So I've gotten a fair number of reviews for this chapter in the past day, and it's forced me to re-post this. Sorry about everything being bunched together, hopefully this re-post will fix that issue.
Someone made a comment about Sasuke and the fox hunt I mentioned earlier.
The fox hunt was actually just a reference to a mob going after him. It wasn't meant to be taken in the literal form of the reference.
As for Sasuke – Sasuke is arrogant…he's always been arrogant, and without the appropriate influences, he will always be arrogant. There was no bashing there.
I'm attempting to tell this story in a more realistic format (as realistic as I can get at least) so don't expect it to be a bashing fic or a fic that makes the main characters godly. I'm trying to convey a story that is unique in every aspect.
Oh, and for future reference, this stories plot-line hasn't changed from the day I started writing it.
Shikamaru stared down at the form of his unconscious comrade, now fully nude, but completely human. Despite his mind trying to tear itself apart over the transformation Kiba went through, he was still trying to rationalize what exactly was going on. It was when he noticed the light gleaming off of Kiba's unconscious form that he discovered probably the most unique aspect of the night: there was moonlight...it was pouring down in torrents, but there was moonlight.
"Well that's new," he stated, turning his eyes to the night sky - completely cloudless but still pouring down a storm.
"Out of everything you've seen here...you think a cloudless downpour is the most interesting thing to happen?" Sakura deadpanned.
Shika made a grunting noise and turned his attention back to Kiba, "We need to get him back inside."
- Break -
Ino had come to her own quite a few months prior, being stranded on a mysterious island with strange creatures would do that to a person, but she couldn't help but feel a bit of the helpless schoolgirl come back to her as she stared down at Kiba's writhing form. The others had managed to subdue him without casualty, and it appeared that falling into unconsciousness returned him to his human form, but none of them knew what to do next. He was thrashing in his sleep and his skin was burning, but there was little they could do. Ino took it upon herself to tend to him, changing a cloth on his head with a new, cooler one every twenty minutes or so.
As she turned her gaze to the entrance of the cave one thing was becoming very obvious: the downpour was easing off...the rain was stopping. Faster than she believed possible, she found her way outside, meeting the others who seemed to be staring at the sky. Finally, with the rain stopping, Kakashi-taicho would return to the island and their training would continue. They were one step closer to being returned to their families; it was then that she looked up to the moon and discovered what her comrades were staring at.
"Shika," the tremble in Ino's voice couldn't be hidden, "Why are there three moons?"
Shikamaru was stunned, "This is impossible."
The truth was that Shikamaru, while incredibly intelligent, was having difficulty grasping the situation at hand. He was more than capable of adapting to new situations within an insane amount of time, but this? This was something he was more than unsure of...and it frightened him.
"Apparently it is very possible," Sasuke stated, rubbing his sore shoulder. Kiba had been beaten, but not before a few good licks.
Ino looked on to the ensuing conversation, lost in her own thoughts and staring at the moons, and it was here that her life was changed.
'You'd think they'd never been forced to change before.'
"Who said that?" Ino replied quickly, glancing around her; it was the first time in a long time that she'd felt another voice in her head - not since training with her father before this accursed training.
Ino could feel the surprise of the voice rather than hear or see it.
"I don't know who you are or where you learned our clan's techniques, but I assure you, you don't want to get involved with us. You wouldn't survive it."
'I would advise against threatening me, child, but while your gusto is amusing, you are one hundred thousand years too soon.'
Ino fell silent at the sound of the voice; the voice wasn't speaking in arrogance or bravado, it was merely stating a fact.
'I'll leave you to your mutations, girl, but it if becomes too much for you call out to me. You're the only one here who can.'
Mutations? What was this voice talking about? Ino turned her gaze to Kiba once more; could this be what it was talking about? Was this going to happen to each of them?
"Guys, we need to talk," She interrupted the group, "What I have to say is important, guys. I think I have an idea of what's going on here..."
- Break -
"Hokage-sama," Kakashi began, "I'm not too certain what to report. Neji Hyuuga hasn't done a single thing out of his normal routine, but I believe that in itself is unusual. It's as if he's trying to hide something. The only thing different about him is his personality - he seems more forthcoming."
The Hokage licked his lips and puffed on his pipe again, rereading Team Gai's previous mission request for the tenth time. Despite everything, he couldn't seem to find anything amiss...but his instincts seemed to say otherwise. And a shinobi doesn't live to his sixties without understanding that their instincts are even more important than what they can see.
"Something's definitely not right, Kakashi. I want you assign an ANBU squad to tail him indefinitely; find out what is going on inside that head of his."
"Why not simply assign Inoichi to probe his mind?"
"Kakashi-kun, it isn't quite that simple. I could do that, yes, but there is no guarantee that the boy is up to anything. As hokage, if I were to assign Inoichi to do this simply because I'm suspicious, it would instill dissent into my shinobi. That is something that I cannot have."
"I see, forgive me, lord Hokage."
"It is no true issue, Kakashi. I do have one more assignment for you
"What is it, Hokage-sama?"
"I need you to assemble a group of your most trusted ANBU assassins."
"Of course, Hokage-sama. Might I inquire the target?"
The older man's face grew hard as he stared into his subordinates visible eye, "They are to assassinate the Raikage."
- Break -
'What? What's going on?' Ino took in her surroundings, and then herself. 'Transparent? But that only happens when I'm mind walking.'
Beneath her, a sight unlike anything else awaited. The city she found herself floating above appeared to be a kingdom, if the large castle looming in the distance was anything to go by, and it seemed like everyone wore a smile. She could see snow falling all around and children laughing and playing in a nearby field.
'Is there a festival happening soon? And what are...whoa. What...?' As Ino began to descend, she discovered that the lamps found all around weren't lamps at all. Sitting some nine or ten feet above seemingly randomly placed pedestals were floating balls of light. She quickly turned her head to see the people wandering around, panic setting in under such an unfamiliar scene.
The men and women were dressed strangely - some in tunics and boots, while others seemed to wear cloaks with strange hats on, and walked using strange staves with brightly colored gemstones on top. She snapped her head to the left at the sound of children playing and found some of them playing with a floating ball of water, changing its shape while tossing it to the next.
Near the children a young couple could be seen dancing to an imaginary tune, floating some four or five feet in the air.
Ino had begun hyperventilating at this point.
"This is wrong! This is impossible! Am I having a dream of some sort? Wha..."
"Silence." It was the voice again, "You've treaded where you don't belong."
'I don't understand! What's going on here?'
"I said be quiet. For someone so keen on information, you seem less than keen on hearing me out."
For the first time in a long time, Ino held her tongue.
"You're in my memories...from a very long time ago. But you're in danger here, you need to go."
'But these things, they're impossible. Stuff like this isn't real.'
"I assure you, it most certainly is real. Or was."
'Was? What do you mean?'
"Nothing. You need to leave."
Ino felt the sensation of being tackled before waking up, her back slamming against the cave wall.
"You okay?" It seemed Kiba had finally awoke, "You've been breathing roughly for the past few minutes."
"Yeah, I think I'm fine." Funny how she didn't seem to believe those words, even as they came out of her mouth.
"You're a terrible liar," the boy replied, his voice rough, "But you don't have to tell me. I know exactly how it feels to be dealing with something you have absolutely no control over. Let me know if there's anything I can do, will ya?"
Ino smiled gratefully. At least there were some good things that seemed to be coming from this place.
Shifting to her side, Ino caught a glimpse of Naruto and Hinata, leaning against each other and felt a longing. The two had something special together, whether it was love or attraction, it was something even if they didn't recognize it.
Ino had had something of a crush for Sasuke before this training, but coming into her own, she decided it wasn't really what she'd thought it was. Sasuke was okay, sure, but it was the mysterious element he had about him before that really attracted her to him. Since then she began to have a bit of longing; she was alone here. Sure, she had the others and as Kakashi-taicho had identified they may as well be brothers and sisters here, but truth was, they weren't. As she glanced to the others she realized something that helped alleviate her issues though: they were all in the same boat.
'Bound together by a shared fate,' Ino smiled, slowly drifting off, 'I suppose they really are my new family...'
- Break -
A high pitched, shrill roar awoke the group in the morning; with nothing but a few hand signals, Shikamaru had Naruto, Sasuke, and the newly recovered Kiba off in the direction it came from.
"Is that a dragon?!" Kiba all but yelled from the foliage, eyes wide and fixed on the bestial creature.
"I don't think so, looks more like a Wyvern," Sasuke replied from the other side of it, making the creature shift its gaze from one direction to the other and back again.
"Yeah," Naruto added behind it, forcing it to spin around, "See how it only has two legs and its arms are melded with its wings? That's a guaranteed difference between to two."
The creature clicked its wings together above its head, making a strangely high pitched sound, and roared in its shrill voice again while scuttling in Naruto's direction.
The three met back up in the treetops, "So what action should we take?" Kiba asked, flexing his fingers.
"Ever had fried Wyvern?" Sasuke smirked and formed the tiger hand sign, "I'm willing to try it out.""
- Break -
"What is that?!" Chouji yelled out, rushing to the others to help them with their catch.
"Dinner," Naruto replied with a smile, "Roasted Wyvern. A delicacy never seen before in our village."
The group gathered around for their meal and after a few short minutes were dining on the worst tasting meat they'd ever had.
"So much for delicacy," Shika coughed through a mouthful, "But at least it's something."
That was the one thought agreed upon.
'Run! Hide in your cave! They're coming!'
Ino was wide-eyed. That was the first time she'd heard that voice in days - she had been sure it was just her hearing things.
'Don't just sit there eating that brush meat, hide! You've killed something it wants!'
"Guys! We have to get out of here!" the blonde nearly screamed in panic.
The group turned to face their comrade and Kiba was the first to stand, "If she says we have to go, then we should go."
"Why would we...?" Sasuke began.
"It doesn't matter why," the Inuzuka replied, "She obviously recognizes something's wrong, so we need to go. I believe her."
A smirk played on Sasuke's face, but before he could say anything, the earth began to tremble. Kiba fell to his back from the violent quake and while everyone began to try to right themselves, a horrifying reality made itself known.
The roar was deafening, as if it were a cataclysm in itself, and the giant beast pushed its way through the tree line.
"That, Kiba," Naruto commented, his voice high stressed and panicked, "That is a fucking dragon!"
Death. They were staring into the eyes of death. There was no way they were going to survive this encounter. The dragon reared its head back and let loose a stream of white-hot fire.
'We're going to die...' Ino cried to herself, even as the flames grew upon them.
'No, you're not.'
In a flash of golden light, a man-shaped form appeared in front of the group. Nothing could be seen of the man except his black silhouette, a stark contrast to the blinding flames. As the man turned around, one other characteristic became known to the group as his golden eyes seemed to glow off his form.
'Run to the caves.' The Hi no Kage quickly came to their feet and were off like a bolt.
'Remember, young ones... The dragons are coming. They are being called by their master, the Demon, Restel. And he would see the world burn.'
The nine members of the Hi no Kage heard these words repeated in their heads as they rushed to safety and the voice changed to that of a man.
"Beware the Destroyer of worlds."
- Break -
A month had passed since the ominous message from the man that saved them, and it had been a month of peril. The dragons hadn't come yet but despite that the group couldn't find themselves travelling far from their hovel.
More and more of the strange monsters had begun showing up. They had seen more wendigo and wyverns, but they were apparently of the weaker variety of monsters. Shika reasoned that if something as powerful as a dragon could grow in a world like this, then they obviously had to have some sort of strong competition, otherwise they would have simply exhausted the food chain.
It took another month before the group discovered one of the beasts that probably fell in the middle of that chain. Hinata had been foraging for fruits and such when she caught something running just inside the view of her byakugan. When she focused on it, it appeared to be one of a group of wendigo they'd come across some hours before, but when she was simply going to dismiss it, something swooped in and ripped it in half. Literally.
The beast looked to be made of leaves and sticks, forming into a relatively human body with claws and wings. What was worse was that it didn't actually eat the wendigo - it simply tore into its already mutilated body and left it there to die.
- Break -
"Why don't we eat these wendigo again?" Chouji asked as Hinata repeated what she'd seen, "I mean there are more than a few of them, obviously, and it beats eating berries all the time."
"Chouji, do you remember the first few wendigo we came across all those months ago?" At Chouji's nod Shika continued, "I was wondering why we hadn't come across and more of them until recently when the skies cleared, and I think I finally know what happened."
The group had gathered around to listen to their elected leader.
"I don't think we're in Hi no Kuni anymore. All these creatures on this 'island'. I think somehow or another we're having elements of two existences meld together and we're in the middle of it all. I can't explain why we haven't been affected, or in Kiba's case, affected too severely, but I think those wendigo we fought in the beginning... I think they were leftovers of the ninja we first encountered here."
Chouji's face paled; he'd unintentionally suggested that they participate in cannibalism.
"Don't think on it too much, Chouji," Shika consoled, "You couldn't have known."
As the group paused to mull over the thoughts, another presence made itself known.
"That's a very astute observation, boy."
The group turned to the voice, drawing their weapons.
"Put those away. They won't have any effect on me."
For the first time, Ino could finally put a face to the voice in her head, and what a face it was: long light blue hair and strange chest armor, all covered by a dark blue cloak. But it was his burning golden eyes that had her transfixed.
"Who are you?" Sasuke demanded, stepping to the forefront.
"I'm afraid I can't tell you my name," he said as he slowly walked towards him, the air around him seemingly alive and cackling with enough electricity to make Sasuke's hair stand on end, "But you may call me Traveler."
- Omake – Courtesy of Yukicrewger2
Naruto was nervous as he looked up at the face of Hiashi Hyuuga. Hiashi had his stoic face hiding the slight worry as himself and the Elders were told of the problem.
"So... you have reported that you've been hearing a voice in your head?" this was unsettling, it could be the Kyuubi trying to influence the boy "could you tell us what it is saying?"
Naruto fidgeted under their gaze "W-Well its only repeats one drawn out word..."
Hiashi braced himself "and what is that word?"
Naruto looked between the Elders before looking at Hiashi, a slight blush crossed his cheeks "Munyaaaaaa"
As one, Hiashi and the Elders faceplanted.