AN "Blah"- Normal speech
Naruto/Final Fantasy VII
Lost Son of Konoha
Aftermath Arc part 1
Sakura looked over at her charge as they made their way back to the secondary medical station via the toad, Gamakichi, that Jiraiya had summoned to transport them. She had done what she could for him, Kitsune's breathing had returned to normal and his skin was looking less raw, however she knew he was no where near out of danger and she'd burned through most of her chakra fighting Sasuke, Jugo the countless Oto ninja along the way as well as extracting the Yokai from her body. Before she knew it they had arrived back at the Academy.
"Alright everybody, end of the line." Gamakichi told them.
"Thanks Gama-chan." Sakura said as she hopped off his back and scooped Kitsune up and lifted him on to her back, "Sorry I don't have any snacks for you, but I'll be sure to remind Jiraiya to pick up something extra special for you."
"Tsk, better then nothing I guess." The orange toad replied, "Well see ya round." And with that he vanished in a puff of smoke.
Entering the hospital Sakura was instantly engulfed by the chaos that was going on around her, medics were rushing to and fro from one patient to the next, the air was filled with the sounds of various cries as the wounded were treated, their injuries ranging from simple chakra exhaustion or such that could be treated however others would not be as fortunate.
"Sakura, Sakura…" hearing her name the rosette looked round and saw Ino who was standing next to a bench where Choji was seated, the Akimichi had bandages wrapped around his gut.
"Ino, what's going on?" Sakura asked.
"These are injured from the west gate." Ino replied; "Choji took command of a small group that had been cut off when Yamato's forces were forced to pull back, they held the line there for as long as they could."
"What about Anko, how's she doing?" Sakura inquired. Ino's gaze shifted to her shoes.
"Not good, they managed to stabilize her but…they estimate her chakra network suffered sever damage, even if she pulls through her ninja career is probably finished." Ino looked back up at her. "What about you, where have you been?"
"Long story, and it'll have to wait." She then strode over and placed Kitsune on a mat near to where Chouji was, both he and Ino shocked at his appearance.
"Wait, is that…" Chouji began.
"No time for questions," Sakura told him, "Have either of you got any Soldier Pills left?" Chouji picked his flack jacket off the ground and produced two from one of the pockets and offered them to Sakura who snatched them up and swallowed them immediately, that done she got to work healing Kitsune's remaining wounds. She had barely finished when the door opened and in walked Tifa and Vincent, the latter still carrying Cloud. "Tifa, Vincent." Sakura said relieved to see them, just then she saw the figure slumped over Vincent's shoulder, "Wait, is that…" Vincent said nothing as he strode over and placed Clouds barely conscious form on the mat next to Kitsune.
"On my, Cloud…" Ino gasped.
"Cloud!" A voice cried out and looking round Sakura saw a young woman with short black hair hurrying over followed by a young girl with red hair.
"Yuffie, Shelke." Tifa said to the pair, "Glad to see your both alright."
"I take it these two are with you." Sakura said.
"Sakura, meet Yuffie and Shelke, two of our comrades from AVALANCHE." Vincent told the rosette,
"Can you fix him up?"
"Sure," Sakura replied, "Ino, take care of this whilst I finish up with Naruto." Expecting something along the lines of 'yes ma'am' Sakura looked over and saw her friend looking worriedly at Cloud. "Ino, Ino." She said in a sharp tone that snapped the blond out of her state, "Get to work."
"R…right." Ino replied she quickly set to work applying healing chakra to Clouds body.
"Is he gonna be alight? Yuffie asked.
"Don't worry, we'll take good care of him." Sakura assured her, she then looked back over at Vincent and Tifa, "Where is Jiraiya-sama? When I left to bring Naruto here he said he was needed in the field."
"He showed us how to get here and left to go find your leader, he said he had important information that she needed to hear." Tifa explained. Just then the busty brunette began to feel dizzy and her legs gave out underneath her.
"Tifa…" Without hesitation Vincent wrapped his arms around his wife's frame and supported her.
"Tifa, are you alright?" Yuffie half yelled.
"I…I feel dizzy." Tifa replied.
"Quick, set her down." Choji said as her scooting overt.
Vincent didn't waste any time and placed down on the bench beside the rather portly man. "You just rest here, I'm heading back out." Vincent told her, he then looked over at Yuffie, "You stay here and watch her."
"Sure thing." Yuffie replied.
"Lets go Shelke." Vincent headed towards the door with Shelke in tow. Sakura was about to get back to work on Kitsune when she looked over at Tifa whom Choji was doing his best to engage in conversation.
"Just rest there, someone will be with you as soon as they can."
"Don't worry about me, you've already got people who need the attention more then I do." Tifa replied.
Far from the chaos of the medical center Orochimaru and his minions Kabuto and Cassius, whom was carrying the unconscious Sasuke on his back, were hurrying across the landscape at a swift pace. Kabuto looked over at his master, a look of irritation was forming on the pale mans face. Despite his attitude before they pulled out it was quite clear that the outcome was bothering his master and it wasn't difficult to figure out why, the plan was flawless.
Even with Suna's help there should have been no way for both Konoha and Suna to repel the army that had opposed them, especially the soldiers that had been specially bred for the task. However he had not expected two things, two elements that had brought all his plans crashing down, one had been Kumo coming to the rescue, not a completely unreasonable oversight given the circumstances and the history between the two villages, the other had been underestimating Cloud Strife. Some would say it was laughable for one man to tip the scales of battle but somehow the blonde swordsman had done so.
"Orochimaru-sama…" the grey haired nin said. The pale skinned snake user glanced over at his subordinate, the look on his face vanishing.
"Do not concern yourself Kabuto, today's outcome whilst not the one I was hoping for was not without its merits." He replied, "The clone army was a complete success, they broke through the villages walls and were clearly a match for whomever was unfortunate enough to cross their path." He then turned his gaze to the prone form of Sasuke. "Besides I believe we've found a candidate for the next batch. With an army of soldiers containing both Uchiha and Uzumaki DNA we should have little trouble crushing whomever may stand against us."
A small smile formed on Kabuto's face, "What are your orders my lord."
"For the time being we shall fall back to the camp in Kusagakure, we shall regroup there and prepare for our next move." Orochimaru told his two companions.
"Hai." Kabuto replied whilst Cassius merely nodded in response. Before long the trio were in sight of the border that separated Hi no Kuni and Kusaga, whatever was left of the force that had assaulted Konoha would be there waiting for them. Orochimaru wasn't naïve enough to believe that there wouldn't be any repercussions from their failed assault, the respective heads of Kusaga and Iwa would be wanting compensation in one form or another on their part. It didn't worry him; he would deal with that when the time came. Right now he was already making plans.
Back in Konoha Jiraiya was walking through the halls of the hospital to meet up with Tsunade, both Garra and Aoi on his trail. He had met the pair, both of whom were searching for Kakashi, whilst organizing all the remaining Konoha nin who hadn't been killed or were being treated. The trio made their way through a set of double doors and was greeted by the sight of pandemonium, doctors and nurses rushing about the place going from one patient to the next. Scanning the area he caught sight of his teammate who looked rather worn out. "Tsunade." He called out to her, catching her attention Tsunade looked round and saw the three of them headed towards her.
"Jiraiya, what are you doing here? I thought you'd be busy supervising our forces?" she asked, she then turned to the red haired Kazekage, "Thanks for the assistance Garra, we might not have been able to hold out much longer."
"No problem." Garra replied.
Tsunade then looked over at Aoi. "Well this is a surprise, I never in all my days ever thought we'd get help from Kumo. I take it you're the new Raikage?"
"Greeting mistress Senju, it is an honor to meet you." Aoi said in a polite tone.
"Anyway enough of that." Jiraiya said, "Where's Kakashi, I have some information that he needs to hear immediately."
"He's resting." Tsunade told him, "I cannot permit anyone to see him in his current condition."
"It concerns Naruto and his connection to Orochimaru's army." Jiraiya said in a firm tone.
Tsuande's expression twisted into a frown, "I'll take you to him." Turning around the busty blonde medic lead them along a corridor, but not before yelling a command to one of the others to take charge, until they came to a room that had a pair of ANBU standing guarding outside. Inside they found Kakashi lying in a bed with Shizune at his side, the dark haired woman making sure that he was comfortable, the sound of the door being opened getting both of their attention.
"Tsuande-sama." Shizune said, clearly surprised by her former masters arrival.
Once they were inside Jiraiya quickly shut and locked the door before heading to the window, once he was sure that they were closed he drew the curtains and quickly set running through a series of seals.
"Jiraiya?" Kakashi asked in a confused tone.
"Forgive my paranoia, however I need to be certain that this room is secure and what I'm about to tell you cannot leave this room." The aged ninja replied. He then proceeded to tell the others what Orochimaru had told him.
"My god…" Shizune gasped, the news that Orochimaru had used Naruto to create his new army turned her stomach.
Kakashi had stayed silent whilst Jiraiya had given his report, much like Shizune this news troubled him deeply. Mustering up whatever strength remained in his exhausted body he slowly managed to sit up. "Jiraiya head back out there, I want you and every available hand we have to round up every Oto ninja you can find. Take them to the dungeons underneath the tower." He then looked over at Tsunade. "Tsunade once Jiaraiya's done I want you to examine every single one of them, draft anyone you have to but get it done."
"Right." Jiraiya replied, he then made a hand sign and released his jutsu, "Remember no one breath's a word of this to anyone." He then turned around and exited the room.
"Come Shizune, we need to go as well." Tsunade told her former disciple, "There's still work to be done."
"R…right Tsunade-sama." Shizune replied she then gave a respectful bow before she followed her master out of the room.
Once they'd left Kakashi collapsed, it had taken all the strength he had left in his body just sit up and it had just given out. "Sorry about that, never imagined that just sitting up would be so tiring." He told his two fellow Kages.
Garra said nothing in response; he merely turned on his heel and made for the door leaving Kakashi and Aoi alone with one another.
"Not much of a talker is he." Aoi said.
"That's just his way." Kakashi replied, "I must say I never expected that Kumo would ever have come to our aid, but you did and for that I thank you. Your arrival really turned the tide of that battle."
"Think nothing of it." Aoi said, "I'm glad that I finally got to meet you Kakashi-san, although I never imagined it would ever have been like this."
"Given the history between our villages I'm surprised we're meeting at all." Kakashi said plainly.
A small frown spread across Aoi's face, "Yes, our history. It is not something I am proud of, it has caused much grief and suffering on both sides."
His whole being wracked with pain Cloud found himself in a town, one that seemed rather familiar to him, but there were no people. The whole place was totally still with not even a bird or animal of any kind in sight. Despite this the sound of faraway voices could just be heard echoing off in the distance.
'Wha…what's this?' he wondered, 'What is this place?' Just then something occurred to him, 'Wait, is this…Edge?' he couldn't believe how he could have missed it; here he was standing in a street in the town that he had made his home in. Picking up his pace Cloud ran through the streets desperately trying to find a sign of life until he came to the town center. 'Damn, where is everyone…' It was then an ominous feeling filled the air accompanied by a cruel sounding chuckle.
"Good to see you…Cloud." Whirling round Cloud saw a man clad in black leather, long silver hair cascading down his back down to his knees.
"You, Sephiroth…" Cloud exclaimed, "But…but how, your…"
"Yes." Sephiroth said. Just then the look on Cloud's face shifted into one of fear as something dawned on him,
"Wait, if your dead then is this…am I…"
"Not yet." Sephiroth said, "But you are close."
"What do you mean close?" Cloud demanded.
"Just as I said." Sephiroth replied, "Think of this place as a in-between place, a space that exists between the world of the living and the Life Stream." There was a small burst of light and the silver haired man's legendary blade, Masumune, appeared in his hand which he then pointed at Clouds throat. "Now come Cloud, let us depart." Sephiroth told our blond hero, "The Promised Land is waiting, a place for you has been prepared. Just think of it, the two of us can battle for all eternity."
A small bead of sweat rolled down Cloud's face as he broke down the situation that he currently found himself in. First, he was supposedly dead and floating in some kind of limbo dimension. Second, before him was, according to popular culture anyway, his nemesis. Third, said nemesis had a sword pointed at his throat. Lastly he had no weapon of his own to defend himself. So yeah, this wasn't exactly a great situation to be in.
Elsewhere Kitsune was in a pretty much identical situation to Cloud, only he found himself in the streets of Konoha and was confronted by nine individuals all clad in Akatsuki robes and masks that covered their whole heads. Each of them were advancing on the blond warrior, several of whom were armed with Tanto's whilst others preferred to use jutus or their bare hands, and it was all he could do to dodge as best he could at the moment.
'Damn…' he inwardly cursed as one of the masked figures used a fire jutsu that he ducked out of the way of, 'How the hell did I get into this mess?' Two more of the cloaked figures rushed at Kitsune, one with his tanto drawn that he swung at Kitsune whilst the other used a Taijitsu style that he wasn't familiar with, forcing him to decide whether to avoid the tanto or block the others Taijutsu strike. In the end he had no other choice but to avoid the first blade and take the seconds blows.
The mans palm slammed into his left shoulder, Kitsune gritted his teeth and let out a hiss as he felt the limb be forced from its socket and dangle limply. Having taken his licks Kitsune went to retaliate however when he went to strike back both of his assailants seemed to melt away as if their bodies were made of smoke before reappearing beside the others. "What?" Kitsune exclaimed.
Faced with the seemingly desperate situation they were in both blondes tried to think about what they should do next, however before either of them could come up with anything something happened that shook the area around them catching everyone off guard. Seeing this opportunity both Cloud and Kitsune wasted little time in capitalizing on it, Cloud ducked out of the way of Sephiroth's sword and quickly backed up out of its range whilst Kitsune used it to put some distance between himself and his assailants. Ducking into an alleyway Kitsune grit his teeth as he did his best to pop his shoulder back into place and not cry out in pain whilst doing it.
Meanwhile Cloud was doing his best to stay one step ahead of Serphiroth, the silver haired nightmares ridiculously long blade making it difficult to avoid.
"ud…oud" the sound of a voice from somewhere in the distance caught Cloud's attention as he ducked out of the way of another of Serphiroth's attacks.
'What was that just now?' he wondered.
Seeing that his prey was distracted, Sephiroth began charging up several small fireballs with the intention of launching them at Cloud. He never got the chance however as another quake shook the area knocking the pair off balance. The situation reversed itself and this time it was Cloud's turn to capitalize on Serphiroth's moment of weakness, he charged forward and rammed his shoulder into the man's chest knocking not just the wind out of him but also off his feet as well. He also drop his sword. Seeing this Cloud quickly snatched up the weapon and pointed it at his silver haired enemy,
"Stay down, if you know what's good for you you'll stay down." He told him in a stern tone.
"Well isn't this interesting," Sephiroth said, "Now our roles are revered, however one thing is still the same. Your still close to dead."
Doing his best to keep his expression even, Cloud began backing up, never moving the blade from Serphiroth's throat.
"oud…loud…" that voice from before was heard again, this time slightly louder and clearer then before.
Cloud glanced around trying to find any clue as to where it was coming from, and then looking over his shoulder his shoulder he saw it. There at the end of the street was a building with a sign over the door that read '7th Heaven', an almost ethereal glow surrounding the door.
"CLOUD..." Once again the voice rang out, this time louder and clearer then before and resonating from the direction of 7th Heaven.
Narrowing his gaze Cloud looked back at Sephiroth, the silver haired man slowly rose to his feet,
"So what are you going to do, Cloud?"
Slowly walking backwards Cloud threw the weapon at Sephiroth forcing him to duck to avoid it, he then took the opportunity to turn and run towards the glowing door, never once looking back at his foe.
"I don't think so Cloud." Sephiroth said as he conjured up some more fireballs, once he was done charging them he launched them at Cloud's retreating form.
His legs pumping and blood pounding in his ears Cloud dashed towards 7th Heaven, he didn't know what it was that was drawing him towards it and he didn't care, it had to be better then his current situation. That being said no matter how hard he pushed himself the door didn't seem to be getting any closer. Just then small explosions rocked the area around him, almost knocking him off balance, and then something struck him in the back and forced him to the ground. Grunting and panting Cloud pushed himself up onto his elbows and tried to force himself back up when something pierced his left leg causing him to cry out in pain, looking back the former mercenary saw Serphiroth's blade sticking out of it. The sound of footsteps was heard and he saw Sephiroth approach.
"What do you think your doing Cloud? Do you honestly think I'm going to allow you to walk through that door." he told our hero, taking hold of the hilt of his weapon he yanked it free of Cloud's leg, "You're coming with me Cloud, you will pass into the next world even if I have to drag you there myself." His features twisted into a look of pain Cloud stared back at Sephiroth trying to find any way of escaping the silver haired Jenova spawn's grasp no matter how slim, however things were looking grim.
'Damnit, is this really it? Despite everything I've done and seen is this how it ends.' He shook his head as if trying to banish these thought, 'No this can't be it; I don't want to die here, not like this. I want to see my friends, I want to see them all again. I don't want to die...I don't want to die...'
Just then a loud clang rang out, opening his eyes Cloud saw a dark spiky haired figure clad in black standing between him and Sephiroth wielding a very familiar blade. The figure glanced over his shoulder and flashed a stunned looking Cloud and grin. "Z...Zack!" Cloud exclaimed.
"Hey buddy." Zack replied, "Is this guy giving you trouble?"
Just then a warm sounding laugh filled the air and Cloud felt a warm feeling spread throughout his body, all the pain that had been there a second ago vanishing. Looking around Cloud founding himself staring into a very familiar, smiling face.
"I...I don't...Aerith." Aeirth placed a finger on Cloud's lips silencing him.
"Shhh." she then stood up, a staff appearing in her hand, "Its not your time yet Cloud."
"Get going we'll handle this guy." Zack added. Cloud watched as the pair moved in to engage Sephiroth, Zack locked his oversized blade with the silver haired man's katana whilst Aerith used a series of spells to both aid her dark haired companion and to weaken Sephiroth.
Aerith looked back at him, "What are you waiting for? The other are waiting for you." Cloud got back to his feet again and once more began heading towards the door, seeing this Sephiroth tried to lunge forward to impale him once again however he was instantly blocked by Zack.
"Hey hey, why are you in such a rush." The dark haired swordsman said, "You'd think I wasn't good enough for you."
With each step Cloud drew closer and closer to 7th Heaven until he stood before the door, taking a moment to glance back one more time at his friends he placed his hand on the door and pushed it open and was bathed in the otherworldly light.
Slowly the light that filled Clouds vision began to fade and blurry images began coming into view along with the sound of muffled voices, eventually the world around him came into focus and he was greeted by the sight of several people staring down at him, one of whom was a tired and relived looking Ino.
"Look, he's coming around." One of them said.
"I'm going to take this as a sign that he's out of danger." Another said.
"Ok boys you can go, I can handle things from here." Ino told her two companions that Cloud assumed were doctors.
"Are you sure?" One of them asked.
"I agree, you have just spent a large amount of chakra." The other added.
"Don't worry about me." Ino replied as she wiped some sweat off her brow. 'Ok, just as long as your sure." Both medics bowed as walked off, no doubt to treat other patients.
'Wha…what are they talking about, what's going on?' Cloud wondered, he then tried to sit up.
"Oh no you don't, you lie still mister," Ino said as she forced him back down, "You've just been through a terrible ordeal, your heart stopped beating for a full minute and it took a lot of work to restart it. So please lie still and try and rest up."
'What, a minute…' Cloud's eyes widened in shock at this, 'All of that…Sephiroth…Zack…Aerith, it was only a minute…!'
"CLOUD!" a high-pitched cry snapped Cloud out of his thoughts and looked round in time to see Yuffie come charging in his direction with Tifa close behind. "Cloud you lunk head," Yuffie half yelled, "Have you any idea what you put through." She tried to dive towards him, whether it was to embrace or throttle him Cloud wasn't sure, but Ino managed to stop her.
"I wouldn't recommend doing that." She told the shorter of the two brunettes, "I'm not finished patching Strife-sama back together and it would be rather inconvenient to have to start over again."
"I guess that would be a problem." Yuffie said in a disheartened tone. Just then a nurse came up to Ino telling her that Sakura needed her assistance, hearing this Ino excused herself. Once the blond was gone Tifa knelt down beside her old friend,
"T…Tifa." Cloud managed to croak out, "Wh…what are you doing here? What's going on?"
"You don't remember?" Tifa said in a worried sounding tone.
"No. The last thing I remember is fighting this guy with black hair and red eyes." Cloud replied, "After that there are these flashes, disjointed…confusing…"
"Hey don't worry about." Tifa told him, "Everything's gonna be ok."
Elsewhere Ino had arrived at the spot where Sakura was trying to treat Kitsune, she'd had him moved to Iruka's office that had been emptied of its furniture and now had medical cot set up on which Kitsune now lay. The blond Kumo ninja was in the same state that Cloud had been in but with one difference. Kitsune hadn't woken up.
Despite her best to keep calm the rosette couldn't seem to quell the turmoil that was boiling inside her, it had taken opening three of her chakra seals but she had managed to restart his heart but it was weak and it seemed to be taking everything she had just to keep it going and even then it was looking like it was going to give out at any moment. It seemed like that no matter she did Kitsune was no closer to waking up. 'Come on Naruto, work with me here...' she thought, 'Do you hate me so much that you'd rather die then let me help you? If you keep doing this I'm going to have to use...'
"Sakura," Looking round Sakura saw Ino standing there, "You need me?"
"Yes," Sakura replied, "How much chakra do you have? I know you've just finished working on Cloud-sama but I really need your help here."
"Enough I guess." Ino replied, not really sure what her old friend wanted her to do. "I'm gonna be frank with you Ino, I don't think I can save Naruto by myself." Sakura said, "I need your help."
"What do you need me to do?" Ino asked.
"I'm going to need you to try keep him stable. " Sakura told her, "His heartbeat is weak, it's taking all I have to just keep it going."
"Uh ok." Ino said, "But why me, I mean there are like a dozen other medics here. Why not just get one of them to help you?"
Sakura looked over at the prone form of her former teammate. "Because I need to prepare to do something foolhardy and possibly life threatening." She told the blond, "Anyone else would tell me not to and how its not worth the risk."
"And how do you know I won't?" Ino retorted, not liking where this was going.
"Because I need to do this Ino," Sakura said, her voice carrying a tone of sadness, "I have to do this. For him."
Ino sighed; she now knew why Sakura had asked for her. Even if she did argue she knew her friend well, that any pleas would just fall on deaf ears, "OK then, lets get to work."
Back in the limbo dimension Kitsune found himself once again surrounded by the nine Akatsuki members, glancing quickly from one to the next he tried to come up with a plan of attack. 'Ok, so what's the situation here. These guys are seemingly faster then me and more skilled.' "Y'know all this silent stuff is really starting to bug me." He told his adversaries, "So why don't you just drop it already and show me who you are." His silent assailants glanced at one another before eight of them suddenly shimmered out of existence leaving only one behind, the figure pulled back his hood and removed his mask, Kitsune's eyes widened at the face of the person staring back at him...himself. "Wh…what is this?" he stammered, "What the hell are you?"
"Who am I?" his counterpart replied, "I am the embodiment of all the things that you hate about yourself. I am your anger, your envy, your greed, your hate. I am the you that hate's the people of Konoha for all that they did to you. I am the you that killed that Oni no Kuni Priestess, I am the you who enjoyed it."
"You're lying." Kitsune retorted, "There's no way that can be true, you can't be me."
"That's only because you don't want to admit to it." Dark Kitsune said, "Everyone has a side of themselves that they keep hidden, things about themselves they hope never to see the light of day. Those things culminate in who you are, and when the time comes those are things that we are judged on." Dark Kitsune slowly began walking towards regular Kitsune. "It is your time to be judged. You will come with me, we will travel to the place where you will receive judgment."
"You stay back." Kitsune demanded, "There's no way in hell that I'm going anywhere with you."
"You truly think you have a choice here," Dark Kitsune said, "You have no way of defeating me, I am aware of every trick and technique you possess. I know how you think and what is going through your mind right this second. You will come with me, one way or another."
Back in the real world Ino had set about the task that Sakura had assigned her and was doing everything in her power to keep Kitsune stable. Said rosette was looking over a scroll that she had rolled out on the floor. After several minutes she straightened up and rolled up the scroll. "Ok, I'm ready." Walking over to Kitsune's prone form Sakura began forming a string of at least 10 hand seals before placing her hands on Kitsune's face. "ITONAMI KIRIKAE NO JUTSU! Life Exchange!"
Ino's eyes widened in horror at this. Sakura's hands started emitting a white aura that slowly spread to Kitsune enveloping him. Whilst this happened Ino stared at the pair. 'Itonami Kirikae, a jutsu that takes a person's life energy and uses it to heal another's injuries.' She looked at Sakura, sweat pouring from the rosettes brow as her breathing became labored, 'Why Sakura, are you so desperate to save him that she's using this technique?'
This continued for what seemed like hours (really it was only ten minutes) and still Sakura persisted, but there seemed to be no change in Kitsunes condition. Her skin paled and sweat pouring off her Sakura continued to pump more and of her chakra into Kitsune's body.
'Come on, come on Naruto…' Sakura grimaced as she stared down at him; all the while her vision began to go fuzzy and her body became weaker. Soon enough her legs gave out and she sank to her knees, despite this however her hands never moved from Kitsunes body.
'Ok, that's it. Enough' Ino marched over and grabbed ahold of her friend and pulled her back.
"I…Ino…" Sakura said in a tired sounding whisper.
"Sakura, that's enough." Ino told her, "Tell me, how much did you give him?"
Sakura closed her eyes, "Ten…ten years. I traded ten years of my life."
Ino's eyes widened in shock. 'Itonami Kirikae, what a terrible technique. It can heal person's injuries but does so by converting the users life energy, the longer its used the shorter your life span becomes. Sakura said that Tsunade-sama told her never to use it unless under the most dire of circumstance.'
"Ino…" hearing Sakura's voice snapped Ino out of her musings, "Please, don't tell anyone about this. Especially not Naruto."
"What!" Ino exclaimed, "After everything you just did to save his damn life, your not going to tell him?"
"Please, he can't know. " Sakura replied in a tired tone, "If for just once I can save his life, even if he hates me, its enough." She then drifted off to sleep.
Back in the limbo realm Kitsune was once again trying to engage his dark counterpart, and like before wasn't doing very well. Every punch he threw was blocked, every kick was avoided. Just as he threw another punch Dark Kitsune ducked down out of the way and aimed a punch of his own at Kitsune catching him in the gut. The punch was enough to knock the blond ninja backwards giving his opponent an open for another blow, this one catching his cheek and sent him sprawling. Groaning Kitsune rolled onto his front, just as he was trying to push himself back up he noticed something off into the distance. It was the old Academy building, although he couldn't be sure he could swear that the door was glowing with some kind of weird energy.
Before he could contemplate this any further a foot collided with his back forcing him back down to the ground. Looking over Kitsune saw his counterpart standing there staring back at him. "Tsk, don't you every give up?" Our hero said.
"I'm part of you remember, that same stubborn attitude of yours is just as much as part of me." Dark Kitsune replied, "Although in this situation I would very much advise against it. You are beaten, so just swallow your pride and accept your fate already."
His face twisting into a scowl Kitsune glared at his opponent, as he did he felt something stirring within him slowly seeping through his body, he couldn't explain it but somehow he felt revitalized. Letting out a cry he pushed himself upwards knocking his counterpart off balance and stumbling backwards. Instantly Kitsune rounded on him. "No, I refuse to accept anything you say." He declared, "There's no way in hell I'll every accept that you are part of me, I denounce you."
Dark Kitsune stared back at his light counterpart, his cold eyes never moving from him. "Deny it all you want, you cannot escape me nor the deeds you have done." he said in a cold tone, "As I have said I know everything you are capable of and what you can do and how to counter it, you stand no chance against me."
Just then a hand appeared on his shoulder. "Maybe but can you say the same about me." a voice said.
Surprised both Kitsunes looked over and caught sight of two figures standing there. The first was a man with spiky blond hair clad in a standard Jounin's uniform with a white coat with red flames decorating it thrown over the top. The second was a woman with long red hair that was tied back into a ponytail and was dressed similarly to her male companion. Both of them had a Hatai-ate tried around their foreheads with the Konoha leaf engraved on the metal plate. Kitsunes eyes were wide with shocked awe and confusion at the sight of them.
'No... No way...the Yondaime Hokage, but who's that woman?'
"What is this?" Dark Kitsune demanded, "How did you get here?"
"Now, now, let's not get all wrapped up in the little details." the Yondaime said off-handily, "We're here, lets just leave it at that."
The woman then approached Dark Kitsune, her face twisted into a cold expression, "You made a big mistake in threatening him, for that I'm going to have to teach you a lesson."
Dark Kitsune seemed to be rather taken aback by these words but wasn't given a chance to dwell on this as instead of engaging him she ran towards Kistune and embraced him burying her head in his chest much to his surprise.
"I…I can't believe it, seeing you." She sobbed out, "It only seems like five minutes ago that I was holding you in my arms, I'm so sorry that I couldn't be there for you, to see you grow up into the handsome man you are now."
"Err, lady…just who are you?" Kistune asked.
The woman looked up towards him, tears still rolling from her eyes, a sad smile on her face, "I guess I shouldn't be surprised that you don't recognize me, you were only a few minutes old after all." She then released him and turned her attention back to Kitsune's dark counterpart, "You should go now, Minato and I will deal with him."
"But what about you, I mean I've tried and I couldn't even lay a finger on this guy." Kitsune said.
"Don't worry, I've got a few tricks of my own up my sleeve." The red head said. She then began moving towards Dark Kitsune. The blond male, that the red head had identified as Minato took out an odd looking kunai which he then hurled at the dark blond. Seeing this Dark Kitsune ducked out of the way of the projectile. Just then a smirk appeared on Minato's face before he vanished from view, "HIRAISHIN NO JUTSU! Flying Thunder God!"
Confused Kitsune was about to say something when suddenly he felt something grab ahold on him. Next thing he knew he was standing in front of the door of the Academy building alongside the Yondaime. Seeing this Dark Kitsune dashed towards the pair but what stopped when the red head cast some kind of jutsu involving chains that bound him.
"Oh no you don't" She told him, "I'm not going to allow you to interrupt."
Meanwhile Kitsune was trying to comprehend what was going on.
"You should go now, I believe everyone's waiting for you." Minato said, he then pushed the buildings doors open, revealing an almost blinding light on the other side, "I know things may seem pretty bleak right not but I want you to know that I believe you'll find the answer, Kushina and I we both believe in you."
"What are you saying, why are you doing this?" Kitsune demanded, "Why are you of all people doing all this for me."
Minato stared back at him, a sad smile; he then placed his hand on Kitsunes head and ruffled his hair. "It's the duty of all adults to unconditionally believe in their children."
Kitsunes eyes widened in shock at these words, he stared at the Yondaime trying to come up with something to say however any thing he could come up with seemed to die before it could leave his mouth. Minato offered him one last smile before he placed his hand on Kitsunes chest and pushed him through the door.
Back in the waking world Ino had picked Sakura off the floor and set her down on a chair beside Kitsune's bed. Just then a coughing sound caught her attention and looking round saw Kitsunes eyes slowly open. "Naruto…" she said in whispered tone.
His body racked with pain Kitsune tried to sit up however the weariness from near constant travelling and fighting, not to mention transforming into his six tail form, had caught up to him leaving him unable to move. His vision clearing he found himself staring up rather familiar looking ceiling.
'Whaa…' Just then he noticed the other people with him, turning his head to see Ino standing over him. "I…" he tried to make out however it seemed much like the rest of him his vocal cords hadn't recovered either.
"Shhh, don't try to say anything. Just rest." She told him, "Its over, your going to be ok now." Hearing this Kitsune closed his eyes again and drifted off into a dreamless slumber. Ino looked at him and then at a slumbering Sakura, "Naruto when you wake up, you'd better damn well appreciate what Sakura did to save you."
Several days had past since the invasion, in that time the villages civilian population as well as the council had returned (many of them were confused as to why Kumo soldiers were helping to guard vital areas of the village) , a funeral service had been held for all those who had fallen during the attack and now the rebuilding of the village had begun. However there were still questions that needed answers and now the village council had convened in a private chamber within the Hokage's tower to discuss events and try to figure out what to do next. Present were the heads of each of Konoha's clans and as well as other divisions of the military as well as Garra accompanied by Temari and Aoi accompanied by Samui. Rising from her chair Tsunade greeted them.
"Representatives of Konoha, as your all aware the village has survived a terrible ordeal. In light of this there is much to be done, however that is not the reason I have called you all here today." She said, "In the wake of Orochimaru's latest attempt to destroy us certain things have come to light and that is the reason we have gathered, we must decide what we must do about it."
"Well said Tsunade-sama, however before we get to that there are some things I'm sure several of us are curious about. First, why is Hatake Kakashi not present?" Hiashi Hyuuga asked.
Tsunade glanced over at Jiraiya before addressing him, "The Hokage was wounded during the battle for our village and has left me in charge until he is fit enough to return to his duties."
"I see," Hiashi said, his gaze then turned to the Raikage and her escort, "Next I'm sure everyone would like to know what she is doing here?"
To everyone's surprise it was Garra who answered the Hyuuga elder. "The Raikage is present due to the role she and her army played during the Oto/Iwa/Kusaga invasion." The red haired Kage told him, "Despite initially wanting to stay out of the conflict due to the bad blood that Kumo has had with Konoha in the past, when the time she came to your villages aid. Do you or any one else have a problem with that Hyuuga-sama?"
Smiling Aoi stood up, "Thank you for your kind words Kazekage-sama. Hyuuga-san I understand your mistrust of me and my village, however I assure you that I am not here to fight with you. For too long we have allowed the grudges of the past to cloud our judgment for us in the present, and if you will allow me I would very much like to build a better relationship between your village and mine."
"Very well said Raikage-sama. However such is talk for another time." Tsunade said, "Honored council members, in the past Orochimaru has committed many atrocities in order to strengthen his position and to interfere with the other nations, however he has now done something that goes against not just human decency but against the laws of nature itself. Somehow he was able to acquire a forbidden technology that had been developed here In Konoha, one that could allow someone to create artificial human beings created to follow any order that their creator desired." The sound of hushed whispers amongst the gathered council filled the chamber, Tsunade pausing to allow this to run its course.
"Tsunade-sama, this is most disturbing," Inochi Yanamaka spoke up, "If this is true then Orochimaru has become an even bigger menace to the world, the ability to create human beings is…is abhorrent."
"I agree." Choza Akimichi added, "The man has dared to spit in the eye of god."
"I'm afraid that it does not end there however." Tsunade told the pair, "However I will turn the floor over to Sakura Haruno, who over the last few days has been examining each of these new Oto soldiers and has compiled her findings to present to us."
The doors of the chamber opened and in walked Sakura, who was now in much better shape then she had been after treating Kitsune. Standing before the council she cleared her throat and began.
"Honored council members, as shishou has told you Oto has bred a new kind of Shinobi. After many hours of examination I can tell you he has done so using human DNA combined with other strains from other sources, as such he several different types. The first type which is about the same size as the average person we have dubbed 'soldier' we have found they most clearly make up the bulk of Orochimaru's army. The second type which is shorter then the average person we've dubbed as 'scout' are clearly designed to be swifter and more agile, the third type which is much larger and more muscular we refer to as 'titan' is clearly designed to be physically stronger." She paused a moment before carrying on. "However the one thing that they all have in common is that they all share the same base DNA, which we've identified the owner of. It belongs to Naruto Uzumaki."
There was then an outburst from the gathered council members, each of them adding to the cacophony as they made their opinions.
"How can this be, how could Orochimaru have gotten ahold of him?" Tsume Inuzuka demanded.
"Clearly the demon child has joined forces with Oto." A random council member told her, "I always knew that it couldn't be trusted. Sarutobi was a great man however he was a fool to allow it to live."
Before anyone could say anything else an ominous pressure filled the room, the sheer weight of it was enough for many of the gathered people to have trouble breathing. It didn't take long to discover the source: Garra.
The Kazekage stood there, although his expression had not shifted his gaze betrayed his fury. "Let me assure you that the Naruto Uzumaki that I know would do no such thing." he said, his voice calm and even, "I'm sure you're all aware of the person I used to be, filled with nothing but hate and lust for violence. He was the one who rescued me from darkness, helped me to realize that I wasn't alone in the world. It is people like you who call him 'demon' and 'monster' and blinded by prejudice who could not see him for the kind and loving person that he was. If you have a problem with Naruto Uzumaki then you will find yourself with one less ally since I have no desire to associate my village with such people."
"Well said Kazekage-sama." Jiraiya spoke up, "And I can also assure you Hyuuga-san that Naruto would in no way associate himself with people like Orochimaru by choice. I have confirmation from the snake himself that he managed to capture Naruto sometime after his banishment from Konoha, it was the ruling of this council that allowed Naruto to fall into enemy hands."
"Gentlemen." Aoi spoke up, her voice calm and even, she then looked over at Sakura and offered her a warm smile, "Haruno-san, please continue."
Composing herself Sakura continued. "As I was saying the examination of the remains of all of the fallen Oto ninja shows that Orochimaru used the DNA of Naruto Uzumaki to create his army. However there was one thing that turned up that may hold a clue not just to how he has managed to assemble his new forces but to his whereabouts." The rosette said, "Whilst examining the bodies I discovered an abnormality mixed in with their genetic coding, an enzyme that would allow for rapid growth in a short period of time. After some research I have discovered that this enzyme is similar to one produced by a particular species of plant that is only found in Mori no Kuni. Whilst I may not be an analyst, I would conclude that Orochimaru has either set up a lab near to where this plant grows or has acquired a sample and begun growing it in Oto."
"I see, that will be all Sakura." Tsunade told her former disciple, the rosette bowed before the council and exited the room. There was a pause as a haunting silence filled the room, each of the people gathered mulling over what had been presented to them.
"Well it seems that I'm off to Mori then." Jiraiya spoke up breaking the silence, "If that's alright with you Princess."
Tsunade glared at her former teammate but was quick to quash her feelings of annoyance, now was not the time for childish squabbling. "Correct you old toad," she then turned to the other members of the council, "Honored council members unless anyone has any objections it seems that our next move is clear. Send a team to infiltrate Mori no Kuni and locate and destroy Orochimaru's cloning facilities. With it gone he should be less of a threat to us and the other nations."
Not long had passed since Sakura had left the council chamber and was now making her way back to the hospital, no doubt a stack of requests that needed her approval would have accumulated on her desk in the time she had spent examining the remains of the Oto clones. She had entered the building and was making her way to her office when two things occurred to her, first was she had not had the chance to look in on Kitsune in the last few days.
The second was that she still had his wakizashi she'd picked up during the battle. Knowing that he would probably very much like the weapon returned to him, plus giving her an excuse to go check in on him Sakura doubled her pace to her office, where she'd kept said weapon, and before she knew it she was standing before the door the that lead to his room. Taking a deep breath she slid the door open and entered, the room was white and airy and typically the kind that Naruto hated.
Walking in she was greeted by something she had not expected, sitting up in bed was Kitsune, the sheet that had covered him had spooled in his lap revealing his tanned and toned chest, looking over at her. Doing her best not to seem flustered, as well as force back the blush that was starting to form on her face, Sakura approached the bed. "N…Naruto, your awake." She said, "That's great, especially after. Y'know what never mind."
"What's going on?" Kitsune asked as he rubbed his eyes with his arm, it was clear to the rosette now that he hadn't been awake for very long.
"We did it Naruto, we managed to repel the attack." She told him, "You've been out of it for five days now so you're a little behind the times."
Kitsune shot her a look. "Five days…" he said under his breath, "What are you doing here anyway?"
Sakura was slightly taken aback by his tone. "What do you mean, I'm a medic." She told him, "I'm here to look in on you."
Kitsune looked away from her. "Shouldn't you be busy keeping vigil over Sasuke?" he said in a cold tone.
"Whaa? Why would I…" Sakura exclaimed, she then tried to compose herself, "Sasuke's not here, he fell back into Orochimaru's hands again before he pulled out."
"I see, I assume the council is blaming me for this." Kitsune said in a bitter tone, "I suppose you're here to beg me to go after him and bring him back to you again."
This is what finally pushed Sakura to far, Kitsune's words finally caused something inside her to snap. "How the hell could you assume such a thing?" she demanded, "Do you really think I could ever care for him after everything's he's done, all the people he's hurt?"
"Why not, its not like you ever cared about the terrible things he did back when we were a team." Kitsune fired back, "No matter what he did, even if it was terrible, you either ignored it or had an excuse for his behavior. Why should it be any different now?" He then layback down on the bed and turned his back to her. "You've seen me, I'm awake. You can go now."
Sakura stood there; his words had cut deep into her and left her wondering just what had happened to Kitsune to make him this way. Slowly she took out the blonde's wakizashi and placed it on the bedside table. "I borrowed this during this invasion, back when we were fighting together. I felt it was best to return it to you." And without another word she promptly left the room.
AN And with that chapter 15 is fini, a little latter then I originally hoping but it is done. Before anything else I want to thank my proof reader, Jokerisdaking, thank you so so much for looking over this given your situation. I feel like such an ass for making you do it when you were in that state.
Second I want to say thank to all of the fine people who follows this little story of mine, thank you all for your patients and I hope this was worth the wait.
So here we are in the aftermath arc, a short rest-bite before the next major part of the plot gets underway, where you'll get to see most of the fallout from the Oto/Kusaga/Iwa invasion and what our hero's will deal with whats happened and what they'll do next.
Well that's me done for another chapter. Please remember to send your comments, seriously I can't tell you all how much your feedback means to me.
Until next time, peace out yo.