The fumes and clouds from the various buildings that had caught fire from all the destruction the invaders were causing rose through several dozens of meters into the air. Of course when it came to Pain, it wasn't sure as to whether it should be counted as several attackers at once or just one.
A mass of shadows passed fleetingly, signaling various Konoha shinobi crossing the streets. Rather unusual for a ninja to not be using the roofs, but walking down in the streets was actually the safest way to keep safe from the summons of one of Pain's many bodies. They paused slightly as the one in the front pulled off its hitai-ate and used it as a mirror to survey the next street. With a hand sign indicating free way, all of them prepared for another moment of high-speed running. Just as the first three made into the sun lit street in front of them, there was an enormous booming noise and several building came crashing down, effectively burying the three unfortunate soldiers. The others stopped abruptly and sought hiding places among the debris and the miraculously intact alley they had come from.
Darkness spread suddenly across the village, as if the sun had been whisked away from the sky. There was a low rumbling and a very distinct growl. Several shinobi looked up and all hell seemed to break loose.
"Oh my God… Is that the Kyuubi?!"
"The Demon has broken loose of the seal?"
"Is the Uzumaki boy O.K.? Don't you have to kill the vessel to free the Demon?"
"We have to get out of here!!!"
The buildings around them came crashing down at unnatural speed, as the monster used one of its tails to bring them down on the ninja bellow.
Sakura ran as fast as she could across the destroyed Konoha. This just couldn't be happening! Her heart tightened uncomfortably as she saw the red hue cast by the dreaded creature towering above the village, as it dedicated itself to apparently destroy as much of the village as it could. Where was Naruto? He couldn't be dead could he?
She kept running and running until she was almost under the Demon's figure. She sensed several huge chakra signatures as the six Pains seemingly took positions around them at a relatively safe distance. But Sakura paid no mind because she was busy looking for her blond teammate. She just barely registered the movement before one of Kyuubi's tails came sweeping across her and jerked her off her feet, throwing her through several debris and buildings, before she lost consciousness.
She woke up with the soft contact of fingers across her face. Her eyes took some adjusting to, but once she was able to properly focus the images that came across her brain, she was rewarded with the anxious, worried and worn out face of Uzumaki Naruto. At his side was the Godaime, and behind them several ANBU awaited, fidgety.
"Naruto?" she asked faintly. At his nod, she tried to get up.
Naruto sprung into action and helped her get up the best he could. It was then she noticed he was limping from one leg and had an arm almost completely smashed to bits. Blood had obviously been pouring off of the grievous wound, but Tsunade had already seen to it, it seemed.
"The Kyuubi…" she started.
"I know. It's loose." He coughed roughly and some blood came out. "They hit me with some sort of incantation or whatever. It got out. The seal isn't even damaged. I don't know how I survived. It's as if everything is in place. Except it's out. I don't understand."
"I'm surprised it didn't kill you." The Godaime mumbled, making her way through Sakura's injuries. The pink haired girl felt the tickling that signaled the chakra enhanced healing. The ground shook occasionally and rumblings could be heard. And felt.
"I told you more than once it could have. It looked at me and I was sure he would bite my head off. But then he just shoved me out of there with a flick of its tail. If I didn't know better, I'd have said it was trying to save me."
"What's happening? Where are we?" she asked.
"In what remains of the ANBU headquarters. The Kyuubi and Pain are still fighting out there. All the civilians have been evacuated. We are currently using this wrecked building to keep the injured away from harm." She was surprised her question had been answered by one of the masked ANBU. Surprised still when the ANBU took of his mask and was revealed to be Kakashi-sensei, back into all of its former ANBU uniform.
"Kakashi-sensei…" she said wonderingly.
Sakura was distracted by Naruto's sudden movement on her side. He had gotten up. With some difficulty, but he had.
"Where do you think you are going?" Tsunade asked.
"He's still out there. I'm not going to let those bastards have the Fox!" he said with his back turned to them.
"You can't go alone!" Sakura managed to gasp. She forced herself to sit up and tried to work on getting to her feet.
"You can come… If you think you can keep up." He turned seriously to her and she saw that his face now had a strange red pigmentation around the edges of his eyes. The irises had become yellow and horizontally slit. Like the ones of a toad. He didn't give her the time to question before he launched himself through the tunnel of debris at surprising speed. No human could match that velocity without outside help!
Tsunade sighed: "We better get after him."
Pain landed awkwardly on one of the few rooftops that were still intact on their vicinity. Things weren't going as planned. The Demon Fox proved to be a formidable foe, and it showed no outward signs of tiring or weakness. And he had already lost two bodies to their enemy.
He could sense several chakra signatures approaching, several large enough that had to be ANBU. If those engaged battle with him, he would be in trouble. Not to mention the Kyuubi would not let an opportunity to burn him to cinders pass that easily.
All of four remaining bodies jumped into the sky when a blast of ultra-high condensed chakra passed through them, from the mouth of the Huge Red Fox in front of them. With a frown, both from weariness and from the inconveniency the setback represented he gave one order to the other Pains:
It would take some time before he had the replacements for the lost bodies ready for action. Still, it wasn't as if the Leafs could do anything now. The Demon was loose and their Yondaime long gone. They couldn't reseal it. With luck, the Fox would destroy them when he fled. Either way, it would be easy to capture it once he was back to full capacity.
With that last thought, Pain retreated from Konoha and headed back to Rain. It took him little time to cross the protective wards around the village, before a reverse kuchiyose took them away from Konohagakure.
Sakura followed the Godaime the best she could manage, followed closely by the four ANBU that had accompanied them. They suddenly came to a halt as they encountered Naruto.
The ninja was looking up in the direction of the Walls, opposite to the Demon, with a mask of disgust spread in his face. Looking up quickly they still managed to catch a glimpse of Pain, fleeing the scene.
"Well… Pain seems to be gone. Let's just hope the fox goes too, or we won't survive this one." One of the ANBU said.
Several moments passed in which both of them and the Fox looked at each other.
Almost as if answering him, a loud moaning was heard and the body of the Nine-Tails came crashing down. Its head landed just a few meters away from them and even though it wasn't human, Sakura recognized the signs of severe exhaustion and deadly wounds on the Demons muzzle.
There was some more flickering of shadows and team 10 dropped from the sky. Ino gaped at the Fox.
"What the hell IS that!!"
"The Nine-Tails…" Sakura answered rather hollowly.
"WHAT?! But I thought the Yondaime –" Whatever Ino had been trying to say was interrupted by Naruto's following actions.
Oblivious to the discussion behind him, the blonde male slowly but surely made his way to the Fox. For those watching, it wouldn't have been apparent he was approaching a Demon.
"Are you INSANE!!? What are you doing, baka?!!" Ino screamed, making a move towards him.
Sakura's arm stopped her firmly.
"What are you doing? He's going to get himself killed!! That's Kyuubi, for heaven's sake! It's a monster!!" Ino screamed to her friend.
Sakura gave her a guarded look that shut her up immediately and replied: "If there is someone who is safe around it… than that person is Naruto."
Naruto approached the Fox and put his hand on its nose, giving it a strong pat.
"You look like you've just gotten one hell of a beat up, bastard fox." He stated, like he was sending a jibe to Sasuke or something.
The crimson furred animal opened one of its enormous eyes and pulled its lips in a motion that almost remembered a smile. Clouds of dust formed around them rhythmically, as a rumbling sound was heard, and it took a while for Sakura to understand the Fox was actually laughing.
Team 10 was dumbfounded beyond any reaction. The ANBU and Tsunade had seemingly decided to wait where things would seem to go.
When it finally spoke, the Fox's voice was rough and carried an edge of defeat Sakura had never thought she would hear in a Tailed Beast.
"I always knew you had guts, kid… And now I discover my assessment of your intelligence isn't that off either!" it paused, breathing labouredly, "What are you doing here? Are you a fool? I could eat you now, you know. No bars to hold me…"
"Are you telling me that thing has been imprisoned here in Konoha?" Ino whispered urgently to her pink haired companion.
"Ino… Shut up."
Naruto had apparently resumed his conversation with the Demon.
"Unlikely. You don't seem capable of even batting an eyelash at me right now, let alone put me through your mouth. Besides, I'm rather bad for food. I'd kill you with an upset stomach." He said unconcernedly. "Why didn't you kill me?" He then asked, deadpan.
The Fox sighed and hesitated. A long time passed before it talked again.
"This air. It kills me. Hurts me, prevents me from healing. My abilities at healing where left behind… at that place you saw me before." It said, fixating its eye intently on Naruto. "I… left something in there. A cub, if you will. My legacy. Will you look for my successor, Namikaze's Legacy?"
"Did I hear that right?"
"What does that mean?"
The apparent chaos of confusion around him seemed to go unnoticed by Naruto, who, by that time was now eyeing the Fox with serious eyes.
"Why did you do that?"
"I knew I would die if I were released. It's the way the barrier it's designed. But there must always be a Nine-Tailed Fox, or the balance would be compromised and the world as you know would come to an end. You only saw my rampaging fury, sad you didn't know the Bijuu's more important mission…"
"I don't understand, explain yourself." Naruto asked softly. The others remained silent, listening intently.
"We keep chakra existing in this world! Where its source, its physical manifestation. If we were to disappear, ninjas would disappear; life based on chakra would disappear. Animals would eventually resurge but not before millennia had passed. We keep the world as it is." It sighed again "We are not rampaging Demons, we only want our freedom. In the past we worked with humans, but then you started to try and take us prisoners. How would you react if they tried to take away your freedom? If they killed your important people? Of course you'd want to bite their heads off!!!" It barked the last part of the speech, just to fall back again, breathing deeply, with spasms of pain running across its body. "Just promise me you'll look for it, Namikaze's Legacy."
"Why do you keep calling me that?"
"Are you not the Legacy the Yondaime left behind? How should I call you? Take care of my Legacy, kid. It's all I ask. And tell him the tales of the great Nine-tailed fox, so that the cub will grow proud like its progenitor!" It sighed again more deeply, and looked at Naruto again, "Fare thee well, Namikaze's Legacy. I wish we could have met under different circumstances."
The Great Lord of the Bijuu closed its eyes. Which went open again with a snap, when it realized that Naruto had approached him and started unzipping it upper clothes.
"What? Do you think stripping will put me off in a good mood?" It said, seemingly trying to joke. "Wh-What're you doing?!" It barked surprised as Naruto thrust his hands into its chakra hue. The seal started glowing and a faint humming could be heard.
"What do you think I'm doing, you stupid Fox? I'm reabsorbing you of course! That way you won't die."
"Why are you doing this? This is your opportunity to live free. Why sacrifice it this way?" It asked feebly, as it was absorbed more and more.
Naruto looked at its eyes and said, somberly: "No child should grow up without parents."
A/N.: For those of you reading The Nightshade, I haven't forgotten it. It's just that I actually dreamt this one and it wouldn't leave me away untill I put it on the paper. It might evolve into a full story, though not as big as I'm planning making the Nightshade. Tell me what you think!
As always, thanks for the reviews and sorry for the possible mistakes.