Author's notes: Update: April 2012; Started going through the story again to correct some grammatical errors and rewrite parts that are hard to read. However, it will be a slow process as I will be forced to divide what little available time I already have. And I don't want to take too long to write and add new chapters.
As for the story itself, it have many twists and turns. So there are more to many of the situations within the storyline than meets the eye. Sufficed to say, it is worth keeping an open mind while reading.
With that little heads up having been noted, I hope you enjoy the story.
As for the disclaimer: Neither Mass Effect nor Naruto belongs to me. Or else I would not be working part-time in a grocery store.
The battlefield lay dark, fire and smoke filled the ruins of one of the few cities to survive the initial purge, only to be beaten into and beyond submission by a second assault. Few buildings remained in a complete state of disrepair, only the raw foundations allowed them to remain standing, while the rest had collapsed. The gardens had been burned to a crisp and every facility had been thoroughly bombed, remains of the long since dead local population littered the streets. With the world consumed by death, funerals did not happen. The graves become too numerous to count. And the world beyond suffered no less, this once beautiful but hardy world had been turned into a visage of hell itself, dying beneath the smog that covered much of the skies. The first bombardment brought about that catastrophic change, leaving much of the world in the shade. No solace could be found in the occasional times of sunlight, for it made it easier for their genocidal enemies to find them.
The world had become hell, truly.
A teenage girl appeared in the street, running as fast as she could... but weeks with minimal amount of food had reduced her energy to little of a fraction. She would rather halt, but such an action is nothing short of a death sentence, so the girl kept running. Even though every muscle in her body screamed at her to stop.
A bolt of light struck the street just a few feet behind her, smashing a sizable gap in it's surface and hurled her through the air as the shock wave blasted across the immediate area.. landing on her belly with a loud cough. Fear caused her to freeze, barely able to move as she came to suffer from the resulting shell shock. The girl slammed her head into the ground, feeling her limbs come back to life from the resulting pain, allowing her to weakly crawl forwards at least, all while she heard herself plead into thin air... "Please help, someone!" and prayed to whichever saint had not yet abandoned her as the machine appeared from the smoke obscuring the crater, a six-legged monstrosity, an elongated neck and a small head that shined with a bright light, coming closer by the moment. The girl closed her eyes and prepared to see her ancestors.
"Hinata!" A boyish voice roar the eerie silence before hell broke out once again, a creature landing on top of her, shielding her body with it's own. A familiar sight as she gazed up at it. A dark figure with the resemblance of twisted fox, elongated claws.. skin that seemed to burn with the hate of the underworld and six tails swaying along in the wind, the most noteworthy being the fox skeleton it was clad with, made purely out of the same energy that made the rest of the demon cloak. It's face appearing as but a mask of toothy jaws and bright white unblinking eyes. It's maw opened and filled it with Chakra, which quickly compressed and solidified to the point it became an orb, and launched it at the machine with so much power that the claws digging deeply into the ground stood as the only thing preventing the demon from flying away from the recoil as the machine vanished in an explosion that formed a massive crater across the cityscape behind it.
Hinata looked over her shoulders at the destruction and then up at the fox as the cloak withdrew, revealing Naruto as he hurried to help her getting up from the ground and gently encouraging for the girl to follow him. "We got to hurry to the meeting spot, all survivors must assemble at the Sun Free diner." he quickly told her as consecutive explosions and other signs of combat occurred elsewhere. "We don't have much time."
"What do you mean, contact?" John Shepard asked as he reviewed the latest signal report. He was about to give the order to head to Illium from Haestrom when EDI reacted upon a series of recognizable signals.
"There are significant Geth activity in the Kalin system in the outskirts of the veil. Combat operations it seems, but whomever they are fighting is not listed in the database nor the galactic codex." the AI summarized flatly.
"So you're saying that the Geth are waging a war against an species that we don't know about? Stage of development?" the Commander asked.
"Affirmative. The unknown species seem to be, according to intercepted Geth transmissions, in the industrial age. All other data are non-existent, but they are organic, no doubt." the AI replied.
Joker quickly contributed his thought to the conversation, "Or it may be just a trap."
"I don't think they would attack a species we don't even know about and expect to attract our attention. Whatever it is. It warrants attention. Joker, set course for the Kalin system and step on it." Shepard turned to the ships AI next, "Call for everyone to get to the briefing room."
The pair of Shinobi arrived at the Sun Free diner and entered the hole next to where the the door used to be before this place got reduced to rubble, and stepped across a floor that seemed on the verge of breaking, the furniture either gone or shattered across the room.
"You sure took your fucking time getting here." a familiar voice spoke up to the immediate annoyance of Naruto. A tall blond man stepped out from the shadows, dragging his scythe along the floor. The remains of a machine stuck on it's blades. "Caught this little shit watching the place. The hiding spot's useless now."
"T-then we can't waste any more time." Hinata declared, stumbling briefly while Naruto opened a hidden entrance under the mangled carpet.
"Where's your team?" Naruto asked, pointing down the entrance as he opened it.
"All gone." Hidan responded as he waited for the teens to climb down it before he went down himself, closing the hatch behind him.
"You sure took your sweet time." Tenten seconded Hidan's opinion and berated them in an annoyed manner, and received a few muttering words in response.
"Aw, come on! We don't have time for this!" Naruto grumbled at the girl, whom only stopped with great reluctance as time became more of an issue every passing moment as the group picked up speed. Roaming through a tunnel that barely still held together. The hideout basically being one of the shelters that used to belong to the now defunct Akatsuki, all but a few members had perished. And those few survivors pushed aside their plans when the devastating machine invasion began and instead organized a resistance and refuge for survivors. But a full year of constant bombardment and lightning assaults of massive armies of death-spewing metal monstrosities had reduced the population in and outside the refuge to almost nothing. Any hope of victory or even survival currently being at it's darkest now.
After a long run, the group arrived at the fortified entrance to the shelter and gave the password so that they could enter. The first room simply being a large space of nothing, except the collection of a few people whom awaited their arrival.
"Got any good news?" one of the two remaining leaders of the remnants of the resistance, Nagato, asked.. not looking like he'd allow himself too high a hope.
"Destroyed those that followed us, but our teams are gone. Had to save Hinata from one of the big ones, or we would have lost her too." Naruto explained shortly.
"Hinata, if you were against just one, why did you not summon a shell to protect yourself? As the host of the Sanbi, you should had been able too." Nagato asked with a grim voice.
Hinata bowed in an apologetic manner.. "I'm sorry. My team's gone and I nearly ran out of Chakra." but was quickly comforted by Naruto, one of the extremely few sources of comfort these days.
"My team got wasted, and if I don't get some suitable sacrifices soon, I won't be standing around for much longer." Hidan informed them, snorting in anger at his enemy for being useless for his rituals.
"Yeah, my comrades bit the dust also." Tenten reported in turn, lamenting deep down.. but did not afford herself to show it.
Nagato shook his head. "It seems we won't last for much longer. All of us are tired of this war, and the machines out there are readying for a major assault against us." he sighed.. "This may be the end."
Konan whom stood next to him remained completely stoic, but the prospect of the end of the world weighted her down just as much as everyone else.
"How much longer until they get here?" the voice belonging to another remaining former Akatsuki member Kisame asked, sitting against a wall further away tending to what seemed like bullet wounds on Samehada.
"It may still be a few hours before the final battle begins I reckon. You should rest, and find comfort in any way you can." Nagato suggested softly, his gaze lingering towards the youths before he slowly turned back to his remaining childhood friend.
"Everyone's assembled, sir." Miranda hollered once the team had all gathered in the Normandy's briefing room, all at varying stances of attention. All curious, except in the case of Grunt, bored.
"Alright, on the way out of Geth space we intercepted signals that demands an investigation. Show them, EDI." Shepard said and gestured to the holographic display as the Kalin system lit up, one yellow star and six planets. The prime topic of attention being the third planet, dubbed Kalin 3 in the subtext above it.
"We have detected sizable numbers of Geth forces on this planet." the display zoomed in on Kalin 3 and displayed signatures, a geographic map and indications of recent heavy bombardment. "The Geth invaded this planet and have apparently, if all the ruins of the cities dotting the planet are of any indication.. the native species may or have come very close to extinction at the hands of the Geth.
"Keelah.." Tali'Zorah muttered with a grave voice. Another species suffering at the hands of her peoples creations, except this time.. the victims did not seem to possess the technology with which to flee.
"The amount of bombardment deployed extremely heavy. Near nuclear winter as a result. Environment nearing collapse." Mordin noted more to himself than anyone else.. "Survivors?"
"Geth communications are focused around this area, what little data I've managed to decipher indicate the presence of humanoid organics, apparently several individuals are in the center of the local ruins." EDI replied.. pinpointing the location near the east side of the main continent, a large city. The scanner pointed towards what may be an underground shelter. "The number of survivors are unknown, but not anymore than a few." the AI continued.. scanning the surface across the city.. "Warning, Geth formations surrounding survivor cell."
"From these readings, the inhabitants aren't even all that advanced. They have not even invented nuclear fission. An incredibly minor threat, their technology as a whole appear limited, but without studying the planet close up, none of these readings can be confirmed." Miranda read from the data pad she carried..
"Just why did the Geth attack such a lowly advanced species in such an insignificant section of the galaxy? It makes no sense." Tali shared her thoughts, something felt off.
"Maybe they have something the Geth perceive as a potential threat?" the Commander asked, raising an eyebrow.
The resident Salarian promptly responded on the matter.
"Maybe. Doubt it. Highly unlikely."
Shepard stood deep in thought as he ran the situation through his head for a few moments. "Joker, engage stealth as soon as we enter the system, set a direct course for Kalin 3 with all haste."
"Aye, sir." the pilot responded curtly through the intercom.
"EDI, be ready to disrupt Geth communication as soon as we're within range."
"Yes, Commander." the synthetic voice responded.
"Mordin and Grunt will join the ground team to investigate the situation, and initiate contact."
The aforementioned crew members nodded, Grunt struck his fists together in anticipation.
"Tali, Garrus. You will return to your posts and make sure everything runs at full capacity."
He received the prompt acknowledgment from both in order.
"The rest – including the rest of the crew, prepare for worst case scenario, to repel boarders."
Miranda and Taylor nodded in response.. the latter left immediately the inform the rest of the crew.
"Joker, how far?"
"An hour at least at this velocity."
"Alright, everyone must be at their posts within forty-five minutes. Dismissed." Shepard quickly added, allowing the team to filter out of the room to make their preparations.
Silence filled the bunker, Nagato strolled around alongside Konan to check up on the others. All of them tired, and starved. But they tried to find some comfort regardless.
At the barracks in the lowest section of the complex, Naruto and Hinata tried to relax in a warm embrace in a cold corner, Hinata resting herself against Naruto.. trying to find precious time to weep for all those whom they had lost, but tragically, little time remained for mourning. Naruto was also depressed, but tried to keep the mood up.. or at the very least tell her that it won't be much longer before they'll meet their long-lost friends again.
Kisame remained in a corner a story above, tending to one of his remaining hobbies in this day and age.. caring for his sword as it emitted scratching noise at the bullet wounds it had sustained. And reviewing his past deeds with great melancholy.
Hidan and Tenten stood in a far side of the same room.. pretty much doing the best to keep up the mood by the means of a heated argument while the latter was compiling more tools into her great scroll.
Nagato gazed towards the ceiling as some gravel was released from the surface and landed on the floor in response to far-away disturbances. The time has come. "Hope the old geezer find anything we can use in the battle ahead of us."
"You really believe we have any hope of victory?" Konan asked with a low voice.
"No, though this will be our last stand.. at least we should make it an end they won't soon forget." he replied, gritting his teeth.
More gravel came down, the disturbances increasing. "All gather." he whispered with enough force for his voice to reach every part of the complex.. a message for all survivors to assemble.
Kisame, Hidan and Tenten was the first ones in position, taking their spots in the circle that formed in the middle of the chamber. Naruto and Hinata arrived soon after. The group ended up standing in complete silence as they all directed their attention towards Nagato.
A coughing voice came from the staircase leading further down into the complex as Onoki arrived.. "So it all comes down to this, eh?" the old man asked as he joined the circle. The aging former Tsuchikage of the fallen Iwagakure no sato.
"Did you find anything?" Nagato asked sternly.
"As a matter of fact, I did." he dug a hand into one of his many pockets to pick out a small pouch.. and from it, a number of soldier pills.
Everyone brightened up at the sight.
"No way, where did you find those?" Naruto asked incredulously.
"There's an emergency cache in a hidden vault, it wasn't easy to find." He reached out a hand with one pill for each, one he kept for himself and a couple of more in reserve just in case. "They're quite old though, I expect these things will only last for a few hours at most."
The rest hurried to secure one for themselves, eating each their pill with all haste, feeling some strength returning to their bodies.
"Good, now we can face the doom-bringers with all the strength we got." Nagato announced calmly. His renewed strength allowed him to activate all of his six paths that were in the storage room, all bursting out all at once.
"Now don't you waste your strength on the ceiling, I'll bring it down all over them!" Onoki hollered with some renewed confidence as he prepared for an appropriate Earth style technique.
"Ah, time for a final dance." Kisame snickered, brandishing his blade.
"Just try to keep up with me, you fuckers." Hidan sneered, pulling his scythe up.. the two hurried to the stairs, the central chamber's no place for melee combatants to stand once the big ones let themselves go.
"Hey, that's my line." Tenten groaned and gave Hidan a shove while hoisting her heavy main scroll onto her back.
"Ready when you are, Naruto, Hinata." Konan notified to the two hosts as they started gathering their Chakra, even in such a small group, they still needed to have the big guns brought out. All of the remaining Shinobi preparing themselves for the effort ahead.
Shepard had made for the shuttle with all haste along with Mordin and Grunt as their ship approached the designated planet.
"I'm currently only having limited success disrupting the Geth. For now I'm focusing on preventing system infiltration and filling their data banks with 'junk' data." EDI summarized in short order.
"We got green across the board, Commander!" Joker announced.
"Alright, begin the assault!" Shepard ordered while the shuttle closed and started up.. awaiting the most opportune moment before deploying.
The Normandy's stealth systems engaged as the FTL ended and approached the planet before them at a speed beyond the capabilities of any other ship its size.
However, despite the stealth systems active The Geth ships before them began turning towards the approaching Normandy.
"They know we're coming! Garrus, we need those big guns now!" Joker shouted over the intercom as he put all of his focus on maneuvering the ship.
"Target those closest to our position and fire at will!" Shepard quickly gave the orders to both Joker and Garrus.
The Turian complied and waited until the ship pointed towards the first Geth ship on the way and toggled a few commands, activating the Thanix cannon.. firing as soon as the weapon's ready.. a blue trail of superheated molten metal traveling towards the intended target. Under the assault of a weapon that had been created from studying the remains of the Reaper Sovereign, the Geth ship's kinetic barrier collapsed just as quickly as it got impaled by the very trail that struck it a moment before the craft exploded.
"Whoa!" Joker let it slip as he steered the Normandy away from the explosion and continued towards the planet below, he and Garrus worked together to get a firing solution for their next victim.
"New data acquired. Unknown energy signatures detected on the planet, it seem strangely consistent.. but does not appear to be a natural phenomenon, or at least, not to our knowledge." EDI informed the Commander.
"So they do possess something that the Geth want gone after all." Shepard noted.
Mordin accessed the data gathered by EDI and gathered them on his omni-tool for reviewing.. "Astonishing. Never seen anything like it." Mordin breathlessly added, apparently greatly intrigued by such a low tech culture possessing a type of power that galactic civilization haven't discovered yet.
"Open the hatch, we're going in!" Shepard delivered his order to the AI whom quickly responded in due time with the hangar doors opening before the shuttle. With a hum, the little craft left the Normandy and approached the planet below with as much speed that it could muster. Shepard had a feeling that they needed all haste for the effort ahead.
The shuttle dodged and raced past shattered fragments of the second Geth ship that buckled under the force of the upgraded weapons the Normandy carried and headed into the planets atmosphere while avoiding fire. The others back on the Normandy would try to buy them as much time as they can.
The damage across the continent below looked extensive.. massive parts of the landscapes below had been completely ravaged by the Geth invasion, this must have been a truly gruesome event to the natives. "Unwarranted destruction. Nothing to gain from it. Tremendous waste of resources." Mordin noted with a measure of disgust.
Shepard nodded in agreement as he looked upon the remains of what potentially used to be great forests around the city they moved closer to. The whole settlement had been completely reduced to ruins over the course of the war. Shattered ruins covered the land, and what could still – burned in various places across the scene. "There." the commander notified the others as he pointed out what were once the residential areas, devoid of Geth from the looks of it. But safer than the alternative.
The shuttle hatch opened once the vehicle touched down onto the surface, immediately at which the shore party rushed out with weapons ready, fanning out to check if the immediate area's reasonably secure before proceeding.
"See anything?" Shepard asked, surveying the desolate surroundings.
"No, no nothing here." Grunt replied.
"I recommend haste. Survivors can't wait." Mordin suggested as he hurried back to join up with the others.
"According to current data, the targets are located three clicks to the north. I recommend caution however, large numbers of Geth are approaching the target area." EDI's voice spoke through their com-links.
"Move out." Shepard gave the order, and the group hurried on their way.. across rubble and shattered ruins on their way to where they would find the remaining survivor cell, and unknown to either groups.. their encounter are going to yield surprises beyond their wildest dreams.
And that's it for the first chapter. Though it's the first of many ahead.