Chapter 11: Obey the Laws Forevermore
Ler orak te Sai. Luca. Nok.
Sai hovered with crossed legs over his bedroom floor. His eyes were closed and he held his indigo staff in front of him vertically. Swirls of indigo light circled around him slowly as he tried to follow Tsunade's orders and contact the rest of the Indigo Tribe.
"Message not sent," his ring stated again. Sai sighed.
"Why?" he asked once more.
"No Indigo Tribes men in observable universe," was its answer, the same as the last three times.
"One more, then I shall retire for the night." Sai collected himself, closed his eyes once more, and tapped into the light of compassion. He mentally repeated the same mantra as before, identifying himself to any fellow Lantern and asking to please answer his call with compassion's guidance.
Ler orak te Sai. Luca. Nok.
"What are you doing, Sai?" he heard in his mind. Past the momentary surprise, the Lantern immediately recognized it.
"Danzou-sama? I was..." he spoke, not knowing for a moment if his master would hear him. His answer came quickly.
"I care not for your burgeoning, troubling individuality. At least, not at the moment," Danzou interrupted Sai in his thoughts. "Listen well. I have a very important mission for you."
My name is Uzumaki Naruto. I am an officer of the Green Lantern Corps. Space Sector 2814. Lately I'm wondering if I'm the only one. No luck contacting anyone else in the Corps, not even in sectors close to me. Tsunade-no-baachan's going to be disappointed, but I can't do much for now.
Sakura-chan and I are off-duty today, so we decided it'd be a good time to train some more. Neji's recovering well, and after his team's help against Itachi, they wanted a rematch with a Lantern.
"Konoha Senpuu!" Rock Lee jumped low and swung a fierce spinning kick at Naruto. The Lantern ducked low. "Konoha Reppuu!" The moment Lee touched the ground he spun again, this time delivering a low sweeping kick that Naruto only barely blocked with a hastily summoned construct. The force of the impact was enough to get him off the soil, but before crashing back Naruto swiftly flew up. Once there was enough distance between them, he let loose with three armored wolf constructs that assailed Lee. Lee punched the first one square in the jaw, and the construct instantly morphed into a chain that encircled Lee's right arm. The other two wolves rushed at him, and likewise turned to metal chains that tied his left leg and torso, while their other ends fastened themselves firmly onto the training ground's soil.
"Those chains are pure willpower, Thick-Brows," Naruto told him. "No way you're breaking them even with your freaky strength."
"I don't need to break them, Naruto-kun!" Lee roared and pulled hard on the chains in his arm and leg. Though they held intact, his strength ripped them out of the ground entirely. Using his newfound freedom he ripped the third one off as well, then spun, untwisted himself, and tossed them with soil attached and all back towards Naruto. Not to be outdone, the Green Lantern dove below the attack, reattached the chains to his ring, and promptly swung them back at Lee's location. The whiplash shattered the soil and cratered the ground, but by the time the attack had struck Lee was yards away.
Nearby, Tenten showered Sakura with kunai, which the Star Sapphire deftly dodged or blocked with her own violet constructs. Tenten kept summoning bladed weapons from her massive scroll and kept up the pressure. Sakura reacted by thickening her aura and expanding it into a sphere, and dove right at her sparring partner. Tenten's weapons bounced harmlessly from Sakura's new defense.
"It's over, Tenten," Sakura said as she closed in.
"Not quite. I have one more surprise I custom built especially for Lanterns," she replied with a smirk. She summoned a large iron ball from her scroll and lobbed it at Sakura. "Kai!" At her command, the front half of the sphere opened and released dozens of tiny drills that peppered Sakura's aura. Fueled by Tenten's chakra, the drills ate into the Lantern's defenses just enough to weaken and crack her crystalline aura slightly. It was all Tenten needed, as the last of the chakra on each bit detonated tiny payloads within them. Specially designed iron casts at the back of the drills directed the force of the blast completely into the force field, which combined with Sakura's sudden surprise, was enough to shatter it completely. In that instant, Tenten pressed the attack, releasing a torrent of bladed weapons from the back of the original summoned sphere towards the defenseless Star Sapphire. Instinctively Sakura projected a thick, solid crystal shield against the oncoming metal rain, but as soon as she blocked the majority, she realized Tenten's true attack. The weapon specialist twisted her wrists, and the kunai that had missed the shield turned inwards. Sakura's response was to make her shield expand.
The crystal remained unmoving and solid. The kunai closed in. By the time Sakura realized her construct was barely changing and Tenten gasped, it was too late for either of them to deflect the attack.
If not for the green armor that suddenly engulfed Sakura, she would have been impaled alive.
"SAKURA!" Tenten yelled.
"SAKURA-SAN!" Lee echoed.
"Just barely..." Naruto whispered as he dismissed his construct and Sakura did so with hers. The kunai fell harmlessly to the soil. "Sakura-chan, what happened?"
"I... I'm not sure," Sakura answered once she was back on solid ground. "I wanted the shield to grow to protect me better, but I couldn't." She once again recreated the shield, then her face strained a bit, yet her construct remained the same. "I don't understand..."
"Weird," Naruto commented. He created an identical shield, then began to mold, twist, and warp it like jello or putty. "I can do that no problem."
"But remember yesterday we were saying that the rings were slightly different. Maybe mine can't change constructs."
"Not surprising," Tenten said. "Look at this. It's solid crystal," she added as she tapped the violet shield.
"But that can't be right," Naruto shook his head. "When I fought Hinata at first, her plant constructs grew."
"Yet she was fully possessed by the Predator. Maybe its powers are what allowed her to do that, but our rings can't do that normally." Sakura tried the exercise again with the same effect. "I'll keep trying in the meantime until our next training. It's getting late."
"Aw, c'mon, Sakura-chan," Naruto pouted. "We can still go a few rounds."
"I think Sakura-san has the right idea, Naruto-kun," Lee agreed with her.
"And so does your stomach," Tenten pointed. Naruto then felt it rumble audibly, and he laughed awkwardly while the others did so at his expense.
A quick ramen dinner at Ichiraku with the group calmed Naruto's hunger. Despite his and Lee's pleas, the girls said the had enough training for the day, with Tenten having to drag Lee away to keep him from sparring with Naruto right outside the shop. Naruto thus took the opportunity to recharge some of the ring's power.
"Ring..." he paused for a second to catch his breath, then finished: "power check."
"Power levels 57%."
"That'll have to do for now." It was still a little early, so he decided to take a quick flight around the village. Without having to think it, he rose up and flew out of Ichiraku and into the sky. "I'm definitely getting better at this," he said with a grin. Once more, the villagers that were finishing their daily routines waved at him and cheered him on, giving him a pleasing satisfaction in his heart. One young girl was so excited to see him that she let go of the balloon she was holding. Naruto quickly caught it and headed down to return it.
"Here you go."
"Thank you, Green Lantern-san!" the girl cheered. Before he knew it she gave him a quick peck on the cheek while her mother gave him a nodding smile.
"Be a good girl, ok?" he told her. The girl nodded, then headed back with her mother. "I'm really getting too used to this," Naruto whispered to himself as he rose back up. As he did, his sight caught the darkening sky and the brightest stars. "Might as well try to contact the Corps again before turning in." He turned towards the Hokage monument, then arced back and began to fly straight up.
"Green Lantern. A moment," he heard below him. Naruto turned around in midair and saw a cloaked, masked ninja crouched on top of the third Hokage's effigy.
"Sure. What's going on?"
"You are to relinquish your ring and come with me at once," the masked ninja said in the same monotone voice. Naruto's response was not as subdued.
"SCREW THAT! Who the heck do you think you are?" he yelled. "You… you can't be one of Baachan's ANBU!"
"I expected this response," the unknown ninja said. "Commence operation."
Dozens of cloaked ANBU with different masks shot out of the shadows of the monument and the village below. With blazing speed, they shot paper tags attached to kunais straight at Naruto. The Green Lantern barely noticed in time and expanded his force field to deflect them. While the knives themselves bounced away, the tags stuck to the aura. Naruto selectively expanded his force field and sent the tags back to his attackers. Most exploded harmlessly as he expected, but others simply puffed. More weapons materialized from the summoning tags, but these appeared inside his shield. Naruto quickly created a second bubble around him and began to spin.
"Midori Kaiten!" The ANBU weapons crashed against Naruto's spinning sphere and bounced away back towards his attackers. Some dodged, while others were hit by their own kunai. Just as Naruto stopped his spin, more ANBU appeared from behind the monument.
"Katon,Gokyaku no jutsu!"
The earth at the mountaintop muddied, and a great dragon's head spat dense shots of wet soil towards the Green Lantern. At the same time, six ANBU lobbed large balls of flame towards the lone ninja. Not wasting any time, Naruto constructed a dense shield that blocked the attacks. More fireballs and mud slammed into it, preventing a direct counterattack. From behind, he saw more attackers closing in.
"Try this!" Without dismissing his shield, Naruto turned his ring behind him. From it emerged his rendering of the snake emotional entity, which rapidly struck all of the oncoming ANBU. The construct, growing longer and longer, then turned around, coiled around the mud bullets and flames, and opened its gaping maw at the jutsu's casters. They were forced to relent and cancel their attacks to dodge the massive snake, which crashed against the dragon and devoured it whole.
A dark, sickly purple box materialized all around Naruto, cutting off the snake construct from the ring and making it disappear. Naruto shot a thick laser at it, and although the cage flickered, it held.
"Dammit!" The jutsu then began to drop, forcing the blond ninja to descend along with it. Soon they landed on an empty street of the village. The bottom of the cage dissolved, but the sides and top kept going down. Just outside of it, four masked ninjas held their arms out, conjuring the prison.
"Surrender yourself and the ring, Lantern, and you will be released," the first ANBU offered.
"You're with that old fart Danzou, aren't you?" Naruto countered. "No deal!" He slammed the ring straight onto the street, then yelled: "Midori Gatsuuga!" The Green Lantern disappeared inside a twisting drill that dug and churned the ground.
"Stop him!" The other Root ninjas expanded the cage to cover the bottom, but by then Naruto was gone. "Where…" Before he could ponder further, the lead ANBU Root felt a rumbling below his feet. He jumped sideways and barely avoided the Green Lantern erupting from where he had stood a few seconds before. The instant the leader landed, Naruto instantly built a catapult below him that then tossed him far away. Naruto allowed himself a moment to joke, constructed a pair of binoculars, and saw that the squad leader landed on a dirty hog sty, which thanks to the tinted lenses looked like it held green pigs.
"That oughta make some angry birds happy," he mused. He dismissed his constructs and eyed as more ANBU rushed towards him. "Can't stay fighting here and risk damaging the village. Hey, morons, over here!" Naruto rose up and flew into the forest behind the Hokage monument, with the remaining ANBU Root ninjas following in close pursuit.
"Hinata, Sakura-chan, Sai, this is Naruto. If you can hear me, I need help ASAP!"
"Communication with unsanctioned ringwielders is forbidden."
"What?" Naruto gawked as he avoided a few fireball jutsus. "What do you mean unauthorized?"
"Non-Green Lantern communication requires Guardian authorization."
"I'm not even gonna ask and wait for your stupid error," Naruto scowled. "Ring, send out an urgent priority-one distress call as far and wide as you can."
"This is Uzumaki Naruto, Green Lantern of Sector 2814. I need immediate assistance. I'm being pursued by special ops teams of my own home country, and they are seeking my ring. To any Green Lanterns in range, please…"
More squads jumped from the treetops in front of Naruto. The Lantern stopped and aimed his ring at them.
"Ninpo, Shintenshin no jutsu!"
His body suddenly tensed and then relaxed. His ring arm dropped despite his mind's protests, and the rest of the ANBU squad surrounded him.
"This is truly something," his mouth voiced despite him not making it do so. "Prepare for capture. I will remove the Lantern ring and... GAAAH!"
Naruto's mind reeled as the intruding thoughts of another screamed in pain. He could feel his body shared it, but he himself was oblivious to it. Suddenly, the Kyuubi's harsh, roaring voice joined together with two others he did not know, and the three yelled in his mind: "GET OUT!" At once, the intruder left his body, and he was back in control.
"What the heck was that?" he wondered.
"Fu!" one of the ninjas yelled.
"Forget about me, get him!" another one said. The remaining ninjas sprang into action, but Naruto beat them to it first.
"Kage Bunshin no jutsu!" Dozens of shadow clones, one for each opposing Root ninja, and each one empowered by the original's ring, materialized around Naruto and engaged his enemies head on. The clones erected constructs of all manner of shapes and sizes, from katanas and kunais to toads and dogs to enhanced projectile weapons from the Metal Country. The ANBU Root ninjas found themselves assailed from all sides, and they were hard pressed to avoid Naruto and his clones' attacks.
"This is impossible," the Root squad members said to themselves.
"If I can't contact the real corps, my clones and I will be it! You want me, you jerks? You got me, and all of the Green Lantern Corps!"
"Warning. Power levels decreasing rapidly. Power levels 36%."
"Keep up the pressure!" Fu yelled. "He can't sustain all those clones with powers for long!"
"I don't need to!" the real Naruto roared back. Aiming his ring high, he let loose with a large beam that split and rained down back towards the ground, striking every one of his attackers head on. The Root assault team collectively collapsed back to the forest, followed closely by Naruto, who swiftly adopted a ready stance.
"Who wants some more?" he smirked. The Root ninjas remained still, unconscious from the Lantern's attack.
"Hello, Naruto-kun," a voice said behind him. Naruto glanced back and saw his cry for help had been answered, at least somewhat.
"Nice of you to join the party, Sai!" he said. "Show these guys a little of what compassion can do."
"Forgive me, my friend," was his reply.
"Will." The last thing Naruto saw was as a blinding flash of green and indigo light enveloped him.
Naruto's head throbbed as he slowly regained consciousness. His sight returned, and he found himself in a dark, open chamber, alone. He tried to stand up, but found his hands were tied behind his back and his legs fastened to a bolted metal chair. He struggled against his bonds, but the knots were tied tight and enhanced by special containment jutsus.
"He is awake," a voice echoed in the chamber. Naruto searched for the source but found nothing. A gentle tap of wood on stone caught his attention. The rhythmic thump filled the room, with each one increasing Naruto's discomfort. He focused his will and made his uniform manifest.
He gasped when nothing happened.
"It's… where did…"
"You will not find your weapon here," an older voice said from behind him. A wooden stick pressed the back of his wrists hard, sending a jolt of pain up Naruto's arm. The mystery person then walked in front of Naruto.
"You're… Danzou?" Another shock went up his arm and spread throughout his body.
"I will be the one asking the questions, Uzumaki Naruto," the old man said. He brought his cane up and held Naruto's chin up. The young ninja glared back despite his ragged breath. "I only have one question for you, and the sooner you answer it, the sooner you can go back to being a loyal Konoha ninja." Casting his non-bandaged eye straight towards Naruto, he asked: "Where is your ring, Green Lantern?"
Naruto's resistant look grew puzzled. "What did you say?" His own question was answered by a resounding thwack to his face from Danzou's cane. Despite being bolted down, the seat moved slightly.
"Again," Danzou said in the same, almost casual tone. "Where is the ring?"
"You don't have it," Naruto realized. The cane struck him again on his cheek.
"Again." Naruto spat some blood and then grinned at Danzou.
"Sucks to be you, then." He braced himself for another hit, but Danzou only tapped his cane on the floor once. He then felt a light touch on the palm of his hand. Soon after, it went numb. As the numbness spread up his arms, he tilted his head sideways as far as he could and barely caught sight of another figure behind him. Before he could ask, the figure clasped his hands together.
His arms nearly tore themselves in burning agony. He instinctively tried to pry them free, but the tight knots held fast and dug deep into his wrists. His whole body trembled and his arms convulsed violently from the pulsing pain. A desperate cry rose from his throat and filled the chamber with his anguish.
And just as fast as it had begun, the suffering ended. His breathing was still harsh but regular. He stared at the ground, eyes wide open, as a leftover sensation lingered in his tender arms.
"This is Torune, of the Aburame clan," Danzou said as he slowly paced back and forth in front of Naruto. "He has a very interesting and unique jutsu even among his peers. Unlike his kinsmen, Torune's kikaichu are microscopic, and can poison you slowly at a cellular level. As you no doubt can tell by now, this is an extremely effective interrogation strategy. And don't worry, Torune has the antidote, so I don't expect there will be too much long-term damage," he added, keeping his tone entirely neutral.
"You… you bastard…" Naruto heaved.
"Now, once again," Danzou continued as he stopped right in front of the blond ninja. "The ring, if you would be so kind?"
"Come closer," Naruto whispered. Danzou bent down to stare right into Naruto's gaze. "Bite me."
Danzou stood up straight again and sighed. "Don't disappoint me," he told the ninja behind the younger one. Naruto bit his lip as the numbing sensation returned to his arms and now spread to his legs.
He lasted five seconds before he passed out.
A lightly cloudy afternoon sky greeted Sakura when she finally finished her nursing duties at the hospital. Though tired, she was excited. Today, Team Gai wanted to train again, and this time Neji would be joining them. Also, Hinata and Sai were free along with Naruto, so the thought of the four Lanterns training together again brought a smile to her face.
Sakura reached into her pocket and felt the smooth surface of her ring. She discreetly ducked into a side alley and placed it on. As her Star Sapphire uniform manifested around her, she breathed deep as her heart swelled with love. For a slight instant, she felt an extra heartbeat. "Now I know how Naruto feels like," she said as she placed her hand on her chest. "I hope you're comfortable in there, Predator, because you'll be staying asleep for a long time," she added half-seriously. She glanced up once more, and shot into the sky in a bright flash of violet light.
"Sakura-san, wait for me," she heard behind her. Sakura turned around and saw another woman encased in a violet aura just like hers.
"Hinata! What a coincidence. Heading to the training site?"
"Yes," the Hyuuga girl nodded. "Neji-niisan met Lee-san and Tenten-san and should be arriving at the training site shortly."
"We better not be late, then," Sakura said. The two Lanterns sped away in unison out towards the training grounds. Sakura observed how Hinata flew straight ahead, looking forward, and with a stable aura and bright ring. "You seem to be adjusting to your ring quickly."
"Oh, yes," she said. "Naruto-kun is an excellent teacher."
"I bet he is," Sakura smirked.
"S-s-s-Sakura-san!" Hinata blushed fiercely.
"I'm just teasing, you Hinata," Sakura giggled. "But I mean it. You seem more in control and confident with it."
"I still have to master it," the Hyuuga Lantern said. She stared up front, and added: "This morning Neji-niisan and I sparred for a while, and we were evenly matched despite my new powers."
"Hm?" Sakura quipped. As Hinata spoke, she could see a hint of a proud smile. "Did you beat him eventually?"
"No. Before we could continue, otou-sama asked me if I could help with some overdue repairs to an older section of the clan compound."
"That's too bad, then."
"It's alright," Hinata shook her head. "In a way, I'm happy."
"Neji-niisan and I barely noticed him, even with our Byakugan. But I do remember his face." Hinata then glanced at Sakura, who was surprised by the sudden glow of her ring aura . "Otou-sama was smiling."
"Hinata..." Sakura whispered. Before she could say anything else, Hinata arced down and landed on the training grounds. Sakura smiled to herself and followed her fellow Sapphire down. When she landed, she found that Team Gai was already present.
"Ready for round two?" Tenten joked at Sakura.
"You bet! I have a few ideas I want to try out."
"Where is Naruto-kun?" Hinata asked. "I imagined he would be here by now."
"It's not normal for Naruto to be late, especially when he is excited about something," Neji mentioned.
"The idiot probably overslept," Sakura scoffed.
"Calm down, Sakura-san. I see him," said Lee. He pointed towards the sky, and the whole group saw a green streak of light closing on where they were.
"That's better," Tenten said. She was about to say something else when the streak passed them overhead and kept going. "What the..."
"Naruto-kun?" Hinata wasted no time and flew in close pursuit of Naruto.
"Wait up, Hinata!" Sakura yelled as she rose and followed her. Team Gai did the same from the ground. When the two Sapphires caught up to the source of the green light, they gasped.
"The ring?" Sakura said.
"Fatal error. No Green Lanterns in observable universe. Unable to deliver message. Unable to locate replacement."
"If the ring is by itself... is Naruto..." Sakura barely said with a raspy voice.
"NO!" Hinata created a dense crystal shell around the green ring. It bumped and crashed against the walls of her construct, but despite its strength Hinata's power held it in check. The two Sapphires descended back to the ground, where Team Gai caught up with them.
"What's wrong?" Neji asked.
"It's just Naruto's ring," Sakura mouthed. "He..."
"That's impossible... Naruto-kun..." Lee stammered.
"Ring, locate Uzumaki Naruto-kun," Hinata told her ring.
"Subject Uzumaki Naruto located within a ten kilometer radius. Unable to pinpoint location. Unidentified energy field hampering scan."
"He's alive," Neji sighed with relief.
"But what happened to him?" Lee asked.
"Fatal error. No Green Lanterns in observable universe. Unable to deliver message. Unable to locate replacement."
"What message?" Sakura asked the ring. "Play it."
"Communication with unsanctioned ringwielders is forbidden."
"You have no choice," Hinata countered, this time with a strict tone of voice none of the others had ever heard from her. "There are no other Green Lanterns to hear it, and no one else for you to pick as a replacement. So deliver your message, and let us save your ringbearer!"
"Hinata..." Sakura uttered as she saw Hinata's reaction to the situation.
The green ring remained silent for a while. Suddenly, Naruto's garbled voice rung out for all of the gathered ninjas to hear: "This is Uzumaki Naruto, Green Lantern of Sector 2814. I need immediate assistance. I'm being pursued by special ops teams of my own home country, and they are seeking my ring. To any Green Lanterns in range, please…" The message cut off suddenly, and then the ring fell silent again.
"Special ops teams?" Tenten questioned. "You don't suppose ANBU..."
"Impossible," Neji countered. "Hokage-sama fully supports Naruto. She would never permit..."
"Danzou," Sakura hissed. "Him and his ANBU Root bastards. They tried to capture Hinata once when she was unconscious, and now they've got Naturo."
"Who?" Lee asked.
"An ultra-secret division of ANBU headed by Shimura Danzou, a former candidate for the Hokage position during Sandaime-sama's time," Sakura explained. "They answer to no one, not even Tsunade-sama, except to him." Sakura punched the ground and left a noticeable crater. "Sai... that bastard... he's probably in on it too! That's why he's not here either!"
"We must inform Hokage-sama immediately," Neji suggested. Despite his usual neutral tone, the others could sense that he too was hiding his concern and anger.
"Neji-niisan, please do," Hinata said. "But I'm going after Naruto." Her and Sakura's ring auras flared.
"Wait, you'll need backup," Lee volunteered.
"There's no time," Sakura said. "Tell Tsunade-sama what's happened. She may know where Root's hideout is. We'll find him."
"But..." Lee protested.
"Understood. Good luck," Tenten told her fellow kunoichi. She and Neji nodded and stepped back, and the two Sapphires were gone in a flash of light. Tenten and her Jounin comrade then turned and jumped to the nearest tree in the direction of Tsunade's office, but stopped when they saw Lee still standing.
"Lee? Come on, we have to get to Hokage-sama," Tenten told him.
"The two of you go ahead. It would be against my nindo to leave Hinata-san and Sakura-san alone against an entire black ops squad!" Before Neji or Tenten could protest, Lee dashed off in pursuit of two Lanterns.
"Lee!" his teammates yelled out, but he was gone by the time their cry left their throats.
"So how do you propose we find him?" Sakura asked Hinata in mid-flight. They closed in on the village, with Hinata still holding Naruto's Green Lantern ring encased in a crystal construct of her creation.
"I... I don't know," she answered.
"Danzou's goons must have some special jutsu that's distorting our ring's scans," Sakura mused. "We'll have to search house by house."
"That will take too long, Sakura-san!" Hinata protested. She stopped and hovered in the air, forcing Sakura to stop as well.
"He's strong, Hinata," Sakura comforted her fellow Sapphire. She placed a hand on her shoulder and said: "He'll hold on until we can find him."
Hinata tensed up and placed a hand over her chest. Her heart began to pump faster. Sakura began to share her deep concern. "Naruto-kun..."
"Star Sapphire Haruno Sakura."
"Star Sapphire Hyuuga Hinata."
The two girls held their rings up in surprise at their sudden announcement. The rings then spoke in unison: "A power-hungry human is placing an eternal love in jeopardy. The heart is being attacked in Sector 2814." The two rings suddenly flashed and projected their combined lights into a much more detailed map of Konoha than before. The signal zoomed in on a very specific spot on the map.
"It's you, Hinata," Sakura smiled. "Your feelings for Naruto... they're allowing our rings to pinpoint where he is!"
Hinata gazed at the map once again. Without having to say anything, her Byakugan activated, and then she closed her hands into tight fists. "Rings, take us there. Now."
The rings again said in unison: "Three hearts attuned. Tether connected." A bright beam of violet light erupted from Hinata's heart and shot out into the distance and back into the village.
"Let's go say hello to Root," Sakura grinned. But just as they were about to depart, they saw a green blur whizz past them.
"Come, Sakura-san, Hinata-san! Naruto is waiting for us!"
"Who... Lee?" Sakura gawked. They sped after him, following the trail of light their rings projected from Hinata's chest.
"Lee-san? What are you doing? It's too dangerous!" Hinata told him once they caught up.
"Naruto-kun is my friend as well. It would be shameful if I didn't help him out too!" Lee said.
"The two of us are the only ones that stand a chance to get Naruto back. We may be going up against all of ANBU Root."
"All the more reason I should join you, Sakura-san!" Lee countered. He looked over his shoulder and gave Sakura a thumbs-up sign. "I told you years ago, during our first Chuunin exam. I'll protect you until the day I die! To protect those that are special to me... that's my nindo!"
"Emotional resonance confirmed."
"What the..." the three of them said.
"Replacement located." The green ring suddenly broke through Hinata's construct. "Rock Lee of the planet Earth. You have the ability to overcome great fear." Without warning, it slipped into his middle right finder.
"Welcome to the Green Lantern Corps."
When Naruto came to, the pain in his extremities subsided under the warm glow of a bright light. He opened his eyes and saw that the indigo light cascaded out of a single pod. Once it subsided, he discerned the wood and coral staff, as well as its owner, Sai.
The bolted chair almost came off its hinges as Naruto lunged at Sai.
"YOU SON OF A BITCH!" Naruto roared. "WHAT DID YOU DO TO ME? WHAT DID YOU DO TO MY RING?"
"Please calm down, Naruto-kun," Sai asked him, "or you may alert the guards."
"I DON'T GIVE A DAMN!" Naruto yelled back. "DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA WHAT I'VE HAD TO GO THROUGH THANKS TO YOU?"
"I do, and I apologize," Sai said as he bowed. "I did not expect Danzou-sama to be so inhospitable to a fellow Konoha ninja."
"To hell with your apologies!" Naruto struggled to break loose again but the binding jutsu held strong. "Get me out of here!"
"I..." Sai stammered for a moment. "I cannot. I am not allowed to disobey Danzou-sama."
"You can't, or won't?" Naruto spat. "Why do you still follow his orders anyway? You've seen what he'll do to get what he wants!"
"I cannot say either," Sai answered. He then opened his mouth and held out his tongue. Just as Naruto was about to yell at him again for the insult, he noticed a seal tattooed on it. "Should I try to divulge information about Danzou-sama, this jutsu would immediately paralyze me completely. And if I were to disobey, I suspect it could even kill me."
"If you're feeling so sorry," Naruto said, "tell me at least if you know where my ring went."
"I'm sorry, I do not," Sai shook his head. "My attack ceased your life signs just long enough for the ring to consider you deceased. While I healed you, the ring flew away to parts unknown."
At this, Naruto went from anger to worry. "Gone? My ring... it's gone?" Sai merely nodded.
Naruto stared at Sai for a few moments, then hung his head down. Sai continued: "I hope you do understand, Naruto-kun. I realize you do not know where it went, so I will see what I can do to release you sooner."
"Trash," Naruto whispered.
"Just remembered my very first lesson from Kakashi-sensei," Naruto continued. "I guess I understand. You're just a ninja following orders."
"Nok," Sai assented. "I'm glad you..."
"'Those who break the rules and codes of the ninja world are called trash'. That's what Kakashi-sensei told us on our very first training session. But then he said something else." Naruto then shot his head up and cast a menacing glare at Sai, one that unnerved the Root ninja.
"Fear," his ring said.
"Those who don't take care of their comrades... ARE WORSE THAN TRASH!"
"Naruto..." Sai whispered.
"Awake once more, I see?" a voice rang out from behind Sai. The Indigo Lantern stepped aside and knelt on one knee in respect. Behind him approached Danzou, and behind him Aburame Torune. "You seem rather vigorous."
"Yeah, thank your lackey for that," Naruto spat, glaring at Sai once more. Danzou followed his sight and examined Sai, who remained absolutely still.
"Interesting. His ring's healing abilities do possess some merit if they were able to restore you despite Torune's poison," Danzou commented with a hint of interest. "But there will be time for that later. Now..." Once again, Torune stood at Naruto's side, Sai stood up behind his master, while Danzou stepped forward and leaned towards him. "Let's begin again. Where is the Green Lantern ring?"
"Don't know. Doesn't matter anymore. Get it over with." He tensed up and waited for Torune's touch. To his mild surprise, it never came.
"Why do you resist? Don't you understand?" Danzou asked him, with what appeared to be a mild attempt at gentleness. "In the proper hands, this power ring could ensure the primacy of Konoha among the rest of the villages. No one would oppose us, not even Orochimaru or Akatsuki. I simply wish for the ring to be in more... capable hands."
"And by that, I guess you mean you, right old man?" Naruto guessed. "Maybe I'm not the best ninja yet. But even if the ring hadn't picked me, it would pass you up in a heartbeat. You're just a greedy, cowardly old fart that hides in the shadows and lets his goons do the dirty work. All you want the ring for is for your own good, not Konoha's! What the hell do you know about sacrifice, fighting for what you believe, and willpower?"
"Sacrifice?" Danzou repeated. "I don't know sacrifice?"
Before he knew it, Naruto found himself tossed back to the ground, still tied to the chair, which was ripped from its bolts from the sheer strength of Danzou's strike. Before he had a chance to grunt, Danzou was at his throat. "You insolent little brat! What do you know about sacrifice?" the old man yelled. His uncovered eye shot open and stared hatefully right at the blonde ninja. "Do you have any idea what I've sacrificed, who I've lost, to ensure Konoha's safety? I watched my mentor, Nidaime-sama, lose his life just to protect our lowly squad! I've turned dozens of capable ninjas into soulless weapons all in the service of the village! I've given my eye and arm to the gain of the Leaf! Why did such a weapon choose a lowly, no-talent hack whose only purpose is to hold the Kyuubi? Tell me that, Uzumaki Naruto! TELL ME!" Naruto could not answer the old man's rambling, whose hands tightened around his throat and made him gasp for air.
"Danzou-sama, if you continue, you may kill..."
"NOT ANOTHER WORD!" Danzou turned and yelled at Sai. "I've had enough of your insolence as well! If you question me again, I will rethink my decision to let you keep your own ring!" He then returned his attention to Naruto. "And as for you, Jinchuuriki..."
He let go of Naruto the moment he saw a thin beam of violet light touch the boy's chest.
"Tether targeted. Heartbreaker located." The light then slammed the old man's heart and sent him reeling. Naruto coughed and drew in a big gulp of air.
"What..." Danzou, and then the rest of the gathered ninjas glanced up. A descending, glowing green flash illuminated the chamber, revealing its massive network of caverns, bridges, and central spire. Flanked by two violet sources of light, the three figures descended and cratered the ground upon landing near the group.
"In brightest day, in blackest night,
the power of youth fuels my might!
To those that serve injustice and fright,
Konoha's Green Beast will set you right!"
"Th... Thick-Brows?" Naruto gawked. In between Sakura and a really angry-looking Hinata, Rock Lee beamed and flaunted the Green Lantern ring that now adorned his right middle finger. His uniform was the standard Lantern one Naruto wore initially, but his aura was noticeably different from the former Green Lantern. Lee's pulsed and raged as a roaring flame, lighting up the massive chamber with its fiery dance.
"Stop them!" Danzou yelled. At once the chamber filled with dozens of masked ANBU Root ninjas, all ready to attack. But before even the first few began making hand seals, Lee was among them all, kicking, punching, and somersaulting the squadron so quickly that all anyone could see were blurs.
"Are you alright, Naruto?" Sakura asked while Hinata cut the harnesses and overpowered the jutsus holding him prisoner.
"Yeah. How did…"
"We got your ring. Hinata and I were coming to rescue you when Lee joined up. Apparently it was enough for the ring to pick him in your stead."
Naruto watched as Lee continued his assault on the ANBU. Much like his ninja skills, he did not use any constructs, but rather relied on a massive speed and strength boost provided by the ring to fell his opponents. Whether he was unable to create constructs or did not want to, Naruto couldn't tell. Not that it seemed to matter; for every new Root that appeared, three fell under Lee's relentless assault.
"You traitors!" Danzou yelled. "How dare you attack…" He had to stop and dodge an incoming blast from Hinata.
"If you harm Naruto-kun again, I won't forgive you!" the raven-haired Sapphire threatened as she dashed over Sakura and Naruto and nearly crushed Danzou with a ball-and-chain construct.
"Insufferable little witch! Sai, do not let the Jinchuuriki get away!"
After a moment's hesitation, Sai slowly stepped towards Sakura and Naruto. "I… I must…"
"Not one step closer," Sakura spit as she summoned a hail of kunai constructs.
"WOOHOO! WATCH ME, GAI-SENSEI! THE POWER OF YOUTH TRULY SHINES THIS DAY!" Lee yelled enthusiastically as he tore effortlessly through the ranks of Root. The few ninjas that were able to cast any jutsu found that the Green Lantern's overloaded aura dispelled them completely. Seconds later, any jutsu caster found himself at the receiving end of Lee's attacks.
"Warning. Willpower exceeding power ring capabilities. Power levels 23%."
"Do you have any idea who I am, little girl?" Danzou asked as he blocked a palm strike from Hinata with his cane.
"I do. You're the one that ordered Naruto-kun's capture. That is enough for me." Danzou blocked her next attack from her right hand, but before he could counter she summoned a crystal collar, wrapped it around his neck, and tossed him face-down to the ground.
"Please, Sakura-san, I do not wish to fight you," Sai said as he blocked another swarm of kunai from her ring using a green shield.
"Then stand down! I'm not backing off!" She then created a coffin around Sai and snapped it shut. Sai quickly broke through by expanding an aura of green and indigo light that popped the prison open.
"I must follow Danzou-sama's orders. Forgive me, Sakura-san. Ninpo, Ai Choujo Giga!" Without warning, he created numerous indigo-hued, artistic-styled animals that surrounded Sakura and Naruto.
"I can fight!"
"Leave this to me, Naruto," Sakura said. Sai's jutsu beasts leapt forward. Sakura encased Naruto in a violet bubble, then created spiked crystal knuckles for herself. A wolf leapt at her, and Sakura promptly punched it hard enough to dissipate the beast in a splash of ink. A tiger pounced while she recovered, but Sakura twisted at the last second and kicked the construct in the gut, making it promptly vanish. She dodged and counterattacked each animal as it approached, and despite Sai refreshing the technique continuously, Sakura deftly dispatched the pack. Sai then increased the pressure, summoning a massive green bear. Sakura tightened her knuckles and punched his construct in the stomach with her massive strength, but this time the apparition held strong, much to her shock.
"Finish this quickly," Sai commanded. The bear construct took a massive swing at Sakura, who barely ducked under its claw and kicked it hard in the knees. The bear buckled but fell deliberately in an attempt to crush Sakura. The violet Lantern rapidly summoned a spiked shield construct right above her that impaled the bear. Sai waved his hand, and his animal morphed into a heavy squid that began to reach below Sakura's shield.
"You are surrounded, Sakura-san," Sai told her. "I know of your constructs' weakness and solidity."
"You're right, they're not malleable," Sakura answered. "But no one said I couldn't improvise!" With that, more violet crystals began to grow around the existing shield, adding to its mass until they became finely sharp edges. With a deft move, Sakura sliced the squid's tentacles, then grew the shield's crystal spikes until they skewered Sai's construct whole. Once it dissolved, her construct broke apart, and then reformed into a copy version of the Predator. "Let's see how much you really like animals!"
"Someone stop him!" Torune yelled at the few remaining Root ninjas.
"WOOOOAAAAHHH!" Lee roared. His willpower and speed tore through his opponents with such ferocity that a single kick toppled half a dozen ninjas, and a single punch sent shockwaves of air and chakra all around him. Fuu did his best to try and cast a mental jutsu, but it was all he could do to follow the emerald blurs all around him. One lucky ninja managed to cast a shadow bind jutsu that slowed Lee for a mere instant, allowing Torune, his skin already purple from the concentration of microscopic bugs on it, to grab the overloaded Green Lantern in an attempt to poison him.
Torune let go of Lee, his whole skin smoking and pale, as the contact with the Lantern's flaming aura eradicated the bugs.
"That was too close!" Lee said. "Let's try this out!" He turned his ring at Torune and concentrated. It took two seconds, but he let out a faint, scruffy-looking copy of Gai that knocked out Torune.
"Warning. Will power exceeding power ring capabilities. Power levels 16%."
"You insolent little Hyuuga," Danzou hissed as he stood up, his back turned towards Hinata. "If I had known you were capable of such treachery, I would have ordered you killed the moment you arrived at the hospital."
"Your words are meaningless," Hinata countered. "We're taking Naruto-kun, and you will leave us alone from now on."
"You really have no idea what I'm capable of, don't you?" Danzou then let the bandages around his left eye, already torn from Hinata's earlier attack, slip down and fall to the ground. "You will regret ever having challenged me!" He turned around.
"Is that..." Hinata gasped. Her Byakugan ability saw a massive rise in the old man's chakra, all concentrated around the unwrapped eye.
"Sharingan!" Danzou yelled. Hinata took a step back from the surprise, while the three tomoe around his red eye began to spin. When he took a deep breath, Hinata readied herself. "Futon, Shinkugyoku!" A forceful gust of wind erupted from Danzou's mouth, and Hinata created a wall of crystal in front of her for protection. Even so, bullets of super-dense air blasted the construct, some of them even passing through from sheer attrition. The instant the jutsu ended, Danzou took another deep breath. "Futon, Shinkuha!" A blade of concentrated wind rushed towards Hinata. The Star Sapphire flew up just in time as Danzou's attack finally broke her construct.
"He... he destroyed my crystal? How..."
"You have no time to dawdle, girl," Danzou said from just behind her. "Futon, Shi..."
Danzou stopped and raised his formerly hidden right arm to block Lee's sudden strike. The Green Lantern's leg struck massive gauntlets that covered his entire bandaged arm. Despite the Lantern-enhanced kick, the Root leader's protection held.
"The Sharingan sees all, boy. Even your new speed."
"Konoha Daisenpuu!" Lee spun in midair and aimed another strong kick at Danzou's face. In the split second he spun, Danzou grabbed Hinata and tossed her to his side, right in the path of Lee's attack. Lee desperately tried to hold back, but by the time he noticed he'd already hit Hinata below her ribcage.
"GYAH!" she screamed as she was sent flying back down and then struck the ground hard.
"HINATA-SAN!" Lee yelled, horrified as to what he'd done. This let Danzou slam his gauntlet onto Lee and lariat him back down to the floor. Lee broke free and in a split second somersaulted back, and rushed at Danzou with a strong right hand punch. Danzou's Sharingan allowed him to anticipate and block the strike, but Lee pivoted his arm just enough so the ring was aimed right at Danzou's temple.
"Gotcha!" Lee grit his teeth and poured his will into the ring.
"Warning. Willpower exceeding power ring capabilities. Power levels 7%."
"As I thought," Danzou said. "Despite your enthusiasm and resolve, your willpower is inadequate for the ring." The old ninja twisted his arm and locked Lee's, then performed a single one-handed seal. "Futon,Shinkugyoku!" At point blank range, the air bullets smashed against Lee's chakra and Lantern aura. Though the latter blunted the attack, Danzou's jutsu struck him hard and sent him crashing close to Sakura.
"Lee-san!" Sakura rushed to his aid, but in that split second Sai encased her in a thick, solid force field of indigo and green light.
"Good work, Sai," Danzou said. "Now, take all their rings and give them to me."
"You damned fart!" Out of nowhere, dozens of clones leapt towards Danzou, but in a single motion Danzou struck them all and made them vanish in puffs of smoke.
"I'm not done with you yet, Jinchuuriki. You're next." The real Naruto stood defiantly in between Danzou and a recovering Hinata.
"Dammit, Sai, can't you see it now?" he asked his former teammate. "You said we were friends! Are you really going to betray friends to this greedy bastard?"
"I… I'm of the foundation of the Leaf…"
"YOU'RE BREAKING THE VERY FOUNDATION OF TRUST THE LEAF STANDS FOR!" Naruto pleaded.
"You're truly deluded, boy," Danzou scoffed. "The world of the ninja is one of emotionless battle. Only tools to be used to enforce peace. Sai knows that. You do not. Now, take their rings!"
"I... you…" Sai hesitated again.
"Give me their rings, Sai, NOW!"
"Sai, you know better than this!" Naruto pleaded. "Where's your compassion?"
"That's enough." Danzou made a quick seal with his hands. Sai silently gasped and collapsed to the ground, clutching at his throat.
"Sai! What are you doing to him?"
"A dulled tool is worthless, and must be discarded." Danzou tightened his fingers, and Sai gasped again.
"SAI!" The young Root ninja's eyes suddenly shot open, his pupils replaced by the Indigo Tribe's symbol.
"Ler orak te Sai. Luca. Klok ner!" an echoing voice from his ring and mouth rang forth. Sai stuck out his tongue, where Danzou's root seal had expanded all over it. His hand swiftly moved to his face, and his ring blasted a beam that created a second seal on top of Danzou's.
"You!" Danzou yelled and lunged at Sai. The Lantern swiftly stood up and stabbed the bottom tip of his staff to the ground, sending a shockwave that knocked his superior back. The instant Danzou landed in a kneeling position, Sai expanded the sphere that covered Sakura to encase Naruto, Hinata, an unconscious Lee and himself as well.
"NO!" Danzou roared. He dashed towards the Lantern group, but by the time he took a third step they were gone.
"You alright, Thick-Brows?"
Lee groggily sat up and massaged his head. He glanced up and saw Naruto sitting next to him, now wearing his Green Lantern uniform again and the emerald power ring. "Naruto-kun? When did you..."
"I'm back, I guess. The ring picked me again when you passed out."
"That was some serious power, Naruto-kun," Lee commented looking downward.
"Hey, don't be like that!" Naruto cheered him. "You kicked some major butt with it! When I find the Corps I'll put in a good word for you."
Lee glanced past Naruto, seeing Sakura and Hinata talking while standing and Sai floating in midair, his back towards the others. Looking around, he saw they were in a small forest clearing. "Where are we?" he asked.
"Somewhere outside Konoha," Naruto told him. "Sai sorta… I dunno, teleported us out of Danzou's lair."
"We took us to safety," Sai said with a deeper tone of voice. "Danzou would have captured us all, and taken the lights for himself."
"That… doesn't sound like Sai-kun," Lee commented.
"We are still Sai," he answered. "But we are also much more. Sai's compassion faltered upon conflict with his lifelong duty. But our duty to the light, and to all life, is above the petty interests of a single human."
"You… you're the indigo ring?" Sakura deduced.
"Correct, Star Sapphire," the Indigo Lantern nodded. "There is much to do to prevent the dark vision your sister in light saw from coming to pass."
"Never mind that!" Naruto protested. "Let Sai go now!"
"Calm yourself, Green Lantern," Sai said. "We shall, once the time is right."
"What is that supposed to mean?" Lee asked.
"Sai must learn the true nature of compassion before he is fully prepared. We will see to that," his ring explained. "The rest of you have another important task ahead of you." A thick mist flowed from Sai's indigo pod, then formed a screen that projected an image of seven rings, each one with a different symbol. "Like your rings, we were damaged as we emerged into this world. But we know that all seven lights have come, and will soon choose their Lanterns if they have not done so already."
"Green, indigo, violet and yellow are accounted for," Sakura said. "What about the others?"
"And... the entities? They too?" Hinata added.
"The red ring has almost certainly chosen a bearer. Such is the gripping nature of rage. The orange light of avarice will similarly seek a suitable owner. And like your entity of love, a strong presence may evoke the awakening of the other emotional embodiments."
"What do you want to do?" Naruto asked. "I say we go find these other bad Lanterns and kick their butts!"
"You three have another important task. The final light will not choose a bearer lightly, for they must possess a deep resolve for the sacredness of life. Seek out the blue light of hope. Only then, united, will we be ready."
"Ready for what?" Naruto quipped. "Why can't you rings talk any sense?"
"We empathize with your frustration. Perhaps once the lights are gathered, we may answer. For now, we must take our leave. Remember our counsel. Farewell, fellow Lanterns." With that, the indigo mist enveloped Sai, and in a flash of light, he was gone. The four ninjas were left alone in the dark forest.
"Ok, so... where do we start looking?"
Author's blurb: …
F$#ing pigs. Excuse me while I go play some more Angry Birds. DIE, PIGS; DIE!
Hopefully by now everyone's ok with my delays, and knows that I do intend to finish this story. At least this time I have a good excuse. Let's just say I met the Star Sapphire of my life :)