Warnings: Violence. Blood. Gory scenes. Murder scenes. Lemon scenes.
Disclaimer: Part of this story will have settings and events taken out from various anime like Get Backers and Jigoku Shoujo, but I do not own any of them, nor do I own Naruto or any characters in this story save for OC characters
Chapter Forty Six: To the End
The first thing that they both could see—or couldn't see in this case, was darkness.
Complete and absolute darkness.
Both teenagers could barely see a step ahead of them, and just for a moment, they both hesitated. Even though they both could pretty much fight blind, both Shiki and Ren are still war veterans. Nothing is more terrifying than the unknown, and they've been in enough battles by now to trust their instincts.
Then all of a sudden, dark purple flames started lighting up at the sides of the chamber that they were both standing at the entrance of, with the flames forming a straight line at the sides of the chamber, giving them some light.
The chamber was still dark, but they could see vaguely. Without warning, a low orange light lit up the entire room, giving them visibility. Beside Shiki, Ren grasped his blade on instinct, eyes scanning the stone chamber.
It looks to be some sort of ceremonial chamber, made out of material that neither one of the two had seen before in their lives, as is common whenever it comes to things related to the Bijuu Nine. Not even Shiki had ventured this deep into the Lost Cave in the past.
There were strange seal markings on the floor, and wall murals telling the story of the Rise and Fall of the Gods on the walls. And right on the other end of the chamber where Shiki and Ren are at, there is a low platform.
"Nothing's happening." Ren said at last after a long while. "Is he really here?"
"He is." Shiki answered, eyes flickering around nervously. Something here is giving her a bad vibe. "Don't let down your guard." She warned, looking around, trying to pinpoint the exact location of the Demon God.
All her instincts were just screaming at her to run. She knows that the Demon God, the dark god is here, as she could sense the malicious aura in this room. All nin-users are sensitive to the changes in nature, and Shiki is no exception.
"I am the one hiding under your bed. Teeth ground sharp and eyes glowing red…"
Both Shiki and Ren stiffened as they heard a strange voice singing eerily. The voice could sound almost musical if it wasn't for the fact that they both could feel the very presence of the Demon God in this chamber. Both teenagers tightened their holds on their weapons.
"He's here." Both teenagers spoke as one.
"I am the one hiding under the stairs, fingers like snakes and spiders in my hair. I am the clown with the tear-away face, here in a flash and gone without a trace."
Shiki scanned the chamber quickly. She still sees nothing, but she can tell that something is definitely there.
"I am the 'who' in the call 'who's there'? I am the wind blowing through your hair. I am the shadow on the moon at night…" A shape is slowly starting to take form on the low platform in front of them. "…filling your dreams to the brim with fright…"
A humanoid shape slowly took form in front of them, and both Shiki and Ren could only stare. If it wasn't for the strange clothing that this 'man' was wearing and the malicious aura coming from him, along with the red glowing eyes, they would have assumed that 'he' is an ordinary human.
"This…is the Demon God?" Ren croaked.
"The dark god. The Demon God, Madara." Shiki stated. "So this is how he looks like."
"A lowly human…" The Demon God's eyes flickered towards Ren. "…And a nin-user…" His gaze rested on Shiki this time around. "What a pair…" A cold malicious smirk appeared on his lips. "Back in my day, no human will see fit to associate with a nin-user. This had been the case for nearly four thousand years. After all, to the foolish humans, nin-users are nothing more than monsters."
Shiki barely restrained a flinch when she heard that word. After all, that had been the term used to associate with nin-users, and what she'd heard more often than not during her time spent in the foster homes until Jiraiya had found her.
"Shiki's not like that!" Ren snapped. Along with Blade, Ren knew just how much shit that Shiki has to put up with in Hagako, and even before that. And all just because she is unfortunate enough to be born a nin-user.
"Is that right? Then tell me, human. Do you dare to tell me that you had never once feared her?" The Demon God scoffed. "Even back during the era of the gods, even the humans back then feared our messengers – the nin-users. Do you dare to tell me that you had never once feared someone who possessed powers and abilities of the likes that you could never dream of? Of someone who could easily kill another person with just a snap of their fingers?"
Ren showed no fear as he looked at the Demon God in the eye, though his unease could easily be seen. Though that is more attributed to the fact that the malicious aura from the Demon God is greater than before.
"No. I had never once feared Shiki, and I never will," he stated. "Nin-user she might be, but she is still Shiki to me. I do not fear her."
"Is that right? Then tell me then. What business do you have with me?" The Demon God glared at the both of them. "Have you come to kill me once more? Just like back then? The way that your ancestors did?"
"We've come to stop you." Shiki stepped forward, showing no fear. "I may not like this world and how it treats the nin-users, but I do not wish for it to be destroyed. This is not the era of the gods anymore. The world belongs to the humans now."
"Fools. Why are you protecting the humans when they're the very reason why your kind had been getting hunted down and killed one after the other?" The Demon God hissed, red eyes boring into Shiki. "Do you not see that the world is better off without the humans? What I aim to create is a world with nin-users. I shall bring this world to what it originally was when we gods have created this world!"
Shiki showed no fear at the Demon God's anger as she faced him. "I admit that this world isn't all roses and daisies. Especially with the way that the nin-user hunts are carried out." Ren looked saddened at that. After all, how many times had he seen it, and he could do nothing to stop it? "I didn't like it. That's why I tried to do something to stop it. But in the end, I realised that evil had set its roots too deep into it for me to just fix it. The only way to stop it is to destroy it completely and built a new country. But no matter how…evil and useless that you feel humans might be, they are not without merit. There are still humans in this world who still have some goodness in their hearts."
The Demon God was silent for a long time. So long that Ren thought for a moment that Shiki had managed to reach through to him. Then the Demon God started laughing. "I see now. So you're the one that Kyuubi has chosen," he said. "You think just like he does. Not that I should be surprised by that, seeing as how you're his descendant." Ren looked surprised at that. Shiki has never mentioned it before. "Kyuubi rarely leaves behind his line. I can only remember two occurrences when it happens. What I hate is ignorance, smallness of imagination. The eye that sees no further than its own lashes. All things are possible. Who you are is limited only by who you think you are. If you think that this world is worth saving by just the merits of a few, then show me your resolve!"
Both Shiki and Ren stiffened, both with one hand on their weapons as a faint purple aura started forming in the space between them and the Demon God, and when it had faded, Shiki looked as if she had just swallowed a lemon, and Ren looked as if someone had just clobbered him over the head.
Ren was the first one to find his voice. "K-Kabuto?"
For standing in front of them was none other than Yakushi Kabuto, with the only difference being that his eyes are red. The silver haired teen smirked at them, and both Shiki and Ren steadied their holds on their weapons.
They knew what is going to happen, and what they have to do. Not that either of them thinks that they could end this battle without fighting. If it were possible, there wouldn't be this much blood shed during the past seven days.
"For a time stint spent in Hell, you sure look well, Kabuto." Shiki hissed, eyes flashing with rage as she remembered what had happened to Isaribi as a result of Kabuto's actions years ago.
"Never better." Kabuto declared, readying a couple of needles in between the fingers of both hands. "But now, it looks like I get my chance to get my revenge!" He hissed, eyes flashing at Shiki.
Ren snorted. "Revenge? What revenge? Revenge for you selling out your own cousin like you did that it resulted in Isaribi being how she is now? If you ask me, Shiki did no wrong in killing you back then. She might have saved more people from ending up like Isaribi."
Kabuto hissed. "You're not as good and holy as you make yourself out to be!"
"No." Shiki said at once. "We are killers. And we might be criminals. Right from the start, I've never denied myself as such. But at the very least… Neither Ragnarok nor Blade will stoop as low as you!"
Shiki was gone in a blur before she had even finished speaking, dealing Kabuto a roundabout kick that he wasn't expecting in the least, and he lost hold of his needles which went scattering all over the floor. The redhead moved aside quickly, allowing Ren to follow up with another attack – one that he dealt to a semi stunned Kabuto by slicing off his arm.
Both Ren and Shiki watched with bated breaths as Kabuto got back to his feet, not seemingly affected in the least that he is now missing an arm. They both watched as a new arm re-grew back from the stump, and Shiki groaned. She is afraid that that is going to happen.
After all, if Yakushi Kabuto is indeed revived by the Demon God, then the same rule that applies to the Demon God's army applies to him here. They can't 'kill' him unless they hit him in the heart. He won't be tired out, and any limbs cut off will simply re-grow back.
"Damn! I was afraid that this is going to happen." Ren growled. He glanced at Shiki who sighed and nodded. The two then sprang apart, and what followed next was a flurry of attacks that Kabuto was hard pressed to block. Ren lashed out with a foot and kicked the floor out from beneath Kabuto's feet, and the silver haired teen found himself on the ground.
After all, no matter how 'immortal' that Yakushi Kabuto is now, not even he had the skills to take on both Namikaze Shiki and Ren at the same time and hope to win.
The silver haired teen then bit back a hiss as Ren's blade drove deep into his shoulder, pinning him to the floor as a barrel of a gun was pressed against his ribcage, and two pairs of menacing and unforgiving eyes glared at him.
"Why do you have such strength?" Kabuto hissed. "With strength like yours, you could have the world at your fingertips. Yet why? Why do you get so worked up over Isaribi, and yet, you barely even said a word when I left back then!"
Shiki only grow more furious at his words. "Because unlike you, Isaribi is not a coward. She never ran," she said simply. "She never ran from her fate. Like all of us, she took the things as it came, and never lament on her luck or the world like you did. You abandoned all of us, abandoned your own humanity as you ran to join up with the likes of people like Orochimaru and Danzo. Isaribi never did. Even after what you and Orochimaru had done to her, she faced the insults and abuse that the ignorant people of the world rained down on her. She took it all on without complaint and never strayed from her path. Isaribi and I… We both suspected for a long time that you were in cahoots with Orochimaru. That's why we both killed our hearts when it came to you. As far as I'm concerned, I don't have a friend like you." Shiki pressed her gun deeper into Kabuto's ribcage. "Now at least have the courage to meet your end like all of us did!"
A gunshot rang out.
There was a moment of silence as Ren and Shiki stared straight down into Kabuto, and he then dissolved into dust.
There was silence for several moments before there was the sound of low chuckling, and both Shiki and Ren turned to face the Demon God.
"Now I see why he chose you." The Demon God stated, staring at Shiki. "You're strong. And I don't mean your skills. You're strong…in your heart. A nin-user's powers and abilities are enhanced or weakened according to their emotions. Your heart is strong. Unlike so many of your kind, you harbour no hatred against the world or even the humans in general."
Shiki was silent for a long time. "No matter what we say, you're not going to change your mind about destroying the world, are you?" she stated more than questioned. "All of us knew when we first started involving ourselves in this battle that it might just be our last. I do not fear Death. I will stop you, even if it kills me to do so!"
A faint hint of a smirk appeared on the Demon God's face, almost as if he is amused at Shiki's words. "Better men than yourself have tried, and none of them succeeded."
"Want to try us?" Ren hissed.
A look of dislike flashed past the Demon God's eyes. "I will not fall to some lowly human!" he hissed. "Death is not a hunter unbeknownst to its prey; one always aware of what lies in wait."
Ren could only stare. "Huh?"
Shiki's eyes widened. "Ren, get out of the way!" she hollered, but she was a step too late, as a blast of dark energy blasted Ren into the opposite wall, knocking stones and chunks of concrete out of it. "Ren!"
"Now let's see how a nin-user that is descended from the almightiest of all gods fares against me." The Demon God declared. "Show me your resolve, and your will to correct this world!"
Shiki breathed heavily, grasping her gun tightly in both hands. "I've always fought. Right from the very beginning, I've always fought. In the beginning, it is to survive. Later on, it is to protect. After that, it is to protect the few friends that I've made. But now, I know that I don't hate this world. This is my home, the home of my friends, and I'll protect it!" she hollered, facing the Demon God with determination in her eyes. "And if this is my fate, then I'll fight my fate!"
Nii Yugito dropped down to the ground just as a clawed hand swiped at where her head would have been mere moments ago, and a glacier immediately struck the undead attacking her, skewering him neatly. The undead immediately dissolved into dust.
"This is getting us nowhere." Haku panted, wiping a bead of sweat from her forehead. "We kill and kill, but their numbers aren't dwindling in the least! If anything, it is increasing!"
"I'm not surprised." Uchiha Sasuke commented not too far away from her, sending a blast of fire at about five of the undead at once, reducing them to dust. "With just how many that the Demon God's army have killed, and that is not including the people that he had killed… How many do you think that makes up? And we're not just looking at the war that just started this year. We're looking at the people that had died as far back as four thousand years ago!"
"For now, we can only put our trust in Shiki and Ren and hope that they'll finish the job." Neji panted. "Someone needs to hold back the Demon God's army so that they wouldn't destroy the underground shelters. Practically the entire population of Japan is in there. If the army gets in there, they wouldn't stand a chance. We're all that stands in the army's way from getting there."
"It's Shiki and Ren." Gaara said simply. "They always have a plan."
Neji sighed. "I hope you're right," he said.
Yugito turned over her shoulder to look at the Lost Cave. 'Be sure to come back alive, Shiki. Everyone's waiting for you.'
Shiki coughed out blood, wincing as she got to her feet once more, holding onto her side. By the pain in her side, she could only assume that she had probably either cracked or broken some of her ribs.
The battle with the Demon God isn't going well. Her powers aren't exactly working against him, and neither are conventional weapons. Not that she should be surprised, as the opponent is a freaking god! One of the ten gods that had been responsible for the creation of the world and all things living, humans included.
"If this is your level of strength, then I'm disappointed." The Demon God remarked, looking almost…bored.
"I'm not done yet!" Shiki hissed, wiping off a trail of blood from the ends of her lips.
"Give it up." The Demon God ordered. "You won't beat me at your level of strength. The nin-users' abilities and powers are strengthened or weakened not only by their emotions alone. But also by the danger that this world is in."
"What do you mean?" Shiki narrowed her eyes in confusion.
"During the era of the gods, the world was often threatened by unforeseen threats, often threatening the very life of this world itself. Hence, the nin-users are all that the world has as protection."
"Are you saying that the nin-users grow weaker or stronger depending on just how much danger that the world is in?" Shiki demanded. It probably explains a lot of things though. She had found old records of nin-users performing remarkable feats more than two thousand years ago, and had wondered why compared to then, the nin-users these days are…well, weak.
"Isn't that what I'm saying? With your level of strength, there is no way that you can beat me." The Demon God grinned a dark malicious grin. "You can't so much as hope to touch me."
Shiki glared. 'Damn. I need to find the right time to use the devil's fruit,' she thought, feeling the bag resting on her back. The canister that contains the plant that two of her friends have traded their lives for. 'But not now. Damn it! I'm not going to let it end like this!' "I'm not going to let you win!" she hissed. "We will return! I won't let you touch them! I promised them this!"
The Demon God scowled. "How annoying. You're indeed Kyuubi's descendant. You're as much a hindrance in my side like he is. Now be gone!" he ordered as he lashed out with a dark energy blast that hit Shiki head on, and she then knew no more.
It is all that she could see, or couldn't see in this sense.
And she seems to be falling too…
Falling through what must be a endless abyss…
Her own memories started flashing past her, almost like a movie on fast forward. Her own past when she is part of Blade in Hagako, later on when she had met first Hinata and Neji, and then later formed Ragnarok…
I don't do well as someone's follower though.
No matter what you will decide in the future, I will always stand by you. I believe in you.
Live on for me. Live on the way that I couldn't.
We are friends, right?
I swear my loyalty.
Let's meet on the other side again one day.
Blade had been her first friends, the very first people who knew what she is and had never turned on her. They depended on her and trusted her. But in the end, she wasn't able to protect them, and thus, Blade scattered eight years ago, with the remaining survivors striking out on their own.
Sumaru. Sai. Hotaru. Mizuiro. And Ren.
You've got the eyes of someone drenched in cold rain.
I've seen more battlefields than I ever wanted to, and soon grew a hatred for war.
You've found your purpose, haven't you?
Then she had met Iruka not long after she had left Hagako. The man who had often given them some food when they couldn't find any. During a time when they're still trying to find their own feet, and trying to find their way.
We've made our decision.
We are Ragnarok.
We will follow you. Right to the end.
Ragnarok was formed not long after Blade had disbanded. And just like Blade before them, their members simply refused to leave her alone. And before she knew it, Ragnarok was formed. In the beginning, it was just to protect the nin-users of the land. And before she knew it, they are killing those who can't be touched by the law, or those whom the ANBU wouldn't arrest.
It's my duty.
You are Ragnarok, aren't you?
Please help him.
Give me another chance, Shiki.
What do you want me to do now?
Do you want another war?
She had then first met Itachi, and then the ANBU teams – Rendoku and Akatsuki. And even though she can't stand about half of them, even she admitted that they're better than some of the ANBU agents in there.
Wait a moment!
It'll be okay.
We've been fools right from the very beginning anyway. But it's better to be a fool, than to live your life knowing nothing at all.
We're going to make it out alive.
Forget about me. Forget about everything. Forget that I even existed.
I'll see you again, right?
…Shiki, everyone's waiting.
Is this…the end?
She had been fighting for such a long time now. Became involved in countless battles without knowing exactly why she had been fighting so far. And along the way, she had dragged many of her friends into danger. But she had met people along the way, had learned to live again, found people whom she could call family, and had even learned to love again.
…Too bad. But it's not your time yet.
What? What was that voice? She seemed to have heard it before.
You still have a job to do, my child. Everyone's waiting for you.
She still has people waiting for her…
She can't die here.
If it's you, I believe that you can do it. After all, the greatest power in the world is merely the power to believe in yourself. Once this is all over, I swear, my child, I shall return the favour.
Now go, Namikaze Shiki. It shall be as you wish it.
Namikaze Shiki to her feet shakily, though judging by the pain that coursed through her body, she felt as if she had broken just about every bone in her body. The redhead cleaned away the blood from her temple as she took in several deep breaths.
"You're still alive?" The Demon God hissed in rage. "Why don't you just die already?"
"Too bad. I'm bad at giving up." Shiki panted. "And I told you. The only way that you're getting your way is when I'm dead. But too bad for you, I never go into battles without a plan. The very first lesson that I'd learned in Hagako is to always have a backup plan." Shiki then reached into her bag without taking her eyes off of the Demon God, removing the canister from within her bag.
The Demon God's eyes widened in fear for the first time when he saw the plant within the glass canister that Shiki is holding. "H-How did you get that?" he roared.
"You'll find that the wills of humans are greater than you had ever imagined." Shiki stated, removing her sword from the holster at the back of her waist. She then shattered the glass canister against the blade, ignoring the glass pieces as it broke her skin, holding the devil's fruit against her sword. "Too much blood has been shed to this day, Demon God, Madara. Enough is enough. Let's end this."
The sword that Shiki is holding then started to glow with a warm golden light, with its origin being the devil's fruit that she is currently holding against her sword.
"W-What is this?" Shiki could only stare on in bewilderment. That light seems to be helping with her injuries as well, as it doesn't hurt as much as it did a moment ago. If anything, it seems to be healing her.
"That power…" The Demon God hissed. "The Bijuu Nine! Curse you! So even now, you still interfere with me!"
"As long as one still believes, they will have their protection." Shiki stated without fear. "Man cannot face Death without first finding meaning in life. I learned that the hard way a long time ago. I do not fear Death. I fear living even more."
"Damn you!" The Demon God howled as he moved forward to attack Shiki, pure rage clear in his eyes. Shiki flinched, but she held her ground, not showing her fear, as she got ready to attack. The Demon God then stopped in his tracks. "W-What…is this?"
Shiki could only stare with wide eyes.
The rune symbols on the ground have started glowing with a pure holy white light, and semi-transparent figures have started rising from that light. The first to appear was a brunette that Shiki is quite familiar with by now, and she could only stare.
Kankuro smiled at Shiki, looking quite different now, as he doesn't look as if he had the weight of the world's burdens on his shoulders. "Hey Shiki. Long time no see," he greeted.
A girl with straight dark brown hair was the next to appear, grinning at her. "Guess I should say that 'you look well', shouldn't I?" Fuuma Sasame joked.
Two people appeared next from the light – a pink haired girl and a girl with pale blonde hair. "This time, we'll be helping you." Yamanaka Ino told Shiki quietly. "For what it's worth, I've never blamed you. I only have myself to blame for forgetting you, and forgetting what had happened back then."
"Protect everyone." Haruno Sakura told her.
An older looking teen with dark red hair emerged from the light, having a small warm smile on his face as he looked at Shiki. "Looks like I can't keep my promise in the end. But to make sure that we can still see the sunset in the future, let's end this." Amegashi Ein told Shiki.
A girl with raven black hair and a boy with brown hair emerged next from the light. "At the very least, we can help you this time." They told Shiki.
An old man with white hair appeared, grinning at Shiki. "You've come this far. At least let me help you with the remaining fight." Jiraiya told her.
Two people emerged from the light once more, smiling at Shiki. "Looks like we didn't die in vain then." Hotaru joked, and Mizuiro smiled at her gently. "This time, we can help you."
A young man with dark orange hair emerged from the light, smiling at Shiki. "I've been recalled back to help." Shimizu Yahiko told Shiki. "It gives me a chance to get my own back at the dark god. Always believe in yourself and your comrades, Shiki. It is what will give you the edge in battle."
"…Kankuro… Sasame… Sakura… Ino… Ein… Miyuki… Suzuki… Hotaru… Mizuiro… Jiraiya… Yahiko-san…" Shiki could only stare on with wide eyes as people whom she thought she had lost and would never see again appear before her eyes.
"The gods are stepping in, Shiki." Yahiko told her. "They've heard you, and this is their answer."
"You are not one to give up, brat." Jiraiya told her. "Like your parents before you, you're bad at giving up. You can do it."
"Shiki." Kankuro spoke up next. "Once this is over, please take care of them. I can't protect them any longer. But I'll always be here…" He tapped his chest. "…in your heart."
"The way that we nin-users fight…" Ein smiled at her. "Let's show him how it's done."
Shiki nodded with determination. "Yeah. Let's end this," she echoed their words, tightening her grasp on her sword with both hands. She was then taken aback as a hand held her wrist, and she then turned only to see a battered looking Ren next to her.
He smiled at her. "I'll help you," he offered. "Two heads are better than one. And we've always fought best together. Just like back in Hagako."
Shiki smiled and nodded. "Yeah."
"This is the final battle." Ren stated. "Let's go all out for this one!"
The devil's fruit alone is not enough to bring down Madara. He is the 'yang'. He possesses the 'yang' power of the Bijuu Nine.
Shiki's eyes widened, then narrowed. 'What should I do?'
The Phrase of the Book. Repeat what I say.
"Your efforts are futile! I cannot die!" The Demon God roared.
"…I bow to thee and beseech you…" Ren froze and turned his head towards Shiki. The redhead had a look of concentration on her face, and she had two fingers raised before her face. "The Nine Gods that protect me. Appear before me! Come out! Suzaku!"
Hinata was screaming as she watched Yugito fall to the ground, holding her side as she was struck down by one of the army. The same undead raised his sword above his head, ready to bring it down onto Yugito.
"We won't make it in time!" Haku raced towards Yugito, but knew that she wouldn't make it in time.
A vortex of flame whirled around the Demon God, seemingly burning him before the flames died away once away, with not a scratch on the Demon God's body.
"I thought you said that it is going to kill him?" Ren turned towards Shiki, confused, but Shiki said nothing.
Instead, the redhead took one step forwards, running towards the Demon God, with the sword upraised, and she then thrust it into the gut of the Demon God before he could even do anything. There was a look of shocked surprise on the Demon God's face before Shiki stepped backwards, letting the sword that she's holding clatter to the ground. The mistletoe plant fell lightly next to the sword, the golden light dispersing from the plant.
"He's mortal." Shiki answered in response to Ren's question as he stepped up next to her.
A smile then appeared on the Demon God's face. "Heh. So this is it," he croaked. "So this is it."
"Why do you hate this world so much? You love humans so much at one time." Ren wanted to know.
"Because no matter how much I wished for, humans still hate everything unknown to them – especially the nin-users. Thousands of them died at the hands of humans. And all for what? For being born as a nin-user?" The Demon God looked tired. "But the world is changing. And I can see that now. If the world is in the hands of someone like you…" He looked at both Shiki and Ren. "Then I think I can leave it in your capable hands. The era of the gods has come to an end. It is now the era of the humans. Whether destruction will rain down upon the world someday or not, it will entirely be your choice." He smiled. "Four thousand years… It has finally ended. My existence is brief… So be it…"
A dark crimson glow surrounded the Demon God before the light exploded, causing both Ren and Shiki to cover their eyes. And when it had ended, there is nothing left of the Demon God but just a round crimson orb.
"What…on earth?" Itachi could barely croak out as the Demon God's army dissolved into dust all of a sudden.
"They've…disappeared?" Kisame uttered in confusion.
"That means that they've succeeded." Sasuke smiled.
"Everyone! Is everyone all right?" A familiar voice called out just then, and both Ragnarok and the former ANBUs turned towards the source of the voice only to see both Ren and Shiki heading towards them, though they were more staggering, and both looked as if they have just been through World War Three with a bull-eye target on their backs.
"Drained. But fine." Gaara answered Shiki as they reached them. "Did you succeed?"
"Of course we did. Otherwise, we wouldn't be here now." Shiki answered, looking at a crimson red orb in the palm of her hand.
"What is that, Shiki?" Hinata asked curiously.
"Later." Shiki told her, glancing at the ANBUs warily. "Is everyone all right?"
"Yeah. But I want nothing more than a good long soak." Yugito sighed, one arm around Tenten's shoulders, with the latter supporting Yugito's weight.
"Good." Shiki nodded. "Ragnarok. We're splitting." She ordered, much to the ANBUs' surprise.
"Huh? Why?" Kiba asked in confusion.
"Because in the end, we're still criminals after all." Ren was the one that answered the question. "And you ANBUs have a duty to arrest us."
"We're leaving." Shiki ordered, and she received nods from her friends, before all of them got ready to leave.
"Wait!" Itachi called out, unwilling to just see Shiki walk away from him like this. Who knew when he would get to see her again?
"In this world, there is so much of what looks like love, and sounds like love, and calls itself love, but it isn't." Shiki told Itachi mysteriously. "It's just people saying and doing what they think that they ought to say and do."
"What?" Sasuke was confused.
"This war will continue." Shiki told them, looking from face to face. "It isn't over yet. But where it will take, I have no idea. I have done all that I could. The rest will be up to you. But make no mistake, more blood will be shed. I can tell you this now: the greatest service that a warrior can render to their country is to see that his skills are never called upon." The redhead then turned to move away, with her friends following her. "Ragnarok, let's move out!"
"Shiki! Wait!" Itachi called out.
Shiki paused in her step and turned to look over her shoulder. "Japan is in your hands now," she told the shocked Uchiha. "Rebuild it. Make a new justice system. Make a new law system. One where no one will be treated unfairly. One where the nin-users are given equal rights. And whether we will return again or not, it will entirely be up to you, Uchiha Itachi."
Six months after the end of the battle against the Demon God marked several changes to the country of Japan.
As one of those present from the start until the end, I can only say that it probably marks a new beginning and a new future for those in the land. But whether it will stay that way or not is still too soon to say.
Looking back and seeing all that has happened up to this point, knowing it cannot be undone, cannot be stopped. And to have millions look upon you as they would a saviour, a conqueror, a monster.
This is how reality works.
I've never regretted my choice, though in some cases, I wish that we had made those choices a little differently. Too much blood has been shed after all.
And we saw how the events shaped reality, seeing how our actions and influence has warped the path of destiny. There is only one way to go for us now. We can no longer stop, and neither can we go back. We can only press forward.
Shiki is right: This battle will be spoken about for generations to come, as a world sees what we have become.
This will be my last diary entry. To whoever picks this up and read it, these are the true accounts of the Seven Day Battle against the Demon God.
This is Shisei Haku, signing out.
Namikuri Inari watched in awe as the sakura flowers blossomed slowly on the tree that he's currently standing beneath. The buds of the blossoming flowers opened slowly, and fanned out, revealing the pretty pink petals of the flowers.
Spring has come.
A spring that Inari had thought that he would never get to see.
The past year had been just crazy, especially with the war. It had been six months since the end of the war, and the country is slowly picking up its feet. Inari hadn't been impressed in the least when he heard that former ANBU agents were the ones leading the rebuilding. But so far, they've been doing a fantastic job, and don't seem to be using the old law system.
"What are you doing?" A gentle voice asked him, and Inari jumped as he turned only to see a pretty dark haired girl smiling at him. He blushed, muttering something about waiting for a friend. Though Konohamaru sure is late. "Waiting for your friends, huh?" The girl smiled at him. "You remind me of someone whom I knew." She said wistfully. "Of whatever memory that still remains, that is. I've been wandering around for a long time, trying to remember… Or am I trying to forget? I have no idea anymore." At this point, Inari has no idea if the girl is speaking to him or just talking out loud to herself. "Maybe… I've let her down as well? It's been such a long time, and I can't be a hero anymore. The world has no need for heroes anymore."
"What…do you mean?" Inari asked carefully.
"A person's true nature can't be changed." The girl smiled wistfully, staring up at the blossoming sakura tree. "That's especially true for her. Throughout all these years, she hasn't changed a bit. Tell me." She turned her gaze towards Inari. "Do you believe in heroes?"
"Heroes?" Inari echoed with confusion.
"Probably for you, heroes are only something that you find in fairy tales. But they do exist." The girl smiled. "I knew a hero. In fact, you remind me of her. That will to never give up. She lets her heart do the talking for her, and there isn't anything that she won't do for her friends. She'll even brave high and hell waters just to help them. That's…just the kind of person that she is. All of us depended on her. But maybe… We should have helped her with some of her burdens at some point. Now… All that we could do is make sure that she gets a life with peace…at least for a while." She sighed. "I should go now."
"What's her name?" Inari called out to the young woman as she turned to leave. He had a feeling that he should know the person whom she's talking about. "What is her name? The person that you're talking about."
The girl smiled. "Well…"
The former High Council, now renamed as the New Parliament are made up of the leaders of every single town and village that had ever existed in Japan. Even the leaders of organisations like the ANBU and Mist are involved in the New Parliament.
And currently, it is where Mei Terumi was arguing with the other members of the New Parliament in another one of their meetings.
The subject of the argument is always the same.
And given the fact that Ragnarok had all but dropped off the face of the earth for the past six months, no one could find them at all, no matter how hard that they have tried. Mei knew for a fact that the ANBU Special Tactics team, formerly known as Akatsuki, have been trying to find them, but to no avail.
"Exactly. They're dangerous." Mei cut in the argument, eyes daring the New Parliament to argue. "And the world knows it. The entire world knows it. There isn't a single person who has no idea of who they are by now. Russia. France. Italy. England. America. And New Whirlpool." The country that had lost the war against them a little more than ten years ago had rebuilt their country, though it is going to take more time before they're back at full power. "They are all believers of Ragnarok's ideals and beliefs – equality and human rights for nin-users. And if you hunt down Ragnarok and make yourselves an enemy of them, you make an enemy of those countries. And trust me, gentlemen, I have no wish to be in your shoes when they decide to take action."
"Then what? We leave them be?"
"If I am you, I will do so." Mei cut in. "You know what they can and will do if they are forced into a corner. There is nothing more terrifying than a Ragnarok member when they're cornered. We can't afford to anger them. And whether or not that they will return to this country once more, it will entirely be how Japan will be run in the future."
Uchiha Sasuke smirked as he looked at the figure sitting on one of the tree branches above his head, pink petals raining down around him from the tree.
It's been some time since he'd seen her, and he had wondered if she'd be showing her face in this country anytime soon. Many agents of the now rebuilt ANBU had assumed that that organisation had long skipped the country, with just how long that they have been inactive.
"It's been a long time," she said, looking down at Sasuke. "How is it? How is everyone?"
"We're getting by." Sasuke admitted. "At the very least, we managed to see a spring that none of us thought that we'll ever get to see." He glanced at the sakura petals around him. "You're right." He looked up at her. "Destroying an old era is easy. Building a new one is more difficult than expected. But we're getting by."
"I see," said the girl with a small smile on her lips. "If it's you guys, I'm sure that you can do it. I've been hearing rumours about the new system. Even the underground is pitching in to help. And if they are pitching in, it must mean that they have high hopes for being accepted into society, and that this new system will be better than the old one."
"It is our home. We will protect it." Sasuke shrugged. He then took a deep breath before looking at the girl once more. "I have a question. Did you do what you did to my brother…because of your friends?" He asked carefully. "Because…he killed them?"
The girl was silent for a long time. "…I wanted to do worse, trust me," she said at last. "But in the end, I decided…that emotional wounds and scars are a lot worse than physical ones. I wanted him to live, knowing that he is the reason why half of his comrades and the country are now lying in pine boxes in the ground. It's much more cruel than killing him. I want him to live, knowing that he is the cause of everything. That he lost what he could never have."
"I know that I've asked you this before, but I'm asking this for the last time. Did you ever love my brother?" Sasuke asked. "Just…tell me that. Nothing else even matters anymore. Not after everything."
The girl said nothing for some time before she looked at Sasuke straight in the eye. "No," she said simply. "Like I said before, this is my job. I used what I could to achieve my means. I'm not above using others to attain my goal. I doubt that you will understand."
"I do," said Sasuke, much to her surprise. "It's just… Thank you for sparing him."
"He's your family. I don't want to rob you of it. And I don't want to see you living on in hatred. It can ruin you. I've seen it happen hundreds of times." The girl told him. "I should go."
"You're not seeing him?" Sasuke asked in surprise, and she shook her head. "I see. Will I see you again?"
"Maybe. Though whether we Ragnarok will return to this country on business again or not, it will entirely be up to you. Bye, Sasuke." The girl then vanished in a flash of light, leaving leaves scattering to the ground from her leave.
Sasuke smiled. "Yeah. See you around, Shiki."
"How is he?" Gaara asked Nishimura Rin as she stepped out of the room.
"It's hard to tell now. But what I can tell you is that he is lucky to even be alive. Let's face it. The battle that he was in nearly killed him. By all rights, he should be dead right now." Rin told Gaara. "I guess it is some small mercy by the gods that granted him some reprise."
"Will he regain his memory?" Temari asked Rin anxiously. "He remembered us. But he is missing several large parts of his memory – like the last battle, and what had happened."
"I have no idea." Rin admitted, looking over her shoulder into the room where Sai is sitting up in the bed, staring out of the window, dressed in hospital garbs. Sumaru was seated in the chair next to him, skinning an apple. "Time can only tell."
Shisei Haku looked up at the sakura tree.
Let's make a promise.
What kind of promise?
No matter what happens, and what decisions that we will make in the future, we'll always be friends, right?
We're friends, aren't we?
"Shiki." Haku turned towards Inari. "Her name is Shiki. To me, she's a true hero. But unlike her, I can't be a hero anymore. That's why…the least that I can do is to protect her."
She then turned and walked away from Inari, heading towards the entrance of the town of Katokori where Namikaze Shiki was waiting for her, her motorbike parked next to her. Haku nodded to Shiki.
"Ready?" Shiki asked Haku. "We're about to go. Baled will be coming two days after us. We're taking Sai ahead with us. Sumaru and Baled will meet us there."
"Okay." Haku nodded. "It's just…" She struggled with her words. "We can no longer stay in this country, can we?"
"We've done our job. We've done all that we could. Now it's up to them." Shiki told Haku, and she nodded. "Whatever happens from here… Let's leave it up to them. The New Parliament. The new ANBU… Even the new police force. Whether we return again or not…will be entirely up to them."
Uchiha Itachi walked out of the new ANBU headquarters solemnly.
It had been a rough six months, but now, everything is settling in nicely. Itachi mainly attributed it to the fact that nearly the entire country is in shambles, and they're desperately looking for a chain of command.
The Special Tactics team that is formerly Akatsuki are now, in a manner of speaking, the ones calling the shots at the ANBU. Mei Terumi is mainly the main spokesperson for the New Parliament, as she commands the most respect there, thanks to her work during the war. And thanks to her presence, even the underground is working on rebuilding the destroyed villages and towns during the Demon God's rampage.
The era of the gods has come to an end. Now it's time for the humans to take charge for once.
Itachi looked up in the blue sky with the puffy white clouds, shielding his eyes as a particularly chilly wind blew past him. 'The cherry blossoms are blooming prettily, Shiki,' he thought. 'In the land which you protected… I wonder how many tomorrows have come and gone since that day? This country has changed, as is the very soul of the world. People still fear the nin-users, but that is to be expected. Slowly but surely, we're working on it. Where are you?'
"Hey! Are you Uchiha Itachi?" Itachi blinked and saw a cheeky looking brunette boy not much older than twelve or thirteen standing in front of him. "Are you Uchiha Itachi?" He asked again impatiently.
"I am. Who's asking?" Itachi asked.
"I got a letter for you." The boy told him, pushing a rather heavy envelope into Itachi's hand. "Bye!" He then took off.
Itachi opened the envelope curiously, and a rather familiar looking bracelet fell out. His eyes widened.
"Well, then this is an early birthday present, I guess," said Itachi before reaching into his pocket and pulling out a red and blue thread-woven tribal-like bracelet that seemed to be handmade. "I had it made awhile back for your birthday. It is in another three weeks, isn't it?"
"Yes," said Shiki with a nod. "I'm surprised that you remembered."
"Hey!" Itachi called out to the boy who was mingling in with the crowd by now. "Who gave this to you?" He hollered.
The boy grinned. "Namikaze Shiki!" he hollered back before disappearing into the crowd.
Itachi unfolded the letter in the envelope quickly, and read it quickly. His eyes looked ready to bulge out of its sockets the further he read, and he then looked up sharply, scanning for a familiar shade of red hair within the crowd.
Finally, he spotted a glimpse of red hair amongst the crowd, and started pushing his way through, his mind in a whirl.
"Shiki said that she will join up with us soon." Hinata told her cousin even as she sat in the pilot seat in Exilia. The rest of Ragnarok are already onboard, alongside with Sai. Haku sat next to her in the other pilot seat, fiddling with the controls. "It's finally happening." She smiled.
Neji smiled and nodded. "Yeah. A paradise just for us. On a stretch of land on an island. Isle Ragnarok."
"We've done this much. Now the least that the world can do is to leave us in peace." Shino sighed, removing his shades and rubbing his eyes. "It is finally over."
Itachi pushed his way through the crowd, keeping his eyes on that shade of red hair that he could see, his mind in a whirl as he recalled the contents of the letter that he'd just read a few moments ago. His mind flashed back to all his encounters with one Namikaze Shiki, and what she'd said and done with each one.
"I created Ragnarok. I have a responsibility to them."
"Do you think that the ANBU is behind everything?"
"You only know what and who you truly are when you're about to die."
"Riku will be safe with us." Mei reassured Shiki. "He'll get better."
Shiki nodded. "When he wakes up, change his name. No one must know that there still are survivors of Blade. It'll be asking for trouble." Mei nodded. "Then I'm leaving Riku to you."
Itachi looked left and right frantically, the letter clutched in his right hand.
"What do you wish for?"
"I'll change the world. Even if I have to destroy it to do so."
"One thing that you should know about Shiki too. People tend to underestimate her. But be wary though. She has a brilliant mind, and a wit to match it. I hadn't met anyone that can match her yet. No one. And she isn't above using others or even herself to achieve her goal."
"I wasn't planning on falling for you."
Itachi looked left and right. 'Everything… Was it all a lie, Shiki?' he thought desperately.
Ren was waiting outside the house for her when Shiki exited, leaving a slumbering Uchiha Itachi in the house. "Did you sleep with him?" he asked nonchalantly.
"No. Not even I'm that desperate, Ren." Shiki told her old friend. She then glanced over her shoulder at the second floor bedroom. "I merely…showed him a good dream." Her eyes flashed red. "I will not allow any man to touch me. Especially if he is of ANBU origin."
Ren smirked. "Is that right?"
Itachi stopped in his step in the middle of the street, chuckling lowly to himself. "Is that how it is?" he whispered, the last pieces of the puzzle finally falling into place. He looked at the letter in his hand once more, re-reading it again.
It has been a long time coming, but everything has gone according to plan, Uchiha Itachi. And like what I've said to you before, we'll be leaving Japan in your hands. Whether we come again or not will be entirely up to you. Right from the start, we've already decided this.
All of us knew that this country would never accept the nin-users. Before we can leave Japan to you ANBU, we took it upon ourselves to right this country. And we did it the only way we knew how – by ridding them of the disease.
The ANBU. Oto. Ne. And even the High Council.
For the nin-users, we created a paradise, a new country for them. One where we'll be going after this. Don't bother trying to find us; you never will.
I probably did love you once if you are asking that question. But I guess it became too much in the end. Your ideals and way of thinking is never compatible with mine. We will never be happy together.
I didn't know just when I started to realise that I no longer loved you, but probably, from the time when Kankuro had died.
I realised that from the start, I saw Riku in you. Satochi Riku. My friend and comrade from my Blade days. And my first love.
Namikaze Shiki felt like she is on fire as Ren kissed her, hands running all over her body, as the two make out on the fresh grassy plain of Isle Ragnarok.
Jiraiya had told her about the island a long time ago, and he doubts that anyone even know that it existed, as it is out in the middle of nowhere. When Ragnarok had headed to the island, the first thing that Shiki did is to make rune inscriptions onto the foundations of the island so that it is hidden from view.
The island is basically like a small country, with fresh grassy plains and plants, even with a large cottage big enough for all of them to live in. Throughout the years after Shiki had learnt about the island, she had bought livestock like cattle and even chickens and hens to the island, and there were multiple fruit trees and food growing all over the island. That's basically where Shiki had spent all her money on throughout the years. Jiraiya had helped as well, getting several people whom he could trust to build the cottage on the island, and even buying everything that a house needs.
Shiki had also brought their old boathouse over to the island in case they needed to head to the mainland for supplies. This island basically has everything that they ever needed, and it will be their Paradise.
In a room on the second floor of the cottage, Hinata blew on the porridge gently as she fed it to Sai who ate it without complaints. The blue haired girl smiled as she looked out of the window only to spy Ren and Shiki in the middle of their 'activity' and she rolled her eyes. While she is glad and all that Shiki is not with that ANBU bastard any longer, couldn't they have picked a more private location for their make out session?
"You sure about this?" Shiki asked from beneath Ren, her face slightly flushed.
"I'm sure." Ren nodded. "Whether you're a human or a nin-user, that had never been important to me. Even right from the very beginning. You're you. That's all that matters." Shiki laughed. "Something funny?"
"Just thinking that it's so you." Shiki smiled up at Ren, placing her hand at the side of his cheek. "It's funny. I suddenly feel so light. Everything is over at last."
"Yeah." Ren nodded. "Don't worry, I'll always be with you. As long as the sun sets and the moon rise. Even after we're dead, I'll still love you. We'll always be partners, no matter what happens. Even time could not hinder us."
Itachi could only stand there in shock. "You masterminded everything?" he whispered, his heart going at a hundred miles per minute, even as his mind tried to comprehend everything that is happening. "How had I never suspected?"
"She's a master manipulator."
"I've told you: I don't care what I have to do in order to achieve my goals. I will do it."
I won't apologise. You should have realised from the very beginning that it is the law of the jungle in this world. You're an ANBU. You should know that. And I've told you before: I'm not above using others or myself to achieve my means. I will do anything necessary, even be as cruel as I can, if only to protect them.
If we are meant to be, we are. If it isn't, forget about me. You chased after me, only because I gave you the thrill and excitement of a chase and a mystery. That isn't love, Itachi. And I think…that a real love will not be noticed so easily.
I've promised myself when I had created Ragnarok that when I had ended everything, I will visit my parents' graves, along with that of my friends, and tell them, 'The war has finally ended. Our battle is finally over. Nin-users finally have a place to call home'.
We are just two people never meant to meet. But meet we did, as that is to be our fate. But the roads that we walk on are different right from the very beginning. No matter how hard you wish it, we will never be.
I do not love you.
Not in the way that you wanted.
We live in a world with a future – one that we struggled to protect. One that was shaped by our very hands. We risked our lives, because they were in it. You risked your life, because of I. We both have nothing left, nothing to regret.
Now as I look at the future, I think I can smile.
So when the time comes, let's play a game again.
Itachi chuckled to himself at the irony of having been played like a violin by one person for years and he had never realised it. He had never even suspected it. "I see… So that's how it is…" He nearly crushed the letter in his hands. "Namikaze Shiki… You truly are one scary woman. You are a master manipulator."
He spied the last words on the letter and laughed out loud, causing several weird looks to be headed his way, but he didn't care. Because those words describes the situation best.
Peaceful Days are over. Let's Survive.
A/N: And this story has at last come to an end! I hope that you guys have enjoyed reading it, as I know that I've enjoyed writing it. So does the ending surprise you, or have you already anticipated it? I would like to know your thoughts on this matter. I am currently playing with the idea of coming up with a sequel for this story. Do you wish for one?
Anyway, I hope that you like this chapter, and please read and review!