Chapter Nine: Progress doesn't have to be in a right or wrong direction. It just needs to go somewhere. Too bad I have no idea where my head is going at times.
I don't own Naruto, any of its characters, or any references in this story. If I did, horrible things would happen. Neither do I own any other anime that I reference. I do own all OC's and new Jutsu in the story as well as every ounce of pure awesome spawned by this.
o. o. o.
In a whore house:
Sylvia slammed the door behind her, leaving only her and Scabbard in the private room next to the one they had just exited.
"TWO?!" She hissed in near hysterics. Gone was her calm persona. Gone was her confident demeanor. Her sense of control, something that virtually any existence that had the right and realized potential to be considered equivalent to that of a God, had been utterly shattered by what she had just learned. "Your brother has spontaneously developed romantic feelings for TWO women in this universe?! And you didn't think that it would be a decent thought to WARN me about this?!"
"I did try to get you out. You did take note that I was more stubborn about it than normal." The emotionless immortal pointed out without shame. "Clearly the blame lies with you."
"I thought you were simply involved in a decent project for once. Or that there was some unique compound available here that you were experimenting on. Something that caught your childish obsession with experimenting. Not THIS! Ghost is the GOD OF NONE!" Sylvia snarled. "If there was anything that could genuinely end the multiverse in its entirety, Gods and all, it's HIM! And having him in a relationship after so long is like priming the ultimate bomb after being inactive for several centuries!"
"I'm familiar enough with my family that I am aware of their habits and the effects that their emotions have on them." Scabbard droned bored.
"Well apparently not enough to remember how on edge virtually every other superpower was when word got out that he was the one who killed Sasha!" The woman snapped, not at all bothering to pay attention to the fact that the building around her was changing textures, colors, and materials in irregular patterns and shapes.
When she noticed these changes, she manage to take a few deep breaths to calm herself down. "There is a REASON why everyone leaves his wives alone. Unless you forgotten, the FIRST time some deities got the bright idea to try and put him in his place by severely altering his loved ones, resulting in him being forced to kill his second wife, it sparked the Thousand Night War. He actually put a scar on the multiverse so big it's used now as major navigation landmark as a result of that fiasco. I repeat. He made a major navigation landmark in a proven infinite layered range of existences."
"War." Scab snorted. "Anyone who isn't blinded by the "history" that the gods pass knows what it really was. A bloodbath."
"Stop ignoring my point!" Sylvia desperately attempted to rein in her temper. "As much as I loved Sasha, and you know damn well that we were good friends outside of Shadow's line of sight, I couldn't help but be relieved when I learned that your brother not only DIDN'T go on another record scale rampage and scar a swath of the multiverse, again, but that he had regressed. Alcoholism. Drugs. Prostitution. Inactivity. His involvement with major multidimensional events fell by more than a half after Sasha died. Do you have any idea just how many people breathed out in relief when they heard that the God of None had decided to not give a shit about the bigger events in the multiverse?"
"I believe it was what started the increase in retarded idiots that thought it was fine to call him by his title in front of his face and expect to live past the next ten seconds." Scabbard dryly mused. "That little fad ended quite quickly."
"Why are you not taking this more seriously?" Sylvia stepped up close and poked the man in the chest hard. Normally she would nowhere be stupid enough to do such a thing, but she was beyond caring at this point. "It was only dumb luck that he didn't destroy everything the last time! Who knows how he would react if they were killed just as he's getting out of his funk?!"
"You know better than anyone that dumb luck doesn't work for us that conveniently where Ghost is concerned." Scabbard snorted.
"Sure. And next you're going to say that you actually did know what the cause of Sasha's condition was." Sylvia rolled her eyes.
"Of course I did." Scab replied simply.
"Of course you…" The woman's rampage stopped in a heartbeat and her face instantly grew pale. "Y-You did?"
The lightning user's expression didn't change in the slightest.
"You really did…" Sylvia backed up a step. The pit that had been forming in her stomach for the past ten minutes instantly tripled in size. "B-But then why didn't you tell anyone? No. How come you didn't address it? The fact that Sasha was suffering from some sort of brain ailment that even you claimed to be helpless against confused anyone that was in the know."
"… Remember that biomancer you dated after that dimension jumper gathering fiasco?"
"The one where that dragon tried to mind rape half the guests or the one where Crypt somehow got his hands on that vat of mutated Ghost Pepper chili?"
"The chili incident."
"Around the chili incident… you mean Rafiq? Tall. Dark skin. Social. Incredibly good looking and compassionate. Opposite of you in almost every way personality wise except he ran a rival biochem and biomancy company and was also filthy rich?"
"He was also part of one of those groups that constantly hounded my family on the side, and funded them extensively to boot, if you recall." Scab elaborated as his eyes narrowed considerably. "And thanks to someone, he had gained enough information on our process for treating Sasha that he had developed an interesting little concoction in his spare time."
Sylvia's complexion paled further. She vaguely remembered letting a few bits about the treatment slip here and there, but only to keep her hand in a few circles. Most experienced reality travelers did this out of necessity, even if they were near the top of the food chain. Even the Family did it more often than not, and they were big enough to be considered a whole slew of circles by themselves. She honestly didn't believe that the bare scraps of what she had fed the group would amount to anything, but apparently she had been horrifically wrong.
"Said concoction, when compared to the very carefully calculated treatments made to Sasha, had, when digested, altered her body's very genetic structure to essentially develop and devolve the mind in a way that would mimic an extremely potent, yet slow acting phenomena that resembled what's commonly known or referred to as Alzheimer's syndrome. Quite ingenious really, considering in the end all it did was occasionally change one specific single section in her DNA. It was extremely difficult to catch, even in the most afflicted areas. When ingested by anyone else, it would do nothing. Nearly impossible to detect or point out had anyone not have an original copy of her genetic code on hand, and meticulously compare it to not only what her code was then, but what it should have been had nothing been tampered with. The end result was that, combined with our treatments, her very body would naturally change and degenerate."
Scab looked at his nails as if they were far more interesting than what he was talking about. "I had in fact discovered this before my dear sister in law's demise, however the main issue was that her mental condition had already deteriorated to alarming levels. Restoring her memories would not have been so difficult had the ailment also rendered a good physical portion of her mind… difficult to utilize. I had actually treated her for her genetic alterations, but by then the damage had been done to her mind and her soul. Especially the latter given the nature of her rather potent spiritual powers. Any form of healing would only affect the body while leaving her mental functions a wreck. Ghost's flame may have had some results, however you are aware of how dangerous a concentrated blast of that phenomena can be to any individual existence. Regardless, I was going to recommend such a path as a last result to my brother when Sasha uttered her final words and triggered my brother's infamous reaction."
Sylvia could not help but shiver in fear for many reasons and smile nervously. It never boded well for anyone whenever Scab decided to divulge important unknown information to others. "And Rafiq?"
"I admit. It took me nearly a decade after the incident to track down the cause of Sasha's condition." The short immortal didn't look away from his nails. "That alone spoke much about the man's capability to cover his tracks. However it appeared to be his only other strong point other than his impressive biomancy and managing skills. Using very legal methods, I tore apart and absorbed his company with laughable ease, as you recall. No doubt he suspected that I was aware of what he had done as he had tried to hide himself within the realms of an unknown universe, however he unfortunately did not hide his tracks nearly as well that time…
"His whores became mine. His fortune became mine. His property became mine. His research became mine. His history became mine. His future became mine. His family became mine. His home became mine. His hope became mine. His existence became mine." The sadistic genius alchemist listed off his achievements in revenge with a mechanical coldness that somehow did nothing to hide the utmost rage and loathing that saturated it.
"Only after all that had passed, did I allow myself the satisfaction of playing with him in person."
And he wondered why Sylvia was scared of him the most out of his family.
The woman didn't notice the sweat coming down her forehead. "He's still alive."
It was not a question, but a statement.
The man's lips twitched slightly in amusement, as if hearing a mildly funny joke.
"He's been quite an interesting test subject. I've learned so many things from running his soul though a unique cycle, where he would develop through the majority of his adolescent and young adult years in a satisfactory if not ideal environment, unaware of what I have done to him. Then at the peak, I would restore all of the locked away memories and proceed to test one experiment on him or another continuously. Not without some care of course, but he would still eventually break after about five years or so on average depending on what I was testing on at the time. Then I would simply lock away his memories again and repeat the process, using his misguided time growing up again to heal and ensure that he did not fall apart faster the next time he reaches peak experimenting condition. I'm currently testing how many times I can do this before his very soul breaks beyond repair, use, or reincarnation."
Sylvia swallowed dryly, knowing that she was not going to like where this conversation was going soon. It was easy to forget, but out of the entire Family, Scabbard usually was the one that took top prize when it came to most cruel and drawn out punishments. Even then, what Rafiq was going through was certainly a significant jump from what she had anticipated Scab of doing. Breaking a soul was not unheard of, but to do so through pure physical means over a period of time lasting centuries and keeping the subject aware and freshly tortured through nearly the entire thing… that took a master's skill.
And the master in question had been enjoying himself for four hundred years at least.
"Well, no one can claim that you have lost your touch."
"I plan on releasing a number of recordings and videos of Rafiq's trials to those who may or may not have known what he had done as a warning not to try anything similar with my new potential in-laws." Scabbard yawned as if talking about the weather and not about the evidence of torturing a man to insanity repeatedly over the course of centuries.
"I bet it will be a hit." Sylvia swallowed again as she managed to get past her fear and realize why Scab was telling her this. He was making her realize that she owed him her life if not very existence. All it took was for him to inform Ghost of what she had inadvertently done and she would be wiped out of the annals of the Multiverse in a heartbeat. Literally. "Who else knows of this?"
"Ghost and Shadow are the only members of my family that are not aware of this, for obvious reasons." The shorter of the two shrugged casually. "The rest have agreed to allow me to hold the reins of this particular play."
"The rest know? Even Crypt? Why would he not tell the others? He hates me." Sylvia blinked in surprise. She and the Devil's Collection never saw eye to eye, sane or not. The man was too enthralled with battle and violence, and his absolute lack of faith in humanity as a whole put the two at odds whenever they had a conversation and Shadow wasn't there trying to murder her.
"Don't flatter yourself Syl. You annoy him. You'd be in a far more precarious position if he genuinely hated you, I assure you of that." The genius waved his hand as if brushing aside her incorrect statement. "Well, not that you've figured out how volatile your situation at the moment anyways…"
"What do you want?" The woman asked stiffly. As much as she could claim that running away from Shadow's wrath on multiple occasions was an interesting if not exciting pastime, the Stained Glass knew better than to incur the wrath of her infamous blind brother and expect to survive. Shadow she could escape from. Ghost she couldn't.
Scab didn't want money. He'd put you in a position to make you owe him financially if he wanted something petty like that. No, what he wanted was for her to actually do something for him. Something that he couldn't do, or didn't want to do…
"It appears you've answered your own question." The male observed with an almost amused tone as Sylvia's face paled considerably.
"Are you trying to kill me?" She shivered and took a step back.
"If I wanted you dead I would have done so long ago and in a far less obvious manner that would pin the blame on someone who I dislike. You should know this by now. Besides, it's not as if I won't provide you with some sort of protection."
"Wonderful. So now I'm only somewhat expected to die now." The woman grunted.
"Considering how often you willingly put yourself around my sister on a whim, this should be no different than normal."
The Stained Glass grit her teeth before finally calming herself down with several more deep breaths. "I want a binding contract on this. You won't ever utter a damn word about what happened if I do this for you. Then bind your brothers to it."
A dull green source of light appeared in the man's hands before quickly fading away, revealing a rather simple small stack of papers. Around the edges were a series of intricate seals and markings to make the contents binding. However both world travelers were more than aware that there was a considerately larger number of them inscribed into the very material itself to make the deal far more powerful than what was shown. Sylvia had seen such contracts effectively bind the greater gods of the multiverse with little issue.
In fact said contracts were the only reason why her brother was still permitted to be alive after everything he had done…
"Standard loopholes?" She asked as she took the sheets from the man's hands and inspected them carefully. One never took a contract from Scabbard and assumed everything was there in black and white.
"The signers may reign on the deal should a major event arise that can only be derived or solved by counteracting the agreement. Definitions and specifications of what "major events" are are on page seventeen." The man repeated as if reading from a script. "You are not allowed to guide a third party in such a way that said party can reason out the subject at hand. I am obligated to ensure your safety for the task I have entrusted you with. Etcetera. Etcetera. And done in triplicate. And of course, the agreements are powered by and enforced by both our powers and our very souls."
"What else?" She frowned. Scab always tried to slip something extra into his deals. He couldn't make one of the wealthiest empires in the multiverse without doing so.
The alchemist didn't even blink. "You are also obligated to fix everything you altered in your minor state of hysteria. You forgot to keep a check on your powers again during your ranting."
The woman paused for a moment before turning around to notice that the room itself was now comprised of a slew of different materials in different sizes and that blended together perfectly. The actual dimensions of the room and the objects had not changed, but everything that it had consisted of was completely altered.
"If possible, I would also appreciate you changing my employees and clients back into their original gender. Unlike me, they are unable to return to their initial states under their own power. Oh… and please turn the triplets back into their original species as well. I don't think they are taking being zebras that well."
There was an awkward pause as a small thump was heard nearby, followed by what sounded like a horse.
"I will provide them all a cover story to explain everything."
Another awkward pause.
"However the finances to keep everyone calm and fix the remainder of everything will be added to your tab."
"I was wondering when you would go there."
o. o. o.
"Uh… I hate to ask, but… what happened to Naruto?" Tenten asked nervously as she and the rest of the group gathered to eat a quick breakfast.
The other members could not help but nod in their desire to know the answer to the question at hand as they all stared at the fox. Unlike the day before, Hinata had finally allowed herself to be detached from her personal form of crack and was currently with the other humans there.
Said crack was professionally treated with bandages over several parts of his body and his right arm was in a cast, however that was not had caught everyone's attention. Instead they were all focused on the fact that he was blankly staring off into space with the deadest eyes they had ever seen and was foaming at the mouth. Hell, if they didn't know any better, they'd swear they could see his soul trying to escape from his mouth.
"Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why?"
"Hinata. Did anything happen after we went to rest?" Chouji frowned in confusion.
"No." The Hyuuga shook her head in concern. "We all took turns taking watch as planned. I took the first watch to finish treating him. Then I woke up Shino, and next took Naruto to bed with me. When I woke up he was like this."
"So... you slept with him in your arms then?" Shino asked, slowly and fearfully beginning to piece together what may have happened.
To the side, Shion frowned slightly at the thought of her beloved spending the night in the arms of another woman.
"Yes." Hinata confirmed. "I thought that given what he had been through he'd be most comfortable being with me while he rested." She briefly fell silent. "Also, I did it so that he wouldn't run away while I slept."
"You look like you have an idea what may have happened." Tenten looked at Shino. "Care to tell us?"
The Aburame remained quiet as he allowed himself to accurately guess what had transposed the previous night…
o. o. o.
Naruto had given up his efforts in escaping for the time being.
Even though Hinata had just gone to sleep recently, he was in no condition to leave. It wouldn't have been so bad with his body in this many bandages, but unfortunately the Hyuuga cuddling his small furry body had taken no chances and shut down every single one of his tenketsu save for the vital ones so that he couldn't move. Any attempt to reopen his pressure points would immediately wake the girl up and cause a shit storm that he really didn't want to deal with at the moment.
So for the time being he had decided to cut his losses and allow himself to rest. Despite the fact that he was still likely to encounter a great deal of pain once he returned to normal, the initial fear of his condition had a bated a bit. All things considered, he was quite comfortable in his current position… more so than he had been in a long…
"Mmmm." Hinata moaned softly as she held his small body to hers. "Narutooo…"
It was a surprise that no one heard the fox's eyes widen so suddenly that the sound of glass breaking was actually made.
"So good." The girl muttered as her body began to shift more. "Touch me more…"
Oh dear log how could he have forgotten this?
"Harder… do what you want to me… surprise me…"
He had absolutely forgotten about Hinata's habit of dirty sleep talking whenever they had spent some time together beforehand.
It was one thing to have your girlfriend dirty talk to you.
It was a completely different thing when said girlfriend had good reason to harm you, was capable of performing said harming with great efficiency, and you were literally in her hands.
"Aaanh. Where did you get that rope from?"
Comfort gone. Happy thoughts very far away now.
"Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!" The nine tailed fox inside of him laughed without restraint at his container's current situation. He didn't find the actual event so amusing as it was the fact that it was horrifically tormenting the boy in general.
"Why?" The jinchuriki wept as if he was a kicked puppy, trying not to pay attention to the scent of the human female cuddling him going into heat…
… And then Hinata locked his tail between her legs.
The second sound of glass breaking that night was no doubt his already fragile mind shattering into countless tiny pieces.
"Mmm. I can't move my hands… and this blindfold won't even let me use my dojutsu… you're so good at this Naruto… ah, are those clones I hear?"
The small fox in Hinata's arms did not get any sleep that night.
o. o. o.
It was a general rule among those in the former team eight that unless it became a problem, no one under any circumstances was to make a comment about Hinata's sporadic sleep talking. Kiba in particular was having trouble dealing with it as his nose would flare up every time she had a stronger episode. It had become a less frequent event over time to the point that the others had just assumed that she had stopped altogether.
Apparently Naruto's appearance had destroyed any progress on that part.
"Perhaps… it may be best for Naruto to be with someone else for the time being." Shino hesitantly suggested, knowing how well Hinata might take it. "I believe it would be best to have him with someone he is not so… on guard around."
"But who?" Choji looked around nervously to be met with matched glances. Other than Hinata, the shinobi there were quite averse to having in their possession the ultimate mission jinx.
"I'll do it." Shion offered without hesitation and took out her hood. "This way only one of you will be bothered with carrying someone. He's small enough to fit in here too."
Everyone tried to make an effort to ignore the slightly noticeable killing intent from Hinata.
"If we are going for efficiency, I would recommend that I carry Shion-sama in the process." Shino stepped in quickly before the team leader could say anything. "While Chouji can carry her for longer periods of time, I am the least impaired in combat while carrying another individual. Considering that we have yet to encounter the enemy since we have started travelling… and considering Shon-sama's vision, I believe we should travel with combat in mind."
"As much as it's gonna tweak you out Hinata, I'm with Shino on this one." Tenten grimaced. "This mission's not going to be easy and his reasoning is pretty solid."
"I don't mind carrying her the rest of the way." Choji shrugged. "But if the fighting reaches me, then I am going to have to put her down sooner or later. Plus we need you to have your hands free as well."
The Hyuuga Princess pouted for several moments before sighing in defeat. "Very well. You've all made your points."
"You hear that Naruto?" Tenten smirked. "You're getting a break."
"I trust you to make sure he doesn't run away Shino." Hinata advised in a far too soothing tone.
"Do not worry. As he is right now, Naruto knows what will likely happen should he put me in a position I don't want to be in." The Aburame stated evenly while silently commanding the kikaichu he had already put on the fox to move erratically for a few moments.
"Shino I swear if those are fleas I'm feeling I will smother you with insecticide the first chance I get." Naruto mentally grumbled as he was lifelessly picked up by Shion.
"Shinobi really are something." She mused as she adjusted her grip on him so that she could pet his soft head a few times. "To be able to change into something so small and cute like this."
"Please hurry Shion-sama." Shino advised with a slight edge to his voice, nodding his head slightly to the certainly not glowering Hinata's direction. "We have wasted enough time as it is this morning."
"Right." The Priestess nodded as she put the transformed shinobi into her hood before everyone began to pack away their supplies.
Ten minutes later the area was completely vacant.
o. o. o.
"We're good." Ino nodded as she and the rest of the team stood on the island's beaches. "Naruto's curse is still lingering, but it's not strong enough if your summon puts enough chakra to its wings for the first hundred meters or so."
"Great." Kakashi nodded. "Can you still follow his trail?"
"I can point out the general direction from here." Sasuke noted with his crimson eyes staring at the sky. "But mostly because I saw him leave in the first place. It's been long enough that the wind has blown most of his chakra all over the place. Ino's our best bet for now."
Sakura sent a knowing look to Kakashi. If their timing was correct, the situation at the Land of Demons was happening around now. Given Naruto's personality and what happened there, it was likely that he would be heading there next. "We'll figure out what he's up to when we get a better idea of where he is."
"And thankfully the Mizukage was kind enough to allow us to leave after I explained the situation." Kakashi eye smiled…
… And by that he meant that he had really just given Haku and Zabuza the basic idea of what was happening and then dumped explaining what had yet to be said to the Mizukage on them. It was all for the best really. There was no doubt that the powerful woman liked them far more than she liked the newcomers. He could trust them to say the right things… or Haku to at least.
"Sounds good to me." Sasuke shrugged as he shifted his right hand back to his sword, unsheathed it an inch, cut his thumb, put his sword back, and began making seals so fast that most lesser shinobi wouldn't have been able to catch that he had cut himself in the first place.
"Excuse me. You are shinobi from Konoha correct?"
The group paused for a moment before turning around to look at who had addressed them.
Behind them stood two women, both kunoichi from their chakra levels. The speaker was a woman in her middling years with spiky short brown hair that was brushed back. Her clothes were fairly modest once you ignored the fact that her sleeveless shirt was purposefully made to exemplify her sizeable bust, with a red sleeveless top and a long tan skirt.
Of course, then there was the fact that she had mesh under her shirt, guards on her limbs, thick gloves on her hands, pouches on her hips, and the nodachi on her back.
All in all, given how she was dressed and the weathered look she had, the group wouldn't be surprised if she was a seasoned Jonin.
The other woman was hard to see as most of her features were covered by the white robe she wore with the massive hood covering her head. Had the clothing not been so thick and designed for travel, the four would have assumed that she was some sort of bride in an old ceremonial garb. They could tell she was fairly attractive and had black hair, but otherwise not much could be seen.
"Yes?" Kakashi rose his visible eyebrow as he gave the two a lookover. "Can we help you with something? I must say I wasn't expecting shinobi from Nadeshko village here."
"Nadeshko village?" Sasuke blinked in confusion.
"A smaller village to the south. Due to the chemicals and plants they deal with, it is almost completely comprised of kunoichi." Sakura elaborated. "Tsunade-sama gets many of her more rare medical supplies from them."
"A kunoichi only village?" Ino blinked. "Ok. How has that pervert Jiraiya not tried to sexually harass the entire village yet? And if he has, why have they not declared war on us?"
The elder woman coughed in some embarrassment and momentarily glanced at her travelling companion. "Actually, Jiraiya-sama is part of the reason we wish to talk to you…"
"Oh log don't tell me that the old pervert actually tried to order a bride…" Ino groaned, only for Sakura to hammer her skull into the ground.
"Stop making us look bad!" Tsunade's student hissed before instantly switching persona's and laughing cheerfully. "Hahahaha. Oh don't mind my friend. She tends to work around poisons too much and it sometimes makes her stupid. Please carry on."
"Keep talking forehead and I'll show you stupid." The Yamanaka growled, running through several clan justu and poisons that could make nearly anyone a drooling mess in record time.
"Right." The jonin hesitated momentarily before regaining her composure. "Do you know if Jiraiya-sama has any students of your age? Everyone is aware that he was the one who mentored the Yellow Flash, however word of his activities as of late are rather sparse."
"Students?" Sasuke frowned and crossed his arms in thought. "Well he has taught me and several in my age group in passing… but we can't really be called students of his. If there was a person who could be considered his student, it would have to be Naruto, but even then my nut of a teammate was more Ghost's apprentice than anything…"
"They are closer than you think Sasuke." Sakura pointed out, remembering how badly the blonde took the sage's death in the previous timeline. "And Jiraiya-sama is responsible for a good deal of Naruto's growth. He's the one that taught him how to summon toads and the Rasengan."
"Naruto…" The until then silent kunoichi spoke up. "You are referring to the Yellow Flash's son? Naruto Uzumaki Namikaze?"
"Yes, but most of the time we just call him Naruto." Sasuke shrugged. "Followed by whatever we feel like calling him at the time." He silently added. "What is all of this about?"
The two women looked at one another briefly before nodding and the elder stepping forward. "Please pardon my abruptness, however my charge would like to challenge Namikaze-dono to battle with her hand in marriage as the prize."
The group from Konoha remained silent for several moments, completely caught off guard by what the woman had just said.
"Um… what?" Ino managed to find her voice first, though that really didn't amount to much.
o. o. o.
"Something wonderful and demeaning just happened." Shadow's head stuck out of the window of her hospital room. Waltz had been forced to be a bit more violent than normal in order to reign her in during her latest fuzzy episode. "We must prepare! Crypt! Prepare!"
The most insane member of the Oogakari shot out of the top of the building and fell heavily to the ground while screaming at the top of his lungs.
"I see." The woman frowned at her brother's actions. "A good effort… but it was the completely wrong approach! You fell out of the west side of the building! Now we have to prepare for the results of your poor preparation!"
"No! But what about the opera tables?!"
"Sacrifices must be made! Feed them to the children!"
"No! Not all the children?!" Crypt gasped in horror.
"All of them! The time is neigh! We must prepare!" Shadow snapped.
At the entrance to Shadow's room, Waltz and a civilian doctor stared at the spectacle with different expressions on.
"Uhhhh…" The woman turned to Waltz as if he had some sort of explanation for what she was watching.
Crash! "EEEEEEEEE!" Thump.
"More! We must Prepare more! Gather the beanie babies! Their input is essential!"
"Just be grateful that they are speaking the local language and are grammatically correct." The elderly man sighed. "Hearing their gibberish in Swahili can give you a migraine that will last weeks."
"Oi guys!" Ghost shouted from outside the building. "What's with all the preparation?!"
"And there's my cue to step in before the whole village gets dragged into another mess…"
o. o. o.
An hour later:
The group were all calm and straight faced as they left the island on the back of Sasuke's summon. The teens had left Kakashi to do the talking, not trusting themselves to speak during the rest of the event.
It had been a long and strenuous event, not to mention confusing…
… But by the end of it all…
"Ok." Kakashi sighed in relief as he looked back. "I think we're out of ear shot now."
"… BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!" All three teens burst out laughing at what they had just been witness too. Even Sasuke, who had a good deal of self-control couldn't help but collapse to his knees while holding his sides.
It had been a complete pain to keep their faces straight while Kakashi had worked his improvisational magic for over an hour, but oh man. Oh it had absolutely been worth it.
Whatever hell they were going through now was going to pale in comparison to what Kakashi had just set up for Naruto.
And thus the constant game of pranking, blackmail, and revenge within team seven continued with relentless momentum.
o. o. o.
Land of Swamps:
It had been nearly four hours since the group had begun travelling again, and they were all deadly quiet. Tensions were high, and every shinobi there was ready to fight at a moment's notice.
It wasn't because they believed the enemy was near.
It wasn't because they were close to their destination.
No. The reason for the stress was of far greater significance…
"And to think, I thought being in between a great pair of breasts couldn't get any more terrifying yesterday." Naruto deadpanned as he slowly woke from his first successful and very needed nap of the day, his head the only part of his body sticking out of Shion's tanktop and completely aware that Hinata's byakugan had not once turned off since his relocation to a more sensitive part of the priestess' person.
o. o. o.
Somewhere in the elemental nations:
The girls in the brothel didn't know what to make of the sight. Jiraiya of the Sannin was a fairly well known customer of theirs, so they were quite familiar with his habits. Where he tended to grope. How he flirted. How he worded things when he was prying for rumors and information. How he didn't when he was just being a pervert…
But watching the man laugh his heart out for nearly twenty minutes when he had barely had any sake and none of the girls had said anything amusing was a first.
The common theory now among the girls was that the drink he had was spiked with something and he was hallucinating, as he kept on managing to utter words out like "brat", "finally", and "suffer like a man" many times…
But then they recalled that he had been giggly and saying roughly the same things when he walked into their establishment at the beginning…
Regardless, they decided to bring and service him into one of their private rooms so that he wouldn't disturb or scare away the other customers.
They'd put the charge the fees for renting it out to his tab.
Papa had taught them well.
o. o. o.
The reason for his change from Shion's hood to what most others would claim to be sacred ground was rather a rather simple one. There was nothing to hold him in place in the hood when the group picked up speed, and so it soon became apparent that one of two things would happen if they continued with him in that location. Either he would eventually fall out of the pouch like accessory… or, given the sounds and color he was making, throw up violently on their client.
No wonder Kiba never carried Akamaru around that way when they were smaller. The poor furball would have puked all over his master in every mission he'd be on with all the bouncing and motion he'd go through with every step.
When everyone was debating on what to do with the once more near comatose fox, Shion had decided to take the initiative and without hesitation put Naruto between her admittedly developed breasts. It had caught everyone off guard so badly that it took the moved fox a good half a minute to realize that he was possibly in a worse position than he was before. Granted he was still in a bit of a daze, but Hinata's oh so subtle killing intent of a thousand pains managed to bring him back to reality rather quickly.
Shion, whether it was because she had grown a bigger spine than before, or was completely ignorant of Hinata's rage, merely pointed out that with Naruto where he was, they could technically force him into protecting her given that if anyone attacked her, they'd be likely to hit him as well…
Whether or not she was including Hinata in the potential group of offending parties was anyone's guess, but no one was stupid enough to ask.
In the end, since Shion was the one who had hired them in the first place, she had final say in the matter since it really wouldn't affect the mission that much and arguing would only waste more time. That didn't mean that things were going smoothly in the process though as Tenten, Shino, and Chouji kept their distance from the Hyuuga heiress, who had been in a visibly bad mood ever since.
On the plus side, in Naruto's position at least, this now meant that Shino, who was carrying Shion and by association him, was now serving as an extremely convenient meat shield.
Deciding to finally take advantage of his new position, the jinchuriki leaned forward and rested his head against his friend's back and subtly aligned his chakra…
"You have no one else to blame but yourself for this." The fox grinned with a tired smile, enjoying the shock of his friend momentarily tensing up in surprise by his method of conversation. "You could have killed me a while ago, but no, you had to push your luck."
Shino didn't say anything as the group continued forward through the forest, making good time all things considered.
"… Reach out to my chakra and just think louder than normal." Naruto sighed, figuring out why his friend had yet to reply. Any verbal conversation would no doubt picked up by Hinata or Shion.
Moments later Naruto felt Shino's life energy flow along his own with greater ease. "Sometimes the harder way is the more rewarding one. You have developed an interesting trick Naruto."
"Spend enough time being a sage and studying the mechanics of it and you figure out some interesting things." The fox yawned. "Perhaps you'll learn some of it yourself if you live long enough being my human meat shield."
"Wouldn't Chouji be a better person to fill such a position?" The Aburame asked with his dry sense of humor.
"Yes, but you're the one who offered in the end. It's a first comes first serve position."
"Of course." Shino's eyebrow twitched. "How silly of me to have forgotten that."
"You? Silly? Well if we needed a sign that the world was in danger before…" Naruto chuckled, which given his current state appeared as if he was lightly barking a few times.
The pair remained quiet for several more seconds as the forest began to clear up. Shortly ahead was a large river that they were going to travel up for the rest of their trip. Hinata reasoned that since the enemy used a good deal of strong fire techniques, the proximity to the river should weaken that potential a bit. And if they had a water user, Tenten would be able to handle the situation with a copied Kubikirihochou.
"What is the problem?" Shino asked. "Something has you worried. Is it the enemy? Were you on this mission last time?"
"Nah." Naruto snorted. "I mean, yeah I was on the mission, but these guys are chumps compared to you guys. They have some interesting tricks, but nothing that you can't handle. Now that demon on the other hand is another story. I can't be too sure since I wasn't paying attention last time, but if that guy gets out again then you might actually need my help… or Shion's. Depends on how deep Hinata's reserves are."
"She is quite powerful, however I am unaware of how much chakra she would need." The Aburame frowned. "Is the priestess that important?"
"… I'll keep quiet about it for now. Spoiling everything for you would ruin the fun." The fox grinned. "Should it get to that point, I'm certain that you'd be able to figure it out. The demon was quite the bloated talker. Spent half the time he was out talking everyone's ears off."
"Lovely." The Aburame sighed. "Then what is the real issue?"
Naruto remained quiet for several moments. "Shion remembers the past too."
Shino nearly stumbled on the revelation before regaining control over his momentum. The other shinobi in his group glanced in his direction momentarily before continuing onward. Had it actually been a problem, he would have made some sort of signal to indicate it.
"I take it that you informing me of this means that this was unplanned. I thought that the only ones that could possibly remember were those that you picked out and performed that ritual you had."
Naruto couldn't help but snort at the fact that Shino had called shoving a metaphysical piece of altered timespace and life force into another person's skull a ritual. "Normally that's the case, but if I remember how Shion's powers work right… mixed with how we got sent back in the first place it does make sense, as absurd as it sounds. I won't get into details, but let's just say that if I had simply gone back in time, or if Shion simply saw the future like a normal fortune teller off the street, we wouldn't be having this conversation."
"I see." The Aburame frowned as the forest opened up and the group jumped over a wide open space to the stone pillars that spiked through the river beneath them. "I have a feeling that this is related to our client's unusual… infatuation with you…"
The fox shifted uncomfortably for a few seconds. "Well… you've probably been told by now but back then I was… a bit…"
"Stupid to the point that many pondered the possibility that you were retarded or mentally impaired? Yes. I have heard the stories." Shino's lips twitched in amusement.
"You could have held back a bit or went with idiot savant. I'm just crazy now, I'm not blind." Naruto' growled lightly. "But yeah, during this mission, Shion was a bitch that was traumatized by constantly sacrificing others to die in her place whenever trouble came her way. I on the other hand was overly optimistic, stupid, and horrifically blind to subtle hints. And so in the end of this particular fiasco, I had saved the day, again, broken the girl out of her shell… and well… I sort of…"
"I can already tell I'm going to get the urge to drop you in the river when you finally get to the punch line." Shino frowned.
"I agreed to marry her and get her pregnant without knowing ok!?" Naruto relented with much shame and embarrassment.
Shino remained quiet for nearly five minutes of travelling. "Naruto. I hate you."
"Yeah, kinda figured as much." The fox sighed whimsically. "I hate myself sometimes too. Especially past me. Blindly walking around with a smile on my face and completely ignoring the problems of the world. Plus the terrible fashion sense. Things were so much simpler then. Makes me envy the stupid people looking back now…"
"Hinata is going to murder you if this gets out of hand." The ride continued as he pondered the situation. "She might even go after Shion-sama as well, which would cause all sorts of problems for everyone."
"Well excuse me for giving you heads up!" The fox rolled his eyes. "I just found out about this yesterday! How do you think I feel!? You're the only one I can talk to about this with here so I couldn't just come up and make it part of a group brainstorm!"
"If you're so desperate then why haven't you asked for my advice yet?" A dark and ominous voice questioned from what could only be described as deeper within Naruto, causing Shino to shiver.
"You're no help!" Naruto snapped, clearly undisturbed by the Kyubi's sudden interjection. "I asked you already and you said, and I quote, 'fuck them both and make them your bitches so that they won't question any of your decisions afterwards'. End quote."
"I still say it is a valid path to take. Then again not doing so will likely end with you getting the shit kicked out of you again. Very well. I retract my statement. Enjoy knowing that your future is filled with pain. I know I will." Shino couldn't help but roll his eyes at the fox's smug tone. Clearly he was the only one actually enjoying their current situation.
"Even if there was a female giant nine tailed fox in the world you'd still go extinct. That's how bad you are at relationships." Naruto shook his head in depression.
"If that is another jab about how bad my breath smells to you hairless monkeys…"
"Speaking of voices that should not be here, where are your parents?" The Aburame hesitantly asked.
"Mom and Dad? Oh, Dad's too scared to make a comment on this subject with Mom around, and Mom doesn't want to make any advice because I believe she doesn't want to be called out as a hypocrite from the way she acted when she and Dad were dating."
"I HEARD THAT!" Shouted a familiar and very angry female voice from the same "direction" that the fox's came from.
"Good!" Naruto snapped in its general direction.
The Aburame was slowly getting a better idea of why all of his friends lamented the idea of going on another mission with the Uzumaki.
"… Getting back on topic. It would be reckless to simply come out with this sort of information to everyone. No one else has learned of your particular condition since you have left." Shino coughed, calming down everyone listening and began to analytically go over the situation. "Another issue is that Shion-sama wishes to be escorted to Konoha after our mission is done. No doubt she intends to request to be engaged to you. Even among the past candidates, there haven't been any with as high a social standing as her. She's the rough equivalent of the Daimyo of Demon Country as far as the people are concerned… flat out turning her down from the get go would not give Konoha or you a good image."
"Plus the fact that she knows of the future at all is a problem." Naruto's eyes narrowed. "She knows that I remember her, Shino. So far she's kept quiet about everything, no doubt in order to try and meet up with me here, but if we turn her down… I honestly don't know what she'll do. And before you even remotely suggest we possibly kill her, forget it. Her powers are TRIGGERED by her death. She'd do something to prevent it or potentially spill everything before we'd even get close. Granted I'm not a big enough asshole to actually do or promote such a thing. Just stating facts here."
"I believe the Oogakari called this situation a Catch-22." Shino nodded in affirmation of how complex the situation was. "You could try to turn her down gently…"
Naruto remained silent for several long moments. "Shino? Where am I? Physically?"
The Aburame pondered the answer to that question for several moments carefully. "You are in the middle of our client's breasts."
"Yes. Our client that has gone back in time without anyone else, has had to deal with going throughout her adolescent years all over again, and for some reason is still madly in love with me despite not seeing me for all that time. And might I add that so far, the only conversation we have had so far is us merely confirming our identities to one another before she sucked on my face in front of Hinata."
"I see. She's not going to give up without a fight then." Shino frowned.
"Given how stubborn and selfish she was last time? No, no she is not. She's just better at controlling her temper this time, but given her actions there is no doubt that she is still very much used to getting her way. I wouldn't be surprised if she's as good at playing the political game as Hinata is now." The fox wept. "If I take the soft route, it will take time, which means me being with her alone, and Hinata most likely doing her stalker routine again… only with far more terrifying thoughts going through her head."
"You have my condolences. Tell me how that works out." A momentary smirk of amusement found its way onto the ride's face.
"Totally going against the man code there Shino." Another grunt escaped the fox's mouth. "The problem is that from what I've seen, Shion's gotten a good grasp on her powers compared to the last time around. And they are damn useful, enemy or not…"
Shino's good humor disappeared. "You are actually considering using her for your own gains."
"Everyone's gains. She could give us a huge edge in the future… and it's not like I'd be a dick to her in the process... well anymore of a dick than I am to everyone else at least. You know me better than that. Leaving her be on the other hand, could cause everyone a whole slew of problems, especially if the wrong ears hear of just how potent her abilities are. I would put money on someone trying to get their hands on her in general in the future regardless of what I do."
"You've put thought into this." Shino nodded, realizing just how dire the situation was and that Naruto's absurd idea was one of the few options that could keep everyone both safe and potentially happy. "No matter what you chose, there will be much conflict in the end. Even the choice that should give everyone what they want will be poorly accepted by many."
Naruto sighed. "Look, it's a shitty thing to do, not just to her but to Hinata as well, but… damn it man it's not like we make a living doing the kind and morally just thing to do, and neither does the rest of the world.
"You know as well as I do that saving the world is going to get our hands dirty in ways we don't want or expect. I thought we were better prepared for the future before I left, and guess what happened? Neji got his eye gouged out in front of everyone and nearly died, along with nearly half of our friends, and now tensions between Konoha and Iwa at are an all-time high, which we REALLY don't need at the moment. We can't simply dick around when given opportunities like this. I know about the C.R.A. and all that bullshit, and normally I wouldn't pay it any mind, but… shit I don't even know any more all right? I have options I can genuinely use and I'm not going to dismiss them because it's "the right thing to do". Fuck the moral shit. We are shinobi, not paladins. We can both agree that this is a messed up situation. I'm asking for advice and you're one of the coolest heads we got in the group."
"And what about your thoughts on her in particular?" Shino prodded while silently glowing at the fact that Naruto was confiding in him in something important and seriously asking for his guidance. "And your thoughts on marrying more than one woman? You are not a noble looking for a concubine that will smile and just look pretty in the background, and Hinata and Shion are certainly not concubine material. You are a shinobi with an admittedly impressive resume, and the two females that you are considering are both of considerable power in one way or another."
"Shion? I honestly don't know." The fox shook his head. "Strong willed. Emotional. Admittedly easy on the eyes, you can't deny she doesn't look like she's related to Hinata in some way. Very attached to those that she's dedicated herself to… but I only really spent time with her during the mission. Even then you can't say that there haven't been marriages that have been set up on weaker reasons. I think that Kakashi-sensei made her back off under some pretense before after I left in the previous timeline, but I doubt it will work this time around. At the moment, I don't have nearly as strong of feelings for her as she does me, but at the same time I don't know her well enough that I can say for certain that I won't potentially have feelings in the future if I do decide to pursue a relationship."
"And the polygamy?"
"Ugh. Please don't tell me you're going to get all preachy on me on the subject." Another sick groan came from the fox's maw. "Ero-ni made me sit through several lectures on the damn topic and its mechanics, intricacies, and why and why not it doesn't work in various situations. And as expected, it all made genuine and logical sense and disturbed the living hell out of me as well. As far as I'm concerned, it is something that can or can't work depending on who is involved, how it is managed, and how much of a pain in the ass the local society and populace is about it. It is not inherently a good or bad thing, but still has the potential to be both. Much like drinking your ass off at a bachelor's party, only with far longer lasting effects after the deed is done. At the moment, what is happening now is still in the beginning stages of either something grand or some horrible catastrophe just waiting to be set off. All I can determine about my situation right now is that if, and that's still a big "if", I do end up with more than just Hinata, I'll at least be able to avoid the biggest obvious mistakes, and that if I don't allow Hinata to have some sort of alpha female position I will die a horrifically painful death."
"By her hand?"
"By either all of their hands, or Hiashi's."
"Ah. I had forgotten about his reaction."
"Thankfully Shion's parents are dead so I don't have to bother with their reactions… wow that sounded WAY worse than I had originally thought now that I said it. I must be more messed up than I thought."
"It may be a risky idea, but why not tell Hinata the truth about the situation?"
Naruto became unusually stoic. "Yes Shino. Let's first tell Hinata the long, elaborate, and horrifically secret tale about me and a good deal of other people she knows being from the future. Then about me deciding to NOT bring her memories back because her future self was not worth risking our limited resources over despite the fact that I do love her, meaning that in an EXTREMELY sick way, I am actually sacrificing her previous self for the "greater good" and using her current self as a replacement girlfriend.
"And then while she's pondering about that and the fact that half the people she has been trusting with her life are not who she thought they were, let's add some more gas to that fire by informing her of my colossal moment of absolute GENIUS back then and tell her that I had promised to have a kid with our client who, surprise surprise, conveniently managed to keep her memories as well. Oh, and because of that and her powers, I've decided out of the blue that perhaps I will take on another woman to spend the rest of her life with me! A woman that she knows next to nothing about and for all intents and purposes is a complete stranger. All shortly after Hinata managed to see me for the first time in years, is JUST bursting with pent up dark themed sexual tension, and is worried sick about me because now I really am FUCKED IN THE HEAD! HOW DO YOU THINK THAT WILL END UP?!"
Shino flinched as Naruto's mental voice echoed in his skull. Granted he couldn't really blame his friend for getting so worked up given his situation, but it still hurt. "You didn't have to be so rude about it."
"You asked a stupid question. I gave you an honest answer." The fox growled darkly. "Shion's too big of a factor now to leave alone, so we have to keep close tabs on her in one way or another, even if I do turn her down. The problem is that the only way I see that happening is if she comes to Konoha, and since she's a major political figure, the only way her country would even consider letting her out for a long period of time is if it was something big such as, you guessed it, a potential marriage setup. Once word of that gets out, Hinata will obviously not take it well…"
"She seems to be taking things well so far…" Shino replied in a tone that clearly indicated that he didn't believe what he said either.
"In order to even remotely give Hinata enough reason to allow Shion a chance of getting close to me, I would have to explain virtually everything to her while simultaneously giving her a reason to not murder at least one of us. She's not stupid and if I leave out gaping holes she will notice and she will press me or someone else on them." He rammed his head against his ride's back. "Even if I somehow manage to pull this off with her, I will still need some way to manage to make this a passible idea with Hiashi."
Shino laughed briefly. "You're thinking too small Naruto. If you handle this wrong, the entire Hyuuga clan would be after your head. Many of the women in it virtually idolize Hinata and are very much aware of your relationship. If they think you are cheating on her, not even the Oogakari would be able to save you."
"Wonderful. And here I thought things would be manageable so long as I kept away from the vast majority of the nobility of the world."
"At least you know that politics will only make what you're trying to do harder."
"Yep. This is what happens when your dating life interacts with politics. Lots of crying. Hopefully where no one can see you. Unfortunately for me, there are a ton of Byakugan users around so I don't have many private spaces available to shed my manly tears in abundance."
"Fortunately you are competent enough to realize that you are playing the game to begin with. Speaking of which, how well can you handle yourself in that field? You must know that that world will not leave you be."
"I know enough to know what cards I am still able to play at the moment." The fox grinned darkly. "In a game state such as this, it's best to have as many unneeded individuals assume you can't play as possible for as long as possible."
"You plan to build a solid powerbase under everyone's noses while others fight on your behalf and orders, giving everyone else the impression that they are moving on their own accord… a risky move but one that can yield great benefits if done properly. Especially when you do decide to move into the game in person." Shino nodded briefly in approval. "I should have expected something as reckless as this from you."
"Keep in mind that it's always the advisors or the guys in charge of finances that are normally the most dangerous out of everyone. The Kage have power, but those guys are the ones that have the real influence and reach in systems like ours." Naruto frowned as he thought of Danzo and how the man was pretty much in charge of half the problems in the elemental nations.
"Speaking from experience I take it?"
"You don't want to know. Fucking politics. A never ending hell that is better and worse than war. I just wanted a ramen pool people. That's all I asked for." The jinchuriki sighed before his ears picked up. "Speaking of war…"
"Looks like our peace and quiet has finally been broken! We have company boys and girls!" Tenten spoke up with a dark smirk as the sound of a great deal of water met everyone's ears and the feeling of a great deal of chakra tingled their nerves. Soon enough, a massive water dragon appeared in the canyon they were all travelling in and rushed towards them with a massive roar.
"Not bad." Choji nodded in respect of the size of the attack. There weren't many that could pull off a water dragon bullet of such size, let alone as a mere opening move.
"Not bad?!" Shion blinked in disbelief. Although she had been through this situation before, she was still quite unnerved by the sheer scale of the chakra construct heading their way. As strong as her barriers were, they would not last more than a second against such a thing.
"The controller is on top of the cliffs!" Hinata yelled over the increasing volume of the attack. "We're cornered in down here! Tenten will provide support!"
"Bout time!" The Faker grinned as she moved to the rear of the group and instantly materialized a copy of Kubikirihochou.
"Just a fair warning, I have reason to believe that I will smell as bad as Akamaru if I get wet." Naruto lazily grinned as his ride made an effort to get up the cliff face as fast as possible.
"You knew this was going to happen." The Aburame mentally growled, accusing the fox on his back.
"Hey, so did Shion, and she is far more likely to die on this mission then… wait… Hinata's here, no never mind. I'm still the most likely to die on this trip. Carry on."
"GYAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!" The attack bellowed as it charged at the group and tore up the side of the canyon wall in the process. As fast as the shinobi were, the nonliving being was significantly faster, and gaining ground at an uncomfortable pace…
That is until the sword specialist of the group stopped and turned to face it without the slightest hint of concern.
"Oi! Don't roar until I give you a reason to damn it!" Tenten yelled with as much ferocity as she swung her blade sideways at the massive attack. The two forces struck one another with enough force to cause a sizeable shockwave behind everyone, but in the end Tenten and her weapon had struck to the side and with enough force that the attack was diverted away from everyone at a low angle.
As the snakelike beast's body flew by, the others could see a good amount of the water making it up was sucked into the blade the girl held with ease. Even after a few seconds, it was easy to tell that the dragon, while still significantly larger than what most humans would ever be able to manage, was a good deal smaller in every way than it was before.
Naruto watched with some interest as the rest of the group continued to climb higher to the top of the cliffs while the dragon attempted to make up for lost ground and come up from behind. He had no doubt that if Zabuza had been in Tenten's position, the man would have just absorbed the entire attack with little to no issue, but his friend's performance was none the less impressive.
Unfortunately for the water serpent, Tenten had stayed back and was putting the chakra laced water she had stolen to good use if the extended transparent blade that reached down to the river that was holding her up in midair was any indication. Considering the fact that he had been on the wrong side of the original not even a few days earlier, what came next didn't surprise the jinchuriki.
Hoisting the horrifically elongated weapon onto her shoulder and allowing herself to freefall, the girl swung the blade down with unnatural ease and cleaved the smaller dragon into several pieces in one blow, virtually cutting the river in half in the process and spraying its contents so high that a good deal of water flooded the tops of the cliffs above.
Then, whether she wanted to show off or to catch up with everyone, she unleashed a torrent of highly pressurized water downwards to launch herself into the sky.
No one bothered to guess if she timed it so that she landed on the edge of the cliff at the same moment everyone else did or not. She was grinning far too much to risk such a wager.
"At least someone's enjoying this." Naruto sighed.
Hinata however did not bother wasting any time on the minor spectacle and pointed to a distant bend on the other side of the canyon where two people could be seen standing. "Two are over there. One of them is responsible for the attack… their chakra is odd though. It's almost like they have cursed seals, but different…"
"That's what I thought too when we fought them earlier. Their chakra felt weird." Chouji muttered as he stepped forward. "I'll take them on while you guys go ahead. I do best in places like this."
"I'll come with. Even if they aren't curse seal users, the fact that they compare is reason enough to bring backup." Tenten smirked as she attached the copied blade on her back with chakra and made a bow. "You may use Earth style, but I'm still better at handling water users."
"Shino and I will go into the forest. We have a better advantage in there." Hinata stated calmly.
"You do realize they are likely trying to split us up." Shino frowned.
"Yes, however you forget that I am with you." Hinata gave him a dry smile.
"And why exactly is that such a significant thing?" Shion rose an eyebrow in skepticism, causing the other female's face to fall back to its previous stoic state.
"You're not exactly making things easier for me are you?" Naruto looked up at the priestess with frustration before shaking his head and resting his head to the side and closed his eyes. "Fuck it. I'm going back to sleep. Ninety percent of my deaths when I was sleeping were painless. I'm willing to take that risk."
Shino shifted uncomfortably, which was reasonable since he was literally between his teammate and the source of her displeasure. It didn't help that no one missed Naruto squeak in fear of the girl's displeasure and disappeared into the client's bosom. "Hinata is quite strong Shion-sama. In addition to that she and I have been teammates for years. We can work together with great efficiency."
A large explosion nearby snapped them out of their moment of awkwardness. "Hurry. We don't want to get caught in the crossfire or in the open." Hinata jumped to the forest, quickly followed by Shino.
o. o. o.
With Tenten and Chouji:
Before the Akimichi had reached halfway to his targets, Tenten had already begun to bombard the enemy with a rain of arrows that were wrapped in exploding tags.
Oh he was still certainly scared shitless of the idea of the girl unloading her payload on him, but he had grown up enough to be perfectly fine so long as she was doing it to someone else now.
As the first bombs hit he saw the standard reactions from the pair. Swearing. Attempts to dodge. Getting thrown around a bit by the shockwaves. More swearing. The fact that they weren't blown apart from the attack in the first place meant that they were good enough to not be considered weaklings…
… Then he spied out what he was looking for when the one with the mask started to make hand seals and ended on the snake. Looks like he was the one that trapped him in those stone caves from before.
"Dibs on the mask!" The large teen grinned hungrily as he slammed his palms together like last time with one hand pointing down and the other up. "Hidden art: Bump."
One step forward and he was running like normal. His large body moved with great momentum, carrying his loose clothes and armor that hid a good deal of his frame…
The next, his entire figure was different. Where his large Akimichi shape had been was now a warped yet horrifically cut figure. His entire upper body had tightened up to the point that many would assume that he had zero percent body fat and nearly one hundred percent pure lean muscle. Had he not have his clothes on, the teen would appear to be in beyond peak physical condition. Even Lee, with his absurd taijutsu training, would never be able to obtain a body that produced such a distinct image of virtually every muscle there was on his person…
Needless to say, while Ino loved her boyfriend the way he was, she was absolutely incapable of not drooling whenever he used this move in front of her with his shirt off.
But even so, Chouji's legs had warped even more so, having warped and thickened to nearly triple their size, so much so that each one was nearly the width of his waist alone. Muscle after muscle. Vein after vein. The two limbs were terrifying things to behold and even more ominous to those that were on the wrong side of them…
… If they were fast enough to see them before getting killed that is.
Just as the enemy managed to set up a stone dome over himself and his partner in order to protect them from Tenten's exploding onslaught, Chouji had managed to cover the last of the distance between them with sickening speed, comparable to Lee opening at least two gates, using his momentum in conjunction with his tree like legs to absolutely shatter the hastily made stone defense with ease.
Three years had been spent into developing this technique. His family had utilized their calorie consumption techniques to enlarge and warp their bodies to famous sizes. His father as head of the clan was capable of growing to sizes comparable to a boss summon. Chouji had spent much time mastering them, however much like before he had utilized his impressive affinity for physical based ninjutsu to create a new branch of techniques.
Before Naruto had even left for his trip, the Oogakari had told him stories of a man who like him was very large and had a great deal of talent in fighting, however also lacked confidence when going up against those he thought were stronger than him. However his body was special in that much of his girth was from the excess amounts of blood he had that pooled in his stomach. By circulating this sparsely used resource through the rest of his body, this man could temporarily increase his physical prowess a good many times. This boost could enable him to keep up with even his stronger comrades, who were famed to be unparalleled among their kind, and each given the title "King".
Chouji wasn't a greedy person, but soon after hearing that story he knew for a fact that he wanted the title for himself.
Lee could have his taijutsu. Neji, Hinata and Sasuke could have their bloodlines. Naruto was a jinchuriki. Everyone else had their own thing… but the title of "King", that path that lead to it, and all that entailed was his and his alone.
He had spent three years developing a jutsu to mimic this effect, to give him the ability to rival that of one of these so called "Kings". Consuming the calories in his body to not enlarge himself, but to enforce what he had to far beyond its maximum potential.
And at the moment, all that chakra and power was going straight to his hips… and legs.
"I'm not done…" The Mountain King growled as he snapped his leg back and spun on it while making the other leg stretch to the sky before the dust had even remotely begun to settle. The world around him rumbled as the faint image of a massive black silhouette with glowing white eyes momentarily appeared behind him mimicking his exact posture.
No one who saw the figure would question it. No one who was in its presence would get in its way.
It was not their place to question the might of royalty.
The earth around him shattered as his mammoth of a leg crashed into the ground. Everything that was loose within a hundred foot radius of the point of impact was sent flying away from the epicenter violently. Massive portions of the cliff cracked and fell off the edge into the river below, unable to handle the unrelenting strain of the monstrous force that stood at its top.
With the remains of the failed defensive structure blown away, Chouji managed to spy the body of its maker a bit to his right not as far away as everything else. The odd man had a peculiar skin tone that was between a dark red and brown with markings around his body.
Before he had an opportunity to pursue his opponent however, he was stopped by a jet of water that shot from his side and nearly cut him in half.
The shortest and from the Akimichi's perspective most disturbed member of the enemy team grinned at him sadistically with his right foot sticking up in the air like he was a ballerina. "You're really strong, however we're prepared for you this time. You won't be able to muscle your way out of getting killed…"
"GHAAAAA!" The water user yelled in absolute pain as a copy of one of the Kiba blades stabbed him in the shoulder and sent a very large charge of electricity throughout his saturated body.
"Bout time you showed up." Chouji smirked as his would be attacker dissipated into a large puddle of water before erratically moving away from the imitation blade as quickly as possible.
"Oh shut up. Not everyone has insane physical boosting powers you know." Tenten pouted as appeared behind the Akimichi bow in hand. "Now go kill your target before I do it for you."
"Yes mother." The larger of the two snorted before bolting in the direction of where his target had disappeared to so quickly that Tenten wouldn't have been able to follow had she not been used to watching Lee and Neji in action.
"Oh I'm going to enjoy killing you bitch." The water user growled as he reformed himself a short distance away. "You may have had a chance when you were far away, but n-"
"GHAAAAAAA!" Another copy of the Kiba blades embedded itself into the bloodthirsty murderer and caused him to scream in horrific pain.
"… You know, talking a really dumb idea if you don't have a clear advantage." Tenten deadpanned as she watched her target turn into water again.
"I'll kill you!" The puddle snarled as it warped itself into a large number of transparent tentacle like spikes that shot out at the source of its pain.
The Faker merely sighed as if dealing with a boring chore as she quickly grabbed the copy of Kubikirihochou she had made earlier and swung it at the oncoming attack. Two out of every three individual spears managed to avoid getting absorbed into the weapon, and were hammered into the ground to her side.
"Only that much was absorbed?" Tenten frowned at the amount of the enemy's body she had taken in. Even if her sword was only a copy, she should have been able to rip away a much greater portion of his power. "His chakra must be getting in the way somehow. It does feel a bit off…"
The kunoichi's eyes widened in surprise as she looked down to see the three spears of water sticking out of her chest.
"Idiot! Did you really think that I would only attack from the front?!" The re-reforming body grinned with a sick expression.
Said expression didn't last long when the girl's body exploded in a cloud of smoke to reveal a log covered in exploding tags.
"Idiot. Did he really expect me to fall for a strategy that basic?" Tenten rolled her eyes as she watched the results of her trap wreck the area nearly a hundred feet away behind a rock. "Oh… and thank you oh holy one for allowing this lowly follower to attempt to redeem my enemies with explosives at thine selfless cost. Thy splinters will do well in both harming my foes, and fertilizing this barren ground so your progeny may flourish. Amen."
Still, while her opponent wasn't exactly hard to deal with, he was notably tough to put down. He had taken two direct hits from the Kiba blades and several exploding tag based attacks and was still capable of fighting. Plus his chakra was… altered, for lack of a better term. Denser yes, but also twisted in some odd way that got in the way of what her sword was trying to do…
Judging from how close he was to Chouji when the dust settled and how fast he attacked, it wouldn't be hard to assume that he turned to water during her initial attack and thus avoided any damage from the shockwaves made, so blunt attacks were out. Normal slashing damage was probably a no go too since he'd just turn into water again.
"Enough fire could work, but lightning is more efficient in this situation." She sighed as she placed her water blade on her back and remade her bow.
"I am the bone of my sword."
An instant later she had produced an altered arrow of her own design. If one paid attention, they could easily tell that it originated from the Kiba blades of the seven swordsmen, however it was a great deal different than the ones she had used earlier.
Instead of simply hacking off the protrusions on the blade and making it more arrow like, she had instead fused both swords into one by fusing them at the base and tip, twisted the sharp metal about itself like a helix, and made the protrusions shaped into a fan like pattern to give it a bigger spin when released.
She smelt the ozone before the weapon had even finished forming into her hands.
She jumped from her hiding spot back to where the forest was to get a better view of everything and scan her surroundings.
Almost instantly she pegged her opponent, who had somehow managed to recover from her Naruto grade replacement and was holding a giant water ball over his head.
"Got you!" He snarled as soon as he saw her. The torrent of water instantly contorted on itself into the shape of a whirlpool and shot toward the archer with the force of a massive storm.
"Tear apart your feast. Kiba." Tenten's eyes narrowed dangerously as her warped arrow shone a blinding white.
Lightning struck the cliffside that day. There was not a cloud in the sky.
o. o. o.
"Let's see you deal with this fatass!" The mask wearing shinobi practically shrieked at the top of his lungs as his fists hammered into the dry and beaten stone under him.
Almost instantly all the stone in the area began to warp and contort on itself. Given the stiff nature of rock, it wasn't surprising that the giant moving mounds broke into large chunks within mere moments, using the released energy upon breaking to conveniently project themselves at the rapidly moving Akimichi.
"Gladly." Chouji was moving before the first stone had been fired at him, leaping into the air and reverting back to his normal size before transforming once more into one of his personal favorite moves. "Spiked Human Meat Tank."
Chouji's spiked ball like body spun menacingly as it hit the ground, tearing up the earth as he did so and charging forward with enough force that any of the flying stones that hit him did less than nothing to impair his advance. Every projectile and roadblock that made contact with his body shattered with pathetic ease.
"His answer was to actually become a fatass?! And it's working?!" The assassin blinked in disbelief at his opponent's counterstrategy. It didn't take him long to realize that throwing fairly large boulders at the oncoming spiked ball of death wouldn't work. Just as he was about to jump to the side to get away…
The giant boulder of flesh, bone and hair quadrupled in size in an instant.
What originally was an easy dodge became a wall of painful crushing death as the much larger ball easily reached the area that its target had jumped to and crushed him with literally no effort.
The moment Chouji felt his target's presence behind him, he instantly reverted back to his normal meat tank size, bounced shallowly in the air, returned to his normal physical size, and continued to flip until he landed cleanly on the ground.
"You can get up." The Akimichi stated calmly with his arms crossed. "I know you're still alive."
It didn't take long for him to get a response as the ground he had just steamrolled over literally began to rumble with increasing violence until it burst up. Instead of a normal man, what rose up was a crude fifteen foot tall torso made of stone with limbs that looked like spiked clubs and the head being the jutsu users, giving it an absurd appearance.
"You fat fucking freak! I'm going to beat the living shit out of you!"
The torso somehow plowed through the ground and rushed at Chouji. Judging from the body language it was pretty obvious that the monstrosity was going to try and punch him, likely crushing and or skewering him to death in the process. It was a simple tactic, but judging by how quickly his opponent was moving it probably yielded pretty good results. Not many would be able to dodge something that big moving so fast, especially if it had tricks to increase its range. Getting through that stone armor would be pretty difficult for most too…
Clap. The palms of the Akimichi slammed together, this time in the standard prayer like position.
Unfortunately for the assassin, Chouji was his worst matchup.
"Praying to god won't help you! Die!" The masked man shrieked as a dozen more crude spikes erupted out of his fist as he launched it at his target. The impact was great enough to kick up a good deal of dust and cause the ground around them to crack a good deal.
"Finally." The assailant's grin matched his warped eyes, confident that the jolt he felt was his target becoming a heap of flesh and bone. "Heheh. You might be tough brat, but even you aren't stronger than stone and my chakra."
His arm was pushed back slightly.
Crack. Crack crack crack crack.
Multiple fractures burst from the end of his arm and traveled up it until the impurities were nearly at his shoulder.
"You were partly right." A menacing voice growled from the end of the stone limb. "By myself I wouldn't have been able to handle that. But then again, you're using jutsu to pull this off… and so with that logic, using my jutsu…"
The stone arm shattered, revealing Chouji Akimichi in yet another form.
His eyes were cold and murderous. His face was stern. His skin was black as night. And his upper body was so ripped and enlarged that it could have compared to the Raikage's had anyone put the two next to one another's. Unlike his previous state, all his major physical enhancements were from the waist up this time while his legs, while still very muscular, did not completely match up.
It should also be noted that he was only holding one hand up where the stone limb had nearly killed him.
"You should be begging for your life about now."
Judging to how badly the unstable man's face was twitching, Chouji was fairly certain that he had really gotten under the nut's skin. Good.
"Just die already!" The stone user threw forward his other hand, causing it to produce more of its element in the process and grow more spikes. He was probably hoping that the additional forward momentum would be enough to finally put the Akimichi down for good…
… Too bad he was just being stupid.
"Pulse Quake." Chouji muttered under his breath as he also threw out his other fist out to counter the attack head on. He didn't bother with the multitude of stone spikes that tore into his clothes. They were made of strong chakra yes, but they weren't composed by someone who was exceptionally practiced in the element like he was and shattered under his far harder skin.
The two enhanced fists collided with titanic force…
It wasn't even a contest.
Unlike before, there was no dramatic pause after the two forces hit. A massive ripple traveled up the arm of stone, tearing it up in the process as it went from fist to elbow to shoulder to body. Everything encased in the stone that the wave travelled up was contorted and pounded into a near paste…
It was the other use of the otherwise low ranking technique known as Pulse Quake outside of its ability to destabilize the ground. If the user could hit hard enough, the move was just as damaging, if not more, to the soft insides of its targets than a jyuken strike. The stronger the blow, the more the damage. It made for an excellent armor destroying taijutsu technique. True it was far less effective against chakra based defenses, however those tended to be more oriented to defending against ninjutsu anyways.
And at the moment, Chouji Akimichi, naturally the strongest member of his age group, was physically enhanced with a jutsu of his own creation and a high level version of the fairly common earth spears technique.
Even Sakura would hesitate at the idea of matching blows against him in this state.
"GAAAAAAAAAAHHHH!" The white haired man roared in agony as his left arm, shoulder, and a good portion of his back and chest was torn apart by the attack. What used to be muscle and bone was now a large heap of tenderized flesh and calcium bits held in place by a rapidly darkening and bleeding case of skin. Judging from the blood stains that were being made on the cloth mask he wore, Chouji surmised that his counterblow had reached at least one of the man's lungs as well.
Unless he had a medic on hand that was exceptionally talented, the man was as good as dead. Somehow the muscular teen highly doubted that this was the case. As things stood he didn't think the poor fool was even capable of getting out of the remains of the stone body he had made for himself.
Suddenly a massive pillar of power shot to the sky nearby, catching his attention. The following large explosions were just as hard to miss.
"That chakra… that's where Tenten is…" The victorious shinobi instantly bolted to the direction of where the chaos was brewing, no doubt confident that his opponent was absolutely powerless in his current state…
"Hah. Ghah. Hah." The trapped and dying man panted in agony as he attempted to keep consciousness. "Geheheheheheheh. Idiot. He should have… killed me… hurk…"
Focusing the remains of his mind at the task at hand, the killer willed the parasitic chakra creature in his body down into his destroyed arm, causing a massive distorted bulge to appear on his already disfigured limb until it finally broke the skin near his wrist. He was in so much pain that he didn't even feel the thing tear apart several major veins in the path to do so.
"More chakra… just a little more… once I have this…" He ripped off the creature's head with his good arm. Once he drank the concentrated chakra like his brother did, he'd be unstoppable and the pain would finally go away. Then he could finally kill that fat ass bas-
A large hand enclosed his just as he was about to put the gel to his mouth and crushed it with ease.
"You didn't think I had actually left without killing you did you?" Chouji emotionlessly whispered from behind the virtually paralyzed man as he opened his hand and took out the crushed remains of the creature's head. "So this is what you were using to give you that odd boost? Disgusting… but somehow I doubt it's worse than Orochimaru's curse seals. Tsunade-sama would regardless be interested in studying it…"
"Ah… ah…." The dead man was at a loss for words as his shaking eyes took in the sight of his destroyed and mangled hand pried open and the green gel that was his salvation taken by the monster behind him.
"I'm not going to lie and say I'm sorry." The Akimichi whispered ominously as he drew a fist back. "But I will make it painless…"
o. o. o.
"Just die already!" The massive creature made of water hissed as hundreds of tentacle like appendages shot out of its body and attempted to impale Tenten, only to be redirected and absorbed into one of the many copies of Kubikirihochou stabbed into the ground around the girl.
"That's my line!" The Blacksmith shouted back with as much annoyance as a dozen copies of the Kiba blades materialized above her and impaled the living amoeboid blob. The electric shock merely annoying it at best. "I've killed you like five times over already! I have priority damn it!"
Tenten knew she shouldn't have gotten overconfident on a mission with Naruto involved, but in her defense her opponent had, at least initially, been a complete pushover for her. True his ability to turn into water made him difficult to kill, and probably would have made most other shinobi scream in either fear or frustration… but to her it just meant that the nut was another target for her lightning blades and easy to defend against with a copy of one of her favorite swords.
And for a while… yeah, that was pretty much how things were turning out. After she nearly evaporated the crazy shit to steam with her modified Kiba arrow, she had just been zapping the bastard over and over again. It was actually a bit sad to watch really…
Though to be fair there was a reason why she didn't just finish the fight earlier. The water freak's power had her slightly wary of anything that might happen if she got in too close. His powers were a bit faster and versatile than she was a bit comfortable dealing with at close range. Plus, well, it was really easy just wearing him down the way she was doing then. Charging up a finishing blow would have taken too long. Every time she skewered and zapped him with a copy of the legendary lightning blades, it took longer and longer for the psycho to reform his body…
And then she dropped her guard and let him slip away through a bloody crack in the ground made by Chouji's earlier attack.
Next thing she knew she was up against a giant watery blob with an even more fucked up grin on its face than before and tentacles coming out of virtually every part of its body. What was worse was that she had a sneaking suspicion that it was generating electricity of its own from the scorch marks its tentacles left on the ground.
Thankfully she wasn't out of tricks yet. Her setup with the copies of Kubikirihochou around her absorbed any and all water that came within a certain distance of her with frightening efficiency. It would take an overwhelmingly powerful water style attack to break through this defense, at least of A rank, and a sickeningly powerful one at that.
While she couldn't really move anywhere with it set up, she couldn't get hurt by this enemy either, allowing the Faker to bombard the mutant with a good deal of her soul's arsenal without needing to worry about defense... for the most part.
"Ladies first!" The monster swung a new slew of aquatic appendages erratically around its body before synonymously slamming them into the ground between the two combatants and shattering the ground beneath them.
Tenten clicked her tongue in annoyance as she instantly saw what her opponent was trying to do and moved. Before the first sword in her defense had been jolted loose of the earth and made an opening in her defense, she had gotten out of ground zero just as her previous location was spiked through by a dozen tentacles.
"Trace. On." A hammer slammed down in the Blacksmith's soul as a copy of Kanchou and Bakuya materialized in her hands while a slew of various weapons appeared above her head and were fired into the beast. Fire, water, earth, wind, lightning. Blades of these elements and more pierced through the amorphous creature, only to either pass right through it or simply be trapped inside.
"Hahahahaha! What's wrong bitch?! Is that the only thing you can do is run and throw things at me?!" The monster's twisted face spun on its borderline shapeless body as it began to attack in earnest from all sides. "It doesn't matter how many you use. I'm invincible the way I am now!"
"Way to jynx it dumbass." Tenten's barely audible comeback was drowned out by the hundreds of tentacles that struck at her from all angles, only to either be dodged or deflected by the weapons in her hands as she continued around the beast firing nonstop, using the blades to interfere and cut through a good portion of the oncoming whip like appendages to open up openings to fit through at the last moment, and the copy of Kubikirihochou on her back absorbed any tentacles that managed to get close behind her.
She was a third of the way around him.
"Come on. Come on come on come on come on! Get caught! Get stung! Get trapped! If you do it now I promise I'll only kill you half as long!" Whoever the hell this nut was, he was clearly on a power high if he could waste so much time gloating and yet still have not have landed a solid blow.
Over. Under. Slash. Slide. Spin while slashing to anther slide. Inverted flip. Twirl. Dash. Tenten did not stop moving as she continued her run around the monstrosity, never once getting hit and never once stopping her barrage of faked weaponry.
Speaking of which…
"Kai." The albino grinned as she finally managed to put one of her hands to her chest and raise two fingers up to trigger the exploding tag rigged kunai she had slipped into her projectiles and were now stuck en masse inside the creature's stomach.
The center of the oversized blob erupted in every direction, causing a small tsunami to crash outward. Tenten, knowing that she in fact did not like electric torture, jumped away from the water and landed on a large upturned boulder that barely kept her away from the charged fluids.
She then began to bombard the area where her opponent was already reforming itself rapidly with more imitated exploding tags.
At this point she had traveled roughly two thirds around her target.
"Oi oi! What's with you and bombs girl?" The twisted face finally reappeared. "This is getting annoying you know!"
"No shit." Tenten rolled her eyes. Her preparations were almost done. She just needed a few more…
Her eyes widened in surprise as she forced herself to move else she get skewered from behind. Facing freaks like her opponent was both good and bad for more experienced fighters. Good in that their killing intent made them damn near impossible to miss when they attempted to go for the final blow. Bad in that they were just stubborn and didn't know when to fucking quit.
Once more she was forced to jump from stone to stone in an impressive feat of acrobatics while firing off dozens of blades in the process to avoid getting skewered. She had at best a second on each rock before it was pulverized by the errant whip-like appendages that snapped at her from various angles…
Until it all stopped as she landed on a single solitary boulder that was isolated from the rest.
"Hahahaha!" The blob like body laughed as it finally reformed itself in its entirety and loomed over the Faker with confidence. A dozen tentacles sprouted out from his twisted face and began to channel an insane amount of chakra at each end. It didn't take a genius to figure out what was going to happen next. "Oh man I'm going to enjoy this!"
"That makes two of us." Tenten smirked with a victorious grin as she made three seals with her hands. "Water Style! Thirst of Suigin!"
The effects were instantaneous as the dozens of copies of Kubikirihochou that Tenten had spiked into the earth around the monstrosity in her run around him shone a murky blue before any and all water within their vicinity was forcefully absorbed into them.
It was a useful but horrifying technique. While it could be used defensively against water users, its offensive application was far more devastating. Any form of water, be it part of a plant or animal, would be absorbed into one of the thirsty blades upon the move's activation. Depending on how many swords there were and how large an area she was encompassing, the effect varied… but with this many swords and the only existence within them being virtually made out of water…
The effects were instantaneous. Like he was surrounded by a ring of black holes, the mutated shinobi was diverted from killing his opponent to futilely attempting to keep his very existence intact.
"Guh?! Wha- what the fuck?! What are you doing?!" The monster began to panic understandably as he was stretched out between the multiple voids dragging him apart. "Stop! Stop it now!"
Tenten straightened her posture before looking down upon him coldly. Unlike before there was no confidence. No eagerness. No energy. Just finality in her eyes.
For just the briefest of moments, the assassin could have sworn he had seen a world of weapons behind the girl. Tools of murder of every kind and variety and shape were in every state of the construction process. Even the objects he had never seen before held the idea of "battle", "violence", or "murder" behind them.
"Idiot. You became a monster. You get put down like one. At least die without embarrassing yourself further."
The twisted image of the shinobi's face distorted more under the forces that tore him apart. "No! I'll kill you! Kill! AHHHHHHHHHH!"
Using likely the last bit of power he had that wasn't being ripped away from him, half a dozen tentacles sprouted up and each shot a blast of concentrated electricity at the girl before being ripped apart by the forces around them.
"Rho Aias." The white haired teen simply muttered, spawning a massive transparent crimson seven petal shield in front of her that took the beams.
"How weak." She muttered as her steel grey eyes scanned her defense, not at all paying attention as her attacker had been drained so much that he was literally a human body made of water now, and being stretched horrifically in every direction. "Not even a crack."
"GAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!" Her prey's animalistic scream of absolute agony travelled unimpaired across the flat grounds as his figure became more emaciated with each passing second… until…
There was nothing left to make a sound.
"That was a bit harsh." Chouji observed as he walked to his friend casually. "You usually like putting your opponents down faster than that."
"He was being stubborn." The Faker sighed as her shield and the swords in her hands shattered like glass. She would leave the swords that committed the deed out until the chakra that made them wore off. When her copies of Kubikirihochou dispelled, the water they contained were released at once. She didn't know how her opponent's powers worked, but she doubted that such a boost combined with being ripped apart like that would enable him to live much longer. Still to be safe she didn't want to risk him reforming yet.
"He didn't rip some centipede parasite thing out from his body and then eat the insides before his boost did he?" The Akimichi asked as he looked briefly at the setup. Tenten wasn't the fastest or the strongest out of their age group, but her overall versatility was bluntly put staggering. There were a few that suspected that she had more potential moves in her arsenal than Kakashi did.
"If he did it was out of sight. Bastard slipped into some cracks in the ground before he became a pain." The girl sighed, her personality beginning to thaw out a bit. "I take it your target tried to do the same?"
"Tried." The Akimichi shrugged as if talking about the weather. The one word seemed to answer the rest of the girl's questions too. "Care to see how the others are doing?"
The weapon master stretched as if about to go for a run. "Sure. Maybe they even had more fun than we did."
o. o. o.
With the others:
Shion looked sick as she watched Shino's bugs eat at the body of the purple haired man that had attempted to kill her just minutes earlier.
He had no doubt been tasked to split the shinobi up as they raced through the woods. Under most circumstances it probably would have worked, attacking from a distance while using a pupped to masquerade as the last of his group…
However he probably didn't suspect that the Shinobi carrying his target could actually DO something while carrying someone, and suffered greatly for it. The instant the man attempted to use his custom shuriken, flying enhanced with his wind chakra, it had backfired spectacularly.
The blades had not even made it halfway to Shino and Hinata before Shino's insects had shot out from his body, terrifying Shion to no end in the process, but more importantly swarming the blades and rendering them useless almost instantly as the chakra controlling them was drained at lightning speed.
Before the enemy could even react though, Hinata had reversed her directions in midair with a burst of chakra to the bottom of her feed and rushed the pink haired man that was in the back. Whipping her hands so quickly that most would have trouble telling that she had moved in the first place, the girl had lashed out with several small chakra whips, really chakra strings that were a good deal thicker than what puppeteers used, to tear apart her target… Only to reveal that it was simply a puppet.
"Got you!" The purple haired man grinned as he ignored Hinata's realization to rush his primary target's back. Taking out a kunai he charged it with wind chakra to sharpen and lengthen its blade until it was twice the size of a normal sword and cut both his target and her ride in half…
He shouted again in surprise as said victims burst into a black cloud of insects that latched onto him instantly.
"Haaaaa! Ahh! Aaahhhhhh!" The pain of having his power and flesh eaten all over his body proved to break his concentration enough that he had to fall down to the earth. Even when he did find stable ground he had begun to thrash about a bit out of reaction to his pain. "Fucking bugs! Get the fuck off of me!"
In a last ditch attempt to free himself, the man clapped his hands together in no doubt an attempt to gather chakra and either blow off the oppressing swarm or to perform a jutsu to yield similar result…
Unfortunately for him, he had not bothered to pay attention to where his enemies might have been, and as such had his spine destroyed in as Shino landed on top of him and put all of his weight onto the man's shoulders via his legs, shattering every important bone in the assassin's upper body.
For good measure, the Aburame shifted his weight and kicked the downed man's head hard enough to snap the neck before jumping away a small distance and landing on the earth silently. He remained silent for a few moments to ensure that his target was truly dead and not a clone of some sort before realizing that his primary passenger was shivering and holding onto him tightly.
"My apologies Shion-sama." He stated calmly, realizing that he may have gone a bit overboard in front of the noble. "You should not have had to witness or experience something like this first hand. I should have put your reaction at a higher priority, however I allowed my instincts to take control."
The Priestess breathed heavily as she attempted to regain her bearings. Despite Shino's concerns, she was not bothered by his murder, as cruel and vicious as it was. Due to her powers and position, she had already born witness to a good number of deaths, both violent or not.
At the moment she was more unnerved by how much Shino had moved in the last thirty seconds that threw her off. She had managed to hold her nerves for the bulk of the trip and even with the large jumps that were needed while they were travelling over the river, but she was somewhat used to that from the previous timeline…
… Well… used to it in the sense that she could at least stop herself from screaming her head off.
But in those final moments Shino had moved. She had thought that shinobi jumped around like at the river normally when they were fighting, but the Aburame had literally made everything blur when he had gone for the kill. It had taken nearly everything she had to keep a hold onto him and not fall off in the process, even when the teen had allowed to freefall and make gravity do the rest of the work at the very end.
"I… I will manage." She managed to gasp out as she loosened her grip a bit. Every nerve she had was tingling from the unfamiliar sensations she had just experienced and it had left her a bit numb. She honestly couldn't see how on earth the fox in her chest was still dead asleep. "I doubt I'll be able to walk for a bit though…"
Shino's eyes widened in surprise as two parasite like creatures shot out from the ground around his legs and bit his calves at the same time. He could already tell that he had been injected with some sort of fast acting paralysis toxin and that his insects were instantly working on cleaning him out, but they would not be fast enough to get him out of danger with Shion on his back.
"Tch!" The Aburame swore as a vast number of his insects shot out of his body to address the attacking creatures, however it wasn't enough to stop the large boulder from shooting out of the ground and hammering the anchored teen in the chest. The resulting blow threw both him and his charge back, separating the two in the process.
"Shino!" Hinata shouted from a small distance away as she attempted to protect both her client and her teammate.
"Not as much time as I would have liked to do this…" Grunted the pink haired man as he burst from some nearby foliage with a kunai in each hand and dashing straight towards the downed priestess who was still completely confused as to what was happening and just barely pushing herself up. "But I'll have to make due!"
Time seemed to slow down for everyone. Shino was unable to get his insects to move in time. Hinata was too far away. Shion was completely defenseless…
And the snot bubble that had been a part of Naruto's nose had popped.
"Uh?" The clueless fox blinked in confusion and looked up. "What the hell is going…"
The shinobi was less than three feet away from them now and his right arm was pointed right at Shion's heart, barely a few inches from where Naruto's head was…
The fox's eyes dilated and went blank…
o. o. o.
He had been fighting something sickeningly strong. Something he would normally not even try thinking about calculating his odds against. The details were fuzzy, but it was something that was far closer to Ghost's level of power and influence than his. A planetary spirit? A conceptual existence? A fraction of a genuine multiversal god? Something along those lines.
All he knew was that his saving grace was that the thing couldn't stay materialized for long, the thing wasn't taking him seriously, it actually had a bloody weak spot, and he had some allies. Granted said allies were still fresh to… travelling? He couldn't remember what exactly, but they were still strong enough to be of good help. Granted, he was still technically a noobie as well, but he had some experience under his belt and was taught most of the critical tips to avoid getting killed in most situations…
The thing he was fighting was after one of the noobies he was travelling with, the leader in fact. The guy was a bit off his rocker and impatient as hell on a lot of things, hiding his inexperience behind the fact that he had gone through a good deal of shit in life, more so recently. That black and white mentality of his was going to bite him in the ass sooner or later if it hadn't already. But it wasn't his place to make comments or judgments on how the guy should act. His behavior wasn't exactly ideal most of the time either…
… Not like they paid him much attention regardless. They clearly had yet to encounter a genuine immortal that wasn't an egotistical asshole yet if only a couple of them could tell when he was joking or not. Poor scrubs wouldn't last a day if they encountered a genuine fae or a world that was ruled by something other than humans. Most of them were far too serious to last that long on their own…
… Then there was the noobie leader who was dumb enough to actually think that he was ready to rule a country with an iron fist with literally no firsthand experience in ruling lands and not have things go to hell within the next six months. Yes, the place was a shit hole before he came along. Yes, he saved them from a failing leader and a monstrous psycho. That didn't mean that him taking control and making things better in the short run would mean he was doing the right, or more importantly, smart thing.
From the way he acted, it was like he turned a pile of shit into a pile of rocks and trying to lord it over everyone else. The rocks were more useful and valuable to be sure, but in the end they were both still amounting to near nothing.
It didn't help that the people he saved were brainless sheeple after all the crap that they went through and now worshipped the ground the leader walked on. They were the worst sort of people you wanted to rule if you wanted a remotely peaceful society.
Revolutions rarely go as well as people made them out to be… especially when the empowered demographic has no idea or experience on what to do with all the power they've gotten. The aftermath of these "successful" events are frequently far bloodier and long lasting than the revolutions themselves.
One of the first rules about "travelling" was that no matter how good you thought you were, you were always wrong. ALWAYS. Even when you were right, you were wrong, so it's best to clam up about petty things like "beliefs" and "social standards" unless you're trying to fuck the local populace over on purpose or get everyone to try and kill you.
That's why most immortals used pure blunt unbiased logic to judge their actions. Cause and effect. No society based reasoning or morals involved to lead them to do incredibly selfish or stupid things. They've learned to simply not care about the small stuff and expand what qualified as small stuff as well.
True it made them seem more cruel and distant to others if not completely apathetic, but it also made them a hell of a lot wiser than everybody else. That also explained why they tended to be you know… right practically all the time.
Plus if you hadn't noticed, most immortals don't really get into major genuine fights or cause problems for others that often outside of the occasional insane selfish nut. There's a reason for that. They really just don't care so long as things don't involve them in some way or get out of hand.
Example: If an immortal acted childish and like virtually everything was a joke, it simply meant that they didn't really care anymore about how mature people saw them.
In fact, the ability to genuinely care about one's place in terms of social standards, beliefs, and the like was one of the first things that most immortals lost pretty quickly. Outside of what was needed to interact with other individuals and get around without drawing too much attention, such things are frequently deemed useless and mentally restricting.
In short, they've learned that not being a pain in the ass is the best way to avoid having others being a pain in their asses. And when someone attempts to be a pain in their ass, they use their infinite wisdom to screw with the situation and BE the ultimate pain in the ass without anyone else knowing it.
Unfortunately the leader, poor fool, had some severe sort of inferiority and control complex that made him ignore this and kept on pushing himself forward to right "wrongs" from his perspective. All of them.
Oh in the short run the guy was doing a decent overall job of things and slapping people's own shit in their faces, which he could respect and agree to. Politics, idiot incompetent lords, and all that jazz, stuff he could get behind for the most part… but in the long run…
… Yeah he didn't have much faith in the endgame. Probably didn't help with some of the company the guy kept…
To be honest, even though he got along with a good number of the group, he had just come along for the ride since they had simply asked for help with the task at hand… and so he could get the fuck away from Ghost. The immortal had been unusually sadistic and cruel in his training recently and he needed a break else he really might have gone insane from the stress…
And then his karma kicked in and they were dealing with something on this fucking level…
o. o. o.
o. o. o.
…He had pushed his luck. He had managed to hold it down, but the thing they were fighting had actually bothered to put some effort into fighting back before they could banish it and one of his more useful allies got put down in the process. He didn't know if she would live or not.
The thought didn't slow him down in the slightest. Wasting time worrying about her more than needed to get her out of the way would get him and the others killed.
He had managed to salvage the situation slightly and stall it for a short time. The others were tiring. They weren't as strong as him… no. Some had potential, but they weren't as experienced and didn't know how to throw to deal with such an enemy… not that it helped given how outclassed they were. Even with presence he could at best barely stagnate the effects the thing generated simply by existing.
The thing had discovered that he could resist its influence earlier… it wasn't happy. It knew that he wasn't supposed to be there.
He had become a genuine target.
Backup had been coming. With the additional numbers they had a good chance of destroying the medium keeping the thing materialized. He had pulled more power out. He had begun to prepare one of his larger techniques…
It had been a mistake…
An ethereal hand shot out from where he had temporarily buried the monstrosity, plowed through his technique, and latched onto his head…
Pain did not even come close to describe what he had experienced.
His entire being felt molested as the thing's existence overwhelmed his in an instant. He couldn't feel his lungs empty themselves out so hard that blood came out of his mouth. He couldn't see as his eyes instantly became bloodshot and began to dry out. He couldn't tell that all of the skin and hair and head was drying up and falling off. He didn't feel the fact that half of his jaw had been withered away in an instant, and the other half of his mouth turn barren with his remaining teeth splitting under the stress.
All he could experience was his entire being forced to empty out, his life force literally die off upon contact. He had been killed in multiple… dozens of ways before due to Ghost's actions by this point, on purpose or not, but never like this. It was if everything he was was being snuffed from the inside out for no reason. It wasn't pain, but something far more… absolute… primal… basic… terrifying…
The hand was coming for him again…
Stop… stop… stop… stop… stop… stop… stop… stop… stop…
o. o. o.
Shino and Hinata felt something was seriously wrong before they saw or sensed anything happen. It was if they were suddenly in the presence of a caged animal that was on the verge of snapping, and while they were not the targets of its focus, they were no doubt close enough to tell that they were certainly within range of it lashing out at them blindly if they weren't careful.
Just as the assassin was about to stab Shion in the heart, he too had finally realized this as well as every instinct of his screamed at him to run if wished to live. Only then did he notice the little fox's head popping out of his target's shirt, staring at his oncoming arm with wide yet glazed blue eyes. Indeed at the last moment he attempted to back away…
He didn't move fast enough. Not entirely…
It was as if the air around his arm had turned solid and then flexed. There was no "wind". No funnel. No twister, no sound, no bulge, no blades, no excessive manifestation that came with most air based techniques. Instead, the air had just become "solid", cloth like… and already wrapped around the moving appendage…
… This was one of the most terrifying aspects of the Seventh Sense. Virtually any other technique in the Shinobi World has a point of origin. A source. Something to go from point A to point B to get effect C. The Seventh Sense bypassed this rule completely and enabled the user to go straight to effect C if the user was good enough. All the air around Naruto was his. The air you breathed was his. The spot you stood in was his. The air between your clothes and your skin was his.
The sounds made as the limb was twisted, contorted, pulverized and pounded into an indescribable paste that splashed everywhere was unlike anything that the others had ever heard before.
It was a testament to the would-be assassin's skill, speed, and control that he managed to escape with his life. Grated he had ripped off his arm in the process, somehow causing it to explode from the inside out just below his shoulder, but he did manage to avoid the ultimate fate unlike his arm.
"Ghhh?!" The man grimaced as he rolled on the ground and held the wound where his arm was before taking note of the situation. He was alone and heavily wounded. Two shinobi were focusing on him and his target had some horrifyingly powerful… thing that was in between his target's breasts, had nearly just killed him with god knows what sort of jutsu.
He didn't even bother to think before throwing as many deterring objects on the ground to obscure his presence to his enemies before getting the hell out of there.
The area was silent for several moments before Shion finally remembered to gasp for air… and realized that she was covered in blood and gore from the mutilated limb. "What? What just happened?! What just-?!"
"Shion-sama." Hinata snapped, getting the priestess' attention, her voice hard and unyielding, but also touched by a hint of nervousness. "Please do not do anything excessive. Calm down… and most importantly, do not under any circumstances do anything to gain Naruto's attention right now."
"N-Naruto?" The future seer blinked in confusion and looked down to pay attention to the fox in her chest before she finally realized that something was wrong. The small creature was absolutely stiff still and breathing heavily.
Had she been able to see his eyes, she would have been able to see the same thing that Hinata and Shino had. Something that they would have never expected to see in the eyes of the one that had carried them forward for years on end and gave them the motivation to become as strong as they were…
Uncontrolled. Unrestrained. Irrational. Absolute. Total paralyzing fear.
o. o. o.
How the story would begin if the Oogakari went to another story universe:
Dumbledore sighed as he walked away from four Privet Drive.
He had done the best he could for Harry given the circumstances. The wards set up around his Aunt's home would protect him from virtually anything. More so if the woman truly accepted the poor child into her family as well… though Minerva unfortunately didn't seem to have much faith in that. Not that he could blame her. He had remembered Lily's complaints and comments about her sister when the young woman and her husband had just graduated and become close allies of his…
Still, the boy had an important future ahead of him. He had to prepare for the worst in case Voldemort ever-
"Hey cool. A free baby."
Even years from then, Dumbledore would swear that those five odd words would haunt his dreams for a vast and ever growing number of different reasons.
o. o. o.
In another world:
"SAMURAI PIZZA CATS! WWOOOOOOOTTTTTTT! THEY'RE ALL FREAKING ANIMALS AND THEY MAKE PIZZA! AND THEY'RE FUCKING CATSSS! WHATEVER THIS SHIT IS THAT SHADOW SLIPPED ME IS AWESOME!"
"Oh my god! What is that insane human doing to our pizza cannon?!"
… It's best if no more information was reveled about what happened here. Some things are better left forgotten.
o. o. o.
In the DC Verse:
"How can you guys possibly not have casual Fridays? Have you paid any attention at all to what you normally walk outside dressed in?"
o. o. o.
In the Tohou Verse:
"Ok everyone, you know the drill. We all have an awesome week long party with explosives and some awesome yet twisted sex on the side. In return, I'll keep Scab away from the area for another decade so he won't test if your worship of the Dakka is enough for him to ignore your existence again."
o. o. o.
That fast enough for you guys?
Anyways, this chapter is to my sister, whose birthday is on Monday. Thank you midget, for reminding me that since our births are so close together, we can now predict the part of the year our parents are in heat… I blame you for this.
The flashback scene was derived from Kagaseo's fic: Echoes, which I highly recommend. Kagaseo also did some minor beta and correction work for the chapter as well, so a big thanks to him for that as well.
So yeah, as for Naruto's breakdown, that's roughly what happens every time he sees a hand go for his head most of the time.
Most of my gaming is done for the time being. Still gotta study for finals, but things are finally calming down for the time being. This means faster chapters like this one. Woot!
For those of you about to scream Naruto Harem boo, calm down. At the very most, I am only considering him being with two girls at the very most. As crazy and insane as most of the characters are, they aren't stupid and know better than to push their luck with these sorts of things…
Also I don't give a damn about what feminists say or feel, I'm throwing in the filler Nadeshko kunoichi into the story because I feel like making people cry and get stuck in odd situations for my sick amusement.
So that's about it.
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