Love Among Survivors
Yo! I'm back, again! Same as always, I own nada!
Last time on Love Among Survivors
"Alright, you reanimated, cannibalistic bastards, this is where the all-you-can-eat buffet ends!" Naruto shouted at the top of his lungs, making sure that the living dead were focused on him as he withdrew several exploding tags and kunai from his pouch. With a few quick flicks of his wrist, he twisted the highly volatile slips of paper around the handles of the kunai, creating a few makeshift frag grenades.
"Let's go wild!" roared Naruto, as he leaped into the air, and let the few explosive kunai fly from his hand, towards the large undead masses.
Just as the kunai were mere inches away from striking their targets, the explosive tags detonated with tremendous force, consuming a large cluster of undead in a massive gout of flames and shrapnel. Many of them were destroyed, leaving enough room for Naruto to safely land on the ground. The smell of burning, decaying flesh immediately assaulted his nostrils, momentarily stunned the blonde, but the groans from the approaching undead was enough for him to snap back into action. Without a moment's hesitation, he brought his hands into his signature cross-shaped seal.
"Kage Bunshin no Jutsu!" From out of nowhere, five identical replicas of the blonde appeared. Naruto knew he had to restrain himself from creating his usual amount of Kage Bunshin, remembering Kurama's warning about heavily relying on his ninjutsu. Whilst his handicap made things harder for him, he was still confident that he could come out on top. In unison, the six blonde ninjas withdrew their katanas and charged as one into the encircling horde with a mighty roar, drawing the attention of the zombies.
The Narutos were in constant motion, hacking and slashing, beheading every single undead that came within reach of their blades. Since there was nobody around to see them in action, they immediately encased their blades with wind-natured chakra, making it easier to cut through their decaying muscles and bones. The original Naruto bisected another decaying man's head with a double horizontal slash before striking the zombie creeping up behind him with a reverse wheel kick. Using the momentum from the kick, he swung his swords to the left, slicing off the rotting hands of another undead as he continued his spin and finally destroyed the handless zombie's head. Unfortunately, he was caught unawares by the zombie coming from his left. Unable to defend himself, it clamped down on his shoulder with surprising force. Naruto shouted in pain as blood gushed out from where the zombie was gnawing at...until he disappeared in a cloud of smoke, and was replaced by another rotting zombie. Throughout the chaos, the two decaying beings didn't notice the small plumes of smoke trailing from the explosive tags that had been placed on their chests. A massive explosion consumed the two zombies, and several of the surrounding undead in a massive fireball that completely incinerated them, and set several more on fire.
'Huh,if a normal person becomes a zombie when he's bitten by an infected, then what would happen if a zombie gets bitten by one of its own kind? Does that somehow nullify the virus, or make the body decay at a faster rate?' thought Naruto, before he felt the memories from three of his clones, signifying their demise at the hands of the horde of undead.
"Is it really this time for such thoughts? Wait until we're clear of this decaying quagmire before you start this mindless rambling about super zombies!" interjected Kurama. Naruto had to agree, as he felt yet another clone's memories rush back to him, depicting how it was torn limb from limb in a gory fashion.
'Shit! This is getting out of control fast! I don't know how much longer I can last before I'm zombie chow.' thought Naruto, whilst slashing two more undead that got too close to him, right before he stabbed another zombie that was creeping behind him in the head. Chancing a glance around his surroundings, he was disheartened to see the mass of zombies surrounding him and his remaining clones. 'I think that it's about time to make a tactful withdrawal.' His eyes darted from left to right, until he spotted a clear path from the corner of his eyes. He didn't know if it led to the river, but he didn't have the luxury of being picky.
Whipping out two more explosive tags and wrapping them around the handle of a kunai, he launched it at the large group at his left, his two clones mimicking his actions. The three resulting explosions created a large enough opening for the three blondes to escape. Not wasting any time, Naruto and his clones raced through the clear paths that were before him. He didn't dare use chakra to augment his speed in fear of worsening the strain on his body; already he could feel the slight aches stabbing through his body steadily getting worse. Things became even more difficult when the zombies began to surround him, slowly boxing him in once again, his remaining clones finally cracking under the pressure of fighting off the numerous assailants. Having enough of fighting on the ground, Naruto jumped on top of the lead zombie's head, using it as a spring board to launch himself into the air. As he soared through the air, he couldn't help but grimace at what he saw below him; hundreds of zombies squirming around, giving off the illusion of a sea of decay and death, making him realize just how outnumbered he really was.
On his descent, he angled his body so that he landed on top of a zombie's head, the force from his fall instantly crushing its head in a splash of brain matter, skull fragments, and blood. Although his exhaustion was beginning to catch up with him, he knew that he had to keep going; with another leap Naruto flew through the air and landed on top of another undead's head. Soon, Naruto was leaping from head to head, as if he were playing an absurd version of hopscotch. The masses of undead, having been alerted of a potential meal by the destruction of their fellow decaying brethren, tried to ensnare the blonde as he passed by. The ninja was making good progress, leaping from head to head and slicing off every hand that came close to making contact with him, but when he was about make it to the clear zone, one zombie's hand managed to clip his foot just as he jumped off. The sudden action caused Naruto to lose his balance, and crash noisily into a heap of garbage cans on the ground. As he shakily got back onto his feet, he was disheartened to see that the undead horde was shuffling towards his position, having heard him when he crashed.
"God damn it." muttered Naruto. "I guess it's about time for me to get to the rendezvous point." Luckily for him, the path behind him wasn't crowded with the walking dead. Peering down the alley, he saw that it went a ways east until it came to the end of the block, which included another four-way intersection, and hopefully another road that led towards the river. Channeling the smallest amount of chakra he could manage, he sprinted down the street, intent on putting as much distance between him and the horde as possible. He had reached about halfway down the road, when suddenly the back gate to a house burst open, a large mass of zombies dropping to the ground in a massive pile. The ninja had barely been able to dodge the writhing limbs that sought to grab a hold of him.
'Shit, that made me jump!' thought Naruto, as he continued to on. He was just making the turn around the corner, when an intense flash of pain shot through his body, nearly causing him to stumble forward. 'Ah, damn it! Not now, I'm nearly there!' It took everything ounce of his willpower not to cry out in agony, in fear of alerting any undead stragglers that were possibly roaming about. He could basically see the river at the end of the road, the moonlight glimmering off of the water's surface in a tantalizing way, as if it were the gateway to heaven. All that stood in between him and the group was a long stretch of road, a countless amount of zombies, and several abandoned and/or destroyed vehicles. Unfortunately it seemed as if Lady Luck was ignoring the young ninja, for the moment after Naruto passed the second house on his left, the front gate collapsed, allowing the zombies that were crowded behind it to join the mob that was shuffling after the blond. His patience having left him earlier that night, Naruto pulled out two of his more powerful explosive notes that had the shortest "fuse", wrapped them around another kunai, and hurled it behind him. But as he dared to glance behind him, he was startled to see the zombies a lot closer to him than he expected, even more so when the lead zombie had the explosive kunai lodged in its chest.
'Shit! Running zombies, that's the last thing that I need right now!' Naruto mentally screamed, his eyes widening when he sensed the chakra within the tag beginning to build up. Channeling more chakra into his feet, Naruto tried to leap away in a desperate attempt to put as much distance between him and the walking bomb, but the force behind the explosion was still powerful enough to throw the unfortunate blond into a trio of trash cans that were sitting out in the street. Naruto tried to regain his equilibrium, when suddenly another wave of pain coursed throughout his entire body, the agony so severe that he failed to stop the strangled cry that escaped his throat. To make matters worse, he could hear the ever dreaded moaning that he had associated with the undead approaching closer and closer to his position.
'No! No, no, no! I've gotta move, gotta get out of here!' Naruto raged internally, as he struggled to get back to his feet, only to collapse onto the ground once again. He crawled desperately from the approaching horde, not willing to give up without a fight. He was a few feet away from reaching the middle of another intersection when he suddenly heard shots being fired near him. Acting on instinct, he dove to the ground, covering the back of his head, and waited for the unknown shooter to cease firing. Shot after shot was fired, and each one was accompanied with the sound of an undead's head exploding. The moment the sounds of shooting finally stopped, Naruto slowly turned to see what had become of the horde of undead that had been tailing him for some time, only to be amazed that every one of them was lying on the ground, headless and unmoving.
"You alright down there?" someone drawled from up above. Looking to where the voice originated from, Naruto noticed that it came from an obscured figure that was standing on an outstretched limb from a tree that was in a house's backyard. Without any warning, the figure leapt off of its perch and landed gracefully on the ground in front of him, a few feet away from the next road intersection. The man was dressed in leather boots, dark blue pants, a blue shirt, a tan trench coat, and a black wide-brimmed hat. He had a rusty red beard that covered his lower face, and had a somewhat cocky smirk stretched across his visage. There were two straps overlapping across his chest, suggesting that he had two weapons in reserve. But what really caught Naruto's attention was the firearm in the man's hands, a shotgun if he recalled Kohta's little explanation.
'Okay, where the hell did this guy come from? And why do I sense an overwhelming aura of smugness practically radiating from him?' thought Naruto as he got back onto his feet. "Um, yeah, I am now. Thanks for the assist."
The man's smile seemed to widen a margin. "You know, it's pretty dangerous for you to be out here all alone at this time of night. Especially considering what's prowling these streets." Suddenly, without warning, the man aimed his gun at his general direction. Acting out of instinct, Naruto dropped to the ground just as the man fired his weapon. The sickening wet explosion, and the death gurgle that he heard from behind him indicated that the undead behind him was neutralized.
"What the hell do you think you're doing?!" Naruto whispered as loudly as he dared, still wary of any possible undead that could spring up at any moment.
"Relax, son," replied the man, as he chambered another round, "I wasn't aiming anywhere near you."
He then fired upon another undead, relieving it of its head.
"Will you stop that?! You're just going to attract more of them to our location!"
"Let them come. Just like all the others, I'll blast them all to hell!" said the man, arrogantly. "I've accomplished too much to be taken out by some mindless living corpses."
"Just who the hell do you think you are?!" asked Naruto, exasperatedly.
That just made the man's smirk widen. "Well, youngster, I am known by many names. But you can call me Walker, Texas Rang-URRKK!" Right in the middle of his introduction, a trio of fast moving zombies ran into the intersection and slammed into Walker, dragging him to the ground. The undead instantly began feasting upon their prey with gusto, Walker's screams of agony breaking the night's semi-tranquil atmosphere. The noise only attracted even more undead, who soon joined in on the meal. Naruto, on the other hand, remained on the ground, his eyes wide with disbelief at the grotesque scene before him. He absently noticed that there were two large guns laying on the ground in front him, the ones that he assumed Walker had strapped to his back. One them looked like one of those shotguns that Kohta had gotten from the safe, whilst the other was significantly smaller and had a small rectangle (he recalled Kohta calling it a magazine) sticking out of the bottom of it. Beside the two large weapons was extra ammunition for the two different guns. The blonde's gaze swept from the weapons to the cluster of undead feasting upon Walker, and then back at the guns.
'Well, it's not like he's going to be using them any time in the future.' he thought grimly, before he grabbed hold of the weapons and slipped them underneath the straps of his sheaths, and pocketed the ammo. He then glanced back at the writhing pile of undead, and the still screaming Walker. 'No point in staying here, the guy's as good as dead. Besides, I've got to meet up with the others.' With a running start, Naruto leapt over the pile of zombies and continued on down the road. Although he was saddened that he had witnessed the gruesome death of a human being, he knew that there was nothing that he could've dome for him. And for some reason, he found that he wasn't as upset as he had first thought he would be.
"CHOKE...ON...IT!" gargled Walker. "CHOKE! ON! IT!"
'Oh wow,...that...that was...pretty disturbing.' thought Naruto. Without warning, the blonde felt a massive chill run down his spine, nearly making him loose his balance. 'WHOA! What the hell? Hey Kurama, did you fell that huge tremor was just now?'
"Yes. Yes, I did." answered the bijū through their shared mental link.
'Well, do you any idea what could have caused it?'
"The collective despair and turmoil of idiot-worshipers world wide, mourning the lose of their overrated idol?"
"Never mind, you're better off not knowing." quipped the fox, although Naruto could have sworn that he heard Kurama mutter something along the line of "I can't believe that there's one in this world, too".
After running for nearly an hour nonstop, Naruto decided to take a small break. He stopped in a block that he had seen teeming with undead earlier in the night. But with the sun now beginning to rise, he saw that the streets were completely deserted; the unmoving bodies of humans and undead scattered across the area. He also noticed a large object further up the street that he had never seen before. Curiosity getting the better of him, he crept closer to the mysterious bulk, only to blanch in disgust as the strong stench of blood and decaying flesh assaulted his nostrils. Once his vision cleared, he was met with a grotesque sight.
The shadowed object was some sort of vehicle that ran on a set of treads, and had some sort of plow attached to the front of it. But what really got his attention was the gratuitous amount of gore, from both the undead and human bodies, splattered against its metal surface. Behind the vehicle, was a massive trail of blood and assorted limbs, as well as several more bodies strewn around the street. No longer able to stand being in such a depressing area, Naruto made his way towards the rendezvous point, when one particular body caught his attention.
It was a grown man, in some sort of militant-like uniform. His skin was deathly pale, and there were no bite marks visible anywhere, indicating that the man wasn't an undead when he was finally put down. The man had a small firearm gripped in his hand, and a small circular wound in the side of his head. His eyes were gaping lifelessly towards Naruto, depicting no emotion on his visage. It was easy to determine how the man died; the fact that he was holding the weapon responsible made it all the more obvious. But the real clincher for the young ninja was when he noticed the photograph in the man's left hand, which depicted what he assumed to be the man's family. That was the last straw for the blonde as looked at the dead man with new-found contempt; he had always held a strong belief that parents should never abandon their kids, unless it was a life or death situation. Having heard of how Sakumo Hatake's suicide had traumatized Kakashi so severely, that it had drastically affected in such a negative manner, made Naruto's disdain to those who chose suicide even stronger. It just didn't make any sense why a man would just take his own life, and leave such a gaping hole in his family's life.
But judging on the amount of undead bodies that littered the area, the young ninja had a decent understanding as to why the man had taken his own life, as he had seen how everything went to hell in a basket from their house's balcony. With the living dead roaming the streets, killing and infecting people left and right, the man had prevented himself from being infected by an undead and becoming another member of the horde by taking his own life. It would have also eliminated the chance of becoming infected, and then later passing the virus to someone else.
"I'm sorry. I can't even begin to imagine what you must have gone through. Even though I hate people that resort to suicide, I can understand why you did it. I hope that you find peace in the afterlife" said Naruto, as he gently slid the deceased man's eyelids over the lifeless eyes with his hand. He then carefully removed the small gun from the man's grasp, and searched his pockets for ammunition. He found five round plastic circles, with a small knob on top of it, each holding five small metallic things Kohta had called "bullets". Pocketing his finds in his back pouch, he spared the deceased man one last glance before he raced down the street, intent on meeting up with his party without encountering anymore catastrophes.
The trip towards the river was pretty much uneventful to the blonde after he had left the scene of the street massacre. The few small groups of undead that he encountered were fairly simply to avoid and distract. All it took was a rock and some metallic trash cans. Crossing the river itself was surprisingly easy via water walking, although it did make the blonde somewhat anxious in using chakra, on the off chance that his body seized up again. Given that there weren't any boats readily available, however, and that time was of the essence, he had to run the risk. He had a few mishaps, in which he nearly fell into the water, but he managed to quickly recover. The sun was just starting to rise as his feet finally touched down on terra firma once again, when another problem reared its ugly head.
"I don't know where the group is supposed to meet! I never asked for the specific location from Kohta!" moaned Naruto, who felt like kicking himself for forgetting such important information. "Now what am I going to do?"
"Kit, calm down. Just channel a minute amount of chakra to your nose, and track them by their scent, like one of those damn Inuzukas." advised Kurama.
'Oh, of course! Why didn't I think of that? Thanks, Kurama!' thought Naruto. 'Wait a minute, what do you have against the Inuzuka clan?'
"What don't I have against their clan? The humans are practically the same as their blasted mongrel companions: loud, arrogant, extremely territorial, overly aggressive when it comes to searching for mates, and they happen to hunt members of my species for sport. Now quit wasting time, and get on with it already!" snarled the fox, before becoming silent once again.
Acting on Kurama's advice, Naruto surged his chakra towards his nose, and took a deep whiff of the air around him. Immediately, he began to cough and hack as a strong toxic chemical smell assaulted his senses.
'No doubt that's the synthetic virus that's causing all of this anarchy.' thought Naruto bitterly, as he tried to get the horrible stench out of his nose. He was about to take another whiff, when he suddenly realized something. 'Just how am I supposed to track the group's scent?! Damn it! It's like every step forward I take, I'm always going back two. Hold on,...Takashi! That little girl pissed on him! So all I've got to...oh wait, just about anyone would either piss or crap themselves if they saw what was going on. Damn, back to square one again.' He was about to scream in frustration when he caught wind of another scent, this one being far more pleasant than the first two. It was faint and on the move, but it was somewhat familiar to him. It reminded him of being in the flower shop Ino's father ran, as he had visited the store often to see if they had imported any new flowers that he could try his hand at growing. Then, it hit him: Shizuka Marikawa's shampoo! She had washed her hair with floral scented shampoo earlier last night! Focusing on that particular scent, he also found the lingering scent of urine moving along with it, on his far left.
Wasting no time, Naruto sped down the earthen trail towards where the scent was, all the while keeping an eye out for any straggling undead along the way. He was twenty minutes into his run, with nothing to see but the grassy incline to his left, and the occasional tree. But then, something caught his eye; he noticed something large further up in the distance. The closer he got to it, the larger it became, until Naruto was able to see that it was a large bridge that stretched across the entire river. Additionally, there were a few decently-sized trees that were planted on both sides of the shadow that the bridge made. After thirty more minutes of running, he was about half way near the bridge's shadow and starting to tire. He was thinking about taking a short rest in the shade that was made by the bridge, and possibly reconfirm that he was indeed going the right way, when he saw something that lifted his spirits. There in front of him, cutting across the river, was the large "tank-like" vehicle that his party had drove off in. Instantly, the scent of the nurse's shampoo, and incidentally the smell of urine, became more potent to the ninja. Ignoring the exhaustion that was slowly catching up to him, Naruto pushed himself to run faster so that he could reunite with the group as quickly as possible. Just as the vehicle finally rolled out of the river and onto the ground Naruto let a sharp whistle, catching the attention of Kohta and the little girl, both of whom were riding on the roof of the vehicle.
"Hey, stop the Humvee, Sensei! Naruto-san's back!" shouted Kohta, slamming his hand on the large vehicle's roof. With a lurch, the Humvee came to stop, jostling everyone inside as well as allowing Naruto to catch up to them.
"Onii-chan, you made it back safely!" exclaimed the girl. Naruto just smiled as he gently grasped the young girl's outstretched hand.
"Of course I did! There's nothing that will stop me from coming back to you guys!" answered Naruto, with one of his trademark grins.
"It's good to see that you're still in one piece, Naruto-san. Those explosives of yours were wicked, we practically felt the shockwaves as we drove away!" said Kohta, as he pumped fists with the blond. The puppy, at that moment, decided to take make itself known, licking Naruto's extended hand, all the while wagging its tail.
"Hey there, little buddy."said Naruto, scratching the little dog behind its ears, making its tail wag even faster. He stepped back so as to allow everyone else in the Humvee to get out, figuring that they would want to stretch their legs or get some fresh air. Almost immediately, he felt a pair of arms wrap themselves around his body and pull him into a tight embrace, his face pressed against a large, warm, soft mass.
"Oh, Naruto-kun, we're so glad that you're alright! We were all worried sick about you!" cried Shizuka, squeezing the blonde ninja even tighter against herself. With some difficulty, Naruto managed to move his face out of the woman's cleavage to give her an appreciative smile. His face, however, took on a blood-red blush once he realized the position he was in: Firstly, the nurse was holding him tightly against her body, to the point that his face was pressed against one the most amazing pair of breasts he had ever seen on a woman. And secondly, Shizuka was still only clad in the white towel she wore whilst the group made their escape.
"Um, I'm...sorry that I worried you, Marikawa-san,...and I'm glad that you and everyone else is safe too!" began Naruto, trying his best not to pass out from the massive nosebleed that he was holding back. "But could you please,..not hold me so tightly? You're...kinda...well...you know..." At first, the woman was confused to what Naruto was talking about, and as to why his face was so red. That is, until, she looked down at their position, and remembered the state of dress she was in. In a blink of an eye, she released Naruto from her hold and leapt back three feet from him, a small blush of her own stretched across her cheeks as she tried to stretch the towel so that it covered more of her...intimate...areas.
"G-Gomen, Naruto-kun. I guess I got caught up in the moment, ne?" she offered, sheepishly. Naruto was about to answer her, when he suddenly felt a sharp pain on the back of his head. Turning to face his attacker, he saw that it was none other than Saya Takagi, who was looking quite annoyed.
"What were you thinking, going off on your own acting as the suicidal hero?" she grounded out. "Did you know that we all thought that was the last time that we were ever going to see you alive?!"
A twinge of guilt passed through Naruto's heart, he didn't mean to make them worry over him, although the fact that Saya and the others actually cared about his safety was still a surprise to him. It was a sort of comforting feeling, one that he was still trying to get used to.
"Well, I'm here now. I kept my promise, didn't I?" asked Naruto, giving the agitated pinkette a gentle smile. The intelligent pinkette looked like she wanted to scream at him some more, until her scowl relaxed into a calmer expression.
"Yes." she said, slowly. "You did keep your promise in the end. But don't you ever go and do something that stupid again!"
Naruto couldn't help but sweat drop at the girl's attitude; the rate in which Saya switched moods was something else. "Er, I'll try not to, Takagi-san." said Naruto, not wanting to become the target of her temper once again. The rest of reunion was more relaxed, with both Takashi and Rei giving him a simple "Welcome back.", and Saeko merely smiling warmly and nodding respectfully towards him.
For a moment, Naruto was content to simply bask in the tranquility, until Kohta asked Takashi to help get the little girl down, whom the ninja learned was called Alice. Just as Takashi was about to reach up to the young girl, she immediately pushed down her skirt and began to blush.
"Uh,...my panties," she began, "they...uh...they're still not..."
Like a flash of lightning, Naruto recognized what exactly was her problem, as well as what had caused the accident in the first place. And after seeing Takashi's expression as he too recalled the incident, Naruto could help but break out in a fit of giggles as he gently lifted the dog from the Humvee's roof and placed the animal on the ground. He was just keeping his amusement concealed from everybody else, but it only got worse when Rei stormed up to Takashi, eye brow twitching and her cheeks puffed out in anger, and snatched Alice from the boy's grips.
"What is wrong with you, embarrassing this poor girl like that?" lambasted Rei, as she held the young girl tight against her chest.
"Schnrk! Oh, shit!" snorted Naruto, as he tried to get his snickering back under control. But his efforts were for naught as Rei's eyes snapped towards him, her cheeks now blushing red with fury.
"Naruto, are you laughing?!"
The question broke whatever self-restraint Naruto had left, his laughter sounding loud and clear for all to hear. The puppy standing before started to bark wildly, as if sensing the ninja's mirth, further driving Takashi into a state of depression.
"BWAHAHAHA! I-I'm sorry! I...I...I can't hhhheeelp it!" Naruto wheezed in between bouts of laughter.
Rei's eyebrow was twitching like mad. "This is exactly why boys should just...ARGH! You know what, never mind!" With a huff, she retrieved the large beige duffel bag from the Humvee, before she gently lead the little girl towards one of the bigger trees on the other side of the large vehicle. The other females went to to follow Rei, but not before the girl gave the three boys a withering glare.
"We girls are going to go change now. If we catch any of you trying to sneak a peek, you're dead, got it?!" she said with as much righteous feminine fury as she could. Naruto, as well as Kohta and Takashi merely nodded their heads, figuring it was best to do everything they could to avoid being the target of four angry females.
"So, the girl's name is Alice?" asked Naruto, once the girls went behind the tree.
"Yes, Alice Maresato." confirmed Takashi.
"And what about this little guy?" The ninja crouched down to scratch the puppy behind its ears, causing the small canine to thump its hind leg against the ground.
Kohta chuckled. "We decided to call him Zeke. The name's from the America army, usually given to Zero fighters. Ain't that right, boy?"
The puppy gave a joyful bark in response, as if it knew the gun aficionado was talking about him. Naruto couldn't help but laugh, the scene before him reminding him of when he used hang out with Kiba and Akamaru when they were still academy students. "So, I take it everyone has taken a shine to our newest additions?"
"Yeah, the girls just think Zeke is absolutely adorable. And as for Alice, well, it's nice to have someone innocent through all of this mess."
"And we intend to keep it that way. But to do that, we need to stick together." interjected Takashi, his gaze settling on Naruto. "Although you managed to help us escape by staying behind, and you managed to come back on your own, what you did was very reckless, Naruto. You had us all worried, especially Alice. Now I know that there's no way to predict what kinds of obstacles we may face in the future, but if we are to survive this outbreak, we need to do so without taking wild and unnecessary risks. So I want you to promise me, Naruto, that you won't pull a stunt like you did last night, alright?"
At first, Naruto said nothing. He didn't know whether to feel appreciative that Takashi cared enough to confront him on his seemingly dangerous actions, or affronted by the teenager's own hypocrisy about acting before thinking.
"Alright, Takashi," he began, "I promise I won't take any more unnecessary risks, so long as you promise not to allow your emotions get the better of you when it comes to making decisions."
Both Takashi and Kohta looked surprised. "What do you mean by that, Naruto-san?" asked the bespectacled teen.
"Your little rescue mission from last night wasn't exactly the smartest thing to do either, Takashi."
"Please, let me finish, Kohta-san." interrupted Naruto, before he turned his attention back to Takashi. "Although you had good intentions in mind, Takashi, you actions weren't in the best interest of the entire group. That house had food, supplies, and shelter that we could have used to our advantage. But we ended up staying there for barely an entire night. All because you wanted to save one survivor, we had to abandon a well-protected shelter. Even when we saved the girl, we would've probably been overrun by those things if the others hadn't come to rescue us. And on top of that,the group barely escaped after I stayed behind to lure them away! Hell, if you had just ignored what was going on in the streets, we'd probably be waking up in the house right now after a good night's rest, instead of the group having to pull an all-nighter."
"But, Alice was in trouble!" retorted Takashi, trying to suppress his aggravation from being heard by the others and the girl in question. "Her father had been killed trying to find shelter, and she would have been eaten alive by them! You were there, you know th-"
"I know! I know!" Naruto paused to check and see if the girls had heard what they were saying, feeling relieved to see that no one was approaching them. "I can understand why you went to such drastic measures to save Alice, and I'm not condemning you for wanting to save a child who had just lost her father. But you can't keep do things like this in the spur of the moment, Takashi. If you were on your own, then it would've been fine. But you're with a group, and you have to keep in mind that the consequences of your actions affect everyone as a whole."
"If you were so against me helping Alice, then why did you tag along with me? Why didn't you try to persuade me to stay?"
Naruto just sighed, tiredly. He didn't want to go through this argument with Takashi, he was tired and just wanted to take a nap. "Because, you already had Kohta, Rei, and Saeko-chan's support. Even if I tried to argue my case, and we put it to a vote, I would have been outvoted four to one. Also, if by chance I had convinced you not to go, our base would've already been compromised from Kohta's shooting." Kohta had the decency to grimace when the blonde brought up how he had practically alerted the undead of their whereabouts. "I figured that if I came along, I would be able to make sure you didn't die along the way. But now that we've survived this ordeal, we have to make sure that we don't repeat our mistakes. Like Saeko-chan said last night, the civilized world is dying, as well as all of the laws it once had. If we're to survive this epidemic, we must do so with level heads. As I've said before, I'll promise to only stay behind and act as zombie bait as a last resort from now on, as long as you promise to think through your decisions more carefully. Deal?" He held out his hand, so that they could shake on it. Takashi stared at the outstretched hand silently, before he finally grasped it.
"Fair enough, I suppose." he said, as the two boys shook hands. I agree to your terms, Naruto." Soon after, an awkward silence fell between the three boys, doing nothing to ease the tension they felt. "Say, Naruto, um what's with those guns you've got strapped to your back?" asked Takashi, in a desperate attempt to break the ice.
"Huh? Oh, you mean these?" With everything that had been happening, Naruto had almost forgotten about the weapons he had found. With great care, he pulled the guns out from under his sheaths' straps, and held them out for Takashi and Kohta to see. "I kind of expected everyone to be mad at me for making the group leave without me. So, figured that these weapons would make adequate gifts to say 'I'm sorry'."
There was a deep gasp, before Kohta was in front of the blonde in an instant, stars glittering his eyes as he gazed at the two guns. Seeing the smaller teen act so enthusiastically reminded him of his fellow Konoha shinobi Tenten whenever she saw a new weapon.
"May I?" asked Kohta, in a dazed tone. Naruto simply nodded, which was all that Kohta needed to begin examining the firearms.
"Oh, cool! An Uzi 9mm submachine gun with blowback action! These babies can fire up to 600 rounds per minute. Hm, has a fifty round cartridge, not bad, not bad. And as for ammo...no way, .22 LR Hyper-Velocity "Stinger" Hollow point bullets! These babies have a muzzle velocity of up to 1,800 feet per second, in exchange for a lighter bullet mass." He then turned his attention to the longer gun with a bent metal butt and curve ending, with an even bigger gasp. "And a Franchi SPAS-12 combat shotgun! Oh, wow, this beauty is a work of art! You're pretty lucky to find this variant, Naruto-san; this model is capable of holding up to eight rounds, and you can choose between the tradition pump or semi-automatic reload action! Military and police forces worldwide use this type firearm. And coincidentally, both this and the Uzi were titular weapons used in the one of Arnold Schwarzenegger's most iconic movies, The Terminator!" He then turned to face Naruto with a look akin to admiration. "Where did you find these amazing weapons?!"
Naruto stepped back in a attempt to regain some of his personal space, but Kohta simply followed like a moth to a flame. He contemplated on telling Kohta about that Walker guy's untimely death, but decided otherwise. "Well, on my way to meet up with you guys, there was this guy shooting away at a bunch of them, hollering and making a grand scene like some smug jackass. The poor bastard was so focused on the undead that were charging in front of him, that he didn't even notice the other mob creeping at his side until it was too late. Luckily, the guy managed to drop the guns far away from them for me to grab them."
"I wonder who he was." said Takashi aloud.
Naruto just snorted, handing the guns to Kohta. "Doesn't matter now, the guy's not going to be needing them anytime soon. So, will these be of any use, Kohta?"
The expression on his face was just too priceless. "Are you kidding?! These will be perfect additions to our arsenal!"
"Then I guess you'll be wanting these." Reaching into his pouch, he withdrew three more fifty-round Uzi cartridges, and a full box of shotgun shells. This time, Kohta actually squealed in delight as he placed the ammunition in one of his many pockets, and holstered the guns into the straps on his back. Suddenly his entire body stiffened, as if he had just remembered something rather important, before he unstrapped a shotgun and presented it to Takashi.
"Take this Takashi, you might need it."
Takashi sighed "I don't know how to use this Kohta, it's probably best if I stick with my bat."
Kohta shook his head, saying that it took too much energy to effective against them, and began to show him how to hold the weapon and how to fire it as well. Naruto tried to follow along as best he could, but he still ended up getting lost. "You should only use this in close range, and aim for the general area of the head, since you don't know how to use it." finished Kohta.
Takashi sighed once more as he took hold of the gun. "What if I run out of ammo?"
Kohta responded by continuing to show the taller teen what to do, as the ninja watched on in mild curiosity. Again, he tried to follow what was being said, but he still didn't understand most of the jargon. But it wasn't just him that was lost, if Takashi's frustrated expression was anything to go by.
"I'm not going to understand everything just by hearing it once, Kohta. I'll just use it as a club or something for now." said Takashi exasperatedly, as he hefted the heavy weapon on his back and turned towards the slope they would have to cross. Naruto frowned as he saw the agitated faces on both teens, but it was quite obvious that Kohta was more hurt by Takashi's abrupt dismissal of his advice than he let on. It reminded him of all the times his friends blew him off whenever he tried to offer advice, or whenever Sasuke and Sakura would look down upon him when they were just starting out as a team. He wanted to try and help the smaller teen, but didn't know how go about it without unintentionally making things worse. Then, an idea hit him.
"Oh, hey, Kohta," he began, catching the gun expert's attention, "I was wondering if you could possibly teach me how to use a gun. You know, just in case my swords get damaged."
Almost immediately, Kohta's face took on a much more cheerful expression. "Of course, Naruto-san! After all, you helped contribute to our arsenal, it's only fair that you get to use one of these guns." he said, reaching behind his back to pull out a gun for the blonde, before Naruto stopped him.
"Actually, Kohta, I've already got one." He reached into his pouch and withdrew the small firearm he had gotten from the uniformed man.
Kohta's eyes went wide at the sight of it. "Another Smith & Wesson M37 Air-Weight?!
Takashi, who had been listening in on their conversation, couldn't stem his surprise at seeing yet another gun that the blonde had found.
"Yeah, uh, I guess kinda forgot about it after a while. Sorry about that."
"Eh, don't worry about, Naruto-san. With everything that's happening around us, it's easy to get distracted." said Kohta, as examined the weapon for any damage, as well as how much ammunition was left. "But I have to say, I'm quite jealous at how you just seem to find all these awesome guns without much trouble. So, where did you find this baby?"
Naruto's mood darkened as he recalled the fate of the firearm's last owner, which both boys quickly noticed. "Well,...you see...the last person who,...used...this gun, was in the middle of this chaos, when they were feeding. He used it to,...um, well...you know,...take the easy way out."
Realization struck both the teens, Kohta's exuberance vanishing in an instant. "Oh...I see. That would explain why only one shot was fired, and why there's...blood splatter...over the muzzle."
"So, can you help me Kohta?" the blonde asked, trying to steer the group conversation to something not as daunting as suicide.
"Uh, right, of course." said Kohta. "Now before we begin, Naruto-san, can you tell how much you know about guns?"
The ninja had the decency to look embarrassed, his hand scratching the back of his neck out of habit. "Aside the fact that you point it at what you want to kill, and then pull something to make it go boom, absolutely nothing."
Kohta just looked at him as if he couldn't believe just what he had heard, but didn't dwell on it for too long. "Okay then, I guess I'd better start you off with the four major rules of gun safety before I teach you how to use your gun. These rules are practiced in just about every country, so be sure you commit them to memory, alright?"
At Naruto's nod, Kohta continued. "Alright, the first, and by far the most important rule, is that you should always treat a gun as if it is loaded."
"Yes, always, even if it's out of ammo." replied Kohta, looking dead serious. "Hundreds of people have been killed by their own gun just because they were fooling around with it, thinking that it wasn't loaded. So if there's one thing that you should remember, it's this rule, got it?"
"Yeah, uh, I'll be sure to remember it." answered Naruto, not used to seeing Kohta this serious.
"Alright, moving on. Rule number two, never let the muzzle of the gun cross anything that you don't want to shoot." continued Kohta, pointing to the end of the revolver's barrel. "That's in case one of the rounds accidentally goes off on its own. Rule number three: keep your finger off the trigger until you're ready to shoot." This time he pointed to the thin, curved piece of metal that was inside a thin metal loop located underneath the barrel and in front of the grip. "The pressure that's required to pull the trigger varies; for some guns, it would only take the smallest amount of pressure exerted against the trigger for it to go off. So whenever you're holding a gun, make sure that your finger stays off the trigger until you are absolutely ready to shoot."
"Got it. And the fourth rule?"
"Always make sure that you know what's behind your target. The velocities in which these projectiles reach once they're shot is so high that they can pierce through your intended target, and whatever is behind it. For example, you could be aiming to shoot one of them that's standing right in front of you, but even though your aim is accurate, there's still the chance that the bullet could pierce through the head, and then hit a normal human that was standing behind it a few feet away. Does any of this make any sense to you?"
"Uh, yeah, they seem like pretty reasonable rules to me." replied Naruto. But now that he had heard how dangerous that little gun Kohta was holding could possibly be, he was beginning to have second thoughts on learning how to wield it. But then again, he was in a different world, and he couldn't just rely on his ninja tools, especially since he was working with such a limited supply already, and there was no chance of him finding more. Suddenly, the duo heard a sharp gasp from Takashi, breaking off their conversation. Fearing for the worst, Naruto and Kohta whirled around, ready to face any undead that had managed to stagger their way towards them. But the sight that greeted them left the hormone-charged teenage boys. The three young women were no longer dressed in their sleeping clothes, but weren't fully dressed in the school uniforms they had worn yesterday. They still wore their uniforms, but with some major adjustments made to them. In Rei's case, it was the knee pads, white gloves, and the large gun that was strapped to her pack, which unintentionally accentuated her bust. Saeko, on the other hand, had decided to forgo the green skirt that both Saya and Rei wore, and instead opted to wear a very short black apron-like skirt that came down to the middle of her thighs. Naruto subtly noticed that if he looked close enough, he could still see the straps of the thong she was still wearing. But it was group's only adult that really caught the ninja's attention.
Shizuka was wearing a simple white blouse that looked as if it was stretched to its limit in trying to cover the woman's large breasts, and an orange plaid patterned skirt that reached to her upper thighs, replacing her old black torn one. Replacing her brown slip-ons were a pair of black loafers that were adorned with a metal buckle on the front. Despite the simplicity of her apparel, Naruto couldn't find it in him to pull his gaze from her. But it was the slightly perverted giggling coming from Kohta that managed to snap the blonde out of his daze, as well as remind him that he himself wasn't fully dressed.
"Uh, hey, since we're talking about clothes, can I get my jacket and shirt back, please?" he asked.
Saya adopted a thoughtful pose for a brief moment, before she gave the ninja a serious look. "Sorry, but we couldn't find your clothes in the bag we packed. We must have accidentally left them back at the house during the rush to get the Humvee ready."
"Ignore Takagi-san, she's only joking, Naruto-san." said Saeko, handing the blond his folded-up shirt and jacket. Naruto sent the purplette a thankful smile as he unstrapped his swords, and began to dress himself.
"It was only a joke, Saeko-san. I was just trying to lighten the mood." retorted Saya.
"Yeah, well running around in the cold night half naked isn't exactly a pleasant experience, Takagi-san. But, if you don't believe me, then you're more than welcome to try frolicking in the night topless for yourself." replied Naruto coyly, as he zipped his jacket and fastened his swords onto his back once again.
Saya, however, didn't find the ninja's suggestion the least bit funny. Her face took on an ugly shade of red, as she seethed with unmitigated fury, her body visibly shaking as if she were ready to violently explode.
"Ah, Naruto-san, how about you help Kohta and me scout out the road ahead? You know, just to make sure that we don't find any nasty surprises when we drive the Humvee up this slope." said Takashi, trying to get the blonde away from the impending time bomb that was his childhood friend.
"Uh, yeah, sure thing, Takashi." answered Naruto, sending him a grateful smile towards the brunette. He briskly made his way to the other males, not looking back lest he provoke the angry pinkette that he knew was glaring directly at the back of his head. As the trio trekked up the steep slope, Kohta quickly continued where he left off on his lecture, showing him how to properly hold his revolver, how to prime it, and how to reload it once he used up his ammo. It seemed simple enough to the blonde, and figured that he'd have it down once he had some practice. They were about a few feet away from the top when Takashi stopped them. No words were spoken between the three males, each of them well aware of what could possibly be waiting for them. At Takashi's nod, they dashed towards the top, each facing a different direction with their guns at the ready the moment their feet hit the pavement.
"Clear on my end." said Takashi from the right.
"I've got nothing over here." stated Naruto from the left.
"And I don't see any more creeping up on the other side." declared Kohta, his eyes peering down the other side of the slope.
Slowly, the boys lowered their guns now that they determined that there was no new threat to deal with. But the eerie silence that seemed to permeate the area, as well as the lack of human activity, made Naruto feel that he was in a world completely devoid of life.
"There's...there's no one here." said Takashi, disbelievingly.
"Isn't that a good thing?"
"Well, yeah, but it's just weird to see this area so...quiet. Normally, you would see people driving up and down this road every day. But now, it's as if we're in some ghost town."
Naruto said nothing, unsure on what to say. He had already experienced what it was like to lose his entire home himself, but knew that he couldn't say anything without revealing that he was from another world. "I suppose it's alright to give the girls the all clear signal, right?"
Takashi said nothing, instead preferring to nod towards Kohta. The bespectacled proceeded to walk back to the edge of the slope, where the rest of their party was waiting.
"IT'S ALL CLEAR! YOU'RE GOOD TO GO, SENSEI!" he shouted, waving his arms up in the air wildly. Naruto couldn't help but sweat drop at the boy's choice of a signal.
Suddenly, Naruto heard the sound of a large motor being started up, making him jump slightly; he did not expect the vehicle to make such a loud noise.
Kohta turned back to the others "Alright, they're coming up right now." The sound of a revving motor echoed in the background, before a longer running noise followed, and it was steadily becoming louder. Suddenly, the massive road vehicle zoomed off the grassy incline as if it were a ramp, missing Kohta by inches. Takashi and Naruto didn't get the chance to ask the marksman if he was alright, as they had to dive out of the Humvee's way, each going in opposite directions and narrowly avoiding being crushed by it.
"What the freaking hell?!" shouted Naruto, his entire for trembling from the near-death experience he just barely avoided. Takashi wasn't fairing any better, his face a sickly pale and his eyes wide from the adrenaline rush. Kohta, who was far worse off than the other two, hadn't from the spot he was standing in, his face depicting a vacant expression that somehow managed to convey the terror that he had experienced.
"Sorry!" called Shizuka from the driver's seat. "I guess I got caught up in the moment and put a little too much gas into this thing!"
'She got so caught up in the moment that she forgot that we were standing directly in her path?' He made a mental note to stay out of the woman's way whilst she was driving from now on. As he brought Kohta out of his daze, all of the girls got out of the vehicle to get a better view of their new surroundings. Saya took out a pair of binoculars to scout out the bridge that was further down the road. The bridge stretched across a bend in the very river that they had just crossed, connecting the road they were currently on to the neighborhood located on the other side.
"Well, we're in luck." said the pinkette as she lowered her binoculars. "It looks like the bridges that cross the river weren't blocked off after all, at least, from where we are right now. But there's always a chance that someone barricaded the road further down, as a way to keep them from wandering too close to their shelter. "
"From what we heard on the radio, and on the news back at the house, the roads should be clear in the event that people would need to evacuate." added Saeko. "Of course, there's the possibility that everyone has already evacuated, and fled to safer locations.
"Yeah, but not the police officers. They should still be around!" stated Rei.
Saya hummed in agreement. "Yes, it's true that Japan's police force is known to be dedicated to their civil duty, and to protecting the citizenry." The brunette gave Saya an appreciative smile, but Naruto couldn't help but notice that Rei's optimism seemed forced for some reason.
"So, what's the plan from here?" asked Shizuka, her head sticking out of the driver's window.
"Uh, yeah," said Naruto awkwardly. "What exactly is the plan for this little party?"
"Our original plan was that we would travel back to our homes and search for our families. Despite everything's that happened, we still want to see for ourselves if they've made it out or not." explained Takashi. "Takagi-san, your house is still on 2-Chome at Higashi Hill, right?"
Saya nodded. "That's right."
"Since your home is the closest, we'll stop by there, first. But, um, well..." Takashi didn't bother trying to finish his line of thought, preferring to avert his gaze at the ground.
The genius pinkette just sighed. "Yeah, I know, I don't really have much hope that they'll still be there, either. But, it doesn't hurt to at least check." she finished for Takashi.
Without another word, the entire group entered the large vehicle, with Rei and Takashi opting to ride on top of the roof. At first, Naruto was a bit wary of going inside the large vehicle, what with nearly being hit by it as well as the fact that he had never seen anything like it before. Not wanting to draw unnecessary attention to himself, he finally stepped inside after Saeko, although he had to remove his swords from his back in order to fit inside more easily. The interior wasn't anything what he had expected; it looked more like a stage coach than anything else. He claimed a seat that was next to Saeko, which put him next to a window and giving him a clear view of the outside. He placed his swords on the floor, making sure that he could easily get to them at a moment's notice. With a sudden jerk, the Humvee accelerated forward, startling the ninja and drawing the attention of Saya.
"What's wrong now? You're acting as if you've never been in a car before." stated the girl with a raised eye brow. And judging by the irritable tone in her voice, it was easy for Naruto to tell that she was still angry about his suggestion about running around topless at night.
"Hey, cut some slack, okay? I've be up all night killing undead, all the while making sure that I didn't get eaten alive, so of course I'm gonna be a little bit jumpy." he retorted, trying in vain to keep himself from yawning.
Saya looked somewhat surprised. "You stayed awake the entire time? Didn't you try to find a safe spot to rest, even for a short while?"
A second yawn broke through Naruto's mental restraint, the warm temperature and the comfortable leather seat making him drowsier with each passing second. "Couldn't take the risk. With the number of them running about, I had to constantly be on the move." Before he could say anything else, another yawn managed to escape his throat. "Cripes, I must be more tired than I thought, I can barely stay awake."
"Perhaps you should take this opportunity to take a nap, Naruto-san. It's pretty quiet around here, and no one has spotted any of them around for a while. Rei-san and Takashi-san will alert us if the situation changes." said Saeko.
"Well if you put it that, how can I say no." murmured the blonde. He was about to lean his head against the window and close his eyes for some well-earned rest, when he felt himself being gently eased down to his side. For some strange reason, he also felt something warm and soft against the side of his face. He curiously cracked open one of his eyes to see what outside force had moved him, only for both of his eyes to snap open a second later, a bright blush stretching across his face.
"Is something the matter, Naruto-san?"
"Um, well, not really, Saeko-chan," began Naruto, "but, uh, why did you lay me down on your lap?" He could practically feel her body heat radiating from her legs, even through her skirt. And considering that the thin garnet was all that was keeping his face from touching her panties, saying that blonde was a tad bit uncomfortable was an understatement. He had half expected the purplette to react violently, like Sakura always did whenever she thought he was doing anything she perceived as perverted.
But surprisingly, Saeko didn't so much as lift a finger. In fact, if the young swordswoman was any the least bit embarrassed, she did a fine job at hiding it. "I figured that this position would be more comfortable for you as opposed to sleeping with your neck twisted at an awkward angle."
"But, are you okay with me...laying on you like this? I mean, doesn't this make you the least bit uncomfortable?"
Saeko just shook her head. "It's fine, Naruto-san, now get some rest. I'll personally wake you up if anything changes." Even though he still felt a bit awkward about lying in the pretty girl's lap, Naruto had to admit that it was a lot more comfortable than the position he was previously in.
'Well, if she's offering, then I might as well accept, don't want to seem rude.' thought Naruto.'Besides, I could do with a little nap.' Without another word, the blonde allowed himself to finally fade away into slumber.
To Be Continued...
And so, another chapter has concluded. I am so sorry that this is so late, but several problems (personal and technical) prevented me from finishing this a lot sooner. But I will work on trying to get updates finished a lot quicker next time. Also, I've been get some feedback that format of Naruto constantly recalling each chapter as a memory is getting a bit annoying to the reader. Looking back on the last chapters, I can understand why they would think that. So from this point on, I won't start off a chapter with Naruto contemplating the last one.
Moving on, as you can probably tell, I absolutely have no love for Chuck Norris, and his moronic followers that treat him as if he were a god. I mean, sure, it's cool that he created his own martial arts style and that he once stared alongside Bruce Lee in a movie, but come ON, give it a rest already, people!
Also, thank you Vandenbz for being my beta reader!
So anyways, here ya go. If you like it, why not leave a review? And if not, then why not tell what you don't like so that I can try and make it better.
Happy Valentine's Day!