If you're reading this, then you're either a fan of my other fic, Rising Star, and are here cause I asked ya to come, or you're just randomly browsing for a story on your off time. Either way, I appreciate it. Keep on reading for a good time.
I had this idea quite a while ago, but never got around to working on. But finally, after about a year of running through my mind like a plague, here it is. I hope to keep working on this for a long time to come. If I do, it'll be published simultaneously with Rising Star, so readers can enjoy two stories in one sitting. I'm good like that.
Anyway… This story is canon as of the latest chapter of Naruto, which came out August 5th or 6th, depending on which site you go to read it. After that, nope. Totally original. Not that it matters, really… well, you'll see why.
Read and review, please!
Fires raged all around the small group of dedicated shinobi as they raced through the forest. Many of them were what was once called the "Konoha Eleven," though there were many others in the group—ninja who'd survived the holocaust set upon them, or those who hadn't been there for the attacks when they'd come, and returned after the initial advances, during the next wave that had come.
There were no civilians with them—any and all non-shinobi in the village was already dead and gone. They hadn't stood a chance when the army of Bijuu suddenly showed up one late evening. Even if any were left, none of the fleeing ninja could afford to stop and search. Survival was the most important thing for them. To try to bring someone who couldn't defend themselves, who would slow them down, was nothing short of suicide.
In the midst of the pack, surrounded on all sides by friend and fellow soldiers was Uzumaki Naruto, the host of the Kyuubi. The pain that he'd experienced in the last few hours was the most he'd ever felt in his life. Years before, when he learned that his mentor of three years, Jiraiya of the Sannin, the Toad Sage, had been killed by the one known as Pain—that was when he thought that he'd reached rock bottom. But upon seeing his people, the ones who'd eventually adopted him as their favorite son, mercilessly and helplessly cut down before his eyes, he realized that there were lows that he had never imagined.
The flames were spreading rapidly, illuminating their flight through the trees even in the early morning darkness. The leaves in the canopy above were burning more quickly than the wooden boughs that supported them; a veritable sheet of red and orange was suspended above the party. Branches and twigs fell off the canopy randomly, sending deadly chunks of fire falling on the panicked refugees. Two had fallen to the natural traps, one who'd been flagging in strength already, and one who was missing an eye to a recent injury. None of the others stopped to help. Their pursuers were dead on their trail. For anybody to stop and attempt to help would mean death for the entire group.
Speed was key. At the moment, nobody wasted time trying to fight, or even set a trap. The heat and flame would render one useless in seconds, anyway, and they didn't have the time to waste. They had a single destination in mind, and the timetable to get there was strict. There were only two rules at the moment: "Keep up or die," and "Protect Naruto at all costs."
Rage burned inside of the young man. Had it been ten years before this day, he would have lost control already and begun the transformation into the Kyuubi. But time and training had given him the control he used to lack. There was no chance that he'd go berserk… but a guilty part of his mind wished that he would. That way, he could fight and fight without remorse. He would lose himself in the raw power of the Kyuubi, and fight until he died. That way… that way, he wouldn't feel the shame and guilt that he now had.
No! Naruto shouted at himself. This is not the time! Do what you have to do! Fulfill your mission!
Above and below, right and left, before and behind, shinobi of all ages and clans and disciplines escorted him to the place he told them that they might have a fighting chance at. They had put all of their trust in him once again. It was for the sake of their future—their lives—that they followed him to their possible deaths. Anything was better than this. This wasn't war. This was Armageddon.
Naruto had told them his plan before they fled. Some didn't like it… but most of them supported it. It would require the sacrifice of their safety, probably their very lives before it came to fruition. But if he was right, he had a chance to set things right—make things right. Only he had the power to do this.
They were close—very close. The site that was their target was a nexus of chakra. He'd discovered it while in his Sage mode once. The land there held a massive amount of chakra, and the air was thick with it for those who could sense it. He'd once fought there—the amount of energy he'd drawn on there was comparable to that of his full transformation into the nine-tailed fox.
He needed this site because he couldn't use the fox's chakra with this jutsu. If he could have, he wouldn't involve his party with it. But his own store of chakra wasn't enough—this was the only chance he had.
The only chance any of them had.
They were only seconds away from clearing the forest when the stragglers behind them began being picked off by the swiftest of their enemies. Shuriken, kunai, and several jutsu slammed into the rear guard—just like that, four of his small army were dead.
"Faster!" he shouted at them, urging them on. "Move it or die!"
This seemed to be the motivation they needed. Spurred on by the demise of their comrades, each of them put on an extra burst of speed. Naruto looked up. "Topside! Throw them backwards now!"
Naruto had given each of his soldiers a special pronged kunai with a tag on it—the key to the Hiraishin no Jutsu. In a flash he disappeared, and the frontrunners behind them were dead to the man. He reappeared near the front of the group next to Hyuuga Hinata, who had one of the tags held to the side. He didn't say a word; he didn't have to. She knew she held his thanks already.
Then they were there. A large clearing in the forest spread out a half mile in diameter. The power of the place was palpable to Naruto as he neared its center. Over the years, he'd learned to instantly enter the Sage mode without standing still or using a clone. He'd truly surpassed the Toad Sage himself in his prime.
"We're here!" Naruto shouted as they hit the ground running. "Fall into formation! Reserve positions, take them! Outside perimeter, shore up! Hinata, how long until we get more bogies?"
"Two minutes, Naruto!" she shouted as she took up position six feet from him. Seven others completed the octagon around him. Another ring was formed around that, and another around them. All in all, almost fifty people had dedicated themselves to guarding him for these few crucial moments.
"That's not enough time!" Naruto bellowed.
"We can give you five more than that!" Chouji said. "Just do what you have to do! Deliver on your promise to us and make sure that this is righted!"
Naruto nodded. "Got it! First wall, seal up!" The outer ring each held up a paper tag and activated it. A wall formed there, translucent and strong. They were linked to the chakra of the ones who placed them. Until they removed them—which they would never, ever do—they would maintain the dome that encompassed the remaining shinobi. The only other way to take them out of action was to kill the ones who activated them.
"Now run like hell!" Naruto shouted. "If this doesn't work, I want you to survive! Do whatever you have to do—make sure you don't fucking die on me! Is that clear?"
"Yes sir!" most of them shouted. One held back, though.
"Kiba! Get the fuck out of here!"
Kiba made a face at him. "That's not happening!" he snarled. "If I can hold them off long enough, kill enough of them, I can make sure that the others survive long enough to pull this off!"
"You idiot!" shouted Shikamaru. "You have your orders!"
"Fuck the orders! I'll disobey this time—if we get through all this, bring me in on a fucking court marshal if you want! I'm not gonna run with my tail between my legs!"
"Fine!" Naruto shouted as he pulled scrolls out of every one of his pouches and pockets. "We don't have time to argue. Do what you have to, Kiba, but don't you die on me!"
Kiba nodded. "Got it. Ready, Akamaru?"
Akamaru woofed. Now the size of a small horse, he was the largest of all of the Inuzuka's ninken. Kiba threw a handful of soldier pills into Akamaru's waiting mouth. His fur turned a crimson red and grew into a shaggy coat. The dog jumped at the boy, and in an instant they merged into a monstrous dog the size of a good-sized house, a far step up from when they first used it in combat against the Sound ninja all those years ago. Just the sight of the creature was enough to instill fear into the bravest of warriors.
"What are you waiting for?" Naruto asked the rest of the platoon. "A written invitation? Second wall, get up now! Stand at the ready, I don't know how long he can hold them off!"
The remaining shinobi hurried to obey. Naruto was not one you wanted angry at you in the best of times. The middle ring activated the seals, forming a smaller dome inside the first one.
Naruto began setting up the scrolls. They were on spikes, and with a quick jab he arranged them in a circle around himself. Pulling more out, he made another ring. Double- and triple-checking the arrangement, he sat in the middle, closed his eyes, and with blazing speed flashed through hand signs faster than the human eye could follow. He'd never done this before, he had no idea if it would work—but it had to work. It had to. He had to have faith that his months of preparation would lead to success.
The only other option was failure. And that would lead to certain death.
Once commenced, the jutsu could not be halted. The seals written in the scrolls that surrounded him were too unbalanced to allow even a moment's hesitation. They had to be activated in order, in precise intervals. If he didn't get this exactly right the first time, they could explode, and barrier or no barrier—they'd all die.
He tuned the outside sounds from his mind. He forced himself to ignore the sounds of combat that raged from Kiba and Akamaru as the next wave of enemy shinobi arrived. Ignored the sound of pained screams as the beast they had become ripped them to shreds with its claws and crushed them in its twin sets of teeth.
He ignored the sound of its roar as it was attacked and ripped to shreds itself.
He said a silent prayer in the back of his mind for the boy and his dog.
One by one, the scrolls began spinning on the spikes they were attached to. First one, then another, with spaces of fifteen seconds between them. It would take four minutes to activate all sixteen scrolls. He needed another three and a half.
He didn't think he would get them.
He heard the screams of shock when the first barrier went down. That could only mean that the twenty-six people who'd ran were all dead. Just like that.
Mourn later if there is a later! Naruto screamed to himself. Focus now!
The seventeen people who'd made the second barrier sprang into action, Shikamaru, the village's chief tactician leading them. He and Chouji decimated the forces coming at them, Shikamaru with thousands of shadow needles springing up from the ground, Chouji with well-placed fists the size of horse carts. He saw Ino manipulate a half-dozen foes into turning on their comrades—
Until her head was lopped off by a flying Fuma shuriken thrown from a distance none of them could defend against.
"INO!" Chouji bellowed in horror as he saw her head fly through the air. In rage, he made his arm reach out to the source of the projectile. He grabbed the shinobi and squeezed him to a pulp, then threw him back into the forest flames.
One of the enemy ninja used a technique to make a sword grow to epic proportions and sliced Chouji's arm off at the elbow. Distracted by the pain, he was an easy target for another shinobi, who issued a bolt of lightning to blow a hole through his armor and destroy his heart. He fell to the ground with a thud, blood flowing onto the ground to make a sticky puddle of mud.
Shikamaru's needles were working overtime. His needles now had a fine edge to them, which he used to slice and saw anyone in his sight, or within reach of his shadow. When a barrage of kunai hit him from behind and penetrated his skull, though, the shadows dissipated. He was the last surviving member of the second defense. The trio known as the InoShikaChou was no more.
That entire conflict took less than two minutes.
The third line had already put up their barrier. Hyuuga Hinata, Haruno Sakura, Rock Lee, Tenten, Sarutobi Konohamaru, Hyuuga Neji, Maito Gai, and Shiranui Genma were all that was left. They sprang into action; Hinata and Neji working together to sweep away shinobi left and right using short and long range Juuken techniques, ripping limbs from the seemingly-endless stream of ninja flying through the flaming treeline.
Tenten sent weapon after weapon at them from under her cloak until there was nothing left, when she grabbed a pair of swords from the ground and got into close range combat.
Lee and Gai went as far as they could go—they both hit the seventh gate without going through the first six, straining their bodies to the max in a sacrifice for speed and physical strength as they punched and kicked anything that moved, forgetting technique and just raining blow after blow on those who would come near them.
Genma worked his signature skill—his hands separated, he created two jutsu at a time, one with each hand. Not bothering to call out the name to help focus, waterfalls and typhoons and a flock of bird-shaped pockets of wind chakra flew at their foes, one after another, wave after wave of ninja being cut down…
But it just wasn't enough.
Gai faltered. In his older age, with a lifetime of using the Lotus, his body failed him for one critical second. He was impaled from behind with a spear. Lee snapped the man's neck, but it was too late—Gai was already dead.
Tenten's swords had become broken sometime in the fight, but she didn't replace them. She just kept on slashing and slashing with the stubs, little longer than kunai, when she too was impaled on an enemy's blade.
Hinata and Neji were becoming exhausted in their movements. The long-range arts of their style used up a massive amount of chakra, and soon, Hinata slumped to the ground. Neji did his best to protect her in her moment of weakness, but a kunai sailing in from his blind spot stuck him in the back of his head. He slumped onto Hinata, who was too weak to push him off. Her throat was slit before she could even think of regaining her feet, and she bled out onto the ground, gurgling pink bubbles from her exposed neck.
Genma and Sakura were fighting back-to-back, the man attacking anything in his field of vision, the woman devastatingly delivering blows to all who dared face her. They were the last two to stand.
An arrow from the cover of fire whizzed at Sakura. She wasn't fast enough to dodge it. It plunged into her chest, through her heart. She was dead before she could activate the seal Tsunade had taught her to use when she was still alive.
Genma looked over his shoulder. In that split-second of concern for the girl, a flying giant kunai took off the top of his head, from the nose on up.
The barrier faltered, then fell.
Everyone was dead, but for him. He was alone.
He needed another minute to complete his jutsu. It was fifty-nine seconds more than he had.
Naruto opened his eyes while still flying through his hand seals. Bodies littered the ground like litter. There was almost no space he could see that wasn't bloodied, save for the area that the barrier had enclosed. Inside, it was pristine as the fallen snow.
No living shinobi was in sight. But that didn't mean that none were left. In desperation, in the faintest hope that he was yet alone, he continued with his hand signs. Another scroll glowed red and spun on its axel. He felt, rather than saw or sensed, a presence… one that had once been as familiar to him as his own, but now was wholly alien.
Sasuke had come.
The man who was now truly the last Uchiha entered the clearing casually, the sword Kusanage over his shoulder as if it was a casual walking stick. It glowed a bright green, giving off a horrifying aura of malice. This, the source of Orochimaru's power, only further enhanced the one who had once been called a prodigy. "I can see why you came to this place," Sasuke said slowly as he meandered to Naruto. "This is a place of great power. With your Sage techniques, you would be almost unstoppable here. Which begs the question… why did you not fight? Here, you could have fairly easily destroyed every one of my soldiers with those clones of yours."
Naruto didn't answer; he merely focused on the task at hand. He squelched the burning rage he held inside him back. He couldn't afford to get distracted, not now. If he did—
If he did, the entire array would blow. Even the gifted Uchiha, for all his speed, wouldn't survive. With a single pause, Naruto could destroy him, erase him from the face of the planet.
Sasuke was right. He could have fought… and he would have probably won.
But this wasn't about fighting. Not anymore. It was about making things right. To do that, he had to finish… an entire world was at stake.
Another scroll spun.
Sasuke frowned. "What in the hell are you trying to do?" Sasuke asked, a note of interest in his voice. "I don't recognize this jutsu." His Mangekyou flared, but they saw nothing that was invisible to the naked eye. He couldn't penetrate the material the scrolls were made of. "Chakra paper? You're actually using chakra paper to make seals? How absurd." He lifted the point of the Grass Cutter to one of the spinning scrolls.
The energy feedback caused the blade to warp for a second, then explode outwards. Thousands of glowing green shards flew every which way, some nearly hitting Naruto. A few pinged off of the scrolls themselves, but the rotation and wards built inside to prevent meddling protected them.
Sasuke himself was thrown back by the concussion. He landed on a pile of his former soldiers, which cushioned the impact. He stood up, then looked at the stump of the sword in his hand. With a casual shrug, he tossed it aside, as if it was a mere blade and had not been one of the most rare and valuable weapons in the world. "That was… unexpected." He advanced once again on Naruto.
Another scroll spun. One more to go.
Sasuke frowned. "Tell me what you are doing, you bastard!" he shouted, finally losing his cool. "What is this?" Madness, madness born of years of twisted thoughts and schemes and plans for revenge blazed from the priceless eyes of the Uchiha man. Without a word, his hand glowed blue with electricity. After all this time, the Chidori was still his stand-by technique. "I don't care!" he shouted madly. "Just die!"
He was grabbed from behind in a full nelson. Sakura held him in her arms, hands locked behind his head as he struggled to free himself. She'd somehow come back to life—Naruto didn't know how, but apparently she had an immortality jutsu to surpass the former Hokage's. She'd become much stronger over the years—her physical strength rivaled that of Rock Lee himself. "Let go, you bitch!" he shouted as he thrashed around.
The power in his hands singed her hair and scorched her face, but she healed herself almost as fast as he hurt her. "Forget it!" she said. "I'm so over you, you whiny bastard!" She looked over Sasuke's shoulder as she held on for dear life. "Do it! Do it for everyone! Do it for me!"
Naruto looked her in the eyes as the last scroll began to glow and spin. There were so many things he hadn't yet said to her—so much time that they'd spent together over the years that he'd wasted—he didn't know what to do. "Sakura!" he bellowed, the jutsu he'd spent so much time and energy creating and mastering finally activating. "Sakura, I love you! I always have and I always will!"
Sakura smiled painfully as she held onto the bucking man in her arms. "I know," she said. "I love you too… Hokage-sama."
The scrolls began unraveling around Naruto to cocoon him, first the ones closest to him, then the ones on the outer ring. The inner circle designated time—the second, space.
It was the world's most powerful and most dangerous teleportation jutsu.
The instant before he was swept from this plane of existence, he saw Sasuke break free from Sakura and lop her head off with his Chidori and charge at him with the same motion.
As fast as Sasuke was, he wasn't fast enough. Naruto disappeared, into thin air.
He was gone.
And then… So was Sasuke, and the bodies around him, and the whole world around him. They'd never existed, at all.
And they never would.
Yup, that's it. This is just a sampler chapter. If people seem to like it, I'll write more. If not, I'll think of something else to write.
This chapter was written in about four hours, a couple of which were done while watching Discovery Channel. Make of that what you will.
If you like this, tell me! Please review!