Disclaimer: I don't own 'em.
Warning: Spoilers of the manga. There will soon be some very graphic sexual scenes.
Welcome to the official rewrite of Life Moves On, entitled Life Moves On: Back to Life. This will be the first of many subsequent stories in my Life Moves On Universe, which is more of an "alternate path" of the Narutoverse. Our story starts off over 20 years since the end of the Fourth Shinobi World War, although the exact timeline will be expressly stated later in the series.
As a warning, this prologue does not feature any characters from the Narutoverse – all OCs. This launches one of the side-stories of this story, which wasn't featured in the original story. It might be a little hard to follow, but I ask you to try your best. The point of this is to set the tone of the state of international affairs. This will become very significant by Chapter 6 or so.
This chapter was betaed by SingingSparklyKuma.
Chapter 0: Prologue
Sho Nakamura looked over his shoulder again. He needed to make sure he wasn't being followed. If the higher-ups caught wind of what he was doing, he would be executed. He took a very roundabout route to get to the safehouse, and he made sure to double back a few times, but one could never be too careful in such a time.
The night mist was starting to pick up again, and he knew that it would be hard to see after it had spread. He needed to get there soon. If anyone saw he was outside, he'd be a dead man anyway. No one was allowed out after the curfew. The punishment was death.
There were a lot of things that could be punishable by death nowadays. The era of the Old Mist was over, and the Blood Mist Village was back. The Fifth Mizukage, Mei Terumi, had died years ago, and her successor, the new Lord Mizukage Hiroto had reinstated the old policies. His first action was to annul the alliance with the other four great nations. The Mist and the Land of Water became isolationist, but that didn't stop Hiroto from setting imperial sights on an island to the west. A small indigenous people who did not know war with shinobi for over a century were all killed, and the small island was made a colony of the Mist.
That's right – Hiroto decided that he would wage war for the village, not the nation. The daimyo were too scared of him to object. They graciously allowed him his island, on which he set up a gigantic prison called Shi no Keimusho, the Prison of Death. It's where he imprisoned enemies of his regime before he enacted the death penalty.
He replaced the old elders with his supporters, and held as tight a grip on the ninja of his village as he did his ANBU. Sho was a higher-up in the ladder, a jonin in charge of the academy and all genin teams. He was always a part of the meetings that Hiroto had, when he would talk about the secret missions. Despite his isolationist policies, Hiroto had strategically placed ninja in the upper-ranks of the Cloud and Sand villages, and was working on the Leaf currently.
He was more a dictator than a kage. With all the daimyo of the Land of Water either in his pocket or too terrified to speak, Hiroto was essentially the king of the country. And while the country was booming economically and was still one of the strongest nations around, things were bad. Hiroto was paranoid, and started to constrict freedoms, enacting laws like the curfew, in order to exert his authority.
Sho finally got to the safehouse, and pressed himself close to the wall next to the door. He knocked three times in a special order, and a viewing slit opened.
"When does the bell toll?" came a raspy voice that Sho knew to be Moren. Moren Yagushi was his protector, a close family friend who had sworn himself to Sho's clan. Moren was just as involved in this as Sho was.
"The bell tolls when the time is ready," Sho said, disguising his voice in an equally raspy voice to give the password. "When the blood begins to recede and the old mist encroaches. When the land is free and the village is at peace. Then is when the bells toll." Sho heard a click as the door was unlocked, and it slid aside. He quickly shuffled inside, closing the door behind him and looking around.
It looked like everyone was here. Besides Moren and himself, Sho looked upon the faces of his brother Mako, his brother's protector, Naishi, and their close friend Hagume. There were only so many people they could trust. They'd have to pull off the coup tonight, with only their handful of people.
Hagume was a member of the ANBU, and had a number of people he knew would be willing to join the coup, as well as a number he knew to be loyal to Hiroto. His brother, the patriarch of their clan, was a respected member of the Great Clans, a select group of seven clans that met regularly to discuss affairs of the village. In old days, they were almost as powerful as the Mizukage and the elders, but their power had been reduced. Still, Mako was able to pledge the strength of the Nakamura clan, the Sasaki clan, and the Yoshida clan. If fighting erupted, they'd have a good number of shinobi with strong bloodlines.
As for Sho himself, he had spread the word amongst some trustworthy jonin senseis and their genin teams, as well as the chunin academy instructors. They would have a considerable amount of people on their side when fighting erupted, and a number of people who didn't know what was happening would join them when they saw the opportunity to regain freedom.
Sho had all the plans laid out, even his backup plan. Should the fighting go against them, the five of them would escape and plot their next moves. Their plan B was risky. It would involve all the other nations, and bring about death and destruction among all ninja villages. It wasn't the path that Sho wanted to take, but it would be the path he must take. If Hiroto managed to defeat them, he would tighten his iron grip, and the Mist would need to be destroyed.
He'd been in contact with a few people who could help should they have to implement plan B. He'd met Tanok Kato, a genjutsu-user from the Sand. She was a rogue ninja now, but she was powerful. She was what he would need. He'd also finally got into contact with Harame Mogiko, a rogue ninja with unknown origins, famous for his attack on the Leaf village many years ago. He hadn't heard from either of them in a while, but knew he'd be able to find them should the need arise.
But those weren't thoughts for now. Now their only thoughts had to be on the coup. He couldn't allow himself to get distracted, especially on a plan that would hopefully never need to come to fruition.
"Is everything ready?" Sho asked them. It was Hagume who spoke first.
"I have ensured that the ANBU are positioned accordingly," he announced. "The loyalists have been placed in areas belonging to the Nakamura clan, so they will be tied up from the get go. Our potential supporters are in areas where they can be contained or let loose depending on loyalty, while those who support us are positioned in key areas of the village."
"Good," Sho said with a curt nod. "And the clans?" he asked his brother.
"Our clan is poised to deal with hostile ANBU," Mako reiterated. "The Sasaki and Yoshida clans have been placed around the village so that they might provide relief wherever it is needed."
"Hagume and Moren – you will attack the elders," Sho told the two fighters. "Do not underestimate them. They will fight back hard, and you will have to kill them both. No survivors. You cannot let them spread word of the attack. There must be confusion and chaos." He turned to his brother and his protector. "Mako and Naishi, you two will be assigned the task of leading our clan and fighting the ANBU. Should the situation be resolved quickly, you will lead the clan to the Mizukage mansion to support me in my attack. I will be the one responsible for infiltrating the mansion and assassinating Hiroto. I will kill his loyal followers there, his guards, and all who will pose a threat to us.
"Tomorrow will be the start of the new era of the Mist," Sho announced. "Or, more accurately, a return to our old selves. After we get rid of Hiroto's regime, we will announce a call for help from the Leaf and the Cloud, the two closest nations. If all goes well, they will send squads to help us destroy all remnants still loyal to the Blood Mist, and solidify our power. We will renew our alliance with Leaf and Sand, and look to bring Stone and Cloud back into the alliance. Things will be as they were."
"Good luck," Mako said, and Naishi nodded in agreement. Hagume didn't make any sort of gesture – it tore him apart to attack the Mizukage; all ANBU were supposed to be loyal to the Mizukage above all else. Sho didn't blame him.
As the other three prepared to make their moves, Moren came to him.
"Here is where we part," Sho told him.
"I should go with you, to protect you," Moren insisted. "Hagume doesn't need my help to kill those elders. It's my duty to protect you."
"We all have our roles to play," Sho told him. "Please, follow my instructions. It's all been planned out to the last minute detail." He patted the scroll on his hip. "Besides, with these swords, I won't need your protection. Hiroto won't even know what hit him." He spoke to the group now. "Remember, don't begin the coup for another hour. I need to infiltrate the mansion and kill the Mizukage before the fighting breaks out. He can't know what's coming." He got nods of approval from the others before pulling Moren into a hug. "When I see you next, we will be liberators."
"Good luck, friend," Moren told him.
"And you," Sho said with a nod. He left the safehouse, and began to make his way to the mansion. He knew the Mizukage would be suspicious of him being out past curfew, but Sho would have to say that there was an emergency with a genin squad out on a mission. When he got the audience with the Mizukage, he would take his shot.
He ran through the streets, his feet quietly splashing through puddles. The sound seemed loud, compared to the utter silence that surrounded the village. It was eerie, but Sho didn't think much of it. It almost seemed right that he would feel like this on such a dangerous mission.
Suddenly, as he rushed through the thick mist of the village, doubt took root in his mind. What if they failed? Something could go wrong. They had a contingency plan, but it was best for everyone that it not be used. And if they were all killed before they could escape, then what would happen to that plan? What would happen to the village, their clan?
No, he wouldn't let himself think that way. He couldn't. If I look back, I am lost. So he pushed forward, forgetting his doubt. He was no longer a person. All he was now was a liberator. A fighter. He wouldn't fight for himself or his friends, nor his clan. No, tonight he fought for the villagers, for the people of the Land of Water. He fought for humanity.
He finally reached the Mizukage mansion. He looked up at the looming building, and realized that something was wrong. There weren't any guards around. He was able to enter the mansion easily, and waited for someone to ask him what he was doing there. He needed to see someone, something. Doubt encroached his mind once more, and he wondered what was going on.
It wasn't too late, not even midnight yet. Sho knew that the Mizukage would still be awake, and decided that the office was the best place to find him. He climbed up the stairs to the first floor, and it was there that he saw his first opposition.
Mika and Yumi, the Mizukage's two kunoichi protectors, stood halfway down the hallway, as if they were expecting him. They were both ready for battle, and Sho could see a wall of ice behind them. The Misty Ice Jutsu, Sho figured. It was their specialty, an almost unbreakable wall of ice that would keep any foe out. More unnerving than that, however, was the realization that hit him when he looked at their expressions.
They were expecting me, Sho realized. They were aware of the coup the whole time, and if they knew about this… He couldn't think about the others though. The reluctantly faithful Hagume, his brother Mako and his protector Naishi, his own protector, Moren. They were all in grave danger, but Sho had to believe that they would be able to protect themselves.
Their coup was lost, they knew. If Hiroto knew about it, then he would have taken steps to ensure the loyalty of his ANBU, and would have poked a hole in every single preparation that they made. It looked like Plan B was going to be their only option. But the least he could do would be to finish his part of the plan. His mission was to kill the Mizukage, and he would make sure he did that, even if he lost his life in the process.
"How'd you know?" he asked the two kunoichi. Mika was armed with a longpole, an axe head on the top of it. Yumi, however, was wearing her custom arm plates, that had blades sticking out. She would fight close range with her bladed arms, while Mika would fight the medium-range with her longpole. It was lucky for Sho that he had just the weapon to fight them both off at once.
"You told one too many people," Yumi said, an angry look in her eyes.
"We won't let you kill Lord Mizukage," Mika ensured him. "To get to him, you'll have to get through us."
"Don't think I'll go easy on you because we were genin together," Sho told his former teammates. "If you stand in the way of liberation, then I must do what I must."
"That goes double for us," Yumi told him. Time for talk was over, he knew. Now it was time for action.
He pulled out his scroll and unsealed it. It unraveled in front of him, and he found the spot he needed. Six of the weapons were sealed here, the seventh still in possession of his last owner. He'd get it eventually, he knew. Chojuro didn't have long to live in the Prison of Death. "Summoning Jutsu," he said, and the great Mist sword Kabutowari materialized in his hands.
He could see the shocked looks the other two had. He never made his possession of the Great Ninja Swords known to all. He knew that with most of the last generation of swordmen dead, it was widely believed that the swords were lost. That was wrong. Kabutowari was the sword that once belonged to Jinin Akebino. It consisted of a large hammer and a giant axe, linked end-to-end by a flat thin leather-like rope. It was the ultimate attack weapon.
He rushed at the others, catching them off-guard. They recovered easily enough. Yumi put her arm out in front of her face so that the blades on her arm guards could stop the blade of his axe from slicing her head, while the axehead atop Mika's longpole served to stop the acceleration of Sho's hammer.
The three were caught in a deadlock, so Sho decided to push backwards and begin his next attack. He advanced on Yumi, swinging the hammer at her. Without being able to block a smashing attack, Yumi was forced to backflip to dodge the attacks. Sho pursued her, his hammer posing a threat to her defense. Finally, she was backed up against the ice wall, without anywhere to dodge. The hammer was lowered, but she dodged to the side. The hammer hit the ice squard in the middle, but didn't even crack it.
Even if I can kill these two, how will I get through this ice barrier? Sho wondered. He was broken from his thoughts as he witnessed the hand seals Yumi was making.
"Lava Release: Magma Globs," Yumi said. Sho barely had time to dodge as the magma erupted from her mouth, flying towards him. He shouldn't have underestimated the kekkei-genkai style kunoichi. As he dodged, he felt the wind get knocked out of him, as Mika's longpole smashed into his stomach. He flew backwards, towards the wall, and he cursed himself. He'd underestimated Yumi and completely forgotten about Mika. He'd never win this battle if he couldn't get through them.
He picked himself back up and prepared to attack. He'd need to position himself so that he could separate them. Finally, he decided on a plan. He made a handsign and spoke: "Water Clone Jutsu." The clone pulled out the ninja weapon scroll, and spoke as well: "Summoning Jutsu." Kubikiribocho appeared in his hands, and the surprise on Yumi and Mika's faces was almost as much as it was when he'd summoned Kabutowari. They must now suspect that he has all the weapons.
Kubikiribocho wasn't all that special. It was a very long butcher's sword, commonly known as the Executioner's Blade, which once belonged to Zabuza Momochi. It's only special power was that of regeneration, but it packed a hell of a punch. Sho and his clone rushed at the two, the clone focusing on Mika and her longpole, as the original focused on Yumi, the kekkei-genkai user.
From his years on Yumi's team, Sho knew that the only weakness of the Lava Release belonged to a barrage of Lightning Release, followed by Water Release. Sho could only use Water Release, so he had no chance of fighting it. He just had to avoid the attack until he was able to kill her with Kabutowari, or stop her from using Lava Release. He figured the second option would be the easiest.
He swung the axe and hammer at her in a quick barrage, a flurry of attacks keeping Yumi from making hand signs. She was an expert at dodging his attacks, however. He swung the axe first, at her head, so she bent backwards to avoid it. The axe sliced right above her, but she was now in a position where she couldn't immediately dodge until she recovered. Or at least that's what Sho thought. He swung the hammer downwards, but she managed to jump away, rolling on the ground before picking herself back up.
His clone wasn't faring much better. Mika's metal longpole was able to go toe-to-toe with Kubikiribocho. The metal clanged as they were brought together again and again. Whenever she had the opening, she attacked with the axehead. She knew that it would only take one good slice to stop the water clone. All she had to do was get past the sword once to land a hit. But no matter what attack either of them gave, the other was able to block with their own weapon. It was a battle of stalemates.
Sho knew he had to act fast. He needed to kill Hiroto before the coup was completely put down and reinforcements arrived. He decided that the need to find and kill the Mizukage was more important than this battle. He dispelled the clone as Mika swung at him with the pole, and she was surprised by the absence of an enemy. Kubikiribocho was dispelled as well, and Sho put his back towards the ice wall, and prepared his plan.
Mika and Yumi took the break to fall together and prepare a synchronized assault. As Mika swung her longpole axe at him, Sho swung the axe of Kabutowari at it, and the two clashed. Not a second later, he swung the hammer at Yumi, and she had no choice but to use the Lava Release to fight back.
Sho was able to jump up in time for the lava to miss, and hit the ice wall instead. It started to melt, and Yumi realized her mistake. She was never one to think things through very well, Sho knew. The ice melted almost completely, and Sho smiled at them from his place on the ceiling. He brought down the hammer of Kabutowari, and smashed the ceiling, allowing the roof to fall down on his adversaries. If they weren't dead, then they were at least incapacitated.
He didn't have time to mourn his former teammates or feel guilty. All he had time for now was Lord Mizukage. He rushed through the halls, turned left, then right, then left again, until he was finally at the Mizukage's office. Hiroto was waiting for him, and he had a shit-eating grin on his face.
"How did you know?" Sho asked him as they stood facing each other. He needed to know. Was it betrayal? Did he just not cover his tracks well enough? "Yumi told me I told one too many people," he said. "Who was it?"
"You had confidence in your jonin senseis," Hiroto said in a taunting manner. So the fault was all mine, Sho observed. I was the one who chose which senseis to tell, and I was the one who told them. It is all my fault. "Achibiku will be promoted to your position for his loyalty, I think, as I let you join your friends in death."
Damn him, Sho thought. He had believed Achibiku to be on his side more than any of the others. How could he be so blind?
"They're all dead by now," Hiroto taunted Sho about his allies. "After you left, loyal ninja attacked your little hideout and killed them all. Your brother, his protector, even that little ANBU traitor. Your protector managed to escape, I am told, but his injuries will have killed him by now.
"You never had a hope," Hiroto taunted. "We knew of your plans from the start. I'm saddened that you were able to kill Yumi and Mika to get to me, but I'm glad that I'll have the pleasure of killing your traitor ass. And when you're dead, I'll have your entire clan exterminated. The useful ones will be sent to the Prison of Death to work at hard labor until they drop dead. You will be responsible for it all."
"You won't kill me here," Sho told the Mizukage. "I have allies out there, and we will return to kill your supporters. The entire village will be destroyed, but it will be a small price to pay. As soon as I kill you, I will join them, and we will begin our planning."
The Mizukage extended his hands towards Sho and glared at him. Suddenly, shards of ice flew out of his hands at Sho. One opened a gash along Sho's cheeks, but he managed to dodge the others. How did he do that without hand signs? Sho wondered. The Mizukage being the last user of the Ice Release was no secret, but he didn't expect him to be able to use his kekkei-genkai without hand signs.
"Hidden Mist Jutsu," Sho said, and the entire room was clouded in mist. He would have to use the Silent Killing technique. He pulled the axe of Kabutowari up and began to attack. But suddenly, the mist condensed into water around the room, and the water began freezing. The ice surrounded Sho's feet, preventing Sho from moving. The Mizukage smirked triumphantly at Sho as the ice around the room shaped itself into many kunai and shuriken-shaped shards.
"You end here," the Mizukage said as the shards flew at Sho, piercing him in over twenty different spots. He was right – here was where Sho would die. He brought death to his friends and clan. He brought defeat to his coup. He failed his mission, just as he failed his friends, clan, and village. He wouldn't be remembered as a liberator. He would die a traitor. There would be no Plan B.
He didn't see Moren enter the office at the window, and neither did the Mizukage.
"Metal Release: Rusty Pole Jutsu," Sho's protector said. The Mizukage didn't have time to dodge as a rusty metal rod rose from the ground and pierced him in the leg. Hiroto fell to the ground, the rod still embedded in his calf, as Moren entered the office. He pulled all of the shards out of Sho's body one at a time and used his special kekkei-genkai to break the ice that had planted his feet to the ground.
Sho was bleeding badly. He needed medical attention, but they couldn't stay any longer. Moren looked back at Hiroto, and knew that Sho would want him to kill the Mizukage, but he didn't have time. He threw Sho over his shoulder and left out the window, hoping that the rusty rod would give the Mizukage a bad enough infection to kill him.
Sho felt the pain before he opened his eyes. It was as if his entire body was on fire. His chest, stomach, back, legs, arms, everything. He felt like he had been stabbed in fifty different places. When the memories flooded back, he realized he wasn't far off. He tried to sit up, but he felt a gentle touch on his shoulder.
"Shh," Moren told him. "You have to keep lying down. You need to heal."
"Moren," Sho breathed, relief evident in his voice. "Y-You're alive! I'm alive. Wh-What happened? Where are we?"
"We're at a fishing village on the northern coast of the main island," Moren told him. The Land of Water consisted of a bunch of islands, the largest one being in the center. It was where the daimyo were located, and where the Mist village had stood for decades. "We couldn't move you across the sea until you were treated. Your injuries were bad."
"They're still bad," Sho said with a wince. "What about you? Hiroto said you had an awful injury that would kill you." Sho looked at his protector, whose gaze shifted to his own leg. Sho followed his eyes, and saw an ugly gash in the calf, the same spot where Moren had attacked the Mizukage.
"They knew," Moren told Sho. "After you left, we were waiting to take action, when the safehouse was attacked. Mako and Naishi, Hagume. They were all killed. They almost got me too, but I escaped. I knew that they would kill you at the Mizukage mansion, and I arrived just in time.
"The ice had poison in it," Moren told him. "We're lucky that I was able to find a healer who could stop it. It entered in so many places, it's a miracle you're alive."
"How long has it been?" Sho asked.
"The Mizukage," Sho gasped. "Did you…?"
Moren shook his head. "You are my priority. I swore an oath to your father that I'd always protect you, and I keep my word. I had a boat ready for us to leave, should the plan fail. You'll be ready to travel in a few days as long as you don't aggravate your wounds. We'll set a course to the Land of Hot Water, and from there, we'll travel to the Land of Earth. It's all the way across the world; they'll never find us."
"I have a contingency plan in place," Sho revealed to his protector. "We'll have to get to the Land of Earth for it to happen, but we have to make sure Hiroto knows we're there."
"Why would we do that?" Moren asked. He was looking at Sho as if he was a lunatic. "We can get away from the village and their people. We can just live in peace."
"No, we must stop Hiroto, no matter what the cost," Sho said, his face darkening. "He killed my brother, and plans to kill the entire clan. We must destroy Hiroto."
"He's killed your entire clan," Moren confirmed. "But he's also loosened his restrictions. Word is that he realized that his totalitarianism was what brought forth this coup. Instead of tightening down, he's relaxing some of the laws. Even if we didn't remove Hiroto from power, life is slowly returning to normal in the village."
"I don't care," Sho shouted. "We aren't liberators anymore. They don't need us like they did before."
"Then why…" Moren began to ask, but Sho didn't wait for him to finish before he answered.
"I will avenge my people," Sho vowed. "I will destroy Hiroto and anyone who remains loyal to him. The plan will be revised, but I do not plan on giving up. This is personal now."
Author's Note: If you're confused by the sword that Sho used in his battle, you can look up "Kabutowari" on Narutopedia. It's one of the swords of the 7 Swordsmen of the Mist.
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