Konoha. The Hidden Village of the Leaf. The very heart of Fire had been the place Minato Namikaze had called home since birth. He had grown up in the valley of lush greenery, still of the opinion he had yet to find a more beautiful village in all his travels. It was the cradle of his fondest memories and now, it was the site of hell itself.
The Forth Hokage of Konoha stared out over his home where firelight danced across the night's horizon, lighting the very monument upon which he stood. Buildings had been torn asunder and his countrymen lay dead or dying in the ravaged streets. What was causing the devastation before him, however, was cause for even more dread. It was a sight less than a handful of his brethren had ever laid eyes on prior to this day, and those that survived this Armageddon would pray they would never see again It was Kyuubi, the nine tailed demon and the creature had set to expending its destructive fury on everything and everybody they held dear. The beast descended upon their homes in the deep of night, tearing through Konoha's perimeter guard like a wave of furious red chakra while annihilating everything that stood in its path. Those that could evacuate had already done so. Those that couldn't invariable died.
Then, there were those that wouldn't.
Steel blue eyes swept the embattled village, mentally assessing the damage to his beloved home. A quarter of Konoha was simply gone, scoured by flame and chakra as the demon fox advanced through their hastily assembled defenses. While he would like to say his forces were giving as good as they were getting, he'd be lying. The Nine Tails was simply a force of nature, and Minato knew he was trading his people's lives for time until the beast could be routed or slain.
Minato's stony expression met the night's crimson-orange glow. It was now hour number three since the nine-tail's arrival, and so far neither objective had been achieved.
"Gamabunta's spent. I've ordered ANBU Summer and Spring to fall back to Kobi ward to reinforce Winter."
"Have Police Unit Six cover their withdrawal," The Yondaime Hokage nodded, simultaneously acknowledging his mentor's advisement while relaying the instructions to a dog-masked nin standing by for just such orders. The masked ninja snapped to attention and was gone from the cliff-side face. Minato's blond crop of hair wavered in the pyre's thermal breeze, and he pushed a weary hand through it. "They'll take heavy casualties, but..."
"...but we're out of options." Jiraiya finished in a similarly sober tone. The white haired Sannin stepped up to his former pupil's side, watching beyond as the massive demon's nine tails continue to lash within the confines of their home, destroying entire city blocks while Konoha's defenders sought to keep it from moving deeper into the heavier populaces. The elder turned away to gaze at his former pupil. "You're going to do it, aren't you?"
The blond simply nodded. "I've run it by Sarutobi-sensei. He agrees the seal should work."
"Dammit." The Gama Sannin murmured. Under any other circumstance, he would have attempted to talk his one time student out of the course of action that he was committing to, but damned if he could think of anything else that would save what was left of their home. With Madara's insurrection had gone horribly wrong and now the price was left to be paid. Kyuubi had apparently finished licking its near decade old wounds and was back; nor would it stop until all of Konoha was a funeral pyre. "It's not going to stand still while you run through the seals, you know? Hell, it won't stop for anything."
"It'll stop for me."
Both men turned around to find a woman stepping up to their position. Jiraiya blinked. Minato frowned. There was no mistaking the red mane of her hair set aglow in firelight or the lithe grace with which she moved. The orange flak jacket, and distinctive interlocking swirl of the protector tied at her waist like a belt only confirmed her identity, and the fourth shook his head with a frustrated look. "You of all people--"
"Must." She silenced him, adding a delicate finger to his lips. She smiled gently and pulled the finger away, leaving him silent. "I, of all people, and we both know why."
"Naruto?" Jiraiya questioned, knowing the inquiry was largely rhetorical in nature. Still, it was more for Minato's sake, just so the man could hear the words that his child was safely away from what was already an epic catastrophe.
"With Taki at the southern gate," She confirmed what he had hoped he would hear.
Minato's frown persisted, but his body language eased a bit. "Most mothers would still be recuperating."
"It's been a week and I'm not most mothers," Kushina let the edge of smirk manifest itself along her lips before joining the men on the cliff side. Her fond smile evaporated and a single growl slipped from her throat upon seeing her home consumed in flames. "Madara."
"Stand in line," Jiraiya's gaze narrowed, taking in the same scene of destruction. It really was a pity the man wasn't still alive to answer for everything he had set in motion. Fire lashed around the demon fox as it continued to press into the heart of Konoha, and he cocked his head back over to the blond, then the redhead. "Are you sure about this? Both of you?"
"We've... talked about it." The woman's face faded to resolution. "There is very little that walks I can't kill, but that thing out there..."
"...leaves my seal." The Fourth Hokage finished with a nearly identical expression on his face. It wasn'tliterally the finally contingency and neither was looking to enact it, but as his former sensei had said, they were out of options. "We'll hold the line in the Kobi ward. I assume you've hit the armory, Love?"
"Requisitioned every last tag they had." She smiled grimly, pulling a kunai from her combat vest to twirl on her fingers. The action and look in her eyes set the Toad Sannin ill at ease. She loved those entirely too much for her own good, let alone anybody else's. Minato's wife was scarily creative when it came to employing them, and her claim to her own lethality was hardly a boast. She turned back to the inferno and thrashing beast below, her blue eyes hardening. "Let's do this."
Minato Namikaze took her hand, equally determined to end the slaughter below. "Let's."
Kyuubi, the most powerful of the tailed bijuu reveled in all of these as it tore through the monkey's village unchecked, cleansing it from the earth with unholy wrath and infernal chakra. He had waited nearly a decade for this opportunity, and now he was going to use it to burn the Hidden Village of the Leaf from the very annals of mammalian history.
A tail flashed through a long arc, slicing through an anonymous tower. The structure buckled and collapsed outright, falling to the earth on top of its defenders. Pathetic, the beast snorted as another salvo of ninjutsu flashed against the red fur of its flank. The furless apes stung like so many ants, though only one in a hundred actually had the power to hurt him. Still, the pin pricks served as a reminder to be careful. This village was the home of The Bitch. Her and her consort were not to be underestimated.
Another ninjutsu ablated off his hind quarters, this one composed of water that hissed into steam on impact. One of Kyuubi's nine tails answered in reprisal, slamming into the already devastated streets like a chakra whip and silencing the position. A molten trench remained where it had landed while its heat set nearby structures alight by proximity alone. In either case, it hardly mattered. The vixen and her mate would either appear, or he would scrape their precious village from--
A light weight suddenly landed on his nose, and his slitted eyes focused inward.
"Did you miss me, Fox?"
Kushina Uzumaki's smirk grew to an all out grin. "You do remember me!"
The demon's triangular head jerked out from beneath her feet, but she was already airborne, flipping back and away from the beast's snapping jaws even as nine tails directed their full fury against her. The woman pivoted impossibly through the air as one tail after the other stabbed her airspace like ethereal chakra spears; though never quite accurate enough hit the red headed fairy. Gravity finally took hold of the woman, and tail number five chose that moment to curve in like a striking snake. Kushina tumbled one last time, allowing the knife edge of her hand to flash out and severe the tail invisibly before it closed to terminal range. The kunoichi landed in a light crouch some twenty meters away, and the demon fox barred its canines down at her, snarling as a smoldering stump regenerated chakra back into the form of a tail.
The female drew upright from her crouched landing with a confused look on her face. "Gosh, did you get slower in the last ten years, or am I just that damn good?"
"I will devour you, whore." A bass filled rumble bubbled from the demons throat as it bared down on her from several stories up. "Summon your mate, for I shall devour you, then him and finally destroy this pathetic village."
"My mate is cooking up something extra special for you, Fox," Her smile turned down right icy, then fell into a look that indicated nothing but business. "Until then, your dealings are with me."
Kyuubi snapped his jaws back at her in defiance, yet in that moment, there was doubt; Doubt that had only existed once before, and at the hands of this very female. She hadn't killed him in their last encounter, but oh how she tried; tried with a ferocity that even he could respect. And that mate of hers... Where was he? Alone, she was of concern enough, but together... The last time the vixen and her mate had fought, he had come away from the battle... reduced... A shadow of his former power. It had taken this long just to build that margin back and then some; certainly enough to deal with the witch in the here and now.
He hesitated in that moment, and then the moment was gone. Kushina launched herself forward, becoming a crimson blur from the moment she moved. Kyuubi bristled, whipping tail number three around to conjure a wind jutsu while tail six induced flame, creating a firestorm that the demon sent down range to engulf the hapless kunoichi. The redhead melted around the technique's perimeter even as it flowed across her former position, punishing the already scorched landscape but failing to incapacitate the redhead in any way, shape or form. Ice followed the assault, but Kushina simply danced through the frozen scythe rain, all while never losing the blurring forward momentum. A particularly wicked slab fell from height as if unnaturally guided, seemingly poised to split the woman in two...
...In fact, it did.
The ice razor craved into the earth along a wild tumble and where one kunoichi had stood, there were two. Then three. The fox crouched in low to the earth, tails flaying wildly as the red blurs weaved through one another's path then separated, streaking in on him from three completely separate vectors. Each Kushina was running flat out, low to the earth and trailing a tagged kunai in each hand. The first angled for one of the taller buildings that was still standing, and began to run up its side while the other two flanked the fox from opposing angles. At ten meters, each initiated a forward tumble that let them press a single palm to the earth to redirect that impossible momentum skyward into the fox while the third clone pushed off from the top of the structure she had scaled. The tails were once again back in action, lancing the air in a vain effort to knock any of the Kushina from their ballistic arcs overhead. Clones number one and two used the errant tails as springboards to even greater height, allowing all three to pass through the apex of the other's arc and rain steel down on the demon. Tagged kunai coated it with what almost seemed to be a solid stream of steel from three different angles at once; each tag flickering with a tiny flame that burned down during their transit before detonating.
One tag lighting off was beneath the nine tails notice. A dozen would have stung. Four hundred and thirty ripped a trail of fire and steel across the demon's back, prompting it to howl in pain and rage as the concussive shock wave buckled the earth upon which it stood upon. Anyone looking upon the scene from a cliff or rise watched as the three intersecting lines burned, drawing the monsters attention away from the landing redheads.
All three hit the ground simultaneously, braced and plunged a single finger into the ground.
Jiraiya's eyes widened as the earth beneath Kyuubi suddenly opened up and shattered, pushing a number of massive razor stone spires into the night sky. Anything within the triangle Minato's wife had set up was either impaled outright or took the resulting fragments of deadly rock. Kyuubi did both, and its howling indignation turned into one of sheer agony.
"Did you know about that?" The Toad Sannin asked dubiously, eyeing first his former student, then zone of death Kushina had created. Even the ANBU they had assembled for their volunteer unit were left staring at the nine tales, entrapped and writhing.
"You know how she is about her training," Minato nodded soberly. And to think there had once been a day where she wouldn't take a human life, period. "No better time than now, then. Begin the operation."
The white haired nin nodded and leapt away. The ANBU took their cue from the Sannin and followed him into the breach. Ninjutsu flashed out with the advance, distracting the destructive tails from the redheaded kunoichi, who in turn withdrew to Jiraiya's position with a flip as the volunteer unit engaged. Concern enveloped her face as she looked up to the last place they had stood together. "Is he...?"
The white haired man simply nodded. "He sends his love."
"I already know." A brief, fond smile found its way to her face. It disappeared just as quickly, replaced by cold indifference. "Time to finish this."
Both nins flashed forward, knowing that Minato would be bringing up the rear once the Kyuubi was well and fully occupied. Even as they closed to range, a body flew back in the opposite direction, uncontrolled and completely ballistic. Both mentally tagged the tumbling corpse as a casualty, but plunged into the breach regardless. As expected, the thrashing tails had cleared most of Kushina's spikes and the beast's wounds had already closed, signaling an end to the delaying phase of the operation... Now came the main event. Masked ANBU were now found around the nine tails perimeter, subjecting its flank with harassment fire when the two S Class nin's slammed into the beast completely unseen. Jiraiya's massive fireball smacked into the side of the foxes head, causing it to waver and shake off the impact, only to be followed up by a bright incandescent sphere.
Kyuubi was temporarily rocked senseless by the dual technique, but only the hopelessly naive would have thought the attacks would be enough to put him down. Burning yellow embers for eyes focused on the pair and the jaws came up, snapping at interlopers all while fending off the ANBU volunteers circling him. The tail came down, feinted right and caught one of the ANBU dead center, lighting him afire with the stoke. Tags and jutsu answered the blow, but it was merely a gesture after the fact; The nin was reduced to ash in seconds. Two more tails partitioned off from the rest, specifically targeting Kushina, while Jiraiya occupied the monster's jaws. She waited until the tails had committed themselves, then promptly vanished. The distraction allowed Toad Sannin his follow up, blasting Kyuubi's snout once more with what looked to be a writhing salamander engulfed in flames. Kushina reappeared with the strike, already falling from altitude on the errant tails. The edge of her left hand swung in, then the right; severing both tails to a length of fifteen meters. Only the slightest distortion of atmosphere told of the attack's passage, but Kyuubi howled with fury regardless as the lifeless chakra tails fell to the earth; their potential evaporating with the breeze.
"I WILL DEVOUR YOU ALL!" The demon boomed, wreaking massive, but more importantly stationary destruction on the landscape around him. "THE BITCH WILL SUFFER! HER MATE WILL SUFFER! YOU WILL ALL ENDURE SUFFERING BEYOND YOUR WORST NIGHTMARES!"
"It is you that will suffer, Fox."
The triangular head whipped around to find a blond man standing clear of any cover or rubble, his hands flashing through a complex set of sealing. Golden eyes narrowed on the man and the demon noted not only the seals, but a series of intricate glyphs, interlocking into concentric circles and symbolic runes already drawn into the earth around him... And glowing. Warning screamed through Kyuubi's brain with the sight. They had been distracting him, his vixen and the others drawing the attention, and now... The nine tailed demon spun around sharply on all fours, sensing the dire and immediate danger. While the ultimate outcome of the jutsu was unknown, the chakra building around the monkey all but assured him it was a finishing move. Kyuubi had already covered a quarter of the distance to the man and was beginning to pick out the details. Snake, boar , ram... The seal types he was using... The symbol structures glowing from his belly through his clothing.
Kyuubi's ears flattened back and his tails streamlined, picking up speed. Even as the witch and the other who continued to lash his flank with critical strikes were, for now, the least of his concern. A swirling black formed around the blond and Kyuubi could see an array of circular glyphs forming at the man's feet. "YOU WILL NOT STOP--!"
Something heavy slammed into his snout, something with enough force to drive his skull into the very earth, forcing it to auger across another thirty meters like a plow before tumbling to a stop. The Fox demon shook the blow off and began to right himself, only to find a blonde female interposing herself between him and the witch's mate. Said witch landed next to her, joined by the white haired Sannin a second later. Kyuubi was nearly upright when the voice seemed to thunder against his ears.
"Fuuin Jutsu... Shiiki Fuujin!"
"RAAAAARRRRRRWWWW!!!!" The howl rolled across the Village of the Leaf, shattering nearby structures already weakened in the battle, while reverberating through the very Earth. Chakra began to boil away from the nine tails, ripped from the creature and siphoning off through the Fourth's clothing before feeding into the seal etched on his stomach. The boiling increased along Kyuubi's skin and the first tail withered and died, unraveling completely. Still, Kyuubi managed to remain upright yet completely paralyzed, baring his canines upon the steady man. The slitted embers of his golden eyes narrowed. "Your... pathetic prison... cannot... possibly hold... my power!"
The edge of the fox's muzzle curved up an equivalent smirk, and he began to force power through their mutual link, nearly knocking Minato to the ground. The attempt had been to break the man monkey's concentration, but the blond held fast to his purpose. Still, the witch's mate was obviously in pain. Great pain, and he forced more into him out of sheer spite.
From the other side of the link, Minato already knew the fox was right. Chakra burned through his system and he had only absorbed two tails worth. He was trying to store it, pack it away, but there was just so much and the fox was feeding it far too fast to be neatly dealt with. At this rate... I'll be dead before the summons even-- A presence beside him. He turned looking into the concerned eyes of his wife. A sharp pain ripped through him as another tail dissolved. The sheer agony forced him to his knees and Kushina followed.
"I think... Plan B."
"I never liked plan B," The redhead whispered, knowing full well the implications. It had always been a possibility, but... Another tremor racked her husband as number four began to boil into him. If any of them were to survive the night, there was no other way. She turned back to Tsunade. "Naruto-Kun, please. Hurry."
The blonde woman's eyes widened, but she nodded, leaping away.
"We need time..." Minato panted, sweating through the pain. "Too much power... time for the seal..."
Blue eyes stared back in him in sorrow, then smiled gently. Kushina leaned in, kissing her husband lightly on the lips. Without another word, she rose to her height and turned away, facing the demon fox and the streams of angry red chakra blazing away from it.
"Buying time is what I do best."
Author's Notes; Nothing much here. Ch1 is under final editing and should be along in a few hours. Main notes will be there.