Chapter 74: It's official. Anyone who decides to go by the name of Madara Uchiha inherits the ability to be an S-class asshole and S-class troll. May the log have mercy on all your souls.
I don't own Naruto, any of its characters, or any references in this story. If I did, horrible things would happen. Neither do I own any other anime that I reference. I do own all OCs and new jutsu in the story.
o. o. o.
Ōgakari Compound Training Ground:
"So when do you think Hana will come over to kick your ass for not helping out the brat's group?" Shadow asked curiously as she sat on a small hill and looked down at her meditating brother. It had been several days since they had freaked out their new students, and so far the pair had yet to hear anything from them, not that they were worried.
"A few more days to a week." Ghost shrugged calmly while in a lotus position, memorizing and feeling every small gentle breeze that occurred within a several mile radius of his person. "I made the videos so that she and Anko could watch them as well, even though the kids don't know it yet."
"We really are horrible examples of human good will, aren't we?" Shadow chuckled sarcastically as she twirled her right hand casually and caused several massive spears of darkness to shoot from her silhouette and arc towards her brother. "But then again, we are also tainted with the mentality of immortals…" In their descent, the long constructs shed their outer layer of darkness to reveal the smooth crystalline surface of diamonds…
She watched unsurprised as said diamond lances disintegrated in midair via an unseen source before they even got close to their target.
Again and again, objects designed for impalement materialized from the host of the Sky Mother and bore down on her elder sibling, each salvo made of different materials and compounds ranging from organic to alloys that had no real name in human tongues. Regardless, each and every one of them shared the same fate of turning to dust as soon as they were fully materialized by the unseen invisible force.
Shadow smirked. "No matter how many times I see it in action, I never get tired of it. That trick of yours really is something terrifying, brother. Oscillating and grinding air particles at the right frequency and amplitude to erode away anything physical within mere moments, regardless of composition. War Scars may be your favorite air based technique, but this one is by far your most intimidating."
It was almost amusing. Shadow possessed the ability to create virtually anything she wanted from the element that represented the concept of nothing the best, darkness. Likewise, Ghost had the ability to destroy - or to be more specific, remove from existence - anything he wished through the element that represented the concept of destruction the best, fire.
It was ironic… considering the fact that…
"Only if someone is left to actually remember or react to it, sister." Ghost replied with an equal grin. "It's a shame that the minion can't learn this, though. Hypersensitivity to wavelength activity is an extremely rare ability these days."
"You make it sound like you had it to begin with, too." Shadow rolled her eyes. "The only reason why you have it in the first place is because you're blind and used your Seventh Sense to enhance your tuning abilities when you were screwing around with musical instruments for fuck knows how long."
The blind immortal snorted. "I accidentally developed the ability to determine perfect pitches and compound frequencies. So sue me. If you hate it so much, I won't tune your bass anymore…"
The sugar crazed sister gasped. "No. No. There's need to drag in innocents into this. Princess Lucy deserves only the best care possible, and you are included into that category."
"I thought so." The elder brother chuckled before two sets of ringing interrupted the pair's minor clash of threats. "Hm?" The man mused curiously as he took out a small device that instantly projected a small screen in front of him, ignoring the fact that Shadow was doing the same thing. "Now that's odd. Normally the boys in the family don't bother to call us for any favors since they can handle most problems by themselves. I wonder what's… happening…" He paused as he briefly scanned the message in front of him and then read it rapidly once more without moving in the slightest.
The air was silent as neither sibling moved from their spot.
"You're not going." Ghost stated from behind his sister, wings and fire already out in their entire terrifying glory, and his face covered by his shattered black mask. His change in location had been faster than instantaneous. It was if reality had given way to his will, which had stated that he would be in another location without any travelling, motion, hint, process, or sign that he would be doing so. The rules of the world no longer applied to this existence in the shape of a human.
"I want to ensure that the bastard stays in that hell personally…" Shadow growled menacingly back at her brother, her eyes had warped such that one of them was ice blue and the other was a raging burning pink. Her skin had slowly began to alter itself to resemble flawless silver scales across her body… only the crevices between each one leaked out a faint black mist that saturated with relentless power.
"I wish to contribute to the infidel's punishment as well." The Sky Mother's voice came from the girl's mouth in barely restrained savage agreement.
Both females knew that their wish would not be granted so easily…
Atlas. The curse of forcing the weight of the sky onto a target's being. It was one of the few pure air element curses in existence that did not involve the target's biological structure or reactance to different gasses, and it was among the strongest at that…
And in the single imaginary instant in time that Ghost had taken to move behind his sister, he had imposed the entirety of all the air under his control in this pocket dimension onto her, anchoring her in her spot despite her heightened state. As of the moment… the woman was not sitting on a small hill, but in the center of a small crater several dozen meters in radius.
"Do not think less of me, sister and master. I am merely doing my job." Ghost stated calmly, despite not moving in the slightest. "That man is taboo around you two for a reason, not that anyone can hold it against you, and should he manage to escape the prison we crafted and take advantage of you like last time…"
"That was over a millennia ago!" Shadow snapped while slowly growing in power. "I learned from my mistakes, brother! I will not…"
"You have already let your lingering emotions get the better of you. We all know that the curse he imposed upon you has always affected your judgment and emotions." The masked man spoke emptily, causing his sister to become quiet rather quickly. "There is a reason why he was considered our equal. The ability to manipulate any and all manner of bonds in existence is a significantly terrifying power to experience firsthand… you more than anyone else know this, and it is the only reason why we have left him alive. His existence is required to keep things balanced."
"Do not forget what he has done to myself and my container… of how great the impact of his curse had upon her… and what he had done to you. We all deserve our closure when it comes to that disrespectful existence of an individual." Zuzushi's voice countered scathingly, causing Ghost to still more than he was already if that was possible. "Regardless, you make it sound like you are less of a fearsome existence than he is… God of None…"
Had Shadow not been utterly enraged by her current situation at the moment, she would have been feeling somewhat apprehensive and dare she admit it… scared… of her brother as of then. Of ALL the things that a person could call the man known as Ghost… addressing him by his unwanted official title was the absolute worst thing to do. Even the vast majority of gods in existence knew better than to do such a thing… especially after what he did in the Thousand Night War…
Hell. He was the reason why the incident was called the Thousand Night War in the first place…
The black flame wielder remained quiet before the weight on his sister instantly increased in intensity, and the crater beneath her instantly grew several thousand meters in radius and depth. A normal human would be turned to paste under this weight before they even knew that they were dead. A Bijū would most likely be unable to move a muscle for years on end… however, despite the severity of the pressure, it only caused the woman to hiss somewhat in pain and irritation as she sunk to a knee.
"Do not assume that I have forgotten or forgiven the overachieving fool for what he did to us or that I will ever do so. However, do not also assume that I will forget you calling me my title either, Sky Mother. Your immaturity only vindicates my decision to restrain you here. Waltz, Crypt and I will be the ones to ensure that the prick stays where he is. You will stay in this universe to monitor things while we are gone, and Scabbard will proceed to manipulate things from behind the scenes."
Shadow chuckled darkly as her Presence rose, increasing its savage and powerful intensity until there was nothing left to the sensation but primal power whose essence predated instinct itself. She now was defined as the point at which all things had come from. A single place that possessed such indefinable power and possibility that those who could retain their sanity for a long enough time would be able to determine or assume that it was the source of all creation and potential... "You know that we will not simply roll over and agree to your request, brother…" She growled menacingly as she stood up straight, despite the tremendous mass that had been imposed onto her being.
All around them, the world began to shake as pockets of darkness appeared, both in the sky and in the ground, as if reality had suddenly began to develop holes in its supposedly perfect structure and give way to the female's greater will, giving birth to shapeless unknown existences that emerged from the countless wombs that had appeared.
Reality was breaking, and neither sibling cared in the slightest.
"I did not expect you to." The God of None replied in an emotionless tone as the unraveling world they were in suddenly stood still…
o. o. o.
"Freedom!" Shouted a one eyed blonde boy as he stepped outside for the first time in a week. It was a fairly good day with a few clouds in the sky and the temperature was warm enough that most people were beginning to wear lighter attire.
"Brat, keep your mouth shut or else I'll make this a temporary leave." Tsunade grunted tiredly as she followed Naruto into the sun.
Shizune giggled behind her master as she walked behind her master. "You can't blame him, Tsunade-sama. You know how he hates hospitals, not to mention the fact that he's been interrogated relentlessly the entire time on the incident."
"I still can't believe that he complained to the council that the questioners from Iwa were doing a shitty job and that we should just get Ibiki or Anko to replace him." The Hokage rolled her eyes with a hint of amusement.
"Well, in my opinion, those two did get to the point of their questions much faster than he did." The brunette smiled sheepishly before turning to Naruto who was acting like a string of firecrackers in a tin can from the way he was jumping up and down and looking everywhere at once. "Naruto! Calm down or else we will have to keep you in the hospital some more!"
"Hell no!" The boy snapped childishly. Looking closer at the blonde, one would notice that half of his head and one of his eyes was covered by bandages. "I'm not getting stuck in that damn building anymore! Especially if all I'll be doing there is answering the same annoying questions over and over again!"
"How do you think I feel?" Tsunade crossed her arms and glared at her young distant relative. "I have to manage this entire clusterfuck because I'm your commanding officer. When I'm not making sure your team's recovering properly, I'm dealing with telling the same story over and over again to nobles and Daimyō so that we don't end up going to war."
The youngest one there glared at the Hokage with his good eye for a few moments before sighing in defeat. "Yeah. You have a point there. I only have to deal with a bunch of idiots that think I can't make a solid decision to save my life because of my age. You have to deal with all those guys that don't even know what they're doing half the time but actually treat you as if you're a threat so you can't tell if they're planning something bad or stupid."
"To be honest, I consider you part of that category as well." Tsunade grinned darkly.
"That's not fair, though!" The boy moaned childishly. "You can't prepare for the crap that we went through and you know it. Of course I was making up stuff on the fly as things happened! Hell, I set the bar on how well you can deal with missions impulsively and get away with stuff."
"Hopefully it's a bar that no one will ever manage to surpass…" Shizune muttered under her breath, terrified of the day that someone actually did manage to pull such a stunt.
"Don't say that to Gai." Tsunade replied in a hushed tone. "He'd actually take it as a challenge."
"That's a terrifying thought." Naruto shivered before calming down again. "I forgot to ask. Baa-chan, other than me, who else is healed and out of the white building of offensive smells?"
The Hokage's eyebrow twitched. "If you must know, everyone save for Sai, Lee and Neji are deemed fit enough to go home, though almost all of them are still required to check in every few days to make sure that they are recovering properly." She stared down at the boy dangerously. "That goes double for you, brat. I've never seen an eye grow back before via regeneration, so I want you to visit every damned day so I can study that thing growing in your skull and make sure it's at least developing the way it should be." Her eyes flashed. "And trust me, I'll know if you try to skip out on your appointments."
The jinchūriki's demeanor calmed down as he started at her casually. "Let me guess. It has something to do with the two teams of ANBU hidden around here that happen to be watching our every move."
Shizune nodded, not that surprised that the boy had picked up on their hidden agents nearby so quickly. "Han is still being treated here so that he can be transported to Iwa later. As such, there are many ANBU from his village lingering here so that there isn't any foul play on our part, but in the meantime, we have to make sure that nothing happens to you as well. You are a greater asset to us than Han is to his home, and the revelation of your identity will not sit well with many of them. Please understand that we have to take precautions."
"Yeah, yeah." The younger blonde pouted, knowing what she was saying was true. "Just don't be surprised if I try to ditch them at some point 'cause I want some privacy." He paused before looking at the two elder women skeptically. "Speaking of privacy, have you found out anything about what happened to Ero-nii and Shadow-nee?"
Shizune and Tsunade looked at one another before sighing defeated as they recalled the incident.
Several days ago, when things were still a bit on the hectic side, a massive commotion was felt and heard from the Ōgakari compound. The killing intent and shaking was so intense that it was impossible for anyone to get close to the area without having them collapse under the pressure. It had gotten to the point where several shinobi from Iwa had joined in on trying to figure out what was happening in the mercenary's home from the outside…
When roughly a third of the house was literally blown into ashes by a massive beam of pure energy that reminded many of the more experienced Iwa shinobi of Ōnoki's Dust element techniques. The mere shockwave of the unexpected explosion alone was enough to send everyone there back at least several hundred meters, and several of those thrown had experienced injuries of varying ranges, though thankfully none were lethal or permanent. Further into the village, many windows and fragile objects had shattered upon experiencing the shockwave, causing many to panic greatly.
When everything had calmed down, those who were deemed the most capable and willing to enter the building (Hana and Anko) had decided to look inside to see what or who had happened…
Among the ruins deep inside the building, they had found Shadow lying in the middle of the clan's training ground, or what was left of it, given the crater she was found in, covered in nearly countless wounds…
And crying in quiet rage.
Ghost was nowhere to be found.
Shadow had refused any and all forms of help when her brother's girlfriends attempted to aid her, warning that if anyone pushed their luck, she wouldn't be held responsible for what happened to them. A day later, she seemed to have fully recovered physically, but the woman would still not give any explanation as to what happened or where Ghost had disappeared to. Anyone who attempted to press her on the subject would either get blasted with enough killing intent to knock them out, or have Zuzushi suddenly shoot out of her host and assault the individual's face with religious passion until they ran far enough away. After the fifth ANBU was rushed to the hospital for reconstructive facial surgery, Tsunade wisely decided to put off on figuring out what happened until the woman had calmed down.
She figured that would be around the time when Shadow's eyes would return to their normal olive green color from their currently constant slit ice blue scheme.
At first, there was brief concern among the general public that whatever chaos had occurred in the home had ended up destroying the assassin's body beyond recognition, but a snort of amused disbelief from Shadow when she heard that rumor, and later by Hana and Anko had dashed that idea pretty quickly.
"Are you sure you can't think of anything that would set them off like that or cause Shadow to act the way she is right now?" Shizune asked Naruto even though she had done so several times since the incident occurred.
The blonde sighed. "Look. I really have no clue. Shadow-nee does go off on a dime a lot of the time for small stuff, but she's just as fast to recover. This? This is something different from her normal peeves, and unless absolutely needed, I am not going anywhere near those kinds of problems. I get nearly killed by them enough as it is, I'm not going to willingly try to do it again with one of their strongest when Waltz-jiji isn't there to make sure I don't get mutilated beyond repair."
"I thought the Ōgakari tried to make it a point that dwelling on personal issues was stupid and pointless." Tsunade raised an eyebrow skeptically.
The boy shifted on his feet nervously. "Most of the time, yeah, but that's with untimely deaths of loved ones and natural things like that. The deep problems they have, though? Those are on a whole different level. I only know for the most part that they exist and that they aren't things that can simply go away. They get constant reminders in one way or another that I don't know about." He looked away. "To be honest, I think that Anko and Hana-sensei know more about Ero-nii's problem than I do. Waltz-jiji's problem has something to do with kids, which was pretty much obvious from what he did during the Hyūga incident. Crypt… well, he's just crazy, and I think that Scab-nii's the only one that doesn't have much weighing down his conscience…"
"And Shadow?" Shizune asked worriedly.
"No clue." The younger blonde relented. "To be honest, she's the hardest one to understand out of all of them sometimes. Her personality covers so many ranges of emotion that it's difficult to tell what she's really like."
The two elder women looked at one another warily. They had assumed that the immortals that they were hosting were stable enough to not be an issue, but the deeper description of Shadow's personality was a cause for concern. Displaying a wide and rapidly changing personality was a concerning sign of mental instability, either in the form of dementia or some other condition. They didn't know if it was a result of her travels or due to hosting her demon, but regardless it was a concerning revelation.
"Fine. We'll drop the subject for now since pressing it will only bring more property damage, but eventually we will have to know what happened." Tsunade relented. "The council and many property owners are not very happy about the incident and are concerned about a repeat performance."
"Please." Naruto rolled his eye. "They say that every time the Ōgakari do something new, stupid, and possibly destructive." He stretched his limbs a bit and yawned. "Well, good luck with the interviews, old lady. I'm off to enjoy my time off and what remains of the money I got from exploiting my luck on the lLnd of Iron's and Moon's gambling systems."
"You do realize that I'm going to actually charge you for your medical treatments this time, right brat?" Said old woman growled dangerously.
"I said what remains of it, didn't I?" Naruto casually replied before disappearing with a shunshin.
"He seems pretty calm despite everything that's happened, doesn't he?" Shizune mused curiously. "It's sometimes hard to believe that he's the same kid we met all that time ago…"
"Hmm." Tsunade frowned before turning towards the Hokage tower. "Something tells me he isn't as calm as you might think, Shizune. Regardless, he's in enough control to leave to his own devices for now. Once things have eased up a bit more, I'll talk to him, but until then, we have more important things to worry about, such as paperwork and our meeting with the Daimyō later…"
o. o. o.
Naruto sighed as he jumped casually from roof to roof aimlessly. Despite his weakened state, travelling like this put no strain on his body in the slightest, so he was free to think about what he should do without much distraction.
"What to do, what to do, what to do…" He breathed out to himself as he practically flew through the air and leaped over a busy main street and the oblivious civilians there. It felt good to be moving freely in the air again. The lack of depth perception did not hamper his movements in the slightest, as he had long been able to jump around the village blindfolded with his Seventh Sense around to tell him where everything was.
There was a ton of things he could be doing right now. He should be visiting his team and checking up on them since he had been busy getting interviewed so much that he didn't really have much of a chance to talk to them. He could go talk to one of the sensei for advice on what he should be doing now. He could be training against Tsunade's orders. He could be looking for his other friends to see how they are doing. He could…
"▄▄▄▄ !" An unearthly sound rumbled from his organs.
"Hmm." The blonde mused. "It appears I am hungry. I probably should get something to eat, but then again…"
"▄▄▄▄▄▄ !" His stomach argued passionately, causing him to grin lightly.
"Your counter argument is both compelling and persuasive. You would make a fine politician if you were able to bribe people." Naruto nodded in acknowledgement. "Very well. I succumb to your requests. To the ramen stand we go."
Less than three minutes later, the teen had appeared in front of his favorite ramen stand so quickly that some people had done a double take at him before jumping away in surprise.
"Ramen ramen ramen ramen…" The teen sighed out loud in bliss as he walked under the flaps of the stand, believing that he would have a better idea of what he should do after his stomach wasn't planning a civil war. "Hey, old man! Give me a beef ramen! The angry organ of digestion demands it!" He shouted as he climbed up into an empty seat on the end of the stall…
And ignored the two full teams of Iwa ANBU sitting next to him.
"Coming right up!" Teuchi replied while attempting to ignore the fact that his stand might just be reduced to rubble within the next fifteen minutes.
"▄▄▄▄▄▄ !" The rebellious organ protested again loudly enough that everyone nearby heard it.
"Silence! Our sacrifice of noodles and broth is being prepared! Do not rush perfection!" The blonde chided his stomach, seemingly completely oblivious to his surroundings.
"You have got to be fucking kidding me." Muttered one of the Iwa shinobi there as he looked at Naruto through his slightly pulled up mask.
"No doubt about it." Another female visitor sighed. "That's him all right. They all said he was a bit off…"
"So how have you been anyways?" Ayame smiled happily, not at all letting the situation get to her. "You've been sending clones for ramen since you got back and I see you're still hurt. You didn't do anything stupid again, did you?"
"Anything that would have that idiot Ghost laugh his head off and thank you for the entertainment." The female chef deadpanned.
The blonde boy laughed nervously. "… I may have done one or two things to warrant such a reaction from Ero-nii during my mission…"
Ayame sighed and rubbed her temple. "Ugh. What are we going to do with you? Every time you get involved in something big, you end up doing more damage to yourself than your opponents do!" She pointed to his wrapped head. "Let me guess, you accidentally poked out your eye in that incident that everyone's talking about, now didn't you?"
"Oh come on!" Naruto threw his hands into the air frustrated. "Even if I did lose my eye in a fight, it wouldn't have been because of something lame like that! I expected at least a bit more effort on creativity from you, Ayame-nee!"
The waitress crossed her arms. "And I expect you to actually perform a mission like everyone else for once. Every time you go out, something goes horribly wrong and you end up either changing an entire country's government, wind up somehow dragging infamous shinobi back to the village, getting horrifically injured, or all three at once!" She glared at him. "So far, I've seen that you've been injured. So tell me runt, did those other things happen on the mission too?"
Naruto's eye shrunk until it was almost all white and he looked to the side sheepishly and tapped his pointer fingers together in a Hinata-esque way. "M-maybe…" He admitted. "To be honest… I think this one may have just set the all-time bar for horrifically disproportionate missions ever recorded…" He pretended not to hear some of the Iwa shinobi there snort in amusement.
Ayame sighed. "You know what? I honestly do hope you become Hokage soon. That way you'll be forced to stop taking missions and won't accidentally change the entire continent's government structure."
"You're underestimating me again." The boy pouted. "First of all, it would take me years to pull something like that off, even with the right connections compounded onto my dumb luck. Second, a world government based off of the stuff I've pulled out of my ass would be made out of pure epicness! People would be too busy trying to be awesome to have wars! Finally, you think that I haven't figured out a way to do all that paperwork really fast and not manage to give myself time to do a mission where I can blow stuff up? Hah! I solved that problem years ago!"
"Naruto." Teuchi stepped forward with a massive bowl of ramen. "I love you like family. That being said, please shut up, eat your ramen, and stop scaring away my customers. You've been away long enough that you can't be considered my main source of income anymore, hence you have lost the privilege to be crazy while you eat here."
The jinchūriki pouted. "Just for that, you're no longer my first pick for Ministry of Food and Nutrition. I'm giving that position to Chōji." He paused and blinked for a moment. "Hey, do I still have permission to be awesome here?"
"…Why?" Teuchi asked skeptically, knowing that he probably was not going to like the answer to that question.
As if waiting for the chef to ask the question in the first place, a long beam of light swung at Naruto from behind, hidden by the stall flaps, and would have decapitated the boy had he not almost lazily raised his left arm up and instantly formed a massive wind blade to block the attack, causing everyone to jump in surprise.
"That's really high level wind element composition…" Muttered one of the Iwa shinobi who had already taken out a kunai through pure reflex. "I'm almost willing to say that's the highest I've ever seen… but who's the guy with the lightning element?"
"Rumor had it that he was good with wind… guess he had to be in order to pull off half of the stuff we've heard…" A kunoichi commented. "Still, if that's the case, it makes you wonder how good his supposed master is with it…"
"Brat didn't even look around to see how it was coming." An older man muttered. "Even if it was planned… it would take some experience to pull it off that naturally. He's good. He's very good."
"That." The blonde stated simply without even bothering to look at who had attacked him from behind, the violent clashing of the two forces of nature happening less than half a foot from his head, or the shinobi he had surprised. "You know, most people normally just say hi when they see friends for the first time in months outside of the hospital, Sasuke."
A snort from outside the stall confirmed the identity of the attacker before the lightning chakra construct disappeared and the identified attacker casually walked under the half cut flap. "You're one to talk. If I was the one just returning, you'd have tried to blow me up by now."
"If I didn't have my talons on when you pulled that stupid stunt, I would have." The wind element shrugged casually before he got back to his meal. "Good to see you."
"Oi!" Ayame barked as she took out her ladle, an instrument that struck fear into those who knew its bloody and dark history. "What have I told you two about whipping out your techniques around the stand?!"
"Technically, we were just using advanced chakra control…" Sasuke casually argued in a way that said that he knew he wasn't going to win that argument. but he didn't really care. "Glad you're not as badly maimed as the doctors said."
"I've had practice getting better from near death experiences. You've shared a few with me if I remember correctly." Naruto shrugged after downing another mouthful of ramen. "How've you been anyways?"
The last Uchiha in Konoha walked to the end of the stand and had a good look at his teammate's face. "Better than you are, that's for certain. I hear you're not even close to finishing with all those reports and meetings for that incident you got caught up in. Rumor has it you took down nearly thirty missing-nin with a single technique."
"Closer to twenty. Around five were killed by a clone before I used the technique everyone is making such a stink over. The rest were taken out by the rest of the guys except for the one that messed us all up badly. I had to deal with him personally." The blonde corrected as if it wasn't such a big deal. "It helped that they underestimated me."
Sasuke snorted. "I think you understated that just a bit. If people knew what you were truly capable of, I doubt they would even allow you to live in the village. Hell, I still don't know what you're fully capable of doing."
Naruto grinned evilly. "Don't lose too many nights sleep thinking about it. I still need you as a distraction for when I start getting my own fangirls."
"I thought that's what Hinata's for." Sasuke smirked sarcastically.
"She's a deterrent. You on the other hand are live bait." The blonde countered factually, causing many people there to sweatdrop.
"It's when you talk like that that I remember that it's almost impossible to tell if you're just joking or if you're actually being serious." The Uchiha deadpanned and crossed his arms. "So what are you going to do now that you're free? You obviously can't train right now."
"Correction, I can't do any extreme training right now." Naruto pointed out after swallowing another giant mouthful of ramen before pausing. "Huh. You know, now that you bring up training, I think I know what I should do now…"
"If you're talking about the Ōgakari's place, think again. The place is falling apart and anyone who even tempts Shadow's patience right now will find themselves in a bloody heap in front of the hospital before they even realize they screwed themselves over." Sasuke stated.
Naruto snorted as he swallowed another bite of ramen. "Fuck that. I'm crazy, not suicidal. I had something else in mind." He paused. "I think you might be in trouble."
An ANBU wearing a bird mask stood near the two boys and ignored everyone else who just noticed his presence. "Sasuke Uchiha. We must speak with you about you assaulting a fellow shinobi outside of the designated training grounds."
"It's okay, Tori." Naruto waved his hand in the air lazily. "Duckbutt and I do this to one another all the time. It's nothing new to anyone who knows us."
"It's true." Ayame sighed. "Nearly killing one another is the standard way of those two saying hi. It took me three beatings to get it through their skulls to not do the more flashy stuff here." She groaned. "Honestly, I would have settled for them just trying to punch one other senseless, but no, they have to use ninjutsu that gives us normal people heart attacks instead. Do you know that Naruto's used that transformation move in front of us so many times that dad and I can recognize it on sight now? We don't even have any shinobi training!"
The ANBU remained quiet for several moments as he stared at the female chef. No one could see what he was thinking with his mask on, but the teens were willing to bet that it was along the lines of disbelief or frustration. "… Fine then. I will let this incident pass this once. Uchiha, should you blatantly disregard the rules of the village again, there will be repercussions."
"You don't seem that surprised that he showed up, Naruto." Sasuke mused as the masked man disappeared in an instant, not at all phased by his warning. "I'm guessing he's been following you around since you got out?"
"Yep. I'm just that special." The blonde boy sighed aridly.
"You can say that again." The Uchiha smirked.
"Not enough time. Ramen." Naruto mumbled as he stuffed his mouth once more. "Umruhotufhisa?" He gargled with his mouth full.
"I've been doing a lot of errands around the village ever since you got back, running messages." Sasuke answered, not at all shocked that he could translate his teammate's question. "I haven't had much time to talk to the others since you got here… but I did hear something interesting this morning from Shikamaru."
"Muh? Muahwasga?" The ramen lover blinked curiously.
The Uchiha smirked. "That sand guy Gaara is in town with his sister."
Naruto paused from his binging before he bit off the seemingly endless supply of noodles from his bowl and swallowed it. "You're kidding me." He stated in a calm tone. "Gaara's here? Now?"
"I was as surprised as you are." The Uchiha shrugged. "If you don't believe me, go look for him yourself."
The blonde glared at his friend skeptically as multiple popping sounds erupted from around the stand followed by a fair amount of movement and some yelps of shock, surprising the Iwa shinobi there.
"Naruto!" Ayame yelled as she slammed her ladle on top of the wounded boy's head. "How many times do we have to tell you? No ninjutsu in the stand!"
"But they weren't made in the stand nee-chan!" Said culprit wept comically. "Why do you have to hit me? I'm wounded here!"
"Because you wouldn't get the point if I didn't!" The girl countered forcefully. "Besides, I hit your skull! Everyone knows that's the thickest and hardest part of your entire body!"
"Ayame-nee-chan meaaaaaan." The blonde boy cried like an infant, causing those that didn't know him to stare incredulously.
"Now, now." Teuchi laughed nervously. "Naruto just got back from the hospital. Give him some slack Ayame. It's too early for you to use the ladle on him anyways." He paused. "Speaking of which, since you used it for disciplinary means, you'll have to get a new one to serve the customers. You know the rules."
"Yesss." The blonde boy hissed and held his arms in front of him as if he was casting a spell. "Begone, evil food dispensing instrument of pain. Your wrath will not claim me this daaaay…"
Said instrument of pain seemed to have heard him as it flew through the air and nailed him square in the face. "Ow! Damn you, lack of depth perception!"
"Nice shot." Sasuke nodded in approval.
"This kid is bugging me more every second…" Grumbled one of the Iwa shinobi to the others, getting nods of agreement from them.
The seemingly childish chaos went back and forth for several more minutes before things finally calmed down (partially thanks to Sasuke lightly electrocuting Naruto in order to shut him up). The blonde boy irritably finished up three more bowls of ramen while doing some small talking with Sasuke before leaving. Not once had he paid any attention to the shinobi from Iwa…
"We're going to Gaara now?" Sasuke asked curiously as the two jumped roof to roof across town.
"Yep." Naruto grinned, completely ignoring the fact that his hair was now standing on end from his earlier electrocution. "I haven't seen him in a while. It'll be good to catch up with him."
"I'm guessing that you were going more nuts than normal at the stand to confuse those shinobi there." The Uchiha continued skeptically.
"Partially." The blonde admitted. "But for the most part it was because I was stuck giving everyone reports for a week. It was driving me crazy, and I'm just naturally unwinding at this point."
"You know that acting the way you did is gonna hurt their pride." Sasuke countered. "Having an idiot kid beat or kill so many of their strongest, albeit most unstable criminals, is definitely going to not go around well in Iwa."
"Better than a brat who is criminally genius and capable in his spare time." Naruto countered. "I'll piss off the standard forces, but let the smart and high ranked ones know that I know what I'm doing and that I'm not a prick. That way, if they do send guys after me, it'll most likely be only the low ranked idiots that think that all I can do is use the furball and some wind techniques." He shrugged. "Besides, I'm going on a long training trip soon, so they won't be able to find me anyways."
"I hope you're right about that." The black eyed boy mused before he noticed his friend flinch and begin to shiver. "What's up?"
"I… can feel Shadow-nee…" The blonde whispered hauntingly. "H-holy shit, they weren't kidding when they said that she's been on edge lately."
Sasuke blinked before realizing what his friend was talking about. "Oh right. You're a sensor. I heard that some of the weaker ones have had minor episodes whenever they were near her lately. Her power must be pretty nuts when she's pissed."
'Less nuts and more horrifically on the verge of killing everyone from the inside out…' Naruto mentally corrected his friend as they continued forward, whereas the woman's signature was to the right of them in one of the training areas, thankfully away from the general populace. "Baa-chan told me that no one knows what set her off yet or where Ero-nii is."
"Yeah. That's the case so far." Sasuke confirmed. "Not that anyone in our group is eager to talk to her after they told us… you know…"
"I figured most of us wouldn't take it that well." Naruto sighed. "Sometimes it's easy to forget that they have completely different morals and way of thinking than us… I don't think that they mean us ill will, but their methods…"
"Leave much to be desired." The Uchiha finished the sentence. "I think it's best if we talk about this later. I see a bunch of people following us…"
"They're just the ANBU Baa-chan sent to make sure that I'm not kidnapped or worse, left alone to my own devices." Naruto snorted.
Sasuke smirked. "Smart lady." He paused as the two jumped from another roof. "So… I have to ask… what the hell convinced you that it was a good idea to set off an exploding kunai up that Han guy's ass?"
o. o. o.
In an unidentified cave:
"You know if we keep on all meeting like this, the least Leader could do for us is prepare some food. Un." Deidara's shadowy frame mused as he and Sasori waited for everyone else to answer the call of their boss.
"Shut up, Deidara." Sasori growled. "If you're so hungry, then just stuff some of that ridiculous clay of yours in your mouth. Better yet, set it off while you're chewing it…"
"Oh shut it, you failed arts and crafts project. Just because you don't have to eat or drink anymore doesn't mean that the rest of us should suffer for it." The explosion artist snapped back.
"I see that you two are getting along fairly well as usual." Kakuzu mused as he and Hidan finally appeared. "My offer still stands, Sasori."
"Fuck you, Kakuzu." The priest growled. "You're the reason why we're late in the first place."
"I was doing my job. I AM in charge of the finances of Akatsuki, after all." The heart stealer stated simply. "Besides, considering how many times you have been the reason for our tardy history, you have no reason to complain…"
"My my… it looks like once again we're about to be bestowed some interesting news, eh Itachi?" Kisame chuckled as he and his shorter partner phased into existence. "I wonder what it could be… and on another note, how are you, old man Kakuzu? Are you back up to stock again?"
"More or less… though I would prefer to come across a stronger wind element user's heart in the near future." The miser admitted. "Still, I'm glad that we got Hidan a foot that doesn't make a racket every time he takes a step. Now I'm back to only wanting to kill him when he talks again."
"I fucking love you too… you heathen bastard." Hidan shot back loathingly.
"Be quiet." Nagato spoke through Yahiko's body as he, Konan and Zetsu appeared. "We have news about the Gobi."
"We do?" Sasori asked curiously. "I'm surprised. I'm in charge of gathering information on him, and to my knowledge, he's supposed to be still running round off his leash like the Rokubi."
"What happened to Han?" Deidara asked curiously. "Did the giant idiot get his ass killed by someone? Un?"
Zetsu's light half laughed. "Hahah. He was beaten all right, but you won't believe who took him down."
"It was the Kyūbi's jinchūriki." The dark half continued in his calmer and raspier tone.
"The Kyūbi's?" Deidara blinked in confusion. "Isn't he supposed to be a brat?"
"He is, but that didn't stop him from taking out the Sanbi." Kisame chuckled, clearly not surprised by this turn of events. "It looks like your little brother's friend is running quite a mean streak, isn't he Itachi? I'm almost certain that he has a better history than some of our fellow teammates now."
"… Why the fuck is everyone staring at me?" Hidan asked warily.
"I wouldn't underestimate him if I were you." Zetsu mused. "I managed to catch a good part of that fight. The kid has some pretty nasty wind jutsu under his belt and the chakra to back it up. A direct hit from any of them would be enough to take out most of us pretty easily…"
"He can summon the toad boss without much trouble too." Kisame added. "The thing you really gotta watch out for are his clones though. When he busts those out, treat them like Deidara's clay ninjutsu…" He smirked. "… only smarter."
"You starting something, bait breath? Un?" Said bomb user yelled defiantly.
"Enough." The leader stated tersely. "We had this meeting to inform you of the Gobi's situation and the Kyūbi's skill level. When we move, there is no doubt that the latter will be a major threat should you encounter him. We need to seal it last, but that does not mean that you can just ignore him should you cross paths. Unless otherwise stated, I shall be the one responsible for its capture. Regardless, trying to capture the beasts now when we still do not know the identity of their holders would just make things more difficult for us later on."
"What of the Gobi?" Kakuzu stated curiously. "Did the Kyūbi kill him?"
"No." The other Zetsu answered. "He is in Konoha for medical treatment since they were working with Iwa to find him at the time. If they did not agree to heal him, he most likely would have died by now. He was hit with enough high level jutsu that I am surprised that he was still breathing in the first place…"
"There's a lot of arguing about what's going to happen to him. The rumors range from execution to moving the Gobi to another host to even war." The white half continued. "He attacked the Kyūbi in the Land of Fire like a wild dog, so regardless of what happens to him, there's going to be plenty of tension between Iwa and Konoha for a while."
"If the Gobi is moved from its container, it would kill two birds with one stone." Kakuzu mused. "One of our targets would be completely unable to defend itself, and moving it would reduce Iwa's military power and cause them to rely on our services more. The only problem would be finding out where or who it is moved to, which shouldn't be much of an issue to determine with Sasori's resources."
"Great." Deidara grunted sarcastically. "I bust my ass to get out of that hell hole of artistically blind idiots just to be forced to work for them again. Annoying old man. Un…"
"You could always just die and save us all the trouble of dealing with you." Sasori offered, though no one could tell if he was being sarcastic or serious.
"Well, well. Isn't this a surprise?" Kisame mused with an eager grin. "Our mysterious leader himself has decided to take out the big bad target. Makes me jealous that you're the one that will put him in his place. I wanted to shave him a thousand times for each one of those clones that he's set off on me."
Itachi remained quiet.
"Do not complain, Kisame. You will have your chance to capture your target before I do." Nagato stated emotionlessly. "Has there been any word about any of the other bijū that we are attempting to locate?"
"There's been plenty of rumors going around about the Sanbi and the Yonbi." Sasori stated. "My sources tell me that Kiri has the former locked up in some underwater cave, while the Yonbi's got a mission out of Iwa. It will take a while longer to get more details…"
"Damn." Kisame clicked his teeth. "They probably hid the Sanbi in the caverns under Kiri made from old volcano activity. Unless you know how to navigate the tunnels, you'd probably end up lost, and then drown when the tide comes in. I guess we know what my target is."
"Still waiting for news about the Nanabi, but word is that she's gone to another village for political reasons." Kakuzu stated calmly. "Depending on where she went, we could have a real problem on our hands. I also confirmed that the Nibi and the Hachibi are in Kumo, which isn't that surprising, but other than the fact that the Nibi is in a woman and the Hachibi is in a man, nothing yet."
"And we already know that the Ichibi is in some brat in Suna and the Kyūbi is that blonde brat from Konoha." Deidara concluded. "I say when we go for them, we try to bag as many at once as we can. Un."
"That would not be a smart idea." Nagato rejected the idea. "It takes several days to seal a beast, and if we gather more than two at one time, then it would leave us open should we gain pursuers. At the most, we would hunt down two of them at once. Regardless, we are still not set up to store the beasts as of yet."
"Three years." Sasori stated bluntly as he and the others looked at the Rinnegan user warily.
"Approximately." Nagato confirmed. "What we are using to store the bijū in will require time to adjust to meet the specifications. Until that time, we will proceed to do what we have always done."
"Right." Deidara sighed. "More jobs for more rich uneducated idiots."
"Those uneducated idiots pay for your cloak and clay, brat." Kakuzu replied simply.
"At least it's cheaper than what Sasori-danna has to cover." The bomb artist muttered under his breath.
Technically, he was speaking the truth. Among the entirety of Akatsuki, Sasori on average ranked up the highest bill among everyone for personal expenses since he frequently went out of his way to purchase equipment for his puppets. Said equipment ranged from rare metals to custom made equipment to materials for poisons to powerful weapons. Unlike what most people would assume, Sasori didn't simply just kill or hypnotize his sources for these things, since he needed a reliable and steady source for these things and doing violent or untrustworthy actions against the ones he had would just make it far more difficult to get more of the things he needed later on. Granted, he barely needed to spend anything in terms of food and board due to his modified body but he still racked up a significant bill after big missions.
Kakuzu had the second highest bill, but that was mostly because he frequently invested large sums of money into personal projects that almost always returned what he put into it. Whenever a company didn't do well… well, he was fairly good at extortion, intimidation, and picking locks as well.
"Don't make me cut costs by using your body as a work around." The puppet master warned irritably.
"If no one else has anything productive to bring up in this meeting, then we shall end it here." The leader closed his eyes and turned away.
Silence was his reply as all the other transparent figures that he had been talking to just moments before had all disappeared.
o. o. o.
"You know… I have to be honest…" Temari mused as she sat down alongside Gaara, Shikamaru, Sasuke and Hinata in the garden of the Hyūga compound. "I've never been here before, but this place looks exactly as I thought it would…"
"Yep." Shikamaru yawned. "Dull, neat, and orderly. If it wasn't so uptight around here, I'd almost consider coming here for my naps."
"I am somewhat concerned for you, Nara." Gaara stated. "I am well aware of how valuable sleep is… however, your overindulgence on the activity is somewhat daunting." He looked around. "Also… I am curious as to where you would be able to find a comfortable and suitable spot to do such a thing…"
"The second branch up on the left side of that tree there looks pretty good to me..." Shikamaru pointed out lazily to a random tree in the garden.
"Pass." Sasuke yawned. "I once had to sleep in a tree because of my fangirls. It's not something I want to do again."
Hinata laughed nervously. "Please stop examining my home for unconventional places to sleep."
"Personally, I just tend to find an out of the way corner and make myself a small bed of sand." Gaara stated casually.
"He's gotten really good at it too." Temari nodded in confirmation. "He makes them so that it's all really loose so that it never packs in, plus none of the grains get caught in uncomfortable places."
"He must be invited to all the slumber parties at Suna." Shikamaru mused.
"That's my current project." Temari confirmed, not at all ashamed at saying so.
"I still suggest that you start your efforts in parties other than the standard female majority ones…" The future Kazekage stated in a way that almost sounded as if he was pouting.
"You'll thank me when puberty kicks in, little brother." The elder sister smirked, unaware of how amusing her statement was to Shikamaru, who knew how old Gaara was mentally.
"Careful. If you show too many good points, you might get fangirls." Sasuke smirked before turning his attention to the rather quiet display in front of him. "They're almost as loud and obnoxious as Naruto when he's not focused on something…"
The other teens remained quiet as they watched the blonde boy slowly go through the Hyūga clan's taijutsu stances, with Hiashi making minor corrections along the way. Surprisingly, the Uzumaki was not making any random comments or wise cracks as he did so, instead preferring to don a calm and quiet demeanor with his eye closed, almost as if he was meditating as he moved.
"You know, I keep on forgetting he can be like this when he's focusing." Shikamaru mused as he eyed his friend skeptically. "Makes you really believe that he is capable of all the things he's done."
"He looks so peaceful…" Hinata observed in a relaxed and relieved tone. "I was worried that he might be a bit stressed by now. I heard that since he had been deemed healthy enough, he had been questioned constantly about what happened with the incident and the mission itself." She smiled as she looked down at herself. Even though she had been treated fairly well by Tsunade, she was still wrapped up pretty heavily with one arm and one leg in a cast, her chest and stomach covered in wrappings and some gauze around her head.
"No…" Gaara frowned. "I believe he is still suffering from the stress a bit."
"You noticed it too, huh?" Sasuke raised an eyebrow. "I expected maybe Shikamaru to pick it up, but I'm surprised you did as well.
"Uzumaki and I share many qualities." The ex-insomniac stated. "It is rather simple for someone like me to see it."
"Huh?" Temari blinked in confusion. "What? What did you see?"
"Look at how deep he is into this." Shikamaru pointed out. "Calm breathing, no jokes, only reacting when Hiashi-sama is correcting his stances. He's blocking out the world on purpose because he's trying to calm himself down."
Sasuke nodded. "I've seen him meditate multiple times before. He's pretty good at it, and sometimes you could swear that he's either asleep or a statue, but if you get close enough, he'll eventually try to start a conversation… at least a small one." He nodded his head to the blonde. "He hasn't said a word since he started."
"If what you claimed about his current situation is true, then I am not surprised that he is like this." Gaara stated. "Iwa has always been a rather stubborn village to deal with, and their Daimyō are almost as arduous as my own countries'. I have little doubt that Uzumaki has been required to recount his mission more than anyone else less, out of necessity and more likely because the political figures on all sides are trying to find some hole to exploit."
"Naruto's a bit thick at times, but even he knows when to keep his mouth shut." Shikamaru mused. "Unless he did something like asking for that scar guy Ibiki to interrogate him so that no one can question the results of his answers and thus draw things out even more, he wouldn't try and make many cracks about the situation."
"Fifty ryō says he did ask for Ibiki, and Anko to boot." Sasuke snorted as he watched Naruto move step by step with his eye closed through his stances at a perfect pace, having finished holding each individual one like a statue for a few minutes each.
"The proctors for the Chūnin Exam tests?" Gaara asked. "No. Knowing Uzumaki, it is more likely he asked for both than just one."
"Should I find it concerning that one of the first real friends you have ever made is well… him?" Temari asked skeptically.
"No." Hinata denied while looking awkwardly to the side.
"Yes." Shikamaru and Sasuke nodded at the same time, shooting down the blonde's not official girlfriend without any hesitation.
"I'd be more concerned if I was still the unstable person I was before meeting him." Gaara stated, putting things into perspective.
"Touché." Temari relented.
"… Why are you here in the first place?" Sasuke asked curiously while looking at Gaara. "Your sister normally serves as an emissary from Suna, but you've never been here other than for the Chūnin Exams."
Neither of the two time travelers reacted awkwardly or looked at one another as the red head replied. "I've been asked to perform a favor for the Hokage. I'm not at liberty to say any more about the subject."
"That's odd." Hinata tilted her head to the side. "I wonder what Hokage-sama wanted that required her to ask for help from Suna."
"Don't bother thinking about it." Shikamaru yawned. "It's probably above our clearance level, and more than likely doesn't involve us at all."
"Can't blame them for being curious though." Temari smirked.
"Speaking of foreigners, does anyone know how long those guys from Iwa are going to be here?" Sasuke asked tiredly. "I've seen them every once in a while around town and they always give me those wary looks whenever they see me. I doubt that they're dumb enough to start anything, but their glares are getting annoying."
"You're talking to the wrong people if you want to complain about others glaring at you." Gaara stated bluntly.
"Just ignore them." Shikamaru yawned. "You'll get a mission out of the village soon enough.
"I'd rather be training." The Uchiha sighed. "Kakashi's been out on a lot of missions lately, and the Sandaime's too busy helping the Hokage with the current situation to give me any tips on advanced fire style manipulation. Other than using shadow clones to brush up on my elemental affinities and some of my jutsu, I haven't been making much progress for the past few weeks. It makes me miss that Kimimaro guy."
Shikamaru's and Gaara's eyes widened considerably at the name. "Sasuke… please don't tell me that you're referring to a very troublesome guy that's slightly older than us with white hair and does certain things with his bones." The shadow wielder asked hopefully.
"Sounds like you've run into him before." Sasuke mused. "Probably beat you as badly as he did me."
"How… do you know him?" Gaara asked somewhat warily.
"Scab took Tenten and me to some hidden base somewhere where he stays so we could train for the swordmaster tournament." The Uchiha shrugged. "He practically destroyed both of us at once with only his taijutsu and a sword made from one of his bones. To be honest, I wouldn't be surprised if he was on the dobe's level when he's serious."
Hinata's eyes widened in surprise. "He was that strong?"
"And fast, and skilled, and emotionless, and durable." The Uchiha added. "I could barely follow him at times with my Sharingan up."
"Of course." Shikamaru sighed with his head in his hands. "I should have figured that those troublesome bastards had done something with those guys."
Temari whistled. "Damn. Sounds like he's one tough guy to deal with. Makes you wonder how those Ōgakari guys deal with him."
"The same way they probably deal with everyone else." Gaara sighed.
"Confuse them beyond rationality before exposing them to absurd amounts of power and intelligence." Shikamaru concluded, getting the others there to nod in agreement with his statement. "I wouldn't be surprised if the rest of us are taken to train at that place within the next few years."
"Good luck." Sasuke snorted before freezing. "Speak of the devil."
"Huh?" Temari blinked in confusion. "What are you talking about?" She turned to Gaara who was also sitting stiff. "Gaara?"
"Don't. Move. Don't. Blink. Don't even breathe." Shukaku hissed in a strained and freaked out tone to his container despite the fact that the seal was supposed to help block out most of his insane ranting. "If you catch her attention now, when she's pissed. Then. We. ARE. FUCKED!"
"Troublesome." Shikamaru grumbled, a bit unnerved himself, before turning to Hinata, who was frozen stiff. "Could you tone down the barely contained killing intent, Sensei? It's a bit much."
"I agree with the young Nara." Hiashi stated as he turned around from the absolutely still Naruto to see Shadow watching quietly from the roof of one of the bordering buildings. "Would you be so kind as to not be so… distracting? I am trying to teach your brother's student." Despite the man's polite demeanor, an experienced fighter could tell that he was slightly on edge as he glared into the ice blue, bordering silver eyes of the only female Ōgakari.
The black and pink donned woman didn't say anything for several moments as she continued to look down upon Naruto's still form and Hinata's a short distance further. She knew why he wasn't moving or saying anything. It was one thing to be sensitive to killing intent, it was another thing to be exposed and somewhat experienced to Presence. Presence was not limited to expressing the will to murder, but also any other emotion as well. Those that were able to use the ability only moderately well, or at the very least were not as mentally strong, were sometimes overwhelmed by the stronger users when the latter were experiencing extreme emotions…
And right now, she was extremely pissed. Calm, pissed, and in a great deal of emotional pain... not that she physically showed the latter two.
"Sorry, Hiashi. I was just checking out how the kid was doing." The woman replied in an even tone without looking at the clan head. "I heard he got out today."
"It seems more like you are putting the fear of god into him from my perspective." The man observed as he glanced at Naruto, who had paled considerably and was not moving from his spot.
Shadow snorted and smirked briefly at the hidden fact that she was technically doing just that, literally. "Not intentionally."
"I take it your current mood has something to do with that incident several days ago." Hiashi continued, despite knowing that talking about it was well known as taboo with the woman. "I do not know or care much about what occurred, but I would greatly appreciate it if you didn't bring it into my home."
"Oh trust me, Hiashi, if I brought it into your home, there wouldn't be a home by now." The woman sighed aridly and flipped her hair casually. "Right now, what you are feeling is the mere smoldering embers of my initial displeasure. Please, continue training the minion. It would be good experience, being exposed to something like this."
"I believe that if may be a bit too much for him." The man frowned as he observed Naruto and was secretly disturbed. The boy had supposedly gone up against bijū before, oppressive chakra and all, but this faint feeling that the woman was exerting was having more of an effect on him than anything he had heard of. "Any more, and I am afraid he may pass out from the pressure and his wounds."
"I doubt it." Shadow argued with her draconic eyes flashing momentarily. "My brother has exposed him to far more intense Presence in the past. While I may be going a bit overboard with the other kids, the minion should be able to handle it." She sighed casually and shrugged. "Though I do admit that my emotions are a bit more… active today than normal, so I assume that has something to do with it."
"I see your point." Hiashi agreed. "Your body language is actually somewhat readable, unlike the norm… though that only helps confirm the fact that you are most irritable at the moment."
The immortal snorted. "Imagine that. All that talk about your eyes being all seeing and the best they can do is tell you something redundant. Who would have guessed?"
"Indeed." The bloodline wielder muttered, not appreciating the jab at his eyes. "Regardless, I'll repeat myself. Unless you have some business here, I suggest you leave. You are distracting my student."
The woman looked at the man for several moments before sighing and taking out a pair of vials no bigger than medium sized test tubes containing a pitch black substance. "Fine. Just let me give this crap to the idiot and the insomniac." She lazily threw the glass containers forward, and somehow made each one go straight to Naruto and Gaara, who both managed to catch them at the last moment.
"What… is this?" The red head asked warily as he inspected the liquid and suppressed a shudder. Even though it was quite a small amount, the unnaturally heavy and oppressive feeling coming from it was more than enough to want to keep it at arm's length at the very least. "Even contained, being near this makes me… uneasy…"
"It's for helping you train to control your bijū. Don't open it yet. It's pretty nasty stuff, even by my clan's standards." Shadow replied carelessly. While no one really spoke about the separate boys' condition, everyone there was aware of their inner tenants. "Keep that shit on you, but don't open it until I explain everything later tonight at my place."
"Didn't you completely destroy your place, though?" Shikamaru raised his eyebrow curiously.
"You forgot, didn't you?" Sasuke deadpanned.
"No!" Shadow shot back defensively. "… Maybe…"
"Where have you been sleeping the past few nights?" Hinata asked worriedly, noting that the woman was somewhat tired looking despite the fact that her gaze was as sharp as ever.
"I haven't." The woman grumbled. "I've been too busy venting 'cause my brother's an ass."
Hiashi frowned. "Said venting wouldn't happen to have involved several traumatized Iwa shinobi that the locals found yesterday night unconscious and wounded in multiple areas, would it?"
The sadistic woman looked to the side innocently. "If that was proven to be true, which I am not saying it is, then by the time it actually was officially stated as such, Iwa would coincidentally be dealing with the widespread distribution of a video recording of said incident, which involved roughly five mutilated baby seal clones… and desperately trying to rebuild their image…" She paused as she noticed everyone stare at her accusingly. "What? The pricks started it."
"So where are we meeting again?" Gaara asked, pretending to not know of something that could potentially start a war.
"…Fuuuuuck." Shadow grunted as she scratched the back of her head. "Screw it. Go to the Sarutobi compound tonight. It's a good secondary meeting spot."
"Please don't tell me that we're going to do something that could blow up the old man's home." Naruto asked warily. "I don't think his heart can handle it… and I don't want to have to house Konohamaru while his family is looking for a new place to stay."
"You're a regular bleeding heart." Temari sarcastically told Naruto.
"I try." The fellow blonde replied with a shrug.
"I would have preferred the extra privacy, but no, you're not going to be dealing with any potential mass property damage… this time." Shadow muttered the last bit to the side quietly. "We just need a decent spot to meet up."
"If that is all, I would appreciate it if you left." Hiashi stated. "My clan is indebted to yours, but we do have an image to maintain."
"Yeah, yeah." The woman sighed as she slowly sunk into her silhouette. "Just don't forget about what I said, brats. Tonight at the Sarutobi compound, and don't open those vials. It's really nasty stuff." She rubbed the bridge of her nose tiredly. "Now if you'll excuse me, I have to rebuild my home before Scab finds out and bills me to high holy hell…" Her silver blue eyes glanced at the teens there as she sunk into another world. "Enjoy your free time while it lasts, brats. You're going to be going under mega training when things pick up again… some sooner than others…"
"Rejoice, human!" Shukaku cheered as the woman finally disappeared. "We have been before the Sky Mother when she was pissed, and we remain alive and unmaimed! I'm so happy, I feel like I just killed an entire town of humans!"
"It's times like this that make me glad that I have a reasonable excuse to get out of the village from time to time." Shikamaru stated more to himself than anyone else.
"I'm glad my home village actually serves a purpose for you." Temari glanced at her younger friend with some ire.
"I highly doubt that you can do more bodily harm to me than that woman can." The Nara stated calmly as he laid back.
"Don't tempt me to try." The physically older of the two grunted.
"So we're going to be training again so soon?" Hinata worriedly looked at Sasuke. "Why do you think they need us to do so? We just got back from a bad mission…"
"They probably already identified all major attacks on the village for the next decade." Sasuke snorted. "The odds are bigger that they already figured out how to make them collapse on themselves."
"Probably only after they make things worse beforehand in order to make more things blow up." Shikamaru added before pausing. "… Crap, knowing them, they really might have that planned."
"Why do I hear evil laughing in the distance?" Naruto turned his head in a random direction.
"Because obviously the fates enjoy torturing you and me as much as they do the Ōgakari." Kurama muttered from inside his vessel.
"Despite the fact that it probably won't work, I think I will up the security here for the next few weeks…" Hiashi mumbled out loud before turning his attention to Naruto again. "Since we were both distracted, I'll let your lapse in stance go this time. Start your kata over from the beginning. I think this will help us all clear our minds for now…"
"Honestly…" Sasuke sighed. "Out of all the Ōgakari… I honestly get that woman the least. With Crypt, you can at least stick with him in gibberish and get along with him, but Shadow… I don't know… it's like she's different from the others in some way." He turned to Shikamaru. "Hey, Nara. You've spent a good amount of time around her. Care to tell us anything about her?"
"Hm?" Shikamaru blinked. "What about her?"
"You are the most likely out of our age group to have some kind of bond with her, Shikamaru-kun." Hinata pointed out. "Naruto-kun and I are close to Ghost-sensei, Tenten-san is close to Scabbard-sensei, my sister and her friends are close to Waltz-dono, as is Sakura-san. Crypt-san…" She hesitated. "… Well, we all have our own link to him, in a way… but out of everyone, you should be fairly close to Shadow-sensei by now."
"Hmm. You're right about that." Shikamaru mused as he laid back and looked at the sky. Everyone in his age group… or really, any sort of close shinobi team had a fairly close relationship to their teachers, especially if the teachers cared about their wellbeing. He himself was close to Asuma in a way that made the man his second father. Kurenai was like an aunt. Kakashi and Gai were uncles… his friends were either siblings or at the farthest, very close cousins…
He paused and frowned. Shadow Ōgakari though… there was no feeling of relationship with the woman, or it was something so weak that it was almost equitable to an extremely distant family member that he almost never saw.
Waltz… Ghost… even Crypt held a stronger sense of connection in his heart than the woman who had helped him out the most in terms of style and spent the most time training him…
"What… the hell?" He muttered as a frown as he tried to figure out why his sense of connection with the woman was so skewed. No matter how he approached his relationship with the woman, the connection always ended up at best distant and barely familiar unless he was seeing things from a strictly business point of view or something naturally distant like that, which was too far from the truth to consider reliable.
"Something bugging you?" Temari asked with a raised eyebrow.
"I don't know…" The genius answered honestly. "And I'm finding it more than troublesome…"
o. o. o.
"Are you sure you do not know where they went?" Mei asked with a frown as she, Zabuza and Haku sat in her office.
"I'm telling you, I don't know." The masked man sighed. "One moment everything's fine as things can be with them, the next some weird thing from their pockets starts beeping, they take them out and it shows them some kind of message, and they both swear at the same time."
"Please keep in mind that one of them is perpetually insane, Mizukage-sama." Haku added. "For him to act rationally, something extremely serious must have been in that message."
"So after that, they start using that thing that they used before to talk to other members of their family in a language I don't know, tell us something important has happened, left everything to us and then used the crazy one's blood sealing techniques to go to somewhere I have no clue about." Zabuza concluded.
"You do realize that this will not look good for Konoha if people find out about this." Mei frowned.
"No shit." The assassin rolled his eyes. "It wasn't looking good when Haku and I showed our faces here with Konoha headbands either. Just make up some story about them getting an emergency message that required them to book it and things should be fine."
"If only it was that simple." Mei moaned. "What about the Sanbi? How are things going with that?"
"He's getting better. Now it's only a fifty-fifty chance that he'll either talk to me or roar like he normally does. Other than that, he's pretty much doing the same giant turtle crap in my body as he did with Yagura." The man closed his eyes. "I still can't talk to him about Yagura or what happened to them without the damn bastard kicking me out in a fit of rage, but things are slowly improving. My control is getting closer to what it used to be, and I'm getting more used to my reserves." He cracked his neck.
"Still, from what I've heard from other jinchūriki I got off lucky. My beast was already tamed from his previous host, so even though he's gone nuts again, the groundwork is still there for me to work off of. Almost all of the other guys with bijū in them don't have that in their favor. I've heard stories about what happens to the Ichibi's container, and let me tell you, it's not something that gives me warm fuzzy feelings at night. So long as I don't push things, I'm fairly certain I can get a good deal of his power under control in a year or two."
"That soon?" Mei blinked in surprise.
"We have certain resources that can help accelerate the process." Haku cryptically answered. "Unfortunately, we are not that certain ourselves as to what they entail, but we are confident in the end results."
"… Well, at least we have some good news there." The brunette sighed before looking at Haku. "How have you enjoyed your stay here? I know your earlier memories of this country are not fond ones, but I am hoping that our current environment is somewhat more appealing."
"Not that it's hard to do that…" Zabuza muttered to the side.
"I have had a mixed reception, Mizukage-sama." Haku answered truthfully. "People here know that I am devoted to Zabuza, which engenders a remarkably wide range of reactions, but others have indeed come to me and either apologized for the bloodline purges, or informed me about what my clan was like. I have even received some relics and scrolls from my clan that can help me in the future…"
"Yet you still wish to stay in Konoha." Mei concluded with a somewhat disappointed tone.
"It is my first real home." Haku explained. "I have friends there who do not care about what I have, who trained me, or where I am from. I feel… happy there." She smiled sincerely.
"I am not surprised." The woman sighed reluctantly. "Konoha is well known as the most pleasant of the hidden villages to live in." She looked at Haku warily. "You did not come into possession of anything that would have me send my ANBU after you in order to retrieve, have you? No kinjutsu scrolls or village secrets. No weapons worth several million ryō…"
Haku raised her hands in front of her in surrender. "No. Just clan jutsu and history scrolls, and some jewelry that belonged to my ancestors. I didn't see or read of any kinjutsu in the documents I got, and I never held any weapons or anything like that since coming here." Technically, she and Zabuza had accepted the scrolls, but they'd deliberately avoided opening them to check their contents so that if they were asked this exact question, their response would be completely truthful. Misleading, yes, but truthful.
"Just making sure." The woman glanced at the girl in an amused way before turning to Zabuza again. "So how are the next generation of the Seven Swordsmen coming?"
"I'm still beating the basics into them." The man shrugged. "Technically, it's the basics that save you more often than anything else, but it's still slow going."
"That's because you consider learning how to deal with getting beaten to an inch of your life as the basics." Haku pointed out.
"I don't see you complaining. You're the one that does most of the maiming." The elder skeptically countered the girl.
"I'm not complaining, I'm just stating facts." The girl shrugged, not at all concerned with the fact that she was the one doing the most physical harm to their temporary students.
Mei laughed nervously with a sweatdrop going down her head. "Well, if there was any doubt that you two didn't act like family…"
o. o. o.
Back in Konoha:
"You do realize that if people found out about this meeting, we would all be in huge trouble, right?" Rōshi asked skeptically as he, Fū, Naruto, Gaara, Shadow and Hiruzen all sat in the Sarutobi clan's private study.
"I'm fairly confident that none of you are dumb enough to talk about it." Shadow yawned tiredly.
"I'm all for this meeting… so long as you do not destroy my home or any of my property." The retired Hokage stated simply and professionally, despite the nature of what he just said.
"You're just jinxing it by saying that, you know." Naruto deadpanned, causing Fū to snort.
"Why did you call us to here?" Gaara got to the point as he took out the vial of black liquid that the woman had given him earlier. "And what have you given us?"
"Straight to the point?" Shadow pouted with Zuzushi on her shoulder. "No snacks, drinks or board games for our little slumber party?"
"It's hard for us to relax when you're still pumping out enough subtle killing intent to have our bijū behave themselves without us asking." Rōshi grunted as he eyed the most dangerous individual in the room.
"Pussies." The Ōgakari grunted, getting a squeak of agreement from her own tenant. "You won't even show any backbone…"
"Considering the fact that you began this meeting by making us observe the true size of your tenant, of whom I might add is so large that our sense of scale is forever shattered, I'm fairly certain we have an excuse to be wary of your wrath." Gaara pointed out in a matter of fact tone.
"If anything, calling her the Sky Mother is understating her size." Fū snorted.
"Yeah, yeah." Shadow sighed as she sagged in her chair. "I get it. You can quit your bitching already. I'm in a truly bad mood, but as a rule, I don't go really nuts on anyone that doesn't bug me or can't handle the pain when I'm like this."
"What about those Iwa shinobi that I heard were traumatized several days ago?" Hiruzen asked skeptically.
"Not ag… for the last time! I will deny everything, and if they do manage to pin it on me, I have enough humiliating recordings of the incident ready for distribution that Iwa will never press charges against me or let knowledge of what happened see the light of day ever again!" The woman yelled to the ceiling in frustration.
"Should I even ask why half of them were muttering something about keeping them away from the baby seals?" Rōshi asked warily.
"No." Gaara, Naruto, and Hiruzen replied at once.
"No balls. The lot of you don't have a single ball between any of your legs." The immortal woman grunted to the side.
"Can we get back to why we are here again?" Fū asked impatiently as she held out her own vial. "Start off with this crap, and explain why it makes me feel like I'm holding an exploding poison."
"Fine." Shadow rolled her eyes. "That shit in your hand is a liquefied curse, and a damn powerful one at that. It's named after an old legend that means 'All the Evils of the World'. Basically, what it's for is to train you to resist your inner beast's will when you finally need to rely on more of their chakra, or when you finally go for the gold and try to take all of it."
"All the evils in the world?" Naruto muttered nervously as he stared at the liquid in his hand. "Why do I have a feeling that its name isn't stretching the truth?"
"Because it isn't." Shadow deadpanned. "I once jumped into a tub of that shit in a dare once, and let me tell you, it is potent as hell. It doesn't affect me much, but that's because I'm mentally strong enough to resist something as small as all the evils in the world. Now, if it was all the evils in a galaxy or all the evils in a universe, then I might be in some trouble, but all the evils in the world? Hell, I can gargle that shit for a year without anything happening. It tastes like crap, but that's a different story altogether."
"Are you telling us to drink this stuff?" Rōshi looked at his vial skeptically. "I don't know if I've told you yet, but I have some minor health conditions that restrict my diet, and I honestly have no idea if this would set it off or not."
"Drink… fuck that. If any of you guys drank that shit, then you'd either be dead or nuts in under a minute." Shadow snorted. "You four are going for the noobie course. Rub a single drop on your forehead and deal with the terrible, horrifying, and disturbing shit going through your head. In order to deal with your bijū's taints, I'm estimating that you'd need to go through at least two or three drops at once without much trouble in order to manage your end goal." She looked at Naruto. "Well… I'd go with four or five with you just to be safe. Kyūbi has a lot of absorbed taint in him compared to the other bijū I've seen."
"Hmmm." The old Hokage mused as he examined the vials in their hands. "I have never heard of a curse in corporal form without imposing itself on something else before…" He looked at the woman. "What should they expect to experience when they expose themselves to this liquid?"
The eldest one there yawned. "All the evils in the world. Duh." She paused. "Or to be more exact, the imposition of the essence of all possible and comprehensible conceptually evil actions onto the psyche of the one it's being applied to. Decapitation. Death. Slavery. Torturing by ripping off an old woman's nails before forcing her to watch her daughter's eyes being ripped out of her skull and listening to her screaming before having said eyeballs being forced down her throat, then being forced in turn to watch as said daughter gets fucked in all holes plus her eye holes by her husband…" She ticked off the actions on her fingers as if counting the days. "You know… that sort of sick shit."
Fū's face matched the color of her hair. "Ugh. Seriously? How the hell can anyone…"
"Because it has happened. Because it will eventually happen at somewhere, at some time, and there's not a damned thing you will be able to do to stop it." Shadow stared at all of them sternly. "Just like a possible utopia where everything is all puppies and fucking rainbows can exist, if even temporarily and in parts all over the planet, so can the absolute hell that consists of horrible actions and concepts that you convinced yourselves can never happen, but by all means can in the physical world if somebody got off his ass one day, snapped, and decided to do it. Social norms and regulations have nothing to do with the fact that things of that nature can happen, and the sooner you not only realize that they exist, but can actually accept that they do and manage to not be surprised about it, the sooner you can overcome the mental strain and corruption that comes with trying to obtain your bijū's power."
The Third Hokage's face frowned. "That seems a bit extreme, don't you think? Aren't there less… extreme ways to prepare them for controlling their beasts?"
Shadow rolled her eyes. "Yeah, but the end results are nowhere near as effective as what I'm doing now. When you guys meet up with the Hachibi's host, which we'll talk about in a bit, he'll test you first by having you confront the 'darkness' in your heart." She made air quotes. "It's just a stupid way of trying to get you to get rid of any of the doubt, uncertainty, and held back emotions in your subconscious, which is some of the shit that most bijū use to get leverage when they're trying to manipulate you from the inside."
"Why would that not be enough?" Naruto asked curiously. "I mean, from what you told me, Bee used that method and he got full control over his beast and everything."
"Because it's an imperfect approach and Bee, for all intents and purposes, got lucky when he did it." The draconic woman answered without hesitation.
"Imperfect?" Fū raised an eyebrow. "How? If the first step is to get rid of the stuff in your subconscious that gives the beasts their advantage in the first place, then how would they get around that when push comes to shove?"
"… I see…" Rōshi grunted darkly as he looked at Shadow warily. "They can still create more doubts and insecurities when you're trying to take out the chakra, especially if their will gets into you when you're doing it and you get exposed to the taint in them…"
Shadow nodded. "Got it in one. Just because you go into the fight with no insecurities doesn't mean you can't get more during it. All it really does is increase your odds of pulling it off a bit when you fight. What we're doing here is ensuring that you have all your bases covered when you finally decide to deal with your bijū."
"A very wise thing to consider. You have my thanks. I highly doubt we would have been as prepared as we will be without your aid." Gaara bowed.
Shadow smirked. "Don't thank me. That stuff in your hand is pretty much liquefied hell. Believe me when I say you will wish horrible things on me after you go through using that stuff for the first time." She crossed her arms and shrugged. "And even after that, you still have to make sure that you are actually strong enough to fight your beast and take their chakra in the first place in order to put your training to the test… that is, unless your beast has conveniently decided to help you out before then at least…"
"Shukaku is still very much against helping me with anything. He is very prideful." Gaara stated calmly.
"Goku is… being difficult… however, I have a feeling that if I put up enough of a fight, I may be able to get his respect enough to get him to throw me a bone." Rōshi shrugged before drinking some sake.
"Chōmei says that he'll talk to me about working with his chakra when I'm done with this stuff." Fū mused as she looked at the liquid in her hands.
Naruto remained quiet for several moments before sighing. "Kurama's being an ass again. We're on neutral terms for the most part, but the idea of me taking any of his power without his permission gets him pissed fast." He shrugged. "I guess it's the hard way for me."
"Good enough." Shadow nodded. "To be honest, I was somewhat expecting all your bijū to flat out say no. To have two of them say maybe is good news."
"Before we move on, though, can you give us advice on how we're supposed to deal with this crap?" Naruto asked skeptically as he pocketed his liquid curse.
"That sounds like a good thing to ask." Hiruzen nodded. "How would a person manage to withstand 'All the Evils in the World?"'
The immortal closed her eyes and frowned. "There are four main ways to do it, though two are the ones that I highly suggest you don't do, so I'll get them out of the way first." She began to stretch and crack her back. "Those two ways are to either embrace the curse and thrive on said horrible concepts and deeds, or to do the exact opposite and become so numb to any concept of evil that you cannot even comprehend such things in the first place."
Rōshi grunted as he drank some more. "Hmm… I can see why you advise against those two routes. Neither one of them would lead to a happy ending for anyone other than the insane."
"I get why the first is bad, but why the second?" Fū pondered.
"To become unable to recognize any wrong doing is detrimental." Gaara stated. "It would be the same as a person watching a man kill an entire family and not being able to tell that it was wrong or determine that they should do something to stop it. You may be able to get power in the process of becoming like that, but it would be impossible to predict when you'd use it other than maybe for self-defense. You cannot be a reliable individual for anyone with that sort of mentality."
"In short, you'd be an optimistic moron that would think that absolutely everyone in the world is naturally good and incapable of doing anything wrong." Rōshi concluded while shaking his head, probably remembering people in his past who were like that. "Fucking idiots."
"What about the other two methods?" Naruto asked Shadow while clearly trying not to remember that he was very close to that description at one point in his life.
"The other two ways you can deal with a conceptual psychological attack of this nature is either by sheer will power or by acceptance." The immortal yawned. "For acceptance… well, that's pretty much self-explanatory. You know these things exist, and since you accept that they do to the core of your being, you won't be affected by such things and will be able to keep your head clear naturally without almost any effort. This is admittedly the harder thing to do, as there is a chance that you might accidentally end up being enveloped by the curse and lose your sense of self in the process, but all in all, it is by far the most efficient and effective. Using will power… well, that's pretty much self-explanatory, but not really that much easier than acceptance when it comes to this stuff."
"That does sound very logical." Hiruzen nodded. "Which of the two methods do you employ?"
"Both." Shadow shrugged. "I rely on acceptance for the most part because it makes things easier for me in the long run for my travels. It makes dealing with new cultures easier to do because I'm much less likely to piss off the general populace by running my mouth. On the other hand, there are occasions that I do reach my limits when certain lines are crossed, which is when I employ the former. It helps distinguish and enforce my personality while at the same time ensuring that I am not loading myself with any unnecessary mental burdens."
The woman flipped her hair. "For you little noobies, I suggest you do the same, only rely on your will a bit more just in case. Try to calm yourself down completely until you feel like you are in a Zen state… or really drunk, or you just woke up and you still can't really comprehend the world yet. No matter what goes through your head, just recognize what it is and then move on. Another way of thinking about it is simply seeing it as a somewhat different occurrence, like noticing that the sky is pink during the evenings on occasion. It's different and noticeable, but in the end, it's pretty much meaningless. If it's something big that you can't ignore, withstand it or shove it aside, but don't dwell on it, or you'll just leave yourself open for other things to get inside your mental defenses."
"That makes sense, but I'm guessing that it's harder than it looks." Fū frowned.
"No, really?" The immortal gasped sarcastically.
"Should we be concerned that our beasts or our bodies may be contaminated by this liquid?" Gaara asked concerned.
"Nah. This stuff is more like the 'actions' of evil, not the 'attempt to turn you into pure evil' kind of evil." Shadow waved her hand lazily. "Instead of becoming an ass, you'd only have to be worried about going completely insane by the revelation and exposure."
"Well, that will certainly help me sleep at night." Rōshi rolled his eyes. "How long will this shit last?"
"It's like a potent but short lasting drug. The effects are strong as fuck, but the headache will last a really long time. My advice is to not try to drink yourself under to dull the pain. Trust me, it doesn't work as well as you would hope."
"If you don't mind, Shadow, I would like to move onto other topics before we test out that concoction of yours." Hiruzen spoke up, getting everyone's attention. "Now, due to our current circumstances and our agreement with the Raikage, we will only be able to bring four shinobi to the bijū training ground at a time for three month periods, and even then, we will only be able to do this at most three times every two years without drawing any attention to ourselves. Because of this, I believe it would be wise to start off with Rōshi and Gaara teaming up on a diplomatic mission with Jiraiya and Naruto in order to attempt to show to the public that we are trying to mend the bonds between our countries. Rōshi in particular must be on this trip due to the fact that if our current international situation deteriorates, then he will probably never have another chance to access the island under safe conditions, which would in turn raise the Raikage's ire."
"Hold on." Naruto raised his hand. "Just me and Ero-sennin? Where's Ero-nii?"
"Unfortunately, the majority of my family had to leave this universe due to an emergency situation that even we could not ignore. That little bit of energy that managed to escape from our training grounds was from a… disagreement between Ghost and myself. I wanted to go. He refused to let me." She channeled some energy into the metaphysical chain that was attached to her body, making it visible for everyone to see. "That bastard had to make sure that I wouldn't follow him, so he pretty much grounded me in this universe. My guess is that he and the others won't be back for another half a year."
"Am I the only one that's having trouble telling if that's a good or bad thing?" Naruto asked out loud curiously, getting every other non-immortal there to shake their head in response.
She paused before putting on a thoughtful look. "Well… technically, I could always just destroy this universe to free myself and then restore it back to normal… but I got into a fair amount of trouble with a lot of people for doing that the last time I did that… at least I think that's what happened last time… was that last time?"
"Shadow-nee, can you please not contemplate destroying my home universe… or at least can you not do it when I'm in hearing distance of you?" The blonde boy wept comically.
"Moving on." Hiruzen coughed. "The point is that Naruto, Rōshi, and Gaara will be training to master their bijū on the island within the next few weeks. Fū, you will remain here, as your village is becoming uncomfortable with Akatsuki's rising threat level. That does not mean that you will be sitting around doing nothing, as I have already talked to Tsunade about several training exercises and regimens that you will be put through during your stay here to improve your combat potential." He turned to all of the jinchūriki there. "Please keep in mind that all of your currently planned bijū training will not necessarily mean that you will be able to fully control it. However, it should at the very least significantly improve your ability to handle their power without losing control of yourselves."
"Yeah." The four jinchūriki in the room nodded at once, understanding the logic and implications behind what the old man was saying.
"I don't need to explain to any of you that our current timeline is different from the one that you all remember. To be honest, I have even less to go by than you do, as I had already died by now in the previous line." Hiruzen continued. "I am afraid that should tensions rise between Konoha and Iwa, Akatsuki's ability to move around without detection will increase significantly. As such, I want you all to be as careful as possible when travelling without significant backup." He puffed out some smoke. "If I may be perfectly honest, I do not expect more than half of you to survive the upcoming battles when everything has finally resolved, but that does not mean I will not try my hardest to make sure that as many of you live as possible."
"Heh." Rōshi snorted. "Considering the fact that I've seen you at your worst, I'm feeling pretty good about our odds right now."
"Even without the training you guys have been giving me, I feel good just to have backup." Fū smirked.
"I will not allow myself to be captured again, and I will not allow any of you to either." Gaara frowned.
"I can't wait to see the looks on their faces when they realize that we've been preparing for this for years." Naruto grinned in a feral way.
"They'd probably just get pissed off, then double team you." Shadow yawned. "I doubt that any one of you guys other than the blonde boy wonder or the rapping wannabe can handle two of their members at once."
"Way to kill the mood." Fū grumbled, her rush of excitement and confidence leaving her fairly rapidly.
"Just telling you guys the truth. You can't blame me for that." The immortal shrugged.
"We know that, but do you have to be so crude about it?" Hiruzen asked tiredly.
"No, but considering the fact that I'm helping you simply because I want to, you really don't have a choice in the matter." Shadow grinned childishly. "In fact, you're way better off like this compared to if a normal god tried to help you."
"A normal god?" Gaara asked warily. "How so?"
"Oh, those pussies never like getting their hands dirty. Whenever they DO bother to pay attention to their realms in the multiverse and they realize that they have to do something in order to maintain balance in areas under their control, they just do the standard 'tweak one moment in history and let everything else go their course' thing. Granted, they're good at it, but the people they manipulate most of the time have no fucking clue that they're being played in the first place… and it's just BORING." The container of the Sky Mother inspected her nails casually.
"The Family and I prefer our way. Jumping in yourself is a bit crude and inefficient at times, but it's more fun to be at least somewhat part of the action instead of just watching everything from a distance. Plus, we at least have the balls to say to people, 'Yeah, we did that. The fuck are you going to do about it?'"
"Other than your clear disrespect for all things natural and living, what do you mean by gods managing their section of the multiverse?" Hiruzen raised an eyebrow.
The woman yawned. "Eh. It's pretty simple. The entire multiverse is huge as hell. No single god can manipulate its entire contents, or to put it bluntly, there is no such thing as a god of everything. Instead, your version of a 'god' is really just one that manipulates either your own universe, or the one that manages the other gods that do that job. It varies from plane to plane. Even then, they normally don't really do their job correctly and go off to do whatever the hell they want. To them, observing mankind and the natural life in their area is almost akin to watching a giant ant farm." She held up her hand in front of her eyes and made a pinching motion. "Everyone is tiny and they can't comprehend your vastly less developed thought processes, yet they can watch pretty much everything at once since you are moving in less directions than they can. The only difference is that the owners can shrink down to the ant's size and join in without them noticing."
"Glad to know that we amount to something in their eyes." Rōshi snorted. "At least they don't really give a damn about us and don't kill the farm."
"Well, there are multiple kinds of gods, and some of them govern over different things and elements and rules, but yeah, for the most part they don't give a shit about anything normal existences do unless it could possibly disturb the transdimensional balance of things." Shadow nodded. "Don't get me wrong, though; there are humans and other creatures that are capable of killing, overpowering, and controlling them, but for the most part, gods do run the show behind the scenes... or they just do nothing, let things go the course, and not give a shit. You'd be surprised how often it's the second case."
"What about our world's gods?" Gaara asked warily. "Given the fact that you are supposedly one of the most notable individuals in the multiverse, surely you must have been in contact with them since you arrived here."
"From what I've seen so far… this world has one main governing god that lets the local spirits, minor gods and demons handle most of the grunt work… and it hasn't paid any attention to this universe in probably a few hundred years at the least. Oh, sure, you have a Shinigami and other basic local gods, but as minor existences, they have little influence over anything outside of the areas they govern unless given permission in some way." The immortal woman mused. "It's not that surprising, to be honest. Your god is related to a pretty huge string of parallel ones, so there's bound to be a fair number of planes here that get skipped…" She paused. "Though if they do look here again and notice what Ghost did… they might get curious as to what happened…"
"You mean that time traveling thing?" Fū asked.
"He told me it was more like he burned away what happened, and what we remember is simply us seeing the ashes of what was left behind." Naruto shrugged.
"Yeah… to put it in another way, Ghost burned away the events of the previous timeline, and to be blunt, he's the only being, god or mortal, that can do such a thing. Nobody here can tell that he did it because normal humans can't naturally perceive things past the standard fifth dimension, or time A to time B. The chain links help you see a bit into the sixth, which is where your old memories come from." Shadow explained.
"But gods, and special existences like myself, can naturally perceive things up to the sixth to eighth dimensions depending on how powerful they are. The dimensions in order are: the lower multiverses, or multiple versions of the same universes but with altered events at various points in time, the lower middle ranged multiverses, which have your world's multiverse alongside other world's multiverses. Last on that list is the middle ranged multiverses, which is like the previous version but the multiverses change at the same rate according to a larger, more absolute version of time."
Shadow cracked her neck. "The ninth dimension has the grand scale multiverses, but at that level, the rules of gods and their fundamentals vary between each realm, so we don't really explore that realm much. Zuzushi is responsible for creating our current mid-level multiverse, or up to our eighth dimension, which is where most gods tend to live, stay, manage, and fuck around. That being said, she is without a doubt among the highest on the food chain there."
The woman paused as she noticed all of the blank looks she was getting. "… Okay, where did I lose you?"
"The sixth dimension." The jinchūriki there all said at the same time.
"The eighth." Hiruzen sighed.
Shadow deadpanned. "Fuck it. I'll make it easy. Gods are assholes. They don't give a shit about humans most of the time. Zuzushi and I are the stuff awesome is made from. End story."
"I liked the part with the gods." Naruto smiled sarcastically... before he was grabbed by Shadow by the head and instantly sprouted his fox parts. "Why do I feel like I'm about to be in large amounts of pain?"
"Because this is payment for explaining to you the secrets of the multiverse." Shadow replied before tying him up with her element and then bear hugging his tail. "I take my payment in fuzzies. Prepare to be violated."
Hiruzen coughed while trying to ignore the blonde's begging gazes for help, as he was gagged and could not make any requests for aid. "Getting back on topic, are there any other questions that don't relate to Naruto's current situation before we continue with our future plans. None? Okay then. Now, in a few days, Jiraiya will be returning to the village, and when he does…"
o. o. o.
Elsewhere in Konoha:
Kurotsuchi sighed as she sat on the rooftop of the building she and several other Iwa shinobi were staying in for the duration of their stay in Konoha. "I'm surprised." She mused out loud as she drank some booze. "I thought you would have done something by now."
From the shadows nearby, seemingly unrecognized even by nature until that point, a seemingly average looking man chuckled and walked into the moonlight. "You wound me. Even I know when to stay my hand." He stopped next to the woman and looked at the village in front of him. "Konoha really is a good looking place, isn't it?"
"You almost sound like you're glad you didn't find an opportunity to do something." The granddaughter of the Tsuchikage snorted. "Don't tell me you have something against gunning for kids."
"If I did, I would be a stain for those in my line of work." The man shrugged. "I'm merely… curious. That's all."
"Curious?" Kurotsuchi raised an eyebrow. "Aren't you supposed to be trained to not let that get the better of you?"
"Normally yes, but considering who the boy is, can you blame me?" The merchant replied shamelessly. "Namikaze's son. A jinchūriki. A summoner. An elemental prodigy. Absurd levels of chakra. The boy has so much potential that even I am left wondering how he will turn out when he finally grows up. The only thing that could possibly make him even more dangerous would be if he had a… well, pretty much ANY bloodline at this point, to be honest..."
"Wouldn't that normally prompt you to kill them off early so they DON'T reach that level?" The teen pointed out objectively.
"Yes… however, I can eventually use this as well." The man nodded. "Konoha is getting quite strong lately… so very strong. It is quite concerning, wouldn't you think?"
The girl snorted. "Maybe. Depends who you ask. Personally, I just think that they got a good batch of brats and a solid set of mercenaries. The village itself hasn't changed much, if you think about it. They still worship a log of all things. They do that will of fire crap. And they give out good missions to their allies to make themselves look good." She yawned. "To be honest, as far as obnoxiously honorable shinobi go, these guys have a pretty good setup going for them with all the allies they have."
"Now that's interesting." The merchant grinned. "It almost sounds like you lost your desire to put this village in its place."
"I'm just stating facts, asshole. Nothing more." The teen shot back. "Unless you've forgotten, the ally thing is part of the reason why Konoha's been on the top of the power chain for a while. Maybe if we didn't screw over our own temporary allies as much as we do, we'd be in a better position right now. Iwa does have a habit of pissing off everyone we team up with at some point, after all."
"That's because truces are merely in place so long as both sides agree to it." The man argued simply. "In our world, they never do last long, and as such, we merely make sure that we are not on the receiving end when such things finally do break. That is part of the reason why we have yet to collapse like Kiri and Suna have. We rely only on ourselves, and do not leave openings for betrayal."
"Deidara-nii." The granddaughter of Ōnoki argued bluntly, bringing up the name of one of the strongest missing-nin from Iwa alive… hence, a betrayer.
"We can't be right all the time." The man argued casually. "Besides, he's a special case. While Deidara did steal a kinjutsu from us and run away, he has yet to use it against us and merely goes about doing whatever he wants." He grinned. "In fact, I've heard that he's joined a mercenary organization lately that happens to be frequently employed by us… so in the end, he technically has yet to leave our command."
Kurotsuchi snorted. "I doubt it. That guy never did like taking orders from anyone… plus, I honestly doubt there's a guy who would be crazy enough to try and hire a bombing addict like him and keep a stable operation running."
The merchant laughed heartily. "Hahaha. Yes, you do have a point there, but regardless, that's what my sources tell me."
"Good for them." She grunted before going quiet once more.
The two looked at the village for a bit longer before the man spoke up again. "It wasn't me or my allies who tried to attack the wounded brats."
"Could have fooled me." The female mused for a moment before pausing. "Wait… then that means…"
"Someone either really wanted those brats dead, or they want to make us look worse than we already do." The merchant finished her thoughts. "Regardless, all that happened in the end was that it made Konoha more wary of us, which technically they should have been in the first place, but still…"
"It's not like we can look much worse than we already do save for actually killing someone of theirs while we're here." Kurotsuchi shrugged. "Han got taken out by Konoha's jinchūriki, who is less than half his age. A bunch of our most dangerous criminals got taken down by some kids. We lost said criminals in the first place for over half a year from right under our own noses." She sighed. "Yep. Iwa's rep will be in the shitter for a while."
"And if we try to place the blame on Konoha, we'll look even worse." The man nodded. "I target individuals, I don't start wars..."
"You sure come close to it though." The woman grumbled, knowing about several of the man's exploits that nearly started some very nasty battles.
"And yet I haven't, and I learn from all of my experiences." He grinned. "Namikaze will indeed go down in time, but it will be in a rather memorable way… after all…"
"Stop right there." Kurotsuchi interrupted as she got up. "I told you. I'm done with your group. Whatever you have planned or how you plan to do it, have fun, but leave me out of it."
The merchant sighed and shook his head. "Such a killjoy. I guess that finding out that you have family in high places does do things to you after all…"
"It does." The teen grunted as she walked back inside, no longer managing to tolerate the man's company. "It makes my life suck less."
o. o. o.
"Stupid old man taking me away from the stupid fuzzies because I was waking up the stupid household and made the stupid brat go unconscious 'cause of the stupid pain." Shadow grumbled irritably as she walked in the darkness towards her clan compound so she could finish fixing up the place and get some sleep. It was fairly obvious to say that she had been seething and pissed the past few days, but after violating Naruto in all the wrong ways, she had managed to cool down enough that if someone bugged her now, she wouldn't horrifically maim them in an instant…
… or at the very least, she wouldn't break out the baby seals again.
She was so into her verbal ranting that she almost missed the fact that Kakashi was casually walking down the same road as she was in the opposite direction. "Not to be rude, but you look like you're ready to blow up a mountain just because it's in your way." Kakashi deadpanned as he crossed her path.
"Do I look like The Blue to you?" The woman growled dangerously.
"The what?" The cyclops blinked in confusion.
The Ōgakari's eyebrow twitched. "A woman who did just that. We have a very strong love-hate relationship."
Kakashi laughed nervously, clearly picturing Shadow and this mysterious person arguing over something trivial and destroying the surrounding continent in the process. "Please let me know if she's ever around so that I can escape with my life."
"I'll consider it." Shadow snorted as she turned back to the Sarutobi compound's direction. "Don't spend too long staring at that dumb rock, Kakashi. You might catch something for once."
The man smiled. "Oh, don't worry. I filled my quota for the day. I'm just going back home now. To be honest, I think more people are worried about you right now. You do have a habit of acting out when you're excited."
"I'm a big girl, Hatake. I can handle myself. Remember, my family and I are in this place because we think you guys are the ones that need help." The woman waved her hand lazily without turning around as she began to move… before stopping.
Kakashi himself paused too as he noticed a shift in the air around the woman. "Is something wrong?" He asked warily while expanding his senses to see if he missed anything.
Shadow didn't turn around as she seemed to hesitate, as if trying to find the right words to say. "A word of advice before I go."
The man looked at her warily. There was a sudden familiar weight in her voice that caught his attention. It was something that he instinctively knew didn't belong to a god, a deity killing juggernaut, or anyone with power. On the contrary, the weight in that tone belonged only to those that have experienced extreme loss and had yet to truly move past such burdens. "Oh? And what kind of advice would that be?"
"Start over, Kakashi."
The jōnin paused before looking at the immortal confused. "Come again?"
"Your team is dead. Your family is dead. You've proven yourself to be a fuckup as a teacher…" She listed off the man's less than redeeming traits and past events. "You're constantly late, you let your past haunt you and hold you back… and you are addicted to reading porn in public… but you are still alive. You are still young and able to do something about your future. Despite the fact that your past for the most part sucks, you are still very much able to start your personal life over again."
Kakashi's eyebrow raised considerably in surprise. Out of all the Ōgakari, save for Crypt, he would have expected to get a life lesson from Shadow the least. The scary thing was that he had a feeling that in her own way, the woman was revealing her deepest pains to him…
"Marry, adopt, get adopted. I don't give a shit how you do it, but actually start forming family bonds again." She began to walk away and disappeared into the darkness.
"Believe it or not… some people don't have the luxury to do that anymore… so don't piss them off by throwing it away."
o. o. o.
"I still don't understand why we are doing this here." Shino frowned as he, Kiba and Hinata sat in front of Kiba's home television and watched the recordings of the fight that Ghost and Shadow took. "It would be best if we did this somewhere more private where we would have less of a chance of getting caught and thus questioned."
"We're doing this 'cause we haven't had any good old Team Eight time in a while, and this is a good way of catching up." Kiba growled as he pressed the play button. "Besides, worse comes to worse, sis will probably be able to see the video and not static and cover for us. Now stop complaining and watch us fight for our lives. If the recording is good enough for us to learn from, we might just let those bastards off the hook for not helping us out."
"You didn't have to put it like that…" Hinata muttered to the side.
The three (plus Akamaru) remained quiet as they watched the opening (and completely unnecessary) credits before Shadow and Ghost appeared on the screen.
"Okay numbnuts, we'll make this quick, 'cause odds are you are all still really pissed at us." Ghost started off the bat, causing the teens to sweatdrop. "At the end of the video, the Midget and I added some quick commentaries and reviews on what you all did right and what you fucked up on, in addition to advice and other shit. Take it. Leave it. We don't care. It's there."
"This video should not be watched by children without proper adult supervision. Enjoy watching yourselves nearly die!" Shadow grinned and waved before the video changed to show a top view of the original team traveling and the fake team made of clones ahead of them.
Team Eight watched, noting that the camera focused on the clone of Akamaru disappearing while everyone was distracted, how Naruto managed to make the right call by putting everyone away, how a single one of Naruto's clones held off and fooled the enemy while the blonde set up one of his strongest techniques...
"We have much to work on if we want to work alongside Naruto in battle." Shino stated gravely as he watched the three twisters decimate the enemy forces. "I must admit… I am rather uneasy about how far he has progressed in such a short amount of time…" The other two nodded silently as they continued to view the chaos happening and all the bodies being torn apart.
Soon afterwards, they saw Lee's, Kin's, Neji's, and Sai's fights with great interest, taking note of how strong and dangerous their foes were as well… when the door opened and Hana walked in.
"Hey mutt, mom said to turn down the static and…" She paused and looked at the screen as Kiba and Hinata's counterpart faced off against Sinō. "What the…" She blinked.
"Ghost-sensei secretly watched and recorded the entire incident." Hinata answered without looking away. "We're seeing how we can improve ourselves and what we could have done differently." She winced as she watched herself get assaulted by the mole summon.
"They altered the video so that only we, and apparently you as well are able to watch it." Shino explained. "They did so in order to prevent others from gaining information on us." He paused as he saw Kiba manage to pull a fast one on Sinō. "You pull off playing dead fairly well."
"You're lucky I need you to get rid of Akamaru's fleas, Shino." Kiba grunted before smirking. "Eh, whatever. At least you can see how awesome I can be now." He stopped at Hana smacked him upside the head. "Ow! What the hell?"
"I was wondering why your and Akamaru's ribs and stomach muscles were in such shitty shape when you got here, and now I see why." The elder dog user grunted. "Mom and I warned you that using the wolf techniques while your ribs were broken could lead to you tearing up your insides to the point that you would bleed to death from the inside. Given who your opponent was, I'll let you off with that and not tell mom, but if you do it again, wounded or not, I will kick your ass for being an idiot." She crossed her arms and watched the video alongside the teens. "But for the moment, the main beatings are saved for Shadow when she calms down and Ghost when he shows up again." She paused as she continued to watch the fight and saw Hinata not only push back Sinō's attack, but get the drop on him as well. "Though… I have to admit… this video is pretty interesting to have."
"I would have preferred it if we had the extra help." Hinata darkly muttered as the video showed Han savagely beating up her friends before she showed up, showing Neji getting his eye getting gouged out in full detail. Next to her, Shino and Kiba reacted appropriately as well, either by turning green or grunting in barely withheld anger.
"That freak's too wild to let live." Hana growled, her triplets nodding in silent agreement, as they watched the man casually torture the teens while they tried to put up a resistance. "Granted, it's probably why you are all still alive, but given what happened…"
"It happened, Hana-sensei." Shino stiffly replied. "The best we can do now is learn from our mistakes and try to ensure it doesn't happen again."
"Don't beat yourself up about this, Shino." Kiba muttered as he watched his counterpart get kicked hard, a particular event that he recalled quite vividly given how much pain it gave him. "You weren't there. There's nothing you could have done."
"Then I will simply make sure that I am with you more often then." The insect user stated bluntly as Hinata showed up and tried her best to help her friends. "Why did Naruto not show up at this point?"
"That massive ninjutsu he did earlier took a lot out of him." Hinata answered. "He held himself back so that he could recover as much as possible in case he was needed again. Han showed up and attacked so quickly that there was little time to inform him of what was happening…" She winced as she watched herself get hit fairly hard by Han in an attempt to get Ino out of the way of getting stepped on.
"You'd think that being Ghost's apprentice would make him a bit faster when it came to things like this." Kiba muttered skeptically.
"No. When it comes down to it, a good number of the guys your age are naturally faster than he is." Hana corrected his sister. "Naruto's training focuses on his adaptability more than anything else. He is fast, but from what I've seen, you're faster, Kiba. It just so happens that he can control himself more efficiently than you can, which makes it look like it's the opposite."
"Seriously?" The younger Inuzuka blinked. "Well, if that's the case, I know what Akamaru and I'll going to work on next when I recover." His puppy barked in agreement from his lap.
"I take it this is where Uzumaki appears." Shino commented, seeing as the screen was looking grainy suddenly and everyone shown was reacting to it.
Hana whistled as Naruto appeared on the screen. "Wow. I've never seen him look that pissed before." She paused. "I wonder how he managed to get you guys away from the guy without…" Her question was answered as she saw the clones replace themselves with everyone while the airborne clone assaulted Han from above. "Ah…"
"Holy…" Kiba blinked. "Since when could he do THAT?"
"Replacement… but I've never seen it done to that level before…" Shino muttered in surprise.
The group of four (plus four dogs) remained quiet as they watched Naruto and Han duke it out in silence, surprise, humility, embarrassment (when Naruto set off the kunai in Han's rear), and finally fear, as the bijū cloaks were finally taken out.
"So that is what it looks like when they use their chakra to higher levels…" Hana muttered darkly.
"You were aware of this, Sensei?" Shino asked as he watched Naruto fight against the two tailed state Han.
"Somewhat. I knew that jinchūriki could cover themselves in their bijū's power, but I've never seen it before." The eldest one there muttered. "Supposedly, when they are like this, they are nearly unstoppable. It's part of the reason why they are so highly valued during wartime…" She frowned as she saw Han enter his third tail state. "But for the brat to hold the guy off for this long without using his own beast…"
"Judging from his expression, I can assume that he is attempting to hold back using the Kyūbi for as long as possible." Shino mused. "I also assume that, given how well he has been doing, this is the kind of fight he had been preparing to encounter for a long time…" He paused when the blonde boy threw down several smoke bombs and a loud shrieking noise was made.
"Huh…" Kiba frowned. "Where have I heard that before?"
He was answered as the image of a Rasenshuriken bolted out from the smoke and barreled towards the nearly insane man. The four watchers gaped as they recognized the construct made of pure chakra as it missed its target, followed by the one hidden in its shadow missing as well… before the first one transformed into a clone and GRABBED the second one in midair without Han noticing and launched it again at his backside in one swift motion while the man was too busy getting stuck in Naruto's earth technique.
The explosion and the noise coming from it was massive, dwarfing anything the video had shown before save for the three twisters that had made the battleground in the first place.
"Holy… since when the hell could he do THAT?" Kiba blinked.
"Ghost did say that Naruto had some major aces… but I never…" Hana gaped.
"This is most unexpected." Shino mused.
"Fūton… Rasenshuriken." Hinata muttered. "I've seen it a few times. It's Naruto-kun's personal ninjutsu that he made himself… something that Ghost-sensei himself cannot use." She closed her eyes. "Naruto-kun would never use that move on an opponent unless he truly felt that he needed that much power. It's extremely draining to use, even for him."
"No kidding." Kiba muttered as the giant dome slowly began to die down…only for it to explode in a giant wave of black chakra. "What the hell?"
"That couldn't be…" Hana's eyes widened in surprise as the camera focused on Han's body. "A blood shroud?"
"Blood shroud?" Hinata asked warily, not liking the way it sounds.
"The next level of a jinchūriki's transformation." The eldest one swallowed nervously. "If a normal shroud could be described as a human with their demon's shape… the blood shroud is more like a demon shrunk down to their host's size…" The screen widened to show Han in his four tailed state. "Kids… let me just make one thing clear. If you EVER come across a jinchūriki gone wild and they look like that… run. Don't even think about trying to fight it. Just focus on trying to escape with your lives. When those guys get into that state, you are no longer fighting the man holding the beast… you're going up against the demons themselves."
"Hold on." Kiba frowned. "If they're that dangerous, then how did…" His question was stopped as the TV Naruto developed his own shroud of chakra and grew six tails. "… Ah. Right. Forgot about that."
The battle of monsters started as the teens watched in silence, mentally taking notes of as many things as they could and not daring to say anything lest they miss something. All of them were humbled by the raw power and speed that both combatants were fighting at and they were terrified at the sheer savagery of their attacks.
"It seems we have much work to do in order to adequately fight alongside Naruto…" Shino frowned as the blonde boy used War Scars.
"Ho. Ly. Shit." Kiba gaped in disbelief. He had briefly seen the technique on two other occasions, but never on that kind of wide scale and never that clear to see.
"You can say that again." Hana mimicked her brother's reaction.
"When I saw Naruto-kun earlier this week, he did say that he managed to use War Scars for the first time in the fight… but I didn't know it was like that…" Hinata whispered more to herself than anyone else.
By the end of the fight, all four of the teens had developed a true respect for Naruto and somewhat feared him as well. All of them knew that he was special because of the Kyūbi and because of the training that Ghost had given him, but this was the first time they had seen the boy truly go all-out, and it was daunting to see just how far ahead of the curve he was. They would have dwelled on this line of thinking for a while if…
"Hold on…" Shino frowned as the video panned back while Kakashi picked up the unconscious blonde and showed someone watching from the shadows. The individual was alien to the four, as half his body lengthwise was white, the other was black, and he seemed to be enveloped in some kind of Venus flytrap. "Who…"
"Well, that was pretty interesting…" The white half mused in a happy tone. "Who would have thought that right after we found the Gobi, we'd come across the Kyūbi as well and see them duke it out?"
"The Kyūbi's much stronger than we first assumed. I'm starting to understand why Itachi and Kisame were having so much trouble trying to catch him…" The black half rasped much to the watcher's surprise. "The leader would want to know about this. Who knows how strong he'll be when we finally begin hunting…"
"Yeah. Those kids were pretty impressive, too." The white half agreed. "They might actually be a notable threat in a few years. Kakuzu would be pretty happy to have their names and info. It'll make collecting their future bounties easier…" He sighed. "It's a shame that we can't eat any of the bodies or take any of the targets now…"
"Don't be greedy. There are too many ANBU around. We can't expose ourselves yet. It's too early." The darker side chided as the dual personality man began to sink into the tree he was attached to. "Wait until we start hunting the bijū again… then we can act with a bit more freedom…"
The screen shifted away from the disappearing man and over several trees before it slowed down and turned to show that it was in the hands of a smirking Ghost, with Shadow looking over his shoulder.
"You have about two and a half years to prepare for that guy's friends, brats. Better make them count."
o. o. o.
Why Scab is no longer allowed to make creatures that target Magical Girls and potential Magical Girls:
Scabbard sat in his office as he looked at his latest and most disappointing failure to date. Unlike his previous attempts, this time was especially irritating to him, as he had assumed that he had a successful answer to his problems for once. "I would say that you have failed me… unfortunately, the only one I can blame for this is myself for not realizing that such a loophole existed."
"Please do not do that, master." The adorable looking creature bowed his head in shame. "It was my fault. I should have realized something was wrong when I discovered the girl's potential. It never crossed my mind that she would wish to use it to become an actual multiversal rule…"
"No. It was my error to overlook the implications of overlapping integrated time phenomena and miss the fact that the compounded potential power would be enough to override the system we had implemented." Scab shook his head. "Unfortunately, I will not have another chance at this."
"Why is that, master?" The creature tilted his head to the side confused.
"Many other gods have gotten wind of this mistake and are aware of the unexpected new addition to this minor multiverse. They feel that should I continue, I may accidentally cause a more devastating and unnatural alteration in the rules of the multiverse next time that may not be as easily managed. As such, I am forbidden from performing these projects again save for extreme situations, lest I gain more of their ire." The green haired man stated simply. "To be blunt, I do not blame them. I am fairly angry at myself for this mistake…"
The man sighed and turned to his creation. "Go back to your world and manage it as best you can. Your new task is to make sure that the general stability is maintained lest I gain more ire from the gods, or worse, another one of those brats manages to ascend to the higher plane."
The creature bowed. "As you wish, master. Even though you did not give me emotions, I am still somehow honored and grateful that you created me. I only wish that I had managed to fulfill my original duty as you had planned."
Scabbard sighed as his creation disappeared into the folds of space to his own multiverse and took out a clipboard and signed it off. "A shame. I really did think that I had finally managed to create a sufficient deterrent for magical potential girls to not develop their powers…"
Leaving the room, the man left the board on his desk to get some food.
Project code name: Incubator. Failed.
o. o. o.
Happy birthday to meeeeeeeeeeee! I'm twenty threeeeee!
(Looks at checklist of things to do):
Move out of house: Do that when stockpiles are big enough.
Get a car: Look at move out.
Work out more and drop 10 lbs: But sleeping is so much more comfyyyyyyy!
Get a sane girlfriend instead of occasionally briefly dating girls that have bad scary issues by chance that are for some reason attracted to you: Wait until you're done with grad school so you actually have the TIME to do that.
Laugh at said ex's 'cause they don't know who you are here and thus you got away with it: … In progress.
And enough of that.
Just to reiterate from the Omake: Scab REALLY hates Fangirls and their magical counterparts. He only gives Nanoha a little breathing room because she relies on blowing things up first before the friendship speech, but that's it.
So Fate Zero comes out today, which is awesome. I'm finally getting hired on salary at my current job, and life's good.
Yawaleh should be done in the next chapter or two, and I am doing the time skip, but then I'll be focusing most of my time on FFD. Speaking of which, we finally got some FFD fanart people! Two works from the deviantart of Namikaze-Naruto-Sage, and they are both fucking beautiful! View them and comment! Now!
I kinda rushed the end of this chapter, but really, I stink at wrapping things like this up. I'm trying my best, but real life is really nuts right now. Work is picking up and I just found out that I might get shipped to Barcelona Spain for a few weeks in the summer to help out my company set up some major equipment. It's good that I'm valued so highly, but at the same time I easily get nervous when it comes to stuff like this. I'm naturally a very low key person.
As for the Manga: I call bullshit on Kabuto's internal healing ability being attributed to Karin. Here's why:
Karin didn't join Orochimaru till AFTER the Chūnin Exams.
Kabuto first hinted at his healing ability in the Forest of Death. Hence. That shit does not match up! Hence, I am not giving that poor use of a plot device half the crap that Kishi gave him.
So that's it. Happy birthday to me and all that crap.
Oh yeah, Holy Crap I broke the 4k mark the last chapter. That was over a 200 review difference. Thank you everyone who helped out with that.
Review! Worship the log! Random random thingie here! And Review again!