Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto, its storyline, or characters. However, this fanfiction is based on Naruto, and is my creation. THE GENERAL PLOTLINE WAS INSPIRED BY -brezoflower- 's story, If I Knew Then What I Know Now! Read her story too, it's awesome. XD
C O L L A T E R A L - N A S C E N C E
Chapter One: The Beginning of the End
Must keep running - I MUST! Sakura's mind screamed as she hurtled through blue-misted, foreign woods.
The eighteen-year old clutched at her wounded shoulder, her arm flapping uselessly at her broken ribcage. She stumbled painfully on an ancient root poking from the earthen ground and recovered herself quickly. However, she felt - she knew...her enemy was drawing near, looming with the heady feeling of death and carnage.
Dead...the archaic willows and oaks moaned to her, tossing their branches and dying leaves. Sakura let out a strangled sob. They're all dead...
She blundered on, skidding to a stop when she reached the outskirts of a cliff. Footsteps behind her.
This is it. Kakashi-sensei's dead. Naruto...gone, and who knows what those cursed Akatsuki are doing to he and his demon. Sasuke...
Sakura squeezed her eyes shut, a few tears escaping.
Slowly, the ninja turned around to face the ever-drawing near footsteps. She clutched a chipped kunai, her last weapon. I...Mom, I'm scared. But you're long dead too, aren't you? And Father...I'll...I'll be joining you guys soon. But I'll make you proud - I promise! I'll take down as many as I can...with me...
"Girl..." came the soft murmur. Sakura snapped her eyes open, narrowing them slowly at the figure in front of her. Her fingers tightened around her kunai.
She spared no words, and dematerialized in front of him, appearing behind his back. Now! all of her being, screamed. The kunai in her hand swerved in a descent, arcing through the air into his back, into the black and red cloak, into the midnight-blue locks that reminded her so much of...
There was a movement behind her, and suddenly the man in front of her wasn't there. A stinging pain made itself known in her unwounded shoulder. Sakura numbly looked down at the offending spot and dully acknowledged a katana tip protruding there.
She witnessed the katana slide back out of her body.
"One shoulder stabbed, the other, dislocated," murmured the deep voice behind her. "Three broken ribs, a fractured arm, a swollen ankle, and numerous other cuts. You've held up well, kunoichi."
A strong arm lifted Sakura from the back by her collar, then slowly turned her to face him.
Deep, familiar black eyes melted into blood-red. Three spikes reminiscent of the torture device, the Catherine wheel, twirled lazily.
"Mangekyo Sharingan," came the whisper.
So it ends, Sakura thought dully, her mouth muted by the blood slowly pouring out of it.
Uchiha Itachi hesitated - hesitated!
His eyes slowly reverted to it's inky black hue.
"My foolish brother...he loved you."
But he's dead...Sakura wanted to scream...Because you killed him!
Itachi released his grip on her shirt and she collapsed to the ground. It took her awhile to realize he was no longer there.
"DAMMIT, KILL ME!" she screamed after him. "I don't want to live - KILL ME!"
There was no response.
Choked sobs rose from her throat. Sakura pulled her bleeding body up from the coarse grass, then sprinting -
See you there, everyone...
- threw herself off the cliff.
Her body - falling, falling.
An amused voice resonated from above her, and below, from all sides... Gave up, eh?
"What else is there?" Sakura moaned, still free-falling and delirious with pain.
The voice turned scornful. Pitiful girl. We all have troubles you know.
Sakura didn't dare open her eyes. Was she dead? But something compelled her to answer the mysterious voice.
"Giving up? Ha. There's nothing to give up. Everyone I love...dead. Yeah, we all have troubles, but...why am I even talking to you? I don't know who you are."
Her body seemed to stop in midair, cushioned by an invisible force. Sakura opened her eyes and saw above her the cliff she had thrown herself off. She cautiously tilted her head down, and saw that twenty feet beneath her was ground.
"Oh god," she whispered in shock.
The deep voice, which sounded kind of feminine behind its rough quality, chuckled her. The sound resonated all around the teenager's body.
Who am I? You amuse me with your boldness. Very well then. I am an uncaptured demon, a ten-tailed Nekomata. I've inhabited this sacred mountain for quite awhile, almost to the point I was forgotten. Not that I have a problem with that. I'm not foolish enough to set my bloodlust and rage upon villages, just to get captured and detained like my brothers and sisters.
"Oh god," Sakura repeated. A ten-tailed cat demon - she could be obliterated in an instant!
Warm air cocooned Sakura, and a slight wind picked up all around her.
You smell...as if you've met some demons before. Yes, I scent two of my brothers. Tanuki-chan...Kitsune-chan...
"Y-yes...I've met the human containers of the Shukaku and the Kyuubi, if that's what you mean," Sakura said nervously.
Give them my regards.
A cry of anguish rose in Sakura's throat. "You don't understand! They've been ripped from their hosts by the Akatsuki. The containers are long dead, and your brothers are probably going to be harnessed for their power to use and capture other demons!"
The air seemed to still around her suspended body.
You have...mentioned that you've lost everyone dear to you. My brothers' containers...were they one of them?
You want revenge, don't you...?
A terrible fury welled up in the kunoichi. "Yes. Yes! I must avenge them. The Akatsuki will pay..."
The Akatsuki captured my brothers to use their power, you say. And the Akatsuki also killed your human friends...
There was a moment of silence between Sakura and the Nekomata.
You - mortal. I'm giving you my trust. I will suspend time and send you back into the past. I'm giving you a second chance, see. In this borrowed time, you must defeat the Akatsuki and prevent my brothers and your friends from getting captured or killed. If you fail, time will revert itself to where we are now. You will not remember me or the chance I'm giving you, and you will also plummet down the rest of the twenty feet to your death.
Sakura drew in a heavy breath. "Could you - could you really do that? Make me 12-years old again, and let me prevent my friends' deaths and the demon captures?"
The kunoichi realized something quickly with an overwhelming fear. "What if - in that time, something changes? Like the Akatsuki attack earlier than normal? I'll have the mind and strength of a 12-year old. I won't be able to stop them if that happens!"
Cunning of you. What a mistake I would of made, had you been the child you were! There are no second chances. Then, I will allow you the mind and strength of how you are right now as an 18-year old, but you will be 12. You can still grow - like turning 13 and having the mind and strength of a 19-year old, and turning 14 and so on. And time to time, I might even lend you my power, if I'm in a circumstance that my power can reach through the time paradox. You seem worthy of it...
"Thank you...Thank you!" Sakura cried. For the first time in such a long while, she was beginning to have hope...
See you in the past.
A terrible inky darkness enveloped Sakura's body, and then around her was the weightlessness of death.
"Sakura! Wake up, you're going to be late!"
Sakura sleepily opened her eyes, only to have her pupils hit with blinding sunlight.
In a startled frenzy, she jumped from bed and did a double-take. A bed? Not the floor? And sunlight. Strange.
The eighteen-year old looked up and saw a mirror across from the bed. Eighteen? No! She was a child! Short, slender, barely affected by puberty - what in the world had happened?
In a second, all of what happened in the past - or future - rushed back to her.
"The Nekomata..." Sakura murmured in perplexity. Then, a bright grin enveloped her face. She was twelve again. But what a twelve-year old! Though her body didn't show it, her muscles felt boundless strength. She felt herself brimming with her powerful chakra, capable of inhuman strength and a woman's mind capacity.
"Sakura!" sounded the singing wake-up call from downstairs. "You alive yet?"
More so than ever. But please…don't let me fail this second time…
To be continued...