Title: The Slave of Sound
Warnings: Yaoi, non con, angst
Summary: Sound has risen once more, under the auspices of the traitor Sasuke Uchiha; but what of Naruto Uzumaki, stolen away by the one he called his friend so many years ago?
The Slave of Sound
It was strange, this mission, this journey. Strange and repellant.
They were ninja, not emissaries, for crying out loud. Yet, here they were, several of the Rookie Nine, or what was left of them, anyway, marching down the wide avenue, freshly paved, that led to the accursed lands of Sound.
The great war with Sound was over, and had been for almost seven years. Sound was defeated, soundly to make a very bad pun. Orochimaru was defeated, Itachi, there for his own despicable reasons, had been slain by Sasuke, with Naruto as back up. And for a brief moment, there was a cautious joy. Sasuke Uchiha's greatest quest had been accomplished; his brother was dead, the clan avenged. Now all the remained was for Sasuke to come home and finish the rest; repopulate the Uchiha compound with lots of little Uchihas.
That's what everyone thought, anyway, after the final battle, when Naruto and Sasuke stood so close together, panting softly with their exertions, covered in wounds and dripping blood, heads almost touching as Naruto earnestly coaxed Sasuke to come home. Come home!
Even from so far away, the others, likewise hurt and spent, could hear the gently beseeching tones from the blonde. Come home, Sasuke. Konoha waits for its prodigy, its heir. Come home. Come home, and be welcomed.
There was a tense moment of pleasant expectation, and then Sasuke's face changed. The blank, almost empty look in his eyes fixated upon the wounded blond so close by. A feral look washed over that pallid face, and with a quick movement, a blinding flash, both boys were gone. Leaving nothing but curling wisps of gray smoke.
For over six years, nothing had been heard, from Sasuke, from Naruto, from Sound. Then, eleven months ago, once more the nation of Sound exploded upon the consciousness of the Ninja lands. Slightly removed from its original site, and deep underground, the new Otokage had flourished in secret, gaining allies, amassing another army, creating a network of trade, finance and espionage.
This new Sound was far more terrifying than when under Orochimaru's rule. Then it had been about assassination, warmongering, a search for immortality. Such evil was easy to spot, both near and far, and sane folk knew to avoid it like the plague.
But the Uchiha, as the Otokage was colloquially known, was a far different leader. Instead of threats and rumors of war, he used… money. Not until shortly after Naruto's abduction, did they realize that at some point between Sasuke's original defection, and this latest, that the Uchiha finances were utterly depleted. Many thought it has simply run dry after Sasuke's father died, but the council, and others close to the Hokage knew otherwise. Somehow, someone, likely Sasuke, had slipped into Konoha's banks, and emptied all the accounts. What had been a vast fortune had been plundered in a blink of an eye, and it had taken months for anyone to notice.
Now Sound emerged as a land of great finance, fabulous exports, skilled warriors for hire. The Otokage had secretly built up his kingdom, managing by lending financial aid to less affluent realms, introducing highly intoxicating new markets of trade and service to others, and ensnared the other lands, leaving Konoha and Suna in the dark until it was too late.
What had masqueraded at diverse branches of caravans and roving bands of mercenaries, the Uchiha had kept his growing land a closely held secret. And when he had so many of the other kages and lords under his thumb by dint of massive debt and demands for merchandise, he boldly stepped forward, revealed himself and his nation, and forced the Ninja councils to accept and acknowledge his rule. Sound was now as real as a heart attack, and just as silently deadly.
Konoha and Suna had been the last holdouts. Konoha could not forgive the war, and especially Naruto's abduction. The Hokage literally foamed at the mouth before the grand council, as did Gaara, who remained Kazekage after losing his demon. They refused to submit to the new Otokage's demands. Tsunade had to be restrained from attacking the Uchiha, screaming demands that Naruto be returned. Gaara was more restrained, but his darkly lined green eyes glared death at the cool and unperturbed black eyes of the Uchiha.
Though the other Ninja nations were loathe to acclaim the traitorous upstart, chafing at the yoke of debt and supply and demand around their necks, they couldn't deny that under Sasuke Uchiha rule, Sound had given them the means to increase their coffers, upgrade their lifestyles. And the Uchiha's willingness to burn up considerable IOU's in return for recognition and acknowledgement, made them, one by one, accede to his demands. After all, all Sound wanted was to be included in the council of nations. And eventually, even Konoha and Suna were forced to bend the knee.
Thus Sound, and Sasuke Uchiha, thrived. And still no news of Naruto.
Hence, Neji Hyuuga was leading a small but deadly contingent of 'emissaries' to Sound, forced to meet the loathed Uchiha in negotiations of trade and commerce, lest Konoha be left behind in this glorious new economic era. They trod the new road there, backs ramrod straight and faces closed to all and sundry. It was a personal defeat, Sasuke's success, to many of them.
Even Sakura Haruno, the last holdout against the Uchiha, had turned away from her childish crush. She'd loved him so much, but in the years of his defection, Naruto had been her biggest supporter, with his promises, and his new strength of body and mind, and she had come to love him like a brother. Surely, in six years, Naruto would have come home, if he was able; contacted them in the months since Sound rose with such dizzying speed. But not a peep. Not from the Uchiha, despite Konoha and Suna's demands, not from the many suave and sly agents, not from the many merchants and soldiers that flooded the markets. Not. One. Word.
Naruto Uzumaki's name had been inscribed on the Memorial Stone. The council of Konoha had been eager to deem him dead, even if many of those in power demanded otherwise. But those that loved Naruto had their way; if he had to be listed as dead, he would be so in honor, as a hero.
As soon as they crossed the border into Sound, the fields were rich and lush and well tended. The people in the little towns were smug and content, and there were Uchihan soldiers everywhere. Despite the Uchiha's sweet words of a new peaceful and golden era, Sasuke was no fool. He protected what was his with a ferocious will. The inn Neji and his band stayed overnight in were luxurious and well staffed, and obviously the owners were under orders to treat the Konohan delegates like royalty. Nothing was too good for them. They stayed in their room obstinately, and refused most of the goods and services rendered them.
Then came Otokagure. The capital of Sound. In the few months since Sound's announcement, a pristine and lovely city rose over the deep subterranean world below it. White walls and pearlescent spires rose over the newly tilled fields and prosperous towns within its protective arms. It was too complete, too well crafted to have been thrown up so quickly. Obviously Sound had been right under their noses all along, hidden by chakra. The Konohans paused as soon as the capital came into view; they cursed its deceptive beauty, its treacherous prosperity. They hated having to be here, hands outstretched in peace, instead of gripping weapons of war, demanding the return of their kinsman. They hated this, each and every one of them. And how they hated Sasuke Uchiha.
But they had yet to taste true hatred for the man and his lands.