Mass Effect 2: Naruto's Mission
Written by I.K.A. Valian
All characters and material from Naruto are the property of Masashi Kishimoto.
All characters and material from Mass Effect are the property of BioWare.
Chapter Ten: The Shinobi-Citadel Alliance
The plot to take over the citadel has been unraveled by the Normandy Crew. Though Shepard and Naruto were woefully unprepared for the force that greeted them in the Citadel Tower, they persevered and defeated a clone of Naruto's Sexy Jutsu. Garrus and Jacob infiltrated C-Sec headquarters and Citadel Control to take down the communications block. EDI hacked the Citadel computer and obtained control. Miranda coordinated with Cerberus Smoke Cell Operative Stanley Otubak to analyze the technology being used by the invading force of Naruto clones and came up with a way of detecting a genjutsu emitter. Alone, these efforts would have been in vain, but like a well greased machine, the Normandy crew got the job done on all fronts at the same time.
With the Citadel nominally back in the control of the Council, Naruto is surrounded by Salarians and placed under arrest.
"Uzumaki Naruto, you are under arrest."
Naruto didn't put up much of a fight when two of the Salarians gathered around moved to apprehend him. As soon as they grabbed his arms his legs gave out and he fell to his knees with a grimace. Using Sage Mode was such a good idea, in retrospect.
"I'm… sorry…" Naruto said softly. "Didn't realize… it wasn't… so indestructible. Extranet… is wrong."
"It's a good thing we were attached to the walls with mass effect fields, then," the lead Salarian said. "Or else we would have been killed too."
At this point Shepard and a woman wearing a dark hood covering her face in shadows walked up to the small group surrounding Naruto. Shepard had her arm over the shoulder of the woman, who helped her walk. Every few seconds, Shepard twitched from the residual shock of the overload tech still bouncing around in her body.
"Now aren't you glad you listened to my little bit of advice, Major Kirrahe?" the hooded woman asked.
'Kirrahe?' Shepard's head snapped up and she watched, with hawk like concentration, the leader of the Salarian force. 'The only Kirrahe I know died on Virmire…'
"I hate to admit it, Ms. Goto" Major Kirrahe said, "but yes. In hind sight, it should have been obvious, given Mr. Uzumaki's reputation for destruction."
"Sir," interrupted another Salarian, "C-Sec is sounding the all clear. They've pushed back the invasion."
"Were there any survivors to interrogate or did they all self destruct again?" the Salarian asked.
'Again?' Shepard watched Kirrahe as he was told that none of the invading ninja survived, and all remains were deteriorated too fast to study. Kirrahe simply shook his head, as if he hadn't gotten his hopes up. 'What is going on?' Shepard wondered. 'If they've dealt with these psychos before, why weren't they prepared for them on the Citadel?'
"Very well," Major Kirrahe said. "We'll escort Commander Shepard and Uzumaki to their ship. The Councilor wants to meet them on a vessel that hadn't been compromised yet."
The Salarians saluted and began herding Shepard, Ms. Goto, and Naruto to the elevator which was only the floor of an elevator at this point. As they began to descend, both Naruto and Shepard were wondering what exactly it was that had happened on the Citadel that they'd walked into the middle of.
Miranda sighed with a repressed moan. The body had dissolved shortly after the Councilor had arrived at the Com Center. She'd cut off contact as soon as possible to avoid being tracked. EDI would make sure there was no way that this place would be found due to the contact she'd made, but Smoke Base was as good as done with. She almost shuddered when she thought of how the Illusive Man would react.
She could take solace in the fact that she had captured the end of the signal that had ordered the body to dissolve and that the chakra transmitter had been discovered. It didn't do a lot of good at this point, though, since she had no body to study, but it was something. She wrinkled her nose at the stink rising from the puddle that once formed a living, breathing being.
"Well," Stanley said, "at least we know how they spread the genjutsu. Cerberus will be better prepared if we ever run-"
"When," Miranda said glumly. Or as glumly as she ever got. The way she held her posture and spoke with the flair of aristocracy had been too well drilled into her by this point to let it fall lax.
"Err… Excuse me?"
"When," Miranda repeated. "I'm almost certain that the Collectors are behind this, or related in some way. Considering the mission of the Lazarus Cell, it is only a matter of time until we run into these clones again."
"Oh, I see." Stanley pushed his glasses up and faced Miranda. "Seeing as how the rest of the cell has been destroyed, I'll be leaving the Citadel to be reassigned. Any relevant data stored here would have more use to you than to me, so I think you'd be the better one to decide what to keep."
"I'll just send everything to EDI" Miranda said. "Then we can execute the burn protocol and leave."
"I hope I get a nice, quiet, non-exciting assignment after this," Stanley said as he moved up to the computer console to begin the transfer.
"Don't count on it," Miranda said.
Garrus sighed. This really wasn't his day. He'd kicked some Naruto ass, saved the Citadel and the galaxy at large from the Reapers for a second time, and was feeling kind of warm and fuzzy for a job well done.
Turians don't feel warm and fuzzy.
Turians should feel cold, stiff, and unyielding like the military men they all were. This feeling disturbed his equilibrium. It was unnatural.
As if to spite him, his body was too tired and sore to complain about it. The good Doctor Chakwas told him upon his return to the Normandy that he'd strained his injuries to the breaking point and, without reservation, he would be off duty for the forty-eight hours, and the first order was to get some rest. That was fine, it's not like he would follow that order if he was absolutely needed again later on, but he sure hoped Shepard could pull her own ass out of the fire next time.
As Garrus settled down onto his cot in the main battery, he let out a soft groan. "I'm not getting paid enough for this," he muttered to himself. He had only just closed his eyes for what felt like half a second when he heard EDI's avatar pop up.
"Mr. Vakarian," EDI said, "Commander Shepard and Naruto have just returned. Your presence is requested in the Comm. Room."
Garrus thumped his head a little against the cot. Sometimes, it seemed, doctors did know best. At least those damn warm and fuzzy feelings were gone.
"Commander Shepard, you of all people should be aware of how dangerous that man can be!"
"I am aware, Councilor," Shepard bit out, almost shouting, "but I also have Uchiha Sasuke's assurances that Naruto is no longer indoctrinated. I may not have trusted Naruto at all, but I do have a lot of faith in Sasuke. He wouldn't lie, not about something like this. He even predicted that Naruto would come back from his home dimension to find Sasuke and Sakura."
The Salarian Councilor Valern scoffed and threw his hands in the air. Both he and Commander Shepard were arguing across the conference table inside the Normandy's Communications Room. Around the room, staying well out of the arguing pair's way, were the two Cerberus operatives, Garrus, Mordin, and Kirrahe who was also holding onto a cuffed Naruto.
"What SpecTRe agent Uchiha says does not have any bearing upon the decision to keep Uzumaki under arrest," Valern said. "The status of his indoctrination at this point is moot because he just destroyed the council chambers. He's too dangerous to let wander around on his own. I would have thought your own experience dealing with Uzumaki have taught you that."
"Uh…" The room fell silent and everyone turned to Naruto. Valern narrowed his eyes as he looked at the blond. Naruto cleared his throat and bowed so fast Kirrahe scrambled to get a hold on him again. "I'm very sorry for destroying the council chambers. Please forgive me."
After a short pause, Valern blinked and faced Shepard again. "So long as he is escorted by an armed guard wherever he goes on the Citadel and wears Chakra blocking equipment, then I believe it is acceptable for Uzumaki to enter the Citadel. Otherwise, I leave him in your custody, Shepard. I've re-activated your SpecTRe status," at this Valern raised his hand up, his omni-tool activating for a few seconds. Shepard's omni-tool beeped, and after inspecting it, she nodded to Valern. "You will have the full authority and resources that go along with that, which I'm sure you are familiar with."
"I think I can handle it," Shepard said. "I'm on a mission to stop the Collectors right now. They're abducting human colonists out in the Terminus systems, but for what I don't know. I'm currently putting together a crew to deal with them."
Valern nodded. "Unfortunately, that may have to be put on hold."
Shepard's eyes narrowed marginally. "Councilor?" she asked, almost icily. If Valern noticed it, he didn't respond.
"The infiltration of the Naruto Clones was more complete than could have been predicted. Almost all of the current SpecTRe agents in the field were compromised the moment that Councilor's Tevos and Sparatus were taken into custody. The Salarian STG would have been compromised as well, if I were captured. Fortunately, the other councilors have no knowledge of what goes on in STG. I evaded escape and used what resources and STG members were available on the Citadel to stage a counter attack.
"I discovered the genjutsu and the enemy infiltration by accident. A pure stroke of fate that I chose to randomly make an inspection of C-Sec. I found a couple of the clones with their genjutsu cloaks down and made a run for it. Unfortunately, I couldn't get a message to the other councilors in time before they were capture.
"Then the invaders took over the Citadel and used Genjutsu to make it look like the nothing had happened. The interruptions in communication and the random disappearances of various people were all caused by the invading clones. I sent Major Kirrahe the rest of the STG squad to the Citadel Tower to retake the chambers while I led the effort to retake C-Sec Headquarters.
"Until you and your team appeared, every clone we took hostage or killed dissolved before we could question or study it. However, because of your…" Valern glanced at Miranda and Jacob, "…associate's discovery of the genjutsu transmitter and the detection protocols, it doesn't seem likely that they'll be able to use such a method against our forces and C-Sec again."
"What does all that mean?" Naruto asked. He swallowed when Valern snapped his head around to look at him again. "Er… I mean, that doesn't really say anything but that you guys had your cover's blown, right?"
"Essentially," Valern said slowly. "What I'm getting at is that Shepard and Agent Uchiha are probably the only SpecTRe agents that are not compromised at this point. Uchiha because he was already on this case and had taken steps to cover his tracks. And Shepard because," Valern glanced at Miranda and Jacob again. They shifted a little under the scrutiny, but didn't cease staring back. "Because you were, indisposed."
Shepard snorted. "That's one way of putting it. I was dead. Cerberus spent a ton of money to bring me back." She reached up and rubbed her forehead, as if to ward off the headache that seemed to always be on the attack. "I think at this point I have more tech in me than the original Normandy."
"Not quite, Shepard," Miranda said. "But close enough, I suppose."
Valern grimaced. "Your association with that organization doesn't speak well of your intentions, Shepard," he said. "But unfortunately, you are all we have at the moment. Agent Uchiha has gone to ground after his last check in four months ago. You and your team are the only ones I can send to find Councilor Tevos and Sparatus."
"You keep calling him Agent Uchiha," Naruto blurted out. "You called him a SpecTRe before. What's up with that?!"
"That is none of your concern, Uzumaki," Valern said. As if for emphasis, Kirrahe jerked Naruto's shoulder. Naruto grimaced.
"Geeze, I can't believe my people want to open an alliance with a bunch of stuck up pricks like you." Naruto had expected that to be the end of the conversation, but after several long and tense moments of silence, Naruto look up from the floor and saw that the Salarian councilor's mouth was hanging open. Seeing that he had their attention now, Naruto decided to keep going. "And on top of that, you keep treating Sasuke like he's some kind of selfless hero. I guess he might have done some good things here, but back home he's one of the biggest international criminals. He helped incite a world war and all for some stupid revenge. If you ask me, I don't think it's fair that you give him a second chance and not me."
"I'm aware of Agent Uchiha's past," Valern said. "As well as your own. Haruno Sakura explained it all very clearly in her report."
"What, is she a SpecTRe too?" Naruto asked, a little bit of envy and a lot of anger creeping into his voice.
"No," Valern said. "She decided to take her own path. She worked closer with the Human System's Alliance than the other Citadel Races."
"Do…" Most of the anger left Naruto as the question he wanted to ask didn't go very well with anger or envy. "Do you know where she is now?"
"Unfortunately, no," Valern said. He turned back to Shepard. "I would have turned to her first, but she's gone missing too. That is why I must place so much on you Shepard. I'll have the relevant data sent to your ship. To make it official, your mission is to find and rescue the Councilor's Tevos and Sparatus from whomever has taken them. You are cleared to use any means necessary. I am also releasing Uzumaki Naruto into your custody to do with as you see fit. Just make sure he doesn't destroy anything important." Shepard nodded in acknowledgment. Valern glanced at Miranda and Jacob once again. "Consider this a test of your allegiance. And his." Valern nodded toward Naruto.
Valern turned to leave. Kirrahe followed. Just as he was about to exit the room, Valern paused. "If you wish for this alliance with your people, then I suggest you return the other councilors unharmed. It would go a long way toward gaining our trust." After saying that, Valern exited the room and the door closed.
Naruto sniffed loudly. "I hate politics." Every head in the room nodded in agreement, Shepard most ardently.
As soon as the airlock clicked shut, EDI's blue avatar appeared over the table. "Commander, before I cut the link with the Citadel's Main Computer, I scanned through C-Sec observation records and found a video file of the Councilor's abductions. Would you like me to play it now?"
Shepard nodded. "Go ahead, EDI."
The blue avatar vanished and was replaced by a flat screen. Video footage immediately began playing showing the docking ramp of a ship. The ship itself was a Kowloon class freighter with no markings to identify it with. Fifteen seconds into the video, several of familiar looking clones appeared, with their arms extended toward Councilors Tevos and Sparatus. There were omni-tools active on each of the seven or so clones as the escorted the Councilors up the ramp and into the ship. Shortly after the ship's hatch shut, the video ended and EDI's avatar popped back up.
"According to Citadel records," EDI said, "the ship you just saw the two Councilors board was not registered to anyone. The computer had logged it as an unknown vessel and an illegal docking to be investigated by C-Sec. Due to genjutsu, it is unlikely anyone in C-Sec ever saw that alert."
"Is there any way to track the ship?" Miranda asked.
"No, there is not," EDI said. "There were no distinguishing marks on the hull and the computer didn't have any records of registration. It is as if the ship appeared out of nowhere to take the Councilors and then vanished from whence it came."
Naruto shivered. "That's creepy. It's like a ghost ship."
"I believe I may have the answer to your problems," a young woman's voice said. As soon as she finished speaking, the young woman in question de-cloaked leaning against the wall.
"What?!" Jacob shouted. He and everyone else jerked and went for their weapons, only to realize they didn't have any. Only Mordin was ready with his Omni-tool pointed threateningly at the newcomer.
"State name and business," Mordin ordered.
"You," Shepard said. "You're the woman who saved me from E-99. When we were falling from the ceiling. I remember Kirrahe calling you 'Ms. Goto.' What happened to you? We were on our way back to the ship and you just… vanished."
"My apologies for not being more visible," Ms. Goto said with a short bow. Mordin glanced at Shepard and saw her motion to lower his arm. He nodded and the glow of his omni-tool vanished. "My name is Kasumi Goto. I work for an Asari information broker. She stumbled upon evidence of the attack on the Citadel and… acquired my services to assist in the effort to stop it."
"An Asari information broker," Shepard said. "You don't mean Liara, do you?"
"Liara?" Garrus asked.
Shepard nodded, "Yeah. I was asking the Illusive Man about my former team and he said Liara was involved with the Shadow Broker and couldn't be trusted. I was going to go look for her anyway."
"I suppose that since you already know who it is, then it would be pointless to keep it a secret," Kasumi said with a nod. "Yes, Liara T'soni was the one who contracted me. Before anyone asks, yes, those clones belong to the new private army that the Shadow Broker has grown for himself. Me and the boss lady have been tracking their movements ever since she caught wind of the Ninja Corps."
"Ninja Corps?" Naruto frowned. "What? What are you talking about."
"You fought one of them yourself, remember," Kasumi said. "The Shadow Broker Ninja Corps. Six different companies with varying numbers of soldiers and specialties. All of them clones of you with slight variations here and there. That one you fought, the girl, was part of Echo Company. They're what you might call the brains of the outfit."
"You fought a girl?" Miranda asked. "I fought a male who looked exactly like Naruto, if not for the difference in armor, I wouldn't have been able to tell the difference."
"Us too," Garrus said. "Jacob and I ran into a bunch of male clones on our way to the comm. tower."
"Those would be members of Delta company," Kasumi said. "They're the grunts of the army and general foot soldiers of any operation the ninja corps takes on. Just be glad it wasn't anyone from Alpha, cause though they look the same, they're on a whole other level of prowess."
"Wait, wait, wait, wait," Naruto said. "Let me get this straight. Some guy named the Shadow Broker made an army of clones that look like me and now he's using his Personal Naruto Army to take over the galaxy?"
"That sounds about right," Kasumi said. "Fortunately, the Shadow Broker seems to have an aversion to operating in the open. The Ninja Corps has stayed mainly in the shadows. The Citadel Operation was the biggest and boldest move they've made yet."
"And now that they've done it once, they know that it's possible and try something even bigger," Shepard said. "Great. Another army of Naruto Clones."
"Just like old times," Garrus said. "Reapers on the horizon. Madmen running loose. And an army of blond clones out for your blood. It's like the galaxy is trying to kill us with a bad joke."
"Only this time, they're blood and flesh clones and not shadow clones," Jacob said. "Damn if you don't know how to pick your enemies, Shepard."
"The only thing that would complicate the mission to save the councilors from the Shadow Broker is the mission against the Collectors," Shepard said. "I will not sacrifice whole colonies of people just to go on a wild goose chase. On that front, I still need to pick up some more team members for that mission and it's not like the Collectors are just going to sit around and twiddle their thumbs while I deal with the Shadow Broker."
"The two missions might not be so disparate, Shepard," Miranda said. Instead of explaining, Miranda said, "EDI could you bring up the scans of the clone I took before it dissolved and compare it to what we have on file for the original Naruto?"
"Of course, Ms. Lawson," EDI said.
Her avatar vanished and was replaced with a screen showing the body of Naruto. Next to it appeared another body which looked exactly the same until several orange lines began to stretch out from each of the holographic bodies, indicating different regions of the body and their differences. Then a third screen popped up showing two strands of double helix side by side, DNA.
"According to my analysis, the clone of Naruto contains no less than a forty different modifications to the DNA as well as cybernetic implants."
"Fascinating," Mordin said. Miranda nodded to Mordin as he stepped forward to get a closer look at the information. "This is very complicated work, but ingenious. Modifying genome structure. Rearranging biological processes. Re-purposing organs. Splicing genetic data from varying species."
"Splicing?" Shepard said with an edge of worry in her voice. "When I hear splicing, I think of those old Earth science fiction books about monsters created in labs by mad scientists."
"Hmm… no monster or malformation present in this DNA sampling. Your worries are unfounded," Mordin said. He pointed at the modified DNA strand. "This example similar to upgrading a weapon or replacing building supports with materials made of better composites. Look here. Evidence of splicing signature. Implanted DNA of Krogan. Asari. Salarian. Even Drell DNA is present. Curious that no Dextro-amino based life forms are included."
"Wouldn't splicing the genetics of a Turian into Human be dangerous?" Garrus asked.
"Normally, yes," Mordin said with a nod. Then he started waving his arms about as he continued his tirade. "But this work is masterful. Superb. Arrogant even. Assumption that the one behind this would not mix the two species would be misguided. The level of technology needed to make these changes is very high. Maker would be able to mix any species they wanted with no downside. No genetic rejection at all. Perfect synchronization."
"What does all this mean though?" Naruto asked. "I get that it's bad, but how bad?"
"Clone would theoretically be stronger," Mordin said. As he listed off each item, he emphasized what he said by counting them off on his fingers. "Faster. More intelligent. Harder to kill. Presence of Krogan DNA indicates that regenerative traits have been added to base DNA. Asari likely for biotics. Salarian certainly for intelligence. Drell as well, known for their dexterity. Original subject showed these traits already, but with these additions, the clones would become near…" Mordin took a deep breath and then said, "…immortal. Human DNA already distinctive for its malleability. Could call this next step of evolution. Artificial evolution."
"Damn," Jacob said. "It sounds like you're saying these clones are super soldiers."
Mordin nodded vigorously. "Exactly. Super Soldiers. Unlike anything the galaxy has ever seen."
"As scary as this information is," Shepard said, "how does this align the Councilor Rescue mission with stopping the Collectors?"
"Shepard," Miranda said, "everything that Doctor Solus has just described isn't possible with present day technology."
"Indeed," Mordin said. "Genophage could be replaced with gene therapy. Lower Krogan birthrate instead of imposing stillbirths. And the possibilities don't stop there. Incurable diseases. Birth defects. All species wouldn't have to worry about any sickness ever again. Technology such as this would have relieved much strife were it available."
"So then that begs the question," Kasumi said. "Where did the technology come from? It couldn't have come from any cultures from now. I've seen a lot of artifacts first hand, but I've never heard of any Prothean technology that can do something like engineering a whole species. Or modifying one that already exists."
"The Reapers did," Shepard said. She frowned as the realization settled in. "The Reapers created the Keepers on the Citadel as organic workers to keep the station in working order and open the Deep Space Relay whenever a Cycle comes to an end. The Protheans from Ilos modified the Keepers somehow so they wouldn't respond to the signal to open the relay."
"That's how the whole mess with Saren got started," Garrus said. "Sovereign needed an agent to go to different worlds and access the Prothean Beacons so he could figure out what happened."
"Exactly," Miranda said. "Therefore, since the Reapers are the only known species to have the technology to do something like this," Miranda gestured toward the genetic comparison, "the only conclusion is that the Shadow Broker is working for the Reapers. Since the Collectors are also agents of the Reapers, it is likely that the two are in collusion."
"And just like that, the Reapers double their forces already in the galaxy," Jacob said. "This just gets better and better."
"This doesn't change our mission," Shepard said. "We still have to stop the Collectors and stopping the Shadow Broker just means the Reapers will have that many less allies when they arrive. We can do this."
"Plus, they're using my clones without my permission," Naruto said. "I can't stand by and do nothing when there are other me's out there wreaking havoc."
"Misguided view," Mordin said. "Clones are not you. Don't share your sentiments, your morals, or your strengths. Would be insult to compare clones to the original."
"Joker," Shepard said.
"Take us out of the Citadel. We're leaving."
Naruto sat back on the couch in Starboard Observation and closed his eyes. As serene as watching the stars pass by was, it also had the habit of putting him to sleep. Sleep was the last thing he wanted to do now. He needed to figure out what was going on and where he had to go now.
As he centered himself, Naruto felt his mind clear. First order of business, figure out what the status of his mission was. His mission was to save Sakura and Sasuke, bring them back to Konoha, and make sure they arrive at the right time instead of in the future or the past.
That mission was going nowhere, right now. Sasuke was gone. The Salarian Councilor said he'd gone to ground four months previous and didn't know his location. Sasuke, at the time, was investigating the Shadow Broker Ninja Corps. It was a bad sign if Sasuke, of all people, had to go into hiding.
Sakura had vanished a while ago, but the Salarian Councilor said she'd worked with the Systems Alliance before she did. Aria, Queen of Omega, had a message for him that Sakura had given to her a while ago. That pointed toward Sakura being in the Terminus Systems somewhere. Where, and if she was still there, were unknown.
The mission to open up diplomatic ties with the Citadel Council was going great, so long as you considered 'great' to being put on a mission to rescue said council from an army of your evil counterparts. Counterparts that were changed so that they were stronger, faster, and smarter than he was. Yeah, that mission was going just awesome. Still, if he could save the council, that would mean his people would have a huge ally against the Reapers.
The mission to stop the Collectors just continued to become more and more complicated. It started out as just stopping the Collectors. Add in the Shadow Broker and his evil clone army, and you end up with the Fifth Shinobi World War… in space! At this point it almost seemed ridiculous to believe that the Collectors, and by extension the Reapers, could be defeated.
He wasn't going to use that as an excuse to quit though. If the Fourth Shinobi World War couldn't stop him, then this one sure wouldn't. Besides, everything he held dear was in the balance. If he didn't fight, the Reapers would kill everyone in his own galaxy.
The next thing he had to worry about was himself. Kurama was out of the action and it seemed like Sage Mode was currently his only means of out fighting any of these clones. If they were better than he was now, then he'd have to hope and pray he'd be able to go into Sage Mode whenever he ran into one of them. But he couldn't count on that, seeing as space had no natural energy in it for him to draw on. If they ever ran into his clones in space, then he'd be screwed. That only meant one thing, he was going to have to train his ass off.
The only question was, how was he going to train while in the middle of space? It wasn't like he could run long distance and doing pushups and other physical exercise would only get him so far. He didn't have the time to get as awesome as Lee did with weights, that took constant training over months, years even. He needed something else to help him get stronger. Another problem was that most of his jutsu were highly destructive. Practicing most of his ninjutsu on the ship would likely destroy it. Not a good thing.
"Penny for your thoughts?"
Having not channeled any natural energy, not that there would be any to channel in space, Naruto hadn't felt it when Kasumi had entered his room and sat down on the couch opposite him. He also hadn't heard or smelled her. So when she spoke, Naruto screamed and leaped up onto the ceiling.
"Woah there, big boy," Kasumi said. "If I knew you were going to react like that I would have just stolen you thoughts instead." At that comment she gave Naruto a cocky little grin.
"I… uh… how did you get in here without me sensing you?"
"I'm very good at what I do," Kasumi said. "You could say that I've been trained in the arts of silence and shadows… but that would be pretty dramatic. I'm not a dramatic girl, not at all."
"Silence and shadow…" Naruto thought about it for half a second before it clicked. "You're like a ninja! But how can you do all that without chakra?"
"Oh ho, so the high and mighty ninja is looking down on little old me?" Kasumi then had to stifle her laughter as what she said registered in her mind.
"Hey," Naruto said as he dropped down to the floor. "Why are you laughing?"
"Nothing, nothing," Kasumi said, waving away his concern. "I was just thinking, if a little girl like me could sneak up on you without chakra, then you must not be a very good ninja."
Naruto scowled. "I'm a very good ninja!" Naruto shouted. "I saved my entire village from a madman who could control gravity! He crushed the entire village and then using his six paths of Pain, tried to kill me. I beat him though."
"Uh huh," Kasumi said, nodding. "I'm sure. I still snuck up on you, oh great one."
Naruto grit his teeth. "I'm more ninja that you are! I bet I could sneak around better than you could!" As soon as the words had left his mouth he knew how stupid and childish he sounded. But words were spoken and couldn't be taken back.
"Hmm…" Kasumi tilted her head as she considered it. "Challenge accepted."
Naruto felt his legs weaken as he lost connection with the conversation. "Wait… what?"
"You bet that you could sneak around better than I could," Kasumi said. "And I'm saying that you can't. So, I'm going to prove it."
"Okay then…" Naruto nodded as understanding came to him. A ninja contest then… but what could they do on a space ship? Couldn't fight. Couldn't really steal anything. Couldn't prank… no, scratch that. Pranks were the perfect idea! "Alright," Naruto announced. "Whoever can prank the most people without getting caught wins!"
"Oh, what's the prize?"
"Uh… I dunno." Naruto scratched the back of his head. "You get to brag about being the better ninja?"
"Oh, I don't think so," Kasumi said, wagging a finger back and forth admonishingly. "Looser has to give up a ninja secret to the other."
Naruto scratched his chin in thought. "Yeah," he said nodding, "that would work. Let's put it in writing though, and ask EDI to be arbiter."
"Huh?" Kasumi tilted her head slightly. "You really put a lot of thought into this, didn't you?"
"I… uh… have gotten into bad bets before," Naruto said quietly. Kasumi shrugged.
"That's fine," she said, "as long as I get my ninja secret when this is over, then I'm game."
"Hah, don't you mean if you win?"
"Oh I'm going to win," Kasumi said confidently. "I'm the best thief in the galaxy for a reason. No one has ever found me. They'll never know what hit them."
"Well, I'm the most unpredictable ninja on my entire planet," Naruto boasted. "I'm also the Prankster King of Konoha. You don't stand a chance!"
"I hereby officially declare the beginning of the Prank War between Kasumi Goto and Uzumaki Naruto," EDI said. "When will the end date be?"
"How about when the Collectors are defeated," Kasumi said. "That sounds like a good time to celebrate. I'd just love a secret Ninja technique to go with it."
Naruto grinned as Kasumi got up and started to leave. This was going to be awesome! A prank war like this galaxy had never seen before!
"Oh, and Naruto," Kasumi said, pausing at the door, "I'm up by one point." She pointed at Naruto's head, winked conspiratorially, and laughed as she walked out the door.
Naruto frowned and reached up. His hand found soft cloth instead of soft blond hair. "What the…" Naruto pulled the cloth off of his head and found… a pair of his own boxers. "No way!" Then he realized that he couldn't feel the boxers he was supposedly wearing. He pulled his waistband out to check and felt the blood drain from his head. "NO FREAKING WAY!"
Note from the Author
I'd like to make a very large excuse for the several month break between chapters. A ninja did it.
Okay, on a more serious note, I ran out of inspiration for this story because of the way that Bioware completely fugged the ending of ME3. The Extended Endings were nice, added in and filled holes, certainly. Still didn't take the taste of "I just sacrificed everything for this" feeling away. After seeing the ending once, I had no desire at all to play the game again. I forced myself to anyway, and the ending still burned. So I lost interest in the game and the story, this story as well.
It took this long for some kind of inspiration to make it back into me, but I suppose that this story has me hooked on some basic level because I continued to come back to thinking about it. Imagining different scenes and so forth. Eventually, I wrote this. Suffice it to say that I'm writing this more from Naruto fandom inspiration than from Mass Effect fandom.
In any event, I apologize if any of you felt like I'd let you down by making you wait so long. Now onto all those lovely reviews you lovely readers have submitted.
Quathis, you brought up a good point about indoctrination and how people drop in skill when that happens. Naruto, in the unwritten story that happens before this one, would have suffered from similar problems, but not entirely the same. I don't want to spoil the plot, because one of the characters will likely touch on it eventually, but Naruto probably wouldn't have had access to Sage Mode or any of the Nine-tails power when he was indoctrinated. Nature manipulation to form wind blade would have likely been too far beyond an indoctrinated Naruto's ability as well. I'll leave the rest of what's possible up to your imagination.
Bahumat knight, I do hope that this chapter cleared up any question you and other readers had about the clones. Yes, they are Shadow Broker Naruto Clones. Such a naughty Shadow Broker.
Azrael Duke, you mentioned the time discrepancies and you are correct. They don't make sense. It'll become a plot point later on, one which I'm sure will throw lots of people for a loop. But rest assured, the discrepancies are planned, and not without purpose.
MEleeSmasher, fear not, I have not placed Naruto into jail. Much ass will be kicked yet. Also, thank you for those two messages, they helped keep me thinking about this story and were part of the reason I continued on with this.
Shouldabeenadog and AnInappropriateName, thank you for your encouraging words. It's good to know when it starts to feel rather limp, because I know that I get kind of wordy when I write. It's an unconscious habit of mine and I appreciate that you pointed it out. I do hope Shepard wasn't boring in this one and I attempted to bring out more of Kasumi's playfulness that seemed a bit subdued in the game. My intension is to give everyone some limelight time so that they can show their improvement, but also have some stuff go on in the background too.
Blinded in a bolthole, you are correct. Shepard was very lucky that indoctrination makes its victims dumber, as it were. Naruto's no slouch, but he's not some super powerful being either, without the Fox's power or Sage mode (those two are game breakers right there). I am confused about your question, but I'll try to answer. Naruto hasn't had a need to use Henge, not really. He could have used it to get into the Citadel, but he was going as a representative of his people and really, going in with a disguise on wouldn't engender very much trust in him or his people (his own indoctrinated actions put aside). As far as Kawarime goes, Naruto did use that technique when E-99 shot him in the head. Replaced himself with a clone. I hope that answers your question, if not, could you please clarify what you wanted to know.
Liger01, it's true. Naruto has been thrown hundreds of feet, blown through boulders, buildings and other hard things that his head has no business going through and coming out whole. In the case of the Krogan in Chapter 6, Garm didn't really hurt Naruto with his shove as much as when his head hit the very hard, metal wall built by the Protheans (we think, could have been someone else). Also, seeing as how Kurama was asleep and was not actively healing Naruto, his healing factor took a little longer to kick in. As you may notice, Naruto was eventually able to knock Garrus out of the way and was still conscious enough to set off the explosive tags he had a clone put on the gunship. As far as the Rasengan variant Naruto used, it wasn't the Rasenshuriken, but the Wind Style: Rasengan, which is the step in between Rasengan and full Rasenshuriken. Naruto just doesn't use it that much in the manga/anime, for whatever reason. It's still a very powerful attack, just small scale compared to the utter devastation wrought by the Rasensuriken. I could say that Naruto didn't use Odama Rasengan because he saw his regular Rasengan rebound right off of Garm's barrier and assumed that non-elemental attacks of any kind would just do the same, but I'll leave that up to your imaginations.
LeadStrategist, I do hope this chapter answered your question about the clones. In truth, I hadn't realized the potential of this clone army I'd invented off of the top of my head until after I wrote this chapter here. My future plans have had to be adjusted slightly to compensate, but not too much. Expect Ninja Corps to play a big role in the coming events.
RandyKaguyaofthewasteland, you have a lot of really good questions. I believe I've answered your first question, if it was about the clones and their regeneration, in this chapter, but the answer is most definitely yes, right on the money, spot on. Krogan DNA, to be specific. And since we're on that subject, let's all just assume that any developments with DNA and chakra and stuff on that front that the Shadow Broker comes up with, the Collectors get their hands on as well. So for your second question… you'll just have to wait and see. The clones were obviously made with reaper tech, so the cybernetic enhancements in them had no bearing on their infiltration abilities (That was taken care of by the genjutsu emitters, which really has no defense in this galaxy. The galaxy's first encounter with chakra only occurred two years previous, during the Geth/Reaper War). As for your final question, you'll just have to wait and see.
Scapheap, the whole SpecTRe/Spectre thing is just my own odd little way of writing it. Even in the games it's spelled Spectre, but I just want to be odd about it, I guess. I hope it's not too intrusive.
To the rest of you dear readers who have reviewed, faved, alerted, and waited these many weeks patiently, thank you very very much. And all of the rest of you readers are just as awesome. Thanks for reading chapter ten of Mass Effect 2: Naruto's Mission. Hope it lived up to your expectations.