Naruto Genkyouien

- ナルト- 威宴

Chapter Twenty-two: Phantom Menace Party – Bhava-agra of Youkai and Humans (Part Two)


There was a weird, tickling feeling in his stomach, but only for a moment, accompanied by a just-as-brief spell of dizziness, most likely due to the sudden change of location. As he turned around to take a look at the battlefield, Naruto made a mental note to apologize to Yurine. Taken by surprise by the summoning, he accepted the call before letting the five-tails know he would be leaving. That was just not cool.

"Shoumon, kai!" Gai howled as he opened the fourth Heavenly Gate, the Gate of Pain.

"Hah!" The Third Hokage roared as well as he sunk his right hand on the ground, using Earth-nature chakra to compact the soil and then effortlessly pulling up a perfectly smooth block of hardened ground.

Naruto's attention was then drawn to Jiraiya, whose appearance had taken a turn to the freaky. He was not sure just what was more awkward: the bulbous nose pocked with tiny warts or the two wrinkly toads perched on his shoulders. All thoughts on that were dispersed when the palm thrust that by all logic should have broken apart the man-sized block of soil instead launched it at dizzying speed towards the Emissary. The Void beast, whose attempts at getting back on its feet had been foiled by the efforts of Konoha's forces, opened its mouth to release a stream of Void tendrils like lashes which sliced and diced apart the incoming projectile effortlessly…but failed to do the same to Maito Gai, who had leapt after the block of earth and used it to hide his approach.

With a ferocious roar, the green-clad man struck the Emissary right on the face with a tremendous punch that blasted the air away in all directions, blowing leaves off nearby trees and forcing those nearby to avert their eyes or have them stuffed with blown dust and sand. More Void whips surged out of the monster's body, and Gai reacted by leaping away with abnormal speed, an amazing feat that allowed him to outpace the fearsome Void-type attacks. When one of the Emissary's huge hands lashed at Gai, attempting to achieve with sheer size what speed failed to accomplish, an elegant and voluptuous vulpine figure stepped in; meeting the massive arm with the flat of her trusty hatchet, Kotonoha awed all the present by deflecting the arm's trajectory with sheer friction. It was a truly awesome feat of Reinforcement. When blade separated from arm, inertia drove Kotonoha into a reckless spin, but the experienced swordswoman used the momentum as fuel for another powerful attack.

"Hamon!"

Rather than a "Ripple", it was a shockwave; a powerful pressure wave created by the flat of Kotonoha's blade pushing the air around her, striking what should be called the Emissary's armpit. When the Emissary released that artificial humming sound everyone had already identified as a complaint, the soldiers cheered and Kotonoha exchanged firm nods with Gai. The blitzkrieg continued with groups of shinobi jumping at the colossal beast, striking with fists and kicks enhanced with chakra and leaping away from the prompt retaliation.

It was a very heated battle, but Naruto's attention had inevitably landed on one person.

She was there and, for a short, enlightening moment, they looked at each other as if the world comprised only them and nothing else.

She was there.

He was alive and well.

The feeling that inflamed their hearts defied comprehension.

The magical moment ended.

"Mistress…!" Naruto greeted elatedly, his voice brimming with joy, relief and, of course, gratitude. There would not be a time he addressed her or even look at her without letting her know just how grateful he was to her, the person who gave him hope and turned him into a winner.

No heartbeats were skipped. However, Setsuna's heartbeat became so intense it hurt.

She, too, was bursting with emotion; it could not be denied. To see him standing there, healthy, filled her with more relief than she could have possibly imagined. Her lips trembled, her eyes moistened and her cheeks flushed vividly. Instinctively, she dropped her gaze to prevent her blush from being discovered. When his shadow merged with hers as he approached, her body went stiff.

She did not know what to do! She did not know what to say! She could not control her emotions! Her thoughts were fuzzy; her mind was lost in delirium beyond understanding!

She was…just…so happy…!

"Mistress, you are…!" Naruto was experiencing problems finding words and assembling proper sentences. "…you are; I mean, I'm so glad you are…!" He blinked hard and fast; tears of joy were eager to leak, but that would not be cool in the middle of a battlefield. "I mean, are you alright?"

"Um." Setsuna nodded, stubbornly refusing to raise her head. If she looked at him now, she…she…she had no idea what would happen, but…!

The quiet response bothered Naruto a bit, but he knew she would not lie to him.

"That's…that's good…" he said, softly, and those were his earnest thoughts. "Really, I'm glad…!" Shaking his head and not minding who might be watching, Naruto wiped his face with the sleeve of his ruined orange jacket. Really, he would not be able to wear those clothes again after that day.

"I'm so glad you're here, Setsuna…!"

Her body shuddered in bliss. While she liked being called 'Mistress', there was something about the elation with which he said her name that drowned her in a stream of delight.

Shyly, hesitantly, her hand reached for his jacket, a single finger tracing the long tear Makoto's deadly attack had made. With only the tips of her fingers she held to the piece of ruined cloth. Her head remained low; eyes on the ground.

"You…are you…okay…?" She asked. Her voice tremulous, hesitant and feeble like cotton spores in the wind, full of urgent worry and sweet longing.

"Um, yeah," Naruto replied calmingly, eager to please and ease the one he acknowledged as teacher. "A bit tired from all the fighting, but I'm okay. Ready to keep going, Mistress."

Normally, this would have been enough.

"…really?" Setsuna insisted. She needed this: reassurance. "…really, really?"

Naruto's cheeks tickled. The part of him that lacks prudency wanted to stroke Setsuna's head. "Yup."

His simple words became her strength. Setsuna took a deep breath, and regained her bearings.

"Hmm. Good."

She finally looked up; meeting Naruto's smile with confidence and sternness.

"I won't have you getting yourself killed today, boya."

"Everybody step back!" the Hokage shouted before busying his hands with a scary sequence of dozens of hand seals. The fireball released from his mouth flew like an arrow, becoming a huge explosion that entirely swallowed the Emissary of Oblivion, allowing a few moments of respite for the troubled shinobi.

"Yes, that works as well," Hiruzen spoke with satisfaction, as the concussive force from the explosion elicited a complaint from the giant Void abomination.

Some distance away from the action, Higashiyama Yurisa, who lacked the martial skill to engage in combat with that monster, acted as a chakra battery providing power for dozens of explosive tags crafted on the spot by a group of Chuunin.

Kotonoha appeared next to Setsuna.

"Ara, don't you two look happy indeed."

It was Naruto who turned deep red at the suggestion, while Setsuna clicked her tongue and tried (and failed) to hit the busty woman with her right elbow.

"You are annoying, udder woman."

Naruto turned around the moment he felt a much taller figure looming over him.

"Ah, yes, yes, thank you for the summon—"

One of Yuri's tails poked Naruto's forehead.

"Reiton – Reijouzou no Jutsu."

Naruto's body went mightily stiff, his muscles suffering awkward spasms as he felt something…gooey and cold entering his body. No such thing could be seen; it was merely a perceptive artifact. Still, it was like freezing cold syrup flowing through his veins; an extremely unsettling feeling.

"Buagh!" He deeply exhaled the moment the tail ceased contact, not having realized he had been holding his breath the whole time. "Wha—what the—you crazy woman…!"

Yuri held back on rolling her eyes this time, but the disdain in her face was remarkable.

"How do you feel, boy?"

"How do you think I—huh? Wait…"

Indeed, what lingered was nothing but a most refreshing feeling, like a mint candy infusing his body with coolness. Furthermore, all traces of exhaustion were gone…!

"Wha…"

"I have replenished your chakra," Yuri succinctly explained. "Now, I must…"

Her breath stubbornly stuck to her throat, as the words refused to come up. Naruto felt a little grossed out as the seven-tailed Kitsune made all sorts of disturbing facial gestures, yet no sound would allow itself to escape her mouth. He also happened to notice Sayoko's situation.

"Uhh, Sayoko-san, what…?"

"Please don't mind me, Naruto-kun. I will deal with this issue myself."

"Ah…um, sure."

"I…ugh…urk…" Yuri was still struggling in her own way.

Behind the strange chakra prison, Yurimi and Mayuri watched the former Matriarch like they could not believe it.

"It…it cannot possibly be that hard, Mother…" the current Matriarch opinioned. Mayuri just sighed and planted her forehead on her right palm.

Like a child who really, really doesn't want to eat her vegetables, Yuri turned her head to glance at Sayoko, whose face eloquently urged her to speak further.

"Ugh…" Yuri was not enjoying this at all. "Do I really…?"

Finally, Sayoko gave up on the Kitsune she raised and said the words herself.

"Yuri-sama would hope for Naruto-kun to summon her."

Naruto promptly frowned.

"Summon? Why would I need to summon her, she's right there—oh hell no."

Yuri nodded with unreasonable satisfaction. "That is indeed what I said."

No, it wasn't.

"Wha-wha-why would I even want to…with this crazy and evil woman!?"

It's not really a matter of wanting it, you know.

"Exactly!" Yuri insisted, and then she paused. "Wait, what?"

"Yes, you!" Naruto confirmed, facing the seven-tails with the reckless assertiveness of an idiot. "Only a masochist would want to get close to the likes of you!"

"Oh, hooo~?" An scandalized Higashiyama Yuri retorted with a mocking yet musical tone while planting her hands on her hips. "Well you are not precisely the gods' gift to women, boy. Why would you think I'd want my wondrous self to be wielded by a little brute, hmm?"

"Yu-Yuri-sama…" Sayoko uttered in dismay.

"Huuuh?" Naruto was rudely poking his right ear with a pinky finger, as if trying to clean it. "Sorry, but I don't speak jerkass!"

"Ma-Master…" Yurimi's turn to be dismayed by the utterly childish scene developing before her.

"Well that's just sad," Yuri retorted. "Just what kind of education did you receive from your parents, boy—" A mock gasp. Yuri curtly covered her mouth with her right hand. "Oh, I'm so sorry!"

Her voice made it awfully clear how not sorry she was.

Of course, the fact remains that Naruto's parents would not be dead if Yuri could properly control her own children. Then again, keeping a Kyuubi from doing as it pleases might be asking too much from this woman.

"Youuuuuuuu…!" Naruto growled, gritting his teeth in simmering anger.

"Waaaah…" Setsuna uttered; her voice a mixture of awe and disgust at the sheer pettiness. Her feet instinctively took a step back.

"Hmph!" Naruto crossed his arms stubbornly. "Speaks the one who doesn't have a clue about being a proper mother!"

"Ooooh, low blow…" Setsuna commented, eliciting an odd look from Kotonoha next to her. A distance away, the Monkey King was engaged in a close-quarters scuffle with the many Void tendrils unleashed from the Emissary's body. He was being aided by supporting fire from the ANBU. Of course, he was only a distraction for Jiraiya to land a few solid blows from the giant's blind spot.

"What would an ignorant brat know, huh!?"

Naruto immediately pointed at the sleeping foxgirl in the distance. Sayuri remained surprisingly deaf to the battle raging not particularly far from her.

"Exhibit A!" Naruto shouted. "I rest my goddamn case!"

"Uuuurgh…" Yuri growled in a far more restrained matter than Naruto just before. She hastily turned to Sayoko while rudely pointing at the boy in orange. "And you want me to become this boy's weapon?"

"Yes," Sayoko immediately responded.

"Muuu…" Yuri fell to her knees in defeat. "Sayoko-saaaaaaaan~"

"Yuri-sama!" Sayoko wished she did not have to use her stern voice as often. "This is not time for such petty squabbling. Please act your age."

"Wait, wait, wait!" Naruto interrupted. "Why are you talking as if I'm going to go along with this!?"

"Naruto-sama," Kotonoha intervened. "Yuri-sama's Reiton does not work against the Emissary of Oblivion, but we cannot put aside Yuri-sama's great power and chakra capacity just for that reason. If there is a way Yuri-sama can contribute to this difficult battle, it is our responsibility to take it without hesitation."

"Bu-but…!" Naruto weakly insisted. "We don't even know she'll transform into something useful…!"

"Excuse me!?" Yuri took that as a personal insult. "There should be no doubt I'd become nothing but the strongest weapon!"

"Well aren't you confident…" Naruto flatly pointed out. "Aah, mou, whatever! Yurine and Yuria are not here, so you'll have to do."

"Now what's that supposed to—" Yuri suddenly paused. "Now that you mentioned it, I made a rookie mistake, trying to summon Yuria…"

Naruto's face revealed his wish for an explanation, which Sayoko provided.

"When Yuria-sama was expelled from the Clan, she renounced to her Crest, thus separating herself from the Clan's general summoning contract."

"Yeah, now that you bring it up," Naruto pointed out, while dismissingly pointing at the tall seven-tails nearby with a thumb. Yuri felt insulted by the off-handed gesture and made her feelings visible with a pointed glare. "Why can this woman summon me, anyway?"

"This woman…" Yuri muttered darkly.

"Naruto-sama signed a contract with the entire kitsune race," Kotonoha explained, stealing the words from Setsuna, who seemed eager to reassume her role as instructor. It became the loli's turn to heatedly glare at her so-called rival. "Thus any kitsune who is aware of the contract's existence and knows the Summoning Technique can summon Naruto-sama as well."

Since family equaled Clan for the longest time, there was never a need to make separate contracts, which explains why Yuri can no longer summon Yuria, neither as a Clan member nor as her biological daughter. The Higashiyama Clan contract was protected two layers of security beyond the traditional offer of blood: the unique calligraphy of the name of each lily—including their picks for kana or kanji—and the artificial construct that was the Crest, acting as a "second signature". Without any of these three elements, using or even participating in the contract was not possible.

"Aaaah, that's enough rambling, you people!" Setsuna claimed, although a knowing look from Kotonoha made clear that the four-tailed swordswoman knew why exactly Setsuna wanted to put an end to the exchange. "Those guys over there will run out of tags and chakra at this rate."

"It would become a massacre, yes," Yuri added. "Let us return to the battlefield, then."

"Alright!" The ever-eager Naruto for once agreed with the Silver Lily of the Netherworld.

"Yurimi-sama."

The new Matriarch looked behind her. She had, admittedly, forgotten about these two, what with her half-sisters being wounded and everything else.

"Kasukabe sisters."

The two tigresses, however, were not looking at their new liege. Their eyes were on the hulking black beast from the Labyrinth. Their irises glimmered with something resembling awe and hunger.

"Are you afraid?"

Those words inevitably pulled their eyes in Yurimi's direction. They were now glowering, their brows furrowed at the disrespectful taunt.

"We are tigers!" The older sister, Sei, declared fiercely. Because those words indeed should have explained everything.

"Can you hurt it?"

"We will hurt it," Sei stated with utmost confidence. "Just give the order, milady."

Yurimi thought about that. They carried themselves with the pride of tigers, yet they could no longer act without the command from a lord. Just how broken were these girls? Just what did Yumemigahara do to them?

"Go."

The word was enough. After exchanging glances, the tiger sisters stepped around Yurimi and walked towards the battlefield, followed by the eyes of those around them.

"I shall join them as well, Naruto-sama," Kotonoha said. She smiled at her dear boy before following after the blonde sisters.

With the others gone, Naruto exhaled loudly, emptying his lungs to then take a good chunk of oxygen. Planting his hands on his sides, he glanced at the much taller person to his left. Yuri was looking down at him with a bored, unfriendly expression that annoyed Naruto to no end.

"Hmph!" The two uttered as their turned away from each other. Sayoko sighed.

"Well, at least their compatibility should not be that bad, if they can do that…"

"Aaargh, let's do this already! Kuchiyose no Jutsu!"

Yuri immediately jumped from Naruto's left to his right side via the Summoning Technique. It was rather silly.

"Well, here goes nothing," Yuri said.

"Famous last words."

Naruto found himself the target of a rather cute glare.

"Hmph, Henge."

Naruto grunted.

"Ease your chakra flow, Naruto-sama," Sayoko suggested.

"Easier…said than done…!" Naruto replied between gritted teeth. "Damn it, I knew this wasn't a good a idea."

"You are not…the only one in pain here…!" the weapon hissed, Yuri's voice sounding strangely distant despite her being right next to him. It was the consequence of their chakra flows mixing and "entangling" within their bodies without enough "compatibility of souls". Naruto felt as if half of his blood had been replaced with spicy sauce.

Most of the people not engaged in deathly combat at the moment had noticed the transformation. Naruto's new weapon was quite large and easily noticeable: a sharp-edged annulus as large as Higashiyama Yuri was tall. A silver tube crossed the diameter of the disc, allowing for safe handling.

"Giant chakram-type Weapon of the Soul," Naruto announced. "Yomotsu Ginken."

Setsuna made a gesture of disappointment.

"A bladed weapon, huh…"

"That…" Naruto winced. His right shoulder twitched awkwardly and painfully. "…won't be a problem."

"Do you understand, Naruto-kun?" Yuri questioned. "How to wield me?"

"Yeah, yeah…" Strengthening his grip on the large weapon, he took his first step towards the battle. "Let's do this."

"Hey, ossan!" Anko suddenly appeared before the Hokage's. "That thing's doing some weird shit again."

"Everybody full back!" The Third immediately commanded.

"Just get away from that thing!" Jiraiya insisted, and it was almost too late.

The Emissary exploded. But it was not really an explosion. Its black body bloated, losing its insectoid shape to become an irregular, amorphous "mass" of darkness. For some reason, that drove little Yurina to glance at the inert sphere of Void-stuff that contained her twin sister. It simply floated there, unmoving and inactive, completely uncaring of the battle raging nearby.

"Riyo-nee-chan…" The twin-tailed young foxgirl whispered longingly, holding to the sleeping Sayuri like a lifeline. Just behind her, Yamanaka Ino looked down at the kneeling blonde with worry, especially when she put Sayuri in her arms and got on her feet.

"Wait, what am I supposed to do…?" Ino squeaked, holding Sayuri as if she would explode any second now.

"What…is it doing now!?" Hiruzen hissed angrily; he had just lost two more ANBU, swallowed by the shapeless mass.

"It is readjusting its structure based on the opposition it has encountered, in the hopes of becoming a more efficient weapon," Sayoko calmly explained while she took to seating on the ground, lowering her body slowly, like an old woman with aching bones.

"Keep your ninja giving support from a distance," the chakram that was Yuri next spoke. "Only the really strong should engage it in close combat from now on."

"The really strong, like me!"

Nobody chose to comment on Naruto's pretentious statement. Let the kid be happy.

They assembled in a line, the frontliners.

The Toad Sage, Hermit of Myoubokuzan, Jiraiya.

The Third Fire Shadow, Sarutobi Hiruzen, wielding the King of Monkeys and Apes, Enma.

The Copycat, Bloodline Inheritor, Hatake Kakashi.

The Sublime Green Beast of Konoha, Maito Gai.

The Rebellious Loli Queen of Taijutsu, Kiyoura Setsuna.

The Original Hatchet of Death, Katsura Kotonoha.

The Strongest and Proudest Slaves, Kasukabe Sei and Kanna.

And the one who's only there because he's the Main Character, Uzumaki Naruto, wielding the Silver Lily of the Netherworld, Higashiyama Yuri.

"You look happy, Naruto-sama," Kotonoha pointed out. Setsuna tried to pretend she was not glancing at the boy's radiant smile.

"Um!" Naruto admitted with a nod. "I mean, no matter how you put it, I'm going to fight together with all you guys: Old Man Hokage, Kakashi and Gai-sensei, Setsuna-sensei and you, Kotonoha. Not even Yuri could ruin this!"

"Well I never…!" Yuri said huffily.

As quickly as it burst into that bloated, formless mass, the Emissary restored itself to a proper shape. It had not changed much, in all honesty. However, its proportions were decidedly more human-like this time. While it still had a comically small, insect-like head, the structure of its torso, arms and legs gave more the impression of a sumo wrestler in armor than a giant, black, bipedal beetle. Anybody with a hint of smarts could tell this new form of the Emissary would grant it greater mobility.

"Anko!" The Third Hokage called out. "I never thought I would say this in my life, but you don't have enough destructive power."

"Ouch, old man. Ouch."

"Go and direct ANBU's support fire. Chuunin, stay back and look after the Genin! And you, Naruto; just…be careful, alright?"

"Just do what you do best, old man. You'll be begging me to take the hat when we're done here!" Naruto responded with an encouraging grin which Hiruzen could not stop himself from returning.

"Let's go, people."

As if responding to the Sandaime's call to arms, the Emissary released a long howl, or at least what it passed for it to that thing.

"Scatter!" Hiruzen called out the moment the Void beast charged with speed that did not match its tremendous size. The group did as told to avoid the Emissary's descending fist, which crashed on the ground with quake-rousing force.

"Support fire!"

Most of the fighters moved away from the monster under cover of soaring kunai and exploding tags, but Gai leapt on the arm not resting on the ground and used it to dash his way to the monster's head, while Setsuna ducked under the gigantic arm and poised herself to attack the Emissary's legs.

"Konoha Gouriki Senpuu—are?"

It was a repetition of a while ago. Sinking its head like a turtle, the Emissary allowed Gai's kick to soar over his hulking form. Kotonoha's cry went to deaf ears: the Void monster spun quickly, catching Setsuna with the back of its left hand and swatting her away like a pesky fly in mid-turn. Gai was airborne and the Emissary's speed was sufficient to catch the green beast with a tremendous right hook which sent the Jounin soaring into the sky.

"Mistress!" Naruto cried out. "Damn it!"

The giant chakram began to spin in his right hand.

Twin flashes, and the Emissary stumbled—the synchronized attack of the tiger sisters struck its legs and made the giant take several uneasy steps. With a strange gargling sound that Naruto guessed was a growl, the Emissary of Oblivion raised its arms to squash the blonde sisters, who quickly darted away from the ensuing earthquake. Hiruzen dashed between and past the arms, and the monster opened its mouth, Void chakra gathering for an annihilating beam attack.

"Fuuton! Daitoppa!"

Two identical Wind Release techniques, unleashed by Kakashi and Hiruzen's son Asuma, struck the right side of the Emissary's head. The gathering of chakra flickered in the Emissary's mouth, but it persisted and maintained its form.

"Cudgel-type Weapon of the Soul: Kongounyoi!" Hiruzen announced, planting the transformed Enma on the ground just before the Emissary's feet.

The Adamantine Staff quickly grew in size, stretching upwards until it struck the Void beast's face with force comparable to the Emissary's mighty arm swipes. The creature of Oblivion howled in complaint as it was pushed back by the strong attack. The moment of inaction was the gap the Kasukabe sisters needed to make their attack, dashing past the Third and leaping to strike at the spot between the Emissary's stocky body and legs with their slender hands clenched like claws.

"Soukou Bakugeki!"

The Twin Tigers Explosive Strike engulfed the Emissary in a massive conflagration of chakra that elicited a second howl from the beast. It was at this time that Setsuna emerged from the pile of trees she had been blown into, grunting a quick 'thanks' to the nameless shinobi who helped her out.

Battle instincts urged Hiruzen and the tigresses to leap away and so they did in separate directions, just before a black energy cannon broke through the smoke cloud and swallowed the ground in front of the Emissary in the dark mantle of the Void. The Emissary's fists fell on the oldest of the tigresses, Sei of the beautiful wavy hair, who could not change direction faster than the giant black fell upon her. The fist that would have squashed her like a bug was stopped by the Toad Sage, Jiraiya, who caught the descending arm with a mighty leap. Holding to the fist by the little finger, Jiraiya delivered a powerful knee kick to the underside of the fist that pushed it upwards just before gravity pulled Jiraiya back to solid ground. Unfortunately, he did not see the Emissary's other hand swiping the air until it slapped him from the right.

"Jiraiya!" The Third Hokage cried out with worry.

The Emissary then lowered its body, planting its hands on the ground as it spun a complete circle, stretching its right leg to have it mow through the battlefield in a low sweeping kick that would have caught both Hiruzen and Kasukabe Kanna if Kotonoha and Setsuna had not intervened.

"Raaaaaaaaagh!" Roaring, Setsuna intercepted the massive leg with her own, kick meeting kick in a ludicrously uneven clash. Setsuna howled in pain as even her Reinforced leg gave in against the Emissary's natural strength. Not even Kotonoha's own brave parry stopped the Emissary from blowing both fox-women away, but the brief moment of their confrontation allowed Hiruzen and Kanna to leap away. Taking advantage of the successful attack, the Emissary switched targets to the two women it had just clashed with, aiming its next Void cannon at their airborne forms.

"Kouton."

It was the pure, most beautiful light given birth by virtuous chakra of Celestial origin. Beyond a genetic trait or even a primordial blessing received from a fickle god, Celestial Release was at one point meant to be a symbol of purity and great virtue. Anybody would claim that such meaning had been lost long ago—Kouton users were no longer any more or less enlightened than anybody else.

However, those who did not fight that day, those who could only watch and pray for those who were putting their lives on the line, were shown a tiny glimpse of that original greatness; the virtue of those to whom Heaven was promised.

No more.

It was not pride that made Higashiyama Yurina stand tall and with head held high. It could not be further from pride. It was nothing but the drive to make something of herself.

No more fear.

It was just too painful, too embarrassing, too humiliating, to stay paralyzed by fear and regret while so many others fought to protect her and her family. She still could not stand the idea of taking the lives of others, but what should stop her from giving what little she had to aid her family against this abomination?

The bow of radiance was ready. The string, a single, glistening golden line, was pulled and ready to fire. Bow, string and arrow were all made of chakra; the coalescence of everything she had.

"Dainichi no Ichiya."

'O Great Sun, bless me if only with a single beam of radiance.'

The arrow flew faster than any physical arrow could, covering the distance between Yurina and the Emissary at the speed of thought. It pierced through the gathering chakra for the Void cannon, dispersing it harmlessly and, without relenting, buried itself in the Emissary's face before exploding and filling the world with light like a second sun.

The beast from the Labyrinth howled like never before, as it received a healthy dose of its major weakness. With arms suddenly heavy and legs wobbly, Yurina fell on her shapely butt, panting in exhaustion. She had truly put all the chakra she could muster in that single arrow; it was the only way a two-tails like her could harm that monstrosity.

The Emissary hummed again, louder and louder. Its face had liquefied, and it rippled, hissed and popped like molten tar. Still, its eyes sought Higashiyama Yurina, as it now identified her as a major threat. As it began to charge yet another beam, the Genin and Chuunin standing by the two-tails trembled in fear and readied themselves to run for their lives.

"Oh no, you won't!"

The silver chakram flew, crossing the battlefield in a flash and bouncing off the ground just under the Emissary's head. The weapon shot upwards, slicing the right side of the monster's face in its path towards the sky. The slash pushed the monster's head upwards, releasing the beam towards the sky and just barely missing the flying chakram itself. Had Yuri been able to, she would have shuddered at the close call.

"Yuri!" Naruto cried out.

"Yes, yes; Fusoku Furi."

Naruto was spatially transported, reappearing instantaneously in the empty air just close enough to grab the chakram. That was Fusoku Furi—the ability to summon the wielder to the spatial position of the weapon, regardless of distance. So Naruto was in midair just above the Emissary's huge body.

Using both hands to grab the weapon, Naruto held it under him, glaring at the Emissary through the chakram's circumference. The outline of a bulb appeared in front of the weapon, the chakram itself acting as the base of the slowly blossoming flower of chakra.

"Kashou Reiha!"

An invisible shockwave struck the Emissary from above. The ground cracked under the pressure as the gigantic beast sunk a little, while Naruto was launched upwards by the recoil.

As long as he held the chakram, Yuri's and Naruto's chakra circulation systems were connected. Naruto's chakra freely flowed into the weapon, and Yuri's chakra flowed through Naruto, and they were free to manipulate the other's chakra as the other allowed. Yuri's age and experience refined Naruto's chakra for maximum efficiency; maximum output at minimal cost. The greatest ability of Yomotsu Ginken was granting Naruto the blessing of Yuri's great chakra control, and the simplest example was that Flower Blossom Spirit Wave.

Tendrils of dark matter bulged out of the back of the Emissary's neck to catch Naruto.

"Again!"

A second pulse smashed the beast with identical force, further pushing Naruto high into the sky and away from the incoming attacks. At that time, two fierce tornadoes danced around the Void tendrils before merging into a single gigantic twister of shredding.

"Tensouga!"

The huge drill smashed the Emissary's back with ground-shattering force. While its shredding effect inflicted no damage on the Void creature, its sheer pressure was enough to harm the beast. Tsume and her dog jumped away in opposite directions before the Emissary's mutable body could swallow them like a phagocyte. Its arms then stretched in an attempt to reach the two of them. What should have been an easy dodge changed when the arms bizarrely split along their length and became two identical copies. Kuromaru's smaller size was a boon, but Tsume was punched and flung away like a worthless doll.

While Kiba called this mother's name in horror, Jiraiya caught one of the flailing arms and held it still to allow Kasukabe Sei to leap on top of it. Kakashi bombarded the second one with Katon jutsu. On the other side, Kotonoha and Setsuna knocked the arm chasing Kuromaru with strong attacks, thus drawing the Emissary's attention. That same armed retaliated, and Kotonoha found herself in a losing clash of strength she would have inevitably lost had the Sandaime not commanded his Kongounyoi to grow and oppose the Emissary's fist. Sei had to leap off the arm when a dangerous-looking bulge began to grow out of the shoulder just ahead of her, quickly becoming a deformed third extremity, like an arm that did not grow properly. The strange lump of Void flesh struck the tiger woman on the right leg even as she jumped out of its way. The little sister caught Sei, whose leg was obviously bent in the wrong direction. Jiraiya let go of the arm before the bursting Void spears could fill his body with holes.

The time Kotonoha used assenting in gratitude was the same time it took the Emissary to lower its center of gravity to deliver a flawless low kick to the comparatively ant-sized fox-woman, effortlessly sending her crashing against the tree line.

"Kotono—!" Setsuna could not worry for the other woman, as the Void monster was readying yet another of its annihilation cannons. Hiruzen had reason to worry as well, for he too would be in the beam's range.

Yomotsu Ginken flew past the Emissary's head, and Naruto appeared to seize it just when the weapon was in front of the gargantuan beast's face.

"Kashou Reiha!"

The invisible impact pushed the Emissary backwards, making it grunt. However, it did not lost control of the gathering Void chakra, and the extra right arm Kakashi had been attacking lacked at the orange-clad young ninja, swatting it away like a pesky bug. Setsuna yelled Naruto's name as he too was sent flying in the same direction as Kotonoha seconds ago, but that only seemed to remind the Emissary of what it had been planning to do.

"Hakke…Kuuhoushou."

A tremendous blast of wind—Eight Trigrams Vacuum Demolition Palm—struck the back of the Emissary's left heel, causing it to lose its balance and slowly fall backwards. There was a certain inexpressive man with a hand outstretched; the other holding one Katsura Kotonoha by her waist.

"Ara, Hiashi-kun, aren't you cool?"

"…I apologize for my rudeness, Kotonoha-sama."

"Nah, nah, I'm glad you're here."

Under other circumstances the Hyuuga leader would have blushed and scratched his cheek a little. While his lesser were busy finishing up things at Konoha proper, he the strongest among them chose to assist in this battle from outside common sense.

"Maito Gai is baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack! Wuoooooooooooooooh!"

A figure who had been blown away some time ago returned with burning determination, ready to take advantage of the Emisarys precarious position to land a significant blow. It had taken some extra moments for him to gather his wits after the harsh landing and re-open the Heavenly Gates despite his body's complains.

"Oryaaaaaaaa!" Like a human missile, the running man took to the sky in a collision course with the Emissary's descending head…

Two huge hands smashed the ground with ground-shaking force, and the combatants witnessed the unbelievable sight of the colossal Emissary performing a back handspring, thus meeting Gai's attack with its right foot instead of its head. The Green Beast of Konoha bounced off the ground once before shooting like a pinball in the same direction from which he had come from.

"That's…ridiculous…!" Setsuna gasped out.

The Emissary quickly regained its upright posture, clasped its hands together, raised its arms over its head and smashed the ground with enough strength to force parts of the road to sink while others shot upwards, utterly deforming the formerly flat terrain. The shockwave unleashed blew all the front-liners away in a plethora of cries and shouts of pain. It was thus the turn for the lesser shinobi on the back to prevent the Emissary from taking out any of them while they were down. Dozens, even hundreds of kunai and shuriken harmlessly struck the massive black body, as annoying as raindrops to the Void thing. Explosive tags rocked its legs with little effect while weaker jutsu aimed to keep its arms restrained without success. Instead, the monster retaliated by unleashing its thin spears upon the shinobi ranks, breaking through their numbers like machinegun fire.

"Are we even hurting…that thing…?" Jiraiya truly wondered.

They were, definitely. But that does not change the fact that their opponent had a truly outrageous amount of Hit Points.

"I was told…that Emissaries were at about the level of a five-tails…" Kotonoha struggled to say between cycles of harsh breathing.

"With all due respect, Kotonoha-sama, whoever said that was a rotten liar," Hiashi commented.

"Stand up!"

The people went stiff at the harsh rebuke from the leader of the humans.

"Stand up!" Hiruzen repeated. "This is not our limit! This is not the limit of what Konoha can do!"

The voice only drew the Emissary's attention. Its tiny, composite eyes looked down on the Fire Shadow as merely an entity to be erased from existence. It drew its right arm—which had reassembled from the split copies—back, ready to smash the gnat into a stain on the road.

But the Hokage's hand seals were faster. A small white fireball came to life between the Third's open palms.

"Kouton – Seienkyuu."

The tiny fireball reached the Emissary almost instantaneously, and just as quickly it exploded into a tremendous spherical conflagration, large enough to swallow the whole Void beast, making it howl far louder than it had ever done so before. Hiruzen let his hands fall on his knees, glancing somewhat worriedly at his trembling, aching arms.

A giant chakram flew out of the forest and struck the ground just in front of the Hokage.

"Waiiiiiiiiit!" The silver weapon spoke in an unusually shrilly tone. "Wait, wait, wait, that was—when did you—how did you even do that!?"

The Sandaime sighed tiredly. Naruto appeared next to the chakram, summoned by Fusoku Furi.

"Because I'm the goddamn Hokage, that's how," Hiruzen said while glaring at the giant ball of flames the Emissary had become.

"Yup, that makes sense," Naruto said while nodded.

"It does not!" Yuri countered. "And you! Stop using me so rudely! It hurts when you throw me at the ground, boy!"

"Mah, you're a tough old lady, you can take it," Naruto said dismissingly.

"You could have just walked out the normal way!"

"Why would I even want to walk if I have you?"

"That's just too selfish!"

"Damn it, old man!" Jiraiya called out in a boisterous tone while he approached the group. The whole team of front-liners was gathering around the Third Hokage. "Since when do you know Celestial Jutsu?"

"Since three decades ago, Jiraiya," the tired old warrior replied matter-of-factly. "Don't expect me to pull something like that off again, though."

Kotonoha nodded. The human chakra system was simply not made to create Celestial-nature chakra.

"Haa…" Yuri in chakram-form sighed in defeat. "Can you people stop breaking apart my admittedly conceited preconceptions? It is rather annoying."

"What would the fun in that be?"

"Oh, you be quiet," Yuri spat back at Naruto's obvious taunt. "You probably do not even know what 'conceited' means."

"I totally do! It's the very thing that makes you so detestable!"

"I would ask you to say that to the dozens of human men I have mated with, but they are all dead already."

"I don't need to know that kind of disgusting, creepy shit!"

"Please don't start again…" Kotonoha pleaded.

The Emissary's sounds changed their pitch, which the fighters took as their cue to end their little moment of respite. The flames of the Sacred Blaze Sphere were dying down, revealing the gigantic body of their opponent once more.

"Doesn't he look kinda…?" Naruto began.

"…thinner, yes…" Jiraiya agreed.

"The Celestial fire has eaten away at the Void that makes its form," Yuri explained. "That jutsu was indeed very powerful."

"Man, I'm totally seeing you with new eyes, gramps!" A merry Naruto admitted. "I respect you now!"

"You mean you didn't before!? That hurts!"

"Boy, spare the old man yet another disappointment. At his age he must have gone through enough already."

"You are ten times older than me, Higashiyama Yuri!"

With that said, Hiruzen glanced around him, examining his forces. Everyone he could see looked battered and tired, either to physical damage or loss of chakra. The supporting forces were already down forty percent, culled by the Emissary's rapid counterattacks with black spears or those spherical proximity mines it kept releasing. At this rate it might be better to have them pull back and keep only the front-liners, but…

"Hawaaaaaaaaaa!"

"Hawaa?" The Third mused.

Stepping out of the forest, with clothes dirty and marred with soil and leaves revealing the fact that she had traveled in a straight line through bushes and overgrowths, a trembling Higashiyama Yurine howled pathetically.

"Somebody…somebody please help Yuria-chan!"

The girl in Yurine's arms had always been small, yet somehow people could not help but feeling unusually aware of that. It was perhaps the sight of her cuddled, beaten form that did not match her usual boundless energy. Still, she was alive, and that was cause for relief. That could be clearly seen in Naruto's face.

"Ah, Chiyuri-chan!" Yurine greeted her niece, who had immediately hurried to take a look at Yuria's wounds. Fortunately, it was all physical damage and thus not beyond the half-Forest's capabilities. Wordlessly, she directed Yurine to take Yuria next to Kusakabe Sei, who was also in the midst of treatment for her broken leg.

"I'll leave her to you, Chiyuri," the former Matriarch spoke.

"Hawah!" Yurine quickly reacted to hearing her mother's voice coming out of a weapon. "Mom's really round and flat now!"

"I will…pretend I did not hear that," Yuri responded. "Now, Chiyuri; we will have use for Yuria's talents, so make sure she returns to fighting condition. As for us…"

The Emissary of Oblivion stepped forward, no longer being licked by holy flames. Its strange humming "voice" had become incessant white noise in the background of the battlefield.

Gai, who also looked very pleased to see his most recent student was alive and well, turned his attention from the unconscious foxgirl to the black monstrosity that threatened them once more.

"Yosh! Let us give it our best, then!"

Naruto made some complaining grunts when he grabbed for the giant chakram.

"Hey, I might as well switch to using Yurine-chan now that she's here. You up to it, Yurine-chan!"

"Um!"

A loud gasp came out of the large silver weapon.

"The nerve of you, child! To think you would be the kind of man that so shamelessly uses a woman and then throws her away!"

"You just said something utterly outrageous!" Noting that a lot of people were looking at him, his eyes sought Setsuna's.

The small fox-woman was insulting him with her expression of disgust.

"…you're the worst."

"WHY!?"

"I am most definitely not handing over my girls to a disgusting man like you!"

"Oh you shut up!" Naruto lashed back at the chakram. "Fine! Do whatever I want; I don't care anymore if my body falls goddamn apart!"

"It's coming, you know…" Sarutobi Hiruzen muttered almost matter-of-factly, just before the Emissary surged forward, its tremendously rapid charge accompanied by a flurry of flexible Void spears.

The whole group immediately scattered and created distance, with the exception of Hiashi, who planted his feet on the ground and bent his arms by the sides of his body in a strong stance that did not match his Gentle Fist style.

"Hakke…Shinkuuhouha."

Quickly outstretching his arms forward, Hiashi unleashed the biggest shockwave out of the tenketsu in his open palms, matching and stopping the huge black fist that would have crushed him. While Kasukabe Kanna leapt on the outstretched arm, quickly darting and zigzagging past the spikes that grew out of the monster's body to impale her from below, Hiruzen, Jiraiya and Kakashi took several steps back to perform hand seals safely.

As both Hiashi and the Emissary were pushed backwards by the recoil of their clashing attacks, Kotonoha darted by the Hyuuga leader's side to protect him from the Void monster's automatic counterattack.

"Hissatsu!"

Even as it tumbled, the Emissary's fingers stretched and split into dozens of black tendrils, each of them as sharp as a fine blade, eager to cut apart Hiashi and Kotonoha. The hatched flashed once, twice, many times in succession; a veritable storm of attacks to match the incoming black tendrils one by one, repelling them and making them strike the ground away from them.

"Eien ni."

The Emissary tilted its body forwards to regain proper footing after stumbling, but Kakashi had other ideas.

"Doton – Yominuma."

The ground under the Emissary's right foot quickly liquefied and the beast found itself sinking unevenly and tilting dangerously to one side. Its neck suddenly expanded and rose around the sides and back of its head like a hood, blocking Kanna from immediately reaching its face. Simultaneously, a barrage of small black orbs flew out of its neck like catapult shots.

"Kouton! Uchouten Hotarubi!"

Small yellow orbs of light danced out of the Third's open hands, fluttering in the air to meet the Emissary's Void orbs. When the proximity Void mines met the Firefly Lights of Bhava-agra, concept and nothingness met and annihilated each other. This happened as the Emissary retracted the countless dark tendrils it had unleashed back into five stubby fingers, clenching that hand into a massive fist to attack Kotonoha once more.

Jiraiya, boosted by the power of Sage Mode, lifted a tremendously large block of solid rock he had conjured with Earth Release. With a ferocious roar, the Toad Sage threw the huge rock so that it struck the left side of the Emissary's face. The colossal beast trembled as it was struck by the huge object, causing it to further sink into Kakashi's Swamp of the Underworld.

"Oryaaaaaaa!" Kusakabe Kanna, that little sister of the fair blonde hair, leapt off the Emissary's left shoulder and fell upon the same spot Jiraiya had struck with a mighty flying kick that finished the job of tilting the Void construct to its right side. Still, it did not fall, for such was its endurance and strength.

Setsuna had kept herself busy using her tails to cut whole trees down at their bases. With a pile of a dozen several-meter-long logs by her side, the small fox-woman retracted her tails and planted her right foot on the first of the logs, attaching the sole to its rough surface with chakra.

"Haa!" Setsuna cried as she flung the huge log with a single kicking motion. The log flew like a giant spear, striking the Emissary's face and shattering on impact. With the same momentum with which she launched the first log, Setsuna spun a full circle, grabbing the next long with the sole of her foot and threw it just like the first one, repeating the process over and over to strike at the Emissary a total of twelve times. The consecutive impacts further pushed the Emissary to the side, knocking it over and over until it finally fell on its side, humming its mechanical howl of complaint.

"Alright! I'm ready!" Naruto announced, his left hand struggling to contain a tiny sphere of extremely dense chakra. With Sayuri's highly malleable chakra no longer available, Naruto needed to rely on Yuri's superb control to stop the unstable Pwetty Beam from exploding prematurely.

"Go Yuri!" He called out while throwing Yomotsu Ginken.

"I am not a Pokémon!" The seven-tails complained even as the annulus weapon flew over the Emissary's fallen form. When it was exactly above the immense black monster, Yuri used Fusoku Furi to call Naruto to her side. The boy thus appeared; jutsu ready to fire and with no chance for the beast to dodge.

"Go!"

The Emissary did not dodge. Instead, it lifted its massive right leg in an attempt to kick Naruto in spite of its prone position, while at the same time completing the punch Jiraiya, Kanna and Setsuna had so rudely interrupted. Naruto hurriedly placed his weapon before him to intercept the impact.

"Ow! Seriously!" Yuri further complained as boy and weapon were thrown upwards into the vast sky at the same time an explosion of silver and blue chakra swallowed the Emissary whole.

Hiruzen leapt on top of his upright staff before commanding it to grow. Kotonoha lowered her stance and placed her blade on her right side, ready to meet the Emissary's descending fist with an attack of her own.

"Kanna!"

The younger Kusakabe, who had landed somewhere to the left of the Emissary after her flying kick, smiled at her big sister, who was back on her feet and charging towards the fallen Void beast.

"Yes!" Kanna responded, as she too took to a mad dash towards a new combination attack.

Kotonoha roared as she raised her weapon to meet the fist. Her knees bent and the ground gave in under her feet, but the swordswoman was not crushed. Kotonoha's maximum Reinforcement opposed the oppressing fist with the flat of her blade until, with a second kiai, she pushed the fist aside to let it fall and strike the ground.

"Soukou!"

The tiger sisters had reached the Emissary, clenched hands revealing wicked sharp claws.

"Juujiretsushou!"

The simultaneous attack from orthogonal directions—Twin Tigers Cross Violent Impact—unleashed a powerful cross-shaped explosion that made the Emissary howl in pain. Meanwhile, Kotonoha had made her stance even lower, almost to a crouch, while the flat tip of her hatchet touching the ground.

"Ougi."

As if driven by a tornado under her feet, Kotonoha jumped to the sky, her body spinning as she delivered nine attacks in succession until coming to a brief halt in the air over the Emissary's body.

"Kuzuryuuzan!"

Planting its hands on the ground, the Emissary attacked from its prone posture, using its huge legs to flail around in a sort of inverse helicopter kick. Kotonoha and the Kasukabe sisters were caught in the unexpectedly boisterous attack; the terrible kicks throwing them away at ridiculous speed. While Kotonoha and Sei quickly hit solid ground like falling meteors, Kanna initiated an ample parabolic flight. But a certain chakram flew even faster, intercepting Kanna and allowing Naruto to appear there to catch her in midflight.

"Alright! Now, let's get you back in there!" Naruto declared while redirecting Kanna's momentum to send her back the way she came from.

"Wait!" The tiger girl immediately complained. "You can't just throw me again!"

"Ah, don't worry, don't worry, I've got Weapon Proficiency in Cat!"

"I'm a tig—iyaaaaaah!" The poor girl did not get any choice as she quickly found herself being thrown in the opposite direction, much faster than Naruto's natural strength would have made possible thanks to the same inertia that got her flying in the first place.

"I also have Oversized Weapon Fighting!"

All shounen ninjas get it as a free feat.

While Naruto and Kanna were having this exchange, the others were dealing with an Emissary trying to stand up.

"Gai!"

"Yosh!"

Setsuna and Gai attacked together, making their way through Void spears to kick the Emissary's pivot leg in unison. It was admittedly mostly Gai's job, for he had the full power of four open Gates in his kicks.

"Chou! Baika no Jutsu!"

Setsuna gaped at the rapidly growing form of Akimichi Chouza as it was about to drop on the fallen Emissary.

"No, wait, that's too reckless—!"

"Kuuton – Utsusemi Shibari no Jutsu."

The signature technique of the Nara Clan amped up to eleven allowed Nara Shikaku to release dark tendrils far beyond the surface area of his own shadow by tapping into the Void. Countless whips of shadow-stuff reached for the Void spears that would have impaled the giant Chouza before smashing the Emissary flat. The ground gave in under the combined weight of the two colossi, the fractures expanding and claiming more and more ground until the result was a crater twice as wide as the giants themselves and half as deep.

"Move, Chouza!"

The one who spoke was the Third Hokage, who stood with arms crossed on top of the greatly enlarged Weapon of the Soul while looking down on the fallen Void monster with contempt. The Akimichi leader, back to his original size, quickly leapt away assisted by Shikaku's shadow technique.

"Let's go, Enma!"

"Um!"

Jumping off the staff, the Sandaime relied more on his chakra than in his physical strength to grab the weapon and swing it over his head, dropping the huge staff on the Emissary's face while gravity pulled him to the ground. The monster moaned in complaint and its big hand grabbed the offending weapon, but only for a second, for Enma quickly chose to return to his natural form, the great ape appearing in the air between Hiruzen and the Emissary.

"Sen'eijashu!"

Anko's snakes grabbed Enma and pulled him away before he could be minced apart by the Emissary's Void spears, while Kakashi and Hiashi ran forward to get into the close-range they both favored. Hiashi was the first to leap into the crater where the Emissary was forced into, as this was precisely what saved him. Instead of attacking them, the Emissary had chosen to instead strike the ground with one of its fists, the strength creating a quake that made Kakashi stumble and break his dash. The same fist that struck the ground then rushed and struck the unsteady Kakashi with titanic strength, while the others could only watch in alarm, as they could see the punch had carried terrifying strength.

While shinobi hurried to tend to the famous Jounin after he struck the ground with a sickening sound, Hiashi landed on the Emissary's outstretched arm upon which he unleashed his Hakke Shinkuuhouha. The arm trembled and the Emissary complained, but quickly retaliated with a roundhouse kick even in its prone position. Hiashi dodged the huge sweeping attack with an ample backflip, but he did not expect the Emissary to follow up by planting that same leg on the ground and use the momentum to twist its waist and raise it while stretching its arm. In a single moment, the Emissary was back in an upright position, albeit only on one knee. Still, it was enough to stretch its arm far enough to reach and hit Hiashi. Kotonoha quickly caught him before he took a nasty hit with the hard ground like Kakashi just before, but the Hyuuga clan leader had followed the Jounin leader of Team Seven into unconsciousness.

It need not be stated that the Sandaime was not very glad to see two of Konoha's finest out of the battle.

"We'll have to make up for their loss, then," he calmly declared, glancing at the Monkey King, who nodded in silent understanding before turning back into Kongounyoi. It was at this point that Naruto reached the group once more, soon followed by the rest of the front-liners as they gathered to regain their bearings, if only for a moment.

Turning her attention to the large, hulking figure of the Emissary as it stood again, Setsuna swiped her right hand across the length of her messy black hair.

"It's about time I start getting serious, isn't it…?" She said, and sparks of electricity jumped off her hair as it was combed.

"Oh, it has certainly been a while," Kotonoha agreed. "We do not fight as often lately, do we?"

"Hmph!" Setsuna snorted. "I'm just waiting for you to lower your guard, stupid cow."

Setsuna's hands blurred for a moment as they carried out a dizzying sequence of hand seals. Lightning chakra cracked around her arms.

"Jutsu Tougoutai."

"Wah!" Naruto exclaimed when his eyes were overwhelmed by a blinding flash. For a moment, Setsuna became a beacon of intense light that forced everybody to close their eyes. It quickly stabilized, revealing the half-kitsune prodigy's transformation.

"That is…" Yurimi's voice was an awed whisper, for she had never seen something like it before. Setsuna's chakra glowed so intensely inside her body that it rendered her circulatory system visible to the naked eye; a body tattoo of pure white light. Her revealed tails were unfathomable meshes of crisscrossing tendrils of light. Tiny arcs of lightning escaped out of her pores and danced over her skin, and the red of her Sharingan eyes had changed to anelectric blue. Even as she exhaled, tiny blue sparks jumped out of her mouth with her breath.

"Kaminari."

While a generic way to call lightning, it was also one of the names of Yakusa no ikazuchi no kami, God of Lightning, Thunder and Storms. It was the pretentious name Setsuna had given to her pinnacle technique; her signature jutsu, the one she was even more proud of than of her Copy Wheel Eyes.

"Hmm…" Kotonoha murmured approvingly. "Yes, I guess it would not make much sense using Homusubi."

"Mistress…" Naruto called for his teacher, perhaps worried this was not supposed to happen.

"I…believe I promised to show you my strongest technique should you win that examination, did I not?" Setsuna mused as she did some light stretching. The lactic acid released after the strenuous fighting underwent electrolysis within the potent electric field released by Setsuna's chakra, forcing the rest of the front-liners to step away from her, as the resulting cloud of acrylic acid, acetic acid and acetaldehyde was irritating to the eyes. "I guess a combat demonstration is in order, given the circumstances. Pay attention!"

"Ah, um!" Naruto nodded eagerly, visibly impressed by the visual display of Setsuna's technique. "I'm not taking my eyes off you, Mistress!"

The small woman's lips became a flat line even as her cheeks rapidly reddened.

"Ah, uhh…yes, yes! That's exactly it!" Her voice came out half an octave higher. "Lo-loo—look only at me, boya!"

"Ufufu~"

"You stop chuckling!" Setsuna quickly lashed at her rival.

Some distance away, Gai was taken by surprise for completely different reasons.

That technique…even if he had not known the name until that very moment, he could most definitely recognize its visuals. The lightning, and the glow of its user's chakra coils…this was most definitely that person's technique!

That girl was, beyond the shadow of a doubt, the nefarious Doctor S!

"Guguguguguh…!" Gai bit his knuckles in frustration. She was helping them right now, and it was definitely not the right moment to start a ruckus, but…!

"Guuuuh…! Tomon!"

Gai's entire body shuddered under the strain of the fifth Gate opening. The displaced air pushed away by Gai's chakra blew off the cloud of noxious chemicals accidentally created by Setsuna's Kaminari.

"Very well, everyone…" Hiruzen said while planted one tip of his staff on the ground and pointing the other towards the Emissary ahead of them. With a sigh, Naruto grabbed Yomotsu Ginken and moved it in front of him, fearlessly facing the Void beast from behind the bladed ring. Jiraiya, Kotonoha and the Kasukabe sisters as well readied themselves for the next round.

Nodding at the group, the Third Hokage dropped his center of gravity and strengthened his grip on the Weapon of the Soul.

"…let us try a little harder."


CHAPTER 22 – To be continued...