Well, it's me again, Cervantes Osis, with a new story. I know I need to work on my others, but my muses are fickle people, and not easily convinced to cooperate. So, in celebration of my beating the 012 story on Dissidia Duodecim, I have created this little slice of insanity: a Dissidia/Naruto crossover. And I intend to make this work. Surprising, yes? Anyway, this is the introductory chapter/prologue, and will let me know if this is good or bad.


Prologue

"The New Tale"

She groaned, and put a hand to her head. This must be the mother of all headaches, she thought dully, trying to massage the pain away. It took her a moment to realize just what she was doing. Then she realized the importance of it all; both the fact that she even had the headache, and was trying to massage it away. She could feel. Which, to her, begged one rather big question, one she asked as she climbed to her feet and opened her eyes.

"Why am I still alive?"

Lightning asked this, completely honestly, but not honestly expecting an answer. When one came, she was caught somewhat off-guard.

"Probably the same reason I am, Light," a cheerful male voice said. Whipping around, her hand stopped halfway to her gun-blade as she recognized the speaker. Black hair, blue eyes, a blue jacket, reddish pants, and a machine gun in one hand; all this pointed to one person.

"L-Laguna?" She could hardly believe her eyes. Laguna had died alongside her, she was certain of that. And yet...she was still alive, wasn't she?

Seeing her hesitate, Laguna sighed. "You're wondering if it's really me, right? Um, let's see...Ask me a question only I would know the answer to."

Barely hesitating, Lightning asked, "How many times did you get us lost before we reached Cosmos's Sanctuary?"

He winced at that. "Jeez, cut a guy some slack, will ya? As for the number of times...I'm not sure, but I think about four?"

Lightning relaxed. "Close enough. But, Laguna, what are we doing here, alive?" She looked around for the first time. "And for that matter...where IS 'here'?"

It was a valid question. They were completely surrounded by inky blackness. They could see each other, but nothing else in the all-consuming darkness they stood in. How they could see each other at all was unknown, but they were grateful for that.

"In response to both your questions: I don't know. I mean, I woke up myself only a few minutes ago off in..." He trailed off. "You know what? It doesn't really matter. This whole place is nothing but darkness," Laguna said with a huff.

Seeing the look on his face, Lightning couldn't help but smirk. "What's the matter, Laguna? Afraid of the dark?"

He boggled at her. "Did...did you just make a joke? Now I know something bad is going to happen."

"I think you need to work on your divination," came a new voice. Both of them whirled, weapons half-ready, before they recognized the speaker.

"Yuna!" For Yuna it was. The summoner walked forward, clutching her staff in one hand. Her white top and blue skirt swayed as she walked, coming up to the other two. One blue eye, and one green looked at them with warmth.

"I'm glad I found you two. I was afraid I was all alone," she said. Seeing their still-uneasy looks, she sighed. "I fought the Emperor at the rift where the manikins were coming through."

Laguna and Lightning relaxed. "Fair enough," Lightning said. "But if the three of us are here...could that mean Vaan, Tifa, and Kain are also here?"

"You never told us you were psychic, Light," a young coy voice said. Two sets of light footsteps, as well as one heavier set, announced the arrival of the other three.

Vaan was blonde-haired and brown-eyed, cheery of face and disposition. He wore some sort of metal vest on his torso, leaving his midriff exposed. A pair of metal gloves adorned his hands, and a matching pair of boots were seen on his feet. No weapons were visible, but that meant nothing to anyone. They all knew that Vaan could switch weapons in the blink of an eye.

Tifa was a cheerful girl, long brown hair tied back in a ponytail, matching eyes observing the world. A white tank top and black miniskirt were her clothes, while leather gloves and boots were her weapons. She was a martial artist, and was a lot stronger than her slim frame would otherwise indicate.

The last member of the group was Kain, a man decked out in full armor. A spear hung loosely from his hands, while a helmet covered his face aside from his mouth. The armor was purplish in color, but no less functional for its appearance. The dragon motif of his helmet was indicative of his status as a Dragoon, a knight that specialized in leaping attacks with a spear.

"Well, looks like we're all here," Tifa said, looking them over.

"Yes, but the question is why," Kain said, rubbing his chin. "We were overwhelmed by the manikins pouring out of the Rift, I remember that much. We shouldn't even be alive. What spared us from the jaws of death?"

None of them had an answer forthcoming. "I was hoping one of you knew," Lightning said. "Don't mistake me, I'd sooner be alive than dead. But I'd like to know why we live."

"Ask, and ye shall receive," came an unfamiliar voice. All of them spun to face the speaker, weapons fully alert this time. The person before them was...strange, perhaps, but then, 'strange' had been the norm for them since they had awakened on Cosmos and Chaos's world with no memories to speak of.

A young woman stood before them, her hands clasped together in what looked like a praying position. Her hair and clothes were as black as their surroundings, making it seem as though her pale face was the only thing visible. Even her eyes were black, the whites being the only area that designated they were not just pools of emptiness.

Lightning had the woman in the sights of her gun-blade. "Who are you?" she asked curtly.

The woman sighed. "Young ones these days. You save their souls from dissolution, but do you get thanked? No! You get a weapon aimed at you without so much as a by-your-leave!" It was somewhat obvious that she was being melodramatic.

Nonetheless, Laguna lowered his machinegun. "Guys, I think she's saying she's the reason we're still alive," he said, stowing his weapon away in a subspace pocket. The others put their weapons away, one by one, until Lightning was the only one left. Scoffing, she spun the blade into the sheath on her back.

"Much better," the woman said. "Now in answer to your question, young lady, my name is Shadohime. And as the strapping gentleman said, I was the one who saved you from the jaws of death."

"How?" Vaan asked. "How could you overturn the will of the gods themselves?"

She blinked in response. "Gods...? OH! You're referring to Cosmos and Chaos!" She began laughing. "The pair of them are the lowest rank of deity, my dear. Why, they weren't even gods to begin with! Just an angel and a demon, who battled endlessly. As they fought, their powers grew, until it became unsafe for them to battle each other directly. Hence, their need to grab warriors from different worlds and force them into combat with each other, in one cosmic game of chess."

The six former warriors of Cosmos were disturbed by the casual way Shadohime spoke of this. "You imply that you're more powerful than either of them," Kain said finally.

Shadohime shook her head, laughing again. "I imply nothing of the sort," she replied. "I'm saying outright that I am more powerful than both of them put together."

Lightning narrowed her eyes. "If you're so powerful, then why didn't you step in yourself to end this conflict? Why didn't you stop this 'cosmic game of chess' as you put it?"

All mirth dropped from Shadohime's face. "Because it isn't my place," she said flatly. "I can only go so far before I overstep my bounds. Had I stepped in directly to end their fight, I would be busted down by someone even greater than I." Seeing their incredulous looks, she clarified. "Rule number 1 of the multiverse, kids: No matter how powerful you are, there is always someone stronger than you."

"So what is 'your place'?" Yuna asked, genuinely curious about the being before them.

"I am the meddler," Shadohime replied. "I can meddle in worlds indirectly to try and get a result I want. To that end, I can sometimes take warriors who die in one world, and place them in another where I think they can do some good."

"Ah, so that's why we're here. You're recruiting us to go to another world and try to help out, aren't you?" Tifa asked.

"That's right," Shadohime began, only to be cut off by Lightning.

"And what if we're done being pawns of the gods? What if we don't want to do what you ask?"

The greater deity simply stared at her. "Well, if you'd rather go into eternal oblivion, then I can send you back easily enough," she said, raising a hand, ready to snap her fingers.

Lightning's face was deadpan. "You do realize that's not much of a choice?"

Shadohime's reply was equally deadpan. "What part of 'warriors who die' didn't you get? You're dead. Deceased. Kicked the bucket. Bought the farm. Any other analogy for 'not living' you can think of." When Lightning remained silent, Shadohime began again.

"As I was saying, I brought you six here, because there is a world that I believe you can do a lot of good in." She waved her hand, and an image appeared in midair of a globe. "This world is one I call the Elemental Nations. Each country on this world is named after an element, or something similar. Land of Fire, Land of Water, etc. The Elemental nations are noteworthy for producing ninja."

Kain looked up at that. "Ninja? I believe I know of them. Fighters who prefer to be sneaky and stealthy, rather than up front. A back-attack is one of their favored tactics."

Shadohime nodded. "Correct for the most part, but these ninja aren't quite the same. These ninja oftentimes have flashy moves that aren't meant for assassination like you described. They're more like shock troopers than true ninja." She tapped a portion of the globe, highlighting a country, then highlighting a spot on that country. The image zoomed in, showing a large walled city. "This is the ninja village of Konohagakure no Sato, the Village Hidden in the Leaves. It is said to be the strongest of the major shinobi villages, and for the most part it is."

Gesturing, she caused the image to animate, showing people in the village going about their daily lives. "Normal people live alongside ninja in this village, and their lives are surprisingly similar in many respects. Ninja will often take civilian jobs as a secondary source of income for their households. Such is life in Konoha."

Gesturing again, the image changed. It showed a massive monster, what looked like a fox with nine huge tails. "But six years ago, from their perspective, a monster known as the Kyuubi no Kitsune attacked. The Nine-Tailed Fox, as it's otherwise known, destroyed a good portion of the ninja population of Konoha. It couldn't be halted by normal mortal means, so Konoha's leader, the Yondaime Hokage, made a desperate gamble."

The image now showed an enormous toad in front of the fox. On top of the toad, a man in a white jacket performed a chain of hand-seals. A ghost appeared behind the man, reaching through him towards the fox, and seemingly ripping it in two. Half of the fox went into the man, the other into a bundle in front of him.

"The Yondaime knew that mortals couldn't kill the fox, so he sealed it instead. Part of its power he took into himself, the rest he sealed within his newborn son, Naruto. Thus was the fox's advance halted, and the village saved."

Shadohime sighed at this point in her narration, noting her captivated audience. "This normally wouldn't be too much of a concern, save one thing. When the Yondaime died, his predecessor, the Sandaime, was forced to take up the mantle of leader again. For some reason, he saw fit to tell the village council that Naruto carries the Kyuubi, but he failed to mention that Naruto was the Yondaime's son. Therefore..." She was interrupted by Yuna.

"The council doesn't see Naruto as Naruto, but as the fox. They look at him and see everything they lost." Her voice was strained, as though trying to suppress her anger.

"Correct. Naruto is alone. At six years old, he's the youngest owner of an apartment in the village, and that was a gift from the Sandaime. He is overcharged at shops, if not refused service altogether, and, in some timelines I've seen, he is abused by the villagers. He intends to become a shinobi, but the village is doing its level best to prevent that."

Shadohime sighed again. "The only people Naruto has to depend on are the Sandaime and a ramen stand's owner; even then, the Sandaime has done the bare minimum to protect him. Frankly, I'm appalled."

"So he wants to become a shinobi...for what reason?" Lightning asked.

Shadohime smiled a little. "He wants to become the Hokage himself," she said.

Kain nodded. "And I assume you want us to train him so that he may one day be able to fulfill that dream?"

Shadohime nodded, although a blush appeared on her cheeks. "Yes, that's part of it...but there's something else, too. You see, Naruto has had no parental figures throughout his life, save for the Sandaime. Even then, the Sandaime isn't around Naruto enough for him to really make a good impression. I want to rectify that. That's why I want two of you to raise him as a son." Her blush was more pronounced now, and the warriors of Cosmos were joining her, save for two of them.

"I can tell you right now, it's not going to be me who raises the kid," Lightning said outright. "I'm a fighter, pure and simple. I wouldn't know the first this about raising a kid if a manual on doing it came up and smacked me in the head."

Vaan nodded. "I'm no good either. I'm only seventeen, for crying out loud! I mean, maybe I could play the role of an older brother, but a dad? Forget it! I can't even remember my own!"

Kain shook his head. "I believe I am unfit for the duty as well. I have devoted my life to the spear, and would be hard-pressed to take care of a child."

That left Laguna among the guys. "Well, sure, I don't mind having to care for him. I mean, I don't know if I'd be the best role-model, but I'll do my best," he said. He seemed confident about this for some reason.

Tifa spoke up next. "I think I can do it as well." She looked at Laguna and blushed slightly. "I think I'm the best qualified of the girls to do this. No offense, Yuna!"

"None taken," Yuna replied. "To be honest, I don't think I'd make a good parent. I agree, Tifa's the best girl for the job of being a mother to Naruto."

"Then we're set!" Shadohime said, clapping her hands together. "I'll be transporting you to the Elemental Nations shortly. Any questions before you depart?"

"Just one," Laguna said, stepping forward. He rubbed the back of his neck nervously. "You mentioned at one point you'd seen multiple timelines of Naruto. Does that mean you can see the future?"

Shadohime blinked, then sighed. "I need to learn to keep my mouth shut," she muttered. Raising her voice, she replied, "To a limited extent, yes, I can."

"Then tell us," Laguna pressed. "Did we make a difference? Did we help stop the war?" The other warriors of Cosmos were looking interested now as well.

Shadohime sighed deeply. "What you ask of me, I cannot tell you directly. All I can say is this: Yours was the twelfth cycle of conflict between Cosmos and Chaos. The next cycle, the thirteenth, will be the last. I cannot say for good or ill, but the war will end."

The warriors sighed at not knowing the precise outcome. "Well," Vaan said, "it could be worse. We could have not gotten to the Rift at all!"

"Indeed, brave one! I hope you continue to keep your bravery througout your stay in the Elemental Nations." She paused, and then facepalmed. "Ah, almost forgot! While in Konoha, beware a man named Danzo, and his ROOT faction. Danzo will either try to eliminate you as 'threats' to the village's peace, or conscript Naruto. You don't want that, understand?" Seeing their nods, she smiled. "Then farewell, warriors! And good luck!" With that, Shadohime snapped her fingers, and all six of them vanished.

She was alone now in her dark section of the multiverse. "And so the die is cast," she murmured. "But will they make a difference?"


A/N: Well, that was the intro! For those who are wondering, Shadohime is one of my own creations. She resides in the corner of my mind, occasionally coming out to meddle in my life. I portray her as a greater deity here, because that is the role she has: my avatar, and everyone knows that authors are overdeities.

Now, I'm not certain if my portrayal of ANY of these characters is accurate, but I'm doing my level best with what I remember. And for those who wonder why I chose Laguna and Tifa as the pairing to actually play mother and father to Naruto, here is my rationale: Ellone and Marlene, respectively. If you need me to say more, I will shoot you with Lightning's gunblade, and then give it back to her, fully reloaded and polished.

As always, please Read and Review! Reviews make me happy, and make it more likely that more of this will follow!