Before we begin, I would just like to thank everyone who read this story. Contrary to popular belief, I am well-aware of the many flaws, plot holes and contradictions this story has. At some point, I'm actually thinking of going back and fixing this up to make it better. For now, though, I would just like to let you all know that I truly appreciate you hanging through with me and reading this story to the very end. Thank you! ^_^
Naruto and his Sekirei were training, an intense sparring session that would have made most people think he was crazy.
It was, after all, a seven-on-one battle.
Leaping backwards, Naruto avoided the giant wind-fire combination attack that struck the ground, exploding with incredible force. The displaced air sizzled and burned as it struck his face, buffeting his hair. Several rocks tried pelting him, but he used his own control over wind to destroy them before they could reach him, slicing them apart with miniscule blades that were invisible to regular eyes.
"Musubi Heel Drop!"
Raising his left arm, Naruto blocked the descending leg that came from above with his forearm. He pillowed the attack, then shoved the offending limb away. Musubi, who'd leapt over the explosion, using it to mask her approach, pouted as she was thrown off. She landed several feet away.
Naruto almost snorted when the imperious shout proceeded the name of Tsukiumi's attack. He'd been trying to convince her not to shout the name of her attacks before attacking, but she was adamant about doing so, something about her honor as a Sekirei. Musubi agreed, though her reason was because she thought shouting the name of her attack before attacking was cool.
The blast of water was split in half by the wind blade Naruto sent into it. As water sprayed around him, creating a plethora of color as the artificial sunlight refracted off the many droplets, Musubi came back in and re-initiated their taijutsu melee once more.
Musubi had grown a lot. Her form was sharper, her movements more precise. She'd decided to go with a minimalistic approach to combat, preferring to probe someone's defenses before striking them hard enough to splatter their insides along the ground. It was a style that suited her well, combining Musubi's strength with Yume's reaction time and reflexes.
It would do little good against him.
Musubi threw her next combination, a string of swift jabs designed to find a weakness in his defense. Naruto switched from an orthodox stance to southpaw, presented a small hole in his side, and then grabbed her offending leg when she launched a kick at his torso.
Picking her up by the leg, he spun around and tossed her away, just in time to create a standard broadsword out of thin air and block a string of powerful strikes from Miya. Her blade appeared in his vision, mere flashes of light that traced a number of arcing paths through the air. Faster than the eyes could follow, each strike sought to penetrate his flesh.
Naruto blocked the strikes. His blade moved quickly and, though not much of a swordsman, his reflexes allowed him to keep the pace. Sparks flared into existence with every clash of their blades, each one a brilliant sparkle, like a miniature star, that descended to the ground before dying. In a moment of reflection, Naruto thought about how sparks could easily represent human life; burning fiercely before being snuffed out in the blink of an eye.
In the middle of their clash, Miya suddenly leapt back. The move startled Naruto and caused him to stumble right into a tornado of icy wind that consumed his entire body, leaving it all but invisible to those on the outside.
Just then, a bell rang from speakers floating in the air like blimps.
"Do you think we got him?" Kazehana asked as the other Sekirei gathered around to watch the ice-wind combination attack tear apart the ground.
"I hope so," Homura huffed, absentmindedly wiping the sweat from her forehead. "I'm not sure how much more fight I have left in me."
"That won't be enough to beat Naruto," Musubi declared.
"Indeed." Flinging her blond hair over her shoulder, Tsukiumi agreed with her best friend. "My husband is far too powerful for such a measly attack to defeat him."
"That's definitely true," a voice said behind them all. The Sekirei stiffened. "An attack of that caliber might have gotten me a couple thousand years ago, but these days…" they could almost hear the shrug in his tone. "… not so much."
Turning, the group of Sekirei found Naruto standing in front of them, looking as pristine as ever. His form was so immaculate that not even a stitch of clothing was out of place.
"Still, you did a pretty good job of keeping me on the ropes," he added upon seeing their disheartened expressions. It amused him that even Miya looked put out. "Had I been anyone else, that would have surely done me in."
A pause. Naruto looked at Akitsu, who appeared to be rather melancholy.
"… No reward?"
Before the sparring match had started, Naruto promised his Sekirei a reward if they could land a solid hit on him. He didn't say what it would be, only that they would love it. As a caveat, however, they only had ten minutes to land an attack, and those ten minutes had expired a few seconds ago when the bell rang.
"Hmm…" Naruto scratched the bottom of his chin. "Unfortunately, since you guys didn't hit me, I can't offer you a reward." He chuckled when his Sekirei groaned. "That being said, maybe I should do something nice at least, since you all worked so hard…"
Naruto smiled amusedly when his Sekirei perked up. Before they could say anything, however, another voice spoke up.
The group turned to see Matsu climbing down the ladder as swiftly as she could, her movements hurried and frantic. She rushed over to the group, her hair in disarray and her glasses askew, as if she'd just thrown them on.
"Ashikabi-sama." Matsu not calling him "Naru-tan" immediately put Naruto and the other Sekirei on alert. "You need to get upstairs and turn on the TV. It's Minaka! He's calling you out!"
Naruto entered the living room and quickly turned on the TV. He didn't even need to change channels to find Minaka's speech. It seemed he had decided to commandeer all the television stations for this.
"Greetings, people of Shinto Teito!" His voice, loud and booming, reminded Naruto of a circus ringleader. "And greetings, my most esteemed Ashikabi and Sekirei! I am pleased to announce that the third stage of the Sekirei Plan is almost complete, and the grand finale of this phase is going to be something for ages!"
"Minaka…" Homura scowled at the image on the screen. "I wonder what that man has planned now."
"Whatever it is, it's clearly nothing good," Tsukiumi said. Miya nodded her agreement.
Naruto said nothing. His eyes remained locked on the screen.
"The last event of the third stage is one that will involve all of you. Each and every Ashikabi and Sekirei will take part in this most auspicious event! Starting tomorrow morning, your task will be to find and eliminate this man from the game!" On the left-hand corner of the screen, an image of Naruto appeared. "Anyone who can defeat this man will be allowed to go free! That is right, if you can beat Uzumaki Naruto and his Sekirei, you will no longer have to participate in this game, and you and your Sekirei will be able to live in comfort for the rest of your lives!"
"Damn that man." Homura's ferocious snarl was matched only by the heat wafting off her frame. Smoke rose from her shoulders. "What kind of game does he think he's-owch!" She rubbed her head. "What was that for, Miya?"
"If you burn down Maison Izumo, I would be most upset." Miya cracked a single amethyst eye open to look at Homura. "So, please refrain from letting yourself get out of control in here."
"R-right. Okay, Miya."
"For the one known as Uzumaki Naruto," Minaka continued unimpeded. "If you can reach Kamikura Island by noon tomorrow, then you will have passed the third stage and shall move on to the next, fourth, and final stage of the Sekirei Plan!" Minaka's grin had grown so wide it split his face in half. His glasses, a dark black that continued hiding his eyes from view, shone with an ominous gleam that seemed to reflect the inner madness of his soul. "I wish you luck, Naruto-kun! You're going to need it!"
As abruptly as the announcement had been made, Minaka disappeared from the screen, allowing the station to return to its previous program.
All of his Sekirei turned to him.
"What are we going to do, Lover-kun?" Kazehana asked. The others listened on baited breath, all of them wondering the same thing.
Naruto met their inquiring gazes with a confident grin.
"We're going to beat this stage, get to Kamikura island, and then…" Naruto slammed his right fist into his left palm. "… we're going to destroy the Sekirei Plan and Minaka along with it!"
It was later that night. Everyone had gone to sleep-everyone except Naruto. He did not sleep in the most traditional way that night. Instead of falling into a deep slumber, he allowed his mind to journey down into his subconscious, into the fragmented delusion where a seal containing a beast of immense power once resided.
"How long has it been since I've been down here," Naruto wondered out loud, "it's changed a lot since I last saw it."
What had once been a large sewer with corridors of darkness without end, branching into multiple sections, a series of conjoined twists and turns, now there was something straight out of Tim Burton's mind at its worst.
The corridors, while still corridors, expanded and shrunk at irregular intervals. Time and space sometimes seemed to distort, too, with certain parts of the long path seeming to last forever, while others he moved through in almost the same time it took to blink an eye. Sometimes, Naruto would find himself walking upside down, and then as suddenly as the shift happened, he'd be walking right side up again. Colors would change every few seconds, a plethora of head-spinning neon hues that would have caused anyone else a massive migraine.
Naruto ignored the weirdness and kept moving. He was on a mission.
It didn't take long to reach the place where a massive cage once stood. It was just a large space now, an empty cavern that contained nothing, for there was nothing left to contain. The being once known as Kurama had long since melded with him, just as the other eight Bijuu had. That did not, however, mean that he was alone within that space.
"It's been a long time since I last saw you, brother."
A grinning visage so very much like his own greeted Naruto. The being before him looked almost identical to him, from his hair to to the tattered clothes that hung from his emasculated frame. He could have been mistaken for Naruto's twin brother. The only difference between them was the eyes. While Naruto's were blue, this person had red eyes-red eyes with slitted pupils and black sclera. He looked like a being of darkness, a denizen of evil.
Naruto knew otherwise.
"You look like shit."
The being grinned.
"I feel like shit," he admitted. Naruto stared at the being for a little while longer… then closed his eyes and sighed.
"Che." His other half scoffed. "The hell are you apologizing for?"
"I don't know."
"You don't… ha… that's just like you." The being rubbed the back of his neck in a very Naruto-esque manner. "Look, I don't want you to think I did this for you or anything. The reason I allowed myself to be split off was because I didn't want to stop existing. When your mind shattered, it would have been the end of us, of me, so I had no choice but to break myself off and continue acting in your stead." A pause. Naruto's other half tilted his head to the side. "Although, I will admit that I didn't expect it to take so long for you to get your act together. I honestly thought you would recover much sooner than you did."
"Then you have more faith in me than I do," Naruto said, "I never expected to get my act together."
"I think you did. I think you knew that, eventually, you would have to begin living again. Deep down, you knew that. Still, one-thousand years is a long time to keep something whole. I'm tired, brother. Even with all the power at our command, keeping your mind intact has not been an easy task."
"I know. Thank you."
"Don't thank me. Like I said, this was simply self-preservation." The other being, the second half of Naruto, smirked. "So, are you ready?"
Naruto returned the smirk with one of his own, an expression that mirrored his dark half almost perfectly.
"Yes, I think I am."
"Good. Because I was tired of having to keep your carcass going."
The second Naruto, the dark reflection of himself, vanished, dispersing into tiny particles, which disappeared without a trace. The real Naruto closed his eyes and smiled. He was whole again.
"Welcome back… brother."
The next morning, Naruto and his Sekirei left Maison Izumo with nothing but the clothes on their back. They traveled light, jumping over buildings, the morning sun at their backs. Uzume and Chiho weren't present. They had wanted to go with them, but Naruto had determined that it would be better if it was just him and his Sekirei traveling into whatever dangers awaited.
It wouldn't be right involving them in this. Naruto smiled to himself. Besides, getting to Kamikura Island shouldn't be too hard.
"Ashikabi-sama has a pretty strange look on his face right now." Matsu leaned her head against his. He gripped her thighs while her arms held him tightly around the neck. "What are you thinking about?"
Naruto and his Sekirei leapt off another building and onto the next one. Clinging to Musubi's back like a tiny koala as they leapt across the rooftops, Kusano pouted and glared cutely at Matsu.
"I'm just thinking about our goal." A frown. "We need to reach the pier on the opposite side of the city by noon today. Meanwhile, other Sekirei and Ashikabi pairs are going to be trying to stop us from reaching our goal." The frown deepened. "I swore to Miya that I wouldn't let anymore Sekirei die, which means we need to avoid a conflict with them at all costs. I'm not the best at holding back."
"Ah." Matsu nodded her head. "Yeah, I can see how that would be a problem. But, I wouldn't worry about it too much. You're not alone, you know. You have us here. While I'm not really a fighter, the others are more than capable of fending off any possible Sekirei attacks. All of them are far stronger than the average Sekirei thanks to your insane training."
"Yeah, that's true."
Naruto and the others were rushing to the other side of a building when it happened.
"By the halberd of my contract, my Ashikabi's woes shall be pierced!"
A loud voice resounded across the cityscape, a chant, familiar yet different.
Naruto and his Sekirei scattered just as a brightly glowing halberd struck the roof like a bomb. The entire roof exploded in a shower of fragments. Naruto and his Sekirei landed on the ground and watched as the building suddenly began collapsing. The windows blew out, shattering like crystalline teardrops splashing against the ground. Walls cracked as a concussive shock wave slammed into them from the inside. The very foundation seemed to rattle and shake as fissures appeared along the ground underneath the building, causing the entire structure to crumble like a house of cards.
"You missed," a voice said from above. Naruto looked up to see two people standing on top of an adjacent building. One of them held a giant halberd nearly twice as tall as she was.
He recognized them, both of them. They were in the MBI profile database.
The one wielding the halberd had gray eyes, and her brown hair hung down her back, tied together by a silver ribbon, while her bangs fell about her face in a wild manner. Her red top left her back uncovered, and she wore red gloves and stockings. He knew her: Sekirei number seventy-three, Namiji.
Standing next to Namiji was a woman whose body was the color of chocolate. She had a lithe build complimented by her all black clothing and waist-length raven hair. Her bikini top showed off her flat stomach, and a hooded shawl was thrown over her shoulders. A buckled sarong and leather knee high boots completed her outfit. A curved dagger was tossed into the air, spun like a top, only to be caught in her hand again.
"I didn't miss," Namiji told the dark-skinned woman, who Naruto recognized as Sekirei number fifty-seven, Yahan. "They simply dodged."
"Missed. Dodged. It all amounts to the same thing. You didn't hit them."
Naruto frowned as he tried to figure out their next move. Should they fight? Should they flee? He knew they could win in a battle, but he didn't know how long their battle would take, especially since he planned on not participating in any Sekirei battles to avoid accidentally killing them.
"What should do, Naruto?" Miya asked, her hand going to her katana. "Would you like me to take care of them."
Before Naruto could answer, lightning descended from the sky and struck the building Yahan and Namiji stood on. The two leapt off the building seconds before it exploded like a bomb had gone off inside. As smoke and dust rose from the rubble of what had once been a modest-sized structure made of red brick, a voice spoke up.
"Why don't you leave them to us?"
Seo walked out from an alley, hands in his pocket, a nonchalant look on his face. Striding forward on either side of him, like predators looking for their next meal, were Hibiki and Hikari.
"Seo?" Naruto blinked. Seo grinned.
"We've got this," he said, "just leave these two to us and do what you have to. I'd like this game to end."
"Alright." Naruto wasn't going to argue. "I'll leave them to you. Thanks."
"Crap! They're getting away!"
Namiji and Yahan tried to follow after Naruto and his flock as they took to the roofs, but failed when more lightning shot at them.
"Hey! Don't take your eyes off your opponents!" Hibiki shouted at the pair. "They're not the ones you need to worry about anymore."
"Hibiki is right." Hikari stepped forward, her hands sparking with electricity. "We're your opponents now."
Naruto wondered if they were being tracked somehow.
It was the only way so many people could have found them in such a short amount of time. Maybe Minaka was feeding them information on his whereabouts, or perhaps he'd somehow auto installed a tracker in all of their phones for the sole purpose of finding him. It wouldn't surprise him one bit if that was the case. It would be just like that man to do something like this.
And now they were surrounded.
Eyeing the many people encroaching upon them warily, Naruto frowned and thought of his options. Dealing with this many people wasn't a problem. He could crush them if he so desired. He could turn their bodies inside out before they even knew what hit him… but he wouldn't. He'd promised Miya he would stop hurting the Sekirei, which, by extension, meant their Ashikabis also couldn't be hurt.
Naruto had done a lot of horrible things in his life, but the one thing he'd never done was go back on a promise, and he didn't intend to start doing that now. Not with one of the women he loved.
I'm beginning to regret making that promise.
"What are we waiting for?" one of the Ashikabi, a plane man with brown hair, asked of the others surrounding Naruto and his Sekirei. "The Game Master said we could be free of this game if we defeated this man and his Sekirei!"
"Let's do it!"
"I don't want to take part in this game anymore!"
"I don't want to be separated from my Sekirei!"
"Let's get him!"
As the group of humans and Sekirei rushed them, Naruto and his own group prepared to fight them off.
They needn't have bothered.
"World End Garden!"
A wave of corrosion spread through the Ashikabi-slash-Sekirei ranks. Several Sekirei were quick on the uptake and leapt away before the wave of corroding death reached them. Others weren't so lucky, and those ones dropped to the ground like flies. The corroding attack, World End Garden, stopped several feet away from Naruto and his Sekirei, forming a ring around them.
"When the world has grown dark and its people are lost to madness," a voice seemed to come from everywhere and nowhere, its proclamation bold and brash.
"… W-when the light leaves the heart of the people," a much more timid voice said.
"We will be there to right the wrongs!"
"W-we will, um, fix the world… and stuff."
"Mou, Shiina, that was lame. You need to put more emotion into your speeches. E-mo-tion!"
"I-I am terribly sorry, Mistress Yukari."
"Ha… it's fine, we'll just practice again later."
"I recognize that annoying voice." Tsukuimi narrowed her eyes.
"Ah! It's Yukari-san, isn't it?" Musubi looked around, her head turning left and right. "I wonder where she is."
"She's on the building several feet away," Miya answered. Everyone turned to look up and saw Yukari and Shiina standing exactly where the landlady told them, on a building across the street. She looked down at the group, hands on her hips and a grin on her face.
"Hey, hot stuff! You guys look like you could use some help."
"Yukari," Naruto greeted, feeling a touch relieved. "We could definitely use some help. Thank you."
"Heh." Yukari blushed and rubbed her nose. "No worries. I figured it was time onii-chan and I returned the favor for all the help you've given us."
"Onii-chan?" Naruto didn't have enough time to ponder those words before another voice spoke up.
"This is the dance of my pledge, slash the calamities that befall my Ashikabi! Sekirei Sacred Dance, verse two: Dance of a Thousand Blossoms!"
Kaho descended from the sky like a falling meteor. She landed in the midst of a group of Sekirei who'd escaped the World End Garden, her blade a flashwork of speed and precision. Each strike was aimed at specific parts of the body, designed to take each Sekirei out with minimal damage. A strike to the knees. A hit to the chest. One Sekirei even received a powerful smack to the back of the head from the naginata.
"By the Tridents of my pledge, pierce the darkness that surrounds by Ashikabi! One-thousand Falling Tridents!"
Those few Sekirei who'd survived Kaho's onslaught became the victim of dozens of spears that fell from the sky. Each one was carefully aimed. There were no killing blows landed, but several Sekirei ended up having their clothes ripped off. Unlike Musubi, who only began understanding modesty after merging with Yume, these Sekirei knew it well, for they covered themselves up once their clothes were sliced to ribbons.
"Iyahn!" they cried in unison. Several Ashikabi passed out from sudden blood loss at the sight of too much feminine flesh.
"It looks like you could use a hand," Minato said as he walked around the corner of a building. Kuruse walked with him, giggling when she caught sight of all the naked Sekirei.
"Minato?" A blink. "What are you doing here?"
"Isn't it obvious." Minato actually appeared mildly amused by Naruto's nonplussed expression. "We're here to help."
"Oh." Naruto actually needed a moment to gather his wits about him. "Thank you."
"No problem." Minato turned to look at the Sekirei who were still in fighting condition. "Now you'd better get going. Leave these people to us."
"Right." Naruto nodded. "Thanks again."
"Don't mention it."
Kamikura island looked like a giant ball of barren rock.
Naruto walked along the surface, which was reminiscent of a rocky desert landscape. It almost surprised him at how little flora seemed to exist. Plants were few and far between, and what little did grow barely clung to life, their forms like withered husks.
"So this is the place where most of the Sekirei were born, huh." Naruto eyed his surroundings a few more seconds. "Doesn't look like a very pleasant place to grow up."
"It wasn't." Miya and the others walked by his side, the landlady giving their surroundings a scan as well. "However, most of the Sekirei weren't actually born on this island. Only the first two dozen or so were birthed here. The rest of the eggs were taken to MBI's labs in Shinto Teito once Minaka got the company up and running."
As everyone gathered around, Naruto began wondering where they were supposed to go. Would Minaka eventually come to greet them, or was he waiting for them at the final destination. His silent inquiry was soon answered when he saw a large floating sign with a bright green arrow appear over a tall hill.
"Not very subtle, is he?" Naruto muttered, then sighed. "Alright, let's follow the signs and finish this. I'd like to be home in time for dinner."
Following the signs was a chore, Naruto soon realized after cresting the first hill and seeing another sign floating several meters away. Upon reaching that sign, another one cropped up, then another and another. Over and over again the signs continued appearing before them, until he and his Sekirei were walking through a very narrow ravine.
"Miya-san?" Matsu had taken her glasses off, and she and Miya exchanged knowing glances.
"Yes, this is definitely the path needed to reach our ship."
"Hmm, this place does bring back some memories." Kazehana looked up at the cliff faces surrounding them. "And not all of them are good."
Turning around a corner, the group was greeted with something unnatural to the surrounding landscape. The large metal structure looked similar to a giant bulb. Its frame, rusted with age and who-knew-how many centuries of being subject to salt, gleamed dully in the sun. Naruto could make out the wear and tear on its hull; dents from where it crashed, or where boulders might have crushed it, scratches and knicks covering the surface like lacerations. Buried as it was halfway into the island, the entire thing reminded Naruto of a metallic corpse.
"So this is the spaceship you came in?" Naruto asked, eyeing the vessel curiously.
"Yes," Miya answered for all of them, "we came to earth on that vessel."
"Hmm." Naruto knew that he'd never laid eyes on this alien spaceship before, however, in that moment, a part of him felt a strange sense of familiarity. He didn't know why, but he felt like he should know what this spaceship was, or at least, a small part of him did. "Well, let's go inside. The ship is open, which is an invitation to enter if I've ever seen one."
Naruto quickly determined that the ship was running on minimal power when he and the others entered. None of the lights were on. Everything was dark, nearly pitch black. He could only see maybe five feet in front of him before the darkness engulfed everything.
The darkness only lasted for a few seconds, however, before a light thrum filled the air, a strange humming noise like servomotors being given life. Lights soon turned on, illuminating the path before him. The hallway they stood in curved around on both sides. From what Naruto could determine, it looked like the entire thing might actually curve around the whole ship in a circle.
"Hello, Naruto-kun!" came an obnoxiously familiar voice. Naruto noticed that speakers had been embedded into the walls of the ship. "I'm so pleased to see you've made it. Not that I expected any less from the only earthbound god left on this planet. Still, I do admit, I was a little worried that you would be held up and not make it in time."
"Che." Homura glared at nothing. "If he was so worried, maybe he shouldn't have thought about sicing all those Sekirei on us."
"However, now that you are here, this game can truly begin," Minaka continued. "And here are the rules. There are nine portals within this ship. Eight are located equidistant of each other along the central ring. Your Sekirei must reach those eight locations with a jinki in hand. You do have all eight jinki, right? If not, then you're going to be in trouble. While your Sekirei reach those eight points, you must travel to the center of this station, where another portal shall be awaiting you. I look forward to seeing you, Naruto-kun. Mwahahahahaha!"
As Minaka's voice cut out, Naruto turned to his Sekirei.
"What do you think we should do? Go along with his plan or say screw it and just head to the main portal in the center?"
"Knowing Minaka, he will have planned for the possibility of us all traveling to the central portal," Miya said. "I do not even believe he is on this ship. He most likely set up these portals to force us into doing what he wants in order to reach him. Most likely, he is on Kouten, waiting for you to show up."
"Damn that Minaka," Homura growled, "this is why I hate that bastard."
"He does seem to be quite the annoying pest." Tsukiumi crossed her arms and frowned. "I do not approve of his schemes."
"It doesn't matter." Musubi's eyes blazed with an inner fire. "Whatever schemes he has made, we'll crush them with our fists!"
"Or slice them to pieces," Miya agreed.
"Or set them on fire." Homura nodded.
A pause. As one, the group turned to look at Akitsu.
"… I'll freeze them."
"We're decided then." Naruto slammed his right fist into his left palm. "We'll play by Minaka's rules and show him that, in the end, it won't matter what plans he's conceived."
"I don't like this place."
Kusano would admit that she was frightened. She, like the other Sekirei, had been forced to separate from her onii-chan. Her bare feet padded along the cold metallic floor. The entire place was eerily devoid of life, which made it seem even creepier than it otherwise would have.
"Muu, I wish I was with onii-chan."
Kusano knew that she had to be strong, but it was hard. She wanted to be with onii-chan. She already missed him. However, she also knew that she needed to do this. Onii-chan was counting on her.
It didn't take long for her to reach the door containing the portal for her. It was a large door made of metal, gleaming brightly in the overhead lights. Written on the surface in crude kanhi was her name, which she knew because her onii-chan had been teaching her to read and write.
Stepping up to the door, which slid aside to reveal the interior, Kusano stepped through the door.
Miya frowned as she entered the room where the portal stood. Darkness encroached upon her vision like an insipid terror designed to inspire a primal fear in people. Unbothered by this strange space of blackness, Miya moved forward, her stride carrying her deeper into the unlit interior.
As if her presence had been the trigger, the lights came up. All along the sides they appeared, winking into existence one by one, illuminating the interior. The light sources revealed the room to her, a circular space with a squashed dome-shaped ceiling. Tubes shot out from the walls like intestinal tracts from a sliced open carcass. In the center of this room was a circle, small and protruding from the floor like a single stair. The glowing green light emitting from it was strange, and not something she had seen in this ship before. A recent addition, then.
"I suppose I should step on the circle," Miya mused to herself.
She stepped into the circle, which grew brighter, as if reacting to her presence. The glowing increased in intensity, until Miya was all but blinded by the light. Closing her eyes, Miya was forced to rely on her other senses. She felt a momentary sense of weightlessness before the floor under her feet changed in elasticity, becoming softer, more malleable. The light soon died down and Miya opened her eyes.
The room had changed, or maybe she had simply changed rooms. Hadn't Minaka said this was a portal? The new place she had appeared in was much larger than the other room. Glancing up revealed a ceiling hanging high over her head. She moved, the ground underneath her feet giving slightly, her foot leaving an imprint, as if it was gymnastics mat.
It took her several moments to realize that she wasn't alone. She barely felt the presence until it was upon her, and only the hardened reflexes of a war veteran prepared her for the sudden spike of killing intent.
Her sword left its sheath and blocked a strike meant to bisect her. The weapon scraping against her katana was another katana, one that was startlingly familiar.
Miya's amethyst eyes widened as she stared into what seemed like a mirror.
Musubi leapt backwards as a fist slammed into the ground where she had been standing. Surprisingly enough, the ground did not crater and break. It merely bounced. The strange substance that made up the floor appeared resistant to devastating physical damage.
Her opponent stood up. Brown hair in a ponytail swayed as she moved. Light brown eyes so similar to Musubi's own stared back at her from a face that was identical to hers. It was like looking into a mirror.
"Who are you?!" Musubi's demand went unanswered. The woman who wore her face charged her, attacking her with a relentless and reckless ferocity, forcing the shrine maiden to backpedal, lest she end up getting her face punched in.
Something was going on here. Who was this woman who looked so much like her?
As her imposter sent a barrage of punches her way, Musubi determined that she would get to the bottom of this.
Naruto was greeted by Minaka when he stepped out of the portal. The man stood in the middle of what he vaguely recognized as an arena, or perhaps it would be more accurate to call it a colosseum. The conical shape surrounding them on all sides, hemming them in like a giant blockade, made this place's purpose more than obvious. And while there were no places to sit, Naruto could see dozens, maybe even hundreds of pods arrayed around the room.
"Well, hello there, Naruto-kun. It's nice to finally meet you face to face." Minaka's wide grin looked even more mad in person. "You don't know how long I have waited for this meeting."
"Apparently not." Naruto stepped off the portal and onto the floor. His feet sank somewhat, letting him know that he was standing on some kind of padding reminiscent of a wrestling ring. The sudden distribution in weight didn't seem to bother Minaka, who merely stood in place, still grinning. "Though it sounds as if you've known about me for a long time now."
"Oh, I have," Minaka said, his smile widening. "I've known about you for a very long time, decades even. It is a rather fascinating tale, if I do say so myself. Would you like to hear it?"
Naruto considered the question before answer with a shrug.
"Sure, why not. I've come all this way to confront you, might as well learn your motivation for all this."
"Indeed." Minaka pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose. "This story starts around fifty-two years ago, when a young woman named Kagami Hiroto met an enigmatic young man and fell in love. She was attending a university in England at the time. According to the intelligence I have gathered, she was an excellent student, at the top of her class and enrolled in several honors programs."
"Unfortunately, halfway through her time at the university, she fell in love with one of her teachers. One thing led to another and he ended up impregnating her. He then disappeared and Kagami, heartbroken and unable to carry on with her life, died on the operating table after giving birth to a darling baby boy. Can you guess who that boy was?"
Naruto almost rolled his eyes. "You?"
"Correct!" Minaka cheered. "And how about the man she fell in love with? Can you guess his name?"
Naruto had a pretty good idea of who Minaka was talking about.
"Not really, no."
Minaka tripped over a speck of dirt. Naruto mutely watched the other man's face meet the floor with a resounding smack, his lips twitching amusedly. The white-haired man shot back to his feet and pouted at him.
"That was mean, Naruto-kun."
"You say that like I should care," Naruto shot back, "and shouldn't you be calling me daddy or something?"
Minaka threw his head back and laughed.
"That's what I love about you, Naruto-kun. You're so blazé, so uncaring. I just all but confessed that you're my father and you don't even bat an eyelash!"
Naruto didn't see what the big deal with that was.
"You say that like it's something that should shock me. I've had hundreds, thousands, of illicit relationships in my life. I highly doubt you're the only child I have currently running around in this world right now, though you're certainly proving to be the most troublesome."
"Oh, but I am your only child." Minaka chuckled. His deranged grin had become even more maddening, laced as it was with a Mad Hatter sort of insanity. "I've made sure of that. I couldn't very well have other people like me, other demigods wandering this world. They were a hindrance to my ultimate plan."
Naruto crossed his arms over his chest. He didn't even bat an eyelash at Minaka admitting to having killed the other children he had unknowingly sired, though a part of him did feel guilty.
"And what is your ultimate plan?"
"I'm so glad you asked." Minaka spread his arms wide, his gesture all-encompassing. "You see, Naruto-kun, I want to become a god like you. It's been a dream of mine for many years now, ever since I discovered who you were and my relationship to you."
"So, what? You want to follow in your pop's footsteps or something?" Naruto scratched the underside of his chin. "Hate to break it to you, but I don't even know how I became immortal, and I've been trying to figure that out for thousands of years."
"How you became immortal is irrelevant." Minaka absentmindedly waved a hand, as if warding off a bug. "I already know how to attain godhood."
"Oh?" Naruto raised an eyebrow. "Enlighten me, then."
Minaka's smile was devilish.
"Oh, that's easy. I just plan on using the jinki to drain all of the sekirei of their life force and transfer it to me." For the first time since this strange meeting started, Naruto felt a jolt of fear. "That's right, Naruto-kun. Right now, your Sekirei should be finishing up their tests, defeating the bio-engineered clones and placing the jinkis inside of specifically made pods that I created. Once that happens, all of the Sekirei who have been defeated so far will be drained of their life essence, which will then transfer to me, giving me the power I need to contest you for the right of ascending to godhood."
Tyrannical fists of a madman raised to the ceiling. Naruto finally noticed the tubes attached to the man's arms, sticking from his flesh like power lines. The sickening grin on Minaka's lips made him grit his teeth in revulsion.
"I'll ascend into godhood just like you! No, I'll surpass you! I'll become a true god and ascend to the very heavens! Mwahahahahaha!"
Naruto watched as his apparent son (even though calling MInaka his son just sounded wrong somehow) laughed like a loon.
"Why is almost every son I have irrevocably insane?" Naruto asked no one in particular as he slowly palmed his face.
Homura's face was set into a ferocious snarl as she slammed her hand into the giant fireball her foe had tossed at her. The explosion that followed rocked the room she was in, displacing the air in a wave of heat that would have burnt anyone else to a crisp. She simply brute forced her way through the shockwave of heat and fire, bursting out of the other side like some kind of demon rising up from hell.
Fire flared to life on her hands, and she didn't hesitate to toss those fireballs at the foe who'd stolen her face. They soared at the creature, whatever it was, who, most unfortunately, had the same control over fire that she did. The woman with her face swatted the attacks away like they were flies.
Frowning as her latest attempt at defeating this creature failed, Homura tried to calm down and think this through logically. Clearly, doing what she was doing wouldn't work here, so she needed to do something different. This thing, female, had the exact same powers that she did, but were those powers as strong as hers, or was it only a half-assed copy?
There was only one way to find out.
Sending another ball of fire at the thing with her face, Homura watched as it was knocked away. Grabbing hold of the fireball through her connection to it, she controlled its flow and made it stop, then quickly reverse, traveling back toward the as-of-yet unaware person. They weren't unaware for long, though, as they seemingly sensed the heat behind them and spun around to knock the fireball away once more.
Homura made it change direction. The conflagration zoomed up, over her enemy. It stopped suddenly, hovering above the strange person's head, then it began to shift. The fire lengthened, then grew thinner, its form stretching until its appearance was that of a really long cylinder. The end that pointed down sharpened to a point, a deadly spearhead that soon descended upon the seemingly hapless figure.
Clicking her tongue as the figure leapt away from her flame spear, Homura absently canceled the attack before it could burn straight through the ground. She then conjured whips into her hands, which she quickly put to use, lashing out at the figure, who moved and swerved, doing their best to dodge the fire whips.
Why is she dodging when she blocked all my attacks before? Homura narrowed her eyes. Could it be…?
Deciding to test the theory that had formed in her mind, Homura sent another fireball at her enemy, watching as it was swatted out of the air like a fly. Afterwards she sent a spear at the figure, her eyes narrowing when she saw how her enemy dodged the spear.
So she can only block basic fire attacks…
That meant her abilities with fire weren't very powerful. She could make fireballs, and she could block fireballs, but she couldn't block anything else.
Homura stared at the person wearing her face, at the blank eyes that stared back at her. Seeing her face look that expressionless pissed her off.
"Let's see how you handle this!"
The woman barely had time to blink before the entire ground beneath her became red hot. Somehow, the woman managed to evade, leaping into the air seconds before the fire could truly burn her-not that it did her any good.
"Sword of Flame!"
Bursting from the ground with flames at her feet propelling her forward, Homura slammed into her body-double and slashed at the woman with her sword. A silent scream was released, her counterpart's mouth opening even though no noise came out. While Homura landed lightly on her feet, the imposter woman did not. She hit the ground with a boneless thud and a sickening crack.
As Homura stood up to her full height, a strange crackling emerged, before a voice that she loathed with all her being sounded out from all around her.
"Hello, Homura-chan! It seems you're in top form this day. That was some very impressive flame work. Bravo!"
"Minaka!" Homura roared, her blazing furious eyes glaring around her. "Show yourself, you damn coward!"
"Now, now, you know I can't do that. At least, not before you do something for me first…"
Homura's eyes narrowed.
Tsukiumi watched in annoyance as her attack was blocked by an attack of the exact same kind. The woman who negated her attack wore her face, her clothing, and looked identical to her in every way possible. It was like staring into a mirror. The only difference between them was the other woman's eyes. They were dead. Her entire face was dead, like she was an emotionless doll, or maybe even a walking corpse.
It really pissed Tsukiumi off.
Growling, Tsukiumi held out her hand, water gathering, coalescing into a single form. A sword, double-bladed and straight-edged. The broadsword was large, reminiscent of ones used by medieval knights.
She swung the sword at her foe, who dodged instead of making a sword of her own. Tsukiumi growled as she chased after the wily woman with the blank face.
"Come back here, cretin!"
The woman proved to be incredibly limber, bending and contorting her body around all of Tsukiumi's attacks. No matter the angle or timing used, none of the water-user's flashy strikes met their mark. It was most annoying.
Her blade slashed at the woman in a horizontal arc. Proving that she was far more flexible than anybody had a right to be, the woman with Tsukiumi's face bent her torso backwards until she was parallel with the ground. The blade soared above her, missing. Then she came back up and sent a blast of water at Tsukiumi, who cut it in half.
"I am getting sick and tired of you!" Tsukiumi scowled at the woman. "You think you can steal my moves and face? Think again! Eight-Headed Snake!"
Streamers of water appeared, gathering all around Tsukiumi, a violent torrent which soon coalesced into a single entity. Eight serpentine heads glared down at the woman with venomous yellow eyes. Long bodies composed of moving liquid of the lightest blue undulated as the heads moved, writhing and twisting and contorting around each other.
A moment of stillness pervaded the area until, without warning, one of the heads lunged. The woman who looked like Tsukiumi but was not Tsukiumi leapt backwards to evade. Instead of slamming into the ground, the serpent head changed directions on a dime and chased after her.
The other heads followed. They surrounded the female on all sides, hemming her in and attacking in tandem. She tried slipping through their attacks, her body bending like a contortionist, however, it was no use. Maybe if only two or three heads had attacked her, she would have stood a chance, but with all eight surrounding her on all sides, she was pretty much a sitting duck. The serpent heads didn't even give her room to slip away.
There was no scream of pain when all eight heads bit into her. Blood leaked from numerous punctures marks and still she didn't scream. Her body twitched and spasmed, muscles going into shock as pain overloaded nerve endings and still she didn't scream. Even her face remained blank as her flesh was pierced by the eight-headed serpent's many teeth.
Tsukiumi watched the woman twitch in the serpent's grasp. Watched as muscles shook and spasmed with pain, as the woman's face remained carefully blank, not even opening her mouth to scream. It was that blankness which made it difficult to know when the woman was defeated. Only the way her body went limp, like soggy ramen, told Tsukiumi that her foe had been finished.
As the eight-headed serpent dispersed, the woman's body dropped to the floor. Tsukiumi walked up to the defeated female, who lay there in an expanding pool of blood. Eyes still open in the same expression as before. She wasn't breathing.
"What manner of witchcraft is this?" Tsukiumi wondered out loud. "Why does this woman bear my face?" It was a question without an answer. There was simply no way she could know something like this, and she highly doubted anyone would be telling her anytime soon.
"I see you've defeated your opponent," a voice crackled from all around her, "congratulations, Tsukiumi. You have proven yourself worthy of ascending to the next level."
"Minaka." Tsukiumi frowned, her lips becoming a thin line as her eyes narrowed. "What was that thing with my face? Where are you? Show yourself, coward!"
Minaka just laughed.
"Now, now. You know I cannot do something like that. At least, not yet. If you want to meet me face to face, then you must do something for me first."
"And that is?"
Miya frowned at the young woman lying on the ground. Purple hair lay sprawled about her head like an extra sheet of silk. She was sprawled at an awkward angle, her legs bent at the knees, feet near her head as her torso contorted to form a u-shape out of her body. Her eyes were closed from Miya having closed them, but had they been open, the landlady would have seen dull eyes nearly identical to her own, save for the blankness within them.
"This woman… a clone?"
"That is correct," a voice boomed around her, "very astute, Asama Miya. Not that I would expect any less from the wife of Asama Takehito. Oops, I meant, former wife. My bad."
Miya's eyes narrowed.
"Minaka," her voice was calm, cool, and collected. "I had not realized your technology had advanced that far." Her lips curled downwards. "How did you create the technology needed to make clones? As far as I am aware, the Sekirei ship from which you pioneered our technology did not have a cloning station."
"I'm depressed, Asama Miya. Did you really think that someone of my intelligence wouldn't be capable of producing my own technological achievements without the aid of alien technology? While it was difficult creating a cloning device, it was not outside of my abilities. Though I will admit that the powers these clones have isn't up to par with the originals. Perhaps if I had a little more time to make them work, things would have been different, but we work with the time we have."
"I don't suppose you would be willing to reveal yourself to me, would you?"
"You are correct. The real me is currently having a wonderful time with your boyfriend, so I can't show myself to you right now."
Miya narrowed her eyes. Minaka was with Naruto? Then how was he talking to her? She highly doubted Naruto would let him talk to someone else while in his presence. She highly doubted Naruto would even let the man speak at all while in his presence.
Something strange was going on here.
"Now then," Minaka continued, "in order for you to proceed to the next stage of the game, there is something I need you to do."
Opening her eyes, Miya watched as a panel of the floor slid aside. Steam hissed out from the hole seconds before something emerged from within it: a large cylindrical device of some kind. It gleamed silver in the sparsely lit room, its metallic surface smooth, save for the few lines she could see running over it like the circuits of a computer. Several tubes came down from the ceiling, attaching themselves to the top of the protruding object. A glass panel in the center of the cylinder slid open, revealing a small indentation that would perfectly fit the object she'd brought with her.
"Put the jinki into the device and you will be taken to the next stage of the game."
"You can't honestly expect me to hand the jinki over to you, can you?" Miya questioned rhetorically. "I know you know what these are, what they can do. What makes you think I would do as you sayi?"
"Hmm, that's a good question. How about because you won't be able to go anywhere if you don't? I don't know if you've realized it yet, but the space you are in isn't on earth. You are currently floating several thousand kilometers above the earth's atmosphere in an arena of my design. Should you choose not to do as I say, then I will simply open the arena to space, and I know that even a Sekirei cannot survive in a vacuum for very long."
Miya almost swore. So that was his game? Had Naruto known this would happen? No, probably not. If he had, Naruto wouldn't have gone along with it… or maybe he would have. She still didn't know what went through her Ashikabi's mind sometimes. Either way, it seemed she was trapped. There was only one option left open to her.
She placed the jinki inside the cylinder, watching as the glass panel slid closed with a near silent hiss.
"Very good." Minaka's tone was distinctly mocking. "And now it is time for me to make my mark on the world. You've been an excellent help, my dear, but I am afraid I have no more use for you. Goodbye."
Miya's eyes widened as the ceiling suddenly split apart like a blooming flower, revealing the inky blackness of space. She stabbed her sword into the ground as all of the air was sucked out, but it mattered little. While she might have been strong enough to maintain her grip on the sword, the sword was unable to remain stuck within the floor. It didn't take long before the sword slipped out of the floor like an eel being grasped by human hands.
Without time to so much as yell, Asama Miya was sucked into the vacuum of space.
Naruto felt his Sekireis' panic. He didn't know what they were panicking about, and in truth, he didn't care. Whatever was causing them to feel this way was easily solved when Naruto reverse summoned them to his location.
They appeared before him, landing on the floor in a groaning pile of feminine flesh and heaving rasps. Their faces were red, as if they'd overexerted themselves fighting off hordes of enemies. Some of them had broken out into a cold sweat and others were on the verge of panic. The worst of them was Kusano, who was sobbing.
He quickly scooped the little girl in his arms and began rubbing her back consolingly, sending his love for her through their bond. It didn't take long for the little girl to settle down.
"Shh, it's okay. Everything's okay now."
So busy was he calming down Kusano that he didn't realize what was happening until it was too late.
The room began to light up, or rather, the pods that Naruto had first noticed upon entering started to glow. They were more clear now, with the glow engulfing them. They looked like bulbs, a flower that had yet to blossom. A tube stuck out of each bulb, connecting them all together, and a glass viewing lense sat near the top, revealing familiar faces inside.
The faces of those Sekirei who'd been defeated.
So that was his plan. Naruto almost sighed.
The tubes connected to the bulbs soon glowed a light blue. They created a trail, a winding path that descended towards a specific point on the floor below; the spot where Minaka was standing.
"Yes! This is it!" Minaka crowed. "The beginning of my ascension to godhood!"
Naruto vacantly realized there were dozens of tubes connected to Minaka's body. Tiny tubes akin to IV drips. The blue energy, which he could only assume came from the Sekirei's tama, flowed up those tubes, which were connected to the large circle that surrounded the white-haired man, allowing the vibrant blue power to flow into his arms.
"Yes, this power. This is the power that I need to become a god!"
Minaka grinned at Naruto.
"I really must thank you and your Sekirei… father. Without your help, I would have never been able to do this. Now that I've absorbed the essence of all these Sekirei, I can begin the next phase of my ascension."
"Did Minaka just call you father?" Homura asked, her wide eyes traveling back and forth between the two.
"There's a funny story about that," Naruto replied absently, "remind me to tell you about it later."
"No, not later." Homura glared. "I want to know about this now. Why is he calling you father. Don't tell me…" she trailed off, her eyes widening. "You man whore! I can't believe you gave birth to THAT!"
Minaka pouted as Homura pointed at him.
"I am not a that," he said petulantly, "why must you always hate on me?"
Homura did not deign Minaka with an answer. She was busy scolding Naruto.
"How could you?! All of the problems we're now facing is all your fault! If you hadn't given birth to that little monster-"
"-then we wouldn't be in this predicament now! Ugh!" Homura grabbed at her hair, nearly yanking several silvery strands out under her fierce grip. "I cannot believe this! My own Ashikabi is the father of the man I hate more than anything in the world! Is this karma? Does Murphy enjoy screwing with me?! WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON HERE?!"
Everyone stared at Homura, whose chest and shoulders heaved as her baleful stare penetrated Naruto.
"Feel better?" Naruto asked.
"A little," Homura admitted.
"I'm glad. Now, perhaps you and the others can move away while I give my wayward son a spanking."
"Don't think you're off the hook," Homura warned, "I'm still mad at you."
Naruto gave Homura a small half-smile.
"I'm sure I can come up with a way to make you forgive me."
"Don't count on it," Homura mumbled.
Naruto smiled at Miya as she walked up to him.
"Would you mind taking Kusano?"
"Of course." Miya returned the smile easily enough. Unfortunately, Kusano seemed to know what was going to happen, for her hold around his neck tightened.
"No," the Green Girl said. "I'm staying with onii-chan."
Naruto sighed, while Miya just gave him an indulgent smile. Several meters away, Minaka pouted.
"I feel like I've been forgotten." The white-haired man crouched on the ground and drew circles along the floor. "Why is everyone ignoring me? I'm the Game Master here… I'm the one who's on the verge of becoming a god… they should pay more attention to me…"
"Ku-chan, I can't beat the bad guy if you're clinging to me like this."
"Don't care. Ku-chan doesn't want to leave onii-chan."
"Now, Ku-chan," Miya tried her hand at convincing the Green Girl. "You know that Naruto needs to fight the bad man, don't you? He can't do that with you hanging off him. Why don't you come over here with me?"
Miya's eyes twitched and Naruto noticed the angry vein throbbing on her forehead.
The throbbing increased.
"Would you like to spend some time with me?" Musubi held her arms out to Kusano who, after a seconds contemplation, nodded and allowed the brunette shrine maiden to hold her. Miya looked most put out.
"How come Kusano allows Musubi to hold her but not me?"
Naruto's helpless shrug didn't make Miya feel any better.
"Because she has a way with kids and you've petrified her with your Hanya masks one too many times?"
Neither did his words.
"Be quiet, you," Miya grumbled.
"I'm still here, you know," Minaka said, standing forgotten by his lonesome. Having been pretty much ignored for the past five minutes now, he'd decided to remove the tubes attached to his body since they'd already served their purpose. The holes created from them had also healed up.
"So you are," Naruto said coolie, before turning to Homura. "I know you wanted to be the one who killed him, but since it appears this is a family dispute, would it be alright if I fought him in your honor?"
"D-don't make it sound like I'm some kind of maiden and you're fighting for my hand in marriage or something," Homura stuttered.
"Why would I do that?" Naruto tilted his head, playing dumb. "You're my Sekirei. Technically speaking, we're already married."
Homura sputtered even more.
"W-w-w-whatever!" She tried to cover her blush with a scowl. "Just hurry up and fight him already!"
The group of Sekirei moved off to the side, leaving Naruto alone with Minaka.
Crossing his arms, the immortal shinobi gave the man a look. He couldn't really see the similarities between them, but that didn't mean much. His genes were a mostly recessive, a consequence of his immortality, he suspected. Minaka probably took after his mother.
"Is this the part where we battle for the fate of the world?" Minaka asked, his amused grin telling Naruto everything he needed to know about this man's mindset.
"Not really," Naruto replied easily enough, "this is the part where I kill you because I've decided it's time we ended this charade."
Minaka lifted a hand to his face.
"That arrogance of yours is going to be your downfall."
He reached for his glasses and slowly pulled them off…
… revealing purple eyes characterised by a ripple-like pattern that spread over the entire eyeball.
"The rinnegan…" Naruto closed his eyes. "I see… so you have it." The eyes opened again. "Tell me, how did you activate those eyes? None of my other children have ever been able to activate the rinnegan before."
"It's a rather interesting story, actually." No longer wearing his glasses, and with his rinnegan visible, Minaka looked even more insane than usual. "You see, I was born with these eyes. I've had them my entire life."
Naruto frowned. That didn't sound right. The rinnegan almost always took a catalyst to activate. Actually, he shouldn't have even been able to activate those eyes at all. There were steps one needed to take. Naruto had only been able to circumvent them because he was the juubi given human form. Minaka didn't have that advantage.
"It was quite problematic for me at first, these eyes." Minaka held a hand to his face, as if he wanted to touch his eyes. "Everyone I met considered me a freak. The lady at the orphanage I lived in would often lock me away in the attic when people came over looking for children to adopt. According to them, my eyes were abnormal and would drive people away."
"Of course, the biggest problems came from within, not from without. These eyes of mine were capable of seeing far more than they should. I had knowledge of abilities that I shouldn't have known about. I possessed powers that other people would have found disconcerting if they had discovered them. So I kept it all hidden. My eyes, my powers, everything. My eyes made me a freak, and so I knew that I couldn't let anyone see them, ever."
"It wasn't until I met a strange old man who told me about these eyes, their purpose and what they represent, that I began to realize the truth. I had been selected for godhood. I had been chosen to become a new god, a man who would ascend to heights of power and wisdom no one else had ever achieved. There was just one thing standing in my way."
"Your body," Naruto deduced.
"Exactly!" Minaka crowed. "My body! My weak, frail, human body! Even with all this power that I now have at my disposal, I can't do anything about it in this frail body. That's why I'm going to be enacting the next phase of my plan!" Minaka's rinnegan eyes glowed with insanity. "I need a new body to inhabit." He pointed a finger at Naruto. "And that is why I have decided to steal your body!"
… Silence. Naruto could almost swear he heard crows cawing in the distance, which was weird because he was pretty sure they were in space. Space crows?
"You want to steal my body?"
Minaka nodded, his head eerily reminding Naruto of a bobblehead doll.
"My body? You want my body?"
"I believe I just said that."
… A little more silence.
"That's kind of creepy." Naruto covered his body with his hands. "You know I'm your father, right? Don't you think it's wrong that you want your father's body?"
"Why would that be wrong?" Minaka seemed oblivious to the innuendo. His head tilted like a curious child. "Your body is the only one that can withstand the full power of the jinki. If I had your body, I would be able to fuse the jinki into it and achieve true godhood."
Naruto perked up.
"You know how to fuse the jinki into a body?"
"Of course." Minaka's chest swelled with pride. "I've done extensive research on the jinki and have come up with a way to fuse them into a vessel. I simply needed to find the most appropriate vessel for their power-you."
"Can they also be fused into a Sekirei?"
Minaka looked nonplussed by the question. However, much like a true scientist, he pondered it. "I suppose the jinki could be fused with a Sekirei. My machine would have to be recalibrated to match the genetic structure of the Sekirei in question, but it is perfectly possible. The theory is sound, at least."
Naruto nodded, not showing Minaka the surge of relief he felt. "That's all I needed to know." Grinning much like he used to when he was younger, Naruto cracked his knuckles. "Now… let's get down to business. You say you want this body, however, I'm not willing to give it up. If you want it, then you're going to have to fight me for it."
Naruto's rinnegan activated, his eyes bleeding purple, concentric rings appearing around both pupil and sclera. Unlike Minaka's rinnegan, Naruto's had nine tomoe swirling around inside, rotating hypnotically.
"And I'm going to tell you right now that it's several thousand years too soon for you to beat me."
50 years later…
Naruto's rise from slumber was slow and hazy. It had been happening far more often these days, his inability to just kick start his day. He blamed it on the increased stamina of his Sekirei. Ever since infusing them with the jinkis, their powers had skyrocketed. Consequently, so had their stamina-and their sex drive, apparently.
That morning, Naruto woke up to long blond hair filling his vision and the warm, soft and very naked body of Kusano nestled comfortably on top of him. He could tell it was her because she wasn't as voluptuous as Tsukiumi.
The girl shifted against him, mumbling something in her sleep. Naruto released a soft hiss as her stiff nipples created friction on his chest, and her moist passage rubbed against his already rock-hard erection.
He remembered yesterday had been Kusano birthday, which explained why she was the only one in his bed this morning. While most nights generally involved two or more of his Sekirei, Naruto always made it a point to share individual time with them, especially on days as important as birthdays.
Naruto's hands slowly moved from their place on Kusano's lower back, inching their way down until he was cupping her butt cheeks in his hand. They were small and soft and firm, fitting perfectly within his rough, calloused hands. He slowly began to knead his Sekirei's firm derriere with the expertise of a baker.
Kusano moaned against his chest, and her hips began to move, gyrating against his crotch in time with the motions of his hands. Her own hands, which had been lying still on his chest, began scratching at him.
Kusano tilted her head up. Vibrant green eyes peered at him from beneath a curtain of messy blond hair. She blinked several times, as if trying to get the sleep out of them, and then offered him a smile once she fully processed what she was seeing.
"Onii-chan…" Kusano moaned happily as he rubbed his entire length along her lips. It was an unusual thing, that she called him "onii-chan." Kusano had long since grown out of the phase where she called him that, often just calling him "Naruto" or "Naruto-sama," depending on the situation. She only ever called him "onii-chan" when they were having sex. Apparently, she thought the idea of screwing her onii-chan was hot. Naruto had to admit, the whole taboo thing about sleeping with his imouto also kind of turned him on.
The Green Girl placed her hands on his chest and pushed herself up, long blond hair falling around her like a curtain of shimmering silk, the ends coming to rest on his flesh, tickling his chest. Offering him a sleepy smile, Kusano leaned down and kissed him, even as her body absently lined up with him and allowed Naruto to become fully sheathed inside of her.
"Good morning, Kusano," he mumbled softly, his hands firmly grasping her shapely buttocks and helping her produce a steady rhythm. "Happy birthday."
"Mmm…" Kusano moaned and arched her back in a very feline-like manner, her eyes closing as she moved her hips up and down. "It's my birthday." One green eye opened, containing within it a wickedly seductive gleam. "Does that mean you're my present?"
"I can be." Naruto smiled as she felt her squeeze him from all sides. Kusano was probably the tightest of all his Sekirei. He barely fit inside of her. It was almost painful. "Though you won't get to open me since I haven't wrapped myself up."
"That's okay. I'd prefer getting onto the main event."
Kusano leaned back even further, placing her hands behind her back and thrusting her chest out in an inviting display.
Unlike his other Sekirei, Kusano was very small. While all of Naruto's other Sekirei were infused with a jinki between their mid-twenties to early thirties, Kusano had decided to be fused after she hit sixteen, her reason being that Naruto had stopped aging at sixteen. Because of this her body was lithe, her breasts were just a pair of small hills on her chest. This didn't detract from her looks in the slightest, though, and Naruto took great pleasure in lifting himself up and taking one of her perky nipples into his mouth.
"O-onii-chan!" Kusano's ecstatic cry was followed by her arms wrapping around his head. Her hips also started moving at a more frantic pace, and her walls clamped down on him even more.
"You're close, aren't you?" Naruto said, more a statement than a question.
"Y-yes!" Kusano gasped when Naruto brought her down with more force, hitting one of the places inside of her that caused her body to shudder in bliss. "A-are you-ahn!-are you close, t-too, onii-ah! Onii-chaaahHNN!"
Naruto felt Kusano's walls clamp around him like a vice, to the point where he could no longer move. An increase in wetness made it a little less painful, but only a little. Still, he held Kusano in his arms as she rode out a wave of pleasure, and then listened as she cried again when he shot his seed into her and caused another orgasm.
They fell back onto the bed, their sweat mixing together to create a slick coat. Naruto could feel their combined release running down his legs, but he paid it no mind as he lovingly stroked Kusano's twitching back.
"Kusano," Naruto called.
Kusano shuddered and kissed his chest. "I love you, Naruto."
Naruto smiled. "I love you, too."
Miya sparred with Musubi, trying to figure out when Tsukiumi had taken over her role as the family's chef. It must have been ten… no, twenty years ago that Tsukiumi became determined to start cooking all of their meals.
"As Naruto's wife, it is my duty to prepare meals for my husband!"
Yes, those had been her words… at least until Kazehana started poking fun of the girl and made her go tsundere on them.
The past fifty years had been rather nice, she had to admit. After Naruto thrashed Minaka in a battle that couldn't really be called a battle, he'd freed all of the Sekirei, then abolished the Japanese government and declared that the nation of Japan would be one for Ashikabi and Sekirei.
The United Nations had not been pleased. Miya still remembered when someone had tried launching an attack at them, a large, wide-scale nuclear assault aimed at the largest population centers. Naruto had destroyed the missiles before they could even reach Japan. He had then destroyed Britain, sinking the entire island nation with what amounted to a finger flick, and then made a live announcement on international TV stating that any attempts at harming Japan would end with him destroying their country.
Needless to say, Japan was pretty much left alone after that… minus a few attempts at infiltration, which always ended with Naruto sending the infiltrator's head back to whatever nation they came from.
Sitting over on the sidelines, Akitsu, Homura, Matsu and Kazehana watched the spar. Like her, Musubi and Tsukiumi, they hadn't aged a day since the jinki had been infused within their bodies.
They watched the fight with rapt attention, their eyes traveling back and forth as Miya and Musubi raced across the backyard, sword meeting reinforced fists in a dance of grace and elegance. The clanging of weapons rang out in a cacophony of noise that went ignored by their neighbors. Only other Ashikabi and Sekirei lived near them, and they had grown used to the constant sounds of sparring.
As the spar continued, a noise, footsteps, alerted everyone to the impending arrival of Naruto and Kusano.
"Well, look who finally decided to get out of bed." Kazehana's eyes glimmered mirthfully as she raised a small saucer of sake to the pair. "It's already noon, you know? We were beginning to think you two would never come out."
Kusano placed her hands on her hips and grinned.
"As the youngest among us, it is my solemn duty to hog most of Naruto's time."
Not even fifty years could keep Akitsu from growing out of her traditional pause.
"… lots of sex."
"Solemn duty, my ass," Homura grumbled, "You just didn't want to let him go until he'd thoroughly satisfied you, ya succubus."
Kusano's unrepentant grin made Homura shake her head.
"Good morning, Naruto-sama!" Musubi waltzed up to Naruto and gave him a kiss. Naruto returned the kiss, but soon found himself being kissed by everyone else present. Miya was the last, having walked up to him at a more sedate pace than Musubi.
"Naruto." Miya smiled as she leaned up and pressed her lips against his. She took a moment to enjoy the simple action which had yet to get old, even after fifty years. She eventually pulled back to reveal mirthful eyes. "I see you and Kusano enjoyed yourselves last night."
She was, of course, referring to the many bite marks on his neck.
"Haha, well…" Naruto gave a helpless shrug. "What can I say? Kusano's a handful."
"I'm a minx," Kusano supplied helpfully.
"That you are," Naruto agreed. So did the others.
"Uhuhu, don't I know it." Matsu's glasses gleamed in the light. "Why, I remember the last time you, me and Kusano had ourself a regular three-way. It was-owch!"
"Please do not talk about your sexcapades so openly," Miya said almost absentmindedly while Matsu rubbed the new lump on her head.
It was at this time that Tsukiumi emerged from inside Maison Izumo. Like the others she, too, had not changed at all. Her long blond hair flowed down her head like waves gently caressing the shore of her fair skinned and beautiful face. Eyes of a bright blue reminded everyone of a cerulean ocean. Even her clothes were the same. The only thing that had changed about her was her demeanor. Not quite as tsun as she used to be, Tsukiumi had become almost all dere.
"Husband." She greeted Naruto with the smile of a loving wife. "I hope you and Kusano slept well."
Sleep was not exactly what they had been doing.
"We did," Naruto said, kissing Tsukiumi on the cheek, and then on the lips. "I'm guessing lunch is ready?"
"It is," Tsukiumi said before herding them all into the living room. "Today, I've decided to make calzones."
The group sat down, and Naruto noticed immediately that they were missing several people.
"Where's Chiho, Uzume and Akiho?"
"They've decided to take a trip to the new aquarium that opened up," Miya answered. "You probably didn't know that because you and Kusano left early during the celebrations last night."
"Ah." Naruto paused to take a bit of his calzone. "She does know that we're leaving today, right?"
"I'm sure she does," Miya assured him.
"Uzume isn't the kind of person who would forget something like this," Musubi added, then paused. "And if she does, Chiho will definitely remind her."
"Speaking of leaving," Homura started, "are you sure this is a good idea? I mean, the only reason no one has attacked Japan is because everyone's afraid of you."
"It will be fine." Naruto waved Homura's concerns off. "The fourth incarnation of the Discipline Squad should be more than capable of protecting the Sekirei and their descendants from intrusion."
"I guess." Homura didn't look convinced.
"Isn't the Discipline Squad headed by Karasuba's daughter?" Miya asked, frowning.
"Yes," Musubi was the one who answered, "Kikyo is the new head of the Discipline Squad." Musubi's face scrunched up in thought. "I think Karasuba actually turned over the position six… no, seven years ago."
"I feel sorry for the poor sap Karasuba re-winged herself to," Homura said.
Naruto chuckled. "Now, now, Minato has done an excellent job of curbing Karasuba's more violent tendencies.
"Hmmm," Miya hummed, but didn't seem to care either way. Naruto knew that she and Karasuba still didn't get along, despite the former Dog of MBI being a lot more mellow than she used to be.
Of course, Karasuba was also much older now. She, like everyone outside of him and his Sekirei, lived inside of the time stream. Although, unlike most humans, Sekirei age rather well, so she didn't look that old comparatively speaking.
"Kikyo is a good leader," Kazehana said as she daintily cut her calzone. "She's awfully good with a blade, and because she's a wind specialist, she can extend her reach even further." The wind-user sent Miya a sly glance. "I hear she's even trying to replicate your ability to slice warships in half with a single sword swing."
"I wish her luck with that," Miya said diplomatically.
As the conversation washed over him, Naruto smiled, feeling a sort of content that he'd never felt until meeting his Sekirei. It was a feeling that he'd grown to love, and one that he hoped would last forever.
"So… this is it, huh? You guys are really leaving?"
Naruto and his Sekirei had gathered on a remote island off the coast of Japan. It was a man-made island, though considering Naruto made it with his chakra, perhaps man-made was not the correct term for it. With him and his Sekirei was Uzume and Chiho, their daughter Ahiko, and Minato and his Sekirei. Seo was peculiarly missing and Yukari was… well, ever since she discovered that Naruto was her grandfather, things had been really awkward between them-for her at least.
"Yeah," Naruto said in answer to Uzume's question. "It's best if we leave now. I don't think any of us want to stay and watch as our friends get older and leave this world."
Uzume's hair, streaked with several strands of silver, remained in the same off-the-side ponytail it always had. She also wore the same clothes. Aside from the gray in her hair, she didn't look that old. Chiho, on the other hand, looked quite a bit older, being only human.
"Heh, I guess." Uzume sniffled before engulfing him in a hug, which soon turned into a group hug when Chiho and Musubi joined in. "I'm gonna miss you, bro."
Naruto took a slow, calm breath to ignore the sharp jab in his chest. He'd grown to like Uzume and Chiho a lot. They had been a part of his family for these many years, and if he'd been able to, he would have granted them both immortality. Unfortunately, there were only eight jinki, and between them and his Sekirei, well, there wasn't much of a contest.
As the hug broke away, Minato was there to shake Naruto's hand. Much like Chiho, he looked much older than his Sekirei. His hair had turned completely white, just like his mother's, yet he held himself with a confidence and surety that belied his old age. Naruto thought it was due to how he'd taken over what was left of MBI and Higa's pharmaceutical company. The newly christened Wagtail Incorporated was doing awfully well, and currently ranked as the number one company in advanced healing technology and medicine. It was actually Minato who'd discovered the cure for cancer.
"Well," Naruto smiled at the group, "I guess this is it."
"Yeah," Minato said.
An awkward silence ensued, and suddenly, Naruto realized that he really had grown to like these people. He could already feel the slight stab of pain in his chest, the stark realization that this would be the last time he saw these people.
Naruto turned around rather abruptly and began walking toward the large structure before him. It wasn't a building or anything of the sort. Built to look like a giant flower bulb, its metallic surface shone vibrantly as sunlight reflected off its surface. The spaceship he had spent twenty-five years building looked like something out of a really bad manga.
Footsteps behind him told Naruto that his Sekirei were following him.
The doorway slid open with a near silent hiss as he reached it, and Naruto was greeted with an interior that, in all honesty, didn't look like a spaceship at all.
Wood panel flooring and walls made to look like sliding paper doors greeted them. In fact, the interior looked almost like a carbon copy of the inside of Maison Izumo. The only difference lay in the size and layout. This ship was far bigger than their boarding house
Naruto and the others walked passed the many doors, journeying through several halls, before they reached an elevator that took them to the ship's cockpit.
As they stepped into the expanded space, Naruto moved toward the captain's chair, a cool looking chair that sat in the center and ran on a hydraulics system that allowed it to spin around. The others are also took up their positions. Matsu swiftly moved to the navigation console near the back, while Tsukiumi and Musubi took the pilot and co-pilot seats respectively. Kusano sat down at the communication console along with Kazehana. Akitsu and Miya stood on either side of Naruto.
This was it.
"All hands, prepare for lift off," Naruto commanded.
"Preparing for lift off." Matsu flipped several switches. "They're all green across the board. Engines one, two, three, four, five, and six are online."
"You're enjoying yourself, aren't you?" asked Miya.
"Of course." Naruto grinned. "I've always thought about traveling to outer space, but never really had the motivation before now."
A pause. Akitsu tilted her head.
"… lift off?"
"Oh, right. Thank you, Akitsu." Naruto looked at Musubi and Tsukiumi. "Lift off!"
Musubi started manipulating the pilots controls. "Lifting off."
The ship began to vibrate. Naruto looked out the viewing screen to see the world around them slowly lowering, disappearing from view. Several monitors also revealed the group down below, standing several feet away and staring up at the ship. They were a safe distance, he determined, and wouldn't get caught by the engines' heat.
"Raise landing gears."
"Raising landing gears."
"Prepare for acceleration needed to exit the earth's atmosphere."
"Preparing to accelerate and exit the earth's atmosphere."
As the ship accelerated, Naruto felt himself being forced into his seat as earth's gravity tried to keep his vessel from reaching space. He ignored the feeling. Beside him, Miya and Akitsu sat down on the seats that slid up from the floor to keep them from flying backwards.
It didn't take long for them to leave the earth's atmosphere. They were soon surrounded by a sea of stars that glimmered like the eyes of otherworldly creatures, sparkling with the phantasmagoria of the unknown. Down below, the earth continued to turn, a blue and green ball that slowly grew smaller as the seconds ticked by.
"So," Homura started, sounding almost numb, "we're really here. We're really going to travel the reaches of space."
"That we are," Naruto answered.
Homura shook her head. "I… I can hardly believe we're doing this."
"Believe it." Naruto grinned. "We are so doing this."
"Where should we go?" Miya asked. "Do we even have a destination in mind?"
In response to her question, Naruto gave her a smile. "It doesn't really matter where we go, so long as we're together."
"That was an incredibly corny thing to say."
… Whatever. Spoil sport."
"What was that?"
"Nothing dear." Naruto turned to the others. "Prepare for lightspeed! Destination… wherever the hell we feel like going!"
And thus, a new journey began.
I wonder, how many of you realized that all of the times I mentioned Naruto's promiscuity was to foreshadow Naruto being Minaka's dad? Ah, well. You'll notice I didn't write out the final battle, and that's because there was no battle. Naruto curb-stomped Minaka like he was an eighty pound weakling, so I didn't feel it necessary to add some pointless battle in order to tack on more words.
I would like to thank everyone again for reading this story. I would also like to thank everyone who went out and got my new book. I hope you all enjoyed it. I would also be very grateful if you guys could leave a review on my book's Amazon page. Even a small one sentence review about how much you enjoyed the story would really help me out a lot.
Once again. Thank you everyone for reading and reviewing this story. You guys are awesome.