Disclaimer: Do I really need to keep reminding you people that I don't own Naruto?
A Note From The Author
Back, after such a long time, but finally here and launching straight into battle. I apologize for the delay, but I explain why in more detail at the end of the chapter. Now, please enjoy the long awaited Part II of Phoenix Rising (not to be confused with Part II of The Phoenix, which Phoenix Rising collectively is Part I of), and please enjoy the music that goes along with it (including the opening and ending themes).
-Part II Opening (Chapters 25-): Fighting the Darkness by Primal Fear
-Part II Ending (Chapters 25-): Suna no Oshiro by Kanon Wakeshima
-Naruto vs Neji: Promise Sword of Victory from Fate Stay/Night
-Naruto vs Neji, Finale: Storm by Yoshida Brothers
-Rock Lee vs Sora, Stage 1: Rising by Yoshida Brothers
-Rock Lee vs Sora, Stage 2: Eiyuu Ou from Fate Stay/Night
-Rock Lee vs Sora, Stage 3: Emiya - Kenji Kawai Version from Fate Stay/Night
-Rock Lee vs Sora, Aftermath: New Dawn from Fate Stay/Night
-Sora's Theme: Eiyuu Ou from Fate Stay/Night
Please check my profile for the full soundtrack listing for Phoenix Rising. It is incomplete and currently under revision, but should give you an idea of the mindset I have for the story.
Phoenix Rising Part II: Everything Changes
Chapter 25: Changing Fates
Neither opponent moved while in the stands above people began to analyze the pair before them silently.
In one corner of the spectator stands Ino and Hinata sat anxiously, watching their boyfriend and lover as he and Neji stared at one another. Next to them sat Uzumaki Kushina and Rin, both anxiously watching Naruto as well. Instinctively they knew he was strong and would do well, but nothing can stop a mother's worry about her child.
In another section of the stands Hyuuga Hiashi sat with his younger daughter Hanabi beside him. His eyes were narrowed as he watched his nephew face off with the demo- no, with the son of the Yondaime.
"Ne, Hinata, is this seat taken?"
Hinata turned and brightened up as soon as she saw Kiba.
"Ah, Kiba-kun. No, go right ahead." She said as she turned back to the match before her.
Kiba sat down in the empty seat at the end of the row and then looked down at where Naruto and Neji were facing off, just in time to hear Neji finally speak.
"I told you before, you are just a loser. It is your destiny to lose." Neji said as finally he shifted into a guard stance.
Naruto clenched his fist and held it out before him.
"I told you before, when we meet in battle, I will destroy you." He said coldly, his anger at what the young man before him had done to one of his Hime beginning to rise once more.
Neji silently activated his Byakugan and focused on Naruto. The blond boy who stood before him was garbed in the same outfit as usual, his red jacket, black pants, and white shirt.
Those are eyes that show he believes in him self completely. There's absolutely no overconfidence.
Neji slid further into his ready stance, chuckling.
"It's more rewarding to fight against you. When you face the true reality, those eyes will show disappointment. I'm looking forward to seeing those eyes."
"Stop talking so much…" Naruto shot back as he moved into his own ready stance, the flow of his chakra causing the wind in the entire arena to begin to swirl.
In the stands above both Hinata and Ino crossed their fingers. Now was Naruto's chance to shine, and to show how much he had improved from a month of long training.
"Let's begin already!"
"Well, let the first match…BEGIN!" Genma said.
Both boys remained absolutely still, their eyes glued on one another. Neji was in his ready stance while Naruto merely stood straight up, his entire being focused on finding a weakness in Neji's defenses. He knew from Hinata just how good Neji's defenses were, and if was going to have a chance of winning he must find a way to break through. His normal strategy of relying on his purple fusion-chakra and the Kitsune Kata was definitely not going to be enough, but perhaps it could give him the boost to wear Neji down. He just feared what would happen if he pushed to far, how he had nearly been overtaken by the bloodlust back during the mission to the Wave still fresh in his memory.
Finally, after what had seemed like an eternity to the gathered watchers, Naruto crouched and brought his hands together in a cross-shaped seal.
"Now, we begin." He muttered as he closed his eyes and focused his chakra. "Kage Bunshin no Jutsu!"
There was a flare of chakra and four puffs of smoke surrounded Naruto. When the smoke cleared there were four copies of Naruto standing around him. With his Byakugan activated Neji realized that these were not regular bunshin, and that the real one was completely indistinguishable from the copies.
In the stands above Izumo and Kotetsu began to chuckle.
"Kage Bunshin is a jutsu at Jounin level. I didn't know he knew that jutsu."
"He truly is his father's son, surprising us like this."
Back in the center of the grand arena Neji smirked.
"But after all, there is only one real body."
"Heh, don't bluff." All four Naruto clones replied.
"Come at me if you want to come." Neji said tauntingly.
Naruto crouched further and held his right arm out at his side.
"Now, I'll show you why you will lose." He called out as the air began to swirl around his hand.
Slowly blue chakra began to appear and swirl inwards, condensing into a rapidly spinning ball around his hand. After about five seconds two of the clones stepped forward and suddenly began striking at the ball, adding the finishing touch to its rapidly spinning form, causing it to fully condense into a tight sphere of dense blue chakra.
Each clone spoke in unison as four of them drew one of Naruto's special tri-pronged kunai and stepped to the side. Naruto finished off the announcement, drawing a kunai in his empty left hand as well.
"Today I prove just how malleable fate is!" Naruto cried out.
The hands and the feet of all five copies of Naruto began to glow with a dark purple chakra, the Rasengan in the original's hand even beginning to take on a purple tint as the five copies all charged.
Two moved in first, but despite their speed Neji merely pushed off their heads and flipped over them, completely dodging their attack.. Two more rushed him from the sides even faster than the first two as he landed and but Neji spun, diverting their blows to the side with simple strikes from his hands. Finally Naruto him self rushed Neji, thrusting his right palm out towards the boy, the swirling sphere darkening to purple.
Neji bent over backwards at the waist, using all of his flexibility to dodge the blow. Even then he felt the barest edge of it nick his chin as Naruto's arm went past his head. Narrowing his eyes in anger Neji lashed out with an upwards kick as he pulled into a hand stand, launching Naruto back away from him. He continued his motion by pushing off into the air and spinning. As the other four copies of Naruto rushed him at speeds he had not expected, lacking their kunai this time, Neji lashed out with a series of rapid chakra blows, deflecting them away from his spinning form where they all dissolved in bursts of smoke.
As he landed on the ground once again and turned to face the sole remaining Naruto he failed to notice the significance of the five pointed star the kunai the five Naruto's had dropped were now forming.
"You'll become Hokage, eh? I guess it won't be possible with this." Neji said, causing Naruto to narrow his eyes. "I can tell most things with these eyes. Talent is decided when the person is born. In other words, everything is decided when one is born."
Naruto clenched his glowing fists and chuckled.
"And I am about to show you just how wrong that is."
The blond boy looked up at Neji with his eyes ablaze, the irises beginning to slowly darken to purple as his body reacted to his emotions, the hormones beginning to flood his system. He felt the fear of losing control creeping upon him, but he suppressed it as he attempted to regulate the flow of the compounds that would soon send him over the edge.
"Kai." He said simply with his hand held at his side in a seal.
Around Neji the five kunai suddenly vanished in bursts of smoke, revealing five ferally grinning copies of Naruto, each of whose hands and feet began to glow with purple energy moments before they brought their hands together.
"Raiton: Dengeki Enko!" The five copies of Naruto called out in unison as they performed a series of hand seals and raised their arms.
In the stands the entire audience gasped as bursts of lightning leapt from the glowing right hands of all five clones, connecting to the hands of the next copy in sequence. Within less than a second Neji was surrounded by a network of arcing lighting that resembled a five pointed star from above. If he moved at all he would electrocute himself, and his only escapes to the air or the ground were cut off by the original Naruto still being able to freely move.
"Hyuuga Neji, you are a fool who believes that nothing can change. I will show you that proof of change. Your sister, who has suffered just like you, has fought hard to change her fate. Watch her, see her, see what she has become."
In the stands above Hinata's eyes widened as Naruto spoke about her.
"Without her, you would not be standing here on the precipe of defeat. She is strong, stronger than even she yet realizes. This technique exists because she saw potential for it. She worked herself into the ground training until she made it work. And now, I will have my revenge on you for hurting my Hime!"
As Naruto yelled this last part he brought his hands together in a familiar cross-shaped seal.
"Tajuu Kagebunshin no Jutsu." He cried out as chakra pulsed outward from him, flooding the arena as he performed the highly forbidden technique.
Neji glared as nearly four hundred copies of Naruto suddenly appeared, surrounding the web of lightning which seemingly kept him trapped.
"Teme!" They all yelled out as every single one drew a kunai.
As one they held the kunai up while performing hand seals with their left hands.
Neji's eyes widened momentarily as he realized that they were performing the same sequence of seals as the five that currently had him pinned down had. Silently he focused, beginning the expulsion of chakra from his tenketsu in anticipation of beginning his defense.
"Raiton: Dengeki Ami!" Nearly four hundred voices cried out in unison as they raised the now sparking kunai above their heads before leaping into the air.
Neji remained poised as lightning arced through the air, leaping randomly from kunai to kunai across the field of clones.
"Storm of Destruction!" They cried out in unison as they all launched their kunai towards the ground, each clone dissolving as the act of launching the kunai caused them to be struck by lightning.
Neji smirked and began spinning in place. By the time the field of randomly leaping lightning bolts reached his level he had already formed a spinning sphere of chakra. This act disrupted the Dengeki Enko that was keeping him pinned, causing the lightning to backfire and electrocute all five clones. As one they puffed out of existence as the lightning continued to strike against his shield in futility.
Finally, after nearly thirty seconds of arcing around the field, the brightness of the flashes practically blinding the onlookers, the lightning ceased. Neji stopped spinning with a smirk and looked directly at Naruto.
Naruto stood from where a lucky hit by a deflected lightning bolt had tossed him. He growled as he stood up and dusted himself off.
Since when is the branch family taught the Kaiten?
"Why you…it's not going to be that easy!" Naruto growled as he twirled a pair of tri-tipped kunai before launching them to either side of Neji.
Neji smirked and struck out, stabbing each kunai is it passed. Sure enough, both kunai disappeared in puffs of smoke.
"Orrraaaa!" Naruto cried as he attempted to reach Neji in time while he was distracted, but to no avail. Despite Naruto's chakra enhanced speed it just wasn't enough.
As Naruto attempted to lash out with a punch aimed straight for Neji's face the older boy smirked and began spinning again, the expelled and spun chakra blocking Naruto's blow and sending the boy flying away, nearly-shredding his jacket in the process. As the blond teenager slowly got back to his feet he was beginning to shake. He could feel the compounds beginning to latch onto receptors in his brain, his muscles, his nervous system, and the fear began to grip him again; the fear of losing all control.
Not yet…just a little more time…I just need a little more time…
You don't have anymore, Kit. Kyuubi chuckled.
"I'll end it here." Neji said from his spot in the middle of the crater his repeated Kaiten had carved out of the earth. "You're within the field of my Hakke."
Naruto blinked in confusion as he got fully to his feet.
Neji held his arms out to the side before sliding his right foot back, moving his arms straight before him at an angle.
The dark-haired Hyuuga slid his left leg forward, extending his arms palm up until they formed an almost straight line with his shoulder, the right higher than the left. He was oriented almost perfectly along that line to Naruto and had his eyes focused on him.
"Sixty Four Point Hakke!"
In the stands above Hiashi lent forward in surprise.
"That stance…could it be…"
Naruto narrowed his eyes as he tried to figure out what was coming up. Suddenly Neji lent into the air towards him.
Neji spun, his hands glowing with a blue light as he spun and struck, breaking through Naruto's guard.
"Two." He said, striking Naruto with both hands, hitting two points on his body.
"Four." He continued his assault, striking four times at a faster pace.
"Eight." His speed increased further as he struck again.
"Sixteen." Neji's hands became a blur.
"Thirty-two." Hinata and Ino were holding their breath. Hinata was scared as despite all his power her lover had apparently been beaten.
"Sixty-four." As Neji moved faster than anyone could see Naruto was flung away with a cry of pain.
The blond shinobi struggled to get on his feet, even as his tenketsu burned from being sealed.
"With all sixty-four tenketsu in your body sealed, you won't even be able to stand up." Neji said with an air of superiority.
"Kuso…" Naruto muttered as he struggled not only to get up, but to keep the bloodlust in check. Without his chakra to burn the compounds out of his blood the rate it was coming on had increased exponentially, and as much as he hated Neji for what he had done to Hinata, he was certain that if he killed the boy his lover would hate him.
"Ashamed of yourself yet? Standing before absolute power and knowing your own weakness. To think anything can be done if you work hard enough is just a fantasy."
In the stands above Sakura was chuckling to her self.
See Ino, now you'll see. Sasuke-kun could have won, but your Naruto just isn't as good. You'll see that you should just come back to Sasuke-kun.
Naruto looked up towards Neji's feet, his vision slightly blurry.
"Kuso…" He muttered softly as he got to his feet again, breathing heavily.
"Neji…" He said softly. "I really…really suck at quitting anything…and I still need to take you down."
"No way…" Neji said, completely shocked that Naruto could even stand.
"I know all about the main and branch families, Neji. I know all about the pain you must have felt, having your dad be killed like that. But that gives you no right to decide what is and isn't destined to happen." Naruto said, causing Neji to glare in anger.
"You are hopeless." Neji said, suddenly rushing forward in preparation of striking Naruto with a palm strike to finish the weakened boy off.
In the stands above most people watched in horror as Naruto was struck and sent flying.
All but one.
So, now the real battle begins. Naruto-kun, show me, just what power lies buried within you. Show me how brightly the will of fire burns. Show me how strongly the storm blows.
Kabatsu Cora smirked from her position in the crowd. Now, to see how the young Gouzenkaze fared when pushed to his utter limits. Would the power within him rise, or was it yet dormant within the blond boy?
As Neji turned to walk away he heard an odd sound behind him. He turned to surprisingly find Naruto standing, his arms dangling at his sides as he stared at the ground and breathed heavily. His entire body seemed to be shaking from the effort of standing up.
"I cannot lose here." Naruto said. "Not to a bastard who is such a coward that he blames everything on fate and other crap."
Naruto… Ino thought, watching her lover stand. She was torn between desire to see him win and desire to protect him from harm, just as he always sought to protect her and Hinata.
"You know nothing. Don't lecture me. People are born carrying an unchangeable fate." Neji replied coldly, anger barely restrained in his voice as he remembered something his father had once told him. "To carry a seal that can never be removed. A guy like you would never understand."
Silently Naruto himself remembered back to the one time he had been lost alone in Konoha, the day he had been forced to learn the truth of his father's death, to learn of what he contained within himself, and why no one in town ever did anything but hate him.
"No…I understand, better than anyone else ever could." Naruto said as he looked up. "So, what about it? "
This guy? Neji thought in surprise.
"Stop acting cool. You're not the only special guy here. Hinata…was suffering the same as you. She is from the head family, but she tried her best to change herself because no one would acknowledge her existence. That's the determination she had, and she fought you even after she was injured. That goes for you as well. The branch family is supposed to protect the head family, yet you did that to Hinata when it was only an exam. You were trying hard to fight against fate, weren't you?"
"Heh. All sixty-four of your tenketsu are closed. How are you going to fight now? You won't be able to use your chakra for a while…"
Genma stood nearby, looking between the two boys. He was ready to call the match since it appeared to be so close to ending.
"In the end you are going to follow the same fate as Hinata-sama."
"Shut up!" Naruto cried. "Stop talking as if you know everything with that Byakugan of yours!"
"Then show me if what you say is true." Neji challenged.
"Sure, I'll beat you and prove it."
Damn it. Damn it. Even when I say that, I feel no chakra inside me.
Suddenly Naruto stiffened up as Kyuubi's voice broke through his thoughts.
Kit…now is the time. You can control it. You just need to have faith in your self, faith in your training. You are not me, you are you. You can control the change. The power is yours and yours alone to use from now on. The transformation…is complete.
Slowly Naruto's breathing began to steady as he reached within himself, grabbing hold of the power that was his and drawing on it to control the change, confident like never before. No, he would no longer fear that power, the bloodlust. It couldn't control him any longer…it would OBEY HIM!
"The chatting ends here. Examiner, I intend to kill him." Neji said.
"Heh." Naruto said as he brought his hands together in a single seal, one shown to him by the Kyuubi.
"Raaaaa!" He cried as he began to focus, on every time he had fallen and gotten back up; on every time his friend Rock Lee had gotten back up after a defeat in training; on every time he watched one of his Himes strive harder.
"Heh. Why do you fight against your fate that hard?" Neji asked.
"Because…" Naruto bit out. "I must prove my existence."
In the competitor's balcony Gaara's eyes widened in surprise at Naruto's words.
Neji activated his Byakugan as Naruto crouched down, bringing his arms to his sides and clenching his fists.
"RAAAAAAAR!" Naruto cried as the air around him suddenly began to swirl as blood red chakra began to flare out of him.
Within his blood volatile chemicals were flowing freely, binding with receptors in his system as Neji watched in fear as a strange red chakra suddenly spiraled out of Naruto, surrounding him like fire as visible flares of chakra surrounded him.
In the stands many of the older shinobi were staring in shock as the Kyuubi's chakra began to pour out of Naruto, especially when it momentarily formed the image of a fox head above Naruto's own.
Gaara watched wide-eyed at the power that the blond boy was now exerting.
Arashi stood from where he was sitting beside Tsubaki, staring in awe.
Sora, Ren, and Akane all smiled, staring down at the boy.
That's it, cousin. Draw on the power that is yours by right…OUR RIGHT AS JINCHURIKI! Sora's thought was joined by a deep bass roar.
"AAAAAAAAAA!" Naruto called out as the chakra flared out of him in long flares.
"Let's begin." He said, looking up at Neji. His eyes were pure blue, no sign of the transformation normally associated with him drawing on the Kyuubi's power.
This chakra…it's wrapping around him…what is that? Is it really chakra?
Neji watched in fear as the chakra condensed around Naruto, encircling him and covering him in a flare of red flaming chakra as he clenched his fists.
What an enormous power. I feel stronger…than any time I've ever drawn on Kyuubi before.
Naruto focused his eyes on Neji as the older boy got into a defensive stance. Suddenly Naruto completely vanished and Neji frantically searched for him using his Byakugan. The older boy barely had time to react as Naruto suddenly appeared in the air above him, lashing out with over twenty of his special kunai in a matter of a few seconds. Neji used a Kaiten to deflect them, following Naruto's path and lashing out with a flow of shuriken as the boy attempted to attack him from above.
Neji watched in surprise as Naruto suddenly disappeared again in a burst of wind, dodging his thrown shuriken in midair.
His speed increased? What in the world is going on?
In the stands Kabatsu Cora's smirk deepened.
That's it, little Gouzenkaze, let the wind do your bidding. Soon it shall be as natural to you as breathing.
Neji leapt to the side and drew a kunai as Naruto appeared beside him in another burst of wind and lashed out with a kick that pushed Neji back with a blast of air. The pair threw their kunai as they leapt apart, the two blades colliding perfectly and deflecting away from one another. Together they leapt and caught the blades, striking at one another as they passed. They both landed on the ground facing each other again, Neji staring at Naruto with fear and surprise growing in his heart.
"You…are confident about close combat, right?" Naruto asked with a chuckle that caused Neji's eyes to widen.
Suddenly Naruto sped forward, his speed and the chakra around him tearing up the ground as he passed, a tunnel of wind swirling behind him. As Naruto approached Neji attempted to reaffirm his beliefs to him self that fate was unchangeable. He brought a kunai up in a guard as Naruto approached yelling to him as he discarded the kunai he was holding and brought his arm to his side with the palm open.
"I don't know about the Hyuuga's fate of hatred, but if you think it's impossible then don't do anything!"
Neji began to start the Kaiten in fear.
"After I become Hokage…" Naruto said as the chakra in his hand suddenly spun and condensed into a swirling red ball. The audience watched in awe as Naruto struck at Neji with the technique and the very wind itself formed a massive vortex around him. "I'll change the Hyuuga for you!"
Naruto cried this last bit out as his Kitsune Rasengan collided with Neji's kunai in the field of the Kaiten. Their colliding energies remained stable for a moment before the entire arena was filled with smoke as a massive explosion of chakra sent the pair flying away from one another to create two massive craters in the ground.
Hinata and Ino watched in fear as they waited frantically to see if Naruto would arise. Slowly a hand reached out of one of the holes and Hyuuga Neji crawled out, coughing a little as he did so.
On the competitor's balcony Sora smirked as Neji stumbled forth to look at where Naruto unconscious in his crater.
It's not over yet.
"Sorry Naruto, but this is reality."
Neji was about to say something else when he felt a chakra flare around him. The poor boy didn't stand a chance as a glowing red fist surrounded by a swirl of wind emerged from the ground below as Naruto came exploding forth. As Neji fell back, completely unable to move, Naruto breathed heavily and the red aura around him began to fade, a smile forming on his face.
Slowly Naruto walked over to stand over Neji, the copy of him the crater vanishing in a puff of smoke in answer to Neji's unspoken question.
"You even made a Kage Bunshin in that situation?" Neji coughed from where he was lying prone on the ground. "Your favorite technique, ne? I was careless."
"When I was younger, my mom would give me the Academy graduation exam to test my progress. No matter how hard I worked, no matter how hard I trained, there was one technique that I could never master. Not even today can I use it properly. The Bunshin no Jutsu was the one technique that forever eluded me. So the day I discovered a Bunshin technique that I could master, I changed my own fate. That is why I use the jutsu so much, as a reminder that I have the power to shape my own destiny." Naruto looked up and smiled as a bird took off from a nearby tree. "So stop complaining about fate and saying how it can't be changed. I am the proof that it can."
Naruto reached his open fist towards the bird and closed it, as if trying to catch a hold of the free bird and for a moment the air around him swirled gently.
"You and I are the same, both given unfair lots in life. All you need is to see that you can change your fate, and nothing else will ever matter."
Genma smiled around his toothpick and raised his hand.
"Winner, Uzumaki-Namikaze Naruto."
Around the arena cheers went up as Naruto looked up in confusion. When he realized that everyone was cheering for him he smiled and pumped his hands in the air, looking straight towards where his family was sitting as he faintly heard both of his Hime cheering for him over the clapping. All these people, people who at best avoided him and at worst glared at him, were acknowledging his existence.
In the stands Sakura was grudgingly admitting that maybe Ino had made the right choice in choosing Naruto when she heard a pair of girls behind her talking. Turning her head she caught sight of a girl who was probably a civilian sitting next to a kunoichi who was probably only a year or two older than Sakura her self.
"He's pretty good."
"Yeah, he's pretty strong."
"And he's pretty cute too."
Sakura looked back down and watched Naruto as he helped a pair of medic nins get Neji off the field, beginning to wonder if she was right to stay so focused on Sasuke-kun, when there were people like Naruto out there. Sakura finally had to admit to her self, maybe it was her chasing after Sasuke that had left her so weak. Maybe Ino had been right all along.
On the other side of the arena Sora smiled down as the blond shinobi exited the field.
"Well played, Naruto. Well played indeed. It would appear that you are finally beginning to harness the power within you."
Those in the balcony who did not know of Naruto's tenant or his hidden ancestry turned to look at Sora in confusion as the tall red-head turned and walked out of the balcony. Everyone wondered where he was going when Rock Lee suddenly brightened up.
"Yosh! This means that my match is next!" The excitable genin exclaimed, nearly shattering the eardrums of those standing near him as he raced off down the stairs after his opponent.
Ren smiled at the boy's antics while Akane leant against the railing, practically drooling in anticipation at the match to come. She was after all a primarily close combat fighter. To her, legendary taijutsu matches were near orgasmic to watch.
In the spectator section five women of varying ages who were scattered through the crowd smiled faintly.
"Sora…" All but one of them said softly as the red-haired shinobi stepped out into the sunlight, followed almost immediately by a green blur.
"Brat…" The fifth woman said with a smile around her cigarette.
In the center of the arena Sora stood proudly, his red hair and black and red armor glinting in the sunlight, the golden sigil of the dragon and the phoenix practically glowing. Near to him Rock Lee was jumping around excitedly, shouting things about the power of youth. His green outfit and bright orange leg warmers very nearly blinded the watching audience before Genma stepped forward and the teenager reeled in his enthusiasm.
"The next match is about to begin." Genma said loudly to the waiting crowd. "This match will be between Rock Lee of Konohagakure and Kabatsu Sora of Nagareboshigakure."
The crowd began to cheer as the two shinobi took their positions opposite one another, and then surprisingly bowed low from the waist.
"It is an honor to meet in battle with one such as your self, Rock Lee. As such, I have decided to swear off all ninjutsu in our battle, save one." Sora said as he returned to a standing position.
"Yosh! Then this will be a battle where we can truly show how our power of youth shines through!" Lee replied to the older man.
Sora just chuckled as he stood straight up, his arms crossed before him.
"Just give me a chance to use my one jutsu before we begin. I guarantee that you won't be disappointed by the effect it has on the arena." Sora said with a smirk, fire beginning to rise behind his eyes and in his veins.
"Yosh!" Lee said as Genma stepped up between them.
"And ready…BEGIN!" He said.
Rock Lee merely stood waiting as he motioned for Sora to make his move. Sora smiled and reached up, grabbing the wrapping of the sword on his back.
"Akumaken, Kai." He spoke softly and suddenly the black wrapping of his sword was swirling around him, causing wind to spiral around the battlefield.
Underneath the black wrapping the blade was a revealed to be the same glossy black as when he had unveiled it in the preliminaries. However, the engravings on the blade as Sora swung the blade up and prepared to stab it into the ground were different. The kanji had changed and the image engraved upon it was no longer that of a dragon and phoenix in battle, but merely a phoenix with flames surrounding it. The edge also glinted dangerously, reminding Lee of gemstones he had seen on jewelry before.
"Shinden wo Sentou!" Sora said loudly as he focused chakra into the blade.
The blade glowed with a brilliant white light before Sora stabbed it into the ground. The audience watched in awe as the blade seemed to melt into the ground until all that remained sticking out was the large black-wrapped handle. Suddenly there was a pulse of chakra and a flash of white chakra flooded the entire arena. The ground began to shake for a moment before something very odd happened.
Genma backed up against the wall of the arena as all around Sora and Lee large gray stones several feet in diameter began to rise out of the ground. Each one was comprised of multiple flat hexagonal sides, each of which had a seal inscribed upon it. Literally hundreds of these stones were rising out of the ground and filling the air in the arena, rising to various heights from a few feet to tens of meters into the air. Finally with a flash of white the stones stopped, but all who were watching could feel the way the arena was now radiating power. Rock Lee looked from the stones to where Sora was now backing up and dropping into a taijutsu ready stance.
"Now that our arena is prepared, we can go all out. Show me, Lee, show me the flames of your youth!" Sora cried as he suddenly blurred and struck forwards, the air around his arms literally swirling with the speed of his punch.
Rock Lee was grinning widely as he dodged to the side and flipped away. Sora growled and chased after the green-clad genin, his eyes ablaze and a massive smile on his face. The audience watched on in awe as the pair began to exchange blows at amazing speeds, almost as fast as Naruto had been in his match while he had been using that red chakra cloak.
Neither one managed to actually land a direct blow for over two minutes of this exchange until finally Sora changed his fighting style. Whereas before he had been fighting Lee with a style very similar to his own now Sora was suddenly fighting in a much more fluid style, not all too dissimilar from the style used by the Hyuuga, that involved a lot more redirection. Lee was caught off guard by the sudden switch and was sent rolling across the ground as Sora suddenly deflected his latest strike down and landed an open palm blow on Lee's shoulder increasing his momentum.
As the green clad boy rolled to his feet he was forced to dodge a series of rapid strikes as Sora rushed him, pressing his advantage. He was now striking with his hands held like blades, attempting to get a strike in past Lee's defenses. Lee, fearing rightly that this was not just a physical strike, was dodging and deflecting Sora's blows while looking for a counterattack rather than blocking. Finally he got his opening, and after deflecting two of Sora's strikes, putting the older man off balance, Lee dropped towards the ground and spun, his leg lashing out and catching Sora in the knee.
Lee's counterattack caused Sora to flip into the air, surprise evident on his face as the younger teenager moved faster than anybody could see and lashed out with a second kick that collided with Sora's sternum, causing him to spit up blood as he collided with the ground.
Lee leapt away back into a guard stance. Many of the watchers wondered why he hadn't pressed the advantage when they saw Sora suddenly flip himself back onto his feet, a grin splitting his face.
"Now things are getting interesting." He said with a chuckle. "What style was that you just used there?"
"The style taught to me by my sensei! It is the style that allows my flames of youth to burn brightly!"
Sora smirked as he reached up to wipe some blood off of his lip.
"Guess I better kick it up a notch then."
Suddenly he blurred, reappearing before Rock Lee as he plunged his hand palm first into Lee's stomach.
Lee went flying backwards until he collided with one of the floating stones, rolling over it and landing shakily on his feet. He barely had time to bring his arms into an x-block before Sora caught up to him and lashed out with a kick that caused Lee to skid almost all the way to the wall.
When Lee finally ceased sliding and looked up he couldn't see Sora anywhere.
"I'm sorry Lee, but if that is the best you have then I am going to end this now." Sora's voice rang out.
Lee looked around frantically, finally finding his opponent standing on top of one of the floating stones on the other side of the field.
As Lee watched Sora reached up and unclasped his armor from his shoulders. Silently the older man removed the front and back pieces, letting them fall from him towards the ground. As the pieces were making their descent he sat and unhooked the guards on his forearms and his lower legs, lifting them and letting them drop as well. As he let them go from his hands a massive shockwave shook the arena, and below the stone he stood on two massive craters formed throwing dust up into the air.
Lee's eyes widened in shock as the dust was added to by a secondary set of impacts seconds later.
When the dust finally settled Lee could see Sora wearing only his boots, pants, and his red and black jacket cracking his neck as he stretched out his arms and legs, seemingly testing his limbs out after removing his weights. In the stands many teenage girls and young women blushed or began to bleed from the nose at the sight of Sora's well-toned body through his tight-fitting jacket.
"I sincerely hope you have something up your sleeve, or else this match is already decided. It's been a while since I removed my weights and suppressors in combat, so it will be a thrill to see how much speed I've gained." Sora said as he cracked his neck.
Come on, Lee. Show me what you've got.
Lee looked up with a blank look on his face for several moments longer before grinning and pumping his fists at his side.
Lee moved and the audience was hard pressed to follow the green and orange blur as it bounded through the stones up into the air until it was standing on a stone looking across at Sora.
"Gai sensei, I'm sorry. I know you said only to use these abilities when defending many precious people, but I owe my friend my full power."
Lee sat down and slid off his fuzzy orange leg warmers, surprising the audience once again. He unhooked the two bands of weights from around his legs and stood up, letting them drop from his side. When they hit the ground the impact they made left craters almost as big as Sora's had been.
Sora raised an eyebrow as Lee stood back up.
"Well well, looks like I might actually have a challenge after all." The red-haired young man said with a grin as he slid into a ready stance, one hand back and behind his head, the other in front with the fingers extended. He motioned for Lee to make the first move. "Bring it."
"Yosh!" Lee exclaimed before he suddenly blurred out of existence.
Next thing anyone saw was Sora flying through the air from the force from Lee's kick before his feet connected with another of the floating rocks and he too disappeared.
The audience gasped as a black blur began to speed through the arena, bounding from rock to rock. Within a matter of seconds the blur had moved towards the center and through the space occupied by Rock Lee mere moments before. Lee however had reacted by dodging and becoming a blur himself, this time of green. The audience watched on in awe as the pair of genin moved at speeds that could rival most Jounins.
Suddenly a loud crack echoed through the arena as Lee and Sora appeared in mid-air, their legs pressed against each other as their kicks had collided and the two began to attack one another with a variety of punches and kicks as they dropped towards the ground below. Just as they were about to hit the ground the two became blurs again, bounding around the arena so fast that their passage was striking up dust and causing wind to begin to swirl wildly around the arena. More than one spectator had to grasp at their heads to keep their hats in place.
In the stands Tenten sat near Tsubaki and Arashi, both of whom were out of their seats cheering their lungs out for their friend.
Sora is actually keeping up with Lee! This is amazing!
Next to Tenten, Arashi was cheering loudly for his teammate, excited to see him unleashing his speed for the first time in a long while, and Tsubaki was cheering with all her might, just proud that the magnificent example of a shinobi currently battling against Rock Lee was hers.
As the two blurs continued to speed around the arena, really only visible when they periodically met in spectacular display of aerial acrobatics and combat, the audience just stared in awe. More than one of the hidden examiners who would be determining who received a promotion to Chunin after the exam were staring in pure awe at the speed and ability being displayed before them. Both boys' speed was low Jounin level, at least, and they were engaged in a vicious and elegant dance of fists and feet that put any other taijutsu match they had ever seen to shame. Add to that they were maintaining such speeds almost constantly and it spoke to their level of prowess.
After nearly five minutes of this exchange Sora and Rock Lee finally came to a stop. Both of them were standing in the air, each balancing on one of the floating stones as they stared across the arena at one another. They were bloody, bruised, and breathing heavily, but they had the identical idiotic grins plastered on their faces. The audience watched on with baited breath as the two combatants caught theirs.
"Well, I have to say my youthful rival, that this was a match to remember. But I am afraid that it is now over." Lee said as he smiled apologetically across at Sora.
"Why, because you are intending to open the Hachimon?" Sora asked, drawing a surprised look from Lee. "What? It's no secret that your sensei can open the gates, so there was always the possibility that he may have taught you."
"You knew this was a possibility, and yet you still handicapped yourself in your match against me? Why would you guarantee your own defeat?" Lee asked in confusion as he began to gather his focus for opening the gates.
It is time…open the door, allow the beast to flow forth. Embrace my power!
"Because," Sora said, standing up straight and taking a deep breath, the muscles along his arms and chest under his shirt rippling as he clenched his fists at his side. "I have something that allows me to rival the gates."
Sora opened his eye and looked directly across as Lee. Lee's breath almost left him as he saw the changes in Sora's eyes. They had gone from their usual dichromatic coloration to turning almost pitch black. The only color visible was a thin red ring and the gold triangles circling his now blue pupil.
"Ten no Juin." He said simply. "Activate."
The Gate is opened…
Rock Lee watched in awe and fear as Sora's face suddenly became a rictus of pain as he reached up and grabbed his neck. The red-haired shinobi dropped to one knee, barely remaining on the large stone.
In the Kage box the Kazekage barely managed to keep from smirking.
Yes, use that. Once you are in its power I can take control of you from here and use your power to aid in my plans.
The Hokage on the other hand nearly dropped his pipe as he stared in shock at what he was seeing.
That…that's Orochimaru's Cursed Seal of Heaven. But why does a Nagareboshi shinobi possess that forbidden power? Could they be aligned with Orochimaru?
Sarutobi Hiruzen turned his head to gaze across the arena at where the foreign dignitaries were sitting. He could see Kabatsu Cora with her hood off standing behind the Nagareboshi delegation, and she was smiling. Suddenly, almost as if she had sensed him watching her (which Hiruzen had to admit was a definite possibility), Cora turned her gaze to look him directly in the eye. Even across the distance Sarutobi got her message.
"Watch, Lee, and witness what is to come, for you are the first opponent to ever make me reveal this power in its full form." Sora grunted out as the gold and silver marks on his face began to glow red, as did a strange mark on his neck that Lee saw was shaped like three tomoe in a spiral. Suddenly his chakra spiked, flaring around him in a haze of purple and black that radiated a powerful unnaturalness that disturbed many of the watching spectators.
And we are as one…
Slowly the red marks began to grow, flowing to cover all of Sora's exposed body as the boy began to growl in pain. As they reached his hair Lee watched as Sora's hair began to turn a dark purple and black. He watched in a mixture of fear and anticipation as the glowing power finished covering Sora, at which point the once red-haired boy let out a deep primal scream as his body began to shift. His back was nearly ripped open as a pair of large black crystalline spikes protruded from the back of his shoulders. His head began to shift grotesquely, his jaw projecting as his teeth grew long and sharp, black bony protrusions growing out of the sides of his head and from over his eyes.
The audience watched on in horrified fascination as the transformation continued. Sora slowly stood, his hands revealed to have grown slightly larger and appearing to be plated in armor that led to his long black talons. His hair had grown to several times its length and was now an unruly black and purple spiked mess that was hanging down his back. His skin had turned almost completely black as the red glow receded and his head had turned reptilian. His black eyes stared out from under a pair of horns and five long horns projected rearward from the side of his head, curved back towards an invisible point behind his head. Finally the spines on his back had fully grown to become two massive shards of black obsidian that glinted in the sunlight.
Sora brought one hand up and clenched his fist, his talons glinting dangerously.
"Now, Lee, open the gates, and let us end this match like men. In glorious battle!" Sora roared out, his voice strange with a deep base overtone to it.
"Yosh!" Lee said as he brought his arms to his side and clenched his fists, focusing hard on what he was about to do. "To the finish my friend, we will give it our all!"
In the Kage box the Kazekage carefully obscured his right hand and formed a single seal, intending to cause pain to the rogue who dared to use his gifts without serving him. However, when he channeled his chakra nothing happened.
What? Impossible! Nothing can prevent me from activating the seal!
Even as he said this the Kazekage was forced to use all of his self-control to not let his surprise become apparent as his mind was suddenly filled with the image of a pair of purple reptilian eyes glaring at him out of a dark cloud and the ear-shattering bass roar that echoed through his mind. And then, as suddenly as it appeared, the image vanished, leaving the Kazekage shaken.
Lee crossed his arms before his face as he began to focus on opening the gates. Suddenly the air around Lee began to blur with power, chunks rising off the rock he was standing on by the force of the chakra. Slowly the intensity increased and Lee's skin began to darken to red, veins standing out all over his face as his eyes turned white and blue chakra began to swirl around his body. Finally he snapped his arms down to his side, a sphere of visible blue chakra forming around him in the intensity of his release.
Sora chuckled and tightened his stance, the purple chakra around him condensing tightly around his body as Rock Lee continued to power up, the blue energy around him forming a spiral as a bright green chakra aura began to form around his body.
In the stands Maito Gai watched on in pride as his prized student crouched and disappeared once again. The next thing anyone saw Sora was leaping into the air, a blur of black and purple, and the nigh-indestructible rock he had been standing on had dissolved into a cloud of dust from Rock Lee's attack.
"Hahahahahaha! YES! THIS IS WHAT I'VE BEEN LOOKING FOR!" Sora roared as he spun and lashed out with a punch, a shockwave forming in the air as his fist met Lee's.
Sora was thrown back while Lee blurred away again, speeding around and striking Sora from behind. Even as the blows rained down upon him the black figure of Sora continued to laugh.
"This! This feeling! This is what I have been looking for!"
Sora roared a reptilian cry as he spun and barely managed to intercept Lee's next strike, catching his fist in his over-sized clawed hand.
"Jigoku no Nigirikobushi." Sora said, his face nearly splitting with a psychotic grin, his eyes wide and the triangles spinning rapidly.
Sora's hand clenched and Lee cried out in pain before vanishing. The green-charged boy appeared behind Sora and lashed out with a powerful kick which sent the still grinning monstrosity that was Sora plummeting towards the ground, a trail of purple chakra glowing behind him.
"Tomon, Open!" Lee cried as he blurred out of sight again.
In the competitors' balcony Gaara was practically crushing the metal of the railing in his grip, his eyes wide as he stared with a psychotic look on his face at the battle before him. Everyone else on the balcony had moved away from him and were all staring at the battle in shock as well. The only one's not surprised by the battle were Akane and Nobu, both of whom had contemplative looks on their faces, and Ren, who was outright cheering for Sora to win.
In a flash Lee appeared falling head first towards the ground like Sora, but the bandages he had wrapped around his arms were loose. Before Sora could spin to face him the green-clad boy lashed out with the bandages and wrapped them around Sora, binding his arms against his body. Sora continued to laugh maniacally as Lee rose above him and then descended, his cocked arm slamming into Sora's stomach with so much force that it doubled his speed mere moments before he collided with the ground.
"Ura Renge!" Lee's voice could be heard echoing as the blow struck, moments before the collision through up a huge cloud of dust the covered almost the entire arena.
Moments later a de-powered Lee was sent spinning out of the cloud, rolling until he collided with the edge of the arena. Slowly the cloud began to settle and collapse, revealing a crater in the center of the arena…and the crouched form of Kabatsu Sora, or at least what they assumed was Sora. The figure appeared to be surrounded by a two-segmented obsidian shell, much like the carapace of an insect. The shining shell was pitted and cracked, and the figure below seemed to be shuddering.
"HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!" The figure suddenly stood its laughter loud and dark. Sora was revealed under the shell as the obsidian condensed and reformed two spikes lying against his back. "This power, it is amazing! Even the Tomon cannot defeat me!"
Sora continued to laugh psychotically as Lee struggled to stand, shock that his opponent had managed to remain conscious after he used the Ura Renge on them evident on his face. In the stands Gai stared in shock that his prized student's ultimate attack had failed.
He…he somehow used the spines on his back to absorb the impact? Just what is he?
In the Kage's box the Hokage was thinking the same thing, while the Kazekage was barely containing his rage that one of his experiments had somehow circumvented his control.
Sakura sat in shock. Rock Lee was annoying, and had been flirting with her since the moment they met, but, he was so amazing. He and this Sora person had battled at a level she had never even thought possible, and yet Lee's power still wasn't enough.
Still laughing, Sora turned and began to stalk towards where Lee was struggling to remain standing, his eyes fixated on the green-clothed Konoha genin. As he moved the obsidian on his back began to flow together and down his body, beginning to form a long black tail as Sora's body hunched over more, his reptilian face grinning.
"Thank you, Lee. It was an excellent battle, one worthy of being recorded for the ages to remember. But I am sorry, for I must end things now."
Lee's eyes widened as Sora approached him, the young man stopping just a few feet in front of him. The two stood apart from one another, Sora no longer laughing as the two shared a moment. The entire arena was silent for a long moment, anticipation and worry in their hearts in equal measure. Finally, it was Lee who spoke again.
"I am sorry, but I cannot give up. I must prove that one can be a capable shinobi even if all they have is taijutsu. That is my nindo." Lee said with regret in his voice.
Sora closed his eyes and smiled, a true smile not the sadistic bestial grin he had been maintaining since his transformation, and then his decidedly bestial form began to recede. The chakra around him died off and the darkness that covered him retreated. His hair returned to its original bright red coloring, albeit still long, and his hands returned to normal. The glowing red marks receded until all that was left was three black tomoe around his neck and the thin gold and silver lines etched into his face. Finally, he opened his eyes, revealing their normal red and blue dichromatic state.
"You have already done that in spades, my friend. If I had not had the defensive capabilities of my Ten no Juin state, you would almost certainly have won."
The pair stood there, regarding one another for several long moments before Sora sighed.
"I understand, my friend."
Sora blurred out of existence and appeared behind Lee, hanging upside down from the wall. Before anyone knew what had happened the red-haired man struck the back of Lee's neck with one finger and the dark-haired boy collapsed into unconsciousness. As Genma approached to confirm that Lee was in fact unconscious Sora flipped back to the ground and looked up at the sun streaming from above as he walked slowly over to where his sword's handle was still sticking out of the ground.
"It was a beautiful day for our match, Lee-kun. It was indeed glorious."
Sora bent and grabbed the long handle of his blade, focusing his chakra as he did so. As the blade began to slowly withdraw from the ground the arena began to swirl with glowing white chakra and each of the floating geometric rocks began to spiral in towards a central point over Sora's head. Rapidly that point became a glowing sphere of white light until finally there was a brilliant flash and the entire sphere shot to the ground in front of Sora.
As the light cleared it revealed Sora with his black-wrapped blade once again securely strapped to his back facing a statue several times larger than life size.
"Thank you." Sora said with a smile as he turned away from the statue and walked towards the craters where he had discarded his armor. Behind him the statue of Rock Lee, his hand held forth in a thumbs up as he smiled and the brilliant white stone of his teeth glinting in the sunlight, looked on.
In the stands everyone was still silent in awe at what had happened until someone began a slow clap. This clap grew rapidly into a massive cheering so loud that almost no one heard Genma confirm Kabatsu Sora as the victor of the match. Still smiling, Sora looked up into the stands and blew a kiss to Tsubaki before he turned and walked out of the arena, heading for the competitor's balcony once again. On his way up the stairs he heard the muffled announcement that the next match between Uchiha Sasuke and Sabaku no Gaara would be delayed until after the other preliminary matches had been completed, but he paid it no mind. He had fought a worthy opponent, and he was charged from the experience.
As he walked onto the balcony he smiled at Nobu as the cobalt-blue haired teenager walked past, followed by the lazy Konoha shinobi Shikamaru. Surprisingly the boy shot Sora a glare, but as Sora was already past him he didn't see it. As Shikamaru began to walk down the stairs to the arena he had his hands in his pockets and a single thought on his mind.
If I can show that girl how skilled I am with my shadows today, maybe I'll be able to catch her interest. *sigh* This is so troublesome.
As Shikamaru emerged into the brightly lit arena he caught sight of a squad of Chunin attempting to use a Doton jutsu to move the statue of Rock Lee out of the arena. From the argument he could hear going on apparently they had merely wanted to destroy it to get rid of it, but Rock Lee's sensei had intervened, ordering the Chunin to instead transport the statue to his house. Shikamaru shook his head and muttered his catchphrase again as he made his way to stand across from Nobu, eyeing the positions of the many craters that now littered he arena as he did so. Knowing the minute details of the terrain could very well make the difference between victory and defeat in this match.
AN: Thus begins the second part of Phoenix Rising, again not to be confused with Part 2 of "The Phoenix", the overarching story of which Phoenix Rising is but the first piece, and the change in soundtrack between it and Part 1 should give you hints to as the dark storm clouds on the horizon for our favorite characters. Please, if you haven't already, listen to the tracks listed in the soundtrack and enjoy. They were chosen specifically to carry the scenes off properly.
First off, there are a number of reasons the Neji fight went the way it did, amongst them the simple fact that even with the changes I've made to him, Naruto was not ready to fight him without mastering the Kyuubi's chakra. If you have a problem with that fight mirroring canon then I kindly ask you keep your thoughts to yourself, as the fight occurred the way it did for a reason. That and the fight existed to set up stuff, like Naruto burning himself out but finally being able to properly draw on the Kyuubi's energy without the bloodlust ruling him. And because personally, even with my changes, Neji had the advantage unless Naruto actually attempted to kill him. As to just what the deal is with Sora, well, you're just gonna have to wait and see. I will say that what he transformed into was corrupting the Ten no Juin for its own purposes.
Now, I know it's been a while. Ok, so more than a while, since I updated this or any of my older fics, but there is a reason for that. When I began writing my stories I had just withdrawn from university due to personal reasons. I had a lot of time on my hands and needed something to keep me focused. But as time went on we began to work out that I was suffering from low-grade constant depression and some other issues. I have spent most of the past year and a half working on fixing or at least getting a hang of said issues, and am preparing to return to my university in two weeks to continue my degree. In that time I've had really odd sleep schedules due to work, which have prevented me from being able to write during my 'Muse Hours', approximately midnight to six am, when I do my best writing. Add to that my desktop has been on ice for about a year, and I haven't had regular or reliable computer access, nor the ability to use a computer when I'm in the proper frame of mind, so writing has been tough for me. My muse hits at odd moments, but rarely does that coincide with having time or the ability to write it down. Recently however I have begun to really refocus on my writing, especially on some of my older stories, and begun to produce material again. I can't guarantee any speed to my updates, as school is going to be a full time job for me, but I can promise that none of my stories (save my first Harry Potter fic) are dead, and that Konoha's Golden Viper, Bones of the Devil, Phoenix Rising, Legacy of the Planet, Desert Fox Redux, Kung Fu Kitsune, and a new Harry Potter project I am titling Vortex are at the top of my list. Originally this chapter was going to include the entirety of the finals, but I reached ten thousand words and then got stuck. I have held off on posting this for over a year because it a) was not perfect yet, and b) I was afraid if I posted it when I knew I didn't have inspiration to continue the rest of the chapter I would completely lose the inspiration. So here, after about a dozen rewrites, is finally chapter 25 of Phoenix Rising.
Jigoku no Nigirikobushi—Gripping Fist of Hell/ This Taijutsu move is little more than a chakra enhanced crushing technique. In and of itself it is nothing special, merely one of the damage inducing grapple techniques of Sora's Ten no Juin transformation. The basics behind it are likely learnable and applied to a lesser degree by others. (C-Class Taijutsu) (Kabatsu Sora)
Raiton: Dengeki Ami—Lightning Release: Shocking Net/ This technique is an evolution of the Dengeki Enko. The users focus all the energy of the Enko into the kunai each of them is holding. This energy then begins to arc between the kunai, seeking a target. To be caught in the field formed by the kunai is to be that target until the energy dissipates itself. (B-Class Ninjutsu) (Uzumaki-Namikaze Naruto)
Shinden wo Sentou-Sacred Ground of Combat/ This technique sanctifies a battlefield for combat. Sora uses chakra infused within his sword to lift geometrical rocks into the air, creating an intricate lattice of points off of which to push. It turns the entire area into the perfect battlefield for high speed taijutsu users. (A-Class Ninjutsu) (Kabatsu Sora)