Chapter 16: Knowing Pain
"Hey, I thought we were supposed to be going to the village?"
"Naruto, this is the village. Take a close look at everything around you."
Naruto looked around the giant crater that surrounded him, preying that Ma was wrong. However, in the corner of his eye he spotted something that made his stomach drop. The Hokage Mountain, battered and cracked, stood as proudly as ever over the now destroyed village. When he concentrated, he could feel the chakra of the people who inhabit the village running through him, like some cruel joke that was playing on the fact that he had failed to save them. However, there was one presence that he couldn't recognise.
"Is that him? The one in the middle? Is that Pain?"
"That's one of them yes," Fukasaku croaked, as he concentrated his tiny eyes on the orange haired man in the middle of the crater. "He's got the eyes to go alongside that ominous chakra."
"So, I can just take this one out now before the rest of them show up?" Naruto enquired, preparing to attack. However, before he could another figure jumped into the air and a summoning jutsu brought another four people. "Scratch that then, I should probably think a little further ahead."
"Nine Tails" the first Pain called out, his face emotionless. "Do you want to come with me now without protest, or do you want to see the few survivors of your village die?"
"Careful Naruto" Gamabunta called out, as the young Jinchuriki jumped from the giant toad and onto the ground with stupendous force. "You don't want that beast inside of you to get out of control."
"Don't worry, this Sage chakra makes it easier to supress the Nine Tails so it won't be escaping anytime soon" Naruto declared, although the time limit he actually had screamed at him from the back of his mind. However, he put that at the back of his mind as a familiar chakra raced towards the scene at speed.
"Sasuke Uchiha" Deva Pain commented, still unmoved by the latest arrival. "What an interesting little twist we have here. I didn't expect to see you still in the village."
Naruto wondered what that could possibly mean but decided to ignore it for the moment. After all, he had much more pressing concerns.
"Sasuke, go back. I don't want to offend you, but trying to fight while watching your back will be too difficult," Naruto muttered grimly.
"Then don't watch my back if you don't want to, but don't think that I'll be running away from this for your convenience" Sasuke shot back.
"Sasuke, if this is just because you want to prove that my new power hasn't surpassed you-"
"Do you think that I'd be that pathetic?" Sasuke screamed, as he trembled with anger. "I have my own reasons for fighting and frankly, I know that I can be of help."
Naruto looked over at Sasuke inquisitively for a second, wondering where this sudden surge of anger was coming from. Sure, Naruto had always thought that he felt something for the village deep down, but to be affected this much by it?
That's when something clicked in his head. When Naruto had arrived, he had checked the chakra of the people he had cared about the most but there was one that he didn't remember feeling.
"Sasuke, this probably isn't the time but, what happened to Kakashi Sensei?"
Sasuke didn't respond; he simply looked straight ahead. Yet, Naruto could feel a cold change in his chakra, a dark feeling similar to that day at the Valley of the End. He also saw a flicker in his eyes, although from the angle that he was stood Naruto couldn't quite make out what it was.
"Tell the toads to go back" Sasuke said, still refusing to look at Naruto. "This isn't their fight and besides they're only likely to die against this power."
Bellows of protest could be heard behind him, but Naruto did his best to ignore them. Like against Itachi, Sasuke wanted this battle to be personal. He always did and up until now, Naruto had always berated him for it. Yet, this time, he had a similar feeling himself.
"Everyone except the boss and Ma should leave, we'll take care of this" Naruto ordered, to the annoyance of the toads. Under much protest, they dispersed leaving just the two smallest behind.
"Fools" Deva Pain muttered.
Without any warning, the mechanical looking Pain burst out from the pack and charged at Naruto. With one swift attack, Naruto crushed it into the ground. Pieces of metal sprayed out everywhere and the sound of machinery breaking rang out as the body was pushed further into the earth. Although, Naruto could tell he was in trouble as another presence appeared just above him. Given the short distance, Naruto knew that there wasn't much he could do about it and simply prepared for impact.
The attack never came and when Naruto next looked up, the longhaired Pain was covered in a shroud of blue chakra. Except, it wasn't a shroud really was it? No, the more Naruto looked the more it appeared to be a hand.
"Naruto, step back" Sasuke said calmly, before Naruto could speculate any further. "I wouldn't want to mess up that new cape of yours.
Looking over at Sasuke, everything became clear. He was surrounded by a giant skeleton made of the very same blue chakra and his Sharingan had turned in to the shape of a star. Sensing what would come next, Naruto did as he was told and jumped back just in time to watch the body be squashed by the hand of the Susano'o and the blood burst out everywhere close by.
"Interesting" Pain remarked, his thoughts passing through each body simultaneously. "Stupidly, I've underestimated this situation. Even for me, fighting a Mangekyo Sharingan user and a Sage will be difficult. Still, they aren't on Itachi and Jiraiya's level yet so I still have the advantage. Just need to stall until my full powers return."
The female Pain fired off multiple summoning's in succession, creating a collection of giant summons all equipped with a Rinnegan design of their own. Even though each summon had different qualities, such as the rhino that appeared to have sheer strength and the fierceness of the three-headed wolf, they were all incredibly threatening.
"Now that we've got rid of the toads, any ideas for dealing with these things?" Naruto asked, trying not to sound desperate. Predictably, Sasuke responded with a smile.
"We already have a strategy for dealing with this kind of thing, remember?" Sasuke responded, to Naruto's confusion. "I just hope that you've upgraded your side of the attack as much as I have."
Sasuke retracted his Susano'o and closed his left eye. Naruto was still confused until he noticed the small amount of blood trickling down his cheek. Catching on, Naruto hastily made his hand seals.
"Sage Art: Wind Hurricane Jutsu!"
The black flames were spread across the entire crater, igniting each of the summons. They shrieked in pain as the searing hot infernos quickly consumed them. Before long, each of the animals had vanished in a cloud of white smoke but the problems did not disappear with them.
"Sasuke!" Naruto yelled out, looking to alert his teammate.
"I'm already on it!" Sasuke shouted back, turning his right eye on to the flames that had spread to the small parts of the village that were still left. He worked quickly to extinguish the fire, hoping that he hadn't caused the death of any of his comrades.
"They're doing very well" Fukasaku beamed positively from the sideline position they had taken. However, this was met with a rather pessimistic groan from Ma.
"For now but the Uchiha boy doesn't look to be holding out too well and Naruto's Sage Mode will not last forever without us on his shoulders. There's still a long way to go yet" Ma responded.
"Shadow Clone Jutsu!"
Naruto had noticed that Sasuke wasn't holding out too well, after he'd grabbed his right eye and stumbled to the ground. Deciding to end it quickly, he began forming his new technique he had perfected with Sage Mode.
He launched the giant chakra Shiruken across the crater towards the four remaining bodies. They all immediately jumped out of its range, except for the female body that simply stared in horror. Eventually, that body dodged as well but Naruto knew that it was too late. The Shiruken expanded and completely decimated the female path, leaving no trace of her once the technique ended.
Using the chaos that Naruto had created, Sasuke shot a bolt of Chidori towards a seemingly unaware Pain. However, he simply turned and raised his arms and the technique seemed to vanish. Sasuke grunted and turned to Naruto.
"Seems that one can absorb ninjutsu, we'll have to take him first" he whispered.
"We have more important things to worry about just this second" Naruto replied, his voice filled with worry. "I'm out of Sage chakra, seems using that first jutsu alongside the Rasenshuriken was just too much."
"Well, what do we do now?"
"That's what this scroll is for" Naruto said, taking the giant scroll that was strapped to his back. "I don't have time to explain but I can use this to replenish my Sage chakra the only thing is-"
"I'll have to hold him off alone," Sasuke declared, as he began walking over towards the three remaining Pains. "That's just fine, you do what you need to do."
Sasuke stood in front of the bodies and once again allowed the deadly blue chakra to engulf him and was soon surrounded by his ethereal guardian. He winced ever so slightly, feeling a very small burning sensation rush around his body, although it left almost as quickly as it came.
"Sasuke Uchiha" Deva Pain commented once again. "It's very ironic that you of all people in this village have come to stand before me. You see, unlike them, you understand something about Pain don't you? You know what it's like to feel the loss of everyone close to you, to be betrayed by the one's you trusted. To be betrayed even by your own village."
Sasuke, who had been largely ignoring Pain's sermon up until that point, opened his eyes wide in horror.
"That isn't true, what he told me was a lie!" Sasuke screamed. "You're just trying to play with my head, just like he did!"
"What do I have to gain by lying to you?" Pain responded calmly. "After all, getting you all worked up will probably only grant you more power, such is the way of your clan. I am simply telling you what you need to know. This village manipulated your dear older brother and forced him to kill everyone you held dear."
"Shut up!" Sasuke yelled, as the chakra around him turned much more violent. Thicker chakra wrapped itself around the bones of the Susano'o, making something resembling skin. Next, another bunch of chakra wrapped itself around, creating a layer of armour. Sasuke stood there, glaring at his opponent with a heart filled with rage.
"Die" he spat, as his Susano'o fired an arrow right at the centre Pain. Predictably, the larger body moved to absorb the attack, which it began doing successfully. However, out of nowhere another Rasenshuriken appeared from the side and was sent screaming towards the Pains. Knowing there was nothing he could do, the Pain absorbing the attacks simply allowed himself to be hit while the others were able to dodge once again. After Naruto's attack was complete, only two Pain's remained. Despite this, Deva Pain made something resembling a smile.
"Finally" he said, as another Rasenshuriken flew towards the duo. The attack just seemed to bounce off of them and Naruto could feel his precious Sage chakra leave him once more. Sasuke on the other hand could feel his eyes shaking involuntarily, as if they were trying to force themselves to rest. Sasuke knew that he couldn't keep this up for too long and decided to end his Susano'o in order to preserve the technique for later use.
"Enough playing, Nine Tails it's time you came with me," Pain declared, as he extended his arm towards Naruto and opened up his hand. A black sphere appeared there and began pulling everything towards it. This gravitational pull caught both Naruto and Sasuke by surprise and they had to act quickly. In desperation, Sasuke summoned his Susano'o once more, although he only used the ribcage and arms. He used one had to grab Naruto and another to dig in to the ground to stop the pull. However, he had not counted on the other Pain being able to move so he was left with a tough choice when he noticed him coming towards him with a sharp rod. Deciding it was too good of an opportunity to miss, as well as the slight doubt in his mind that his defence would not hold, Sasuke used the hand connected to the ground to grab and crush the body. This meant that, with nothing to hold them, both Naruto and Sasuke were sent flying towards the small gravitational field. However, Sasuke was ready and he pulled the free arm into the air threateningly.
"Once we get close enough, I'll just crush him where he stands!"
However, Pain seemed to have caught on to this idea and he quickly ended the technique and moved out of the way.
"Replenish that chakra one more time, then we'll finish him" Sasuke muttered, as Naruto ran towards the scroll again.
"Impressive work" Pain said to Sasuke condescendingly. "You're the second person with a Sharingan to avoid my trap today, can you guess who was the first? The only hint I can give you is that I killed him as well. Shame really, Kakashi Hatake could have been useful to me."
"Don't you dare" Sasuke spat. "Don't you dare mention his name!"
The chakra of the Susano'o turned violence once again and another layer was added. A type of cloak surrounded the armour, revealing only two small lights for eyes in a small space at the top. He had taken on the same Susano'o form as Itachi and he could feel it's immense power. However, that was not all he could feel. Sasuke's eyes filled with a searing pain unlike anything he had ever felt before. His Susano'o instantly dissipated and he grabbed his eyes to shield them from the pain. When he opened them, all he could see was a faint blur with each object barely distinguishable from the other.
"No" he whispered. "Not now, not already."
"You are a fool Sasuke Uchiha" Pain mocked, as he simply walked past the boy. "Itachi did not use the power as wastefully as you because he knew the consequences of such use. Now, I can finally take what I came for."
Pain ran over to a defenceless Naruto, who had yet to summon his clone. With no Sage chakra, he had no chance against Pain who was able to pin him down with his rods.
"Time for us to go" Pain declared threateningly.
"I think you're forgetting about me!" Sasuke screamed, as he ran towards Pain with his katana in his right hand and a Chidori in his left. Effortlessly, Pain knocked him away with Shinra Tensei but such a setback didn't deter Sasuke. He came back again with his katana and Pain summoned a rod to fight back.
"You think you can beat me in your state? You're as delusional as Kakashi I'll tell you that."
The battle itself not so much a battle as a savage beating. Pain effortlessly blocked Sasuke's wild attack, who was then unable to defend from Pain's counters. With deep cuts all over his body, almost no eyesight and terrible pain in his heart he just kept going desperate to protect his friend.
"Enough of this" Pain spat, as he stuck his weapon straight through Sasuke's stomach. "I've spent more than enough time with trash like you."
As Naruto watched his best friend fall slowly backwards with blood streaming from both his mouth and stomach, he began to feel an unnatural amount of anger. This demonic rage burned up inside him, consuming him quicker than anything ever had before. This was the last straw; Pain had finally pushed him too far. With a barbaric roar, Naruto allowed himself to be consumed and set his sights on the source of his pain.