Chapter Twelve: Anko never gets fat. She converts her excess calories into rage and the pain of her victims. You can tell when she burns off a load due to the sexy coating she gets in the afterglow.
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.
They all had their eyes open as they flew through the air towards where they sensed a clearly not human source of chakra steadily grow in power. None of them said a word to one another on the off chance that the minor distraction may cause them to miss something vital in the moments to come.
It had been nearly three hours since they had felt the Kyubi in the distance, exerting its presence on the world and causing enough chaos that they could actually see the explosions it made.
Three hours since the entire area suddenly flashed black for a moment for no reason at all.
Three hours since they began to worry that Naruto's luck had truly kicked in so hard that even he couldn't come out of it unscathed.
"There's fighting up ahead." Sasuke didn't so much as blink as his crimson eyes leered at the large mountain range a good hour's flight ahead of them where they could feel the demonic chakra growing.
Ino held back a pout as she focused in that direction, somewhat miffed that she, as the sensor, didn't pick it up first. "I'm feel some of our friends there too. Naruto must have found them on a mission. Lucky them. He's there… somewhere, but it's impossible to specify at this range with his power masking his location. Right now the one fighting closest to us is… Shino?" She blinked in surprise. "He's against something with a ridiculous amount of power too. And… Holy shit he's been holding out on us."
Kakashi glanced at the girl with both eyes. "Care to explain in detail? For those of us that aren't experienced sensors."
Sakura held back mentioning her lack of genetically enhanced organs.
The Yamanaka shook her head. "Let's put it this way. The guy he's fighting against now has enough power I'd almost compare him to a jinchuriki, but his chakra is unstable to the point that it's clear that he's on a temporary power-up and he's not on the level of the Akatsuki. I can say for certain, from all the way over here, that there is not a shot in hell that he's going to survive beyond the fight."
As if to enforce the girl's statement, a large explosion took place where the supposed fight was taking place.
"Let's go to Shino first." Sakura advised. "We know where he is exactly and he can give us more information on the situation before we try to get the drop on Naruto."
"What if he senses us and tries to run away again?" Ino asked skeptically.
"Oh I wouldn't worry about that too much." Kakashi eye smiled. "If Shino's there, then there's a high chance that Hinata's there, and since Naruto's still clearly in the area…"
"You do realize that by your logic, that means that we'll be stuck with trying to take the idiot away from her right?" Sasuke asked skeptically, suppressing the cold shiver of ominous fear that traveled down his spine. He may be one of the strongest shinobi in his generation, but Hinata… that girl was just plain scary when she wanted to be.
"Whatever you have planned for that, leave me out of it." Sakura frowned. "I'm assigning myself as the one that will keep you all alive once she is finished maiming you for whatever you do."
"One life threatening trial at a time Sasuke." The Scarecrow's demeanor didn't change one bit as he noticed several more explosions in the distance. "First we have to make sure that Naruto is still there when we catch up. Then we can worry about how to get him out of Hinata's grasp with everything intact before dragging him kicking and screaming back to Tsunade-sama."
"What makes you think we're going to leave him conscious?" Sasuke asked skeptically.
"I was speaking metaphorically of course. That fiasco in the Land of Moon happened when he was asleep. There's no telling what would come to pass if he's actually awake."
"Any bets that it's going to have something to do with that demonic chakra we're feeling from the mountain?" Sakura asked sarcastically.
"I thought we all assumed that much was a given." Ino curiously turned to her friend.
"Dare I ask how it could get worse than dealing with a primordial demon?" Sasuke smirked.
"I don't know." Kakashi shrugged. "Dealing with it and Naruto inside a semi active volcano?"
The group was silent for several seconds before Kakashi's words finally registered with them.
"Dear log… what have I done?"
"Why Sensei?" Sakura looked at Kakashi with wide eyes of hurt and betrayal. "Why did you say such things?"
"I-I-I'm sorry." The significantly paler man fumbled over his words. "I didn't mean to... to…"
"Wonderful." Sasuke growled in anger and frustration. "We spent less than five minutes with a clone and already his stupidity has rubbed off on everyone. Tobimaru, fly as fast as you can while keeping us on. We're on the clock."
"Fly faster bird!" Ino shouted hysterically to Sasuke's significantly unsettled summon. "Fly faster damn it!"
o. o. o.
For a first batch of extremely temperamental experimental insects, Shino had to admit that he had done a pretty damn good job at breeding them. True they were a bit aggressive for his tastes and had all of the major flaws of any Kikaichu breed that grew to such proportions, but overall they were fulfilling their roles quite well.
"KYAAAAAAAASHHHHH!" The warped insect that had been bred with the water chakra strain of kikaichu hissed savagely as it spewed out a small tsunami of corrosive acid like fluid at his opponent. It appeared that the corrupted nature of the gel that he had analyzed and taken into his body had altered the creature's makeup a bit more than he had anticipated. This wasn't the first time this insect had unleashed its lethal payload, and from where he stood a good third of the upturned stones and dirt that had made up the battleground had dissolved into something that resembled primordial soup.
He had mixed feelings on the fact that the acid seemed to do little more than give his opponent minor chemical burns. On the one hand it meant that he would have to put more effort into taking the former human down and take longer to get to his friends in the temple…
On the other, it gave him more time to analyze and gather data on his newest creations.
The goliath charged through the corrosive torrent with little change in speed before swinging forward its tentacle appendages right at the human controlling the beasts, who was standing on the largest of the insects there.
The attack didn't get close, as the monstrous kikaichu that resembled a cross between a beetle and a praying mantis intercepted the attack and tore apart the fanged tentacles with impossible ease and lightning chakra enhanced scythe like claws.
Shino made note of the fact that the insect almost instantly began to groom itself and lick the blood of its target off of its claws as soon as the enemy began to retreat. Whether it was due to his insect's metabolism increasing its hunger or the fact that the blood likely contained the peculiar gel that he used to make them in the first place had yet to be determined.
"HAAAAAAAA!" The human like monster bellowed as it unleashed its chakra and regenerate its lost limbs. It had done so earlier to recover what it had lost during its first skirmish with the new threats and regained whatever it lost.
To most shinobi, an opponent that possessed enough chakra to regenerate lost limbs was a terrifying thing to go up against, and near impossible to deal with.
To Shino on the other hand, it meant little. While his enemy recovered, it would expel tremendous amounts of chakra into the air for his countless kikaichu surrounding the area to absorb and further support his abilities. So long as he was unharmed and had spare nests set up all over to produce more of his smaller insects, he could theoretically keep this up for as long as he wanted.
Another mindless roar accompanied by a tremendous spike in power made itself known as the monster prepared another blast of chakra that possessed all five elements. Normally such a thing would be near impossible to counter, especially with the amount of chakra behind the attack, however this battle was far from normal in any sense.
Two more insects came forward, standing next to the lightning mantis. One was a furry sort of ant with wings and the other was a more vicious carnivorous breed with red markings all over it. With a simple mental command, all three monstrosities reared back their heads simultaneously and unleashed a massive three element collaboration jutsu of wind, fire and lightning, just as the former human fired his technique.
Despite wearing sunglasses, Shino was temporarily blinded by the collision and intensities of the blasts, and would have been blown off his beetle mount had he not been using chakra to keep himself attached to its exoskeleton.
Even so, he was not unaware of what was going on. Using his connection to his smaller insects flying in every direction, he was capable of watching, albeit with some limitations, the battlefield from various angles. While his eyes had yet to fully recover, the senses of his familiars had fared far better, enabling him to see that his enemy's eyes and ears had fared no better than his.
The Aburame instantly decided to capitalize on this and sent a small swarm of his insects to assault his target's face to further add to the confusion and frustration. It was a somewhat crude but efficient tactic that his family employed that the Oogakari, as expected, supported without any hesitation.
In their words, strong or weak, it was fucking annoying when bugs wouldn't leave you alone. It was more annoying and distracting when they kept on going near extremely sensitive areas, mainly the eyes, nose and ears. Anyone that's been on a solid camping trip in the wilderness would be intimately familiar with this knowledge.
As it stood, Shino had the upper hand, but it could still go against him. The enemy still possessed an absurd amount of chakra and a body that handled most conventional techniques with ease. One on one, his enhanced insects would stand no chance against it, so he had to utilize their individual traits to his advantage in conjunction with the millions of insects he had invested a good deal of chakra into making earlier to turn the battlefield to his advantage.
In short, Shino was having more trouble maintaining control over the insects he had made than actually fighting the enemy.
"GWAAAAAA!" A large spike in chakra was felt, occupying more of his senses. Essentially the madman reacted as well as anyone else in that situation and wasted a good deal of chakra to get rid of a minor annoyance.
"HSSSSHHHHAAAAAHH!" The lightning mantis beetle rushed forward with its claws extended, moving at a speed that far surpassed what should have been possible for something of its size.
Shino frowned. It had moved without his command. He could tell that while he was still somewhat in control over its actions, the primary force driving its and its sibling's actions was the insatiable hunger that plagued their instincts, the desire to feed and maintain the irrationally fast metabolism that all kikaichu possessed.
He didn't so much as blink as the ravaging lightning mantis attempted to tear apart into its meal, rich and full of chakra, but was instead blown away as its prey proved to be far stronger than it had anticipated. Despite being insane with power, the monster had once been a shinobi and still possessed the instincts and movements of one, obtained from years if not decades of training. Unlike the previous times, the creature no longer had the element of surprise on its side, and as such the five meter tall goliath, only about a third of its opponent's size, had no issue jumping above the offending scythe like appendages at the last moment and punching the creature's head so hard that it was reduced to a wet mulch instantly.
An instant later the entire area was immolated by another combination of wind and fire. Not as destructive as when lightning had been added, but still highly powerful.
Regrettably, it did not seem to be enough to deter the target as it leapt out of the conflagration. The attacks did seem to be doing some damage, as Shino spied multiple burns and cuts on the monster's abnormal body, but not enough to impede its rampage as it charged at his position with murder in its glowing eyes.
A silent command later had his water element insect spewing webs and acid in equal amounts at the oncoming bomb, the fire and wind element insects having temporarily exhausted themselves from the rapid fire collaboration techniques. Unfortunately it did little to slow the monster down as it whipped its tentacle appendages around with abnormal force to knock away nearly every attack that would have hit.
This pattern didn't change in the slightest up until the monster landed flat on the body of the fire kikaichu, crushing it nearly in half and enveloping nearly everything around it in a great ball of fire, including the wind element insect that had been right next to it.
"He must have ruptured its glands." Shino grimaced as he shielded his face from the explosion that was far closer than he would have liked. "I didn't think that they would be so volatile…"
"GUUUUAAAGHHH!" The earth element kikaichu that Shino had been standing on the entire time, which seemed to heavily resemble a rhinoceros beetle with about three times as many horns, five times as many teeth, and a thicker shell in addition to the markings it possessed, reared back on its lower extremities. The largest of the mutant beetles stood up so tall that its horns nearly reached the height of the cliff next to them… before falling back to the ground and slamming its claws onto the punished earth and made the local environment shake as if it was in fear of its might.
As if triggering a trap, the beast's impact seemed to force the ground beneath the immense flames to cave downward almost instantly, creating a tremendous sand pit that dragged everything down once caught. The acid, corrosive slop, flames, and corpses of the maker's siblings were no exception as they all dropped down into the pit before slowly being sucked under.
If that was not enough, the water element insect added to the chaos, spewing more acid into the pit to all but ensure that whatever fell in would not get out in the same condition, if at all.
It wasn't long though until the Aburame noticed his water element minion began to twitch erratically, and the fluids it was spitting out begin to take on a thicker shade of green.
"So it's already reached its limit…" He muttered, noting that the creature he was standing on appeared to still be doing well. "I suspected continuous use of chakra would accelerate things, however for the line to already be met is somewhat disappointing…"
A tremendous beam of raw power erupted from the pit and absolutely obliterated the water monstrosity. Shino's mount managed to get out of the way in time, however its movements were a tad bit more sluggish than what it had displayed before.
Looking up, the teen saw that his enemy had once again launched itself up into the air with murder on its mind. Its body now covered in enough injuries, cuts, burns, and melted skin that the initial impression of unrelenting power and indestructibility it had earlier was no more, however it did not alter the mad aura of power that could be felt from where he was standing.
He gave no sign of hesitation or fear as he commanded his insect he was on to intercept the oncoming monster with its massive horns as he leapt backwards and away from the chaos. Just as he landed on the dry ground, he watched as his beetle rushed forward to ram its prey back into the pit it had made, only for its head, front claws, and horns to be entwined in the dozens of tentacle like appendages the creature had. His beetle, clearly tripped by the unexpected maneuver but carrying far more inertia than its prey, skidded forward while pushing its target back just enough that they both fell into the sand and acid pit in a mix of savage inhumane cries.
Knowing better than to risk going to the edge of the depression to watch the two tear one another to pieces, Shino instead utilized the smaller insects flying everywhere to witness the carnage while backing up so that he wouldn't get injured if…
A kaleidoscope of light shot into the air before splitting into individual missiles of every basic chakra element and carpet bombed the entire battleground.
What little that hadn't been crushed, burned, melted, buried, eaten, or just otherwise simply destroyed had been wiped out in a series of cataclysmic explosions that left everything from the cliff to the forests completely destroyed and caused a good portion of the rock wall to collapse as well.
Outside the buzzing of erratic insects, there was not a sound to be heard for almost a full minute before the goliath like former human burst out of the ground, panting heavily. Its body now possessed a good deal of deep gouges in addition to the burns and other injuries it had accumulated earlier. Glowing red blood like magma fell from its body, steaming as it met the air and hissing as it fell to the ground.
"Hah. Hah." It spat out blood and phlegm, gasping for air to keep its body moving. It had used up more chakra than it had intended for just one shinobi. The damn bugs that the boy had made had proven to be a bigger pain in the ass to deal with than he had assumed. If he didn't hurry, the priestess would make it to the temple before he caught up with her… and he had sworn to take out as many of her allies as possible. To be brought this low by just one annoying boy…
All that power, wasted. Absorbed, unleashed, and thrown away to take out that frustrating child. His masters would not be pleased once he returned… if he returned. Even with his mind as fogged as it was from the drugs and his very being been changed, he was still intelligent enough to know that his days were numbered.
A short distance away he spied the source of his frustration and anger lying on the ground and half buried by rubble. He saw breathing, but whether or not he was conscious was up in the air.
An instant later one of the viper like limbs that replaced his arm had shot out and crushed the boy's neck.
The instant after that the boy's body scattered into hundreds of those annoying smaller insects.
"I see even in your current state you weren't foolish enough to believe it was that easy."
The former human didn't even bother looking before launching himself at the source of his rage and frustration, his thoughts already clouded once more in the haze of fury that his new state left him constantly in. In just a fraction of a second he was more than halfway towards tearing the bloody brat to pieces.
The child had no hope of surviving. He was simply standing there with his hands in his pockets and standing in a way that would take him too long to get anywhere. His body's chakra was stable and showed no hint of irregularity, indicating that he was the real thing.
And then the ground in between them exploded. A savage carapace covered horn hammered his stomach, near spearing him through and launching him back into a shallow puddle of acid, making the damage far more significant and lasting in the process.
Pain filled his very existence. All the wounds he had accumulated so far had amounted to little more than an itch that permeated his entire body. The chemicals that fueled his life had doped him to the point he should have felt little outside the crushed bodies of his victims as he murdered them… even his transformation and the limbs that had been torn off of his body caused him little discomfort as the raw power that flooded his existence all but numbed his nerves. But now… now the drugs and power seemed to be wearing off as the chakra in his body was rapidly sapped and used up in this state.
The massive hole in his chest though was a new factor, and one that he couldn't simply brush away. He could feel his essence and power leaving him as the lava like blood that ran through his veins flooded out of him.
It was only after he had taken the first few gaps of air and the blindness of pain left his eyes that the former human managed to see what had hit him…
And for the first time, he had felt fear from something else that was not related to his Master.
"You didn't think I had only prepared one set for this fight, did you?"
FIFTEEN of the monstrosities were picking themselves out of the ground all around him, hissing and clicking relentlessly as if they were demons about to wreak havoc on the world. Three sets of the five elements. Three times the number of things he had to deal with just now…
"I must thank you." The demon child stated in the same emotionless voice he had been using the entire time. "Had you not been exerting and wasting so much chakra for the entire fight, I never would have been able to accumulate enough power to nurture and produce this many specimens. They require quite a large amount of chakra to develop to full maturity, especially in such a short frame of time."
The boy's words enraged him. He couldn't comprehend all of it now. He was too blind with power to do so, but he understood the general message. The boy was insulting him, his power, the very gift his masters had entrusted him with to kill their enemies… and claiming it was what led to his defeat…
A loud hiss from one of the mass produced water insects caused his head to snap to the source and make him take a step away.
"Oh? How interesting. It seems you are not too mad to understand your situation…" Shino raised an eyebrow.
The goliath turned to the boy with enraged eyes. He would not fail. He would not perish like this. He would-
It didn't even have a reasonable opportunity to gather chakra to attack before it was bombarded with attacks of nearly every element from every angle. As powerful and sturdy as it was, even the colossus was incapable of attacking under such an onslaught.
Jumping off of the beetle that he had been on, Shino gave one last command to his small army of monsters. It was a simple thought combined with the image of his downed and injured opponent, but one that would spell the end of the fight.
The Aburame didn't bother to pay attention to the chaos that took place behind him. He didn't make note of the horrendous screams of inhuman creatures tearing at one another limb to limb, or the fact that in a desperate gambit the prey had attempted to blow itself and everything around it to pieces before it was interrupted by being torn in half by one of the wind element and lightning element insects.
Instead he merely dissolved into a cloud of standard kikaichu before putting himself back together on the hawk that had been watching the last two minutes from above.
"I must admit, I did not expect for any backup to arrive." The Aburame stated stoically to his friends as they watched the bloodbath below.
"And we didn't expect you to be able to produce your own army of mutant summon grade monster bugs." Ino winced as she felt the last bit of the former human's life get snuffed as its head was consumed by an earth insect. "Don't take this the wrong way Shino, but you really jumped a few dozen levels on the creepy as fuck meter with this stunt."
"Should we be worried about those things being left alone?" Sakura looked at them with concern. "If they somehow manage to breed or get out into the public…"
"There is no need for concern Sakura." Shino placated her and ignored Ino. "Kikaichu naturally have a lifespan of only a few hours due to their high metabolism, and these breeds are still experimental. Due to their unstable nature and irregular size, their lifespan once awakened from their incubation state is still extremely short. They will literally fall apart and have their organs fail on them in roughly five minutes. Ten at the very most."
"Only five minutes? That's a pretty risky thing to devote so much chakra to." Kakashi mused as he inspected the monsters below fighting for the scraps of their prey. He had seen worse before.
"I have enough chakra to manifest three of them before passing out at the most. I produced this many only thanks to my opponent possessing and wasting immense amounts of chakra which I siphoned for my strategy. As it stands their current use is more applicable for deterring large numbers than single targets. I simply set things up so that my opponent wouldn't leave the area." Shino admitted without shame and shifted his glasses to reflect the evening sun. "I only just managed to achieve this strand recently. You could consider the ones below you as prototypes of what will eventually come."
"Careful Shino. For a moment there I could have sworn I saw Orochimaru's ghost hovering over you." Sasuke seemingly deadpanned, but Sakura could tell he was more uncomfortable than he let on. After their encounter in the Forest of Death against the Sanin, the Uchiha had developed a subconscious aversion to the mad scientist types.
After dealing with Scab for several years, he additionally developed a conscious aversion to mad scientist types.
"Don't be ridiculous Sasuke. I don't condone human experimentation." Shino shifted his glasses again. "However, I do condone experimenting on the lifeless and already altered bodies of my enemies for personal benefits."
"Please tell me you're joking." Sakura's face turned a shade of green.
"I don't know what's harder to believe. This or Shino with a dark sense of humor." Ino matched Sakura's expression.
"Again. Orochimaru." Sasuke stressed his point.
"Well done. Well done indeed." Kakashi nodded at the teen in approval, clearly not at all fazed by the conversation.
"It helps that the lifeless bodies of my enemies that I bother to experiment on were already tweaked and mutated in abnormal ways by their own hands." The Aburame shrugged carelessly, milking the situation for all it was worth. This would teach them to ignore him and cut him off all the damn time. "How else do you assume I managed to come up with those?"
"Right. Ok. So in short, if Shino comes up with more insults against nature, it's only because he killed the person that originally did it. That totally makes things fair and not at all less terrifying and creepy and fucked up and twisted and who the hell is that idiot?" Ino's growing sarcasm infused rant about how wrong Shino's abilities and hobbies was instantly cut short as she sensed something that wasn't an abomination stagger out of the forest onto the battlefield.
"Who to the what now?" Kakashi blinked and glanced down at where Ino was looking to see what appeared to be a civilian bowman stumble onto the battlefield loudly and attract the attention of nearly every monstrosity there.
"You'd think he'd be smart enough to not walk out into the open when he heard the damn things…" Sasuke sighed and reached for his sword. He didn't know who the hell the moron was, but if word got out that Konoha shinobi allowed such things to eat civilians then their rep would take a massive hit. Plus Tsunade would probably beat the living hell out of them in anger too.
"You'd think. That's Taruho, the chief aid to my client, Shion-sama. He takes his duty to her very seriously… unfortunately it tends to make him miss the obvious at times." Shino sighed as he began to flip through several seals just as the first monstrosity began to charge forward to consume the new meal. It was too late for the Aburame to regain control over the insects that had allowed their instincts to take over, so he regretfully had to rely on a fallback that every member of his clan was taught at an early age. "Hidden Art: Cull."
At once, every one of the fifteen titans collapsed onto the ground and stopped moving.
"A safety jutsu?" Sakura blinked in surprise.
"Huh, I forgot that one existed. It's not often that someone actually needs to use it in the field." Kakashi tilted his head in curiosity before elaborating. "Something his clan came up with in case they encountered a jutsu that drove their kikaichu irrevocably out of control while inside their bodies. Obviously it's a last resort, but if I remember correctly it's something that is taught to every clan member at an early age."
"Its existence is also a heavily guarded secret for obvious reasons." The Aburame frowned at the silver haired man. He wasn't that surprised that the man knew of the technique given that he had connections to pretty much every family in Konoha, but he was irritated that his teacher had given away a clan secret so casually. True, the move was only applicable to the user's kikaichu, but that didn't mean that someone could possibly reverse engineer it to take out someone else's insects further down the line in a worst case scenario…
Especially since that particular technique actually did exist, and was only taught to the Aburame clan head.
Instantly Ino, Sakura, and Sasuke nodded in understanding what was unsaid. They were to pretend that the jutsu didn't exist, even when asked. Clan secrets were after all a highly sensitive subject among shinobi.
"Speaking of your client, I take it she's has something to do with that demonic power we've been feeling nearby?" Sasuke asked skeptically.
"She's a priestess tasked to keep a demon known as Moryo sealed in two locations, one for the body, one for the soul…"
"And obviously some idiot got the wonderful idea of trying to resurrect it." Ino shook her head. "What is it with people trying to control demons? That never works!"
"Naruto." Sasuke pointed out skeptically.
"That's not controlling. That's mutually assured chaos, suffering, and amusement, and you damn well know that." The blonde argued firmly.
"Speaking of chaos in a can, Shino, I believe it's safe to assume that our favorite jinx is with your team?" Kakashi asked as if talking about the weather.
"If you mean sleeping deep enough that he hasn't waken for nearly a day, transformed into a fox kit, and firmly in Hinata's… unyielding grasp, then yes." Shino replied without shame.
"Oh hell, as if our job couldn't get any more suicidal." Sakura shook her head in defeat. She had known that Naruto would eventually find a way to turn into a fox, just as she had known that the instant Hinata saw such a thing the girl would murder anything that would attempt to get in between the two.
Sasuke silently agreed. Personally he felt that trying to fight his brother would have been a safer and more reasonable task to achieve than ripping a fox Naruto out of Hinata's possession.
"Now now. We were tasked to return with Naruto. There's no reason why we can't have a bit of extra help in the task to make things easier for everyone." Kakashi placated his team before turning back to the Aburame. "I hope that there were no extreme complications this time?"
Shino remained quiet as he recalled his encounter with the other out worlders and the woman that was on the Oogakari's shit list. "… Extreme is a rather limited word…"
"Log damn it Naruto what did you do this time?" Sakura placed her face into her hands. It was hard to tell if she was crying or not.
"I swear it's like he's trying to make up for when he was gone!" Ino on the other hand made no attempt to hide her tears of frustration. "First Uzushio, then Moon country, again, now this?"
"Wait, what?" Shino blanched at hearing that his friend had already gotten himself into tremendous amounts of trouble before meeting up with the group.
"I think it's best if we wait and get back to Konoha before we start informing everyone of our latest installment of "Missions and international events that Naruto's royally fucked up." Sasuke frowned. "You're still in the middle of one, correct?"
The insect user paused for a moment before nodding shallowly and dispersing into a cloud of his familiars. Mere moments later he had rematerialized himself just a few meters behind the disoriented and disturbed Taruho, who was still on the ground in shock from nearly being eaten by the small army of big bugs.
"You know, most people would try to avoid locations where the sounds of large ravenous creatures are coming from." His dry remark seemed to snap his fellow teenager out of his funk.
"Wh-what the… when did… where is…" The young man fumbled over his words. "How did you stop those things?"
"Easily." Shino stoically replied, enjoying the response he got. "They were mine after all."
"Y-yours?! Those THINGS are YOURS?!" The idea that such monstrosities were created by an ally did not give the civilian a good image of the Konoha shinobi.
"Were mine. They're dead now." He corrected the statement in the same even tone as always as if it was childishly obvious. "The increased size does not prevent the twitching that you see, so please ignore any…"
He had to stop talking as drunkenly moving water insect stumbled madly in their direction in a blind and hungry rage before collapsing to the ground, courtesy of Sasuke landing flat on its head and skewering its brain and skull with his elementally changed and elongated sword.
"… I was bored." The Uchiha nonchalantly dismissed any accusations as he withdrew his blade and began to clean it. "I've been riding on my hawk tailing Naruto all week and needed to kill something."
"I thought you said it was dead!" Taruho accused Shino.
"Apparently not dead enough." The Aburame frowned as he inspected the other insects to be sure that he didn't miss anything. He could get pissed off at Sasuke making his new ace in the hole look like a minor annoyance later. He had been certain that he had killed all of them with his technique, but somehow this new strain seemed to have a greater resistance against his influence than he had initially thought. He would have to be careful when experimenting with this breed in the future.
The civilian shook his head, clearly trying to regain what sanity he had just lost in the past thirty seconds. "Never mind that! What happened to Shion-sama? I heard a bunch of explosions and made my way here when I came across these… things!" He paused and turned to the newcomer Uchiha and the hawk that was making its way to ground level. "And who are these people?"
"Shion-sama is with the rest of my team completing their mission." Shino replied evenly. "A powerful enemy appeared here and I offered to stay behind to address it."
"Bullshit." Ino muttered to Sakura as she inspected the insects with a critical eye. Oddly enough, the titan's bodies were starting to melt and decompose already from the potent and corrosive fluids that lingered in their frames. "You could tell that he just wanted to show off and go nuts with these things. Shino always does this whenever he wants to stick out. He probably forced the rest of the guys to go on ahead just so he could take this guy alone."
"Oh be nice Ino. Let him have his fun." Sakura chided her friend. "You know he means well. Besides it's not like you're much better."
"At least I'm not creepy as fuck when I do it." The blonde hissed back while watching the carcasses slowly melt in front of her. "Seriously, what the hell did he do to make these things?!"
"Not creepy as fuck?" Sakura's face was one of disbelief. "You're the Smiling Witch! You've stated that you are proud of being the most terrifying female in our group behind Hinata!"
"Different kind of creepy!" Ino argued. "I'm hot when I do it! Not twisted nightmare inducing horror movie creepy!"
"Tell that to all the unfortunate souls that you tortured and interrogated that." The medic rolled her eyes.
Kakashi simply pretended the world didn't exist as he continued to read his latest book.
"I see." Taruho's demeanor slightly relaxed at Shino's comment, out of earshot of bickering kunoichi. "So she is still being protected by the majority of your team. That's good. Then that means there's still a hope that she can prevent Moryo from being resurrected."
Sasuke turned to Shino. "Hey. Is Moryo that demon we've been sensing ever since we've gotten close to this mountain?"
The Aburame nodded. "Yes."
"You do realize he just jinxed it right?"
"Yes." Shino repeated his previous action perfectly.
As if on cue, an ominous corrupted power seemed to erupt from the mountain and wash over all of them, making the air harder to breathe.
"N-No…" Taruho stammered as an echoing roar and malicious laughter was heard in the distance. "He's awake…"
The five shinobi there on the other hand, didn't so much as flinch. They had experienced far worse.
"Hey. You want a lift?" Sasuke didn't turn away from the Aburame and nodded to his hawk.
"Yes." The bug user enjoyed his conversations with Sasuke. They tended to be incredibly simple and straightforward.
o. o. o.
Several minutes earlier with Hinata's team:
"Do… do they think that we're stupid?" Tenten asked, somewhat baffled by what she was seeing.
"No clue." Chouji shrugged, not at all taking the sight in front of them as personally as his teammate.
"I mean seriously. Only an idiot would completely miss and not suspect this!" Tenten continued.
Naruto, a certified former idiot, sneezed in his sleep.
"We are in a bit of a rush." Shion looked away innocently, knowing that said former idiot did in fact overlook what they were seeing the first time around. "Maybe they were counting on that."
"Priestess, in our job, even if we are in a rush to do something, we don't overlook potential lethal traps." Tenten deadpanned, not bothering to look at the girl she was carrying in exchange for paying attention to the hundred some odd pillars of seemingly innocent stone situated in front of the entrance to the temple containing Moryo's body. "Especially when they're this painfully obvious."
"Are there really traps in those things Hinata?" Chouji asked skeptically.
The Hyuuga sighed, sharing similar feelings to Tenten but not voicing them out loud. "Yes. There's one of those clay solders in each of them."
"Please tell me they were smart enough to place some sort of trap on the walls and cliff around the entrance so we couldn't just wall walk around them." Tenten covered her eyes with a hand in shame.
"No. No. We pretty much just go right around them and into the temple." The Hyuuga shook her head, embarrassed that they were having so much trouble earlier with their enemies. Apparently traps were not their specialty.
"Why are you complaining?" Shion looked at the shinobi with confusion. "Shouldn't you be glad that they are making it this easy?"
"It's not so much that as it is that the world is supposedly in danger from idiots that can't think ahead." Tenten elaborated with more than a hint of dejection in her voice. "Really kills your faith in humanity and motivation to go on when you think about it."
"We're trying to prevent Armageddon!" The priestess argued rationally.
"Armageddon. End of humanity. Apocalypse. New World Order. We really have to do something to nip more of these situations in the bud before they actually become a problem." The Faker sighed, her mood not improving in the slightest. "I mean how many things are there in this world that can cause this sort of thing to happen? I mean there's the biju, then there's Akatsuki, then there's those other random demons that show up now and then, then there was that holy sword event in Iron that my team had to deal with a year ago, and every year there's another dozen ancient temples found containing some sort of forbidden jutsu or monster that's supposed to be sealed away instead of you know… destroyed. And don't forget those ruins that screw with the planet's leylines…"
"Yeah, the more I think about it, the more you'd think that shinobi were around not to protect the clans and the lands but to make sure that the world doesn't end for one reason or another." Chouji mused curiously. "Makes you wonder how we've lasted so long in the first place without screwing up."
Shion had the courtesy of trying to appear as if she didn't know that such a thing had already passed.
"Probably because the idiots that try to pull them off can't plan for shit!" Tenten yelled out the last of her statement, clearly intending for said culprits to hear her.
"Is she always like this?" Shion looked at Chouji worriedly.
"Only when she feels that her intelligence is being insulted or she's being underestimated." The Akimichi shrugged. "Her main team is a bit… eccentric at times so most of her patience is used up on them. It's gotten to the point that she's a saint when she's with them, but has near zero tolerance with near anything when she's away from them. And given what we just had to deal with earlier…"
"Come on." Hinata sighed as she began to walk up the nearby cliff face that would lead them right to the entrance to the temple without having to fight. "We might as well get this over with."
"Yeah yeah." Tenten agreed sullenly as she and Chouji followed her team leader without any trouble.
It was slightly uncomfortable to do so while carrying Shion, but within three minutes it didn't matter as they had bypassed the poorly hidden trap and were walking through the caves that would lead them to Moryo's body.
The immense cavern was glowing in an ominous way as the lava slowly turning under the lattice of stone paths radiated their deadly heat. The air inside was stagnant with the fumes the liquid stone gave off, making it difficult to breathe and uncomfortable simply just being there. Indeed, most normal humans would likely have passed out from the pressure and heat after just a few minutes in such an environment.
"And we're now in a volcano. Nice." Tenten's sarcasm jumped up a few ranks in addition to her twitching eyebrow.
Naruto sneezed and unconsciously grumbled in agreement. The fumes and heat did his nose and fur encased body no favors as he attempted to shift around and find a cooler position.
"You know they probably sealed the giant demon's body here to deter people from coming in the first place." Chouji argued.
"If someone was genuinely trying to resurrect a world conquering demon with sufficient resources and power… then logic would point out that anyone actually capable of doing so wouldn't give a damn about being in a volcano where there are completely safe paths to the body!" The albino snapped. "Ninja! Remember?! Elemental manipulation is as common as kunai to half of us! Getting to that shrine over there is as easy as jumping from branch to branch!"
"Ah Priestess. So good of you to-" The possessed and clearly nearly dead shinobi doctor attempted to greet Shion, only to be cut off.
"You be quiet! I'm not done being overwhelmingly pissed yet!" Tenten pointed at him accusingly.
"Sorry. We've had a long day and she hasn't been taking it that well." Chouji semi bowed apologetically.
"Why are you apologizing?" Shion asked him incredulously.
"You'd be surprised the difference between dealing a demon that genuinely wants to murder you and one that simply finds you simply amusing is like right off the bat." Hinata sighed, already having spoken to the Kyubi on several occasions.
"You know you are wasting valuable time shinobi." Yomi frowned, his voice travelling over the large distance between the groups with ease. "If the priestess doesn't hurry, Moryo-sama will break through the barrier…"
"Like hell it is!" Tenten snapped. "You got through the one sealing the demon's soul just fine! There's no reason why the one here is any different! You're just trying to lure her there so that you can kill her at point blank range when you resurrect the demon so she can't seal you away again!"
Shion blinked several times before slapping herself on the forehead for falling for such an obvious trap and the signs leading up to it the last time around.
"Yeah she does this a lot when she gets frustrated." Chouji apologized again.
"I have two teachers that are complete polar opposites. One's an exercise taijutsu nut and the other is the most analytical nihilistic asshole on the planet that thrives on the misery of others." The angry teen growled. "I have developed the ability spot stupid and idiotic flaws from a mile away… and it haunts me relentlessly."
"Well that might explain some of Scab-sensei's behavior." Hinata absently mused.
"Humph." Yomi grunted in annoyance. "I supposed I had underestimated your guard's ability to see the obvious priestess… no matter though. I do not have to trick you to come here if I can simply force you."
As if on cue, several hollow stone footsteps were heard from every angle as Moryo's clay servants seemed to appear from nowhere, approaching the group from both the caves in great numbers and from the paths over the lava in front of them.
Tenten simply grit her teeth. "Chouji… please… before I burst a vein…"
The Akimichi looked at his teammate and sighed. "Fine fine."
The next five seconds were occupied by the largest teen making some seals and collapsing the cave behind them on top of the clay puppets.
The following ten were of him enlarging one of his arms and painfully slowly pushing all of the soldiers in front of them off the walkways and into the lava below with childish ease.
Both parties stared at one another in uncomfortable silence.
"How the hell did this idiot nearly take over the world?" Tenten cried into her hands.
"Well… he did make a lot of soldiers." Shion laughed nervously. "From what I read they simply kept on attacking cities without end until they fell, making larger settlements near impossible to establish or maintain while he was running rampant. He managed to overrun most of the normal armies in the world before my ancestor sealed him away using this strategy."
"Quantity over quality in this case I guess." Hinata sighed.
"It also helps that the weakling avoided me and my siblings like the plague. He might have almost taken over the human world, but the world in general? Not likely." Kurama snorted to Hinata telepathically. "He talks big, but the fool knows his place."
"Zzzzz. Snarf snarf." Naruto snored.
"Yomi." Moryo growled to the human that had helped him get this far. The mad doctor who had cut himself open to house the spirit lurched, feeling his very existence nearly burst apart from the chaotic rage it was containing. "Open the seal. Now."
The demand was akin to telling the man to kill himself in cold blood, yet he complied without hesitation. Ordering the parasitic worm like monstrosities inside of his body to inject him with as much corrupted chakra as possible, the man utilized the last of his reserves and strength in his already dead body to stand up and rapidly perform the technique that would break the seal in front of him and-
His body staggered as an arrow pierced his right shoulder. It would have gone through his heart, however the corrupted, demon-controled power enveloping him had deflected it at the last possible moment.
The culprit clicked her teeth in annoyance. She had been waiting for the idiot to turn around to rush in opening the seal and leave himself wide open since the very beginning of her ranting.
After all, what was the point in developing the ability to see the faults in everyone and everything if you weren't able to exploit it?
"Oh come on." Tenten grumbled as she readied another materialized arrow for her bow, from nearly a hundred meters away. "Now they start to think ahead?"
"Hurry! At this rate Moryo's going to awaken!" Shion began to panic. As confident as she was that they were going to win, she'd much rather be victorious without going face to face with a giant demon hydra and take the cheap and easy way out.
One giant abomination of destruction was enough for today, thank you very much.
By the time Shion's plea finished leaving her mouth though, Tenten had already unleashed a good dozen more arrows from her bow and the number was climbing rapidly. Her target, although radiating with power, was still clearly limited in the ability to move so aiming was not an issue.
Unfortunately, without the element of surprise her goal turned out to be out of reach with her current armaments as the arrows moving faster than what most humans could follow were deflected away just before they met their marks by the living aura surrounding the target.
"Tenten…" Hinata frowned as she watched the last of the seals being formed with her dojutsu.
The Faker's steel grey eyes narrowed in annoyance at the situation. She would have used one of the stronger arrows at her disposal, but those took time to set up. Hell, it was impressive that the monster was deflecting her normal arrows since they had enough impact power behind each one to counter most lower ranked projectile ninjutsu when she was boosting them with her presence.
If she had to rush things though…
"Fuck it." She muttered. Instead of producing another generic, albeit sturdy arrow copy, she tapped a seal hidden on her clothes and grabbed the arrow covered in seals that popped out an instant later.
"Fuck it?" Chouji whimpered nervously.
"Fuck it?" Shion blinked in confusion.
"Oh boy." Hinata winced. Nothing safe ever happened whenever someone in their group said those forbidden words. She had already begun to move to the center of her team and prepared herself for whatever may be needed in the seconds to come.
Tenten on the other hand didn't seem to notice her comrade's reaction to her words in the slightest as the seals on her arrow began to glow with chakra, signifying that they were primed and ready to go off with the absurd amount of chakra that had been stored in them over the course of three days.
It was a last resort tool she had made in the situation where she was unnaturally low on power and needed a strong long range attack available… or when she was short on time and needed that extra umph fast.
The arrow was unleashed just as Yomi finished his last agonizing seal. Just a moment later the entire shrine in the center of the dormant volcano was enveloped in a massive explosion that splashed stone and lava in every direction.
"Kaiten!" Hinata had been prepared for this though as she forced chakra through every pore in her body and spun it around her team through pure control and power. Her training using and analyzing Rasengan over the years had enhanced her stores and control greatly to the point that much like Naruto she could manipulate her raw chakra outside her body. Of course she was not a sage and her power barely lasted more than a few seconds by itself, however it was more than enough to achieve some astounding feats such as this one.
The backlash barely lasted more than ten seconds, long enough for them to temporarily lose their bearings and observer more than a few flying globs of lava almost kill them had Hinata not put up her defenses.
The upturned debris did not unfortunately, prevent them from witnessing the massive black ethereal hydra emerge from the center of the explosion.
"Damn it. I hate it when fuck it doesn't work." Tenten grumbled under her breath as she readied herself to produce whatever solid defense she would need on the fly.
"Dare I ask why?" Shion asked hesitantly. Even from a good distance away she could not help but shiver at the sight of the monstrosity that had killed her mother and nearly taken over the world.
"Because things tend to go to shit whenever it doesn't." Chouji grumbled as he stepped forward. A glimpse to his two female teammates was all he needed to convey what he was planning to the others.
"How unfortunate." The demon Moryo chuckled confidently as if he had already won the fight. He did not bother to look for its dead follower's body. He had witnessed it being blown into the lava by the archer's attack just before he had managed to merge with his body. "I had tried to be merciful priestess, and kill you with as little pain as possible, but your attendants had to be the obnoxious pests that they are. Now I am afraid you will have to suffer if you continue your futile resistance."
"Can you get any more textbook? I swear it's like he copied it word for word." Tenten muttered under her breath.
"The guy's been locked away for decades at a time at least." Chouji's lips twitched in amusement. "You can't possibly expect him to come up with new material do you?"
"Shion-sama." Hinata didn't look back as she focused all of her attention on the monster in front of her. "We may be at odds with one another, however I give you my word that no harm will come to you."
The white haired girl looked at the team leader before smiling softly and turning to Moryo. "I'm afraid I must decline your offer Moryo-san. As generous as you are being…" Her eyes took on a kaleidoscopic image that indicated the use of her power. "… I don't see why I should take it when things are in my favor."
All of the demon's eyes narrowed at the obvious slight the girl had made. "You have made a poor choice child. Like mother like daughter I suppose. Her decision has locked her soul here with me forever more, did you know that? And now she will watch helplessly as I kill you and retake the world for myself with my army!"
Naruto whined out and rubbed his head deeper into Hinata's chest as if to bury his head and mute the noise that was being made.
As if to emphasize his declaration, one of the hydra's heads opened its massive mouth and gathered an absurd amount of power much like Kurama did earlier with his tails before unleashing it as a black beam at them…
… Only to be smashed to the side, barehanded, by Hinata. The girl did not even bother to turn and watch as the attack she had deflected pierced into the semi solid stone walls behind her, causing everything to momentarily shake before once more returning to its ominous and stagnant calm.
"Uh oh." Tenten grinned knowingly. "I was wondering when she was going to make her appearance."
"She knocked it away with only that much effort?" Chouji shook his head. "I'm beginning to think that the story of him nearly taking over the world really was a stretch of the truth."
"With her… bare hands?" Shion blinked owlishly at the Hyuuga standing in front of her. It took the priestess a few moments to get over the shock of what had just happened before she realized something important.
Hinata was glowing.
Not in the standard sense as if she was radiating light or power, or as if she had an aura of energy around her. No, instead the noble teen seemed to act as a pure white core of sorts that made her simply stand out more than anything else there. Had Shion been able to see the front of the shinobi, she would have seen that Hinata's milky white pupils seemed to exemplify that even further, shining with enough intensity to appear to be composed of some pure stone or material that she had never seen the like of befo-
… No… that would have been a lie. She had seen something that shone with such intensity before, but she simply couldn't figure out what.
"If you would be so kind as to be a bit more quiet." The Princess stated calmly and diplomatically. "Some of us here are trying to sleep."
All of the Hydra's eyes were just as open as Shion's as it inspected this new player with greater interest and intensity. "You… have mastered your significance?"
The demon's words echoed through the volcano ominously, as if even it had trouble comprehending what it had just said.
"Astounding… I did not think it was possible, yet a human, a child at that has managed to master all that they are…" The demon continued as one head moved closer to inspect Hinata, only to flinch as said child's piercing eyes glared at it directly. "Yes, it makes sense now. No wonder Yomi's subordinates could do little to stop you."
Hinata didn't move or react as one of the heads moved closer to her slowly. Even if the entire creature's body was covered in black fire, it was impossible to miss the look of absolute curiosity on its face.
"Tell me child, perhaps you can answer me this. Why is the world heavier than it once was?"
The Hyuuga frowned. "Heavier? I am afraid I do not understand your question."
"Hmm. Yes, if you were around after such a change then indeed this question would not make sense." The head nodded as if it recognized its own mistake. "Us greater demons, while we are not as sensitive to the lesser world like those of your size, we are a good deal more in tune with the world at large. We are aware if something has happened to it that would affect it as a whole." The head slowly pulled back. "As man grew more prominent and devoured more of the world's beauty, my kind came to realize that the world was slowly becoming "less". It was a subtle thing that took us millennia to determine, but the results were undeniable, as the change accelerated as more of your kind came to be. It is that realization and knowledge that drives many of us to suppress or eradicate your kind on instinct."
"Wonderful." Tenten grumbled. "So he's using the excuse that he's doing everyone a favor by taking over the world because humanity is screwing everything up. Like I haven't heard that one before."
"Do not mock me worm. I do not wish to obliterate humanity." The black hydra growled. "I wish to make its power mine."
"… Well that's new." Chouji admitted honestly. "Never heard of someone trying to take over humanity to use humanity before."
"As great as we demons are, even the nine great siblings, it would be impossible for us to achieve what you humans have done over such a short period. To weaken the great earth itself… such a feat could only belong to only the greatest of powers. Humanity truly is an entity that cannot be underestimated. Should I possess such potential, truly nothing would be able to usurp my conquest and rule…
"… And yet the world is heavier than it was before my resealing but a decade ago. It is more than it once was, and humanity is thriving more than ever." It leered at Hinata once more. "And in front of me is a human child that has mastered all that she is, was, and possibly be. This cannot be a mere coincidence. So tell me, how did you come across your potential? Who or what is responsible for this change, and entered this world?"
Hinata matched the demon's gaze with her own. "And what would you do with such information? If such a thing is capable of adding to the world despite humanity being here, the latter of which you yourself has admitted to achieving something that would otherwise be impossible… would that not mean that this mystery force would be something that should easily surpass yours? If that is so… then ultimately, I believe the logical option would be to side myself with the greater power, would it not?"
The beast's eyes narrowed with obvious anger. "True, but they are not here are they?"
"Yes, but neither is anything that is a genuine threat." Hinata's tone was just as menacing as the demon's.
"I see that even if you have mastered yourself, you are still no wiser than the rest of your kin…" All of the heads of the hydra opened their mouths and began to charge their own beams of power. "… a pity."
"Chouji, get ready." Tenten took a step towards Shion and got ready to move just as Hinata took a jyuken stance.
"Oh man, this is really going to suck." The Akimichi took a defensive stance of his own, but it did nothing to hide the shit eating grin on his face.
"If you will not give me what I desire then die with the priestess!" An onslaught of chakra empowered beams tore through the volcanic air, igniting the volatile gasses that they encountered on their way towards the single location at once.
Hinata responded by deepening both her stance and her Presence. Beneath her, the metaphorical symbol that appeared during the execution of her family's techniques manifested… and swung as if on a hinge until it was standing vertically in front of the Hyuuga and the oncoming attack.
In an instant, she snapped into a single blur of motion that unleashed just as many powerful beams of power as her opponent, each one passing through a key point in the altered image that was a staple to her family arts.
Utilizing the standard and often practiced 64 palms strike as a base, the girl had created a new ranged technique that could overwhelm nearly any opponent in terms of power and intensity. Every strike was its own blast. Every strike was enough to punch through a fortified wall. Every strike was a brilliantly blinding white beam of light.
"Eight Trigrams: Twilight!"
The attacks of black and white hammered one another inside the volcano and caused chaos in their wake. Neither assault gaining on the other before rupturing their entire payload in midair and making the environment shake relentlessly.
And then a giant dark skinned Chouji charged through the airborne debris right at the demon, emulating the imposing black titan that seemed to constantly overshadow him.
Every thunderous step he took crushed the seemingly tiny stone paths beneath him, and even though a good portion of each of his feet were immersed in molten lava, his stone like layering and his immense presence all but denying any portion of his body or clothing from getting burned, or even harmed.
Why should the lava here harm him? He was the Mountain King, and a volcano was nothing more than a mountain with an extra feature. Even in the center of such unrelenting environments, he would not be harmed. This was his domain and his will was law.
"This one as well?!" Moryo snarled in surprise and rage at the boy's display just before he crashed into the demon and nearly caused an earthquake.
"Ho man. If we aren't careful we really might make this place go off." Tenten laughed in a way that clearly did nothing to hide her fear of that actually happening. A moment later she grabbed Shion's arm and pulled her out of the way of a large boulder that had dislodged itself from the stone cavern above due to all the shaking. "Tch. At this rate I'll be too busy keeping you alive to get a solid shot in."
"Get a good shot in?" Shion blanched as she watched the two colossi practically tear one another apart in the lava. "How could you even get a shot in that in the first place?!"
"With lots of patience, explosives, and exploiting Chouji's fear of me blowing him up again." The Faker dryly retorted as she nudged her charge to the side to avoid a stray glob of lava. "Hey Hinata, you ok? That move still takes a lot out of you. Neji's still bitching about how it makes his hands bleed every time he tries it."
The Princess breathed out heavily as the aura around her dimmed some. "I keep telling him he needs to widen the tenketsu on his hands more before attempting to do Twilight but he never listens…"
"Eh, that's not the problem from what he's told me." Tenten shrugged. "Something about how your presence condenses your power more than his does."
The cavern shook again as Chouji and the many headed hydra wrestled in the lava. The Akimichi was doing pretty well from where the girls were standing. They saw him rip off at least three heads with a single swing of his arm, however his progress seemed to be slow as many of his limbs were slowly being ensnared by even more serpent like heads.
"If only I could sell tickets for this." Tenten muttered absently, momentarily revealing some of Scabs corruption.
"As amusing as this may be for you, you have to help him." Shion grunted as she was pushed away from some more flying molten debris. She was getting really tired of being pushed and pulled like a toy.
"Why? What's wrong?" Hinata asked in all seriousness as she focused on her charge and the battle with her dojutsu. From what she could tell, Chouji was doing pretty well as he crushed a couple of more heads in his fists.
"There's a reason why Moryo almost took over the world even when he's weaker than the Bijuu." The Priestess stressed. "While his army did overwhelm most of the human armies he came across, the reason why it took so long for HIM to be defeated was because he is near impossible to take down. He isn't as strong as the biju but his regeneration abilities are near limitless."
Tenten blinked a few times before face palming. "Of course. What sort of world ending monster would he be without broken recovery abilities? Why the hell did we forget that?"
"That does explain why he was sealed away rather than killed…" Hinata frowned as her hand lashed out to knock away a small boulder that nearly crushed her. She completely ignored the fact that if a normal human attempted such a thing, their hand would be crushed due to the simple difference in mass… just before the person himself would end up getting crushed. "How do we deal with him then? Is there a limit to how much he can regenerate?"
"If there is one, we never found out." Shion frowned and slapped Tenten's hands away to prevent the girl from jerking her in another direction. Just as a particularly nasty jagged piece of stone would have pierced the left side of her face, it collided with an invisible barrier made by the priestess herself. "And if you don't mind, I believe I am capable enough to keep myself safe from a few flying stones, thank you very much."
"Why the hell didn't you do that earlier!?" Tenten snapped, admonishing the girl as if she was Lee.
"Well excuse me for not having absurd shinobi reaction times and being distracted by that!" The other albino yelled back while pointing at Chouji wrestle what now looked like a giant slew of black fanged tentacles. "Not everyone with powers has military training and conditioning you know!"
"Focus! Chouji can't hold him back much longer!" Hinata snapped, getting the two to stop arguing. "Shion-sama. You know our opponent the best. What are our options to defeat him?"
"Other than sacrificing myself to seal him away again?" The only non shinobi rose an eyebrow skeptically before her face became more stoic. To her credit, she did avoid looking at Naruto as she contemplated her options. "… I'm not sure to be honest. My chakra, my lineage's chakra, is incredibly effective against him and can probably negate his healing, but I'm not strong enough to actually harm him directly and I don't have any techniques that can. Unless you have some way to channel my power into your techniques I'm not sure if that can help…"
"Gah!" Chouji shouted in pain as he was bitten for what seemed like the hundredth time. While his body was tremendous and as hard as stone, his opponent was not particularly weak either. For every four or five bites that were stopped by his tough hide, one managed to break through, and unfortunately for the Akimichi the numbers weren't on his side. "A little help would be nice guys!"
"Channeling someone else's chakra?" Tenten winced. "That's more theoretical than anything else. Not up my alley." She looked at Hinata skeptically for a few moments before at Chouji before once more at Shion. "You sure you won't get killed by a falling rock if I leave you alone?"
"Unless the entire volcano collapses on us or erupts I'll be fine now." Shion replied confidently, which was somewhat impressive because she really couldn't be sure in reality. She was miles stronger than she once was… but this was a massive battle inside a volcano of all damn things. Her word could only go so far. At the very least, she wouldn't get offed by a flying rock now.
"Right. We'll work on your bluffing later." Tenten wasn't fooled in the slightest before turning to Hinata. "I'll try out some of my more exotic tricks and see if they work. I'll trust you to pull off the Naruto grade shenanigans to save the day."
"Zzzz Ain't no party like a Naruto party cuz a Naruto party don't stop zzzzzzzz…"
"Wait what are you…" Shion blinked in confusion at Tenten's quick statement, but she had already been too late as the Faker had already left, leaping from rock to rock while occasionally firing off a random sword or other bladed weapon that materialized above her. Each tool impacted an individual head of the rampaging hydra and either blew up spectacularly or did something else of equal wonder, such as freezing it into a block of solid ice or frying it with a blinding flash of electricity.
"Shion-sama, focus on me." Hinata grabbed the girl's hands, instantly distracting her from the fighting. "I know you are busy with your barriers, but I need you to follow my instructions. Tenten spoke the truth when she said that channeling someone else's chakra was difficult, but due to my bloodline and training, I am fortunately one of the few people that is capable of such a thing to a degree. Normally such a technique is used for medicinal purposes and dangerous to use for battle but we do not have much of an option at this point."
A large explosion followed by a loud hiss of pain and rage momentarily stole both girls' attention as they turned to see Chouji taking a few steps back from the writhing beast which seemed to have been hit with something powerful if the burns and the angry roars were anything to go by. Now that they had a good unobstructed view of the monster and its wounds, they could see it regrowing flesh and heads from the steaming stumps and burns it was sporting.
"It didn't work." The giant teen grunted to the bow wielding girl on that shoulder.
"No shit it didn't work." Said archer grunted. "It should have worked, it was a holy sword for fucks sake, but of course we aren't that lucky."
"Don't you have anything stronger?" He glanced at her.
"Yeah, except most of them would set off the damn volcano before we could get out." Tenten frowned as she quickly went over her vast arsenal inside her being. The only flaw that she found with her power was that while she knew what each and every weapon she had did and could make them in an instant, actually knowing what she needed was a completely different story, especially if she was looking for something vague. "Regeneration, regeneration… fuck I know I have something that's good against freaks like this somewhere…"
"Yeah well until you do keep helping me out." Her ride hissed as he shifted to one side. One of his legs had been bitten a few times too many for his liking. In front of him, dozens of heads were already starting to coil themselves, ready to strike once more. "Break's over."
"How annoying. Who knew that mortal weapons of such nature existed? Even more for there to be a human archive of the tools of war…" The demon growled as it looked at Tenten. "It should have been natural that if two of you were aware of your nature, the others would as well. I will not make such an oversight a second time…"
Roaring heads and lighting fast blades tore at one another relentlessly as the battle resumed with renewed ferocity, causing the volcano to shake once more.
"We don't have much time." Hinata snapped the priestess back to the shinobi in front of her. "While Tenten and Chouji distract Moryo, I need you to do exactly as I say. Don't question me. We need to be as quick as possible."
"R-right." The albino nodded shakily. The previous battle with the demon had not been nearly as wild and chaotic as this one. Perhaps it was due to the fact that she had nearly sealed him away last time and he had possibly wasted his energy trying to break her down inside his body.
Taking the girl's hands in each of her own, Hinata breathed deeply and calmly. "Ok. Please, try to relax begin channeling your chakra to my hands. Slowly at first. Match your breathing to mine. Try to align your chakra to mine as well if you can. If you feel my chakra, let it flow into you as well. Don't fight it…"
While Shion didn't know the exact mechanics of what Hinata was trying to do, the priestess was familiar with channeling chakra and meditation to a somewhat extensive degree. It was of course difficult to block out the world and focus with two giants fighting a short distance away, but she managed to make due as she slowly managed to do as the Hyuuga asked and matched their breathing patterns.
She had managed to block out the insufferable heat and the occasional speck of dust that brushed against her porcelain skin. As she did so, she felt her hands tingle as she focused chakra into them and felt something irregular interacting with it.
Breathing had become slightly easier. No, it was more that she managed to force her body to ignore the dust and fumes that occupied the area. She could feel the difference in Hinata's chakra and hers now, and was left somewhat ashamed.
The Hyuuga's power was similar to her own, white and pure, but at its very core something completely different. While Shion's was considered "holy", Hinata's was… primal, and basic, possibly even more pure than her own, but less suited for battling Moryo and other existences of the like.
The fact that her rival had way more power than she did didn't help things either. She knew that there was going to be a large difference but… not to that large of an extent.
She was no longer distracted by the tremors of the fighting nearby. One of the hydra's heads had taken notice of them and had tried to take them out, but was speared by one of Tenten's projectiles and nailed down into the lava below before it likely knew what hit it.
Shion could feel Hinata's chakra trying to match up to her own. The ordeal was made easier due to their similar natures, but it was still an incredibly difficult task to perform, especially in this situation and when their reserves were just so off balance. Perhaps if Shion had more training in power and control it would make things easier, but it was pointless to dwell on such possibilities now.
As it stood, Shion did manage to slowly adjust herself and her power to meet as seamlessly to Hinata's as possible.
Chouji was screaming as one of the heads managed to launch a blast of Chakra point blank and tore at his side, causing him to fall back as his legs were entwined by half a dozen more serpent like limbs. It wasn't a lethal blow, but it did need to be looked at as soon as possible, and it would affect his battle capabilities for the remainder of the fight.
On his shoulder, Tenten seemed to be fighting back with even more gusto, impaling head after head with a myrad of exotic weapons that the world had never seen the like of. Unfortunately, like nearly any other hydra worth noting, for every head she took out there always seemed to be two more ready to take its place.
Shion could see 'Hinata' from just her chakra now, but even more surprising was that she could now see the fox in the girl's chest too. Somehow Naruto had been unconsciously synchronizing himself with her rival for whoever knows how long, and somehow it was… perfect.
While nothing seemed to be exchanged from their connection, Shion could none the less feel the flawless flow of chakra from one body to the other, empowering and stabilizing one another without any effort even as Shion's energy were still somewhat erratically thrown into the mix.
And the power…
Shion had always known that Naruto was strong. He had after all beaten Moryo last time around, and she had witnessed, albeit from a distance, his increase in strength when he fought in the chunin exams, but now?
She honestly had trouble believing that there was any individual on the planet that possessed more chakra than him. In her chakra possessed state, he appeared to be nothing more than a compressed super storm in the shape of a fox. Even as his chakra interacted with both of the girls', it didn't so much as alter in the slightest, instead taking in what it was exposed to and adding to the silent and calm chaos that it contained.
If asked to describe it in one word, Shion could only describe it as beautiful in a way that only such raw force could achieve.
And then, she was cut off from that addicting sight.
The abrupt return of her numbed senses combined with the removal of the ones she had just obtained had clearly disoriented her for a few moments as she attempted to make sense of the world around her once more.
In the distance, two gigantic figures were verified first, having taken up the most of her vision. One was the writhing ebony mess of heads and necks that was Moryo, while the other was the enlarged Akimichi, who was simultaneously crushing three necks in one hand while using them to pull himself back up.
A steady stream of flashes of light coming from the giant human indicated that Tenten was still relentlessly bombarding the hydra with her weapons, but in her current state Shion couldn't make the girl out in the chaos.
However the most peculiar thing about the situation was that, if she was seeing things correctly, most of the serpentine heads and Chouji were actually looking in her direction…
No. That wasn't right. They weren't looking at her. They were looking at the Hyuuga girl standing a bit to the side on top of a clearly dead hydra head with a white palm resting calmly on its skull.
It did not twitch. It did not recover. It did not regenerate.
"It isn't as much as I wanted…" The shinobi muttered as she took note of how many serpents were moving in a way that clearly indicated that they were aiming for her. Slowly standing up, she made notes of how far she was from the demon's body and how many heads were after her. "… but I suppose I will have to make due."
"You…" Moryo's voice echoed with quiet rage inside the volcano. "You will pay for that, girl."
Hinata didn't bother to reply as she simply stood at the center of everyone's attention, her presence once again making her stand out more than anything else there…
… And then from Shion's perspective… she vanished.
With a deafening roar, the infinite headed demon seemed to take the girl's movement as a personal challenge and seemed to at will spawn a tsunami's worth of new heads to bombard the rapidly moving girl. Clearly her speed was not enough to render herself invisible to him.
A third of the heads occupied themselves with dealing with Chouji and Tenten, who while still fighting were steadily retreating lest they risk the giant's wounds getting worse.
A third of them struck forward to stop the first real threat to their existence that had appeared since they had returned again to the world.
And the final third was charging up for a carpet bombing of pure corrupted power.
Beam after beam assaulted the battleground so frequently that Shion's barrier was constantly holding off a literal rain of lava sent her way. The only way the priestess knew that the Hyuuga still lived was simply because the earth shattering attacks weren't stopping yet, and when they did stop it was simply because the girl had gotten in range of the heads that were charging at her…
They should have just kept on blasting.
Hinata was nothing more than a dancing blur of death as she seemed to teleport from stone to stone. That was until the first batch of draconic heads came nearby and were promptly sliced to pieces by the thin chakra strings that she temporarily made from her fingers for but a few moments at a time…
Then she was jumping between stones and mutilated hydra limbs.
It didn't seem to matter how the heads attacked. In groups, in sweeping motions, from multiple angles… the girl seemed to manage to find the smallest opening in the attack pattern to get out of without even looking and counterattacked at the same time, leaving both a trail of bloody demon behind her and the limp necks of dead demons in front of her to give her more places to run on, and it didn't take long for everyone to notice that they weren't getting back up.
Likewise, it didn't take long for the humans to notice the remaining heads getting more restless and frantic in their attempts to get rid of the girl.
"Damn you! How can you channel the priestess' power?!" The Hydra roared as its remaining head began to strike out faster and more erratically than before, making them near impossible to keep track of. In some situations the attack of one head wounded another in a desperate attempt to get the girl… and eventually it worked.
Even as fast as she was, Hinata was not able to keep up with the irregular attacks as she barely managed to avoid getting pierced or eaten while tearing apart anything that got near her. Eventually she had slipped up when two limbs that were swinging at her, one vertically and another horizontal, hit one another just before they reached her and altered their attacks in just the right way to finally make contact.
With a heavy thud her body was hammered and thrown away by a lucky head from the demon's body and into an area where there was more lava then stone footing.
"Hinata-san!" Shion shouted in alarm as the Hyuuga seemed to make a beeline for the molten stone, and very likely her death.
"Tch." The Princess clicked her tongue in annoyance. The blow dealt to her did little damage, she had managed to throw up a solid layer of chakra as a quick defense just before contact, but had done its job of throwing her away from her target. Realizing that she was making a beeline towards a rather painful death, she straightened out her body in midair, spiked her presence…
And slammed her feet onto the molten lava without a moment's hesitation.
She did not burn. She did not die. She didn't even so much as tan.
Being able to do such a thing, to will oneself to ignore rules and facts of reality utilizing their existence alone was a sign of an experienced user of a strong presence.
All in all it was to be expected. The girl after all did have the potential to have a greater presence than Naruto himself.
"I love chakra control."
Naruto sneezed in agreement unconsciously.
Before anyone else could comprehend what she had just did, the girl once again vanished. The only thing Shion could see from her perspective that revealed where the girl had been was the myriad of thin lines of lava that jumped up from the pools that reminded her of the trails that ice skaters made behind them on the frozen lakes near her compound, zigzagging across the red burning fluid erratically and rapidly getting closer to the demon like an invisible omen.
"Fall already!" Moryo's clearly annoyed and frustrated voice caused the immense cavern to rumble and shake as much as the fighting had been. "It does not matter if you have mastered your essence or not! You are still nothing but pitiful minor humans, meager existences that pale in comparison to mine!"
Instead of a standard pinpoint type of energy blast, several of the heads managed to hold their charges and waste a good portion of the area that Hinata was in, moving their malformed heads as they unleashed their payloads in an attempt to get rid of what they deemed as their greatest threat. As a result, waves upon waves of the molten stone was sent in every direction, and drops of crimson liquid sprayed everywhere like fireworks.
The surges were mitigated thanks to the elevated stone paths that littered the caverns, but the flying projectiles had no such interference. Chouji winced as he was peppered by the debris, his presence, earth techniques, and size made them nothing more than stray embers to him… but even normal people don't react well to getting showered by burning debris, even briefly. Plus they weren't doing his wounds any favors. Tenten, still on her significantly larger friend, went for a more practical, albeit mean solution, and hid behind said friend's head essentially avoiding any risk to herself while still trying to impale as many hydra heads as possible. Shion was perfectly fine as the lava simply bounced or flopped onto her powerful barriers, leaving her completely unharmed.
As for Hinata, she was simply weaving in between the exploding waves, using the motions of the crimson lake below her to rapidly close in onto her target without so much as a flinch. Much like the priestess, she was using chakra to protect herself from the flying bits of molten stone that she encountered.
While she was invisible to Shion, to those with faster reaction times and eyes, the Hyuuga was nothing more than a trail of black and white streaking across the glowing lava at painfully erratic speeds, making it all but impossible to pin her down or nail her with one of the half a dozen beams of power mangling the unstable environment.
And then, just as she had almost reached the base of the monster's body, she vanished and reappeared above, halfway to the top of the immense cavern. It was an immense distance to travel in an instant, let alone straight up, so much so that Shion honestly believed that Hinata was capable of flight for a few moments…
Only a few moments however, as something appeared before her… something she was very familiar with…
"Rasengan!" Hinata shouted as she poured an absurd amount of chakra into the ball she formed below her, making it grow to proportions that eerily matched the one that defeated Moryo's previous iteration, and glowing with a faint pink aura that indicated the presence of Shion's power in it…
But… but even after looking at it, Shion knew… it wouldn't be enough.
Her power was there, however it did not possess nearly a high enough concentration to put down the demon. Maybe if Hinata had done it right after they had synchronized, but now…
Moryo seemed to have seen this as well as the heads that weren't occupied with Tenten and Chouji roared in insulted rage.
"How DARE YOU! You truly think that such a pale imitation is enough to defeat ME?!"
Now, it should be known that in most cases where humans fight giant monsters, there was a bit of a misconception taking place. Most of the time, when such events happen, the humans, or the lesser fighters, were under the impression that the giant monster was fighting at the full of their power, that they were using the most of their abilities to kill the obstacles in their way.
They were wrong. Dead wrong.
Imagine for a moment a super powered human fighting a powerful insect, or rodent. The rodent, or rodents, have the potential to eventually kill the human, but should the human truly use the bulk of their powers on a rodent of all things… well, that would just be odd for a good number of reasons. Most powerful entities had at least put in some effort into gaining the status that they have, and as a result were minimalist by nature. Using their full powers on such a small foe would, to them, be akin to utilizing a shotgun to kill a fly, so they by nature held back.
As a result, the odds of the rodent coming out of the event alive, or successful in its attempts, rises drastically.
Any sentient existence put in the "greater" being's shoes naturally tends to make this… not mistake, but general assumption. Demons, the ones that aren't mad beasts at least, are no exception.
However, like most sentient existences, Moryo also has a limit to his patience.
In the previous timeline, he was defeated by either Shion sacrificing herself to seal him from the inside out when he had almost absorbed her, which was the path taken when Naruto was killed, or by Naruto utilizing a Rasengan saturated with the girl's power at point blank range before he could react properly.
It should also be noted that in the latter case, Shion had almost actually done the former before Naruto saved her, emitting a great amount of her power from inside the monster and numbing it in the process, making Naruto's job significantly easier.
Truly, a prime example of dumb luck for dumb people.
Now however, the demon had been out more than long enough to realize his current position, the threat level of his opponents, and get harmed enough that he was more than willing to throw his pride out the window.
With a deafening roar that dwarfed all of his previous ones so far, the monster's power increased to unreal levels, nearly reaching that of a Biju. In a single fluid movement, all of the heads that were not occupied with Chouji and Tenten arrayed themselves in a circular formation underneath Hinata with their mouths open wide and brimming with corrupted chakra. An instant later, a seal like image appeared using the heads as focus points and condensed the chakra gathered by the demon to a single point to counter the oncoming ball of light.
"Hinata!" Shion shouted in alarm. She had never seen or heard of Moryo doing something like this before, and for the first time since she had come back in time… she was afraid that she would not be able to come out of this for the better…
The explosion that followed the two tremendous attacks was bone rattling, and for a moment those watching and nearby genuinely feared that the volcano below would erupt from the shockwaves made in its wake. Some larger portions of the cave above came crashing down, and even Shion had to move a few times to avoid boulders that her barriers would not be able to endure. Chouji was thrown back from the blast violently, torn free from the heads he had been wrestling with, and Tenten barely managed to grab hold of his hair before she was thrown off of her ride.
Hinata, whether by luck or by some last second shenanigan, had managed to survive the blast, having being just barely overwhelmed in the exchange, and was flying off to another part of the cavern again, however the girl was not unscathed as she and her clothes were cut up in several places…
Enough that, once coming back to reality, the Hyuuga realized that a certain fox was no longer in her possession.
She didn't even think of what to do as she reflexively used her eyes to find the fox as soon as she confirmed the lack of a sleeping woodland creature between her breasts. Less than a second later, completely ignoring the demon that had also just recovered from the backlash, she had found her target falling to the lava below a good distance away from her…
Too far away from her. She wouldn't be able to reach him in time in her current state.
"NARUTO!" She shouted frantically as she used her presence and chakra control to somehow push herself to his direction in midair, a technique she had developed to chase after her boyfriend when she realized that he would likely have mastered flying by the time he got back. It was still a rather rough technique and she couldn't use it for long, but it did prove useful in multiple occasions.
Her sudden movements allowed her to avoid the two dragon heads that nearly impaled her just moments later. In fact, she really didn't even notice them at first as she zoomed in on the unconscious fox. That unfortunately changed as three more heads tried to cut her off, blocking her view of her target.
The poor sentient limbs couldn't even tell what happened as the Princess blurred around them, tearing apart their chakra coils with a few passing touches. Even with their absurd regeneration factor, they would not be moving for a long time coming.
Still, they had gotten in the girl's way, and any possible hope of her getting to the falling jinchuriki in time was damned because of it.
Every human's eyes dilated in fear and disbelief as they watched in slow motion as the fox plummeted to the lava below. It was akin to watching a movie to them, it was just unreal that THIS would be the way that Naruto, possibly the strongest person that they have ever met or will meet, would end.
"NOOOOOOOOO!" Hinata shouted in alarm as her love fell to the lava…
… And stopped midair five feet above it.
"… Huh?" Tenten reasonably voiced out what everyone was thinking in part joy, part annoyance, and part... she didn't know what.
Even Moryo temporarily stopped his assault to watch the peculiar creature float in place, completely oblivious to its surroundings. He didn't know what it was or why it was so important to his enemies, but it was at least interesting. Now that it was separated from the girl he could tell that it was giving off a good deal of chakra as well.
"Zzzz snort. Ero-Nii you asshat... you promised you'd stop throwing me in volcanoes when I'm trying to sleeep…" The completely oblivious fox mumbled to himself, barely conscious of the outside world, let alone aware of what was happening around him. "Stupid Ero-ni. Stupid volcanoes. Stupid monsters. Stupid torture training excuses. Stupid chili powder…"
Without even opening his eyes, the fox gauged what was happening around him. Due to being mostly asleep, he couldn't make any big deductions, but ultimately all he really wanted was to sleep.
Nearby there was a big ass demonic power, and three familiar chakra signatures fluctuating in a way that indicated that they were fighting, so going to them were out. The demonic signature wasn't one he recognized, so it obviously wasn't friendly. There didn't seem to be an easy way out of the cavern, or at least one nearby…
Ah. There we go. A familiar soothing defensive chakra signature was nearby that wasn't going all over the place. Clearly an ideal location to continue his pursuit of sleep in this annoying place.
Lazily the fox hovered as if he was being carried by strings and floated erratically to Shion's direction, completely ignoring the monstrosity behind him.
"What an obnoxious creature. To completely ignore what is happening around it… I must say even I am impressed by its audacity…" One of the few unoccupied heads opened its maw to gather chakra. "I shall reward it accordingly."
Just as the energy was discharged, a blast of chakra hammered it to the side, causing the attack to go off course wildly and destroy some more of the erratic stone paths below. It didn't take much for everyone to determine who was responsible as they glanced over to where Hinata was, standing calmly on top of another section of stone with her clothes torn, primarily in the chest area and revealing more cleavage than she would have preferred, but still clearly able to fight without issue.
What was more noticeable was the amount of killing intent and presence she was giving off.
"Naruto is mine." Her tone was even and calm… and sent chills down the spine of everyone that heard her. "You can't have him."
Several of the heads glanced at the girl before they snorted and began to charge individual beams at once. "I do not take orders from you child. You may be strong for your kind but without the priestess' power you cannot stop me. Now be silent as-"
The demon didn't get to finish his sentence as several beams of light shot forward and pierced through, not impacted, but genuinely impaled several of the charging skulls. The power gathered in their mouths instantly became unstable and exploded, causing the few heads that had not been hit by the attack to lose control as well and blow up in a mass chain reaction.
"I said you can't have him." The Hyuuga repeated herself monotonously as she slowly lowered her glowing white hand.
Naruto, still asleep, seemed to float away from what he subconsciously determined to be the greater threat at a greater speed. A few more seconds later, he had reached Shion, who had fallen to the ground earlier, unable to keep her balance with all the shaking taking place, landed softly on her lap, circled around two times like a household pet, curled into a ball and fell asleep again with a large snot bubble coming out of his muzzle in half a second.
By his logic, if he was killed there, he might as well be asleep so he wouldn't feel anything.
"You poor stupid demon." Tenten grinned as she decided to start moving again and slash apart the heads that were wrapped around Chouji. She knew that her side would be given a slight break as Moryo decided to focus on the bigger, metaphorically speaking, threat. "You really did it now. Setting Hinata off like that is suicide."
Said demon clearly was not as amused as the humans were as its remaining numerous heads roared in a combination of pain, rage and frustration. "That is enough! I have wasted enough time playing with you insects! I will reclaim my kingdom and I will enslave your kind as intended millennia ago!"
Another immense roar rocked the cavern. The earlier attacks Hinata had utilized with Shion's power had done some damage to him, and as a result his regeneration abilities were somewhat stunted. It was painful, even to him, to rely on such methods now, however pain should only matter to mortals and inferior beings. He was a greater demon. The only things that should matter to him are power and control. As such he paid the agonizing sensation that plagued the black malformed mass that was his body just before it practically erupted, spawning hundreds of crying serpentine dragon heads towards the roof of the stone room.
And just before they reached the peak of their ascent before diving down upon their prey…
An annoyed but distinct voice reverberated throughout the room without any actual source. While at first it seemed to be fairly mundane and human like, the weight behind it was enough to even cause the great demon itself to stop its assault.
"I'm trying to sleep."
The Konoha Shinobi there knew instantly where the source of the voice was, and instinctively turned to it with chills down their spines. This was not the voice of an immature and slightly insane boy. It was not the voice of a demon. No, it was the voice of an immensely powerful individual who had lost interest in being amused by the little things that were around him.
No side comments. No obnoxious opinions. No absurd stories. No snarks or insults. No jokes or lamentations of personal woes.
Just the monster that normally slept underneath all of that, curled in a fluffy small ball on Shion's lap...
… Staring at everyone there with a single bloodshot eye wide open.
Without Hinata's chakra to stabilize his, the irritated jinchuriki was incapable of sleeping for even that long in such an environment.
"Oh?" Moryo's heads turned to the fox curiously as if recognizing it for the first time. "So the fox is more than a pet after all."
The fox didn't respond to the hydra's musings as its single eye turned to Hinata. "You shouldn't be having trouble with this one."
Clearly, Moryo took offence to that as several of the heads reared back. "How dare y-!"
SLAM! The skulls that were about to attack were surrounded and gripped by a large mass of air each, and piledrived deep into the lava below before anyone knew what had happened.
"I wasn't talking to you." Naruto's voice evenly stated as if what he had done wasn't worth mentioning, and his eye still completely focused on Hinata.
The Hyuuga held back her instinctive urge to fidget under his glare. It wasn't often that she was subjected to his intense gaze, and it only served to remind her of why she had so much faith in him in general despite his normal behavior, not that she didn't trust him completely already. "He is constantly regenerating on a scale that even you couldn't match. Only Shion-sama's chakra seems to be effective, but she alone is not able to use it on a scale to put him away permanently without sacrificing herself."
"Fox!" Moryo roared with his other heads hissing in tandem, some gathering power into their massive maws for an overwhelming attack. "As if the Kyubi was not an irritating enough example of your species!"
Naruto didn't seem to notice the monster reading itself for another attack as he kept eye contact with Hinata. Likewise he didn't seem to budge an inch as the heads that were about to attack suddenly twitched erratically at the critical moment and turned to aim at their fellow limbs, creating devastation among their ranks.
"… Ok, we probably know HOW he's doing that, but seriously?!" Tenten blinked in disbelief. "Couldn't he at least make it look like he's putting in some effort?"
"It was easier than it looked. He isn't that strong." Naruto evenly stated. "Kurama is far more powerful."
The shinobi took a moment to digest the information before realizing what he was implying.
"Wait. You mean to say that you actually…" Chouji started off hesitantly before Moryo let out another chain of hisses and started to grow more heads. "Log damn it! Again?!"
"Naruto." Shion whispered down to the fox in her lap, soft enough that no one could hear her. "We only defeated Moryo last time because your attack channeled my power and caught Moryo off guard up close. I'm stronger than last time, but we lost the element of surprise. Your friends can't do this without either one of us at this point."
The fox didn't so much as twitch at the girl's request. "How long are you idiots going to sit back and watch?"
The priestess blinked in confusion at Naruto's statement, completely oblivious to what he was saying.
One of Moryo's heads glared in their direction and let out a nasty snarl akin to a curse. "There are more of you annoyances?!"
"Mah mah. No need to be rude Naruto." A familiar mature voice sighed from behind the startled girl. "You were never a morning person, but I've never seen you this cranky before."
Shion whipped her head around surprised to see Shino standing behind her alongside four other Konoha shinobi, two of which she instantly recognized as Sakura and Kakashi Hatake.
"Gotta side with sensei on this one dobe." Sasuke shrugged. "What's the matter? Flea problem?"
"From what Shino said, you've been out of it for over a day." Ino frowned. "I guess running in fear from us finally wiped him out."
"I could have been out of it for two more easy if I had it my way." Naruto's voice reverberated with some irritation.
"Oh stop being such a baby." Sakura crossed her arms.
Shino shifted his glasses. "My apologies for being so late. The situation does appear dire, so I requested the temporary aid of Kakashi-sensei's team to address this… situation."
Sasuke surveyed the regenerating beast with a casual leer before coming to the same impression that Naruto had. "All of us against him? Seems a bit overkill, don't you think?"
"IT! WON'T! DIE!" Tenten shouted in frustration, shooting off a sword with each word. "TRUST ME! WE'VE BEEN TRYING QUITE EXTENSIVELY TO CORRECT THAT!"
"My chakra can negate his regeneration, but applying it to him while keeping me alive is proving to be… difficult." The Priestess admitted sheepishly before pausing and looking around at the cave that they had collapsed earlier. "Wait, the temple entrance had been caved in, how did you…"
"Hatake Kakashi. Legendary shinobi and master of over a thousand ninjutsu. Please to meet you." The scarecrow eye smiled and bowed theatrically.
"Showoff." His teammates muttered while all donning the same unamused expression on their faces.
Off to the side, several long black heads that had been hiding behind the stone paths decided that they were close enough to strike and bolted out of their hiding spots at the group. Shion had barely any time to react, Naruto didn't even flinch…
… Ino smiled…
…and all of the heads veered off course… no, they naturally moved in different directions, exposing their burning black bodies, which moments later were either severed completely by Kakashi's and Sasuke's chidori spears, or hammered to the other side of the cavern by Sakura's fist.
"… They actually taught you Teresa's trick?" Naruto's voice finally contained something other than annoyance and irritation: trepidation.
"Maybe." The Yamanaka sweetly replied. "Does my title of the Smiling Witch mean anything to you?"
"… I'm going back to sleep." The fox grunted, closing his eye in the process. Given from his reaction, he had gotten his answer and clearly didn't want to deal with the world now. "Don't wake me up unless the world is ending."
"Technically, if the hype behind Moryo is true, then the world is ending already." Shino pointed out factually.
"You don't believe that in the slightest." Naruto snorted before his consciousness started fading from the area.
"He's right." Sasuke shrugged. "We don't."
"I was merely bringing it up." Shino stated. "I personally didn't think it would work anyways."
"As much as I hate being the kill joy, we still have to deal with that at the moment." Sakura nodded her head to the demon spawning another hundred heads nearby.
"I am going to tear all of you APART FOR ALL ETERNITY!"
"Who are you kidding, you love being the killjoy." Ino huffed, not at all impressed by the death threat. "And technically this isn't our mission."
"We're within two meters of Naruto, and inside a volcano." Kakashi stated the obvious.
"Right. Kill the demon. Any suggestions?" The Yamanaka changed mindsets on a dime.
"Trap him here, set off the volcano, get out before getting fried, and blame the idiot for the collateral?" Sasuke suggested offhandedly while gathering some chakra.
"We'll consider that our last option before waking up Naruto again." Kakashi shrugged casually while going through a few seals. "We're trying to minimize the damages, remember?"
"That's why it's safer than the Naruto path." Sakura sighed as she flexed her hands just as a stray head bore down on them and collided with her... and was promptly stopped by an open palm so suddenly that everyone heard the beast's neck snapping and breaking under the abrupt halt.
No one bothered to pretend that it happened or watch as it limply fell back and into the lava below. Neither were they surprised that the pinkette didn't move an inch on contact.
"I'll stay behind and protect Shion-sama." Shino offered.
"Your loss." Ino yawned as she casually took out a needle that was twice as long and thick as the standard combat senbon that ANBU use. The metal was layered in several different dark colors ranging from ocean blue to black to blood red.
"Ino, that's…" Kakashi frowned, recognizing the tool instantly. While he personally had no part in its making, the needle itself had turned enough heads among the higher ups that virtually everyone in and formerly in the ANBU was aware of its existence.
"Don't worry sensei." The girl didn't bother to stop or turn around. "I wasn't going to use it on Naruto. I've just made it a habit to have a few on me at all times. Don't want to be useless again like in the Gobi incident after all. This will be a good live test for it anyways. Besides…"
Ino glanced at the still supersized Chouji ahead of her, having managed to put some distance between himself and the demon to get enough breathing room to take some weight off of his wounds while putting pressure on the gash on his side.
Her smile grew just enough to give her a more sadistic appearance. In fact if anyone paid any attention, they could see the smile being imposed on the world behind her…
"That demonic shit hurt my Chouji."
"Kakashi, what is that?" Sasuke frowned as he looked at the tool skeptically. He didn't bother to pay attention to the first half a dozen black heads that arced in the air above them and dove at Ino. Even if Moryo had perfect accuracy, he'd never be able to hit the girl like that.
As if on cue, the long serpentine bodies once again for some bizarre reason turned away from their target at the last moment, exposing their bodies to the lithe shinobi, who used the opportunity to jump and stab them with the needle once each, gaining ground rapidly and landing without breaking step just a ways past them.
One. Two. Three steps were taken on the stone pathways behind them before the results of the first stab were made visible.
With a pain filled roar, the serpents began to bellow out in agony, the points of impact made suddenly festering rapidly like a balloon to the point that the swells were just as large as the monster's heads…
… And exploded. Followed by another, and another, and another…
"It's an experimental poison that Ino made." Kakashi elaborated. "The ingredients, let alone the process for its creation, are classified and known only to her, Shadow, and Hokage-sama. Even Anko doesn't know all the details. It's so restricted that Ino is the only person that's allowed to carry them unless otherwise stated. I've heard it's extremely expensive to make, but the kicker is that it is only effective when a certain condition is met…"
Sakura's eyes narrowed as she watched her best friend casually leap between more and more serpentine heads as they all attempted to kill her only to turn away at the last possible moment. "… It's meant for anything possessing demonic chakra."
"Convenient, but if this thing can regenerate as fast as everyone claims, she probably doesn't have enough to deal with it." The Uchiha frowned as several heads began to charge up for another ranged attack, only to begin to writhe in pain and contort for no visible reason… or no visible reason to most eyes. "I thought you were going to hold back Shino. You're being greedy."
"Tenten! What are you doing on my man!?" Ino shouted in the distance as she leapt from serpentine body to body towards her recovering boyfriend.
"There's plenty for everyone." The Aburame didn't bother to defend himself as he witnessed several heads scream out in agony and whip about wildly. "And those insects are based off of samples of Shion-sama's chakra. They should prove to be useful."
"I have the high ground!" The archer shouted back defiantly while unleashing a particularly bright arrow that tore through seven heads at once and drilling a hole through the cavern wall behind the demon. "Fear the Queen of the high ground!"
"Can you make enough to kill that thing for good?" Sakura asked skeptically as at least half of the hundred heads prepared themselves to assault their position. Even though all the light in the cavern was coming from the lava below, it didn't seem to stop the ominous black shadow that was slowly towering over everyone. "… You know… in the next five seconds?"
"Fool!" Ino snapped back at the Faker, staying long enough on the latest poisoned head to use the explosion to launch her the rest of the distance to her boyfriend and ignoring the oncoming deluge of monsters. "The high ground is my property! You can't have it!"
"Not here I can't." The Aburame replied bluntly and without shame. "Too much lava around to make enough nests."
"Sasuke." Sakura sighed, already getting a headache.
Without any further prompting, the Uchiha flipped through the last of his seals while taking in a deep breath. "Fire Style! Great Fire Annihilation!"
Stemming from the lance like jet of pure fire rocketing from the Uchiha's mouth, an immense tsunami of flames was unleashed and expanded just past where Chouji was resting, spanning from nearly one side of the cavern to the other. The attack came just in time to collide with the equally massive wave of black dragon heads violently and raising the temperature of the already boiling cavern to painful levels.
For several moments it appeared as if the two sides were at a stalemate…
… and then Sasuke's chakra spiked and his crimson eyes seemed to become a reality of their own, much like Hinata's had earlier.
Within moments the color of his flames turned to a deep blood red that matched his dojutsu, increasing the weight of his attack enough to force the roaring monster back to the back of the cavern in pain before finally stopping with a tired pant. The move took a lot out of him and was not easy to control.
"Thanks Sasuke!" Ino and Tenten shouted to the Uchiha in a cheerful and casual way before once again glaring at one another with lighting in their eyes.
"Not bad. I'm sure we can come up with something with the time you've bought." Kakashi placated his students while making a mental note to open some holes to the outside soon so that they didn't suffocate given that Sasuke's move probably ate up most of the oxygen there. "Right now it would be best if we focused on protecting Shion-sa… oh?"
"Can we please put off the argument where I'm apparently a plot of land for after we kill the giant demon?" Chouji grumbled, shifting himself in a way so that Ino wouldn't collide with Tenten upon setting foot on his larger frame.
"What's wrong?" Sakura glanced back quickly, only to momentarily pause at the sight of Shion sitting in a daze with a hand on Naruto's body. Both the fox and the priestess were breathing perfectly in tandem.
"I'm not looking. Just tell me honestly, is Naruto doing something that we are going to have to hurt him for later?" Sasuke didn't bother to turn around, instead keeping an eye out for when the demon decided to attack again after getting better… wait… it wasn't.
In fact, the limbs that Ino and Tenten had killed recently weren't recovering at all, and from the looks of things, those burns the demon was sporting didn't seem to be disappearing either.
"Mmm. No." Kakashi mused as he casually lifted his headband to reveal his Sharingan and inspected the air carefully. As the Seventh Sense came into focus, the scarecrow noticed it taking the signature of the priestess behind him. "Just the opposite really. I'm afraid he just made this fight way too easy for us."
Hands blurring so fast that he was done before his teammates noticed he had started, Kakashi whipped out his left hand in a flinging motion, unleashing a dozen fairly large lightning shuriken so bright they seemed to leave a trail of light behind them and fast enough that they seemed to hit the demon before anyone could react.
Despite expectations, the massive shuriken did not cut through the monster and instead each one lodged themselves near the body at the base of several necks.
Also despite expectations, the giant shuriken each upon contact began to emit a violent light in the shape of a kanji, and once the final one was in place…
Moryo roared in pain as his entire body was enveloped in lightning, temporarily becoming the new main source of light in the lava filled cavern.
Sasuke grunted at his teacher. While he was capable of techniques on that scale as well, Kakashi's impossibly efficient and complex elemental ninjutsu fuinjutsu hybrids were something that he was unfortunately just wasn't able to learn or do right. He knew how to summon and seal things just fine, but on the spot elemental seals was something that even he couldn't understand that well.
"I wasn't the one that nearly immolated everyone here. Let me have my fun too." Said teacher smiled in good humor as his technique finally ended and the monster slumped in place. The move itself was effective, but what really made it kick was that it also focused on the nerves of whatever it shocked, temporarily paralyzing or at least slowing down whatever had been caught in the blast. Sasuke could have his multi element attacks for all he cared. They were useful and powerful, but a tad bit too consuming for his tastes. He much preferred the moves that were more efficient, even if he had grown his reserves significantly recently.
Well, that and he was still holding the secret of how he got his Mangekyo Sharingan over the kid's head. It was just so satisfying watching the kid jump through hoops to try in learn it… like watching a pyromaniac kitten jump at the catnip toy held right above him. Adorable really.
"Hey… wait a second…" Sakura looked around skeptically. "… Where's Hinata?"
"The insect I had on her is not responding to my messages, however with so much chakra about that is not surprising." Shino shifted his glasses.
"Sasuke. What have I told you about trying to kill your comrades?" Kakashi mock glared at his student, knowing full well that in many cases it hit far too close to home than what most would be comfortable with.
"Make sure there are no witnesses, and she's up there." Sasuke pointed to a section of the cavern walls right above the wounded demon that was shining brightly. "If I'm not mistaken, she's in a pretty murderous mood right now."
Sakura winced as she felt Hinata's chakra and presence spike even from that distance. Given what they had felt on the way there, there was little doubt she was tapping into the chakra crystal that she had around her neck. "Wow. What's got her so pissed?"
Shino didn't say anything as he glanced discretely at Naruto on Shion's lap. The less everyone knew for now, the easier it would be to do damage control… or that was at least his excuse.
Kakashi paled. "Oi oi. Don't tell me she's going to use THAT technique at that angle…"
"You tried to take over the world, kill me, my team, my client, my boyfriend, you separated his small adorable body from me, you woke him up, and now he's in the lap of that man stealing girl. Again." Hinata's eyes glared down at Moryo from above, filled with rage and radiating with pure power, but her face remained eerily calm.
A massive tetragram appeared beneath the girl, easily at least five times the size as the one normally used for the eight trigrams one hundred twenty eight palms technique…
… And at twelve evenly spaced points around the edge of the circle, another tetragram circle appeared, one in particular in the position between the attacker and the victim.
"I'm done with you."
Her arms were enveloped in tremendous azure flames of pure chakra just as the circle in front of her suddenly burned with same power. Holding out the limbs in front of her head with her palms open, the inferno grew steadily in intensity…
But no matter how large they grew, from Moryo's perspective, her eyes still pierced through and shone with unparalleled ferocity.
In fact, the remaining heads seemed to be entranced by the growing manifestation of chakra and power, swaying with mouths partially open and taking in the image with awe.
"… That power… that's…" The monster's voice whispered loud enough for everyone to hear. "… Yes… a human that recognized their true worth beyond even what we could achieve… hahaha… beyond what this world can recognize… hahaha… I was right… heheheheh… I WAS RIGHT!"
Despite the damage that he had taken, the paralysis effects from Kakashi's technique, and the air around him preventing him from regeneration, the demonic hydra's entire being writhed and contorted to produce even more heads, on this time they were distorted, malformed, and some simply useless. Every one of them roaring in insane and agonized glee as they rapidly gathered a tremendous amount of power in front of them into a growing ball reminiscent of a bijudama.
"HUMANS ARE MAGNIFICENT! YOUR POWER IS INTOXICATING GIRL! YOUR NATURE! YOUR ESSENCE! WITH IT AND YOUR SECRETS I CAN BECOME GREATER THAN EVEN THE NINE TAILED FOX!"
Hinata didn't even pay attention to the monster's insane rambling, and finished her attack far before he did.
For the briefest of moments, the girl turned her gaze back to the other side of the cavern where her client and her love were situated on the stone walkways and seemingly separated from the world.
Naruto opened one eye half way and met her glance without anyone else noticing… she had known he had not fallen back asleep from the start.
"Show me." His eye demanded of her, inspecting her and her power from that great distance with a cold analytical gaze.
She turned back to her target, a small satisfied smile played on her lips.
"Hidden Art…" The azure flames began to rapidly increase in size until they enveloped and were contained in the circle under the girl.
The blue plasma like inferno erupted from the circle between Hinata and Moryo instantly, taking the form of upper half an absolutely massive white eyed lion like beast that was almost as large as the demon itself, and roared with so much power and ferocity that one could actually feel their ears burn.
Moryo was caught completely unprepared by the attack, still in the throes of hysterical laughter, and unleashed his unstable technique at the oncoming lion. Had it been fully formed and its user been sane, it may have been able to hold off or maybe even overwhelm the oncoming technique, however... it didn't happen.
Instead the blue and white beast plowed through the corrupted black blast of energy and crashed into the body of the monster like a living comet, plowing it down into the lava…
And when the titanic explosion finally did go off, prompting physics to create a tower of lava that would had incinerated the girl had she not moved shortly before her attack had given way… it was noted that the rumbling didn't stop.
In fact the cavern started to shake more.
"Volcano?" Shino turned to Sakura.
"Volcano." Sakura hissed out as if it was her mortal enemy.
"Uh guys?" Chouji whimpered as he looked down at the already intensifying pools of lava around him. "Volcano?"
"What part of this don't you get?!" Tenten snapped. "Run mountain boy RUN!"
"Chouji! Open up the side of this rock heap over there!" Ino yelled from his other shoulder as the giant began to run towards the direction she was pointing to. He had long since learned not to question the Yamanaka's sensing abilities in times of peril.
"I'm nearly running on empty here!" Chouji winced, his right leg wouldn't support him for much longer, chakra or not. Mentally he cursed his bad luck. Why did he have to have a devil on each shoulder? Wasn't one of them supposed to be an angel? "I'm not sure if I have enough power to break out!"
"Like hell you don't!" Ino grunted as she shoved her hand into one of her pouches and took out several drug covered senbon… and then jabbed them all into his massive jugular vein. "Now go break that damn mountain!"
Normally, the particular drugs Ino used had enough adrenaline in just one to give a jonin a heart attack with a full stab in any general bodypart, and give a minor boost to one with just a reasonable prick…
Chouji just took seven of the things half their length to a major artery… at once.
"HOWAAAAAAAAAHHHH SHIT NOT AGAIIIIIIIN!" The Akimichi's pupils dilated almost instantly as all the pain and tiredness in his body was washed away by the chemical cocktail that his girlfriend had just pumped into him.
Instantly the girls had to double their efforts to hang on else they would be thrown off of the rampaging monstrosity that Ino had turned Chouji into. With every thunderous stomp he took running, he had made a hand seal with his colossal hands, finishing just as he reached the stone wall.
"EARTH STYLE! MOUNTAIN FALL!"
The Akimichi's fist hammered into the increasingly unstable stone wall, and the entire thing seemed to implode on itself as whatever made up blocking structure was blasted away into the world outside of the erupting volcano.
"Move people!" Tenten shouted behind her, not at all bothering to watch and see everyone running behind her or notice that Shino was carrying the out cold Shion on his back with Naruto once more somehow in her shirt. Even if they reached the cave, the archer calculated that it would take some running to get through the path to the outside AND out of blast range. Once the volcano went off, the lava would be shooting out of the cavern as fast as it would be going up so they'd have to exit the tunnels at a sharp angle if they wanted to live.
"You heard the girl." Kakashi smiled as he helped Hinata follow everyone out. The girl had used up most of her power with that last attack, and even if she didn't she was far more tired than she would admit.
Thankfully the tunnel that Chouji made wasn't that long and wouldn't take that long to get out.
Not thankfully, the shaking of the volcano was growing steadily more violent by the minute.
"Did you really have to blast him from that angle?" The scarecrow asked Hinata.
"It was the only spot safe from Sasuke's attack while staying hidden. Sorry." The Princess didn't really appear all that apologetic for her actions.
"You know…" They were near the end of the tunnel. The mountain didn't blow yet, thankfully, but they wouldn't stop moving for quite some time. "You didn't have to show off to prove that you had gotten stronger. He's not that kind of person"
Hinata's eyes widened momentarily before regaining their normal tired state. "Hah. I should have known you would have noticed sensei."
"You aren't the only one that's close to him." Kakashi looked ahead to his other students, all grown and battle weary. "I can name a few other people that wanted him to see how much you've all grown."
"And?" She asked. "What do you think his impression is?"
The elder snorted. "Probably that we're too loud and that he longs for the sweet embrace of unconsciousness again."
Hinata couldn't help but giggle. "Yeah. That was my guess too."
"Great minds think alike." The two laughed cheerfully as the rumbling got louder. "So… Naruto and volcanoes?"
"I thought so."
o. o. o.
… This chapter was written in no less than five airplanes and six states. I'm bloody tired and a lot has happened in one day that I don't want to talk about. I'll write more on this later.
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