The Heat of Battle
"Fascinating," Orochimaru murmured as he studied the Demonic Statue with his Sharingan eyes. "It seems this thing can normally only be controlled by someone who has the Rinnegan." Placing his hand on the massive statue, he allowed his chakra to flow through it and smiled. "But of course, one doesn't need to control the statue to release the Bijuu inside of it."
The Demonic Statue was a giant, earthen-colored humanoid with a decayed appearance. It looked like a robe had been draped over its body, and a number of spiky protrusions emerged from its back. Nine ghastly eyes sat on a hideous face. Six of them were currently with a light blue iris and pupil. Chains wrapped around its wrists and ankles, binding it in some way that seemed symbolic, perhaps. Meanwhile, there was a scroll in its mouth, which it was biting down on. The scroll was being held in place by two ropes that extended to either side of its head.
"Yes, I believe I can use this," Orochimaru said with a nod.
Just then, a noise caused his ears to perk up. It was the sound of footsteps. The walk was neither hurried nor slow. Calm and collected, they drew ever closer.
Orochimaru turned around in time to see Kabuto walking over with something slung over his shoulders.
"Ah, my prodigal apprentice returns, and I see you have brought me a gift."
As if in response to his words, Kabuto tossed the object he was carrying to the ground, allowing what Orochimaru recognized as a body to hit the floor with a harsh thud. As the body flopped over, Orochimaru gazed down at it. He recognized that face and pineapple shaped haircut.
"I see you've brought little Anko here." Orochimaru praised.
Kabuto shrugged. "She was snooping around. I assume she wanted to locate our hideout." He looked down at the woman and snorted. "I thought she might prove useful to you, so I brought her along with me instead of just killing her."
"I might be able to find some use for her." Currently, he didn't have one, but perhaps he could experiment on her later. "How is the battle going?"
After hesitating for a moment, Kabuto sighed. "Not as well as we had assumed, I think. The Four Hokages and Sakumo have been neutralized by Naruto and that woman who is with him. It seems they created a unique barrier ninjutsu specifically for the purpose of containing them."
Orochimaru stroked his chin. "Hmmm… that Naruto is becoming more of a pain with each passing day. What about the members of Akatsuki?"
There was another pause. "They were defeated by Pain."
Orochimaru actually felt his heart leap a little. "By Pain, you say? You mean the former leader of Akatsuki?"
"The very same." Kabuto nodded. "It seems he decided to join forces with Konoha rather than let us do as we please. He and that blue-haired woman with them fought off the six members of Akatsuki and trapped them in floating spheres of earth."
A sigh unwillingly escaped Orochimaru's mouth. "The powers of the Rinnegan are indeed vast. I had been hoping to get my hands on it, but Pain and Konan disappeared after their fight with Jiraiya in Amegakure."
Given the situation, perhaps he should not be so surprised. However, he still found it unexpected that Pain would agree to help Konoha, or that Konoha would actually team up with him. Would wonders never cease?
"What should we do, Lord Orochimaru?" asked Kabuto.
Orochimaru frowned for a moment, then glanced at the Demonic Statue before slowly shifting his gaze to Anko.
Kneeling before the woman, he placed his hand on her neck. He touched the seal there. It was the seal he had placed on her a long time ago. Channeling his chakra, he attached a small thread to the seal, and then pulled. A smile split his face as the chakra in the seal slowly flowed along the thread he had created. The seal disappeared not longer after that.
"Kabuto," Orochimaru said as he stood up. "I would like you to prepare the bodies of the five jinchurikki that are sealed in storage… plus one extra. Also, set the experiments loose on the ninja of Konoha."
"Yes, Lord Orochimaru."
Kabuto didn't dare disobey. After giving his master a nod, he turned around and rushed out to prepare the bodies, leaving Orochimaru alone with the unconscious Anko.
"I suppose it is time I head out to the battlefield as well," Orochimaru mused to himself as he walked back into the laboratory. He wandered over to one section of the wall that was separated from the rest. There were nine large sliding doors on this side. Unlike the other part of the wall that contained eyes, these doors contained something else.
He slid the doors open one by one. Each container that opened had a scroll resting inside. It didn't look like much, but they were quite large, almost the same size as a person.
"But first, I need to prepare some insurance," he said to himself.
Yugito's body was covered in fiery blue chakra as she raced across the battlefield. A number of White Zetsus appeared in her path. One of them tried to attack her using taijutsu, but she ducked underneath the blow, and then came up with a powerful upper claw attack. Her elongated nails tore the White Zetsu's face to shreds. The creature didn't even have time to scream before his body lit up like a bonfire.
As the White Zetsu ran around in a panic, his body fat combusting and causing his insides to leak out of his pores, Yugito leapt into the air, twirled around, and struck another White Zetsu with her extended foot. Her kick not only lit her enemy's head on fire, but the attack was so strong it snapped his neck. The man crumpled in a heap. His flaming body twitched several times, then went still.
Six more White Zetsus converged on her location. All of them surrounded her and rushed in as though to body pile her.
Yugito hissed as she slammed her hands into a ground and adopted a haunched posture like a feral cat preparing to fight against a dog. As she took this action, the flames around her body grew brighter and more fierce. Chakra circulated through her body, raising her temperature as well before, like a dam bursting, chakra poured out and caused the flames around her to erupt.
All six White Zetsus caught fire. Their bodies combusted into flames, turning them into living fireballs. The pain was obviously too much. Agonized screams tore from their throats before the fires soared into their mouths, burning their trachea to the point where they couldn't even talk. Narrowing her eyes, Yugito used her ability to control the flames, spreading the fire throughout their bodies and burning them from the inside out. It wasn't long before nothing but piles of ashes remained.
Standing up, Yugito let out a soft sigh.
She had no idea how long this battle had been going on for. It felt like days had passed, but it couldn't have been more than a few hours surely.
A glance around revealed that everyone else was still fighting; Kakashi was several meters away, lightning chirping in his hand as he cut through White Zetsus like a scythe did to wheat; Temari and Tenten were fighting in conjunction, firing weapons and using wind jutsu to increase their strength; even Team Samui was utilizing excellent teamwork to fight against the overwhelming number of opponents.
And speaking of their opponents, it really did seem like they were endless. Yugito could not help but grimace as she noticed more White Zetsus pouring out of the trees. She must have killed over a thousand of these bastards, and yet they just. Kept. Coming!
Not knowing what else to do, Yugito was about to re-initiate her battle with the enemy—when the ground suddenly rumbled.
A lull appeared in the battle. A pause. Everyone, including the White Zetsus, looked to where the source of the rumble had come from.
Yugito turned her head and gaped when she saw numerous large chunks of land rising from the ground several kilometers away. She'd never seen anything quite like it. The earth was rising from the ground, being crushed into thousands of tiny pieces, and then converging on seven locations. Several seconds passed before seven floating spheres soon converged on those seven locations.
"What is that?" asked Yugito quietly.
"Hell if I know," a purring voice answered from within her mind. "That said, this chakra feels mighty familiar. I could swear I have felt something like this before…"
"I guess now isn't the time to worry about such things," Yugito murmured as she looked back at the battlefield. She prepared to begin fighting again when another earth-shattering rumble shook the ground. "Oh, for the love of Kami! What is it now?!"
As if answering her question, six large figures suddenly appeared in the distance. One of them was a giant tanuki with a large pot belly and even larger tail, another was a massive turtle with a hard shell and three tails. There was also a gigantic ape with bright red fur and four tails. Following this pattern, the creature with five tails looked like a white horse with a dolphin's head and two long, pointed horns in the back and three shorter horns on the front. A slug with six tails was next, and finally, a beetle that had six wings and a tail fluttering behind it flitted around above them.
As Yugito saw the six creatures before her, she immediately released a hoarse laugh.
This was really not good.
Naruto stumbled as he and Akane ran through the forest. The sad thing was it wasn't because he had tripped over a root or anything. Wincing as a slow pain burned his lungs, Naruto placed a hand against his chest and took several deep breaths.
Akane, realizing that Naruto was not running alongside her, stopped and turned around. When she saw his condition, she walked up to him and placed a hand on his shoulder.
"Are you all right?" she asked.
Nodding just once, Naruto offered her a vaguely troubled smile. "I am okay. It is just that I used so much chakra that I am a bit tired."
His hair had already turned blonde again, and his eyes had gone from purple to blue. He was no longer able to maintain his Hybrid Mode.
"That battle against those five ninja did expend more chakra than you ever used before." Placing her palm flat on his back, she rubbed his spine up and down. "While I can still feel plenty of chakra circulating through your body, your chakra coils are not used to channeling so much for such a long period of time. I imagine it feels rather like your insides are burning."
"Yes. More or less."
"Then let us rest here for a bit." Akane stopped rubbing his back so she could grab his hand and tug him over to a tree. "In your current state, you won't be able to run very far for very long, and even if you managed to reach the battlefield, you won't be much help. Of course, that is assuming the battle isn't already over."
As Akane sat down, she pulled Naruto down with her, uncerimonously shoving his head onto her lap. Not that he was going to resist. A lap pillow sounded nice right about now.
The quiet atmosphere did wonders for Naruto's mind. He closed his eyes as Akane stroked his hair. The gentle motions of her fingers rubbing his scalp was like heaven. Some part of him wished they could forget about the battle and stay like this.
However, as if to put a damper on those thoughts, a massive surge of chakra erupted all around them. It was faint. However, the faintness didn't come because the chakra signature was small. It was because whatever had suddenly appeared was just so far away. That alone caused the hairs on his neck to prickle.
Naruto and Akane were forced to stand back up.
"Wait here," Akane instructed before running up the tree she had been leaning against.
The woman disappeared into the canopy, leaving Naruto alone. He had no idea how long he waited. It felt like hours, but he knew that was because he was just impatient. A few minutes had probably past before Akane came down.
Her expression was grave.
"What's wrong?" he asked.
"Konoha's forces are currently in trouble," Akane said slowly. "It seems six Bijuu have appeared near their location and are closing in fast."
Naruto's heart leapt into his throat.
It didn't take a genius to figure out that they were in trouble. There were six of the nine Bijuu traveling their way. This was about as terrifying as it got.
Yugito glanced at the faces of the ninja fighting alongside her, at rapidly paling skin and gaping mouths. Everyone else was in worse shape than her. Even Kakashi and the normally inscrutable Darui looked like they had swallowed something extraordinarily unpleasant.
Knowing that she was the only one capable of dealing any damage to these creatures, Yugito quickly unleashed her chakra and transformed. All of the chakra congealed over her body. Rapidly expanding like a swelling balloon, her body grew taller and taller as her legs became thicker. It did not take very long, and before anyone else knew it, there was a giant fire cat with two tails standing in their midsts.
With a ferocious hiss, Yugito leapt forward, over the heads of the ninja below her. She landed at the edge of the clearing. From where she stood, she could see the other Bijuu much more clearly. They were still a couple of kilometers out. It was just as well.
Opening her mouth, Yugito gathered the chakra around her. Streamers of black and white energy appeared around her mouth as though it was a black hole sucking in everything. A large orb soon appeared in front of her mouth. She swallowed it. Unlike when Naruto used this in his Hybrid Mode, her body didn't expand. Seconds later, she opened her mouth and unleashed an enormous beam of condensed energy at the six Bijuu traveling toward them.
A massive explosion ripped through the air when her attack struck, and even though it was several kilometers away, the intense force of the blast caused those below her to cover their faces. Powerful winds surged and struck their bodies. Up ahead, her attack appeared as a massive dome of expanding energy. When the energy dissipated, there was…
"Tch. It didn't work."
Just as she had feared, the six Bijuu were mostly unharmed. The only one that appeared to have taken some damage was Shukaku. His sand body was deformed as though part of it had turned into glass.
Already understanding what would happen if she let these Bijuu enter the battle, Yugito dashed forward, running on all fours. Two of the six Bijuu opened their mouths in response to her actions. Chakra was gathering in massive amounts. Grimacing, she unleashed two bolts of fire that flew from her tails like arrows. They struck the condensed spheres. The energy from her chakra disrupted the spheres and caused them to detonate prematurely. She smiled when she noticed how the attack had blown off a chunk of their faces.
By this point, she had finally reached these new enemies. Yugito didn't hesitate to wrap one of her two tails around Shukaku. The Bijuu shrieked as it tried escape, but she tossed it into the air and launched a massive, blue fireball at it.
While the fireball hit and damaged the Bijuu's massive body, her attention had unfortunately been focused on Shukaku. She didn't even see the danger until a blast of intense steam so hot it was like acid struck her in the side. A pained hiss escaped her lips. Turning, she saw the gobi staring at her.
She was just about to attack when something strong clamped onto her left hind leg. Screaming in pain, she turned her head and glanced down. The Sanbi had chomped on her leg. She tried to shake him off, but then the giant fist of a red-furred ape slammed into her face.
The force of the blow was such that Yugito was launched into the air, striking the ground several dozen meters away. She hissed and tried to get back up, but the Sanbi was still biting her leg. His teeth were sinking into her body! Even though this body was a construct made of chakra, it still hurt.
At that moment, several shadows loomed over her, and Yugito looked up just in time to see four of the six Bijuu aiming a Bijuudama at her.
Yugito was not the only one in trouble. Barely a moment had passed since she raced forward to protect the ninja from this new threat when several thousand figures emerged from the forest. They were not the White Zetsus that everyone had been fighting before. These creatures didn't even look remotely human.
Kakashi eyed the numerous strange beings who were now coming out of the woodworks. They were all bipedal and wore ragged clothing. Their skin was a dark brown. Each one of them had strange growths on their bodies. One had frills around his neck similar to a kind of lizard. There was another that had massive spikes protruding from his back as he stood over with a hunch. The arms of another looked grotesque and twisted, like a pair of claws that had numerous terrifying growths all over it. The amount of variation between these creatures was vast. However, Kakashi sensed that they all had one thing in common.
"Are these Orochimaru's experiments?" he asked.
Whatever these things were, all of them roared out in madness and rushed toward the mix of ninja and White Zetsus. They attacked with zeal.
Kakashi saw one of his ninja being struck by a claw. The claw pierced through the flak jacket with ease, going all the way through the ninja's body and coming out the other side. That ninja died instantly. His carcass was cast aside seconds later, and the monster roared again before finding a new target.
On his left, another ninja had been grabbed by a large monster with massive hands. An agonized and terrified scream tore from the ninja's throat. However, the monster showed no mercy as he grabbed the ninja's arms and ripped them off. Blood splattered everywhere as the wails increased involume—before they were abruptly silenced when the ninja's head was crushed by a powerful fist.
"Ranton: Reiza Sakasu!"
Darui had already completed the hand seals necessary for a jutsu. The halo appeared in front of him, and several powerful beams shot out and struck the incoming horde of monsters. Each beam blasted a hole through one of the creatures, and then it curved and struck another one, and then another and another. However, with each consecutive attack, the energy charging it grew weaker. It eventually dissipated, though not before killing at least ten of those monsters.
While he was dealing with that, Samui, Omoi, and Karui were watching his back. There were still tens of thousands of White Zetsus to take care of.
Samui already had her tonto out and was slashing at the White Zetsus. Lightning traveled along the length of the tonto, increasing its cutting power and allowing her to slice through her enemies with ease. Beside her, Omoi was also taking down as many White Zetsus as he could, even as he argued with Karui, whose fierce attacks were powerful enough that she could sheer off limbs even without adding lightning chakra to her sword.
"Kamaitachi no Jutsu (Sickle Weasel Technique)!"
Far to his left, Tenten and Temari had leapt into the air. A pair of scrolls were spinning around Tenten's body. Hundreds or maybe even thousands of weapons were suddenly launched from the scrolls. During this time, Temari swung her giant folding fan, manipulating the air currents, causing a powerful tornado to shoot from her fan. The tornado struck the weapons, increasing their speed and encasing them in cutting winds.
All of those weapons were aimed with pinpoint precision at an enemy. They struck White Zetsus and those new experiments of Orochimaru's with incredible accuracy, and then went straight through their bodies. Nearly a hundred enemies were felled in less than two seconds, and more were dying as the pair kept up their combination attack.
At that moment, Tsume and her squad came in from behind the group and rushed out to meet them. Their attack was premature, but given the situation, she had probably realized they could no longer afford to hold any cards back. She and her ninja dog charged into the enemy lines, their bodies spinning around with a savage ferocity as they tore apart anything that stood in their way.
Teams 8 and 10 were also with her. Kiba and Akamaru were mimicking Tsume in how they assaulted everything with powerful claws and their collaboration techniques. Meanwhile, Hinata was using her Jyuuken and Shino was backing her up by having his Kikaichu drain the chakra of nearby enemies. They would swarm out, converge on one enemy, drain them dry, and then attack something else.
While Team 8 was mostly using frontal assault tactics, Team 10 used restraining tactics. Shikamaru would use his shadow ninjutsu to hold them in place, and then Chouji would slam into them by enlarging his fists and attacking with an incredibly powerful punch. Several of their enemies would try to sneak up on them during this time. However, Ino would use one of her mind jutsu to control an enemy from afar, forcing them to attack their allies.
With the two teams were Asuma and Kurenai. They formed an odd pair that worked well in conjunction with each other. Kurenai would quickly trap White Zetsu and those monsters in a genjutsu, and Asuma would finish them off with his chakra blades.
Unwilling to just stand around, Kakashi redid the hand seals required to activate the Raikiri. Lightning surged onto his hand. He grimaced as the drain on his chakra increased. How many times had he been forced to use this jutsu today? It seemed he would run out of chakra soon if this kept up.
Taking a deep breath, Kakashi plunged headlong into the battle once again.
Naruto and Akane could no longer afford to wait for his chakra to recover. Against his will, Akane was carrying him in her arms. He felt like a newlywed bride being carried to her new home. It was kind of humiliating, actually.
Akane was blasting from tree to tree at a speed most ninja would have never been able to keep up with, her body enhanced with chakra. Even Naruto was impressed with her speed. It seemed she had been holding back on account of him not being as fast as her when the five kage-level ninja had been chasing them.
"How much longer do you think it will take to reach the battle?" he asked.
"Probably… about an hour or so," Akane admitted. Unlike before, her breathing was now quite heavy as she ran. She must have been going all out. It took them six hours of running to reach the Valley of the End. "Hey… Naruto? Did you know those necklaces of yours are glowing?"
Naruto looked down at her words and felt shock jolt his body upon seeing that, indeed, the necklaces around his neck were glowing. He pulled them out. There were nine necklaces in total, and all of them looked the same. Seven of them he had acquired when he was younger, but the last two had only been something he'd gotten within a few hours.
"It is like… they're responding to each other or something," Naruto murmured. Each of the necklaces pulsed as they jangled against each other. A few sparks emitted from them as they clacked together. "How strange. I've never seen something like this. Have you?"
Akane bit her lip and shook her head, though she seemed a tad frustrated as she hopped to another branch and launched herself forward. "I do not think so… but I also have this strange feeling that I have seen these before. It wasn't very strong until this moment, but… I don't know. Maybe I am mistaken."
Wearing a slight frown, Naruto looked back at the necklaces and remembered how he had gotten the last two.
"Take these," Nagato said as he held out two necklaces toward him. They were the same kind of necklaces that Naruto had.
"Why are you giving these to me?" asked Naruto, though he did grab them since the man was offering.
"You have seven already, don't you?" Nagato gestured to the necklaces hidden beneath Naruto's shirt. "I do not know what they are. However, my mother and father said these necklaces were important relics of the past. There is a legend about a person who will bring all nine necklaces together and unlock a mysterious power." Still leaning on Konan, he shrugged. "I do not know what that power is, but if you already have seven of them, then I imagine you are the one meant to find them."
Naruto shook the memory away and stuffed the necklaces back into his shirt. "Whatever these things are, it doesn't look like they are going to do anything right now. Let's hurry up and reach our companions so we can help them."
"You say 'we,' but I am the one doing all the work here," Akane teased.
A bright red blush spread across Naruto's face. "S-shut up."
A massive explosion went up, the force of which slammed into Yugito while she was in her Bijuu form. However, the explosion did not actually hit her. A large spear of sand had struck one of the Bijuudamas, causing it to explode prematurely. This set off a chain reaction. One after another, the Bijuudamas within the mouths of the Bijuu she was fighting against exploded.
Yugito could do nothing but stare in shock as the explosions tore off the faces of the Bijuu she was fighting. Huge chunks of ash scattered all over the area, particles burst in colors of light, and her enemies all fell back seemingly in shock. After watching this strange phenomena, she turned her head to look at the person who had saved her.
He was a man with red hair, green eyes, and the kanji for love tattooed over his head. His long-sleeved crimson coat and full-length dark trousers were well-suited to a desert environment. A gray vest was held in place by a single strap over his left shoulder. There were two belts were being used to carry his gourd.
"You are… Gaara, right? The Kazekage?" asked Yugito as she clambered to her feet.
"I am indeed," Gaara said, glancing at her as he stood on a platform made of sand. "And you are Yugito Nii, the Jinchurikki for the Nibi and one of Naruto's girlfriends." Yugito blushed, but Gaara didn't seem bothered. "I have come with reinforcements."
As he spoke, Yugito noticed that a large number of Suna shinobi had entered the battle down below. Numerous puppets were darting through the battlefield and attacking the White Zetsus. They swiftly engaged the enemies with swords, shields, and even poison. To her shock, she actually saw Sasori's puppet body darting around the clearing and taking down White Zetsus. There must have been at least 5,000 more ninja now than there used to be.
"I'm glad you are here," Yugito said. "I really could use the help."
Gaara nodded. "The Bijuu are incredibly powerful beings. I will lend you my strength, but even with my powers, I do not know how we will do against six of them."
"That is fine." Yugito turned to face the Bijuu, who were all recovered and rearing to fight again. "As long as we can stall them long enough for Akane and Naruto to reach us, I believe we will be fine."
"Then let us battle together," Gaara said.
No more words were spoken between them. Yugito quickly darted forward, blasting off the ground to attack the nearest Bijuu, the Rokubi. She sent a wave of fire at the creature. The Rokubi opened its mouth and spat out massive amounts of water. Her wave of fire met the wave of water. As soon as the two attacks struck each other, a massive amount of steam billowed into the air with a sibilant hiss.
Waving her tails, Yugito created several spears of fire above her head and launched them at the Rokubi. The spears pierced through the steam. They were so hot the steam evaporated. Traveling at a speed the Rokubi couldn't fathom, they penetrated deep into the Bijuu's flesh, igniting the creature's body, which appeared to have some highly flammable substances inside of it.
As she attacked the Rokubi, Gaara wrapped his sand around Shukaku, lifted the creature into the air, and threw him at the Yonbi. The giant ape, which had been in the process of creating a powerful lava attack from its mouth, didn't even notice the tanuki until it was too late. Shukaku slammed into the Yonbi and sent them both crashing to the ground.
Unfortunately, there were still three more Bijuu that they had not been able to attack at the time. Gaara soon discovered the Nanabi was flying above him. The beast flew swiftly before he could attack, rammed into his chest, and knocked him off the sand platform he'd been standing on.
Wincing as he felt his chest being compressed from the force of the Nanabi's attack, Gaara placed his hand on the Bijuu's hard body and, his chakra surging, he created a powerful sand spear that impaled the tailed beast. The Nanabi screeched and shook him off before ascending further into the sky.
Still falling, Gaara summoned his sand platform once again and landed on it in a crouch. He rubbed his chest where the Nanabi had hit him.
After having dealt with the Rokubi, Yugito slashed her claws at the Sanbi. Several powerful fire slashes burst from her paws. They traveled toward the Sanbi and struck the Bijuu's hard shell, but they didn't actually do any damage. Yugito narrowed her eyes. There wasn't even so much as a burn mark on the Sanbi's shell.
I'll need something with more penetrating power if I want to hurt this one…
Sensing danger, Yugito leapt backward just as the Gobi rammed into the ground where she had been standing. Steam exploded everywhere. It was so hot that Yugito could feel it even though she was covered by the Nibi's chakra.
Crouching down, Yugito extended the tails behind her and wrapped them around the Gobi. Like Gaara had done to Shukaku, she lifted the five-tailed dolphin up and tossed it toward the Nanabi, who was flitting through the air and harrassing Gaara. The two Bijuu crashed into each other, knocking them both to the ground.
Before she could celebrate, Shukaku, the Yonbi, and the Rokubi had all recovered and converged on her. The Yonbi tried to engage her in a close-combat fight. It came at her with its hands raised as though readying itself to pound her into the ground. Meanwhile, Shukaku and the Rokubi behind it prepared their respective attacks. Sand gathered in the one-tailed Bijuu's mouth and the Rokubi's chakra soared.
Now that he was free from the Nanabi's attacks, Gaara created a gigantic hand above the Rokubi's head and sent it crashing down. The ground shook as a massive crater formed beneath the Bijuu. The Rokubi itself was crushed into the ground, its body flattening as if it was made of jelly.
Yugito did not want to engage in a close-combat match with the Yonbi. She leapt into the air before it could attack, and then opened her mouth. She gathered positive black chakra and negative white chakra to form sphere.
Not wanting to be too destructive, she bit down on the Bijuudama, compressed it inside of her mouth, and then fired it off as an intense beam. Her attack struck Shukaku. The beam tore through the Bijuu's body like it was made of paper instead of sand. A brilliant red line ran diagonally along the beast's body before the upper and lower halves suddenly split. As the upper half of its body crashed into the ground, the lower half revealed a smooth, glassy surface. The heat from her attack had been so intense that its body had turned to glass.
Perhaps it was because she wasn't paying attention, but Yugito missed when the Nanabi recovered. Something powerful slammed into her back. She released a loud cry of pain as the powerful attack was transmitted through the Nibi's chakra and into her. Glancing up, she could not help but gnash her teeth when she saw the Nanabi, its wings flapping hard as it drove its horn further into her back.
Sadly, she could not rely on Gaara for help in getting the Nanabi off her. He was busy trying to face off against the Gobi when the Rokubi recovered and released some kind of corrosive mist from its body. Gaara was forced to create a sand shell around his body to block off the effects. However, the mist was corroding even the sand, which sloughed off the dome-shaped shell. If this kept up, it would not be long before the dome would evaporate and Gaara would be struck.
I guess it was foolish fighting against six Bijuu like this.
She had known this, of course. It was incredibly dumb. Yugito was one Jinchurikki. Even if she had confidence in her own abilities, she knew there was a limit to how much she could do herself. In a one-on-one battle, she had confidence in her ability to take down a single Bijuu, but that was only if she could fight just one of them. Add in a second and she knew she'd lose. Fighting against six was basically suicide. Even with the added help of Gaara, the chances of their victory were slim.
However, it wasn't like she could just give up either. She couldn't allow these creatures to attack the army behind her. Once they entered the battle, it would all be over.
Yugito let out a roar as she smacked the Nanabi away with her flaming tails. Getting up, she launched a quick Bijuudama at the Yonbi before it could attack her. The bullet-shaped jutsu slammed into the Bijuu's face and sent it back. However, before she could get another attack off, the Sanbi rolled itself into a ball and spun toward her. She managed to dodge the attack, but a sharp pain stabbed her side as the Gobi rammed into her torso. The attack was so powerful that she was lifted into the air and slammed against the ground several dozen meters away.
As she struggled to her feet, Yugito saw that all six Bijuu were preparing to fire off their Bijuudama. She winced as she stood up and prepared her own Bijuudama. Sadly, even she knew there was no way her one attack could defeat their six. It was more than just a matter of power. It was a matter of numbers. One against six was bad odds no matter how she thought about it.
However, just before the attacks were fired off, nine massive red tails flew through the air and slammed into the six Bijuu. The tails were powerful. When they struck the six Bijuu, each one of them was crushed against the ground. Trees were felled as the earth rumbled and shook. The ground around the six cracked and dented inwards, creating half a dozen craters that were about two times larger in diameter than the Bijuu being flattened.
The tails quickly retracted. Yugito and Gaara followed the tails to their source.
A giant fox with nine tails, bristling red fur, long ears slightly similar to a rabbits, and angry red eyes was walking majestically toward them. Its fox tails writhed behind it as it walked. This creature seemed unhurried, as if the six tailed beasts they were fighting weren't worth rushing over.
"Akane?" Yugito asked.
"I've come to help you out," Akane said. Her voice was loud and deeper than Yugito was used to, but that was definitely Akane.
Yugito sighed in relief. "I appreciate that."
Akane nodded. "Because these Bijuu are tied to a Jinchurikki that has been resurrected using the Kuchiyose: Edo Tensei, it is impossible to defeat them. They have a limitless amount of chakra at their disposal and regenerate from any damage taken. Naruto is currently searching for Orochimaru in order to force him to release the ninjutsu."
As she spoke, the six Bijuu climbed to their feet. Just like she had said, all the damage they had taken throughout this battle was completely healed. Whereas Yugito felt like she had been battered and beaten, these beasts looked right as rain.
"In that case, our job is to hold them off until Naruto can force Orochimaru to release the jutsu," Gaara said as he floated over to them.
"That is it exactly." Akane nodded.
"Well… at least the odds are now two to one," Yugito mumbled. "I like that better than three to one."
"Do not worry." Akane grinned, showing off her razor sharp teeth. "I am the most powerful of the nine. I can take on at least three or four Bijuu myself, so you two only need to deal with one of them."
"If you think you can, I certainly won't stop you," Yugito muttered at the prideful tone in Akane's voice.
"Let's go," Gaara said.
As one, the three charged toward the six Bijuu, who had recovered by this point. Their clash created numerous massive explosions that rocked the battlefield several kilometers away.
While Naruto hadn't fully recovered his chakra, he had enough that he could fight again, and it wasn't like he really had the option of just sitting around now that there were Bijuu attacking.
Akane had gone off to help Yugito fight against the Bijuu. Naruto's job was to find Orochimaru, beat him to a pulp, and make him release his jutsu. They had already determined that he was responsible for this. Who else had the ability to reincarnate someone aside from him?
Using his unique ability to see chakra, Naruto wandered the forest far from the battle. Even if he couldn't claim to know Orochimaru very well, he at the very least knew that this man wasn't the type to reveal himself during battle unless he wanted to accomplish a specific goal. That said, he also enjoyed watching the destruction he wrought. Naruto believed that meant Orochimaru would be far enough from the battle that he wouldn't get caught up in it, but close enough that he could watch unimpeded.
It took him about half an hour before he located two chakra signatures several kilometers out. He needed another hour to reach that point. Since he was trying to conserve his chakra, he went more slowly than he normally would.
The two people he'd discovered were standing on the cliff of a mountain some distance from the battle. They were studying the fight with the Bijuu as though it had happened merely for the sake of providing them with entertainment. However, as Naruto appeared before them, the two turned around.
"Well, if it isn't Naruto Uzumaki," Orochimaru said with a wide grin. "How long has it been since you and I saw each other? You look like you've become much stronger."
The way Orochimaru licked his lips made Naruto's skin crawl.
"Oro-teme, I've come here to kick your ass and make you release the Edo Tensei," Naruto said.
"Have you now?" Orochimaru looked amused. "Do you really think I would do that? What's more, do you really think you have the strength to make me do something I do not want to do?" As he spoke, his eyes suddenly turned blood red, revealing a pair of Sharingan with strange patterns inside instead of the normal tomoe.
Naruto didn't look at the eyes. He knew he'd get trapped in a genjutsu if he did.
"Whether I can or can't, I guess we'll find out soon enough."
"Now just hold on." Kabuto stepped forward and blocked Naruto's way. "If you'd like to fight against Lord Orochimaru, then you will have to fight me first. If you can't even defeat me, then you'll stand no chance against him."
A frown formed on his face as he glanced at Kabuto, who had already created a set of chakra scalpels. He sighed.
"If that is how you want it."
There was a moment of silence that followed his words. Naruto and Kabuto stood several meters from each other, eying the other. While Kabuto seemed slightly tense, Naruto remained calm. He watched and waited for Kabuto to make the first move.
That move came when Kabuto rushed toward him with explosive speed. The man had clearly been training, or maybe this was the result of undergoing numerous experiments. Naruto didn't know. As the man came in close, Naruto vanished before Kabuto's eyes, causing the medical ninja to slowly stop running.
"Ranjishigami no Jutsu (Wild Lion's Mane Technique)!"
Naruto, who had suddenly appeared behind Kabuto, used chakra to temporarily enhance the metabolism on his head and manipulate his hair. His currently red hair grew longer. Several tendrils wrapped around Kabuto's arms, legs, torso, and neck. With another application of chakra, Naruto forced the hair to tighten. Kabuto grunted. Then, before the man could even think of getting himself out of them, the hair tightened to the point where it literally sliced through his body.
As Kabuto was cut into bloody chunks that fell to the ground with meaty thuds, Naruto continued to eye Orochimaru, who didn't even seem to care that Kabuto was now dead.
"That was a little disappointing," Orochimaru admitted. "While I didn't think he would win, I was expecting him to do a little better. Oh, well."
"I hope you are prepared to die," Naruto said.
Orochimaru smiled. "I do not believe I am, but that is okay because I also do not think you have the strength needed to kill me."
"I guess we'll just have to see."
Naruto closed his eyes as he adopted an orthodox fighting stance. Releasing his chakra just a bit, he channeled the wind around him to create an invisible dome that covered a ten kilometer radius. This allowed him to see everything without the need to use his eyes. He could see the way Orochimaru was studying his ninjutsu and even see the slight smile that man was wearing.
"My, what an interesting jutsu," Orochimaru murmured. "By emitting a constant amount of wind chakra from your body and manipulating it, you can create a dome that acts as an incredibly detailed sonar to see everything. Only someone with your monstrous reserves would dare to think of using such a chakra intensive jutsu. Of course, because your eyes are now closed, I cannot manipulate you with a genjutsu."
"That is correct." Naruto almost clicked his tongue. "Fire ninjutsu also don't work since there isn't enough wind to fan the flames of a jutsu."
"Indeed. I noticed that."
Naruto took a deep breath as he prepared to fight against Orochimaru, whose strength had no doubt increased far beyond what it had been before he acquired the Sharingan. There was no telling how many jutsu this man now knew.
The silence between them was soon broken when Orochimaru thrust out his hands.
A large number of snakes shot from Orochimaru's sleeves. They twined around each other to create two sturdy looking pillars that nearly slammed into Naruto, who used his immense speed to get out of the way. Instead of crashing into him, they merely hit the tree behind him after passing through his after image.
Naruto appeared again and was already closing the distance between them. His speed was such that Orochimaru wasn't able to keep track of him. After forming a Rasengan in his hand, Naruto appeared in front of the snake sannin and slammed his attack into the man's chest—or so it seemed.
"A mud clone!" Naruto growled when Orochimaru's body turned into mud. He pried his hand from the mud clone's chest.
"Futon: Daitoppa (Wind Release Great Breakthrough)!"
Clicking his tongue, Naruto spun around and thrust out his fists.
Two powerful wind projectiles shaped like fists crashed against the powerful squall and forced it to disperse.
Orochimaru, who was several meters above Naruto's head, didn't seem discouraged that his technique had been destroyed. He opened his mouth, from which a snake emerged. Then the snake opened its mouth and a sword appeared. Wrapping his hands around the hilt, Orochimaru pulled the sword out. As he descended, he swung it at Naruto, who avoided the attack by leaping backward.
Creating a small Rasengan in front of him, Naruto fired off the jutsu, which sped toward Orochimaru faster than a kunai. It was dodged. However, the jutsu continued on, striking a tree and exploding with enough power that the entire tree shattered.
Naruto used his attack as a distraction to close the distance between them and engage Orochimaru in a taijutsu battle. He thrust his left fist at Orochimaru. The man tilted his head to the side, avoiding the powerful blow, and then he knocked the hand away and took a single step forward. He thrust out his own hand, which had been tucked into his torso. The powerful palm thrust was blocked when Naruto leapt back and kicked it. Hand met foot and created a powerful shockwave that pushed the two of them back.
Just then, Orochimaru threw the Kusanagi at Naruto. He ducked to dodge the attack, and then he rushed toward the snake sannin, but he immediately diverted his course when the snake sannin twitched his fingers. A whistling sound appeared behind him. Naruto turned his head and saw the Kusanagi passing through the spot where he'd been standing.
"It seems you have quick reflexes," Orochimaru complimented as he grabbed the Kusanagi.
Naruto didn't respond as he swung his hand down and created a powerful series of wind blades that shot toward Orochimaru. The man dodged them in a boneless manner. His body twisted and bent in ways that just didn't seem human.
Closing the distance, Naruto kicked at Orochimaru's head, but it was avoided when the man's neck suddenly grew longer. After finishing a full rotation, Naruto slammed his foot against the ground and used that momentum to launch another kick at Orochimaru. This one was also blocked. He retracted his foot before Orochimaru could grab it and then proceeded to fire off a series of rapid punches.
"I do hope you don't think these weak attacks can do me in," Orochimaru taunted with a chuckle. "Even if you have closed your eyes, the Sharingan's ability to predict your every move is not something you can avoid. I can see all of your attacks before you even make them."
"Can you really?" asked Naruto.
Orochimaru frowned, and in that instant, something struck him from behind. As the man stumbled forward, Naruto used that moment to slam a Rasengan into his face. Unfortunately, it turned out this Orochimaru was just a mud clone. Clicking his tongue as Naruto realized this, he turned around to face his opponent, who stood several meters away.
"Of course I can." Orochimaru grinned. "Did you really think I wouldn't see you trying to attack me with your hair? It was a good idea, but I've already seen this jutsu from Jiraiya many times. A sneak attack like that won't work on me."
Naruto clicked his tongue. Orochimaru's smile widened.
"Now then, I would like to see how you deal with this… Amaterasu!"
As black fire poured from Orochimaru's eyes, Naruto found himself being forced to run backward. He was well aware of how powerful this black fire was. While he ran, he created a Rasengan in his hand, which he launched at the Amaterasu flames. His Rasengan struck the flames and detonated. However, it didn't disperse them. The black flames coagulated again and continued chasing after him.
Not looking pleased by what happened, Naruto could only try to think of a way to stop those flames, but just as he was trying to figure out how he could stop the fire, another set of black flames appeared in front of him. Naruto was left with no time to dodge as the flames consumed him.
Then he disappeared in a puff of smoke.
Orochimaru still wore a smile as he turned around. Naruto rushed over and once more tried to engage him in a taijutsu battle. However, Orochimaru used the Kusanagi to keep him at bay. Naruto frowned as he tried to seek out an opening in Orochimaru's defense. Finally, he found one when the snake sannin overextended himself. He took a single step forward, created a Rasengan, and thrust it at Orochimaru.
A hole suddenly erupted in Orochimaru's chest. Naruto's hand went straight through it. Then the hole closed around him and trapped his entire arm inside. Naruto was so shocked that he didn't have time to express his surprise when pain erupted in his chest. Looking down, he stared at the Kusanagi that was piercing him all the way up to the hilt.
"Ku ku ku. You really are quite talented," Orochimaru complimented. "If I had the same level of strength I used to have back then, I'm sure you would have been capable of killing me. However, now that I have the Sharingan, there is no way someone like you can defeat me. Now…" A pair of snakes suddenly emerged from Orochimaru's sleeves. "Let's open those eyes of yours, hm?"
Naruto tried to think of how he could escape from this situation, but before he had the chance, Orochimaru's snakes wrapped around him, and then Orochimaru prided his eyelids open. Now forced to stare into his enemy's Sharingan eyes, he had no defense against what was going to happen.
"Allow me to see how long you can endure this torture, Naruto. I'm really curious to find out what sort of pain threshold you have. Tsukuyomi."
When Orochimaru spoke that word, Naruto's vision went black. Everything around him vanished and the world became incredibly dark. He felt like he was floating through a void. Nothing seemed to exist, not even him. However, as he drifted along in this endless space, wondering what would happen now that he was trapped in Orochimaru's genjutsu, a light suddenly shone in the distance.
Blinking several times, Naruto stared at this light, which appeared as nothing more than a small pin prick. The light soon expanded. Naruto wondered if the light was growing, or if maybe he was drifting closer to it. He couldn't tell.
The light had soon expanded enough to fill half of his vision. At that moment, Naruto blinked, and then his settings changed. He was no longer drifting along a dark void. He was standing in the middle of a blank white space. What's more, he was not alone.
A tall man with pale skin stood in front of him. Deep wrinkles lined his face and strong jawline. As the man shifted, his spiky, shoulder-length brown hair parted, and the braid behind him swung just a little. He was sporting a goatee, which gave him a very distinguished look. Naruto was kind of jealous. He would never be able to grow a goatee since he couldn't age.
Perhaps more unusual than his goatee were the horn-like protrusions extending from either side of his forehead and pupiless white eyes, or maybe it was the red marking on his forehead. It looked vaguely like a Rinnegan.
The white, full-length kimono he wore drifted around his ankles, folding and bending as he moved. A pattern was stitched onto it with six black magatama. On his back was a larger, black Rinnegan marking with a pattern of nine magatama arranged in three rows of three beneath it.
As Naruto stood there, staring dumbly at this man, the figure finally turned fully around. There was a smile on his face.
"I have been waiting for you," he said in a deep, majestic voice that caused Naruto's bones to rumble.
"You have?" Naruto scratched the back of his head. "Sorry, but I have absolutely no idea who you are."
Chuckling just a bit, the man did not seem bothered. "I would be surprised if you did. My name is Hagoromo Ootsutsuki. I am the last remnant to the spirit dwelling within those magatama you have now become the official owner of."
"Magatama?" Naruto blinked. "I don't own any magatama."
"Are you sure about that?" Hagoromo gestured toward Naruto's heck.
Curious, Naruto looked down and found nine magatama had mysteriously appeared around his neck. He rubbed his eyes, then looked again. Nope. They were still there.
"Where the hell did these come from?!" he cried out in shock.
"Those nine necklaces you found scattered across the world were the inactive magatama that I had left behind," Hagoromo said. "When all nine of them were brought together, they were activated, allowing me to call you here. Unfortunately, I couldn't do so without that man's help."
"That man? What man?" asked Naruto.
"The one you are currently fighting." Hagoromo frowned, the wrinkles on his face growing long. "I believe you call him Orochimaru. He has stolen the eyes of a clan that one of my sons founded long ago. I used those eyes as a medium to pull you here."
"Hmm… I don't really get it, but I guess you are saying that him activating the Tsukuyomi was a good thing," Naruto said.
"More or less."
"So… I am guessing you brought me here for a reason?" Naruto began. "I mean, you did bring me here, where ever this is—erm, just where is this?"
"This is a space that I have created for the purpose of meeting you," Hagoromo answered. "I knew that one day, one of my descendants would gather all the magatama together. Then I could meet them."
"You said I'm your descended. Does this mean I'm related to you?" asked Naruto.
"That is correct." Hagoromo nodded.
"Then how come I don't have horns and stuff." Naruto gestured toward his head.
Hagoromo chortled a little and shook his head. "The blood of my clan has been diluted after many centuries, so some of the extra appendages we have no longer appear." He paused. "The situation you have found yourself in is most unusual."
"What do you mean by that?"
"Immortality." Hagoromo's single word answer made Naruto freeze. "Among all my family, only my mother had gained immortality, though doing so ending up corrupting her, turning her body into an unfathomable monsters known as the Jubi. She gained immortality by eating a fruit from the God Tree, which not only granted her an eternal body but infinite power. I ended up being forced to seal the Jubi inside of myself. However, I did not gain mother's immortality. At the end of my life, I created nine beings by splitting mother's power and scattering them across the world."
"The Bijuu." Naruto was stunned as this revelation struck him. "You created the Bijuu."
"I did indeed." Hagoromo smiled. "You catch on quick. I created the Bijuu. I had believed that it was better to have nine less powerful creatures than it was to have one massively powerful monster roaming the land." He paused long enough to release a stressed sigh. "I did not expect people to begin sealing them away in order to use them as weapons."
"You probably should have. People aren't that smart."
As they spoke, Hagoromo's expression became a tad more wry. Naruto glanced at the white space they were in again.
"Perhaps you are right," Hagoromo said at last. "However, I wanted to have faith in humanity. In either event, your situation is wholly unique. After having the Kyuubi sealed inside of you, Orochimaru forcefully messed with the seal, not knowing what he was actually doing, which caused the Kyuubi's chakra to forcibly transform your body into something that more closely resembles my mother."
That last sentence of his made Naruto freeze. "What does that mean exactly?"
"It means that you gained the immortality my mother has." Hagoromo hummed softly to himself for a moment. "Kyuubi, or I suppose I should say Akane, has the largest portion of my mother's power. This includes the incredible regeneration abilities that grant her an immortal body. The forcible transformation you underwent stimulated your cells and granted them a form of unlimited regeneration. In other words, immortality. Of course, you could only gain this immortality because you are of my blood. Had you been a normal ninja like that lady friend of yours, this transformation process would have killed you."
"Huh? I guess it's a good thing I'm not normal then." Naruto scratched the back of his head.
"A very good thing indeed." Hagoromo nodded.
"So, um, I hate to force this along, but I really am in a hurry." Naruto frowned at the man. "What exactly am I here for?"
"You are here because I needed to pass my powers along to someone," Hagoromo said. "The last remnants of my soul have been trapped within these magatama for a long time. I am tired and wish to rest. You, who have inherited my blood, are the person I wish to pass on this power to."
"Oh…" Naruto needed a moment to figure out what he should say. "Cool."
Hagoromo rolled his eyes and sighed. "What an enthusiastic response."
"Sorry for not acting super peppy. I was in the middle of a battle when I got sucked in here."
"Yes. Yes. I know. Let me just transfer my power to you, and then you can be on your way."
Before Naruto could respond, an intense pressure suddenly slammed into him, forcing his knees to bend as he gritted his teeth. This feeling was unlike anything he'd ever experienced. It was a power so vast the pressure had become physical. What's more, an intense agony filled his head as the sensation of something being crammed into his brain eroded his ability to think. Images and thoughts raced through his mind. Names and theories. Knowledge. So much was crammed into his head. By the time the process had finished, Naruto was gasping for air as sweat poured down his face.
"What the fuck was that?!" Naruto shouted.
"That was all the knowledge you need in order to wield this power." Hagoromo walked up to him. "And now that you have it, it is time for you to leave."
Naruto opened his mouth to say something, but then Hagoromo slammed a palm into his face, and his body was jerked backward as if he was being lassoed by ninja wire. He soared out of that white space, back into the darkness, and then his physical body suddenly jerked. Once again the eyes of Orochimaru stared into his. He blinked. Orochimaru blinked.
"Why is my Tsukuyomi not working?" asked a confused Orochimaru.
"Hell if I know," Naruto responded. "Maybe you are just bad at using it."
Despite being confused as hell, Naruto didn't let himself get distracted. He knew what he needed to do. Rearing his head back, Naruto suddenly shoved it forward and slammed his noggin into Orochimaru's nose. There was a loud cracking sound as the man stumbled back. He let go of the sword in the process, which allowed Naruto to pull it out of his chest and shove it blade first into the ground.
"All right! Let's see if I can use that old man's powers."
Calling up the knowledge that had been shoved into his head with little regard to his migraine, Naruto allowed his chakra to surge. He was surprised when it exploded from his body. It felt even more powerful than before. However, when he began creating those Gudodama (Truth-Seeking Balls) that were a part of the knowledge he'd acquired, he only managed to make two instead of the ten that Hagoromo could create.
"The fuck? This is lame. Lame!" Naruto grumbled as he looked at the two tiny spheres. He sighed. "I guess even with all the knowledge I have, without actually practicing it, using this jutsu is too difficult. So that means… what? More training?"
"What sort of jutsu is that?" asked Orochimaru, and Naruto totally remembered that he was in a battle. The snake sannin was looking at his Gudodama with the obsessed fascination of a jutsu fanatic. "I have never seen something like this before? What is it? How does that work? The chakra appears to be made of yin and yang elements. Would that make this an Omnyoton jutsu? Is such a thing even possible?"
"Don't know." Naruto reached out and grabbed the two black spheres, which suddenly transformed into a pair of long katana. "Does it matter?"
"This jutsu," Orochimaru mumbled. "I must see more of it!"
"Then why don't you come over here, and I'll show it to you when I shove it down your throat!"
Naruto gestured toward Orochimaru. The snake sannin was really too curious for his own good. He rushed at Naruto and tried to attack by relying on his Sharingan's perception abilities to stay ahead of his attacks. However, Naruto was far stronger now that he had inherited Hagoromo's power. His speed, strength, and reflexes had also grown along with his knowledge.
"Why is it that you suddenly seem so much more powerful?" asked Orochimaru. "Tell me!"
"It's because of nonya," Naruto said as he dodged Orochimaru's palm thrusts.
"Nonya?" Orochimaru frowned. "What is nonya?"
"It means nonya damn business!"
Using the man's confusion, Naruto swung his two swords, slicing off Orochimaru's arms. The man released a sudden scream as he stumbled back. Then Naruto rushed up and stabbed him in the chest.
From the spot where Orochimaru was stabbed, a blackness seeped out, spreading from his chest to the rest of his body at a slow pace. Naruto thought it was blood at first, but that wasn't the case. As the blackness spread, he realized the skin itself was turning black as though it had begun rotting. It was like the flesh was undergoing necrosis.
Orochimaru tried to speak. His mouth opened and closed, but perhaps because of what was happening to him, he couldn't do much more than that.
Frowning a bit more, Naruto used the second blade in his other hand, swinging it horizontally and slicing Orochimaru's head clean off. He pulled his other sword out and watched as the head flew through the hair. It landed on the ground some meters away, rolling a bit before coming to a stop. Meanwhile, Orochimaru's body swayed before falling to the ground.
After staring at the body and head, which he realized was actually Sasuke's, Naruto turned around and darted away from Orochimaru. He had a battle to fight.
Naruto arrived at the sight of the battlefield to see that Akane had joined Yugito in fighting against the Bijuu. Gaara was also with them, which surprised him a bit, but he put that out of his mind and quickly leapt into the air.
Using wind chakra to propel himself forward, Naruto rushed toward the battle between giants. His red hair whipped around his face. He narrowed his purple eyes as he closed the distance.
Holding out his hand, Naruto manipulated one of the Gudodama and sent it racing toward the nearest Bijuu, which happened to be the ape with four tails. His attack went straight through its body. The Yonbi paused as a hole appeared in its chest, and then, quite slowly, its body became ashen and gray before it crumpled into dust.
A lull entered the large battle as Akane, Yugito, and Gaara turned to look at him.
"Naruto!" Akane cried out in shock.
"Heeey!" Naruto waved at her. "Hold on a second while I take care of this!"
Akane looked like she was going to ask Naruto what he meant, but he was already in the process of manipulating both Gudodama, which trembled a little before blasting off. His next two targets were the Gobi and Shukaku. His two black balls pierced the Bijuu and, just like what happened with the Yonbi, they disintegrated into ash.
The remaining three Bijuu seemed to recognize the danger of his powers, and they quickly moved to avoid his attacks. However, Naruto was beginning to get the hang of these things. He quickly transformed one of the Gudodama into a massive Fuuma shuriken that cut through the leg of the Sanbi. Even though his attack only lopped off a limb, this was enough to make it loose cohesion. It quickly crumpled. Then Naruto sent his other Gudodama at Rokubi. The slug shot some kind of liquid it at, but his Gudodama was made of yin-yang chakra. It sliced through the jutsu before slicing off the giant slugs head.
Having seemed to realize it had met its match, the Nanabi flapped its wings and tried to run away.
"Oh, no you don't!"
Channeling wind chakra into his feet, Naruto created what appeared to be two tornadoes against his soles as he shot forward at speeds that made his gums flap. With his eyes narrowed, he summoned his Gudodama to him. Grabbing one with each hand, he transformed them into a pair of swords, which he crossed as he closed the distance between him and the Nanabi.
Naruto siced through the Nanabi's body with a cross attack. An X-pattern formed on the Bijuu's body. Kicking his legs forward, Naruto stopped himself from flying forward and turned around to look at the Nanabi just as it fell apart into four pieces. Like the other Bijuu, it crumpled to ashes that scattered on the wind.
"These things are pretty badass," Naruto mumbled as he swung his Gudodama swords. "It really is too bad I can't create more right now."
Akane and Yugito shouted as they raced over to him. Both of them were still in their Bijuu form. Akane looked like a giant ass fox with nine tails, and Yugito was a cat with two tails. Gaara was also coming over on his sand platform, but he was much slower than those two.
"Hey, you two." Naruto grinned. "This is a pretty wicked ability, isn't it?"
"What… happened to you?" asked Akane. Her voice was loud and rumbling, like lightning striking the ground in the distance. "You seem much stronger now."
"Yeah… some weird stuff happened." Naruto grinned. "I'm still kinda trying to understand it all myself. Anyway, I'll tell you about it later. For now, let's finish this battle."
Akane, Gaara, and Yugito looked at each other before nodding.
With Akane, Gaara, Naruto, and Yugito joining the battle, the Suna, Konoha, and Kumo forces were able to quickly eliminate the White Zetsu army and Orochimaru's experiments. Naruto created an army of Shadow Clones to aid the soldiers. Akane used her incredible powers as the Kyuubi. Yugito struck down enemies with a combination of her skill and Bijuu's powers. Meanwhile, Gaara used his sand to crush enemies. Several hours after they joined forces with the others, the battle came to an end.
Given that his Gudodama were the only thing capable of severing a reincarnated ninja's bond with the body it was bound to, Naruto traveled with Akane to the giant orbs floating in the sky. He found that Nagato and Konan had already left. The orbs were still there, so he sent his Gudodama at them. The black spheres pierced each orb, which crumbled, and the shinobi inside of them disintegrated.
"There," Naruto sighed. "Almost done."
"Now we just have to use these weird balls on your father and the other kages, right?" said Akane.
"Saying I have to use my balls on my father sounds kinda gross," Naruto admitted as he turned and began traveling to the Valley of the End. Akane followed him.
"So, are you finally going to tell me about where you got this weird power of yours?" asked Akane as they leapt from branch to branch.
Naruto remained silent for a moment, but then he sighed and, realizing that Akane would keep bugging him until he told her, gave the woman a brief rundown of his meeting with that man called Hagoromo.
"Sounds sketchy," she said at last as they landed on a branch, leapt off, and landed on another. "Some guy suddenly appears before you in a dream world after you have a genjutsu cast on you, says he's some extremely powerful person who sealed away his mom who had transformed into a monster, and he's passing his power onto you. Are you sure you didn't dream it?"
"Who knows?" Naruto shrugged. "I mean, I could have, but then how do you explain this?" With a gesture, he recreated the Gudodama that he had been using. They floated above his hand.
"Well…" Akane grumbled as she found herself unable to dispute his words.
They soon arrived at the Valley of the End. Dropping down from the ledge, they saw that the barrier ninjutsu Naruto had created was still in place. The Four Hokages plus Sakumo were huddled together. As he and Akane wandered up to the glowing barrier, Naruto wondered what they were doing.
"And that's check," Minato said.
"WHAAAT?!" Hashirama grabbed his head and screamed. "How did I lose again?!"
"You really suck at this," Minato muttered as he rubbed his head.
Tobirama sighed. "Hashirama has never been good at strategy games. He's almost as bad at Shogi and Go as he is at gambling."
"Those are two different things!" Hashirama shouted.
"Since you lost, I guess that means it is my turn now," Sakumo said as he walked over to where Hashirama was crouching.
"Just one more game! Best two out of three!" Hashirama insisted.
Sarutobi rubbed his head. "You never change, do you?"
As he and Akane stood there, watching as Sakumo tried to pull Hashirama away from the Shogi board with little success, Naruto felt a sense of surrealism overcome him. They were arguing over Shogi. Granted, he had told them to play Shogi before leaving, but he hadn't really expected them to do just that.
"I see you old geezers are having fun," Akane said loud enough for them to hear. The five kage-level ninja glanced over at them.
"Naruto," Sarutobi greeted.
"If you're here, does that mean Orochimaru has been defeated?" asked Minato.
"Yup," Naruto said. "I've also found a way to release the reincarnation jutsu, so I'll be sending you all back."
"Good." Hashirama stood up and stretched his arms. "I'm honestly sick of remaining on the mortal plain. The dead are meant to remain dead."
"How do you plan on sending us back?" asked Sakumo.
"With these." Naruto lifted his hand and two black orbs appeared to hover over his palm. They spun around each other like a pair of satellites caught within the other's gravitational pull.
"Now that's an interesting jutsu. Never seen something like that before." Hashirama came right up to the barrier and looked at the orbs with a keen eye. "Omnyoton jutsu?"
"Something like that." Naruto nodded. "You guys ready?"
Everyone gave him an affirmative nod, and so Naruto sent his Gudodama through the barrier. Because it was composed of his chakra, the barrier was not disrupted. Naruto first sent Sakumo back, and then he sent Tobirama and Hashirama back. Their bodies crumpled to dust after being struck by the black orbs.
"You've grown quite strong," Sarutobi said with a smile. "Even though I don't appreciate being reincarnated like this, I'm glad I was able to see what a strong shinobi you have become."
"Yeah…" Naruto gave the old Hokage a soft smile as he struck the man with his Gudodama. "Me too."
Sarutobi crumbled to dust, leaving just Minato as the last one present. The two of them stared at each other. Naruto hesitated to send this man back. There were so many things he wanted to say, but now that they were facing each other like this, he didn't know what he should say first.
"Naruto…" Minato began, paused, and then smiled. It was a sad smile. "I'm sorry for not being around. I wish things had been different. Also, I'm very proud of you. You've truly become a great man."
"Thanks, Dad," Naruto said softly. He sighed and, unable to say anything more, let his Gudodama gently strike his father. As he watched the body crumble away, he felt a slight ache in his chest.
"Are you okay?" asked Akane.
"I'm fine," Naruto murmured.
Akane shook her head as if to say she didn't believe, but she didn't pursue the topic. "What should we do now?"
"For now, we'll head back to Konoha with the others," Naruto said with a shrug. "After that? I guess I'll have to create that secret group I told Nagato I would make. Why did I say something so stupid again?"
"Because you're an idiot?"
"Ouch. Harsh much?"
With matching smiles, the two of them bickered all the way to the clearing.
Two cloaked figures stood in front of a large bridge called the Naruto Bridge. Neither of them were wearing their hoods. One of them, a man with blonde hair, blue eyes, and whisker marks smiled as he looked at the bridge. The other, a gorgeous redhead with red eyes and pale skin, merely sighed.
"I'm surprised this thing is still standing after one hundred years," she said.
"With a name like this, of course it's going to withstand the test of time," the man laughed.
The bridge itself was bustling with traffic. There were not only people walking across it, but there were also numerous cars traveling over the bridge as well. The man looked at the four-wheeled vehicles that drove along the center road and shook his head.
"Technology sure is something," he said.
"With the unification of the Elemental Nations, the people are beginning to create technologies that are more convenient," the woman said with a head tilt. She considered one of the cars as it drove past her, then shrugged. "I guess now that they do not have to worry about war, they can afford to find other pursuits."
"I consider that a good thing."
They walked along the bridge and soon reached Nami no Kuni proper. The flourishing city had grown a lot bigger since the last time they had visited. Many of the buildings were made from either brick or steel, or a combination of both. Quite a few towers had also been added into the mix. There were food stalls and vendors along the side of the road.
Many people wandered down the streets, some window shopping while others stood in front of vendors and haggled prices. The two cloaked individuals watched everyone go about their daily lives.
"There are so many people," the man muttered.
His companion rolled her eyes. "You say that every time we stop in a large city."
"And it's always true."
It wasn't long after wandering around the city that the pair decided they were hungry. They found a small stand to eat at near the docks. The loud sound of horns blowing and the scent of the sea made it appealing, at least to the man. The redhead didn't seem to care much.
While the man ordered seafood ramen (six bowls of it), the woman ordered some katsudon. During the time it took her to finish one bowl, her companion had finished all six, which caused the woman manning the stand to gape at him.
"That was good," the man sighed as he leaned against the counter.
Rolling her eyes, the woman asked, "What should we do now? Get a place to stay the night before wandering around?"
"I don't know." The man frowned as he looked outside of the stand. "There hasn't been a war in the last fifty years, and I haven't actually been required to do anything personally in the last forty. All you and I have done these days is travel. I'm pretty sure there isn't a single place in the Elemental Nations that we haven't been to at least a hundred times."
"Probably not," the woman agreed.
Numerous people wandered past the stand. A couple of kids raced between the legs of the adults, obviously playing a game of tag as they laughed and smiled. Couples held hands as they wandered by. There were a few elderly people chatting as they walked passed the stand as well.
"To be honest," he began again, his voice soft, "I'm a little sick of wandering like this. Yugito, Temari, Tenten, Koyuki, Shizuka, Kakashi, Shizune, Sakura… Everyone is already gone. Nagato lasted the longest, but I guess that was because of his Uzumaki blood. I feel like our time here is over, you know? Like maybe we should just stop and let the world continue on without us?"
"Then what should we do?" asked the woman.
That was the question of the day. He really didn't know. However, as he gazed at the people passing the stand, something else caught his eyes, causing him to stand up and step outside. After a moment of hesitation, the woman followed him.
"What is it?" she asked.
The man stared at the massive ship stationed at the dock. Large and made of metal instead of wood, the vessel had several large smoke stacks, from which large puffs of white steam emerged. It was painted in black and white. A boarding ramp had been extended from the ship to the docking bay. A lot of people were currently working on loading large crates onto it.
"Excuse me," Naruto stopped a passing pedestrian. "Where is that ship from? I don't recognize it."
"That ship?" The man he had stopped smiled. "It's from a continent far away from here. I don't remember what the place is called, but they came to Nami about a year ago."
"So this ship isn't from the Elemental Nations?" he asked, excitement in his voice.
"That's right," the man said.
He thanked the man and let him go. Turning back to the woman beside him, he offered her an excited grin.
"Akane, how would you like to go on an adventure with me to explore new lands?" he asked.
Akane stared at him with a dull expression. "Naruto, why are you even asking me that?" Her lips curved upward in a beautiful smile that could have outshone the stars. "You already know I'll follow you anywhere."
"Awesome. Then let's go!"
Grabbing the woman by the hand, Naruto pulled her along and hailed down one of the people loading crates onto the ship.
It was time to start a new adventure.
This series is finally done, and I think I pulled a Fairy Tail by not only ending this with a Deus Ex Machina, but pulling a "The adventure continues!" kind of ending. I feel kind of embarrassed with that.
Speaking honestly, I am not satisfied with this story. I think I did a terrible job. Shifts in Life is filled with plot holes, contradictions, and numerous other issues. My ending merely showcases my own weaknesses as a writer. That said, it is also one of the first stories I ever wrote.
I began Shifts in Life back in 2011. My only real desire was to write a story with a cool Naruto that was strong and got a harem. I had no other real thoughts when writing this. Perhaps that's why I don't think it is very good. Saying that, I want to thank everyone who stuck with this story and read it through to the end. It means a lot to me.
Before I go, there are a few things I'd like to say. First, if anyone wants to chat, your best bet is to follow me on Facebook and Twitter. I'm pretty active on social media... usually. Right now I'm in the middle of reading a 1,600+ chapter Chinese fantasy novel, so I'm not as active right now. Anyway, my Twitter profile is BrandonBVarnell, and my Facebook is AmericanKitsune. I try to respond quickly, so if you send me a tweet or something, I'll answer whenever I get online.
Second, if any of you enjoy my writing and would like to support me outside of fan fiction, please consider buying my original works. Please note, you do NOT have to buy them. It would help me out a lot if you did, but it's not like you need to. I'll post a list of all my works down below. All of these books are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online retailers like Itunes and Kobo. Some of them are also on the Kindle Unlimited program such as A Most Unlikely Hero, so you can read them for free if you have that.
American Kitsune volumes 1-8: A Fox's Love, A Fox's Tail, A Fox's Maid, A Fox's Family, A Fox's Vacation, A Fox's Mate, A Fox's Revenge, A Fox's Rescue
The story: Follow Kevin Swift as he discovers a world unlike any other, a world that's been hidden from humanity, a world of yokai—and fan service, but mostly yokai. Based on Japanese mythology, inspired by harem anime and manga, the American Kitsune series is a tale that's mired in myths, pop culture references, and gorgeous fox girls.
A Most Unlikely Hero volumes 1-3
The story: Alexander S. Ryker—Alex—wants to become a hero, but after he's expelled from the Mars Police Academy, becoming a hero seems more like an unattainable delusion rather than a goal to strive for. Gabrielle Angelise is an alien on the run. While Alex doesn't know why she's on the run, that hardly matters for a wannabe hero. She's cute, and she's in trouble. Those are as good a reason as any to protect her from any and all extra-galactic dangers—too bad Gabrielle has a big secret of her own, one that could—and likely will—alter the course of Alex's life. What's a guy living with an extremely hot alien bomb shell to do?! (For this series, imagine To LOVE-RU in space with a more competent protagonist)
Arcadia's Ignoble Knight volumes 1-3: The Sorceress of Ashtown Part I, The Sorceress of Ashtown Part II, The Sorceress' Knight's Tournament Part I
The Story: Step into the world of Terraria, a world where Sorceresses—women with the power to summon Spirits—reign supreme. Within this world is a country called Arcadia, and within this country there is an academy: Arcadia's Knight Academy, the most prestigious academy in the entire world. Here, young noble men train to become a Sorceress's Knight, the companion and protector of a Sorceress. Enter Caspian Ignis del Sol, a young knight-in-training. He's striving to become a Sorceress's Knight, to keep a promise that he made long ago. There's just one problem. Caspian is a peasant!
The Executioners volumes 1-2: Succubus, Escape
The story: Christin Crux is an Executioner working for the Catholic Church. His job is to slay the things that go bump in the night-in other words, supernatural creatures of extraordinary power, and he's damn good at what he does. Lilith is a young woman who's trying to earn a college degree in graphic design. Sadly, it's hard to get a degree when she's so afraid of men she can't even set foot on campus. When Christian is sent to slay Lilith, who the Church believes to be a succubus, everything they knew, or thought they knew, will be flipped onto its head. Can these two survive the coming storm?
I want to thank everyone again for reading Shifts in Life, and I want to give a big thank you to anyone who decides to read my original works. I hope you all enjoyed this series despite my poor writing. I'll see you all in my next story!