A/N: This is a rewrite of From the Darkness Came the Light (FDCL). The original was well-received, but eventually I reached a point where it just felt...off. It didn't feel realistic, nor did I feel like I was writing it well. The tone and approach felt wrong, which made writing it impossible.
Then a LOT of real life crap got in the way (and still is, though to a lesser extent now), and...I left it, dead in the water. Recently, though, I became interested again and felt like this time, I could write it properly...or at least give it a shot.
That, and you guys never let me forget about how much you wanted it :)
Note that this is my third in-progress, non-hiatus'd story, so don't expect fast updates. I will, however, try to not leave you guys hanging too long, and your reviews do remind me to make this a priority.
EDIT: I made some changes to the first chapter and replaced it. I had some issues with it. Hopefully it won't happen again. Second chapter is currently in progress.
Without further ado, I present the first chapter of:
Chapter 1: In the Moment
In a world of shinobi, it was strange to see honor amongst enemies. It was perhaps fitting, then, that this situation merely appeared to be an enforced duel without interference.
The ANBU Captain stared through the purple barrier at what would soon become a battle between legends.
He had no idea how correct he was.
Teacher and Student looked at each other with mirroring feelings.
One was held back by regret, guilt, and sadness. He was reluctant to make the first move, despite time not being on his side in more ways than one.
One was driven forward by revenge, satisfaction, and glee. His first move was a knife straight through the heart.
Neither of them took a step closer to each other. No threat was made.
And for a few moments longer, Teacher and Student were both taken back to old, far off memories.
Memories of compassion, sadness, and confusion.
One was surprised by the coffins rising from the ground.
One was startled by how different two of his summons felt. As far as he knew, that shouldn't happen.
But it was too late for either of them to stop what was happening. Five coffins had risen from the ground.
Two of them burst open immediately. Yellow and Red stumbled under the bright sun, purple but not solid walls, and over the slanted rooftop. Their confusion and vulnerability were obvious.
Teacher and Student watched the same event unfold.
One was too confused at this impossibility to react in time.
One was snapped into action by realization.
Yellow and Red recognized the nearly indescribable pull of a summon to its summoner from someone behind them, but were too dazed to do something about it.
Teacher was not.
Student was able to gather his wits in time to attack Teacher before he could free Red, too.
Student neared Teacher, fist raised.
Yellow clumsily slammed into Student, and Teacher freed Red.
For the first time in many years, Teacher, Student, Yellow, and Red were together again.
As Yellow rolled away, Student raced towards First, Second, And Matriarch to implant the seals.
First and Second were forced into the fray.
Teacher had expected that.
He hadn't expected Matriarch to be here, too.
He should have known better. He did know better.
He just didn't want to believe he could be right.
Minato Namikaze was disoriented and extremely confused. That was before he decided to haphazardly throw himself at Orochimaru.
Only his experience and skill allowed him to get back on his feet within a few seconds.
He subconsciously prioritized information coming in through his senses.
Orochimaru. Sarutobi. Kushina. Biwako. Enma.
And, inexplicably, the First and Second Hokages.
The purple barrier that isolated this fight from all other events. He wasn't sure who would want that to happen, so he pushed that information aside for the moment.
Of all of the people around him, Orochimaru was the only one Minato was sure to be hostile.
Observe. Prioritize. Analyze. React.
Orochimaru hadn't been expecting Minato to be capable of attacking so soon. Unfortunately, the sound and chakra of a Rasengan (he wasn't sure if he was even wearing a weapon holster) would have tipped the Snake Sannin off, so he settled for a straight up punch instead.
It connected with a satisfying thump.
A quick glance to his right—First and Second were attacking Third. Subconsciously interpreting little details—the First and Second looked off somehow, while the Third looked old and stern, but not harsh like the other two—he decided that First and Second were hostile.
So had Kushina, apparently, as red chakra chains burst from her body and lanced towards them. The First managed to dodge, but the Second's leg was caught.
The Second was already forming seals in preparation for a technique.
The voice shook him out of his musings as he turned towards its source—Biwako. Her fist was already on a path towards his head.
He moved his head to the side slightly as he moved into her attack. His right hand snatched her right wrist, while his left formed a fist and punched hard into her elbow.
The audible crunches of broken bones filled his ears as his right leg kicked up into her kneecap.
He released her and regained his footing , coming around to face Orochimaru. The entire maneuver lasted littler more than a second, but a second in a fight like this was everything.
Four white snakes shot from Orochimaru's sleeve, fangs bared.
He flickered around the attack, prepping a Rasengan in his hand.
Orochimaru was ready, a wind technique—wide area of effect, blunt force—bursting from his other hand.
Minato pumped chakra into his Rasengan and shifted it in front of him, cutting into the wind and reducing the effect it would otherwise have.
The Snake Sannin dropped back at an almost inhuman angle, smiling as Minato's Rasengan hit mere air. His leg came up fast, knocking Minato's arm away. Four snakes were flying towards him, inches away…
And then he was over a dozen feet away, beside the Bloody Habanero. A small degree of comfort reached his heart as he realized the Hiraishin seal he planted on Kushina was still there, despite the circumstances of this situation.
He allowed himself to glance down at his equipment. All of his weapon holsters were attached and full. Glancing back up, he saw that the Second had broken free of the chakra chain, and the Third had retreated towards Kushina.
Both sides were utterly confused, and seemed to welcome the odd reprieve.
"Orochimaru has used Impure World Ressurection on the five of you," Hiruzen spoke. His voice was significantly wearier and more gravelly than Minato remembered. "I don't know why, but the technique worked differently on you two. I managed to remove the bond between you and your summoner, but I know nothing else about your…situation."
Minato nodded as he accepted the information in a way that only a seasoned and level-headed veteran could. "I assume we are in Konoha."
"Yes," Hiruzen answered. "The village is under attack. I am confident in our forces, but we should deal with Orochimaru sooner rather than later."
"What about the barrier?" Both of the men turned towards Kushina, who had a strange, hard look that seemed out of place on her features.
"We'd be better off if it were down," Hiruzen admitted. "Though it does help minimize the damage of this fight."
"Then I have an idea," Minato said. He drew one of his special three-pronged Hiraishin kunai and threw it a few inches from where the rooftop met the barrier. "Grab on."
Hiruzen and Kushina did as they were told, while Orochimaru suddenly raced towards them. Too late, Minato thought before teleporting them just outside the barrier.
"Hokage-sama!" the ANBU Captain yelled, immediately coming to their side. "Are they…?"
Somehow, Hiruzen could see the confusion on the Captain's face, despite it being covered by a mask. "On our side. The rest is unimportant at the moment." The message was clear, and the Captain promptly began forming seals.
On Orochimaru's angry command, the purple barrier dropped, and The Sound Four joined his side. Unfortunately for them, so had many Konoha jonin. For the moment, neither side moved, waiting for a cue from their respective leaders.
"Orochimaru has used a forbidden technique to bring back the dead as servants," Hiruzen announced. "The Forth and the kunoichi you see here are on our side. As for the rest…do not let looks fool you. This is the only mercy we can show them."
Biwako had managed to limp back into line. Her face was nearly expressionless. The technical part of his mind knew that that was a result of the strict talismans Orochimaru had used with the technique—sacrifice personality and skill for the sake of tighter control. Hiruzen tried not to let the face of his late wife affect him, but it was like trying to move a mountain. He was fortunate that the unexpected presence of Minato and Kushina distracted him.
An odd, almost unnatural sound reached his ears. Recognizing the effects of Orochimaru's curse seal, he witnessed each of the Sound Four transform into less human—but obviously stronger—forms. A sudden bulge appeared at Orochimaru's stomach, until a sword extended out of his mouth. Casually gripping it with a hand, the Snake Sannin rushed forward, and the battle began anew.
Jirobo, the largest of the Sound Four, was the only one who matched his leader's direct charge. A swing from Enma's staff form crashed into Jirobo's side, sending him off the rooftop, but Orochimaru kept coming.
A torrent of water spewed from the Second's mouth, forming itself into a missile before careening towards Konoha's gathered elite. Kakashi rushed forward with an ANBU operative to counter. Under the provided cover, Minato rushed forward, Rasengan in hand.
Orochimaru was well aware of the Forth Hokage's legendary speed, and managed to dodge the attack with his snake-like flexibility. Unfortunately, there was a slight problem with that.
It was exactly what Minato had been counting on.
Minato disappeared for the briefest of moments, reappearing a few feet to the right, and an inch above Orochimaru. The swirling blue ball of chakra slammed into his opponent, grinding bones and tissue alike with disturbing ease.
But the Snake Sannin, true to form, sank into the ground and disappeared from view. Before Minato could attempt to locate him, spears of wood erupted from the ground, forcing him to evade. For the moment, he had another, possibly even more dangerous foe to worry about.
Kushina had made the decision to act purely in the moment and forgo any emotions or questions she had beyond it. If she hadn't, she would be going crazy with worry.
Her heart lept at seeing Minato alive, and she felt fine herself. But that didn't make any sense. It was the middle of day—not night like when they'd (supposedly?) died—and the Third looked noticeably older.
So she guessed that time had passed since her most recent memory. She wasn't sure what that meant, but every outcome both scared and relieved her, all at once.
But she couldn't deal with that right now—slice of water racing towards her—because she had a fight to win.
A fight with the Second Hokage, no less. She wondered if she was supposed to feel afraid, but the insanity of the situation stifled fear.
She settled for punching him in the face.
Her half-dozen shadow clones were too much for this…imitation of a legend. He was not the awe-inspiring Hokage that could win large battles singlehandedly. He moved sluggishly, stupidly, as if he was under a trance. He used little, if any, strategy.
She tried not to recognize the question poking her in the back of her mind: was she an imitation, as well?
A fight like this was too crowded and confined for anyone to go all out. It was more like massive melee, where a threat could come from any angle—but so could an ally, so one had to be careful about what one used in battle. Speed and precision was key.
Not that outnumbering your opponent seven-to-one didn't help, either. Her own personal army alternated between chakra-chain based barriers and multi-pronged attacks, often accompanied by streams of fire that matched her hair in color.
With occasional assistance from an ally passing through the fight, she was able to surround him and attack his blind sides with ease.
Charka chains pierced the Second and wrapped around him. Unable to move and on the verge of death (if death even applied in such a situation), he was an easy target for a sealing jutsu.
A few seconds later, his body was separated into a dozen parts, each transported a mile away to random locations, where they would be incinerated.
She knew that if the real Second Hokage had been her opponent, she wouldn't have ever gained the upper hand. The imitation had power, but it only had the intelligence of a drone...like a puppet without a puppet master.
From there, the fight became increasingly one-sided. Orochimaru realized his inevitable defeat in such a situation, and bid a hasty retreat.
That, too, fell right into Minato's plan. The chaos of the battle gave him plenty of opportunity to place his Hiraishin-engraved kunai around the perimeter. Orochimaru, like the rest of the Sound Four, hadn't noticed.
If he had, he might have avoided the Rasengan that was barreling towards his head from behind.
No kawarimi took place. No illusion was detected. The man who had abandoned everything he once cared about for personal gain lay headless, and most certainly dead.
For nearly a minute, Hiruzen looked almost like he was grieving, as ridiculous as the notion was. Perhaps he was remembering the person Orochimaru used to be, long ago? She didn't know; she'd never been a sensei herself.
Kushina couldn't help but notice the looks the Third kept giving her and Minato in the minute after that. Finally, she couldn't hold her question in. "What?"
"I don't know how the First and Second died," Hiruzen replied simply, as if that explained everything. "But their remains were recovered. I do know how…Biwako died," he said, cringing visibly, "and I know how you two died."
Kushina cringed herself as the words sank in. Fresh memories—Biwako keeling over, terror, NARUTO, mind-numbing pain, death—boiled to the surface, and she couldn't hold them back.
She ignored the tears and tried to stay in the moment, difficult as it was.
"Since Orochimaru was surprised about the outcome of his technique, I am lead to believe something unique about you two caused the…difference."
"The Shinigami," Minato added, recalling what he believed was most likely the unique factor.
"Exactly," Hiruzen replied. "Since it had a significant impact on how you died, I assume that it was the reason you were different from the beginning when Orochimaru used his technique. And you aren't disappearing now…"
"I feel fine," Minato answered, checking his pulse as he did so. His voice was unnervingly monotone and detached. "Heartbeat feels normal, same with body temperature." He drew a kunai and made a shallow cut on his arm. "Bleeding normally, too."
"Which would not happen with an Impure World Resurrection summon," Hiruzen offered automatically. A moment later, the implications hit him. "Then…you're…"
"Alive…" Minato whispered, as if he was afraid to acknowledge the idea. Before he could come to grips with the notion, he saw Kakashi, his long-time student unsteadily walk forward.
A loud crash broke the moment, and the mood. All of the occupants of the rooftop looked for the source of the noise.
It was rather difficult to miss, for in the distance stood a giant tanuki made of sand, and a colossal toad with a sword sheathed at its side.
Elsewhere, a snake shed its skin and emerged anew, far angrier than before.
A/N: Well, what do you think? I know it's short, but I wanted to get it out tonight (I won't have much time this week), and this felt like a decent place to stop.
Do you guys remember Biwako, by the way?
Also, I KNOW that Edo Tensei is presented differently here than it is in the manga. That's because of several reasons, not the least of which being that the technique, as it stands, is unbelievably powerful with the potential of easily bringing the world to its knees singlehandedly. The other big reason is the premise, which requires some differences from canon.
EDIT: I know Minato and Kushina come across as a little...limited in their jutsu choices, but this is mostly due to the type of fight/situation they're in. It's a chaotic knife-fight with friendlies and enemies mixed into a fray.
Once again, PLEASE do not bring up character pairings. They will not even be relevant for quite a while, and they will never be the focus of this story. No characters will be bashed, either.
Please review! It makes my heart warm and puts me in the mood to write =)