Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto or Fullmetal Alchemist. If I did then I would have given Ed a little more height over time. I mean damn, it was a running joke and all, and I've personally never been short, but being that small compared to everyone else around him had to suck.
Chapter 68: Crescendo in the Rain
A battle between himself, Kyuubi, and the head of Akatsuki. For four years Naruto had dreamed of this moment, of him overcoming the odds, beating down the person that was out for his life and his biju, and ending the world's troubles in one move.
Six months changed that quickly. At this point he was out to end this bastard simply because he was tired of all of this. He wanted to be left alone, and as long as Pein wanted the Kyuubi he would never be left alone, even if he took Akiza to his special place to live together.
It had to end in Amegakure. And he was not in the mood to play around any longer. It hadn't been 'ha-ha' time in quite some while for that young man. More like the six closest months to hell that one could perceive. Some solace could be taken from the simple fact of the matter that Pein simply could not defeat him, even if he just so happened to be strong enough to defeat both Naruto and Kyuubi at the same time and still have enough chakra left to take on Jiraiya as well.
"To come here as you are, it reeks of desperation Kyuubi jinchuuriki." The long-ponytailed Pein said as he and his five other cohorts stared down Naruto atop Kyuubi and Jiraiya atop Gamaken, "I don't know what trickery this is, to have the physical embodiment of your biju outside of your body, but I doubt you can hold whatever jutsu it is for very long."
"It's not a jutsu you idiot." Jiraiya said, one part proud and two parts shocked that Naruto managed to somehow pull off what he accomplished while staying alive and in fighting shape, "The Kyuubi is no longer a part of him. They're separate entities if you couldn't tell. There's nothing tethering them together at all."
The eyes of all five of the ripple-pattern eyed Akatsuki members widened at hearing such a thing, reflecting the surprise that came from such a statement, "That's impossible." Pein assured him, "Upon losing their tailed beast a jinchuuriki's body can't compensate for the loss of chakra that had become one with them. So how in the world is he standing there if he's separated the Kyuubi from his body."
"Because I'm immortal jackass." Naruto said with a twitching eye while Kyuubi laughed inside of his head, "That's why you can't win here either. No matter what you can't beat us."
Instead of merely questioning Naruto's statement, all of the enemies with their strange eyes glared at Naruto hatefully, "How arrogant of you to believe that you're truly immortal. I will have to show you that you are a false deity. The only real God here is me."
That struck a personal chord with Naruto. He was no deity, he wasn't anything divine even with immortality to his credit. He felt tainted by way of his obtaining immortality. It wasn't anything to take pride in. It wasn't some sort of pissing contest with this megalomaniacal lunatic. It was just a fact. He was immortal.
Naruto sneered at the ponytail-clad Pein and clapped his hands before thrusting them out directly at him, spraying Philosopher's Stone enhanced, alchemically generated lightning from his body's own atoms with the force of a storm that singed and tore through the ground.
The six bodies on the ground moved to dodge with the exception of one; the bulky ninja with the short ponytail. He merely held out his hands as if he were calling forth a defense of some sort. If he was or not it was never really known as the lightning smashed through him with a ruthless intensity, rending the body nearly indistinguishable from what it once was as it was nearly charred black from the intense strikes of electricity.
"…Why didn't the Fuujutsu Kyuuin (Blocking Technique Absorption Seal) absorb that attack?" The long ponytailed Pein muttered after watching the man get struck down, "It didn't matter how powerful that jutsu was. It shouldn't have injured him."
"I've been saying this for the last four years and nobody seems to get just what it means." Naruto said, utter dislike clear in his eyes as he looked down at his remaining enemies, "It's not a ninjutsu damn it… it's alchemy!"
"Gamaken go!" Jiraiya shouted, deciding to advance now that it was evident that with Naruto's attack, this team could be beaten, "That's one down! Five to go!"
The spiky haired member of the group held out both of his hands at the advancing toad while the others took positions behind him for protection, "Shinra Tensei (Heavenly Subjugation of the Omnipresent God)!" An invisible force moved out from the body that seemed to knock the rain away from its path. But when Jiraiya's large toad hit it, it was thrown back violently.
Even with the battle at hand, Naruto had to marvel at the sheer power from that technique, 'He threw Gamaken like he was nothing. Gamaken was charging him and he just sent him flying like a rock.'
"…Nagato…" Jiraiya said as Gamaken returned to his home due to his injuries. He had been protected by the massive toad who had sacrificed his own body to keep him safe from harm, "You can't live past this day. You've been trying to tear the world apart."
"I've been trying to fix the world." Pein said derisively towards Jiraiya, "Only by realizing the terror and pain of destruction will the world know true pain and the futility of fighting wars."
'How are there six of him?' Jiraiya thought to himself, "This is no clone jutsu Nagato! What did you do?"
The five remaining bodies of Nagato's rejoined in their formation, trying to keep a very long distance from Naruto and Kyuubi as well as Jiraiya, "I believe I've already said this. These are my Six Paths of Pein."
"Five paths." Naruto remarked, converting his auto-mail arm into its long rifle form, "You've got five. And it's about to be less than that."
A chuckle came from the mouth of Pein as the large bald body of his threw its cloak aside to reveal that it had six arms that turned into cannons, "Your alchemy isn't nearly as special as the eyes of a God boy."
Naruto still didn't feel like making any biting remarks and Kyuubi wasn't moving to fight yet. This was as much Naruto's chance to vent his frustrations on the leader of Akatsuki as hers and he was the reason she was even out right then.
With the metal of his arm still crackling with alchemic energy from the Philosopher's Stone, Naruto took aim at seemingly all of the Pein bodies and narrowed his eyes at them all, "Sogekihei Sandan: Jidou (Shot Sniper: Automatic)!"
His arm morphed into a multi-barreled rotating turret that began opening fire with countless metal shells onto the separate bodies, but the strange bald man's body just stood there, letting the shells hit him without fazing him as if he were some kind of juggernaut. A device opened up on the top of the man's head as he prepared to fire a blast of pure chakra at Naruto and Kyuubi's head.
"Kid, move!" Jiraiya shouted right before the blast fired directly at him. He could feel the sheer chakra emitting before it ever even fired. Damn it, was he going to have to call the elders for this one?
(Akiza vs. Konan)
After her last successful attack on Konan, Akiza fell back into the village below for a retreat only to get a strange surprise when she started ducking from house to house to keep her movements concealed.
A familiar head of pink hair was honestly the absolute last thing that she expected to see in the proverbial (and almost literal) foxhole with her in the middle of enemy territory. Yet here she sat, both of them ducking in the kitchen of a small home for the time being as Sakura suddenly appeared, grabbed her hand, and dragged her into this hiding place.
"Long time no see." Sakura said weakly in response to the stunned look on Akiza's face before she gave her a quick hug, "Thank Kami… you really are alright." She couldn't really feel it because at this point she was soaked to the bone by being out in the rain for so long, but Akiza's cloak was being stained with Sakura's relieved tears, "No one knew what happened after Iwagakure… we thought that you and Naruto might have been killed, but we still saw your message and decided to come anyway, no matter what."
Akiza's eyes widened at that revalation. Yes, she considered Sakura a good friend. And if she were to be honest, her best friend as a matter of fact. The few months she spent in Konoha, working with Team 7 and seeing them every day made her see them as more precious than anyone she had been around in Iwa by far.
For some reason, Sakura crying got tears to start rolling down her cheeks as well. Maybe it was just the entire weight of the stress from the last six months finally bearing down on her? Either way they resembled normal girls instead of lethal warriors for a few moments while they gave themselves a bit of time to let it all out.
Eventually, Akiza pulled away first, still set on bringing Konan down from the sky once and for all. She wiped her eyes and sniffled before heading to a window to try and look outside and locate Konan to coordinate another attack, "Right. Well for now, we've got the S-rank paper bitch outside to deal with." She didn't know what Sakura could do to reach Konan though as to Akiza's recollection the pink-haired kunoichi didn't really have many attacks with range other than the fireball she learned from Sasuke.
"Kakashi-sensei is out there trying to scout her out now." Sakura said with a look of determination coming over her own face at remembering that her sensei was outside fighting another Akatsuki member after already taking care of Kisame.
Well that was no good at all as far as Akiza was concerned, "If Kakashi is fighting her he's going to need some help because this woman isn't some lightweight here." The two girls exited through the back of the house and kept their eyes peeled towards the sky to find Konan before she could see them.
It didn't take long, and despite his marked disadvantage, Kakashi seemed to be producing a steady barrage of shuriken into the sky that even with his Sharingan tracking her movements he couldn't pin her down to take advantage of.
Letting out a scoff and a small smile at how reliable Kakashi always seemed to be, Akiza held up Sekki Kiritateru and twisted it upside down to stab the blade into the ground before hopping onto the tip of the pole, "Sakura, we need to get her to the ground somehow. I'll help Kakashi try to get her down. You just keep shadowing the fight from down here. The moment you see an opening you take it, okay mini-Tsunade?"
Sakura nodded and ran off to find a better area to keep herself hidden in closer to Konan, trusting Akiza's plan. She wouldn't miss the moment she got the opportunity, "Don't die up there, okay?"
Akiza let out an airy laugh at what she considered a joke at this point and gave Sakura an ok sign before activating her weapon's special ability, "I can't die Sakura. I'm kind of immortal. Hirogeru (Extend)!" With her command to her notorious ninja tool, the blade of the weapon extended swiftly and elevated her in the air to Konan's level to try and interject herself back into the battle.
Sekki Kiritateru pushed her up past the homes of the village and into the sky. When she knew that she had Konan's attention, that she knew she wouldn't be able to avoid once she exposed herself, she jumped off of pole of her weapon into the air and let it retract to normal size before calling it to her grasp.
She did so because Konan had once again sent a rush of paper flying at her.
Having already experienced not too long ago just what would occur when she tried to slash and swipe through Konan's paper, Akiza switched tactics and chose to throw her weapon directly at her like a javelin.
The speed and power of the deadly sharp legendary weapon punched straight through the amassing paper bits flying Akiza's way and went straight for Konan herself.
The paper angel dodged the devastating attack and simply stared impassively at the kunoichi falling towards her until she noticed that Akiza's hands were stuck on a hand-seal, "Doton: Doryuudan no Jutsu (Earth Release: Earth Dragon Jutsu)!"
Konan looked down in instant alarm at the rumbling sound of a massive dragon made of the minerals of the earth flying up with its maw open right at her.
Still, even though it was evident that Akiza could control its trajectory, Konan was still able to dodge it, letting it fly past her further into the air, "Is that really the best that you can do? Hatake's fireballs and shuriken attacks from cover on the ground were better than that."
What she didn't notice was that the dragon had Akiza's halberd stuck in its head from when she threw it, and the halberd had a few distance alchemy tags attached to it.
The tags let off their glow and the earth dragon was then alchemically manipulated into an orb around Konan that stopped moving through the air and started falling from the sky with Konan stuck inside of it. With an amazing crash, the ball of rock hit the ground, smashing a home into rubble.
"She had to have died from that." Akiza commented as she summoned her halberd back to her mid-fall and forced it to extend to ease her descent to the ground as she slid down the pole of it, "I don't care who you are. That thing was a falling stone deathtrap. She's dead. There's no way she isn't dead."
As she descended, from a spot out of sight, Sakura ran towards the rock orb that Konan was trapped inside of along with Kakashi who placed his hand on the sphere, a serious look on his face, "You know that she isn't dead inside of here don't you?" He said to Akiza right as she reached the ground and ran over to them.
While she had kept repeating to herself that Konan couldn't have survived a fall like that trapped inside of her stone prison, Akiza knew better. She could have cushioned her fall on the inside by surrounding herself with as much paper as possible, putting it between herself and the stone shell.
So she was still alive if only for the moment. Her oxygen in there would run out sooner than later and if she had any explosive tags inside of there with her they would kill her if she detonated them to try and blast her way out (something that would fail regardless from the hardness of the stone orb), but it was stupid to just assume that a full-fledged member of Akatsuki would die that easily. Konan was probably formulating a way out.
The blue-haired woman had underestimated her from the outset. Even if Akiza didn't share her skill, she had more brute power within her than Konan could even imagine, she had backup apparently, and she was close enough skill-wise to defeat her.
Once again, as if it were a theme in the life of Naruto Uzumaki and those touched by him since his days as a ninja began; the sheer versatility and danger of alchemy had been underestimated. And once again another enemy paid the price.
Akiza nodded stiffly and Sakura pulled her gloves tight on her hands as she prepared to pound the orb and reduce it to rubble with her strength-magnifying technique, but Akiza stayed her hand and shook her head, "That'll only let her out. If she survived the fall she'll survive that too. Let me." She started drawing a transmutation circle on the ground around the orb and stood back, "This is for Fullmetal. For you and your comrades hunting him like game. This is what you get. Just like the others."
She slammed the bottom of her weapon down at the edge of the circle and her own body crackled with red energy to signify that she was drawing upon the power of the Philosopher's Stone to increase the strength of her transmutation.
Sakura and Kakashi watched in awe and shock as due to Akiza's transmutation, a hole opened up around the orb that dropped it deep down below into the darkness. All three of them just stared down simply waiting for the sound of the crash below to echo back up to signify the orb that imprisoned Konan hitting the ground, "How deep is that hole supposed to be?" Sakura asked.
"I don't know." Akiza said as the rain poured down on them all, "Deep enough though."
"Deep enough for what?" Kakashi inquired, pulling his hitae-ate down over his eye to conserve as much of his chakra as he could since there seemed to be a down moment.
"Deep enough so that even her spirit can't ever get out."
One transmutation later and the pit was closed off as if it had never been opened in the first place.
All three of them simply stood in the same spot looking at the point where the battle had come to its conclusion. At least this part of the battle anyway.
From there though, Kakashi looked up at Akiza who then locked eyes with him, "So… what happens now?"
"We find Fullmetal. Or Sasuke first if you want." She replied as she started walking in the direction where she could feel the Kyuubi's chakra from, "By the time we get both of them this will probably be over. And then we can take things from there."
(Jushiro vs. Orochimaru)
Where was he?
It wasn't outside any longer. He couldn't feel the rain falling on his head.
Yes, that was right. Orochimaru's white snake blood was a powerful paralysis agent and the bastard wound up swallowing him whole. He was trying to take his body.
There were no walls and the entire place seemed to be inky darkness. Fitting for being inside of Orochimaru, if that was indeed where he was. It honestly looked like an entirely different plane of existence.
The ground was pink and fleshy like the interior of something's body and all over the place he could see different bodies trapped in the substance that comprised the floor.
"You lose boy…"
As Orochimaru's voice echoed all around, Jushiro's legs began to be engulfed by the pink, fleshy floors that began to cover him from the lower body upwards. Despite his attempts to struggle, Jushiro didn't seem to have any of his weapons on his person, "What in the hell is this? I can't cut myself free!"
"Kukukukuku! You can't defeat my technique. This is the secret to my immortality! I will take your body, and the Philosopher's Stone along with you to obtain true immortality! Thank you for the gift! You and your family wound up being useful to me with your inane alchemy experiments after all."
"You're absorbing me and the Philosopher's Stone?" Jushiro asked, slightly bewildered by the revelation before he began to start laughing, "That's… that's the best thing I've ever heard. This is the greatest day of my life!" He started cackling wildly, "To think… after all these years… I could kill you. I could take your life by giving you exactly what you wanted! Dad… would be laughing his ass off right now." A tear fell from his eye as the fleshy prison continued to climb up his body.
"Kill me? How in the world do you plan on doing that? You're a part of me now dear Jushiro. Accept it. You and the Philosopher's Stone are now one with my soul."
"Your soul…" Jushiro said as the fleshy container climbed up to the top of his chest and reached the amulet where he kept the red stone jammed into during battle, "That's the funniest thing about this whole thing. Because if you want to bond the stone to your body… well Naruto told me something really important about that-."
As he said this, the stone began to glow brightly and cover the entire mental plane that Orochimaru used to possess new hosts in blinding light.
"-If you're one with the stone that makes you one with the souls that comprise the stone."
Orochimaru slowly felt control of the realm slipping from his grasp, as if his ability to dominate the plane was being strained by the sheer presence of others, "W-What is going on here? What did you do boy?"
"It's not what I did." The light faded and it revealed that Jushiro was now free, but completely covering the whole realm there were disembodied, deformed, warped, and loudly wailing spirits all radiating the sheer power of the Philosopher's Stone, "It's what you're trying to do; take control of all of these souls at once. You barely have the chakra to finish your jutsu on me. You aren't going to get through enough of them to take full control. So do you know what that means?"
Before he could really answer, Jushiro's body faded from the realm and the entire place shifted to an endless red wall of wailing ghostly faces on all sides that surrounded a snakish embodiment of Orochimaru, drawing ever-closer to engulfing his body, "No! What is this! I am the one in control! This is my world! I am Orochimaru! I will be immortal!" He screamed as there was no way out and his soul was encumbered by the others.
(The Real World)
Jushiro stood over the corpse of Orochimaru's white snake body, staring at the Philosopher's Stone in his hand as it glowed red, "…It means that instead of making the stone one with you, you're one with the stone. Now you're just another soul that comprises the vital makeup of the devil's tool, because one soul is equivalent to another. No matter how special you think you are… you're really not." He tossed it in the air and caught it in his fist before placing it back in its safe place out of sight and thought of anyone.
No one else would learn of this tool or its power. It would die with him and would end with Naruto and Akiza. Orochimaru's foolish ambition and his blind arrogant belief that he could simply take it for himself with no chance of losing anything in return resulted in his downfall.
Trying to ignore the horrific pain of his injuries incurred with his death duel against Orochimaru, Jushiro started limping towards the battle where he knew his brother was fighting. He still had to make sure that this entire ordeal with the Akatsuki came to an end.
Still, he spared a second and looked up at the sky, letting the rain fall down on his face and cool him. It was calming. Liberating. A bit validating to know that his father's chosen science finally managed to do in his murderer, even ten years later. That he as his parents' son finally procured vengeance against the monster that so greedily claimed their lives for his own megalomania.
"Better late than never, right dad? Mom?"
(Naruto vs. Pein)
Jiraiya could only stare at the explosion let off by the body of Pein that seemed to be more machine than man. A powerful blast of chakra emitted from a cannon that had formed on the body and collided off of the head of the Kyuubi's head where Naruto was also standing.
'Come on kid… no. No, I thought you dodged the biggest bullet that you'd ever have sent at you after the Iwa incident.' He thought to himself. Jiraiya felt himself getting angry. His first student was trying to destroy his second one. Trying to take everything from him. Trying to destroy the world, "Nagato! I can't let you live any longer past this day!"
"You say that as if you have the ability to stop me sensei." One of the Pein bodies said as the machine-man body with six arms reverted to normal for only a moment before choosing to take aim at Jiraiya, "You trained a God that can fell an 'immortal' and the most powerful of the tailed beasts. You helped to secure the future of this world. Feel proud."
"Well, he did secure the future of this world anyway."
Pein and Jiraiya started paying attention to the head of the Kyuubi again as the smoke from the previous shot of chakra started clearing, revealing a very ticked off looking Kyuubi and Naruto who looked completely unscathed.
Pein narrowed his eyes at Naruto who didn't seem hurt at all, "I know that blast hit you or it wouldn't have exploded. You shouldn't be in one piece right now. What did you do?"
"Nothing." Naruto admitted, kneeling down on Kyuubi's head and rubbing the fur on it in an attempt to try and calm her down from the growling that would have stricken the fear of painful death into the heart of anyone with common sense, "And Ero-sennin did secure the future of this world… because he trained me. And I'm going to stop you. Now it's our turn. Aim well Kyuubi-chan." He finished, getting a rather nasty grin out of the gigantic fox beneath him that began generating a massive amount of chakra in front of her mouth.
Jiraiya's eyes widened at the sight and he immediately began fleeing for the safest place in the area, behind or beside the Kyuubi, 'The Kyuubi is about to fire a Bijudama (Tailed Beast Ball)?'
She was about to fire a Bijudama, until her senses began to tingle and she held back off of firing the attack.
There had been something confusing her since the moment that Pein had shown himself… or themselves.
Kyuubi could sense Pein's energy, but there was something strange about it. It was as if it wasn't being emitted by the bodies themselves. The chakra seemed to be relayed to them and they permeated with it from contact. She was finally able to determine the fact that the chakra was being sent to them from one particular place, "Naruto-kun… your enemy isn't before you. His chakra… it's coming from that tower."
'Which tower?' Naruto thought back through their telepathic line, 'Ame is full of them.'
"The one you attacked when the battle began to send a message to our friend to come out and play." It was a wonder how the flames from Naruto's initial attack were put out so quickly and easily. That explained it. They protected that tower so readily and were so quick to keep it safe because it was absolutely vital. Whatever, or whoever was in there was the source of all of this, "Destroy it and this will all end."
Destroy it and this will all end.
That was the best thing Naruto had heard anyone say to him in a long, long time, "Cover me Kyuubi-chan." Naruto held out his right hand and formed a Rasengan that slowly began to burn orange and bright yellow, "It's time to finish this off."
Instead of waiting for Naruto's attack, the remaining bodies of Pein prepared to attack Naruto directly, one preparing another attempt at a summoning jutsu while the others directed attacks of their own.
Jiraiya held tightly to one of Kyuubi's legs as she chose to swipe her nine tails all about, kicking up a torrential wind that kept the separate enemy bodies from advancing forward.
The former body of Yahiko took refuge behind the mechanical man body that had dug into the ground to keep from being pushed back and lifted one hand with a small black orb in it, "You may be the Kyuubi, but you should know that the powers of the Rikudou Sennin are what caused you to be in the first place. You are mine by right."
Hearing that struck a chord with Naruto and he grit his teeth in anger, the ball of energy in his hand beginning to surge out of control before Naruto reigned its power back in. He couldn't afford to lose his control of the technique yet, "She doesn't belong to anyone…"
"Rasengan (Spiraling Sphere)!"
Like a speeding missile propelled by the wind that Kyuubi had kicked up, Jiraiya hurtled directly into the mechanical Pein body and slammed the spinning blue orb of chakra right into it. The force of the attack sent the large body flying and slamming back into the Yahiko-Pein to disrupt his whatever his next move may have been, "Your abilities made you arrogant and twisted Nagato! The power of the Rinnegan should have inspired you to save and change the world for the better!"
"This isn't even close to being over Jiraiya-sensei." Pein said through Yahiko's body as the others all chose to leap onto Jiraiya and dispose of him swiftly, "The price you pay when you trifle with God is steep."
Meanwhile Naruto had heard more than enough from the peanut gallery when it came to listening to Pein speak, as if his victory would never be in doubt. As if nothing an exceedingly powerful ninja like Jiraiya, plus himself and the Kyuubi could do would stop him because of his eyes and the power that came with them.
Well if he was God he could block this next attack directly on his person couldn't he? That was something that God could do. God would see this coming. God would know exactly what Naruto was about to do, and it wouldn't even phase him.
But he couldn't because while the Rinnegan could see chakra, alchemy didn't use chakra. So as far as Pein could see, the Rasengan in Naruto's had was just colored differently. He was too far away to feel anything otherwise. Jiraiya was as well. He had no idea that Naruto might as well have been holding a miniature sun in the palm of his hand, but the Philosopher's Stone made the impossible possible in regards to the abilities of Naruto's alchemy.
Nagato… or Pein, whatever his name was. He was no God. He was just someone with power that lost himself to it. Just like all of the others.
"Rasenenten (Spiraling Scorching Sun)!"
Naruto's Rasengan was a Rasengan in shape only. He simply needed the power of the perpetual motion the jutsu created to form a base for his nuclear fusion. Naruto pushed the ball away from himself directly at the tallest tower in Amegakure and it shot towards it like a rocket.
There wasn't anything that could be done to stop the attack, and when it reached the highest point in the hidden village, so far above the ground but right where it needed to be, Naruto snapped his fingers and used his flame alchemy as a rudimentary form of detonation on the hazardous technique he had sent out.
The citizens of Amegakure, were they not sent to emergency shelters the moment the Kyuubi was felt, would have borne witness to a white-hot explosion directly above them that melted the metal that comprised the outskirts of many of their towers that they called home. They would have been blinded by the sheer flash of light it created, and they would have all been horribly burned by the intensity of its heat.
For Nagato or Pein, who was at the very epicenter with nowhere to go, no way to defend himself with all of his chakra plugged into his extra bodies fighting the real battle, he was incinerated, too quickly to feel pain or to even realize what had befallen him. But Gods didn't die in battle, did they?
He never even got the chance to come to terms with the fact that he was nothing close to God. His own mortality was just as abundant as anyone else's. His entire body and the Rinnegan, the eyes of a God, vanished into nothing.
Jiraiya had been prepared to accept his own death. He hadn't even drawn upon his ultimate technique due to the overwhelming feeling of watching Naruto deal with Nagato all on his own. It seemed like Naruto didn't need his help for a moment.
Still he felt the need to interject when he saw what couldn't have been a simply jutsu if Nagato had been planning on using it to stop Naruto and the Kyuubi at once. He acted. The bodies all retaliated to take his life. He was willing to accept this as a ninja that had lived as long as him.
But the end never came.
And the bodies all fell to the ground lifeless as it seemed that a sunrise seemed to make itself seen in the skies above Amegakure for the first time that he had ever seen for himself. Only it wasn't a sunrise. It was his latest pupil's attack that he had loosely caught the name of as it was fired, "…Rasenenten (Spiraling Scorching Sun)…" And as he witnessed the sheer magnitude of the technique he had to let out a few laughs, "He finished it. *laughs* He actually finished his own old man's jutsu… with alchemy…"
There was something poetic about something like that. Finishing a ninjutsu with an element that had absolutely nothing to do with ninjutsu or even chakra at all. What a roundabout concept… with a terrible result.
He looked up at the head of the Kyuubi where he could see Naruto staring at his own handiwork. Naruto had seen the entire move unfold. It wasn't like he had to worry about going blind when the Philosopher's Stone could fix his injury if he was even close enough to the flash to suffer such a fate.
Naruto turned around and towards the ground only to see someone that had been close to him in his time back in Konoha. He dropped to the ground to come face-to-face with this person, "Sasuke."
Sasuke looked extremely battle-weary, but he was still standing and apparently victorious, "…Naruto you were right. If I stayed around you enough I would get my chance at Itachi… and I did."
Naruto nodded stiffly. It was clear that Sasuke had won, and now there seemed to be something missing. He knew the feeling, "I won too… it's over." He spared a glance at Kyuubi who seemed to smirk down on him, getting him to smile right back up at her, "It's all over. I can't even believe it."
"So are you coming back to Konoha?" And that was the question of the hour. Though he had expected it to come from Jiraiya first instead of Sasuke the way that it had. Still it was something that needed to be addressed, "You know that we miss you guys."
A hand set itself on Naruto's shoulder and he turned around to see a very beaten up and gravely injured Jushiro standing there. Hurt, but seemingly happy, "Yeah, come on runt. You've got to be there for me and Haku-chan's wedding. And you're going to be an uncle. Besides, when you and Akiza have brats I want to be their cool uncle to spoil them rotten."
It seemed like everyone had shown up there now. Sasuke, Kakashi, Sakura, Jiraiya was standing in the background, and then there was Akiza trying to keep herself in the background. Still, Kakashi pointed up at the proverbial elephant in the room in the Kyuubi who was standing patiently, "Uh, Naruto. What about that?"
"Oh." Naruto said, blinking before turning towards the gigantic fox, "Kyuubi-chan can you turn into that other form of yours for me so no one tries anything stupid because they're scared?"
A nod of the massive head came before a large puff of red smoke emitted from the fox. The oppressive and murderous aura that they had all grown somewhat used to was gone and as the smoke cleared, in place stood the Kyuubi in her human form, wearing a large cloak akin to everyone else's that they had originally come out there with, "Absolutely. I need to practice staying like this anyway to conceal my chakra. Maybe I'll get less people trying to capture me now if I spend more time like this?"
Walking around the Elemental Nations as a large red fox wasn't exactly the most conspicuous way for one to travel. Fear of power only kept so many people away. It seemed to attract others despite how liberating it felt.
"You're still going to let the Kyuubi walk aren't you?" Jiraiya finally remembered that Naruto had made the Kyuubi a promise to do just that. He thought that the man had never heard him speak of it, but he had, and before Jiraiya had never thought anything of it because doing so would have killed Naruto. He really must have been immortal, "You're crazy kid."
But for some reason the prospect didn't give him much fear in his heart. Maybe because of the fact that even then the Kyuubi was conversing casually with them… though it was probably likely because the Kyuubi's disguised form was so absurdly beautiful.
Kyuubi put her hands on her hips and smirked at Jiraiya, "I'm not some weapon for you humans to use and I won't let it happen again. I've been kept locked inside of your brood for the better part of a century. I won't do anything to risk my freedom. Not to Naruto-kun who did as he had always sworn to do and set me free."
Besides… after the display against Pein, and from being inside of Naruto for all of those months of preparation for this attack on Akatsuki, she knew full and well that Naruto could put her right back if he so wished to do so. Back inside of himself to boot. With the exact same seal.
Even though she had never given her word to be good, she felt that she owed Naruto at least that much. Besides. With Akatsuki gone there was no need for her massive amounts of power to be thrown around… and if there just so happened to be such an incident…
…Well she could always find her blonde hero to handle it for her. For she would always be able to find her last jinchuuriki, just as he would always be able to find her and check up on her in return. Because they were connected, even a little bit. He would always have a part of her and she would always have a part of him.
"I'm going on a trip to see what I've missed about this world since I was first imprisoned all those years ago." Kyuubi said with a sly look on her face as she turned and started to walk away from the group, "And don't get all bent out of shape if you see this beautiful body walking within the gates of Konoha one day. It just means I'm visiting, not that I'm there to start a ruckus."
There was a part of Kakashi that wanted to say what made her think that she could simply leave just like that, and then he realized that Naruto was there, and that there wasn't going to be anything he could do even if he happened to be inclined to bring the Kyuubi back, "This changes everything now…"
The only village with a biju in it was now Kumogakure. That could lead to a power shift.
"No it won't." Naruto said as Akiza began walking up to his side where the two shared a hug, "Ero-sennin, I remember your dream about peace, but I've got a different thought. I always did. Sorry."
Jiraiya raised an eyebrow at his former student, but he wasn't acting out maliciously so his opinion had merit, "Everyone sees things differently, but what was your thought."
"When it comes to something like peace… people are always going to be there to fight against the idea." Naruto started to say, Akiza hanging off one side of him as he spoke to everybody, "Some would fight it to the death, and that would just make those close to them take up the cause even harder… it would just never end. So the way I always saw it since I was little… is that it was never about trying to change the world; but it's about doing your best to keep the world the way it is now."
Kakashi nodded in understanding, "The status quo… I see." The last twenty years had been the most peaceful out of any in the existence of the shinobi system. With a few crackpots like Orochimaru and Akatsuki here and there, but other than that there hadn't been much. As far as Naruto, Sasuke, and Sakura all went this was peace. They had never experienced war before despite a run-in here and there with another village.
"And besides." Naruto said, running a hand through his wet hair, "When you report back to Tsunade-baachan that I'm not dead, and that I could be anywhere… well that's a scary thought isn't it? The Raikage knows the kind of person I am and how I feel about Konoha even now. Gaara does too. So does Mei-chan." He felt Akiza's glare and corrected himself, "Err… the Mizukage." He then got back to his main point, "Who knows where I am or what I'm doing? I'll be like the ninja boogeyman."
Jiraiya's eyes widened as he saw wind around Naruto's feet shimmer and lift him up before forming a cloud, "Wait! You're leaving just like that? Right now?"
"Yep. You know I can't go back to Konoha." Naruto said as he and Akiza stood on the cloud beneath his feet, slowly climbing up into the air, "But I'll see you guys around somewhere. After all, you never know when I might show up. I'll have my eye on you guys."
Jushiro chuckled to hide the fact that he was crying. At least he got to see him for sure one last time. At least he was assured that Naruto was still alive. It was just a hair under being a better feeling than finishing off Orochimaru, "You'd better show your face for the wedding you jackass! And you'd better bring a good gift with you too cheapskate!"
"Whatever." Naruto remarked in return with a smile on his face even though he was crying too.
"Naruto!" Sasuke yelled up to him, "I still never got to fight you again! Don't think that all of this means that you're stronger than me for life!" He then smirked and a new eye pattern took over, changing his Sharingan, "If I don't have a clan anymore… well I'll just have to rebuild my clan." He said, pulling Sakura towards him in a hug, "And in the meantime I'll protect the village like it's my clan. I'll be Hokage. So when you come back you'll be having a fight against the first Uchiha Clan kage."
Naruto let out a few large laughs and held out his fist towards Sasuke, "Your clan pinkeye can't copy my alchemy, just remember that. Even if you can memorize a thousand jutsu… I'll just have to have a thousand ways to beat you with alchemy!"
"Men…" Both Sakura and Akiza muttered before smiling at each other silently mouthing 'goodbye'.
With nothing left to say, Naruto and Akiza bid everyone with one last wave before they rocketed off into the sky on Naruto's cloud transportation as everyone else watched them.
Once they got out of sight, Kakashi turned towards Sasuke, "Were you serious about becoming Hokage? That isn't something that one should say without intention to follow through."
"Yeah." Sasuke said with the utmost seriousness, "When I fought Itachi… I couldn't even kill him. He died before I could. I didn't feel angry. I didn't feel victorious. I felt empty Kakashi. My own brother died fighting me. I need a goal. I need something to dedicate my skills to, or this strength I've worked to get… I gained it for nothing. So why not try to protect the village that my clan had a hand in building?"
There were still threats out in the world against Konoha even though Akatsuki was gone. And like a real village of ninja there would always have to be those within ready to defend against it.
(The Skies Above the Elemental Nations)
"You ready?" Akiza asked Naruto, holding tightly to his waist from behind to stay on, "Can you really just leave it behind like that?" If he wanted to try and return to Konoha she wouldn't stop him, "Won't you miss it?"
"I'll miss Big Boss." Naruto admitted before looking back at Akiza with a grin, "But I can absolutely leave it behind. You're more important. Now what do you say I take you to that place I told you about where nobody would find us? Just you and me."
Akiza just shut her eyes and let Naruto take them wherever he wished to go, "Alright then hero. Take me home."
(Fifteen Years Later – Konohagakure no Sato – Hokage Monument)
The sun looked to be rising over the horizon, beginning to bathe the dark of the village in light once more. It seemed to be something of a metaphor if one were to think about it.
A man wearing the ceremonial robes and hat of the Hokage stood at the edge of one of the heads of the six kage that had been immortalized in stone there, the newest and last head on the end, right next to Tsunade's.
"Hokage-sama." A man wearing an ANBU mask and armor appeared in a swirl of wind and leaves, kneeling on the ground directly behind the man on the ledge, "It is time for you to begin with your daily tasks."
"I'm aware of that." The Hokage returned, not tearing his dark-eyed gaze away from the ever-rising sun, "Head to the office and sweep it for me. I'll be there in five minutes." The ANBU nodded and disappeared from sight, leaving the man alone once more.
It had been five years since he had gained enough support to eventually be awarded the seat of Rokudaime Hokage. Of course it didn't hurt to be known as the man that was the husband of the Godaime Hokage's apprentice, the man that defeated S-rank criminal Itachi Uchiha, one of the ninja that had taken part in the heralded final battle against Akatsuki, and the former teammate of the person widely perceived as the single most powerful man in the world.
A ghost of a person named Naruto Uzumaki. More legend than anything else really amongst the mounting generation.
"Sasuke-teme. Standing on your own head? Still as arrogant as you were when I last saw you."
A smirk came to the Hokage's lips as he pulled his hat from his head to reveal black hair that resembled the backside of a fowl. Though only his closest and oldest comrades would say that to him now with his station in the village. Sasuke's face still looked mostly the same though his face had developed tear troughs like his brother Itachi and his father Fugaku over time. He turned around to face his visitor and saw a man with spiky blonde hair, blue eyes, three whisker-marks on each cheek, and black robes underneath an open red coat that reached his ankles.
He still looked the same way that he did when he was twenty years old despite the fact that he was over thirty. Immortality apparently.
"Naruto." Sasuke said with a smile on his face, "It's been five years. What brings the strongest man in the world to our corner of the world? Is Akiza with you? Sakura wanted to see her again. It's been a long time."
"Nah." Naruto replied, walking forward to shake hands with the man, "She's back at home with the kids. She wanted to come though and she says hi." Sasuke nodded and the two walked back towards the edge of the cliff to stare out over the village, "So what's it like?"
"Being Hokage?" Sasuke asked, getting a nod out of Naruto, "It's amazing. That's all I can really say. It's the only way I can describe it Naruto. Thanks for the help with that by the way."
Before Sasuke became Hokage he and Naruto had their little promised battle with Sakura there to bear witness and retrieve Sasuke in case it was required. It was a measure of Sasuke's combat prowess as well as a way for Naruto to show the world that he was still around and still watching. Sasuke was carried unconscious into Konoha on Sakura's back sporting copious amounts of injuries and the words 'nice try' written on his body, but he returned with a trophy.
Apparently it was Naruto's metal auto-mail right arm that had been torn right off of his body from over the shoulder during the fight.
Too bad Naruto just regenerated a real arm right back in its place and thanked Sasuke for finally making him get rid of that thing… because he had been meaning to himself for the longest time.
"Thanking me for kicking your ass?" Naruto said disbelievingly with a chuckle, "I think hell just froze over." The two started laughing like old men reminiscing until they both stopped and watched the sun rise quietly, "By the way. I've been looking for that guy that you told me Itachi told you about before he died. The man with the swirl mask. He's a hard one to find you know."
Sasuke nodded again. He had been searching for this nameless threat to Konoha ever since the end of the Akatsuki episode, "Oh trust me, I know."
"Well anyway, I left you a present that I used to sneak into the village. He should be in interrogation right now." Naruto said, throwing his hands up behind his head as he squinted at the sun, "A freaky Venus flytrap looking present. Kind of colorful. He was a tough rundown. But he knows your masked buddy. So you're welcome."
Managing to keep the surprised and energized look off of his face at what had just been dropped in his lap, Sasuke just nodded chiefly, "Thanks. And here I didn't get you anything."
"Ah you didn't know I was coming so I forgive you Sasuke-teme." Naruto joked before stepping forward right towards the edge of the cliff, "I should be getting home. The brats should be driving Akiza-chan up the walls by now and I think Kyuubi-chan was supposed to be stopping in there for a visit." He spared a wave over his shoulder before slowly falling forward, "See you around Sasuke."
Sasuke nodded as Naruto fell forward and he activated his Sharingan as Naruto formed his cloud of flight and took off into the air high above the village. Now he'd be able to memorize the direction that Naruto took off in to find the location of where he lived so that he could search for his friend's home.
And then Naruto formed five clones that split off from him, with each going in a different direction at the same speed so that Sasuke couldn't determine which one was real, masking his real direction, "…Damn you Naruto."
(Uzu no Kuni)
"Mama, where's daddy?" A little girl asked, sitting in Akiza's lap as the two of them looked out over the ocean from the porch of their rather large and spacious seaside home. The little girl couldn't have been any older than three years old and had darker than normal skin, still lighter than Akiza's though, with neck-length brown hair. She had brilliant blue eyes though and they looked up at her calm mother, "He's been gone a long, long time."
"A week and a half is a long time isn't it Kushina?" Akiza said calmly to the little girl. Both mother and daughter wore white kimonos with an Uzumaki Clan symbol on the back. Akiza's brown hair still sat in a ponytail down her back and she held a serene look on her face, "Well daddy had better come back soon or Kyuubi-obasan will be very upset."
The little girl named Kushina shivered a bit in her mother's lap, "Kyuubi-obasan is kind of scary when she's mad." She then hopped down from her mother's lap and grabbed her hand, "Come on mama, you said you were going to teach Shio-chan and Taifuu-kun how to use chakra today. I wanna watch!"
Akiza smiled down at the little girl and stood up to follow her to the field a ways away from the house where Kyuubi was watching over her and Naruto's other daughter and son, the girl Shio being six years old and the son Taifuu being eight, "Taifuu already knows how to use chakra sweetie. It's Shio that's finally old enough to learn." She noticed the little girl pouting and picked her up in her arms, "And one day you will too. And what do we do with the knowledge of how to use chakra and the ninja arts?"
"Protect our loved ones!" The little girl chirped happily, "I'll get stronger than you mommy, so I can protect you and daddy, and even Kyuubi-obasan, Shio-chan, and Taifuu-kun… and so I can swim in the ocean!"
"You don't need chakra to swim Kushina." Akiza laughed at her youngest daughter's expense as she turned and pointed out towards the ocean, "It's just that the big whirlpools around the island are dangerous and we don't want you to swim in the ocean. Stick to the lake that your brother and sister take you to, okay?" A large smile then pulled its way onto her face as she saw something streaking across the sky rapidly from that direction, "Oh look, your daddy's home."
"Daddy!" Akiza let Kushina down from her arms so she could run further out from the house into an open field where Naruto could easily see her from where he was in the sky, "Daddy, where you been? Why didn't you let me come with you?"
Naruto dropped from the sky and landed on the ground with his arms crossed over his chest trying to look cool when he had to intercept the missile flying at his body that was Kushina, "Haha… daddy had to go visit a friend from his old home and give him a present. You would have been bored baby." He said while hugging his youngest daughter close to him
Yeah, Kushina would have been bored… except for the part where he fought against the plant-man in a highly destructive battle and captured him to drop him right on Konoha's doorstep. She might have enjoyed that part.
"Would I have been bored?" Akiza asked, hands on her hips as she sauntered up to Naruto matter-of-factly, trying to look stern but failing to with the smile on her face, "You know I wanted to see Sakura, Haku, and your brother again."
A scoff came from Naruto as Kushina tried to mimic the raised eyebrow look on her father's face, "Yeah, I could have taken you and left Kyuubi-chan here by herself to watch over our children. That's a great idea." He said sarcastically, "If they didn't drive her to the point of murder by the end of day one I'd be surprised."
He honestly still dearly loved the biju that had been with him for his entire life as if she were family, but to leave her as a sole guardian for his children while he and Akiza were both out…
Yeah, until all of their kids were old enough to travel along with them when the need arose either Naruto or Akiza would always be staying home on Uzu no Kuni when something needed to be done out in the world. It was just safer all around that way.
Besides, Kyuubi loved roaming far too much to stay in one place to watch over their kids, even for just a week.
"Fine, but I get to go on the errand next time." Akiza stated, planting a kiss on Naruto's lips before making a fist visible for him to see, "I haven't fought anyone powerful in ages. Present company notwithstanding of course."
An impatient Kushina started stomping her feet, but in the grass her bare feet didn't make the slightest sound. Thus she grabbed one of both of her parent's hands and started trying to pull them in the direction of her siblings and where Kyuubi was, "Come on! Mama, I want to see Shio-chan learn how to use chakra! Daddy, Kyuubi-obasan came to see you too! Let's go already!"
The two retired shinobi let the little girl pull them both along, making her struggle with them a bit for kicks at how stubborn and determined she was to drag her family all together.
As they made it over a hill towards a beautiful lake where they could see Kyuubi lounging about on the grass nearby while a little girl with blonde hair older than Kushina was throwing shuriken at a target along with her brother who looked just like Naruto with brown hair and darker skin, Naruto had to victoriously think of one thing.
For someone who by all rights should never have been given a lot in life with even the slightest bit of comfort and peace he could only come to one conclusion.
'Not bad for an orphan kid with a demon stuck in him huh?'
And that's that I guess.
If nothing else I can say that I finally finished a story yeah? Whether I like the body of work I put down for the past two years when it came to this story or not I can honestly say that I've learned a whole lot about putting something like this up and about how to stitch a coherent tale together.
I've got nothing to add on to this point as you've already read the barely coherent ramblings of a madman since February of 2010. I thank you for that. I thank everyone that has ever helped me with productive comments and advice on what I needed to improve on when it came to story structure, character portrayal, and all sorts of things that have helped me grow from the infancy of my writing.
I hope that in the future I can put together something even better as I believe one can only improve from what I've lain down story wise for Fullmetal Shinobi. I hope a lot of you are along for the ride.
Okay, now that I'm done being all humble and meek about this story and the dedicated folks that chose to spend some of their free time following it for as long as they have, I believe that it is time for something else…
Yeah! I finished a damn story that went 68 chapters! And even if there were parts of it that I can't stand, that's not the point! This is the most splendiferous, spectagious, monumental event in the history of the world. And yes I know that spectagious isn't a real word, but damn it, it needs to be!
Because I finished a story! And that means something!
I don't know what it means, but it definitely means something!
So for the last time in the Fullmetal Shinobi story I feel the need to leave this the way that we have time and time again.
Ladies and gentlemen… Kenchi out.