IMPORTANT AUTHORS NOTE
Yes, it's been a while. Way too long in fact.
And unfortunately I'm going to be disappointing a lot of you.
Not as bad as you're probably thinking. I haven't abandoned this story or fanfiction in general. It's just that I've been inactive for so long that it's given me a chance to look back on my work and realize that I have quite a few problems, as well as come up with many new great ideas.
The point being that I'm doing a major reorganization and reformatting of my current and future work here on .
This means that this story will be undergoing an extensive rewrite. I've realized that I have a whole lot of unnecessary plot element that really don't fit with the overall narrative. Specifically the 'multiple personalities' thing I was doing. Sure it was good for a laugh, but that's pretty much all it was good for. I had some ideas for other ways to utilize them, but they no longer fit in with the major focus I'm going for now (that is, Naruto and his clone army). Also, I'm going to be putting a new title for the story as well, considering the 'Roku' bit referred to the personas. But apart from that, I'm mostly going to be ironing out the kinks, getting better development for Sasuke and Sakura early on and other things. Naruto's still going to be the crazy hybrid of Nougami Neuro, Shinji Ikari from the Shinji40k continuity, Nara Shikamaru, Delirium of the Endless, Kamina, and Asura (whoever made the TvTropes page for this story, you are awesome. Thank you).
As for the fate of my other works, please refer to the new update on my Profile.
Finally, since you've all been waiting so long and I'd feel bad if I didn't give you something, here is the incomplete version of Chapter 19. It probably won't be subject to much revision, so this is pretty much how the battle is going to go. Be warned, this is 'incomplete' so there are missing scenes that I haven't written. But I do have the major highlights of the battle, so enjoy.
Also be sure to check the end of the chapter for another Authors Note with a little side project I'll be adding to future works.
Crimson Tide Part II
The streets of Minato, the largest town in Wave country, were quiet. Just like they had been for almost ten years.
So it was odd to many to see the small boy running down the streets, running up to houses, banging on doors for people to come out. And when people did, they were even more shocked to find the boy giving them impassioned words to grab whatever weapons they could. That they were fighting Gato's men. Had it been anyone else, at any other time, they wouldn't have paid it any heed.
But it wasn't just anyone. It was Inari. Tazuna's grandson, and the would-be son of the only man to ever stand against Gato. The only one who ever had the courage to say no. And now… the boy who had in many ways been that man's son was doing exactly what he had once done.
And the timing couldn't have been better. The bridge, which Kaiza and now Tazuna promised would free them from Gato's oppression was nearly completed. And there were rumors, rumors that the shinobi Tazuna had hired had already killed many of Tazuna's men. Perhaps… perhaps that evil man wasn't as mighty as he wanted everyone to think he was.
And so… the people of Wave country began to stir. Word of the Inari's call to arms spread like wildfire, faster then one would think was possible. Like word was being spread on a strange wind. Regardless, more and more people heard. Some were reluctant at first, not knowing what to think. But others… they had obviously had enough. Many rose at first hearing this, as if the thought of that boy calling for their aid was enough to remind them of their hatred for Gato, and those people soon inspired those who seemed reluctant.
And so, for the first time in nearly ten years, there was hope in the minds of the people of Wave. That they would finally be able to take their country back.
"Commander, stage 4 is progressing as planned."
"Copy that. Initiate stage 5."
"Roger that sir."
Sasuke growled in frustration as he dodged a pair of senbon, flinging a kunai in response. Of course, he heard no sound, apart from the distant sound of the knife landing in the water under the bridge.
This was not working.
They had been at this for almost ten minutes now, and Sasuke was very annoyed at Zabuza's apprentice. All she would do is stalk about from the cover of the mist, launching senbon at him, and moving away to prevent him from retaliating. She must have realized that his forte was in taijutsu, and was purposefully keeping her distance. Thankfully, this had to mean that she wasn't as good in close-quarters, so if he could get her in close, he might be able to take her down easily. Unfortunately, her entire strategy seemed to be designed to keep that from happening. He had already taken a few senbon to the arms, though not to any pressure points thankfully. The least he had been able to do was to keep moving about. Those senbon might hurt like hell, but so long as they didn't hit a pressure point, eye or some other vital target, he was fine.
However, dodging was about all he could do. She had the tactical advantage here, and there wasn't much more he could do on his own.
So just where the hell was Naruto? By now he probably would have come up with some ridiculous yet brilliant plan to take her down, or at the very least blown her away with one of his many explosive weapons (seriously, he enjoyed explosions way to much).
Sasuke couldn't help but shake his head at that thought. Since when had he come to rely on the blonde's assistance? A month ago, he probably would have still thought he could handle this on his own. But the truth was, he knew how much of an asset Naruto, hell, any help, could be. He was starting to see Kakashi-sensei's point about needing teammates.
An incoming senbon knocked Sasuke back to reality, causing him to drop into to the ground.
And of course, right when he was starting to appreciate Naruto's help, the blonde is nowhere to be found!
"Are you really so set on continuing the fight?" the girl's voice echoed through the mist again. "You are obviously at a grave disadvantage."
His lips curled into a scowl at that. "So what? You think I'm gonna quite just because you have some cheap advantage? Do I look like a coward?" He had a policy on backing down from fights. Don't. Even if the odds were stacked against him, he'd still keep trying. This was just another test, another trial on the long road that led to his brother. There was no way in hell he was giving up.
From within the mist, Haku observed her foe. He was determined, that much was so. But he was still below her skill level. In truth, part of her had been hoping that Naruto would show up, to see how well he would fare against her. But he hadn't.
"Very well," she replied, projecting her voice with chakra. "If you really want me to take you seriously then-"
"FOR THE FERRET!"
Charging down the bridge, seemingly heedless of the blinding fog surrounding them, were five black-and-orange clad blondes waving their swords in the air wildly.
Okay… though to her credit, she noticed that the boy she had been fighting seemed equally confused.
Oh right, now she remembered what had happened with Zabuza and the fish. He was trying to distract her with clones. Maybe the clones would get close enough to her so that they might explode? Taking her down in the process?
A cunning plan to be sure, but if there was one thing Haku was good at, it was reading people, and they way they thought. She had already seen Naruto fight once before, and had even gotten a chance to talk to him. She could see through such a double-layered plan. So, with a flick of her wrists, she sent five senbon into the clones. The chakra constructs disappeared instantly in clouds of smoke. Okay, now where was the real one?
That was when the roundhouse kick impacted her head, sending her flying.
Only just managing to regain her bearings, Haku was able to land in a crouch… and draw a pair of kunai in time to intercept the two swords coming at her.
"Hiiii" Haku looked up to see Naruto's face rather uncomfortably close to her own, and a very creepy grin on it. Then he planted his boot in her stomach and sent her flying again, diving after her before bisecting her with his sword. Of course, she turned into water, so that was a bit of a moot point.
Deeper in the mist, Haku panted slightly as she tried to get her bearings. That had been a close one. If she taken an instant longer to switch with her water clone…
She'd underestimated the Konoha-nin, that much was certain. But… just how did he know where she was?
"Sooo~… what's up Chicken-butt?" Sasuke glanced up to see Naruto offering him a hand, that familiar grin on his face.
The Uchiha rolled his eyes as he got up on his own. "Not much. What took you?"
The blonde shrugged. "Complications arose, ensued, and were dealt with. What, were you actually having trouble? I thought you said you could handle this." his head cocked to the left in a knowing look.
"Pbff. Against her?" Sasuke gave his smug grin in return. "I was just waiting for you to show up so Kakashi wouldn't chew us out for not 'working as a team' or something like that."
Naruto chuckled. "Yeah, I'm sure." As he looked in the general direction that he had thrown Haku, his expression turned serious. "So, what are we dealing with here?"
Sasuke's grin dropped as well. "Not much you don't know already. She stays in the mist, and hurls needles. If I ever get too close, she just switches with a clone." he tried pulling a few needles out of his arm, grimacing briefly at the pain. "It's very annoying."
"And painful I'd imagine."
"-sigh- Yes. That too. So do you have a plan or what?"
"Yeah… I think so."
"…care to tell me?"
Sasuke sighed in exasperation. "…Please?"
"There you go! Now listen carefully…"
Kakashi's mismatched eyes scanned his surroundings.
"Do you really think a fancy eye is going to make any difference Kakashi?" Zabuza's voice echoed through the mist. "You're far from the first Sharingan wielder to fall prey to this technique."
"Why don't you come out here and find out?" the jounin retorted.
"Hm… a tempting offer."
Within the mist, Zabuza watched the Konoha-nin, curious as to what he could be talking about. This was the most powerful version of the Kirigakure technique, and had been specifically designed to combat doujutsus like the Sharingan and Byakugan. But then again, this was 'Sharingan Kakashi'. A man heralded as being more skilled with the doujutsu then many of the Uchiha had been. What was he plotting?
"Well then," the jounin spoke to himself as he brought his hands into a seal, "Let's see what you got, monkey boy."
With that, seven clones formed out of water around him. Drawing their swords, the clones rushed Kakashi from all sides. Drawing his own weapon, Zabuza joined them. Even without the mist, an attack like this wouldn't be easy to dodge, and with their footsteps being muffled with chakra, there was no way the jounin would hear them coming either.
Zabuza smirked as he watched Kakashi glance around. The man was still clueless.
He was finished.
Then… the jounin smiled.
Then, like a jack-rabbit on steroids, Kakashi shot into the air with a chakra enhanced leap, dodging all of incoming swords. Then, with a flash of his hands, he had hurled a kunai downwards, his free hand held in a seal.
"Ninpo: Kunai Kage Bunshin no jutsu!"
The single knife became dozens in an instant, shredding the water clones and forcing Zabuza himself to leap back into the safety of the mist, sporting a few cuts himself.
'What the hell was that?' how did that bastard see him coming? Nobody had ever seen through this technique, not even Sharingan users.
The missing-nin scowled. It had to be a fluke, a stroke of luck. There was no way he had seen through the technique.
Kakashi landed back on the ground, his lips still curled upward, visible even under the mask, in that confident grin.
Oh, he was mocking him alright! Mocking him like the monkey he was! Zabuza raised his sword. Well there was no way the same trick would work twice! And with that thought, Zabuza leapt high into the air, coming down on Kakashi with a massive hammer-blow from his sword. There was no way he'd see this coming!
But apparently, he did.
Right as the sword fell, Kakashi jumped backwards, out of harms way.
As he flew back, the jounin reached into his pockets and hurled a pair of kunai into Zabuza, just an instant too late to catch the missing-nin before he switched with a clone.
But he wasn't worried.
"You were saying?" Zabuza could practically hear the smug grin in his opponent's voice.
And, deeper in the mist, said nuke-nin was practically seething.
Just how the hell was he doing that? This technique had worked a dozen times on doujutsu users. What the hell made this bastard so special?
The entire premise of this form of the Kirigakure technique was to create a literal 'cloud' of the users chakra inside the mist. And since doujutsus like the Sharingan 'see' chakra, anyone with such a bloodline would be unable to distinguish between the user's chakra, and the chakra surrounding them. Though it would be possible for an advanced user to pick the user out of the mist of chakra, doing so would require them to focus on that function of their bloodline to the point that they would be unable to perceive how far away they were. And of course, those with normal eyes would be unable to see through the mist at all…
Wait… could he be…? Zabuza's eyes widened as he came to a remembered one very important detail.
Kakashi had only one Sharingan. His other eye was completely normal. And he had already faced this technique once before…
Yes… that was it… Somehow, Kakashi had used a combination of the chakra-seeing abilities of his Sharingan, with his normal vision, to pick him out of the mist…
Kakashi raised an eyebrow as he heard laughter echo through the mist.
"Heh… Ha ha ha ha… You certainly live up to your reputation Kakashi. Using your normal eye in conjunction with your Sharingan to pick me out of the mist? I never would've thought that was possible."
Kakashi resisted the temptation to give a sigh of disappointment. He had hoped that it would take Zabuza longer to figure that out.
"But… just because you can see me, doesn't mean you can beat me. I still have one more ace up my sleeve. And this one… you haven't seen before…"
Kakashi's eyes narrowed, watching Zabuza's chakra signature closely with his Sharingan eye, while keeping chakra concentrated to his normal eye to watch for any visual irregularity in the mist.
Then… his signature shifted. No… shifted wouldn't be the right word. He detected a brief burst of chakra coming from… his sword? That didn't make any sense. None of the reports he'd read on Zabuza said anything about his weapon having special abilities apart from increased sharpness.
Unless… Kakashi's grimaced as he remembered seeing something similar one time he spared with Gai.
Weight seals… And with the burst he had just seen…
The jounin's grimace deepened as Zabuza's chakra signature suddenly moved… a lot faster than before. Plus the input from his normal vision said one thing.
Zabuza was coming. And with the sword lighter… he'd be able to follow up even if he missed.
As he focused chakra to his feet, Kakashi's hand went to that scroll.
'Well Dad… I could really use your help right now.'
"Dodge this you damn monkey!" Zabuza roared as he shot right at Kakashi.
The jounin was quick to leap back out of the zanbatou's reach, but that didn't matter. With its weight seals released, the Kubikiri Honchou felt as light as a katana, which meant he could swing it far better.
And so, with hardly a second's grace, Zabuza was able to swing the sword back again at the jounin, who had only been able to draw a single scroll…
It didn't matter. With the sword's increased sharpness, combined with its enormous weight, no kunai could block it.
Zabuza's train of thought stopped as a something 'poof'ed out of the scroll… and a flash of white light danced across his vision…
Deep inside his steel and concrete fortress, Gato walked at a brisk pace towards the main courtyard.
"And this information is accurate?" asked the Iwa ninja walking with him, the one Nadare had left in command of his forces.
"Yes. My agents have confirmed this," the businessman replied, "almost all of the villages are rallying. Apparently Tazuna's grandson is behind it. Damn brat."
The taller man only chuckled. "I doubt that he's the one truly behind it."
"What do you mean?"
"Well, this is obviously Namikaze's doing. Perhaps he hasn't realized we're here and is rallying the villagers as a way to ensure victory over your mercenaries. Or he does know about us and this is some desperate bid to bolster his forces."
"So what do you propose?"
"Simple. We do the same thing. Divide up our forces and wipe them out. His clones may seem tough, but only when they grossly outnumber their opponent. We have a hundred and fifty. More than enough. And I'm sure your mercenaries can take care of some angry villagers?"
"My apologies, but the Commander is busy right now," the silver-haired boy spoke as he leveled his sword at the man before him. "You'll have to deal with me."
Katsu Nadare raised an eyebrow as he scrutinized the boy. How had they missed him? He was sure that it was him they had followed from the house…
Well, no matter. He'd take out this clone, then go find where the real Namikaze was.
That was when Fordo charged him, his sword held to make a diagonal cut.
Nadare might've laughed had he not had years of practicing his composure. Charging an opponent you knew was far stronger than you on your own? Granted, the clone's speed wasn't that bad, but still, how stupid were these clones?
Then it hit him. Alone. He had heard what happened to Zabuza Momochi. These clones might be weak on their own, but that was why they worked together. Of course. This guy wasn't alone.
The jounin made a quick glance around the trees in the clearing. There had to be others. This was all some kind of trap, and they were hoping that by concentrating on the clone charging him, they could sneak up on him.
Well, he hadn't gotten to where he was today by being stupid.
With speed indicative of a jounin, he side-stepped the clone's charge and buried a kunai into his gut. More than enough to dispel any clone.
He ignored the familiar sound of a body hitting the ground as he scanned the area. Where were they? Shouldn't an attack have come by now? A hail of kunai? A powerful jutsu? Where was it?
That was when the sword bit into his back.
Only years of instinct-hardening experience allowed him to jump away before the slice could do more damage than a simple flesh wound.
Spinning around as he landed, his yanked his katana from it's scabbard to face his assailant…
…only to find naught but his kunai laying on the grass.
Nadare grimaced. He had underestimated them. He didn't think clones could be this sneaky. Maybe one of them had shunshined with that first one before he dispelled? These clones were a bit more resilient than he thought.
Glancing about in a quick but controlled manner, the jounin advanced to retrieve his knife. Wait. His hand paused as a thought came to him. If they could switch with a clone, why not switch with a kunai? Yeah… they had to be watching him. Waiting for him to pick up the kunai so one of them could kawariimi with it to launch a sneak attack.
'Well, I'm not falling for the same trick twice.' he thought as he subtely readied his katana to stab at whatever that kunai would suddenly 'poof' into.
His fingers began to touch the knife…
Any second now…
The jounin carefully wrapped his fingers around the weapon, ready to strike at any moment.
Nadare gave a quick sigh of relief, pocketing the kunai as he did. They must not be able to switch with it. He knew normal people couldn't perform kawarimi with something that small, but of course, these weren't 'people' he was dealing with. Now where were th-
That thought was cut off as his world suddenly exploded into pain.
He was flying sideways, slamming into the ground… He could vaguely feel his katana being torn from his grasp.
He… he was burning… It was like an exploding note had gone up right next to him. How had they planted one without him noticing?
He struggled to his feet, gripping his burned arm as he did so. Good. He still had feeling in it.
The nuke-nin quickly glanced around, all directions, looking for an attack.
He'd underestimated them. And now they'd gotten two good hits in.
He flexed his fingers experimentally. Full control. Perfect.
His hands came together, running through a quick succession of seals. Seals he knew well.
It was time these brats learned first-hand just why he was called 'Bloody Avalanche'.
Then, everything stopped.
Fordo dropped down from the tree he was perched in. Checking around for enemy reinforcements, he made his way over to the body lying prone on the ground.
For a moment, he stood over the body, examining it for any sign of movement, hand ready on his sheathed nodachi.
Then, in one quick motion he drew his sword and beheaded Nadare's corpse.
Picking up the head, noticing the face. It was still set in an eager grin. He likely had died before he even realized what had happened. Fordo gave the face a mere passing glance however. His attention was focused on the small wooden shaft emerging from the back of the skull. Gripping the shaft, he gave it a quick twist, freeing it from the head. The barb that it was attached to would stay inside. The spring-loaded umbrella barb was pretty much impossible to remove without breaking the skull open. Of course, loosing it was a small price to pay for liquefying an enemies brain before they even knew what happened.
Pocketing his bolt, Fordo placed a small patch over the hole. No need to let the brain matter leak out and make a mess. A small sting of pain brought his attention to the newly healed knife wound in his gut. That had taken a bit more chakra than he would have liked.
As he sealed up the severed head, he opened his com channel.
"This is Fordo. Target Alpha confirmed killed. Reapers, report your status."
His answers came in the form of a giant sword shooting up from the ground from the direction Rosso and Auel had run off, and a giant explosion from where Nero and Virgil should be.
"Virgil here. Target Beta is down Reaper Lead. Damage minimal."
"Same here sir. Target Gamma is neutralized."
"Roger that. You get all that Command?"
"Affirmative. Good job Reapers. Head for the bridge, and await further orders."
"Reaper Team acknowledges."
With a mental 'click' of affirmation from his squadmates, Frodo turned to speed off, when he noticed Nadare's sword laying on the ground, having been torn from his grasp when the exploding kunai went off. Hadn't they heard that he used some kind of chakra imbued weapon?
Curious, Fordo picked up the sword and channeled some chakra into it. He raised an eyebrow when the blade started vibrating at incredible speed giving off a low hum not unlike a power tool.
AN: At this point, I had already started work on Sasuke's 'death' and the ensuing carnage.
Naruto's eyes widened as he beheld Sasuke, his body riddled with senbon. He had… taken the hit for him…
As Sasuke fell backward, the blonde rushed to him, able to catch him, holding his head up.
"Come on, stay with me." Naruto spoke quickly, trying to give some kind of encouragement to the Uchiha, even if it didn't look good. The boy's neck was riddled with senbon, and Naruto could hear him making short, rapid breaths.
"S…So… th…then…" Naruto looked up to Sasuke's face, finding the boy's eyes open, if half-lidded, the pupils having returned to onyx. His lips were curled upwards in some attempt at a smug grin, even through his obvious pain. "I… guess this… makes us even then… huh?" he spoke in a quiet, raspy tone, like he was struggling to even speak.
Even given the situation, Naruto couldn't help but give a small grin. "Yeah. I guess it does."
Sasuke tried to chuckle, but only managed a cough, a cough that brought blood out of his mouth.
"Don't talk." Naruto spoke calmly, trying his best to salvage this situation. "Don't waste your strength." Maybe… maybe if he could beat her quickly enough… maybe if there was a good enough doctor in Wave…
Sasuke tried to chuckle again. "No… I'm done… and you know that…"
Naruto grimaced as he heard Sasuke's strained words. He was right. Putting his free hand on Sasuke's chest, Naruto tried to feel his pulse. It was weak… very weak. He wasn't going to make it.
"Why'd you do that?" the blonde looked back to Sasuke's face, a solemn look on his face. He honestly had no idea how to handle this situation. He had grieved before… but he had never been with someone at their dying breaths. And… this was someone who he wasn't even close to. Just someone he was beginning to befriend and someone whom he really couldn't have cared less about just a few weeks ago. And this person had just taken a lethal hit for him…
"Heh…" Sasuke struggled to find words, "I… I don't know… I guess… I just couldn't afford to watch you die… I guess…"
Even while watching him die, Naruto couldn't help but find the joke. "Geez. Don't tell me you really are gay…"
Sasuke did his best to send him an indignant scowl, but somehow found it funny too. He supposed that it all seemed so… meaningless now. "No… you idiot… You're just… that good of a leader I guess…"
Naruto raised an eyebrow. "You really think that?"
"Well… that and… I'm pretty sure that… you've got a better… chance at beating her… then I would…"
Naruto shook his head. Sasuke praising his strength? Even saying that he was stronger than the Uchiha? "Sakura's going to beat the crap out of me for letting this happen you know?"
Sasuke was actually able to manage a chuckle this time. "Heh… good… I think you've… gone a bit… too long without… some kind of pummeling."
Naruto managed soft chuckle too. He really couldn't believe it. Sasuke dying in his arms, while the two of them joked like old friends. Was the world ending or something?
"Hey… Naruto…" Sasuke's voice was softer… more raspy. Naruto could feel his pulse fading. "Do… you think you could… do something for me?"
"What?" the blonde asked. A dying man's last wish… he couldn't help to think how cliché this all seemed. He supposed it was his own way of coping with watching someone die in front of him.
"You… know about… my brother… right? Itachi?"
"Yeah." Naruto nodded, able to guess where Sasuke was going with this.
"I… I'm not going to ask… for you to take up my mission… take up my vengeance…" the boy spoke, before his lips curled up slightly in an attempt at a knowing grin, "I know you wouldn't even if I asked…"
"Probably." Naruto replied, trying to force a grin.
"Well… I know I can't ask you… to take up my mission… But… if you ever see him… if he ever crosses your path…" Sasuke trailed off, his pulse almost completely gone, and his eyes beginning to grow dim.
"Don't worry." Naruto replied, "I'll do all that I can."
"Thank… you…" Sasuke's lips curled upwards, finally making a true smile, even as his eyes dimmed and his already weak body fell completely limp.
Naruto gave a long sigh as his face contorted into a grimace. He had hesitated, hesitated to use Kyuubi's power just so he could keep that power a secret. And now… Sasuke was dead because of it. The blonde carefully lowered the body to the ground, and respectfully closed Sasuke's eyes.
"Rest in peace… my friend."
"Was he someone precious to you?" Haku's voice pierced the silence as she got to her feet, leaning back into the mirror Sasuke had thrown her against. She had seen most of the exchange.
"Not really." Naruto replied, still on his knees, his head hung low and his eyes closed, his voice quiet. "I barely even knew him."
"But he was your friend right?" Haku asked.
"Yeah… I suppose he was."
"Then… do you hate me now?" Haku asked again. She knew… somehow she knew… that this was the first time Naruto had seen this… seen someone die right in front of him, and she also knew that when someone sees their friend, even if it's not a close one, die in front of them, revenge can be the first thing on their mind.
Naruto was quiet for a few seconds, as if pondering the question. Then, even as he unconsciously let Kyuubi's chakra flow into his system, he spoke.
"No… I don't…"
Haku was taken aback slightly. His voice… the way he had put it… he sounded… apathetic almost.
"Are you glad then?" but even as she spoke those words, she knew something was… off.
"No…" Naruto spoke again, his voice still quiet, but at the same time… piercing, "I don't really feel anything."
Haku's eyes widened slightly. His voice… it sounded… empty. Hollow. No anger… no sadness… no joy… no hatred…
"Nothing…" he repeated. Haku was now aware of… something… beginning to radiate from the blonde. A… strange chakra… a strange power. Nothing concrete. Just… glimpses… flickers. And his voice… it was so empty… Like he was some kind of ethereal spirit…
"Nothing… at all…"
Power erupted from Naruto, bathing him in pale silver light.
Haku's eyes widened. 'What… What is this?' It wasn't like that power she had seen him using against Zabuza. No… this was something else entirely… Something she had never even seen before. The silver light… no… silver chakra enveloped Naruto, forming a swirling dome of power around him. But even as it did, the blonde didn't move. But… this chakra… it wasn't like anything she had felt before… it didn't even feel like chakra. It felt… empty… bereft of any sort of identity.
It was simply… power.
NOTHING AT ALL
Naruto was completely still as this power swirled around him, as if he wasn't even aware of it. His features were changing much like when he normally channeled Kyuubi's power, though the changes were far less drastic.
Then… ever so slowly… the blonde stood, raised his head, and looked directly at her.
Haku gasped at what she saw.
His eyes were no longer the ocean blue she had seen, nor the bloody crimson of his demon form. They were a dull grey, filled with concentric circles.
These new eyes however quickly faded to a gleaming silver, radiating this strange… hollow power.
'Wha… What is he…?' Haku stammered even in her head. She had seen many eyes in her life. Eyes filled with joy, anger, sadness, rage, even love. When she had first met Naruto, she had seen that his eyes were special. But nothing like this. It felt like… she was staring into the eyes of a god. They seemed empty, bereft of any emotion… and yet they seemed to consume all before them. They simply… were.
'Naruto… just what are you?'
All across Wave Country, they felt it. Even all the way back in Konoha. Every one of the clones froze, even for just an instant… as the waves of power flowed across the mental links. They could all feel it. This… power. And every one of them knew where it was coming from.
Forge glanced to where he knew the bridge, and his commander, was, his thoughts and actions mirrored by all his comrades.
"Wha… What is this?" Both of Kakashi's eyes were wide with shock. Even if he couldn't see what was happening, he could most certainly feel it. For an instant, he had felt the Kyuubi's oppressive, malignant chakra settle over them, but just as quickly as it had come, it had been washed away.
It had settled around them, subtle and calm. Nothing at all like Kyuubi's chakra. But more than that, was the nature of whatever this was.
Nothing. It wasn't the presence he felt… it was the absence he felt. The absence of… anything. All his battle-hardened instincts were screaming at him that there was something emanating from Naruto's general direction. That something had blown away the brief flash of youki he had felt.
And yet he couldn't feel anything.
Just what the hell was going on here?
At the center of all of this, Naruto let out a low breath. He felt… calm. At peace. But not a peace he had felt before. It was as if all the chaos of the world had slipped away… Not simply the sound or thought of battle… but uncertainty as well. He… knew. He understood. He could comprehend. Finally, his awareness focused on the girl. Yes… he recalled now. She was a threat. The threat she posed had to be neutralized.
Weapon… yes he had dropped his weapons. He reached out, feeling their presence. And exerted his will upon them. He pulled them back towards himself, his body's hands opening to grasp them.
Haku was finally snapped out of her awe-induced state as she saw Naruto's swords suddenly start to move. Then, they flew towards him, his hands reaching out to grab them.
Quickly, she jumped back into the mirror behind her. Blinking between the icy constructs, she observed him from all angles. He was just standing there. Standing with his swords in hand, facing forward. It was as if he was oblivious to her.
Haku grit her teeth. What had happened back there? Had he used some kind of genjutsu on her? What kind of technique was he using? And even more so, was she still able to beat him? She bit her lip as she weighed her options, before coming to a conclusion. He was still an obstacle… and possibly a threat. She needed to take him down. Drawing her senbon, she renewed her assault.
He felt them coming, even as the girl threw them. They were fast… and unfamiliar. Too unfamiliar for him to enact his will upon them. But he knew where they were, and exactly how his body needed to be moved in order to evade them. So he did. He weaved his body around the first barrage, then a second. The third one he needed to use his weapons to block some. She was throwing more and more. Eventually, they would become too intense for him to evade without his body suffering damage. But… he was learning. Not much longer…
Haku almost scowled in frustration as she let off a forth barrage of needles, only for the blonde to effortlessly dodge or deflect all of them. Not even the Uchiha with his Sharingan activated had been this effective! What had happened? He wasn't even looking at most of them. Was it some kind of bloodline?
Behind her mask, Haku's face settled into a determined glare. Then she would just have to throw down a rain of needles that he couldn't dodge. It would take most of her remaining chakra… and all of her remaining senbon… but she could do it. The only problem was… he probably wouldn't survive it.
No. She shook her head. She had to bury those thoughts. She had to win. For Zabuza. And with that thought, she readied her needles, and started jumping from mirror to mirror at the fastest speed she could. 360 degrees of needles. No one could dodge that.
He felt them coming. All around. Behind, in front, left, right and above. All directions. Too thick to dodge. His body would most likely suffer critical damage. But that would not happen. His learning of them was complete. He knew now. He knew them. And now, he could enact his will upon them.
Haku gaped. In shock and in fear. All of the senbon. All 321 of them… stopped. In a perfect dome around Naruto. He hadn't even moved. They all just stopped. Like they had been embedded in some invisible barrier…
This was good. His body would not suffer damage. But he needed to end this. The threat had to be neutralized. Her constructs, as well as the cloud around them. But that would not be a problem. His Light had expanded far enough in this time. He knew the energy around them. He knew the matter around them. And all that he knew… he could will.
And will he did.
Haku saw Naruto's lips move, and a voice echoed around her.
It was only years of instinct that allowed her to leap from the mirror in time.
The perfect dome of needles suddenly shot outwards, even faster than they had flown in. And when they hit the mirrors, they didn't bounce off, but shot straight through. And the mirrors themselves seemed to warp around the needles passing through them, flowing like water, before they disintegrated.
It surged off of Naruto like a wave. Expanding at incredible speed.
Evan as she hit the ground, Haku felt it wash over her. And as she looked around, she saw the mist… disappear. And it wasn't simply blown away. It was as if chakra itself had been dispelled. As if the jutsu itself had been unmade.
And then… he was standing over her, sword hovering over her throat. She hadn't even seen him approach… had she been that enthralled by what she had just witnessed… or was this another power of his? She realized that her mask was gone, torn off in her escape from the mirrors.
ARE YOU FINISHED
Haku looked at the sword, and resigned herself.
"Yes. I'm done. Just… don't kill Zabuza too." She knew that Zabuza wouldn't stand a chance against this boy. She just knew.
YOU BELIEVE WE WISH YOUR DEATH
"I killed your friend didn't I?"
VENGENCE MEANS NOTHING TO US
YOU ARE NO LONGER A THREAT
YOUR LIGHT WILL NOT BE EXTINGUISHED SO LONG AS YOU REMAIN THAT
Haku looked up at Naruto. That voice… those… abilities… Was he even human?
"What about Zabuza?"
HE TOO IS NO LONGER A THREAT
He seemed to pause. As if contemplating something.
HE WILL NOT BE EXTINGUISHED
And with that, he vanished. It was only then that Haku heard the chirping of many birds, and looked in horror to find Kakashi charging Zabuza, his hand charged with lightning.
Kakashi's eyeballs practically bulged as Naruto not only appeared next to him, but had his arm in an iron grip. And then he felt it. The empty, hollow, and yet all-consuming presence that emanated from him.
HE IS NO LONGER A THREAT
And just like that, the lightning chakra that enveloped his arm, mere inches from skewering Zabuza, simply evaporated, while the nin-dogs poofed away.
"Na…Naruto?" he practically stammered as Naruto released his arm, at what he was not only seeing, but feeling as well. How had he done that? There was no chakra fluxuations, no seals, nothing. The Raikiri was just… gone. It was nothing like anything he had even heard of, let alone seen.
Zabuza himself was similarly flabbergasted by this… kid? What kind of ability was this?
WE HAVE NO TIME FOR THIS
ANOTHER PARTY HAS ENTERED THE FREY
Despite his utter shock of what was happening to his student, Kakashi was still able to keep his priorities straight. Both he and Zabuza looked to where Naruto was obviously focused on.
"Heh heh heh…" A voice suddenly sounded behind the combatants, a voice dripping with malice and cruelty. "He made a fine mess of you, didn't he?"
Gato chuckled darkly as he stepped into view, and behind him stood some hundred samurais, thugs, and other lowlifes, all regarding the ninjas as though they were already dead. "There has been a change of plan, I am afraid." The multi-billionaire laughed jovially, his eyes however, remained mirthless behind the glasses. "Or to be more precise, your plan."
Zabuza's eyes narrowed in barely contained fury as he spat out the words from between gritted teeth. "So you planned this all along then, Gato?"
Gato snickered at the accusation, his hands resting on the expensive walking stick. "But of course, demon, I am a business man, after all. You nukenins are all the same, brainless fools who are so eager to tear each other apart… and by the time you're done; common thugs like the ones behind me can just finish off the rest. Efficient and a hell lot more inexpensive than actually going through with my end of the bargain."
"Bastard." Zabuza growled, though at his current condition, it is doubtful that he could do much to Gato. "Kakashi-san, it would appear that our fight is over. There is no more need for me to assassinate that bridge builder over there."
Kakashi could only nod. "Yeah."
"What more can you do, even if the two of you team up against me?" Gato sneered at the scene with obvious contempt in his eyes. "Both of you have worn each other out so that even commoner bandits could take your life."
"Don't count on it." A voice called out, as several needle buried themselves in the ground before the criminal bosses, causing him to stumble backward in fright and surprise. "But you seem to forget about me… Gato."
"H…Haku!" Zabuza, for the first time in his entire life, looked thunderstruck. He had thought for sure, when Haku did not come for him, that some tragic fate has befallen the girl… yet here she stood, without so much as a scratch on her… At this, he shot Naruto a curious glance.
"You!" Gato yelled, backing away from the senbon in fright, before trying to regain his composure. "Fine! You want to die with you master you little bitch? My boys will be happy to oblige." The mercenaries around him looked even more eager.
Haku just grinned. "Bring it midget." In truth, she was almost out of chakra. Hopefully she could take down enough of these guys for Zabuza to deal with the rest and-
THAT WILL NOT BE NECCESARY
Haku started as she just noticed Naruto walking out in front of all three of them. She glanced over to where he had been restraining Kakashi. How was he moving like that?
WE SHALL HANDLE THIS
And as he finished, he drew his swords.
"You?" Gato started, a cruel smile growing on his face, "You think you can take on all my men you little brat? Fine. I think-"
It was the dark laughter upon the air that cut off his words. Kakashi thought the laugh sounded like Naruto… but then why weren't the boy's lips moving? They were still, curling up into an amused grin.
YES WE ARE A CHILD
A CHILD IN A NEW WORLD THAT HE DOES NOT UNDERSTAND
BUT AT LEAST WE ARE ABOVE THE DUST
"Wha-" Gato tried to speak. Trying to understand what he was experiencing.
FROM DUST YOU HAVE RISEN
He began to take a step forward.
AND IT IS TO DUST YOU SHALL RETURN
And two mercenaries in the front of the mob suddenly found themselves without heads, the blonde standing between them. The other mercenaries and samurai only just realizing it, staring in shock and incomprehension.
Or at least they would have, had Naruto not already started cutting into them.
A ronin next to him was the first to recover, lashing out with his sword, letting out a battle cry that was filled with more fear than rage.
But the blonde backed out of the way, bringing one of his swords up and across the man's jugular with nary a glance in his direction.
Another came from behind, only for the boy to duck under the strike, and sending one of his across an artery.
More attacked, but Naruto simply started moving faster.
"What the hell is he doing?" Zabuza spoke, trying to make out what was going on inside the mob.
"I'm not quite sure, but…" Kakashi spoke, his Sharingan focused on his student.
"But what?" Haku asked, a worried look on her face.
"He's winning. That's for sure."
And to be honest, that was an understatement. Naruto was slaughtering the mercenaries and samurai. Even with twenty or more people attacking at any time, no one had even come close to hitting him. He would simply dance and weave around the attacks, retaliating at the same time.
But what was even more incredible was what his Sharingan was showing him. Naruto wasn't just reacting to the attacks, he almost seemed to be predicting them as well. Even attacks that were coming from behind him. Kakashi had long since learned how to tell when someone saw an attack coming. The minute changes in movement to accommodate for it, no matter how skilled a fighter they were. But the thing was… he hadn't seen any of these in Naruto now. It was as if he were somehow monitoring every single enemy around him simultaneously, waiting for them to make their attack.
But that was impossible. No one had that kind of mental aptitude. Even a Hyuuga had their limits as to how many targets they could keep track of at once. It was a basic limitation of the human brain.
A limitation that Naruto seemed to have overcome.
Special Authors Note:
Still here? Didn't bolt after that sorry excuse for a chapter? Great! Have a cookie! Anyway, on to business.
A wise man once said: 'Finding good fanfiction is like finding penny's in a sewer. It's there, you just have to go through a whole lot of crap to get to it.' But every once in a while, you find not a penny, but a piece of gold. Yes, there are some really unique, interesting and sometimes just plain AWESOME fanfics out there. But the sad thing is that of those I have found, despite how good they are, I don't think they are as well known as they should be. And thus, since so many people seem to read my work and no doubt scrambled over here once they got that email alert, I figure I might as well give my recommendations for some of these stories that deserve your attention. I will be putting these brief endorsements up in Authors Notes in future updates. So with that said, here is the first one:
'Enemy of My Enemy' by Katsuhiro
Summery: (Taken from TvTropes page) "It is late November 2552, and the Covenant Civil War is in full swing. But the people of the desert world Crassus don't know that. An out-of-the-way, strategically-unimportant UNSC colony, the human settlers eke out a living, mostly clustered around the planet's only real city, Horizon. Consisting of a few million civilians and a few thousand marines, they try to eke out a living in the harsh climate, living in relative peace. But all that changes...
The Sangheili/Elite battlecruiser Pride of Sanghelios is shot down over Crassus by the Jiralhanae/Brute assault carrier Implacable Duty. The Elite ship crashes on Crassus, and with Horizon having no functional ships the human & Elite factions are stranded with no way to call for help, while the Assault Carrier, led by High-Chieftain Torikus, settles in to start an attempt to wipe them off the map. The Elite forces, led by Shipmaster Vtan Arume, must forge an at-first uneasy alliance (well, uneasy on the humans' side; the Elites have no problem with it) with the humans of Crassus, and the two forces must work together to save their city and themselves from utter annihilation."
Why You Should Read It: Okay, right up front, this is one of THE BEST fanfics I have ever read, as well as one of the two best Halo fanfics I've found. Part of what makes this story great is the simplicity of it. There are no surprise Flood attacks, no ancient Forerunner temples or superweapons or any other left field curveballs. It's just humans and elites teaming up to fight off a Brute invasion. Certainly one of the story's greatest strengths is it's characters. They're all original characters (no canon characters at all) and they are all written beautifully. From the (initially) feckless Navy pilot to the cheery ODST Commander (no Spartans here either!) to the Sanghelli Captain to his trusted SpecOps commander (who may be the most badass Elite in all of Halo fiction. Seriously), everyone feels fleshed out and developed. Even characters that are introduced only to die a few paragraphs later get focus, which only adds to the gravity of the situation when people on both sides are getting torn to shreds. This is not a pretty story as the author effectively portrays the battlefield in all its gritty, dirty, bloody glory, much like the Halo novels. Suspense and tension are utilized brilliantly, with Hope Spot after Hope Spot appearing and fading for both sides. Battles are well written and intense with later chapters featuring some serious 'Holy SHIT!' moments of awesome. I really can't do it enough justice here. If you are a fan of the Halo novels, then this is a MUST read. If you aren't… check it out anyway. It's great stuff.