AN: I LIVE! I know it's been...fuck...years? Sorry folks...moving twice, job hunting, dealing with other folk moving and having to help others move, friends out of town, and of course games...Certainly didn't help that I largely had this chapter done twice now and both times lost it...really kills the drive you know?
I tend to write in spurts, and at the best times I can belt out tens of thousands of words a day...at other times though I'm lucky if I can write a sentence...Next (Hopefully) on the docket will be Shards, but for all I know the wild itch for someone else with bite me. I've still got a lot of cross ideas kicking in my head, and one that's pure Naruto, so I don't know what will happen :/ Still, hope you like it, it's a bit of filler, I'll admit, and may get a bit rambly at times, I had to write and come back a lot, so this may get edited a lot in the future, fair warning…
And again, for those interested, I do have the concept art I'm pulling from on my Photobucket. you know the drill, you need to take out spaces and put in the com.
s872. photobucket /user/Galamere/library/Lights%20Last%20Gasp
Lights Last Gasp
Chapter 7: Meeting the Family
Heads were going to roll when she found him.
Both his heads!
Here she had gone to all the trouble of setting up the meeting with Tsume, getting all the materials they would need, even cashing in her favor, a favor from a clan head. And what did he do?
He up and vanished! Him and the two girls!
This was just the cap to her day. It had started out bad, a hangover, drinking with the Inuzuka clan head to celebrate that Anko couldn't hold that botched mission over her head anymore.
Next she got up to find that, at some point, the woman's dog had apparently thrown up on her favorite coat, meaning that she was down to her civilian wear, a pair of long shorts and a tank top, she didn't mind the clothing, but the fact that she was forced to wear it was the kicker. She'd seen the boy's reaction to the outfit in the past. Simple khaki shorts with the off-blue shirt, this of all things made him blush, not the fishnets.
Less is more as Kurenai would say, guess there was some merit to it.
Then, in her dehydrated, booze-headache induced haze she mixed up her lotion with her toothpaste before retching into the toilet.
Fun times all around.
The final little joy for her morning had been when she was heading down stairs, nothing major, at least until she stepped in…it….
It wasn't a far fall, only three steps or so, more to make her knock her tailbone and bruise her pride, really it was more the type of slip that makes your stomach drop out more than anything really damaging.
Cursing, she came up and grabbed at the thing she slipped on, and immediately balked. At first she had thought it was something from a kill, like a dog bringing its master a bird, however what she found was far from a blood soaked piece of meat, instead it looked not unlike a snake skin her summons would leave.
She'd sneered at it at the time before heading into the kitchen and tossing it into the sink before snatching up a class for water.
Then began her search, something that had taken the whole of the day and still there was nothing. It seems the group had headed into the forest, a few snakes on their trail told her as much, but once she was beyond the fence there was just to much to scent, to much to track.
So in the end she had to wait.
She hated waiting.
The village was still abuzz with activity from a week ago.
The story still fresh with most of the villagers, specifically those that didn't like a certain blond.
The tale of how he had found a beautiful woman, yet this same woman had attacked a merchant in the town, taking the man's hand for grabbing hold of Naruto.
It was still something that many were coming to terms with, that someone would so openly defend the boy, and worse still no one was apparently trying to find or arrest the girl, as they were certain they would have seen something about it in the local paper, or that someone would have made an announcement, at the least that the store owner would have gotten some form of satisfaction. Instead the man was in something of a catatonic state, still coming to terms with the fact that he was without his dominate arm.
He was going to have to learn how to write again, how to feed himself, even wipe.
He suddenly had a new found respect for some of the injured ninja, but beyond that he was wanting her found.
If not, then he wanted revenge.
Seven fucking hours.
That's how long it took before she finally spotted the flash of blond that signaled the return of her wayward student.
With a hiss that was more akin to her summons she stalked forward. Coming up along the side of the house, silent as the grave, she got a good look at him, his body currently mostly bare, coated with partially dried blood, the sight making the Jonin's eyes widen in shock. What had be been through in such a short time.
So focused on his currently hooking up a hose she utterly missed the two 'housemates' a slight distance away, looking much the same, even their rather lustrous hair was matted with gore. Just behind the two, as she would notice later, were half a dozen different beasts. All far larger than the trio.
She snapped out of her shock, however, for a very different reason than just coming back to her senses.
It was wet...hot...and certainly not something that someone would miss hitting the nape of their neck.
Her body stiffened even as a hand came back to a hip pouch that should have been there...if she wasn't so focused on seeking, rather than hunting, she would have strapped on her weapons. As it was she was unarmed, completely exposed, and caught unawares.
Right now, she deserved to die, her pride as a kunoichi told her as much...that this was her fault.
Then she heard it...felt it...the hot breath on the back of her neck...despite the heat it cooled off the wet...stuff currently dribbling down her back, soaking her shirt.
Her eyes glanced up.
Her scream was certainly not becoming of a soldier, but more than justified.
Brown, pupil-less eyes locked onto a smooth, shining chitinous plate, black as the night.
Teeth...the same kind that her once wayward student sported slowly appeared as the...things...lips peeled back, it's whole head, something as long as she was tall, shook in barely restrained excitement...or maybe fury, she couldn't tell.
Her eyes locked onto two longer teeth, things that could easily pierce cleanly through her torso if it desired. Powerful looking limbs had it clinging to the wall, it's short, but cruelly hooked claws digging into the siding. Keen eyes made note of the slight, almost unseen striping along it's body.
She fell back in shock, the motion being the only thing that saved her as a tail swiped at her, a long, sickle like blade nicking her nose as she dropped. Long years of training had he legs moving before she knew what she was doing. Chakra surged through her limbs and she leaped back some thirty feet, her mind still trying to catch up with just what the hell this monster was.
Good thing to, as the beast pounced on where she was once standing, it's powerful body and claws sinking deeper into the ground that she had been expecting...that landing would have crushed her, even if the claws and second mouth hadn't ended her...wait….
No...she wasn't seeing things...as it hissed and snapped at her, slowly circling now, she could see a second set of jaws in it's mouth, and judging from the hole it had made, and the dirt it seemed to be spitting even as it 'eyed' her she could tell it was designed for one thing…
But watching it now it finally clicked...it reminded her of the great cats in the forest! The teeth, the pattern, the way it moved!
Shit...this...this was Naruto's 'baby'!?
Wait...hadn't there been more 'kids'…
Her eyes widened as the monster's head suddenly swung away from her...behind her...it's eyeless head staring at...something...
Three figured stiffened and rounded in disturbing sync, just in time to hear the heavy landing and spot Anko dodging back, looking with wide, almost unseeing eyes at the creature before her.
The group scowled and almost at once the creature's head swung towards them before it slowly dropped back, it's jaw working once in the direction of the purple haired sensei. The massive insect like animal circling once before laying down, it's massive head resting of equally massive clawed hands.
"Anko-sensei! Are you alright? S-sorry, we were out teaching them how to hunt, we didn't think that you'd be be back and let them head in-"
He didn't finish his sentence as two white knuckle hands grabbed his shoulders hard, he could even feel his re-enforced bones creak a bit.
"W-What IS that thing!?"
Naruto's head whipped a bit as his sensei shook him, "W-well we haven't named them yet...but that's our kids. All grown up!"
Anko searched his eyes for any signs of deceit...and to her dismay didn't find any…."B-but just two days ago..."
He gave a half shrug, "I told you they grow fast! Murasaki said that it was quicker because the hive was in greater need! So they were...well...rushed? It's hard to explain..."
If anything her eyes widened further, these..things could grow faster if they needed to!? Just at a whim!? What kind of creature could do that? She asked him as much. It took a moment for Naruto to think on it, but a flash from the two human-like 'bugs' gave him what he was struggling to find. A wide, face splitting grin, one that looked far less pleasant that he was probably intending due to his gray, sharpened teeth, grew.
"The perfect organism."
The group looked on the scene with confusion before moving to take their kills. A head turning now and again to regard the odd female the King was making noises at. A head tilted in confusion before sharp teeth found tender flesh, easily lifting their food and took turns moving into the tight confines of the hive.
This wouldn't do...they needed chambers...tunnels...more of the hive to defend it...flashes showed what could happen to a hive that wasn't prepared...and the power they could wield when they acted as one.
But this was different...there were noises to thoughts...ones that were hard to understand...yet they could, even without the true means to hear, they understood the noises...scents, pheromones, slight mental impulses, they all told them what they needed.
Queen was Queen, but also Murasaki. Guard was Guard, but also Sorairo. King was King, but also Naruto Uzumaki. Mother was Mother, but also Anko...also sensei...also Aunt...also Hive?
It was all so confusing...so unneeded...but it pleased the Queen, pleased the Guard, pleased the King, so the Mother would be saved for later.
With unspoken commands they went to work, sharp claws tearing through the tender resin of the temporary egg chamber. Large 'paws' ripping out the boards and taking large furrows of earth with them, even as the others set to work. Two quickly ripping apart the kills, slicing meat from the bone with disturbing efficiency.
It was somewhat unfair...but they knew the would get their turn...these would clean the food, crunch the hard bits...get the sweetness inside them. But it was for a purpose, they needed the hard bits, the minerals, to make what they needed.
The snapping of bone quickly eclipsed the braking of boards as the two made quick work of heavy bone, the 'second mouth' piercing, shattering and pulverizing bone, quick gulps and a rumble deep in it's throat set the process to motion.
Their mouths opened, letting a thick, gray sludge fall from their mouths and mix with the soil, the substance creating a 'steam' as it broke the earth down, changing it before they gathered it up, following the three others as they burrowed down.
It wouldn't be long now until their Queen had a true home...a true hive.
"Am I hearing what I think I'm hearing?"
The trio nodded, Sorairo, in her odd monotone voice speaking. Her voice one that was surprisingly soft for a 'guardian', "They are currently expanding our hive...with five it will take longer than we like, but their size will certainly make them more efficient. Naruto-dono, we should make sure there are enough bones...with permission I will take one and continue the hunt."
Naruto was about to agree when Anko snapped her fingers between the two, "HEY! I'm TALKING here! Naruto, we need to go see the Hokage! This isn't a game anymore, he needs to know what's happening here in detail!"
"WHAT DID I SAY!?"
He shrank back in on himself a bit, making the two women with him growl, "No buts..."
Anko took a deep breath...anything to try and clam her frayed nerves a bit before letting out a long sigh, "Look gaki, I'm not trying to be a bitch here...but you need to understand..you DO understand, that these things aren't something to be taken lightly." she held up a hand before he could say anything, "Ah! I know, I know, you aren't being reckless on purpose, you understand better than any of us, and are learning faster than I thought possible. I trust that they won't hurt you...but one almost killed me! Now it's my fault for not treating this more seriously...but I don't have the knowledge you have, you knew what they could become and didn't tell me an-"
The boy finally had enough, locking eyes with her finally, letting the Jonin see a slight reddening to his normally blue eyes, "But I DID tell you! You just didn't listen! You didn't read the file or you would have known what I was talking about! We had sketch artists draw what I was seeing! I told you they were going to be grown in a few days, even where they came from! And I didn't know when you would be back! You said Monday! Your a day early, and we didn't know!"
The Jonin bit back her response at that...it was true...she knew it would take time to convince Tsume...normally she put in a day or two at the T&I before her Sunday off, this time taking the weekend to make sure that the Inuzuka couldn't somehow wiggle out of it, and trusted that he blond would be able to handle a weekend unsupervised.
"And how many times to I have to tell you! They aren't things! We haven't named them yet, but at least go by Tora or something until we do! Now...lets go see Jiji, you're right, he DOES need to know whats going on, but I was going to leave the girls here to oversee the construction while we went to see him on Monday! Hell! I bet he's not even in the tower right now!"
Finally he seemed to run out of steam, the two larger women with him quickly grabbing him and nuzzling his cheeks, the act seeing to calm all three of them and make the girls coo.
Despite what some would think...the anger of a King was not something to trifle with...while the fury of a Queen was legendary...she still had to preserve herself and her race. But the King? No...he was 'expendable' and because of that more aggressive...quicker to attack...to strike out against the enemies of the Hive…
Well...that's what the group felt...the few...very few...images of the King in the distant past was that of an outcast...driven from the hive to protect it, should he turn aggressive...but they knew Naruto would never hurt them...so they had to rethink that memory….
Anko let out a long sigh before scrubbing her hand through her hair. A quick, hard look at the girls made them pull back ever so slightly before he rested a hand gently on his shoulder. On some level she twitched at his flinch...damned villagers..."Calm down gaki...not going to punish you for telling me off...you were right, you didn't know I was going to be here. I got drunk, got sloppy. Let that be an important lesson, one of the vices of a shinobi, never underestimate the stupid shit that alcohol makes you do!" He gave a quick nod before she turned to the two girls, "Now, you two, watch over your...young…We'll be back soon, just make sure they don't hurt anyone."
Sorairo glanced to the queen before nodding, Murasaki merely stared at Naruto who smiled at her, earning a smile in return. With a puff of smoke the duo were gone, leaving the two women to move in and oversee the construction of their expanded home.
Sarutobi let out a slow cloud of smoke through his nose, making him seem more like an old dragon rather than the apes he was tied to...he was going to have to take up a healthier habit…but Naruto did tend to drive him to smoke…
"So...they have grown faster than you thought...responding to the need of the family...a formidable ability...and troubling...you're sure you have them under control?"
Naruto gave a half shrug, "As much as anyone has control over their family I guess. They listen to Murasaki, her word is law. She listens to me a lot, so do the others, but everyone looks to her first."
He let out a sigh, taking a moment to tamp out his pipe, "These...children though, they seem to be far more dangerous than the girls, and they are certainly not something that can blend in easily..."
Naruto could only nod, "Yeah, but at night they are pretty hard to see, and can blend in surprisingly well in the forest. I mean the big dogs the Inuzuka have stand out worse, and they are mostly white or gray, and they are a LOT tougher than a dog."
The aged leader gave a small smile, seems the boy was rather defensive over his 'family', "You've made your point Naruto, but with any new aspect of a ninja, we have to weigh the benefits to the risks. Right now what do you think would happen if something were to happen to you?"
Naruto was quiet for a long time...he wasn't wrong, at times Murasaki still did things that would be questionable at the best of times..."But they've learned so much! Soon they will understand the laws, and it wont be a problem!"
The Kage quirked an eyebrow, "And you are sure of this? Humans break laws all the time...what's to stop them?"
"Well...like yous said Jiji, people break them all the time, they might do that, the they get punished, right?"
Sarutobi just smirked, "Seems I cornered myself on that one...still, they are newly grown, it will take time to teach them….even your girls can barely speak right now."
This time it was Anko that stepped forward, "Actually sir, the blue haired one, the guard, she was speaking in full sentences not to long ago...Murasaki didn't speak, but it seems they are learning faster than we thought..."
the old man gave Naruto a long look, the boy scratching his cheek in embarrassment, "W-Well...remember when I said that the girls and I could share information? Well...the others added to that...now we can process and learn things even faster...better really, as the kids don't have to worry about learning words or anything...they focus on doing, and their minds help us process other things so that we can better guide the others."
He scratched at his beard for a moment, processing what the blond had just told him...it was a bit like the Shadow Clone jutsu...learning what the clone could when they dispelled, but these were living beings, constantly active, learning and relaying data...even if these 'children' couldn't really 'see' as he understood it. Still invaluable, and helping Naruto and the girls process what they learned… "That's a formidable ability...and this speeds up with every new addition?" The blond nodded, "Interesting...Anko...what do you think this would be best for...I have a thought...but I'm open to opinions."
The woman looked surprised for a moment before closing her eyes, her hand coming up to grasp her chin. "Given the stealth, information processing, breeding speeds, difficulty to capture let alone interrogate...they would be perfect for infiltration and information gathering, maybe even torture and interrogation...I know Ibiki was interested...but for now he's to green...I'd wait for Chunin at least before we even start on his training for that field...I set up a meeting with Tsume to give him training with his partners. We're not sure if they can use chakra yet though. The girls can, but the newborns, its an unknown."
The Kage gave a slow nod, it was in line what he was thinking, especially if Naruto didn't get a proper team in the future. Developing his apprenticeship further into a specific field wouldn't hurt, if that's something he's interested in. "Naruto? Does that sound like something you are interested in?"
The Genin looked a bit uncomfortable, suddenly being put on the spot, "Well, I don't know what all that would require...I still want to be Hokage, but I don't know what I'd be best at. We're good hunters, good at stealth, and people can't capture us especially due to the blood and how tough we are. And unlike most we can replace our numbers faster, using the enemy or just animals."
The pair nodded, it he had been certain then they may have discouraged him. Right now he was still flexible, better to keep his option open.
"Perhaps one day Anko can give you a tour of the different agencies. But for now, back to business. Have you made any progress in your clone?"
The pair shook their heads, "Sorry Jiji, they still just fall apart, if I get the water to move at all...but the then the kids were born and we started training them how to hunt. They also started expanding the cellar into a true hive. Feels like they are moving a tunnel towards the forest, they don't really like moving out in the open much...and I guess now I'll be training with...Tsume?' Anko nodded, 'Tsume, but I promise I'll get it down!"
The Kage nodded, "See that you do, it can be an invaluable skill for any ninja, and with your...unique affinities it could lead to a unique, new clone that may be quite the ace in the hole."
He nodded, "Got it old man! You can count on me!"
"I know I can, now, I believe you have an appointment, Anko, stay for a moment, I have a mission for you, you can handle it while Naruto has his session with Lady Inuzuka."
She nodded as the blond moved out of the office and sat, sorting through the visions he was getting from his new family, mostly it's just earth, and seeing how the hive was coming together, but it seemed that Murasaki was asleep, judging by the random flashes he was getting from her.
Honestly he was expecting things like this to bother him, but oddly the...filtering from the others, processing things through the kids, ordering it, processing it...it wasn't as bad as he thought it would be. Thus far no headaches...they didn't encroach on his vision while his eyes were open, or distract him while walking unless there was some level of urgency in the memory.
Huh...looks like they hit a layer of rock, that was taking more time to worth through. He twitched a bit as a flare of pain came through the link, suddenly he got the vision of one of the kids 'spitting' on the stone, melting it to slag before they kept their digging.
Well...good to know…
He looked up with a start as the door flew open, the purple haired woman grinning as she twirled a scroll in one hand. "Well my cute little Genin, looks like I'll be gone a week or so, I'll be leaving a clone with you to continue your training when Tsume isn't putting you through the wringer. Let's go, we need to make introductions, and try not to stare...don't want to piss off a clan head, now do you?"
He cocked his head at her in confusion, "Why would I be staring at her? You run around in less, and the girls don't wear anything most of the time."
That made the Jonin freeze in mid step...he wasn't wrong...looks like they need to go shopping at some point...while they weren't indecently exposed, it would certainly cause problems with some.
"Okay...we need to fix that...probably get some nice coats, It will help with the tails..."
He nodded it made sense, and they could get the coats in different colors..though he knew they would resist wearing them…
"But for now! Come on, if you thought I put you through hell, wait till you see what Tsume will do to you when she gets her hands on you...and dont think about taking any of their dogs for the others...that could cause a LOT of problems..."
He gave her a slightly dirty look, "who do you take me for? I wouldn't do that! Only reason we would take from someone here is if they came at us...so if they stay away, then they will be safe. Though asking for permission could work...the sick or the lame could work..."
The Jonin spun and grabbed him by the shoulders, "Don't even joke about that up! These animals are family to them! Just like these girls and the newborns, you can't think they would allow that!"
He looked a bit guilty at that, "S-sorry Anko-sensei...the memories have kinda desensitized me to a lot of things...I'll try and be more mindful about it. It's hard at times...if I could show you the things I've seen...maybe you would understand..."
She let out a tired sigh, she knew the kid was going through a lot...but to think that way? It was a bit disturbing…
"Hey, kid, I know you are going through a hell of a lot right now, but I need you to stay grounded, okay? Human, ninja, Konoha, those are things you need to really hold onto, okay?" He nodded, "Good, let's go get one of your 'kids' and maybe the blue-bell, they need to understand things in different ways than just you. Then I'll have to go get geared up."
He nodded, and with a swirl of wind they were gone.