Naruto characters and references belong to Misashi Kishimoto

Fullmetal Alchemist characters and references belong to Hiromu Arakawa

Original Characters characters are mine

A/N: It's been a long time in the making but here it is, chapter 7 has finally arrived and even though it may be a bit short it'll have to do for now. Now as the author of this fanfiction, I do encourage you to leave a review once in a while because I do like to hear what you the fans like about the story so far, what needs improvement, what characters they'd liked to see more of, or just answer a few general questions. In short it helps drive me to keep producing more chapters, so please don't just fav but also leave a review.

Chapter 7 - The Crimson Path

The funeral for Fiona Blackburn was small compared to other funerals for fallen soldiers although many of her subordinates had attended many of those that had known her that were outside of her department were occupied with the war against the shinobi nations, among those who had known her and attended were the Elrics and the Rockbells. "I can't believe she was killed like that and in central of all places" Winry looked away and placed her head on Edward's shoulder for him to comfort her, to Winry it was like her parent's and Maes Hues' deaths all over again.

Holding his wife-to-be close Edward looked at Lucas who had been silent the whole time "Do you know why it happened?" he asked knowing full well what the silence meant, undoubtedly his fellow alchemist was planning to something to drastic, a common and if not troublesome trait shared amongst all alchemists.

Lucas nodded slightly and placed a slouched hat on his head and fixed his leather duster coat, something that everyone present felt was strange but to Edward and Pinaco it was proof enough "She was meddling in affairs that I told her not to continue but she didn't listen." It was Edward's turn to look away, several times Ed and Al had come close to unveiling the secrets behind the philospher's stone and those associated with it, and many people who they shared the information with paid for it with their lives. "I'll find out what she stumbled onto and deal with those who did this." he sloped the hat forward and began walking away from the grave that laid next to their father's and mother's in the Resembol graveyard, although both Lucas and Fiona were born and raised in Central their father was born in Resembol which somehow made it appropriate for the family plot to be in the peaceful countryside.

The short, elderly woman stopped the Lieutenant Colonel by poking him in the gut with the tip of her smoking pipe. "I understand that you want to do something to avenge your sister but do you think throwing your life away will make her happy?" she questioned the chestnut haired man on his motives and reasons for doing something so reckless. "Besides you don't even have any leads to start your search." Pinaco hoped that by pointing this out, Lucas would drop his quest and be content with living out the rest of his life but she knew that was asking too much of an alchemist, especially a State Alchemist.

Looking down at the woman the middle aged man gave Pinaco an arrogant smirk "I've got one lead and the Fuerher gave me permission to follow up on it." he walked up to a waiting jeep that had his duffle bag and a driver.

Alphonse looked at the Lieutenant Colonel skeptically "I thought he was helping with the situation in...Amegakure?" he wondered if he had gotten the place name exact.

The Lieutenant Colonel leaned back and turned his attention to Alphonse who was standing behind Edward and Winry "Well the thing is, from what I heard is that they surrendered without our forces firing a single shot, further more they're also going to volunteer their services. At the moment we're building up troops in Amegakure, outside the Land of Water and in the territory we've gained in the Land of Earth so all the fighting has ceased for the moment until the big push." Lucas gave the young State Alchemist the current report from the front and deep down he was glad that Alphonse was only running errands. "Anyway I'll be seeing ya and ED BE SURE TO DRINK YOUR MILK!" Lucas shouted back to the blonde haired Elric as the jeep tore off down the road and towards the desert.

A vein popped on Edward's forehead at the comment and he lost his composure "OH YEAH! COME BACK HERE AND SAY THAT! I'LL FORCE THAT CRAP DOWN YOUR THROAT!" he shouted in vain however his temper evaporated as soon as he felt a cold chill run down his spine and saw Winry waving a wrench in her hand with a dangerous glare on her face and Alphonse sweating bullets as he tried desperately to calm her down, all Ed could do was laugh uneasily at his precarious situation.

After explaining the past of Konohagakure and the tough choices that were forced onto Itachi by the treacherous elders, Sasuke had initially refused Madara's explanation but the elder Uchiha told the young raven-haired teen to remember his brother for who he was before Itachi was given the orders to the seditious Uchiha clan however Sasuke was still having trouble accepting Madara's words "Nonsense...I was nearly killed more than once."

"You would have been...had Itachi been serious...that's certain" Madara replied simply to Sasuke's protests.

The teenaged Uchiha stared at the masked man as he recalled his fight with Itachi which still ran clear through his mind "He even tried to kill me with the Mangekyo Sharingan! And yet..." he was left confused as to how he survived the battle with his brother.

"Yet your still alive...It was all part of his plan, he had to drive you into a corner. You...must have already noticed the reason why" Madara continued "Freedom from the cursed seal...and with the death of someone close to you... The battle would awaken your mangekyo." the masked man reminded Sasuke of what had happened to Orochimaru and his cursed seal during the battle and continued to press the fact that inspite of what everything that had happened the young Uchiha survivor was alive, which was enough to paralyze Sasuke to the core. "You couldn't see through Itachi at all. You couldn't see through his illusion." Madara began untying the ropes that bound Sasukes arms and legs "But Itachi...had killed his friend, his superiors...had killed his lover and his mother and father. The only one he couldn't kill...was his little brother." He emphasized that out of all of the people that Itachi had killed on that night, the only one he could not kill was Sasuke. "The man who cried blood as he smothered his emotions and killed his brethren...couldn't bring himself to kill you. Why do you think that is?" The orange masked man asked rhetorically before continuing with his speech which had Sasuke frozen stiff from this startling realisation "For him, your life weighed more than the village" he added for good measure "For the sake of Konoha's peace, and more than anything, for you...Uchiha Sasuke, he wanted to die as a criminal, a traitor. Accepting dishonor in payment of honor... and hatered in payment for love, even then, Itachi died smiling. Entrusting the Uchiha name to you, while decieving you forever." Madara's words echoed in the back of the young Uchiha's mind even well after they had left the Akatsuki lair.

Standing at the edge of a cliff and as waves crashed and broke against the rocks, Sasuke looked up to the sky with a new sense of purpose and resolution "We have left 'Hebi' behind." he began his announcement to Karin, Jugo and Suigetsu "From now on our team will remobilize under the name 'Taka'. As 'Taka' we only have one goal. We will crush Konoha." he said with finality, the rulers of Konohagakure no Sato had been the reason why the Uchiha had begun to plot the coup de'tat and in turn caused his brother to suffer and now Sasuke would make things right by avenging his clan by destroying the Hidden Leaf.

As the sun baked down on the desert sands of the Kaze no Kuni, the jeep in which Lucas was riding in had come to a complete and sudden halt, causing the State Alchemist to jerk forward and to wake up in the process "Hnh? What's the matter?" He said with a drowsily, rubbing his eyes before shielding them from the blinding light and glare coming from the sand.

"This is as far as you go." His driver's voice was filled with killing intent and that was only matched by the look in his eyes.

Lucas gazed at the driver quizzically. "What?" The Lieutenant Colonel eased his hand over the leather brown holster of his service pistol, readying himself to defend against a potential attack.

The Lieutenant Colonel then heard the sound of metal kunai being drawn and as if by instinct he brought his own weapon out in response and blocked the assassin's weapon however even though it had been blocked, the tip of the instrument had managed to draw some blood. "Pein-sama wishes for your death and he has granted me the honour of fulfilling his request."The driver launched himself out of the driver's seat and tore off his Amestris Military jacket, reveal explosive tags plastered all over his torso.

"SHIT!" Lucas cursed under his breath and eased himself out of his seat and made his way around the military vehicle and began sizing up this new enemy. 'This guy isn't kidding around, he really wants to kill me.' he placed himself between the assassin and the jeep that they had been using.

The driver then charged ahead and started to attack the State Alchemist "FOR PEIN-SAMA!" The man shouted as he plunged the kunai directly at the Lieutenant Colonel and swept to the left.

Jumping out of the way and used his Colt 1911 pistol to defend himself again, deflect the weapon away. 'The only materials I have are the sand and the jeep and I need to capture him alive.' he thought as he skidded across the desert sands before sliding to a stop. "RIGHT!" He called out with conviction and ran past his assailant and at the jeep, throwing the gun into the air before clapping his hands together and touching the bumper of the vehicle then caught the weapon and brushing his hand along the underside of the barrel and an electrical spark engulfed the handgun as it was reshaped to have a blade fused to it. Now it was his turn to go on the offensive and rushed the would be assassin.

The shinobi and the alchemist traded blow-for-blow and the sounds of metal striking each other could only be faintly heard from afar. Fortunately Lucas had seen Naruto maintain his training in the ninja arts and as result also trained himself to follow Naruto's movements. It was at that time that the assassin increased his speed and attempted to attack the State Alchemist from behind, however Lucas was able to predict the shinobi's move and parry the blow, throwing the ninja off balance and fired shots at the legs of the shinobi to give him enough time to use his alchemy to create a sandstone stockade for the his enemy. "YOU BASTARD!" The driver cursed loudly, struggling with his bonds.

Now that he no longer needed to defend or attack, Lucas could finally get some answers. "Now tell me who this Pein-sama is and why does he want me of all people dead? Well...?" He pressed, getting to the matter at hand He didn't want to stay in the heat of the desert for too long and be distracted from his search, however he had a feeling that it was this Pein-sama who was responsible for his sister's death or at least played a part in it.

The shinobi looked up at Lucas with cold yet tired eyes, a side effect from the blood loss "You'll have to kill me first before I betray my comrades!" He said hatefully through his laboured breathing, stubbornly refusing to answer any questions

Lucas covered his face with hand and groaned out of frustration due to the lack of cooperation he was receiving "For the love of...you guys are always so overkill...fulfilling your mission even if it means your death? Just cooperate with me and-" As a State Alchemist it was his duty to find new resources for alchemy and most of his travels had taken him all the way through the five great nations and his experience with shinobi had always been awkward, with most being too serious about their duties .

"GO TO HELL!" The ninja screamed and pressing his index and pointer fingers together and activated the paper bombs on his body.

A bright white light emanated from the tags and engulfed the shinobi "Ohhhh...fuck me." He cursed as the light turned into a n a pillar of flame and washed over Lucas.

Meanwhile in Konohagakure, the shinobi village of Hi no Kuni, Naruto felt like a caged bird, only able to stretch it's wings but unable to fly in the sky. As he was about to take his umpteenth nap for the day, the familiar pop and saw a cloud of smoke evaporate to reveal an elderly white haired man, with red paint on his face and green with red clothing. "Hey Gaki! Long time no see!" He said cheerfully while sitting on top of Gamabunta

"Ero-Senin! You haven't changed at all!" The blonde haired shinobi-turned-alchemist shouted excitedly, unable to believe that he was seeing another one of his old sensei's for the first time in years.

Upon hearing the nickname that Naruto had given him when they had first met, the old sage huffed and pouted indignantly; "Oi, oi! Is that any way to greet me after all this time?" The blonde however just rubbed his head and just laughed, still excited about seeing Jiraiya "Alright what is it? You're under house arrest and yet you're smiling." The perverted sage gave the blonde shinobi a questioning look.

Naruto kept grinning and laughing, still excited about the unexpected guest. "It's nothing, heh. I'm just happy to see you that's all." He admitted scratching the back of his head bashfully.

"Oh? If that's the case you wouldn't mind if we had a little talk then?" He said slyly with a grin of his own.

Naruto looked back with a quizzical expression across his face "About what?" he asked, certainly the sage must have heard something from Tsunade and Kakashi or even Iruka.

"This and that, but I want to mostly hear about how things have been going." He leaned forward, using his right leg for support while he was using Gamabunta's head as a seat.

The blonde haired youth eased himself off of his bed and over to the kitchenette to get something to drink out of the refrigerator for himself and his guest. "Alright, but can you at least come inside? It'll be awkward with you sitting at the window on Gamabunta-san." Naruto said dryly, he could only imagine the stares they were getting from the people passing by

After an hour of story telling, the elderly sage placed his cup of green tea down on the small coffee table and sat back in his arm chair. "Sounds like you had quite an adventure. I'm sorry that I missed it all and that I couldn't help you Naruto." He apologized for not being there to help with Sasuke's retrieval.

For some reason Naruto felt something like this was going to happen and in fact received a similar apology from Kakashi when he returned to the village, letting out a heavy sigh he walked over to the glass door and out on to the balcony. "It's fine Ero-Senin." The Sage followed his god-son outside, noting a somewhat calm yet passionate tone in his voice which reminded him of his late student whom had become the Fourth Hokage. "It was tough but I learned a lot, not a lot about being ninja but I don't have many regrets." he admitted, although he had to read a mountain of books to get where he is now, those same books has given him the chance to fulfill his promise to Sakura and the ability to bring back the one person he considered to be not only a rival but also a brother.

Jiraiya felt almost a little jealous, even if Naruto had returned safely to the village, he doubted he would have been able to have such an impact on the youth that he'd mature into the person standing before him."You know what? Just for today why don't we do some training?" The old man said boisterously, trying to liven up the sombre mood in the apartment.

"Seriously?" Naruto's eyes lit up in excitement, it had felt like it had been a long time since he had any training and he was eager to get outside.

The white-haired man let out a slight chuckle before nodding his head in affirmation. No matter how much time passes and how mature Naruto may seem, he'll always remain a kid at heart. "Mhmm. And don't worry about the guys outside, they won't be causing any problems." The toad sage said plainly, getting up on the balcony railing and launched himself into the air and landed on the dirt road below, waiting for the blonde Uzumaki to follow.

Although he had wondered where the ANBU that had been watching him had disappeared too all of a sudden and wasn't stopping him from participating in a ninja related activity or at least talking to an active ninja, it was no longer a concern to Naruto "Alright! Training with Ero-Senin!" He shouted, climbing on top of the railing and leaping out onto the street to follow his teacher for the day. Outside of the apartment, at key surveillance points, masked men were laid out and the sound of snoring came from the mouths of the slumbering shinobi, whom were now sound asleep and out of the way for the time being.