Fata Morgana Chapter 9
Shield and Sword
Disclaimer : Do not own anything. Source material, songs, characters and plot all belong to their respective creators, I am simply borrowing them. Without permission.
To ChaosRune and other people with the same opinion; You are entirely right. Fata Morgana, like The Hunter, has absolutely nothing to do with a canon shinobi Naruto. My apologies and no hard feelings if you decided not to continue either, it was my fault for being selfish and wanting to use Naruto anyway.
FictionJunction Yuuka – Akatsuki no Kuruma
The Cab – Angel with a Shotgun
Play FictionJunction Yuuka – Akatsuki no Kuruma
Chifuyu carefully combed her long hair before setting down the comb. She stood up and stretched before heading for the door, "Ichika, Nee-san is going out to work!"
A short boy, about 6 years old toddled out into the hallway, clutching his favourite teddy bear, "Nee-cha working?"
Chifuyu smiled sadly, "Yeah, I'll be back by dinner. If you get hungry, I left some food in the oven alright?"
The small boy grabbed her jeans and pouted, "When is mama and papa coming back?"
The girl who was in her last year of high school faltered as she gathered the small boy into an embrace, "I-I'm sure they'll be back soon. So you have to be brave and smile for them when they do alright?"
He smiled brightly, "Un, I'll learn to cook for them so that they can come back to some warm food. Nee-cha as well!"
The older sibling gave him a strained smile, "You're all grown up aren't you? Pretty soon you won't be able to join Nee-chan in the bath or sleep in the same bed anymore."
The small boy managed to mould his chubby face into a stricken expression at her teasing, "Eeeh! I don't wanna grow up anymore. I can't sleep alone at night!"
Chifuyu chuckled, "Alright, alright." She stood up tiredly, the toll of taking three part time jobs on top of high school that was clearly showing on her face, something that she was thoroughly thankful that Ichika could not understand yet, "Nee-chan is going to work. Don't forget to lock the door alright?"
The lonely sight of Ichika waving at her from the window tore at her heart. Turning around, she ran as fast as her legs would allow, heading for the isolated mansion to drop something off before heading for job. It didn't take long despite the distance she had to cover, knocking on the large doors gently, she pushed the doors open and made her way through the familiar corridors.
"Naruto?" Chifuyu called out loudly, the sound of her voice echoing in the near empty mansion.
"Up here!" A muffled voice replied from the second floor.
Sighing, the black haired girl threw her long hair over her shoulder and began climbing up the marble steps, "What are you doing up there?"
A blonde head of hair peaked up from behind the banister. The blonde was dressed in a sharp blue suit and his hair was brushed back in a neat but suave style, "Just getting ready, why are you here?"
Chifuyu set a bento down on the nearest table, "I made some food for you." Unaware of her friend's twitching eyebrow, she wrinkled her nose at his overly expensive suit, "What are you getting ready for?"
"Ami's father is having a party. I was invited." The blonde answered with a careless wave as he put on a tie, "Her father is pretty famous you know."
"Ami? That airhead?" Chifuyu's lips thinned severely. It had only been a year since the blonde received a new skeleton but ever since then Naruto had been… outgoing, to put it lightly, intoxicated on his newfound mobility like a man was intoxicated on drink, If you have time to waste by going to parties, I'd prefer if you went looking for Tabane."
Another careless wave was sent her way, "If Tabane doesn't want to be found, there's nothing I can do. Might as well enjoy it while I can," he spun around smartly, "How do I look?"
"Like an overblown, pompous balloon." Chifuyu answered sharply.
Naruto smiled dryly, "Works for me. You wanna come? It'll be good."
"Unlike some people, I actually have to work to earn money so that I can take care of my little brother." Chifuyu answered stiffly as she stood there in a dignified pose.
"Oh right, Ichika wasn't it? When are you going to introduce him to me?" Naruto asked lightly.
"I would love to introduce him to the boy who was my childhood friend." Chifuyu who was already taking long strides towards the door spun around with a look of disgust plastered on her face, "the friend whom Tabane worked day and night to save. Our friend was a cheerful yet humble boy who looked at everything differently. When you started acting like a fool that spent money like water, I thought it was just a phase, I thought that letting you enjoy doing things that you couldn't before wasn't wrong. But it's been a year since then. It took me a while to realize it but," She jabbed a finger at him, "You are not that friend anymore. I do hope you enjoy your evening."
She spun around sharply and practically ran for the door.
Up on the second floor, Naruto closed his eyes and wished that he had forgotten to fit in his new optics the day before.
He had seen Chifuyu crying a split second before she slammed the door.
Collapsing on the top of the stairs, he cradles his head in his arms, "Commence playback, File 023." He painfully whispered to himself.
The scratchy sound of a voice recorded on a low quality device echoed through the empty mansion, "As cliché as this is gonna sound, if you hear this, then your mother and I are probably not around anymore." His father's voice, cheerful even while recording his will.
"Stop playing around Minato! Let me say something too!" there was the sound of something scuffling and flesh getting smacked, "Naru-chan? Can you hear me?"
His mother's voice this time, feminine yet strong willed, "Yeah, kaa-san. I hear you loud and clear…" he whispered coarsely.
"Right, guess you can't answer huh? Hehehe…" She laughed sheepishly, "Ahem. We might have gotten involved in something a little annoying. There are some very bad people chasing us because we found out something we weren't supposed to." The voice turned sombre, "Hopefully you never have to hear this recording, but if you do, I want you to know that…." Kushina's voice hitched, "That w-we'll always love you."
There was some fumbling on the other end until his father's voice returned, "Your mother is a little indisposed at the moment… Naru-chan… we know that you will try to find us, or our assailants. Something your mother does not want but eh…." There was a pause in the recording, "Man to man, I already know that nothing I say will stop you. Naruto, you are a kind boy, but sometimes kindness is not enough. That's why I have left you something."
He could hear his father crying, "A sword and shield. Live Naruto, live for us…. We love you."
Naruto yawned as he threw on a formal white shirt over an orange singlet before finishing off the ensemble with a black coat. It was his first day back at IS Academy after what seemed like a year but was only about a week or so at most. Glancing in the mirror, he made sure that everything was in place before descending the stairs to grab a bite to eat.
"That smells pretty good." Naruto quirked his lips in a smile as he entered the kitchen, "Yo, morning Ichika. I wasn't expecting ya to be up so early."
The slender boy smiled half-heartedly, "Back home I always had to wake up early to make breakfast for Chifuyu-nee or she would break my arm. I guess I just got used to it."
"She never was very good at cooking… or household chores now that I think about it." Naruto commented airily.
"I'm actually still a little surprised, Namikaze-sensei." The black haired boy scrapped some scrambled eggs onto a plate for Charles, "I never even knew she had a childhood friend other than Shinonono-san until I met you."
Naruto made a pinched expression, "She was uh… too embarrassed to introduce you to me I guess."
"Why would that be?"
The blonde hummed thoughtfully as he slowly chewed on some bacon, "Let's just say I wasn't squared away and leave it at that."
Ichika looked interested at the strange wording, "Squared away? Was it because of your sickness?"
"Partially." Naruto answered curtly, signalling the end of that particular conversation as the third member of their residence sleepily made his way to the kitchen as well. Naruto threw a glance over his shoulder and quirked an eyebrow at the usually neat and clean Charles.
"What's wrong? You look like you had a bad night."
Charles sent him a dark glare, hastily straightening his crumpled uniform as he took a seat and fiddled with the fork and knife. The two other boys watched him poke at the salad.
Seemingly irritated by their stares, the yellow haired boy snarled, "What are you looking at me like that for?"
Ichika and Naruto instantly lowered their faces and began eating silently, until Ichika kicked Naruto under the table, "What's with him? He's always so nice as well?"
"Why the heck are you asking me for?" Naruto whispered back.
Ichika was about to reply when Charles suddenly burst into tears, "You think I'm fat don't you? That's why you gave me salad to eat!"
Dumbfounded, the two of them only stared as Charles ran back up to his room, wailing his head off, "What…. Just happened?"
Naruto had this niggling suspicion at the back of his mind that he was forgetting something, "I uh…. Dunno. Maybe we should let him stay in for today," he shrugged haplessly; "I'll let Yuki know that he's skipping class for today."
"Right…."Ichika nodded slowly, "I'll leave something in the oven and we can go."
As the two of them were walking to the Academy, Naruto couldn't help but get more and more scared with every step he took, "Is it me…. Or is everyone glaring at us?" Naruto whispered to his companion in a hushed whisper.
Ichika surreptitiously glanced around, "It's not just you. Did we do something to annoy 600 girls?"
Naruto clutched his briefcase to his front like a shield, "I dunno…. But the way their looking at us, it's as if just being male is a bad thing…"
Waving at Ichika, Naruto was about to hurry to the teacher's room for some safety when he ran into a stern looking Chifuyu, "O-Oh, it's just you." Naruto sighed in relief, "Charles won't make it toda-"
She cut him off, "Naruto, I need a favour."
"Uh… what is it? ….. Why are you staring at me like that? I'm getting kinda nervous here."
His childhood friend gave him a smile so sweet that it instantly set his teeth on edge. It also finally clued him into what was happening and why all the girls were glaring at him and Ichika; Chifuyu never smiled like that unless it was her time of the month. The jumble of thoughts rumbling around in his head could basically be boiled down into a simple equation.
600 girls plus bad mood plus heavily armed flying mechas plus Chifuyu equals [Screwed.]
As Naruto backed away from the sweetly smiling Chifuyu he couldn't help but snap at Delta, "I think that's kinda obvious isn't it?!"
Looking around in a panic, he made to dash around the corner but Chifuyu, who had already been expecting it, instantly lunged forward and put him into a painful chokehold.
"Delta! Armour MODE!"
"You listen to him and I'll turn you into a pile of scrap iron."
[….Activating sleep mode.]
"TRAITOR!" He noticed Chifuyu's smile widening.
That usually meant it was going to hurt. Badly.
"And so, I understand that all of you are in a bad mood today." Chifuyu nodded at the whole group of gloomy looking girls, "That's why we found some volunteers to provide some stress relief."
"VOLUNTEEERS MY FRACKIN ASS!"Naruto screeched from the middle of the arena where he was tied up with industrial strength cable, "IN WHAT COUNTRY DOES PUTTING ME IN A CHOKEHOLD AND THEN SUPLEXING ME CONSTITUTE VOLUNTARY!?"
"Details." Chifuyu brushed it off.
"Give it up, Namikaze-sensei, Chifuyu-nee always does whatever she wants when she's in this kind of mood." Ichika muttered from beside Naruto, tied up in the same cable, though he felt a certain sense of satisfaction that the blonde was now suffering the same thing as him.
"Namikaze-sensei and Orimura-san have kindly volunteered to be today's target practice. Feel free to take out your frustrations on them." She turned around to wave at the two males, "You have two minutes to get ready before I set them on you."
Behind her, a deep red aura was burning around the gathered group of excited girls.
"Any plans?" Ichika murmured as the cables fell away from them.
"Just one." Naruto instantly went into Armour Mode, "Run the fuck away."
"E-Eh!? You're leaving me here?! That's not fair!" Ichika yelled as he equipped Byakushiki and chased after the blonde who was trying to fly straight out of the arena.
"Better you then me." Naruto sent back before flying straight into the barrier face first with a yelp, causing Ichika to start laughing at the blonde misfortune until a large blast of compressed air flew by him, narrowly clipping his wings, "ACK! Ri-Rin!"
"Hi, Ichika, today I prove to you that I'm not just another childhood friend!"
Below them, Naruto landed with a rather loud crash, "Ow…." The blonde groaned as he crawled out of the man made crater, "Alright… Plan B. Delta, Optimize MPP."
"DEEEH?! Why?!" Naruto demanded as he began running away from the horde, "You've been acting REALLY weird you know."
[Changes in A.I. behaviour are a part of Namikaze Kushina's I . Want .Grand kisses . Exe.]
The blonde grumbled as he rolled out of the way from a wall of bullets, "What the heck was it?!"
[Resistance is futile. Submit and let it blow over, it's less painful that way. And more rewarding at night apparently.]
"Why the fuck would she put something like that in the programming!?" Naruto asked incredulously.
[She didn't. Your father did.]
"Oh god…" Naruto face palmed, "I really didn't need to know that….." He nearly began crying then and there; unfortunately he didn't have the time as three ISes dropped out of the sky around him.
"Alright… if you want to play…." His two heat blades slid out with a loud rasp and he crossed them ominously, "Then let's play."
Darting forwards, he ducked under an outstretched rifle, "Lesson one, your barriers can't stop melee attacks from connecting, just reduce the damage taken. That means absolutely nothing when I can hit you hard enough. That's why most if not all top IS pilots are primarily melee based." He shoved the blade into the unit's shoulder unit and jerked, cutting off the IS's optics, and causing the girl to wheel around blinded as her entire HUD went dark.
The dark grey Orbital Frame hunched over when a blast from a rather familiar sniper hit him from behind. Stumbling a little, he spun around only to find himself looking up into the business end of her Starlight at point blank range. "Oh, Cecilia, well met." He grinned teasingly at the girl with the sniper rifle currently aimed at his head.
"I've been training every day for a rematch, I'm not losing again!" She pulled the trigger, only to find that the man had sort of pirouetted, evading the shot, and back flipped onto her back. Gripping her armour with one hand, he stabbed his blade into the power pack on her back, "Lesson two; just because you have a big gun doesn't mean you're better. The bigger your gun, the easier it is for an agile unit to get around that heavy hunk of junk and shank your ass." He landed agilely and spun, cutting off two arms, "In close range, you either switch or a melee weapon or use a smaller secondary weapon unless you're just that good." He patted an immobile and growling Cecilia's head in a sympathetic manner, "And you, my dear British Rep, are not that good just yet."
Running forward, the ten foot tall dark grey Orbital Frame hit the ground sliding, cutting off a few leg units on the way, standing up he slashed their shoulder plates, leaving deep gouges in the floating pieces of armour, "Lesson three, your A.I.'s are the most important part of your IS. A human cannot handle the amount of complex calculations required to even take a step without that A.I. so you should always watch out when someone is going for your shoulder plate since that's usually where the cores are located. Even if your opponent can't bring your energy points too much by hitting it, taking out your A.I leaves you as good as useless."
Leaping back a few steps he felt his back touch someone and he whirled around with his blades, stopping a large blue katana of light from bisecting him, "Ichika?!"
The two of them widened their eyes and dashed by each other taking out an IS each, "This is pretty good exercise eh? Well to be honest, I was going to do this to you anyway."
"Yo-You what?!" As Naruto ran off with an insane laugh, Ichika gritted his teeth, "Wait up, you sonova…. Why are you enjoying this so much?!"
"Gak! Why are you attacking ME ICHIKA?!"
"Didn't Chifuyu-nee say it was to reduce stress? I'VE BEEN WAITING FOR THIS DAY A LOOOONG TIME! DIE BASTARD!"
"Weren't men supposed to stick with each other?!"
"YOU MEAN LIKE HOW YOU LEFT ME TO DIE EARLIER?!"
"Well, wasn't that an interesting day." A noticeably black and blue Naruto smiled cheerfully as he stood in front of the hall filled with rather upset and gloomy teenagers. What was originally meant to be a stress relief session for a majority of the Academy had been promptly turned into a full blown ass kicking disguised as a lesson where the blonde at the front of the class gave as good as he got. Ichika was at the back of the hall, already knocked out due to exhaustion.
"Aww, c'mon, it wasn't that bad. You guys learnt a lot didn't you?" Naruto cheerfully declared, "We should do it again sometime soon."
The hall was painfully silent until a lone hand rose, "Sensei, you're an asshole."
Naruto began crying comically, "What? Why?"
"You like fighting too much. We're just innocent little girls..."
Naruto sweat dropped, "Debatable... and it's more like I just like to move whether it's to fight or play…" seeing that none of the teenage girls were responding, he scratched his head with some exasperation, "Hmmm…. This is problematic…. I know what. I'll teach you guys something secret, what do you think?"
Another bead of sweat ran down his forehead as the girls suddenly looked extra interested, what was it with girls and secrets?
"Is there an old IS we can use?" he asked one of the other teachers.
"Yeah sure." The old woman who was in charge of history nodded and summoned an old Uchigane for the blonde's demonstration, "We're about to scrap this one because it's too old. Go ahead and use it."
"Osu, thanks, Hime-sensei."
Placing the Uchigane at the front of the hall, he popped out the panelling under the IS's chest armour, and fumbled around before pulling out a thick blue wire with a black box clipped to the middle, "See this? This is the main power coupling that connects the IS batteries to the motherboard," He tapped the black box, "This is what regulates the amount of power the IS sources to your weapons, ensuring that there's always something leftover for your safety."
With a jerk, he disconnected one end of the wire and shaved off the blue rubber with a quick cut of his rapier, "If you disconnect it like that, you'll manually shut down your weapon systems but…." The tall blonde murmured with a mischievous grin that had half the class smiling at his silliness. Grabbing the large optical rifle from the table, he popped out the grip and pulled out a blue wire that he nimbly connected to the one from the IS.
"Now who can tell me what that does?"
A blue haired girl lifted her hand, causing Naruto to smile, "Yes, Tatenashi-san."
The girl adjusted her glasses and answered in a distant manner, "By directly rerouting the batteries to an optical weapon, it will allow you one extremely power shot that drains every single bit of your batteries due to the removal of the limiter; depending on how much energy is left in your batteries, something of that power should theoretically pierce anything short of a fortress. The downside of that is that since the weapon systems are no longer functioning, you will be required to aim manually and if you miss, you will be completely at your opponent's mercy. Not only that, the chances of your weapon overloading and exploding in your face is extremely high."
Naruto clapped approvingly, "Very well thought out answer, Tatenashi-san. As expected of the girl with the highest score in technical IS theory." Placing his palms flat on the table in front of him, the blonde's eyes roved over the class seriously, discretely picking out a few students that he had been observing during the match, "Of course, as most of you can already surmise, this is a last ditch effort. I would like to remind you that the Infinite Stratos is NOT a toy. It can be a shield or a sword, but sometimes, when you're pushed into a corner and you have something precious you need to protect, a shield is useless to you. That's why I'm teaching you this, so that when that day comes, you will know how to turn a shield into a sword."
Dropping the sombre expression, he winked mischievously at the class, "This is a secret alright? So don't tell anyone I taught you to do something like this since it's not only illegal in matches but you're not supposed to be tinkering with your units."
As the class slowly trooped out of the room in an excited chatter, he gently stopped Cecilia, "Alcott-san?"
The blonde girl frowned, "What is it? Trying to insult me again?"
"Is that how you think of me?" Naruto dryly asked, "But no, not today. I just wanted to congratulate you."
She straightened just that little bit before staring at him suspiciously, "What for?"
"You did well out there. I could count the number of people who managed to get a clean hit on me on two hands. Rather than act childishly like your rival Lingyin who went straight for Ichika to get some points with him, you acted the way a sniper should have done, hiding and sniping from a far, or at least you did until you got a little overconfident and you exited your cover so that you could see your opponents face while you deliver the final blow." Naruto smiled warmly, "Fix that little issue and you'll be a pretty good pilot."
Cecilia lowered her head and ran off with a muttered, "Th-thanks."
As the blonde stretched, congratulating himself on acting like a real teacher, he noticed a black haired woman approaching him with a severe expression, "What. Are. You. Doing?!"
"Teaching." Naruto replied with a half-smile, "Besides I didn't really teach them the whole thing. If they tried to pull it out just like that, the entire IS would shut down as a safety precaution."
"Do you not understand what you just DID? YOU JUST HANDED EVERYBODY LISTENING A LOW LEVEL NUKE! Why would you teach them to do something so dangerous!?" Chifuyu yelled at her childhood friend with an incredulous glare, "They may be students and children now but you don't know if they won't use that knowledge to do something bad in the future!
"And that's your job isn't it?" Naruto calmly rebutted.
"What?" Chifuyu breathed in surprise.
"I was hired as a combat instructor, my job here is to give them the skills required to use an IS." The man sat down tiredly with a small smile playing on his lips, "I taught them how to use a sword and a shield. Teaching them that the IS isn't just another toy for hormonal teenagers, teaching them WHY and WHAT they are using that sword and shield for… is YOUR job, isn't it, Orimura-sensei. "
The way he stared at her told the black haired woman everything. He was depending on her to teach the new generation that IS's been toys, and if she succeeded, maybe, just maybe, the Grey Catastrophe would no longer be necessary. It also made her warm a little that the blonde had actually remembered the talk they had about her feeling useless.
She sighed in a long suffering manner, "You really are an idiot…"
"Yeah, I agreed with you the first three thousand times you said that." He shot back with a smile.
"Are you alright?" She asked coolly as the man gingerly touched the bruises on his face.
"I should be fine by tomorrow," Naruto replied; too busy looking in a small mirror that he had borrowed from Yamada-sensei, "Honestly, this really isn't anything that I'm not already used too."
Chifuyu rolled her eyes and left the room, returning shortly with a cold compress that she offered to the blonde man who was watching her with a strange glint in his eyes, "I've said it before, but I'll say it again. No matter how many times I see it, the sight of you in a skirt always gets me. Tomboyish little Yuki who would rather wrestle in the mud rather than put on a skirt grew up to be-"
Chifuyu slugged him in the face, adding another bruise to his growing collection.
Before slapping the compress to his cheek.
"Gyyaaoooww! Are you trying to help or make it WORSE?!"
"Both." She countered shortly.
The two of them sat in the empty room silently, watching the sun go down until Naruto's hand crept across the table and grasped hers, gently lifting it to his other cheek.
"This feels better than any compress." He said with a rather painful smile.
"At least I'm your idiot."
Something is seriously wrong with Kur0 lately, I only noticed after I was done putting the finishing touches on this chapter.
She's suddenly in the mood to write pure hearted fluffy romance; especially noticeable when she started writing Outcast Paradise out of the blue. I didn't even know she watched that sappy, dripping thing. She basically stormed into my room, slapped the USB and the layout on my desk and outright ordered me to write the rest. By that point, going by past experience and her current mood, I already knew that my options were restricted to a) write it or b) get a black eye. AND she's been peppering our profile page with… pictures…. Almost all of which are complete and utter slap-you-in-the-face level spoilers…. *groans*