it and grant him the death he'd always wanted.

He knew it would be confused when it woke up and even now that brought a smile to his face. He was sure that it wouldn't understand why he'd do this. Truthfully, he wasn't certain himself.

He had once sworn that he wouldn't let anyone die because of him… maybe that was why; maybe it wasn't… it didn't really matter.

For a second, as he kneeled in the murky waters of their special place contemplating his upcoming actions, he doubted. He doubted the beast, he doubted his nindo, he doubted the Fourth and he doubted his sanity… all in a mere second. Then he realized it, this most important truth. He had a good… a great feeling.

If he did this, Konoha would survive. If he did this, the shattered remains of Akatsuki and their alliance with the Sound would undoubtedly fail. Yes… Konoha would thrive.

Was that not what he had fought for?

Yes. It was.

Was that not what he had lived for?

Yes. It was.

Was he willing to die for this? For them?

Yes. They hated me… because they were human. That's why… I loved them more than anything. I wanted their acceptance. I wanted… to be human… just like them. So I'll do it, because I love them… imperfections and all.

Uzumaki Naruto always trusted his feelings. For better and for worse, it was too late to change. His last thought before he executed his plan was about the close friends he had gained, the family he had forged from the flames of his existence. Only the strong could stand the heat. They were the best… the greatest… humans.

Chouji, Shikamaru, Ino, Shino, Kiba, Hinata-chan, Neji, Lee, Tenten, the Konohamaru corps and the closet pervert, Gai, Kurenai, Asuma, everyone at Ichiraku ramen and in wave country, Temari, Kankuro… Gaara. He hoped Gaara would be okay.

Ero-sennin, Tsunade-baachan, Shizune-neechan, Iruka-sensei, Kakashi-sensei, Sakura-chan… even Sasuke.

I hope you can forgive me. Even though we were only together for a short time… I'll miss you.

After taking one last look at the sleeping beast (Probably one of the seal's safeguards), Naruto took a step towards sure death. If he did this, he knew his chances of survival would become nil. Ero-sennin stomped that knowledge deeply into his brain: Releasing a bijuu is always fatal.

It didn't stop him… and for some reason, it still didn't feel like he was giving up, like he had lost. So… maybe it would really, truly be okay. And maybe… maybe he would be able to see them again…

In a long, never-ending dream…

So ended the life of a true patriot.




The rhythmic sound of a beating heart.

With a sudden start, a delightful jet of awareness, it realized that it was in the presence of air. It tried to fill its lungs with the gas but the passage was blocked by a large object. Judging by the sharp pain in his throat, not only was it in a body, but that body had a sharp metallic instrument obstructing the passage of air.

The first tactile information received by the Kyuubi since its imprisonment was the pain from his wound. The second was that the metallic mass, possibly a kunai, was positively chilly. The Kyuubi felt a wave of euphoria overcome it… it had been so long since it'd felt anything that even its current situation was an improvement.

If it had been thinking clearly, it would've realized that something was off right then. The Kyuubi was rarely elated, and when it was it was when it was in a middle of a killing spree. The absence of any type of cruel thoughts should have also clued it in, but it was simply too happy to think clearly.

It wouldn't last.

Soon, it concentrated on its senses and what they were telling it. The cool rain on its head informed it that it was outside. It would've fallen into another joyful trance if it hadn't realized the crisis. It could feel the chill from the rain on its face… but there was a disturbing lack of feeling from the rest of the body.

Quickly, the Kyuubi activated the external diagnostic ability that it had obtained from a gelatine creature as a backup to the nervous system and was momentarily overwhelmed by the rush of information sent by its youki. However, it quickly mastered itself and analysed its findings. Two wounds, the wound in the throat and a similarly shaped wound severing its spinal cord. It was lying on its side and its nervous system was disconnected. Its body was paralysed.

The lack of any other injury indicated a surprise attack so the Kyuubi paid attention to its other senses in order to search for its attackers. Through the steady buffer caused by the falling rain, it could detect two men a few feet in front of him. The decreased visibility provided by the rain and the lack of consideration given to a presumptively dead body would work to its advantage.

Slowly, it concealed its youki and heavily accelerated the healing of its spinal cord. While it could move using the diagnosis ability to focus its chakra outside its body to artificially unite its nervous system, it would drastically decrease its reaction time. A few seconds later, the kunai lodged in its back slowly slid out as bone, tendons, flesh and nerves were created in its place. By the time it fell to the ground, the wound was completely covered by fresh unmarred skin. Neither attacker noticed.

As soon as it was no longer paralysed, the fox could afford to be noticed and risked healing the wound in its throat. The wound healed at an incredible rate and soon its chest began to expand as it took its first breath in over a decade and a half. The act went unnoticed.

Now that it was out of immediate danger, base instinct took a back seat and true conscious thought made its triumphant return.

What the fuck?

The being known as the Kyuubi no kitsune, the Great Demon Lord Kyuubi and the berserker void has long been the object of intense research and speculation among human demonologists and their demonic counterparts. Absurdly powerful and impossibly ruthless, Kyuubi is best known for throwing away its name and replacing it with the designation of an entire species.

Consequently, there is no longer any being in existence with the potential to become a kyuubi, a nine-tailed fox. All were killed during the kitsune holocaust. A fact that few ever acknowledge as truth for fear of its repercussions is that the genocide was planned and executed by a single being. Apparently, Kyuubi felt as though two things with the same name could create confusion and decided to save everyone the trouble. First it began by challenging his fellow Kyuubi and ended their existence when they failed to measure up to their title. When it was the only Kyuubi left, it decided that it would save itself some hassle and began to slaughter the eight-tailed foxes in anticipation of their ascension.

By the time it stopped, it was the only kitsune left.

In its natural form, a nine-tailed fox's fur is silver, white or gold. It is said that the Kyuubi's own ivory pelt was forever tainted by the blood of its brothers. To date, it is the only kitsune to ever bear that particular pigment of red and at this point, it is the only one that ever will.

A particular point of interest among demonologists is that no one has ever seen Kyuubi actively use any abilities. The only skills apparently available to it are the passive ones accessible to all kitsune, such as a large youki well, immortality, an above average healing speed and increased physical attributes. Of course, Kyuubi took these gifts to a ridiculously high plateau with its interminable youki supply, its near instant regeneration and its disproportionate physical strength, even for its size. In ages past, various kitsune have been recorded using an amalgam of abilities, such as shape-shifting, flight, the creation of innate flames and a natural affinity with genjutsu. At the root of those abilities lied intelligence that while collectively lower than humans, was still relatively high on the food chain.

In opposition to the rest of its species, no one had even heard the Kyuubi verbalize anything more than frenzied growls and grunts. Its sparse conversations with its host are the only examples of higher thinking, but Naruto had neglected to mention those with anyone.

Whether this was by design or circumstance isn't known by anyone.

What is known only by itself and those long dead is that Kyuubi is a natural prodigy. It is a genius, not unlike some mortals, with the will and the meansto shape the world like clay.

Many, many years ago, after it had received its last tail and still found itself power-hungry, Kyuubi used its vast intellect to trick one of the strongest demon lords in Makai and succeeded in temporarily weakening it and drawing it away from its castle. After a long and gruelling battle, Kyuubi emerged victorious. It dragged its injured body throughout its victim's home, destroying much and searching far and wide for the source of the demon's unnatural power. Once it failed to find evidence of such an artefact, it reasoned that it must have been lodged in the demon's body. Kyuubi's weary mind failed to activate its danger triggers and it promptly limited the unconscious humanoid demon and proceeded to consume it.

There is a reason why demons do not eat each other… or at least, why they do not devour one that comes anywhere near their own level of strength.

On that day, the Kyuubi became the strongest demon in existence… and on that day, its mind and personality was corrupted by an incurable toxin. Kyuubi would change and he would not be aware of it. That day would become the most important day in history.

The day Kyuubi ate the head of the Aensland family, Belial.

Kyuubi was dreaming. Odd as he rarely slept and his dreams were never anything more than the constant repeat of old bloody memories. Everything he perceived was provided by his own mind and the peculiarity of the dream only proved that his tenure as the boy's personal battery was poisoning him.

In the dream, he was not an it. He was a human male. He was Naruto, the human he knew best and the one he understood least. His subconscious had created a world where he was the single most irrational mortal ever. Kyuubi had watched Naruto since his imprisonment and he has never understood him. Naruto's response to situations constantly surprised Kyuubi and he had never been able to successfully predict the boy's actions. That would be a problem.

In its considerable experience, a dream lived on until it was seen through to its end.

If I cannot see this through to the boy's final destination, I'll just make my own path. I should be able to escape this once I reach an end, even if it's one of my own making.

Kyuubi opened his blue eyes and was immediately struck by the detail of his surroundings. Kyuubi did not believe in primitive defence mechanisms such as denial and so his dream theory took a strong blow. However, he realized that he was in complete control of Naruto's body, something that his warden would never allow. In fact, he couldn't even feel the boy's presence. Immediately the error in that statement jumped to his attention and he realised that this was something other than a dream. He could always feel the boy, even during the few times when the seal's influence became too much and forced him to fall asleep. Even during the weeks and sometimes months the seal prevented him from influencing the boy in any feasible way, it could never completely isolate him from the boy. They were linked, whether the boy liked or acknowledged it.

But now, now he was gone… and something in his senses was altered. Everything was clearer, sharper and more colourful than he could remember them being, though the boy's body did have better senses than most of its species, a fact which was demonstrated on the brat's first mission when he managed to detect a jounin missing-nin specialized in silent murder. In fact, he remembered thinking that the teacher's dismissal of the act only reinforced his incompetence. Kyuubi considered the hypothesis for a second before dismissing it. The boy's senses were reasonable, but they still should've been inferior to his own.

What Kyuubi didn't know is that the demon he swallowed modified his original body before it was completely dissolved and absorbed. It subtly but surely reduced Kyuubi's ability to perceive the outside world, with a single exception. While everything else lost clarity to Kyuubi, blood was always vividly highlighted in a beautiful crimson, so much that its sight and smell pleased Kyuubi immensely. It was only the first of the many changes Kyuubi's original body underwent while it consumed the demon. Changes that do not affect his new body.

There are five official kingdoms of organisms in ningenkai, known as the animalia, plantae, fungi, protista and monera kingdoms. Among these kingdoms, two species have been heavily influencing all others for thousands of years. The animal that can create, the blank slate, the human being and the parasite from another world, the demon, classified under both animalia and fungi.

When the first contact between the human and demon world was made, demons were far different from their current forms. The first demons were shadows, parasites, beings of great power but little stability. When they first ventured into ningenkai, they took the opportunity to assimilate themselves with the local species. The great majority stole and perverted bodies from the animal kingdom to gain greater stability and control over their own power.

Demons may be extremely powerful, but humans are proficient. Humans possess extremely little innate knowledge; they barely have anything in the way of instincts. The source of their power comes from their acquired knowledge, their capacity to adapt by creating, learning and using tools and techniques, their experience, their arts. Demons on the other hand rely entirely on their instincts and their innate preternatural equations, both terms falling under the greater whole of formula. Power measured at birth determines social standing because most demons are incapable of self-improvement.

A preternatural equation is a formula capable of converting MetaBioPhysical energy to produce a specific effect. It can be stored within the genetic code or the spiritual infinity, DNA or the soul. A good example of a preternatural equation in humans is how an Uchiha uses chakra to morph his eyes into the sharingan, the Uchiha uses MetaBioPhysical energy, in this case chakra, to trigger and fuel an effect, the transformation of his eye into the sharingan.

Demons rely on both formulas to survive, though the only real difference between them is that one requires energy to function or exist. For example, movement and general agility is knowledge that demons, like most animals, are born with. They are capable of advanced movement mere hours after birth, while it can take up to eight months for a human child to learn how to walk.

Preternatural equations are more complex in demons than human's bloodline limits. With a suitable equation, MetaBioPhysical energy can be used to do most anything, from creating pocket realities, to legion summoning, to precise control over elements. Kitsune-bi, foxfire is an appropriate example of such an equation.

A forgotten fact is that Kyuubi is one of the few demons to ever obtain foreign equations, even though he obtained them by eating other demons and creatures (the only difference between a demon and a creature is that the demon is hostile to humans), instead of allowing himself to suffer the loss of will in exchange for another demon's power by becoming his familiar. Other powerful demons only use what comes to them naturally. That is the difference between the demon's skill and the human's technique. One is natural, the other isn't.

Ultimately, demons are a part of nature, they flourish in it. Humans do not. Humans live where they should not; they strain the limits of their own flesh with their arts and go beyond them with the use of tools. Their very survival changes nature more every year. It is part of why demons and humans have never gotten along. Naruto did not know this when he released Kyuubi, nor did he know that it would be trapped as a human if he did. An immortal human, but a human still. His actions… would have consequences.

The connection between the two worlds was sealed by the demons themselves when Kyuubi passed through. They expected him to rampage and destroy until nothing was left. They were killing two birds with a single stone; they would be rid of their two greatest scourges, their greatest enemy and their greatest burden. To watch over the world, they left beasts numbering eight, with tails corresponding to their station to observe and ravage the land. Some of them were defeated or captured by humans, but some survived and are still free. With them they carry the means to open the gate once more and when they truly realize what has happened to the Kyuubi… the strongest of their number turned into an enemy…

But for now, they remain ignorant and for now, the two worlds remain separated. Relative peace will remain within the realm of humans… for now and hopefully forever.

Tell me what you think about it, or more specifically, what's wrong with it. By the way, I might possibly be susceptible to influence, especially when it comes to pairings. Maybe. Drop me a line and who knows? I could end up taking your suggestions.

If you give me an idea you should also tell me if you'd like to be credited for your contribution.