Chapter 8: On wings of lighting. Life goes on, Naruto.
"Nature is always moving. Absolute rest is Death" – Pascal-
So, this is the end. I could feel how my life force was slowly banishing, alongside my chakra. My breath was paused and soft, so much that I wasn´t able to hear it, as I couldn´t feel my limps any longer. I estimated that I could last another day or so before losing consciousness, and I knew that, after I closing my eyes I would never open them again.
Shinobis weren´t meant to live this long. I have had to witness all the three great wars, and had participated in two of them. I have lost almost all my family, having to bury my children and grandchildren one after another. A parent shouldn´t bury his progeny, it was against nature! But at least I had always my teammates with me, giving me support, watching my back. Hiruzen-kun, Homura-kun, Danzo. You three were the best friends that anyone could have asked for. Thank you, it is because of you that I have came this far.
Now, I only need to wait patiently to fulfill my last mission; I just hope that I succeed.
"Koharu-sama, I need to ask you for a favor." Asked me the Yamanaka's Clan Head, visibly anxious. They have just terminated the transmission via mind jutsu of the fate of Konoha, and they ready to go away.
"What can I do for you, gaki?"
"I need you to deliver this to a certain place." He gave me a little black cubic box with a seal mark in white ink on its top, and then, he gave me a brief explanation, telling me that Chouza's kid, Chouji I think his name was, was underneath the Akimichi's Compound, totally sealed in, working in a special training. It was likely that the special seals in the underground area had warded the kid off from the mental transmission, and thus, when he get out, he would need an explanation. My job was to give him the little black box. I accepted, but I told him that it was most likely that I would have been dead before he got out.
"I know, Koharu-sama, I know." Was his only answer, while a small, sad smile was on his face.
(End of flashback)
And thus, I fought and I survived, somehow. To tell the truth, I passed out due to blood lost and somehow ended under a pile of corpses. My luck saved me, because, due to my totally depleted chakra, those beasts that invaded us never detected me.
I recovered consciousness days later. Thanks to a specialized training that I had developed with my sensei, Senju Tobirama-sama, by body had kept me alive minimizing my breath and lowing by body temperature. When it had recovered enough chakra, it started to convert it, slowly, into a life supporting system that allowed me to stay for weeks without eating and drinking anything. Sadly, as tired as I was, I only could last 6 days max. This was my fifth day.
Before I lost my limps mobility, I had eaten a couple of Blood Pills that skyrocketed my blood pressure and the amount of blood in my body, to the point that almost all my veins exploded, but I converted it quickly into chakra to sustain a little longer my life. It took an insane amount of chakra control to do it, a control that could only be developed after decades of practicing and fine tuning, as well as the needed medical knowledge to pull it off. I think that only Tsunade could replicate the feat at the moment, though is a possibility that her young apprentice, Katou Dan's niece, Shizune, could too.
And now, resting against a surviving piece of wall that was left standing, where I estimated had been the Akimichi Clan, I could only wait that the Shinigami come to take my soul to the afterlife.
My eyes snapped shut when I heard the sharp knocking sound at my right. Turning my head slowly, I saw a trapdoor lifted from the floor and the silhouette of somebody emerging form it. I tried to call his name, because I knew that this has to be Chouza's son, by I found that my throat was too dry. I did the next best thing: I whistled him.
I got his attention, because in the blink of an eye, and I'm guessing that the kid knew the shushin no jutsu somehow, he was next to me.
"What happened here?" He asked. His voice was full of disbelief and hidden anger, his face was pale, and his lips were trembling.
"Too *cough* long *cough* to explain. Inoich… *cough* left you something. In my *cough* left pocket. He said that you would know what to do with *cough* it." Great! Now I was performing a perfect interpretation of Hayate Gecko and his Eternal Cough.
He did as I said anyways, though worry was dancing in his eyes. Know that I looked at him I noticed that he was shirtless and I was surprised of what I saw.
"What kind of training this kid went through?" I wondered. I had only see him a couple of times, but it wasn´t difficult to remember the chubby little kid next to his fat father, eating from his usual bag of chips during one of the regular inter-clan meetings.
What I could see know was a young man with a pack of muscle. Gone was his fatness, replaced by an incredible set of well defined muscle. Even the weirdo of Maito Gai would have been impressed. His face was sharper and more defined and his brown hair was now falling free down his back in a spiky mane (AN: like in Shippuden). His forehead protector was wrapped around his neck, while a long, yet skinned scroll was tied at his back on his waist, like a sword (AN: like Sasuke used his sword in Shippuden).
I saw in his eyes that he recognized whatever the black box was. And then I noticed that my eyes felt so heavy all of a sudden. It seemed that, now that my mission was completed, my body didn't need to keep going.
"Wait! Please endure it a bit longer. Let me look for some water." Said the shirtless kid with tears falling freely from his eyes, before going back to the underground bunker.
Why is he crying? This is part of our shinobi everyday lives. He should know that there is not returning from me, or maybe, does he knows it and is crying because he is powerless to stop it? Or maybe is it something else altogether? What a kind heart… kind, naïve and foolish. This world is harsh and unforgiving. This village burned to the grown should have sunk that message in him already.
As he was retreating, I saw a huge tattoo on his back, a tattoo that I recognized from before my genin days.
"Is that a dragonfly?" I smiled while my eyes closed; consciousness slipping from my graps. "And I tough that I would never seeit again. It seems that we will watch Dragonflies in our horizon again." Somehow I was happy; a little ray of hope could be seen at the end of this dark tunnel. "Ne, Hiruzen-kun, did you felt proud of me being in your team? Hiruzen-kun, Homura-kun, Danzo, Tobirama-sensei… Let's watch the new generation from the afterlife, while they protect the Will of Fire."
And then, I could feel myself a lot lighter than I had ever felt.
I had finished two thirds of my training when I could go out of the bunker to finish the last part. My body felt different, stronger, more resilient, and faster. The food was as good as the training, but missed severely my mom's cooking. All I could think was the delights that were waiting for me when I opened the trapdoor that connected with the surface… only to discover a barren land of scorched earth.
I could not believe what my eyes were showing me. A knot in my stomach started to form, ad a phantom pain started to grow in my heart. Before the panic could trap me, I regulated my breathing, bring calmness and peace in the blink of an eye, while repeating one of the meditative mantras that Akimichi Chouzen had created for that purpose.
Now calmed and relaxed, my sharpened senses were trying to find something alive in this land of desolation. A soft whistle was being played at my back. I turned and saw a silhouette of somebody resting on the reminding section of a wall. I run to her, or more accurately, I moved one or two steps before being next to her, reducing our distances of a couple of meters of distance down to zero in a blink of an eye… literally.
She was all, and her wounds were lethal. I knew with just a glance that she wasn't going to live. Still, I prayed that I was wrong. I recognized her as one of the Sandaime's advisors that had visited the Clan a couple of times. I didn't remember her name.
She didn't tell anything of importance, except something from Inoichi-ojisan. I recognized the black box immediately.
Noticing her dried throat, I went back to grab some water, so I could speak a bit more of whatever was happening. When I came back, the old kunoichi had passed away. Her face looked clam and at peace, and I noticed that her mouth had formed a small smile.
"I wonder, what did you find in the end, obaa-sama."
Using an explosive tag that I found in her pouch, and taking everything that was left, I burned her body before starting my journey.
The black box had a silver pill in it. It was a Memory Pudding, and it was an experimental invention that my father and Inoichi-ojisan had been working in, with the occasional help of Shikaku-ojisan. What it did was to storage a specific memory in the pill so that, whoever eats it, could get the memory. It was intended to rely instructions in undercover missions without arising too much alarm or to pass a great amount of information at once. Or that was the theory behind it, and as far as I knew it was yet to be completed.
I swallowed it, and immediately knew that it was prototype. A pang of dizziness and nauseas hit, alongside a new set of memories. After I had calmed down, I gave myself the time to be amazed at what had happened. The details weren't clear, but I had a general idea of my circumstances at the moment.
I started to walk to the East, where my family was waiting for me.
"Mumei Kuni, eh? This will be a long journey." Great, know I started to sound like Shikamaru, troublesome. "Sakura-chan, I wonder where are you and what are you doing. Are you watching the same sky as me?... I promise, my cherry blossom, that I will found you, and definitively, I will ask you out…"
He was toying with me, I just knew it. Still, I was avoiding the edge of his ninjato, kunais and the occasional shuriken with easy. His teaching methods were brutal, put to lightly, and yet, I could feel myself how strong I have become. I was dancing a deathly tune of blood and steel, and I couldn't be happier.
And then, a second Itachi-sensei was at my back, throwing a Great Fireball like only an Uchiha could, ready to vaporize me. I continued to dodge his insistent sharp ninjato and kunais until I feel the heat almost scorching me. Taking him by surprise, I spun using my left leg as an axis and extended my palm against de fireball touching the flames.
To his astonishment, that only was shown raising his right eyebrow less than a millimeter, the fire ball dissipated into nothingness, leaving neither smoke nor heat waves. I didn't stopped there, instead, I used ashunshin no jutsu, one of the jutsus that I still could do, to appear at his back and then, another one to appear at his front, disorientating him, ad trusting my palm in his gut… just to disappear in a smoke curtain.
"A shadow clone!" I mentally snarled, while looking back the original Itachi-sensei who was trying to stab me since the beginning of the spar, but he wasn't anywhere to be found. I stopped immediately, something pointy and cold at the base of my neck at my back.
"You did well, Sakura-chan, but this is your limit." Said the ever stoic man from my back.
"Is that so?" I said while feeling myself smirk at his naivety.
Shifting my gravity centre, I twisted my own body while spiraling horizontally, kicking circularly the man, putting some distance between us, while I regain momentum with my hands in the ground, coming back to kick the Uchiha in his rigs… and he too dissipated in a curtain of smoke. Another shadow clone.
A dry clapping from my left.
"Excellent, Sakura-chan! You had come this far in such a short time is… humbling." My always stoic sensei said, with his usual lack of warm or emotion of any kind.
"You don't sound humble at all… and I still couldn't hit you."
"That may be, but now you can hold your ground against two of my shadow clones, something that not many can claim." His voice wasn´t a one of self praising, but one that was stating a fact. And he was. "Anyway, start packing; we will be in our way in two hours."
"Where are we going?" I asked, not really waiting for an answer from. He will tell me only what I needed to know when I needed it.
He started to walk away, but he answered anyways, leaving me out of balance by the surprise. "To Idaina Seinaru Goyama."
Still surprised, I chased after him, wondering what business we had in the territory of the monks. Not that it mattered. Konoha was wiped out of the map, and I knew that war was in our footstep.
I feel excitement building in my stomach. The season was the right one for adventure. Poor Haruno Sakura, trapped in her own mind, unable to enjoy this small little pleasures that life had to offer.
"Don't worry, Sakura-chan, I will enjoy it for both of us."
"You are lucky, Tsunami-sama. Your body is healing faster than normal, but your muscles are strained by an abnormal amount of pressure." Told me the old doctor in our village, while I put my kimono back on. It looked like knew, despite that my fight with Hoshigaki Kisame had let it in rags. I wonder how the kimono was part of Benizakura as well.
"Please, Genzo-sensei, you had looked after me ever since my birth, you don't need to be so formal; if anything, I'm the one that should be showing respect to you." I reply, somehow guessing what he was about to say. I wasn't disappointed.
"That may be, but know you are the one that has our fate in your shoulders. THAT deserves respect."
My reply was cut short with the arrival of Tamaki, one of my dad's former building crew. Now he was in charge of the crew, and was the responsible of finishing the bridge that cost the blood of our best men, of my dad.
"Tsunami-sama, a group of seven people had arrived to the village, claiming to be ambassadors of Mizu no Kuni and Kirigakure no Sato." He said with rush, obviously nervous.
My eyes narrowed, wondering about their purpose. But if I have to guess, it was about a treaty between our countries. It seems that the news of Konoha's fall wasn't an exaggerated rumor after all.
"Naruto-dono. I know that you are still alive. You are, and will be, always welcome here, please, remember that."
Finishing to clothing myself, I nodded to Tamaki in appreciation, and started to walk to the village center, where Tamaki told that they were, to meet them.
Our village wasn't too big, though now, with Gatou gone, we could start to expand our village a little bit more. It took me 5 minutes of walking to reach the center. Bad memories came to me while I arrived to the place where my dear Kaiza was executed, where our people, where I, lost any kind of hope. Casting my emotions away, I faced onwards, looking a small crowd surrounding something or someone.
Noticing me, the crowd let me through, so I could pass and see what all this was about.
One of them was petit, with long dark blue hair and a standard FROST mask, the ANBU unit of Kiri Hunters. It looked creepy and I could see that it's slanted eyes were unnerving the villagers. Next to her was a tall well endowed mag. He had the Kiri headband wrapped sideways on his head, and the lower part of his face, from the mouth downwards, covered in a facemask fashion with bandages. He didn't had eyebrows, which surprised me a little, not that it didn't daunted his handsome looks… and he was wearing a shirtless- sleeves (being the shirt the missing part); completing his dangerous look a huge zambatou was stuck on his back.
I ignored the rest of the guests focusing on the man with the sword, a man that I recognized as a former colleague of Hoshigaki Kisame.
"Kombawa, Momochi Zabusa. Welcome to Nami no Kuni." I said, making him smirk behind his masks. Unconsciously, my hand was on the hilt of my sword.
Last time I checked, the Demon of the Bloody Mist was nuke-nin.
We have been walking in comfortable silence ever since we departed from the inn. Hinata- chan was far away, even if I could not see her empty eye sockets behind her bandages, I just knew that she was 'looking' so far away into the infinity. Her beautiful lavender pearls were stolen from her, and just thinking about it piss me off so much that my anger was nothing compare to my hatred against that godforsaken village. Their rumored destruction did nothing to daunt my anger.
"Naruto-kun?" asked soft voice next to me. Hinata-chan's melodic words got me out of my funk, though I could detect hidden worry in her voice. "Are you alright? Is it something bothering you?"
"Why do you ask my Hime?" I answered with another question in my smoothest voice.
"Your chakra… is flaring."
My chakra? Great, now I'm way too emotional to be safe to be around of. Controlling breathing, I controlled my emotions until they calmed down. Ever since I absorbed the Fourth's and his wife's chakra, my emotions had been running rampage if unchecked. I suspected that the new sets of memories had also a copy of their emotions and now they were conflicting with my own.
"It is nothing to worry about, Hinata-chan. It seems that me, absorbing the Namikaze's and Uzumaki's memories had unbalanced my own…. but don't worry," I rectified quickly, "they will be totally absorbed in a couple of days, a week tops." Now, a diversion tactic. "But you, how are you feeling?"
"I'm find… just unusually tired, that's all."
"Do you want to rest a little bit?"
"How far are we from the monastery?"
"I will say that, at this pace, we will be there in 20 minutes or so."
"Then let's go on; no point in wasting more time that we have."
And so we continued marching forward to a place that I only knew of by second handed experiences… quite literally. As we got closer, we could appreciate the change in the atmosphere. We have been hiking up the tallest mountain known to man: Mountain Shuutmatsu. It was in an island at the south of Tea Country and, curiously, quite close of Uzu no Kuni. While the landscape was breathtaking, it was the sky, with is orange and purple colors, dying the horizon with a sea of contrasting rainbows.
Soon enough, we arrived into a small town. It was obvious to us, looking the clothing of the natives, that the local folks were part of the monastery that could be seen behind the town itself connecting them a huge set of stairs. The people were walking form one point to another, carrying baskets of fruit and herbs, or talking with other villagers. Children could be seen running and playing with each other without care in the world. The men had their heads totally shaved while the nuns had their hair long and braided in a long ponytail.
In the entrance somebody was waiting. A bald man, or a man with a shaved head, was standing in front of them. He had the tunics that were the signature of the monks. He looked like he was 22 years old and had his eyes closed. In his right hand was a Bo staff of the same height was the estranger.
"Greetings Uzumaki Naruto; I have been waiting for you." Said the monk with a gentle smiled in his face.
The same words, that the same man had told him in Nami no Kuni, in the same exact way. Naruto narrowed his eyes, not quite comprehending the implications of it.
"It is Kishin no Naruto now."
We were almost there. My clothes were dirty and had some blood stains on it. They were not mine, but that hardly made me feel better. Ebisu, that close pervert that jiji had assigned me, and my friends by default, had used himself as a meat shield so Udon, Moegi and I could escape to the bunkers. We weren't fast enough and where witnesses of how a man with many scars on his face had blow him apart with a strange technique. We were paralyzed by fear while the pervert's blood rained upon us, like Death's red embrace. I swore that we were done for, that we would die, and I acted.
Is not that I cared for that damned pervert, who annoyed me to no end. It was not like he was important to me. Then, why tears were falling from my eyes while I stood in front of the bastard that killed him with a kunai in my hand? He raised his hand t o strike me, but when I blink I was in the arms of a purpled haired ANBU with a Cat mask. I also so that Moegi and Udon were in the same position with other ANBU. They dropped us safely in the bunkers.
And then, after hearing jiji's voice in our head and after knowledge poured in our brains out of nowhere, our world was engulfed in a bright yellow flash. When I came to my senses, I noticed that we were in a rocky tunnel with light coming from a entrance of sort 5 to 6 meters away- Our knew knowledge told us to walk toward the light, and we did so. At this point my tears weren't falling and I could feel my eyes dried. Anything else felt numb, like my tact was gone and my body was moving on pure instinct and innate motions. Absentmindedly, I noticed uncle Asuma walking next to me. His eyes were dead to the world except that they were looking something in his arms, or better to say, someone. As far as I could tell she was female with black hair and she was wearing a bloodstained dress that looked more like medical wrappings. And the woman was missing her two legs, cut down from her knee. The thumbs were bandage but were crimson red with blood.
I paid it no mind and continued walking… toward the light at the end of the tunnel.
I was alone, again. Both my teammates had disappeared and my sensei was fighting a war that came out of nowhere. I was the last Uchiha, the person fated to kill Uchiha Itachi, the traitor of what once had been the greatest among the clans. I tried to fight the invaders and defend Konoha, but a damn ANBU stopped before I could do anything, and now, I somehow ended at the frontline of the group that was walking to the light at the end of a tunnel that simply guide us to… somewhere.
My trained eyes got accustomed to the new lamination. In front of me, in what looked like a intermountain valley, was a huge tree… or more accurately, a Giant Tree. And my perception was kidding me, my Sharingan ensured that. We were in the entrance of a plateau, and I estimated that we were like at least 25 kilometers form the centre of the valley that was, unnaturally round. The sky was blue with the random cloud while the mountains that surrounded the valley were covered in snow. The temperature was cool, and it was rubbing nicely on my skin.
I could see movement down into the valley that had to be the sides of Konoha, and thus I knew that we were in the place that our new set of knowledge had told us.
"So, this is it. It is more impressive than it sounds." For a moment, my previous funk was forgotten to let my amazement show in my face, like everybody else, before scolding my emotions back to anonymity.
I had given a couple of steps forward when a swirl of fire appeared out of nowhere. "A Hi Shushin!" I thought, surprised. I recognized as the shunshin variant that my clan invented.
The swirling fire died out quickly enough, letting us see the caster of said jutsu. Distractively, I noted that many of the shinobi in the crowd had fallen into a fighting stance. And then, my eyes, Sharingan activated, showed me something that shouldn't have been possible: A pair of Sharingan eyes, three tomoes of dark intensity and power.
"Kombawa, citizens of Konoha. ,y name is Uchiha Mikoto and I welcome you to Konokigakure no Sato."
"KAA-SAN?!" I couldn't hold it anymore.
"Indeed, Sasuke. You and Itachi are not the only Uchihas alive." She said. And she wasn't happy to see me.
And this is the final chapter of the Second volume of the Epiphany Series. Yes, Sasuke's mother is alive and yes, I cut Kurenai's legs off. This chapter was strange for me, with the whole first person description, as I tried to capture their perception of the changes in their world. I didn't if I succeed or not, but I wanted to try it. And I hope that you liked it.
So, what do you think?
The title comes from the second verse of a song called "Improve the Shining Moments" by Robert B. Baird, and it reads:
Time flies on wings of lighting;
We cannot call it back.
It comes, then passes forward
along its onward track.
And if we are not mindful,
the chance will fade away,
for life is quick in passing.
'Tis as a single day.
The whole song is beautiful, and I recommend you to look for it when you can. I found it fitting.
I think that the parts that I liked to write the most where Koharu's and Chouji. I didn't go over all their emotions, because in a sense all of them were in a state of shock, and Chouji hasn't seen the brunt of it yet, but don't worry, the reminding part of his innocence will be gone really soon.
Mumei Kuni: Unnamed/ Nameless Country.
Idaina Seinaru Goyama: The Great Sacred Five Peaks.
Mountain Shuutmatsu:The End of the World Mountain.
Konokigakure no Sato: Hidden Village Among the Trees.
And now, the news! I will not publish the third and last part of these series, for while. Instead, I will concentrate my efforts in Broken Circle and other story for some time. Now, this is my question: which other story do you want me to continue?
The Wind Walker
[A new story that I´m working on?]
Please, state in a review which one do you want and why. And you can only choose one. If for any reason you mention more than one, I will pick the first one that you mention. I will wait for your responses.
And now, a preview of the final part:
"Now I understand everything, and now I know what must be done."
"You will not escape, Madara; this is your end."
"Itachi-kun, take care of our child."
"You don't seem to understand, daughter of mine… you will not return to the real world."
"Now I know what true Repentance is; as such has been revealed unto me."
"You will carry my mission and burden as the new Rikudo Sennin."
"Stop this madness!"
"Everything will come to an end."
"Because I'm merciful as a Deva, and I impart judgment as an Akuma."
EPIPHANY, vol 3: DEVA.