Published: July 15, 2016

Notes: You know that feeling you get when you disappear from FF for half a year? No? Well. I've missed you guys! It's nice to see you again! Right after I update A Strange Vacation, I'm posting the introduction/teaser for a project that I've been working on for the past few months. It's called The Medic, so if you have the chance please check it out. ^_^

Chapter Six

A Disaster Through Yonder Window Breaks

"Careful, Naruto," the Nine Tails rumbled in warning. "The sorcerer plants thoughts into the minds of others."

The worst sort of opponent, as far as Naruto was concerned. The type of opponent who turned comrades against each other. "I'm fine because of you, right?"

"Yes. His power is old and well-constructed, but rusty. It's not very strong," the Fox replied, almost sounding bored. "It only raises the flames of already existing emotions; it cannot create them anew."

"Suspicion," Naruto murmured. "He's increasing the suspicion of everyone on board. He wants them to turn on each other."

"And it's working. The humans are falling for it hook, line, and sinker."

"Guys, Loki's trying to manipulate negative emotions," Naruto warned. "Don't do anything rash."

Shikamaru sighed. "Man, what a drag."

Another explosion shuddered through the Helicarrier. Fury grasped his master console and spat out, "Someone get me a line to one of the Avengers!"

Nicholas Fury had gotten the situation under control, even with aliens and monsters thrown into the mix. Loki had been in custody. Uzumaki had been about to be held and interrogated. The Avengers hadn't been one, cohesive unit, but they had come to some sort of grudging understanding.

And then this.

Loki was escaping. Uzumaki was out and about with two buddies — with two more apparently in the shadows somewhere. Two unauthorized strangers had infiltrated SHIELD's newest prototype with apparent ease. Who knew what they'd been up to?

Fury was grudgingly impressed, and even more grudgingly frightened. This group had managed to infiltrate and spy on the world's premier spy organization. And Fury hadn't even suspected it. What else was he missing?

"We can't, Director," Maria Hill said, turning her bleeding forehead in his direction. "Ship comms are offline."

And then with a twang, an arrow streaked past them and into a console, USB on the end sticking into a port. The moment after, the entire bridge dimmed and then one of the rotors froze.

"Hawkeye!" Fury roared, watching as his marksman ran back into the ventilation system like a rabbit back into its den. The vent cover was still on the floor where Naruto's man had kicked it off, else he probably wouldn't have seen the sharpshooter at all.

Everything had gone to heck in a hand basket.

~ oOo ~

Even as Naruto sped through walls, he felt another shudder through the ship. Then, everything tilted a bit as another of the large propellers stopped functioning. There were only four such propellers, and Naruto didn't want to see what would happen if the others failed too.

"Loki," Naruto breathed. There the sorcerer was, safe in his cell. But, wait. Even Naruto knew enough to distinguish between a person and their clone, especially since he'd seen it before. It wasn't even solid — the room's air passed right through it, instead of bouncing off.

He ignored the illusion standing demurely in the cell and reached out his senses. "Where are you, Loki?" Naruto demanded, blue eyes like flint. Ino stood at his right arm, and Shikamaru at his left.

"Why is it that you people always say the same dull, unimaginative things?" Loki the clone answered, disappointed. He seemed far too amused to be appropriate. "You won't get away with it," he mocked. "Where are you?"

Naruto listened with one ear, focusing on the shadows. There was something there, he knew, but Loki had wizened up. They were on far too equal terms for the sorcerer's likening, so he had taken to less confrontational action. Trickery seemed his strategy now. A strange energy filled the room, hiding the real Loki from all senses.

Loki the clone clucked his tongue. "No sense of creativity in heroes, no matter the realm."

"You haven't seen the monument in my home," Naruto jabbed back. "My improvements — It was a work of art, you know."

Ino placed an elbow into his side, hissing, "Are you really telling him about the time you vandalized your dad's statue?"

Naruto shrugged. "It took weeks to plan that," he said unapologetically.

Loki the clone gave a belly-laugh. "Perhaps I overestimated you," he goaded. "At any rate, I believe this world calls such a thing a stalemate. You can't find me, and I can't take action without giving away my location."

"Somehow I doubt that," Naruto said, massaging the ache out of his side. "You're the sort to have a trick up your sleeve, and we hide things in our sleeves for a living."

Then, whistling eerily, an arrow streaked straight for Naruto's back. It began to glow with the same energy cloaking Loki, giving it a burst of speed that no natural arrow possessed. Naruto couldn't sense with sight or hearing, but he sensed the spike in murderous intent as the arrow was loosed.

Naruto tilted his body to the side, reaching out a hand to pluck the arrow from the air by its shaft. He studied the crackling energy on the arrowhead, feeling its similarly to the Nine Tails' own elemental powers. Hate, suffering, inevitability.

The man behind the arrow, standing above them in a wide ventilation shaft, edged back into the protection that the labyrinth offered.

"Ino," Naruto commanded.

The blond young woman leapt toward the source of the murderous intent, shrouding herself in the shadows as the hunted became huntress. Then, she too was gone from sight.

"So you've found my Hawkeye," Loki the clone said, unimpressed. "What of me?"

Another whistle, though this one was unaccompanied by arrow. A projectile of pure destructive energy sped through the air, and there was no catching it mid flight.

Naruto leapt to the side a few feet, Shikamaru close on his heels. Here he could feel the confinement of the metal walls on all sides. As a holding cell it had been extremely roomy, but as a battleground it was perhaps the smallest he'd ever endured. And, if their surroundings took too much damage, they'd all be plummeting to their doom.

The energy slid past him to sizzle on the metal floor, even as Naruto darted forward to where the beam had been thrown from. There was nothing there. Naruto frowned, reminding himself of the fight from earlier in the day. Loki was fast. Not ninja fast, but fast enough when combined with his illusion techniques.

"Okay, okay, okay," Naruto coached himself. "Evil scheme. What is it? So you've been messing with our minds, turning us against each other," he muttered, eyes scanning back and forth. If Loki was as good as he thought, there wouldn't be any warning before his techniques. He would have to keep an eye out for the telltale blue glow. A strike would have to land the instant after Loki attacked.

"And he had an assault squad on standby to pick him up," Shikamaru added, eyes narrow. "So unless he's in the habit of hedging all his bets, I'd have to say that he planned to get caught."

"Clever," Loki the clone answered. "A mortal who can perform a few tricks. Charming."

"No, no, no, give us a moment," Naruto insisted, lifting a finger. "This is getting good. You want to be here. You were weakening them, turning them on themselves, and now you're destroying their headquarters. Wow. I see the beginnings of a plan here."

"You're making certain that no one can move in any organized way against you," Shikamaru summarized, recognizing what Naruto was starting to do, hand slipping slowly out of Loki's vision to the knife hidden at the small of his back.

Loki the clone's indulgent smile grew brittle.

"What are you planning? Something big. And you want to be certain that the group most able to handle it has its hands tied behind its back," Naruto hummed. "So what big thing are you planning?"

"Insolent child," Loki the clone spat. "Don't meddle in things you don't understand!"

"You might be surprised — about me being a child, at least. Some parts of me are older than you are," Naruto said, but the sudden change in subject seemed clumsy even to himself. If Naruto could only distract him a bit longer . . .

"Tell me of it," Loki the clone demanded. There in the shadows, he could feel the real Loki's piercing gaze focus on him. It was somewhere to the right, past the glass tank.

Bingo. "I'm not your normal human," Naruto said. "None of us are, but especially not me. It's just as I said — part of me is older than you and your brother put together."

Loki's clone mouthpiece hissed the necessary "He is not my brother!" even as the real Loki stewed in curiosity.

Shikamaru shot him a certain look, a combination of don't tell him too much and keep him talking.

"It tears some of us apart from the inside. Humans aren't really supposed to be connected to such things. But it's a poison that makes us stronger," Naruto tried to build up the mystery as much as he could.

Hints, hints, but not the full truth. If Loki learned too much, he could do some nasty stuff with his techniques. But Shikamaru was already circling around, carefully searching. Just a bit more.

Naruto hated these games.

"He is the one who told me about your ability to turn people against each other," Naruto continued. "But he said that it wasn't all that good, that you could only fan emotions that are already there. It makes you wonder, doesn't it? What has he seen and done that you don't seem strong to him?"

But of these games, Naruto excelled at inspiring annoyance. Just a bit more . . .

"In fact, you don't seem that strong at all, to be honest. I fought wars beside him that flattened actual, literal mountains. You're just a man with a sad plan."

There it was!

A spark of blue, another energy-lance of destruction. It snaked out quick as you please, but Naruto knew where it had originated, and Shikamaru had seen it too. Before Loki could move, Shikamaru was already there, knife outstretched.

For a moment there was only silence, and then there was a roar of pain as Shikamaru withdrew a red-stained knife from thin air.

"Listen, we can get you treatment," Naruto offered at the sound of shaky breath that followed the roar, not sure exactly what sort of wounds Asguardians could handle. "Surrender and I'll send for my medic."

The illusion shattered in a wisp of that same, burning blue tint. Loki the clone disappeared and the real Loki was in sight. The way it happened, it almost looked as if a healthy Loki had teleported out of the cell and across the room, suffering a wound to his side somewhere along the way.

"Hah," Loki huffed. He lifted a drooping head, glaring at Naruto between his black bangs. "A being such as I will never truthfully surrender to one such as you," he hissed. And then he slammed the button to the side, leading a smudged red handprint as the cell dropped down to the earth below.

"Goodbye, young king," Loki mocked as he leapt to his apparent doom.

Naruto raised a hand to his forehead and winced at the headache he could feel there. The Nine-Tails thankfully sent some chakra his way to soothe the ache.

"He's probably not dead," Shikamaru observed, cleaning his knife on a black cloth before tucking it away again.

"No, probably not," Naruto agreed with a sigh. "We'd better see how Ino and the others are doing."

And Naruto felt like he'd only pushed Loki further into madness.

To everyone who reviewed: Thank you! Even if I didn't reply to you in person, it's great that so many of you stopped by to say hello before journeying onwards into vastness that is the internet! So many people reviewed that I was worried that my replies would be longer than the actual chapter. XD You guys take care!

Jewelie-chan: Here it is, at long last! I didn't want to mess around with Loki's character too much, so there wasn't as much of a heart-to-heart here, but we'll hopefully get one eventually.

Callian31: Yeah, my mom watched Agents of SHIELD, but I don't watch that show very much. Also, hopefully next chapter we'll see some more interaction between the ninjas and the Avengers as they nurse their wounds.

Beloved Daughter: (first, wanted to say you have a beautiful username) We have Fury this chapter! Woo!

swiftrabbit: I actually stopped reading the manga/watching the anime after a certain point. So pretty much at the moment that Naruto attained Kyuubi Mode, everything beyond that is alternate in this story. But. Wow. Naruto can fly. Did not know that. 0.0 I am enlightened.

HannokiKaen: I'm glad my last chapter made your day. I hope this one puts a smile on your face too!

Zelga Lim Lee: I'm sorry to say this this chappie is short too. But otherwise, thanks for leaving a review!

VortexisDragon: Shikamaru is a great character to write, just because he really doesn't stand on pretense (like Loki does) or have deep deep Feelings to share with readers (like Naruto does) so he just kind of writes himself in a charming way. ^_^

Nefarious Matchbox: Thanks! That's really been one of my greatest worries, that I was taking Naruto's character and changing it in a way that was unbelievable. Thank you for putting my mind at rest.

KHARAKI TAKAN: Thanks, I'm glad you enjoyed it!

ShadowPhoenix22: Aw, thank you so much! I tried to merge these two universes in a way that was (somewhat) realistic, but I saw (especially in the first chapter) that it was harder than I thought. It's so nice to hear that you think I did well with it. Hopefully Naruto can continue to bring on the sass. ^_^

Jarjaxie: Very good points, all! I think Naruto is going to have to come to some sort of agreement with SHIELD or make it impossible for them to keep track of him. And, despite SHIELD's power, I'd like to think that if he wanted to, he could just vanish in the chaos that Loki keeps tossing around like confetti. But, then again, I might be overestimating Naruto . . .

Saricaykes: Thank you so much! Those spelling errors are pesky, but I'm glad I didn't make worse mistakes! I hope you enjoy this update!

Minori: Back from the dead!

Blaze1992: To be honest, as a writer it's just a personal failing of mine to take forever to update. I don't like forcing my chapters, so I'll only end up writing for most of my work when inspiration strikes me on my lazy bum.

IF YOU STOP: That review. It made me laugh, so thank you! Also, I did take a while but I didn't stop entirely, so please don't brainwash me! XD

Thrillz: You provide a solid argument, but to be honest I just don't really write serious romance. I'm not good at it and I don't usually like doing it. Sad, yes, I know. But just a quirk of mine.

ImATopMagicianFromWonderland: (what a cool username) I hope this one is better yet!

Fenerath: I sort of meant for each scene to pile on more confusion for Loki, but I can see that leaving out some internal thoughts caused a bit of an inconsistency. Thanks for letting me know — if I get to rewriting this, I'll have to fix that.

deathnoteno1fan-codegeasslover: Thanks! I had fun writing about both of those things, so I'm glad you enjoyed!

Carri007: Thanks, I do try!

MsMusicLover: I honestly haven't read Naruto in a while, so I guess I was still thinking too far back in canon? Chalk it up to authoress' shortsightedness.

riley: Only more secrets get revealed as time passes, but Naruto's going to have to pay for some of them soon.

Staubsauger: I'm glad you liked that chapter! Sorry it took so long for this one!

Mad Library Scientist: (cool name, so cool!) Here it is!

Brazilwolf: Thanks for your kind review!

just yuki: I branched out into an alternate canon pretty early on, one where Sakura and Sasuke are both gone before this fic even happens. That's just how I wanted to do it. Additionally, the way I see it, doing it this way means that, no matter how many other Avengers crossovers there are, mine won't be too similar to another's work so readers should be able to find something a little bit new to tickle their fancy. ^_^

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