General RTS: On a completely unrelated note to the rest of this AN, I've been rereading the Great Teacher Onizuka manga the last few days of my Spring Break and I have to say, Onizuka is the OG badass of all badasses. In fact every shonen manga should come with their very own Onizuka. He would walk in and beat some sense, overpowered superpowers be damned, to every major villain in Naruto, 90% of which are just whiny little bitches. Obito: Saw one person die and decides to destroy the world. (Seriously aren't ninja supposed to be military people or something?) Madara: Jello of Hashirama bro? Orochimaru: Throws a hissy fit over the fact he didn't get the job promotion he always wanted. Sasuke might be the only one in the entire damn series that was a decent reason for being evil and even then it's still not that good of an excuse.

*Spoiler Alert*

In this chapter we learn that Naruto has a Berserk Button. Guess what it is. It's not that big of a surprise. In hindsight after I finished writing the entire chapter, I actually realized how funny/ironic it was that Naruto's reaction to someone pressing his Berserk Button would be use Berserker's weapon. That was actually completely unintentional. We also learn that he has a very special ability. The power to piss of your opponent in the middle of battle. He learned very early on that he could anger his opponents in to making mistakes and cloud their judgment. I also kinda enjoyed the irony here of having Itachi protect Naruto from Kisame seeing as how in canon it was the other way around. In my opinion, Naruto comes off here as a bit overpowered, but he's not invincible (As this fight hopefully proves). He does have his own weaknesses and he won't just breeze through all his battles like some fics. At the same time though, I'm trying to balance out the fact that Naruto has to fight very strong opponents early on in the story. Anyways at the very bottom of this chapter you'll see a segment called Deleted Scenes. Those are just humorous scenes and ideas I wrote and toyed with. Some of these ideas would have nearly made it into the actual story while others are just ideas I wrote up for fun. I have to say, I loved writing Zabuza in the last thousand words or so of this chapter. Enjoy.

General RTS does not encourage underage drinking or alcohol abuse. He encourages all readers to drink wisely and safely. Please enjoy the following chapter with that in mind.


Hell and Heaven: Third Blade

The memory ended and the genjutsu around them dropped as they returned to the real world once more. Kushina could feel tears watering her eyes as she reflected on what she just saw. No matter how much she tried to deny it, it was impossible to have hated Mana after what she had just seen. Not after everything she had done for Naruto. To have not even hesitated for a second to give her life in order to save his. To have faced death without an ounce of fear or regret, instead using her very last breath to try to comfort the small child she had saved from loneliness and despair... Mana Aozaki was such a... such a...

A mother. It was the kind of love and dedication that could only have been expected of a woman of maternal instincts toward a child she cherished. Her actions, selfless and noble as they were, only served to further contrast Kushina's own treatment towards Naruto. She couldn't blame Naruto for refusing to accept her as a mother anymore. If the choice was between a kind and loving adoptive mother and a neglectful birth mother than it was painfully obvious which one of those two choices he would have chosen.

Minato on the other hand was seething in self-loathing. For all his famed genius in the art of fuinjutsu how the hell could he have forgotten the most basic principles of Yin and Yang?! And now, it was his wife and kids that suffered the consequences of his idiotic and careless mistake. He had never once checked the seal for degradation, completely convinced in the false infallibility of his own sealing abilities. What arrogance. And now that mistake had cost his daughter her career as a Kunoichi, his wife her son and Naruto the person he had considered to be his mother. There weren't enough words to describe how badly he had screwed up.

"Naruto," he said as he turned to his son, somehow trying to express just how sorry he was.

"I'm not sure what I am anymore." Naruto told him, cutting him off. "But I do know this... I'm not your son. I was raised far too well to be your son. My name… is Aozaki Naruto. I have fought, bled and killed to carry this legacy and I'll be damned to deepest pits of hell before I let you trample all over it."

He spoke with such a calm firmness, it was impossible to doubt his words. For a moment, silence permeated across the field as both Minato and Kushina lowered their heads in shame, save for the occasional sob or sniffle that came from the latter. The former looked like he wanted to say something until…

"Naruto-sama!" Naruto sighed. Seriously this was the third time in the past five hours someone had interrupted one of his conversations by shouting out his name. Naruto turned around and saw a recognized a Kiri-rebel, Chojuro if he remembered the boy's name correctly, running towards him with a panicked look on his face. As he drew closer, fully coming to a stop in front of him, Naruto noticed a layer of perspiration on his face, his breathing labored from exertion. "There's big trouble! Mei-sama that you come right away!"

Naruto raised a brow. "Chojuro, we're the same age you don't have to add the -sama suffix to my name like that. And besides I just talked to Mei a few hours ago. I was under the impression I'd have some time to rest before I was assigned another mission."

Chojuro shook his head frantically. "It's not that! A scout just came in and Yagura's announced that he's executing the remaining bloodline clans at dawn tomorrow!"

Naruto's eyes widened with shock as he grabbed Chojuro by the shoulders. "Are you sure that's what he said?"

Chojuro nodded. "Please you have to come right away."

Naruto nodded and followed Chojuro as they sprinted towards the center of the camp.

o0o

The center of the rebel camp was in absolute chaos. Like Naruto, nearly all of the shinobi in the camp had been informed of the news and were now gathered in the meeting grounds, shouting out their own opinion and adding to the general mayhem. Several of the different rebel factions were yelling and arguing about what to do but no clear voice could be heard in the ruckus.

"This is crazy." Kushina commented.

"If you think this is bad then you haven't seen Konoha's council on a bad day." Minato muttered while Hiruzen grunted in agreement. For once Minato was glad to have finally left the office and left the paperwork to a Kage Bunshin.

"Silence!" Mei's shout gradually quieted the present shinobi though many of them still murmured softly to one another. "Our scouts reported that the prisoners of the camps are indeed being transported to the Valley of Saizo where Yagura had stationed his main army. Therefore we can only conclude that he intends to carry out his threat."

"It's obviously a trap." Naruto surmised. "If he wanted to just kill them he could've done it quietly without any of us knowing. That fact that he would announce it like that means that he's expecting us to try and save them."

"I know that valley and it's definitely a trap." Ao told them scowling, adding in his thoughts. "The grottos along those shores are the perfect the place to hide an ambush. We walk in and suddenly we're surrounded, nowhere to run."

"The best option," Mei mused, "Would be to wait and hold out against Yagura long enough for our allies in Konoha to arrive and assist us in battle.

Naruto's head whipped up. "What was that?"

"After you left," Ao explained gesturing to the Konoha team. "Mei-sama and the Yondaime hokage-sama agreed to have Konoha support the rebel cause in exchange for an alliance after the civil war. So now time is on our side since it's only a matter of time before we receive reinforcements."

As he spoke, many of the rebels nodded, murmuring in agreement as they saw the logic in that plan. Naruto mulled over it sadly. The decision made complete sense after all. Not everyone could be saved and the red knight said it best. Kill one to save ten. Kill ten to save a hundred. Kill a hundred to save a thousand. And kill a thousand to save millions. He was no longer a child. He knew that there were times where he wouldn't be able to save everyone not matter how hard he tried. There were times when the few had to be sacrificed in order to save the many. But then again, there was flip side of the argument. How could he hope to save ten if he didn't have the courage to save one? There must have been thousands of people down there in that valley, innocent men ,women and children about to be executed for something they never had any power over. So what if there's little to no chance of actually being able to save them? Didn't the red knight constantly throw himself into the most dangerous of situations to save the people he did? What was the point of winning if all they were going to do was to replace Yagura's cruel and tyrannical regime with an equally heartless and callous one? Even if the odds were low, they weren't zero. And that, Mana would say, is the most important statistic of all.

Naruto smiled. 'Well, it looks like I still have a bit of stupid left in me.' He thought ruefully.

"That would be the smart thing to do." Naruto agreed. "But who ever said, I was smart. I'm going to go save them." Nearly every face there turned to him in shock but in the back of his mind, he could feel Mana's spirit grinning at him

"Weren't you the first one to say that it was a trap?" Mei asked incredulously.

"Yep."

"And you're still going to go?"

"Yep."

"Do you even have a plan?"

"N-…" Naruto paused in mid answer as he stopped to think. "Wait… that depends… does 'making it up as you go along' count as a plan?"

"Isn't that you've been doing this entire time?" Zabuza asked him dryly.

"…... Yep."

"We'd be outnumbered, out supplied and out maneuvered." Mei protested, hoping to talk Naruto out of this mad scheme. "You can't seriously expect any of us to actually go."

"I expect no one to go." Naruto told her with fierce intensity. "Going to save those people is my personal decision, no one else's. If you don't want to go then you have the right to make that choice… and so do I." Naruto paused as he returned the stares of disbelief. "I'm not stupid enough to have any delusions about what I'm getting myself into. I expect neither a glorious or painless death if I fail. Yagura will make sure I suffer down to my last moments and it will hurt… just like how all sacrifices are meant to hurt. But no matter what happens… I will never abandon my principles… even if they abandon me."

(Gundam SEED Soundtrack III Track 27 - Mirai he no Chikai *Start*)

It wasn't his words that gave the Kiri rebels pause. No. if someone else had tried to say the exact same thing they would have dismissed the man as a fool. However, it was the absolute conviction of Naruto's tone that got their attention. There was something about it that resonated within each of their souls as they stared at the young warrior, completely prepared to face an agonizing death for the sake of something as intangible as a set of principles.

Zabuza shook his head and sighed. "A thirteen year old Konoha brat and an army of Kiri-nins and it's the brat that has the most balls out of all of us. I'd never live it down if I didn't go."

"If Zabuza-sama is going, then so am I." Haku stated firmly

"Same here." Suigetsu shrugged, smiling in a resigned manner. "Naruto won't be going alone."

Mei whirled around and looked at the three in disbelief. "You can't be serious!"

"My clan and I are going," Suigetsu told her firmly "We owe Naruto our lives after all… And besides… I can't help but think that if the clans of Kirigakure during the Purge had come together and stood up against Yagura… then none of this would have happened. I don't want to repeat the same mistakes of my parents."

Many of the older members cringed as they remembered the absolute callousness of how they had dismissed the slaughter of their rival clans during the early stages of the Purge. None of them stopped to consider questioning the actual guilt of these so called 'traitor' clans, too preoccupied with thinking about how to use those events to further their own standing and power. It wasn't until it was painfully obvious that Yagura was specifically targeting bloodline clans did they realize how grave of mistake that had been.

Mei sighed in resignation. "I've seen your group do some extremely reckless things and this takes the cake by far. But… "She paused as a small smile crept upon her lips, "you can count me in."

"Me too!" Chojuro nodded. "I'll protect Mei-sama's smile if it costs me my life!"

Ao smacked his palm into his face and sighed. "I'm not going to be able to talk you guys out of this am I?" he asked rhetorically looking around at their determined expressions. "Fine, I may as well go too. Someone has to keep you kids from doing anything too crazy."

One by one the present shinobis gave their assent and agreement, smiling despite knowing full well the near suicidal situation. Suddenly the possibility of their extremely likely deaths no longer seemed to matter. Or maybe it did matter, only in such a way that they were determined to make those deaths meaningful and sell their lives dearly.

'Incredible,' the Sandaime thought with a small smile on his face. 'He inspired an entire nation to follow the Will of Fire without even realizing it.'

Naruto gave them a lopsided grin. "Let's go then.

(Gundam SEED Soundtrack III Track 27 - Mirai he no Chikai *End*)

o0o

The rebels crept through the woods in complete darkness as they approached the Valley of Saizo. Mei raised her hand, a signal that traveled down the rest of their dispersed ranks for them to stop and take a small break. Followed by Ao and Chojuro, she walked over to the vanguard of the loose formation where the Burebesu had placed themselves. She spotted Naruto and Zabuza with the former apparently having an argument with the Konoha team that had tagged along and made a beeline straight for them. Naruto noticed her walking towards her and broke off his argument with his former family so he could turn to meet her. "Mei." He nodded curtly.

"I've been thinking about this whole situation on our way here." She began. "Yagura wouldn't have laid a trap for us in such an obvious manner."

Naruto nodded. It was the same conclusion he had come to as well during the way there. "I know, he probably set the trap without actually expecting us to fall for it. It's likely this whole set up was a way to demoralize us, show us how helpless we really are. Furthermore, he made announcement in a timeframe where we would have to make the decision immediately. There's barely enough time to make it from our camp to Saizo Valley, so we wouldn't have the time to think of a proper plan of attack." Naruto smirked dryly. "Looks like he's underestimating both our recklessness and our ingenuity. Bastard."

"Even so, Yagura would still take the proper precautions just in case." Mei pointed out. "Mad he may be, he's not stupid. We'll be attacking an extremely fortified position."

"He'll make take the physical preparations." Naruto agreed. "But he's also very confident. He won't make the mental preparations. We can use that to our advantage." Naruto closed his eyes as he thought back to the maps he had seen back at the camp. In his mind he visualized a mental copy of the battlefield, taking care to note every detail and feature of the terrain. Immediately he began running scenarios within his head, trying to figure out Yagura's likeliest possible actions based on what he knew of the man. "Ao was right." Naruto said, opening his eyes. "Those grottos are the likeliest place for Yagura to hide an ambush. There deep enough to that even the best of sensors would have a hard time finding them and there's no other place he could hide a large contingent of soldiers. We can lure them out."

"Ehhhh… How would you do that, Naruto-san?" Chojuro asked curiously.

"Two ways." Naruto answered. "First we lure Yagura away from his own army and then we attack with our full force. It's the only way to threaten the main force enough for them to come out."

"That's not really luring more than it's 'walking completely into an ambush like a bunch of idiots." Ao pointed out disapprovingly. "Really if you're not going to take this seriously we may as well call this off."

In Mei's mind however, she heard something completely different. 'Call this off… Call this off… Call off this… engagement!'

"Ao," Mei called sweetly with a beatific smile on her face. "Kindly shut the fuck up… before I kill you."

Ao immediately clamped his mouth shut, breaking out in cold sweat. Naruto smiled, shaking his head at their antics.

"They outnumber us by a large number so we can't afford to hold forced back." He explained. "And since Yagura already has a pretty good idea of how many men we have, he'd know if we were holding any sizeable force in reserve. But," He added turning to the Konoha. "We do have a force he doesn't know about."

Mei smiled, immediately catching on. "I see. He won't expect a team of Konoha shinobi to be on our side. And six extremely high level ninjas could easily change the tide of battle."

"The grottos may have had their advantages but they also have their disadvantages." Naruto told them. "A small but powerful force could bottleneck them at the entrance and take them apart one by one."

Jiraiya leaned over to Sarutobi and whispered. "Hey sensei, did you ever teach him strategy?"

"No," Hiruzen answered shaking his head. "he must have learned by reading old history books from the library."

Jiraiya whistled in admiration. "Damn, the kid's a genius, no doubt about it."

Mei looked over at Minato who like the rest of the Naruto retrieval team had been listening intently. "That's the plan so far. Is that fine with you?" She asked diplomatically.

Minato nodded, impressed by Naruto's strategic analysis of the situation. "It is, but who's going to lure Yagura away."

"I'll do it." Naruto answered calmly.

"What!" Kushina exclaimed in surprise. She wasn't the only one. Everyone around Naruto was looking at him with varying degrees of surprise. "It's too dangerous!"

"Frankly, I'm the only one that can fulfill that role." Naruto said dryly. "None of you can go," He said gesturing the Konoha nins. "because then he'll know we have outside assistance and will be more cautious. If someone like Mei or Zabuza fights him, he may feel threatened and stay closer with his army. If I go, he'll underestimate me since I'm only thirteen and will feel safer going after me. I'm the strongest of my age group in this army and with Hiryu I'm also the fastest so I can escape much more easily from Yagura."

Minato grimaced. "You've thought this through." He admitted.

Zabuza snorted. "It's ballsy plan… I like it."

o0o

The sunlight edged over the horizon as dawn approached. Yagura stepped out of his tent, into the cold early morning breeze. On both sides, the shinobi that had been on guard outside of his tent snapped to attention.

'Well.' He thought, 'I guess they didn't show up after all.' Not that he expected them to, after all. Nearly a kilometer away however, Naruto watched the Mizukage exit his tent with reinforced eyes.

"Trace on." He whispered. Naruto raised his left arm horizontally and traced a monstrously large black bow into his hand. In his right, he traced a twisted silver piece of metal that resembled a large drill. The sword shone in brightly as Naruto altered it, reshaping the structure of the sword so that it would be more aerodynamic, now resembling more some kind of distorted arrow. He knocked the projectile into his bow and pulled it back, using the Red Knight's lifetime of experience to ensure that the arrow would hit its mark. "My bone shall twist all in its way… Caladbolg!"

With those words, he released the string watching the arrow fly only for a split second before it reached its destination. The shockwave of the explosive force borne from the impact released powerful gust of winds that knocked even their own members of the Burebesu, off their feet. Down below, the entire landscape had been rearranged, a small crater now surrounded where Yagura had once stood. Tents and structures had been blown away or completely razed while any and all of Yagura's subordinates that had been standing within 50 meters of him during the initial strike were now nothing more than ribbons of bloody flesh, scattered across the field. The Konoha ninjas that had witnessed the event were shocked beyond belief. Even the usually inexpressive Itachi couldn't hide the sense of shock from his face.

"Unbelievable!" Kakashi breathed, trying to wrap his mind around the absolute devastation he had just seen.

"Holy shit!" Jiraiya swore, his jaw slacking at the sight. "How the hell is he still alive?!"

Just as the Toad Sannin said, Yagura stood in the middle of the blast crater, a single tail of the Sanbi draped over Yagura protecting him from the attack. However the Mizukage didn't exactly escape unharmed. Large burn marks coated the tail he had used to protect himself, as the man grimaced in pain whilst glaring up at Naruto who was a little less than a kilometer away. However the important thing was that the Mizukage was unsupported by his followers at the moment.

(Bleach Sountrack – Guitar III *Start*)

Naruto jumped, tracing a copy of Hiryu under his feet and launched himself towards the tyrannical Mizukage, their gazes not once leaving the other. As Hiryu ripped across the clearing making its way closer to Yagura, Naruto waited until he was only fifty meters away from his opponent before slapping an explosive seal on to the sword and back flipping off of it. Hiryu continued to fly towards Yagura, the momentum it had built up continuing to propel itself at Jinchuriki of the Sanbi at unimaginable speeds.

Yagura leaned back to the right, narrowly avoiding the flying missile as it passed him and exploded killing several more of his subordinates, not that he really cared anyways. Naruto traced Kanshou and Bakuya as he landed, facing his opponent. Yagura recognized his red cloak almost immediately.

"So, you are the Shinkushi." Yagura commented casually as though he was talking about the weather. At the same time though he pulled his staff off his back and hefted it on to his shoulder. "I expected you to be… older. Nevertheless you will receive no mercy from me, you and the rest of your bloodline scum."

Naruto scoffed. "Are you trying to intimidate me? Because it's not working… in any way… whatsoever"

"Why not?"

Naruto smirked. "Well first of all, you're like what? Twelve?"

"I'M IN MY MID THIRTIES BRAT!" Yagura roared as Naruto hit a lifelong sore point. "And even if I was a kid it's not like you have room to talk!" he pointed out while glaring accusingly at him. Naruto shrugged conceding the point. He was only thirteen after all.

"So instead of being a munchkin you're a midget. Wow, that's so much more frightening." Naruto drawled, his voice dripping with sarcasm.

"I'M GOING TO FUCKING KILL YOU!" Yagura screamed as he leapt forward, bringing his iron staff to bear down on Naruto. The crimson clad blonde blocked the attack by crisscrossing Kanshou and Bakuya but even then the force of the attack cracked the ground underneath him.

Naruto smiled as he practically saw red in Yagura's eyes. The rouse had worked perfectly. Now it was a matter of luring the enraged Jinchuriki away from battle… like leading a bull… an extremely angry and powerful bull that could destroy entire armies perhaps but the point still remained valid.

Naruto reinforced his legs to jump back as Yagura attacked again, this time in a horizontal swipe that would have crushed his ribs against his spine if he didn't dodge. 'So, he wants to start off with a Bukijutsu (weapons) battle does he?'

The battle continued as the two exchanged blow after blow while Naruto slowly allowed himself to be pushed back, keeping in mind that his role was to lure Yagura away from the main battle. Naruto parried another bo strike with Kanshou before spinning his body to counter with Bakuya. Yagura backed away from the vertical swipe, almost effortlessly. Using the momentary space his enemy had created, Naruto also backed off though he did so much further as he jumped back several meters. 'He has a much longer range with that staff of his.' He thought.

"You're not getting away!" Yagura snarled as he drew out two collapsible fuma shurikens from behind his back, charging them with chakra and threw them both at Naruto. Naruto, who was still in mid-flip at this point, was upside down as he watched the projectiles race towards him. Grimacing, he threw both of his twin falchions in response, adjusting his aim to account for their magnetic properties, to counter the large shurikens. The spinning swords crashed Yagura's weapons, nearly cutting through them as they did so.

Seeing that his opponent was now unarmed, Yagura was already going through a set of hand seals, his hands nothing more than a blur. "Suiton: Suiryudan no Jutsu! (Water Release: Water Dragon Bullet Technique)" The moisture around him coalesced and formed a large dragon made of water launching itself at Naruto.

Landing on his feet, Naruto saw the water dragon rushing towards him. He thrust out his hand and yelled, "Rho Aias!"

A massive pink seven petal flower, both luminescent and translucent, appeared in front of Naruto, acting as a shield to the oncoming attack. The water dragon crashed into the flower shaped shield, as the powerful attack met an equally powerful defense. However Naruto knew that Rho Aias was one of most versatile and powerful weapons in his arsenal. The seven petals of the shield acted as a layered defense mechanism, each one as strong as a fortress wall. Eventually the water subsided, and Naruto looked to where he had last seen Yagura only to find him gone.

Suddenly, Naruto's battle honed instincts screamed at him to duck. Not wasting any time, he did so just barely dodging a staff swing that would have taken off his head if it had connected. Instantly he traced his signature Yin and Yang swords and parried the next two strikes forcing Yagura back. Naruto fought the urge to smirk as he realized what just happened. 'First he used his Shurikens to force me to react and effectively disarm me. Next he used Suiryūdan no Jutsu to distract me. And then while I was blinded he closed the gap for the kill. He must have already figured out that I'd have the advantage in a ranged battle. Heh, I suppose he isn't the Mizukage for nothing.'

(Bleach Sountrack – Guitar III *End*)

With that thought in mind he traced a dozen nameless swords over his head and launched them at the Mizukage. Yagura spun his staff like a windmill creating a makeshift shield that blocked the oncoming onslaught of swords.

"I surprised you managed to survive that attack." Yagura admitted with grudging respect. "Considering how strong you are it's strange that I don't recognize you from any of the Bingo Books. Who are you?"

"My name is Aozaki Naruto, son of Aozaki Mana." Naruto declared. Tone of pride in his voice would have been obvious to any other opponent but it was lost on Yaugra whose face contorted in derision.

"Aozaki?" Yagura snorted "Do you mean that two bit whore who fled from this country like a whipped dog?!"

Naruto's gaze instantly darkened at the insult to his mother. Overwhelming killing intent that would have brought lesser ninja to their knees, erupted from Naruto. "What. Did. You. Say?" he snarled, his voice laced with barely restrained fury.

"You heard me boy." Yagura sneered. Dark malicious charks began seeping out of the Mizukage and wrapped themselves around him forming a thick chakra cloak. The Sanbi's signature turtle shell and horns began growing out of Yagura face and back. Behind him, three spike shrimp like tails also took form. Yagura entered the "Version 2" form of the Jinchuriki form as the Sanbi molded around his body.

Naruto didn't care, however. The bastard had mocked his mother and sealed his own fate. Soon he would be nothing more than a splatter of blood against the earth. Detracing both Kanshou and Bakuya, Naruto raised his hand high above his head and whispered, "Nine Lives."

A colossal sword manifested itself in Naruto's hand. At first glance it seemed nothing more than a crude, piece of stone shaped into a simple jagged blade with an even simpler bandaged handle. However, that couldn't be further from the truth. Nine Lives was the ultimate weapon of the Greek hero Heracles and while Naruto may have only had a rough idea who this figure may have been from Structural Analysis, he knew that the demigod was undoubtedly powerful. Nine Lives was also his most versatile weapon in Unlimited Blade Works, an all-purpose Noble Phantasm capable of adapting and changing its own appearance and function depending on the target and situation of the user. Furthermore the sword allowed Naruto to copy the monstrous speed and strength of its former wielder. All in all, it was a devastatingly powerful weapon.

A shame no one really gave Yagura the memo. The Mizukage laughed as he saw the ridiculously oversized sword that manifested within Naruto's hand… and immediately regretted it.

Naruto cross the distance between them in microseconds and swung down on Yagura. He had moved so fast, Yagura barely managed to dodge the oncoming attack even in his Biju form. Nine Lives smashed the earth, pulverizing a large area of the ground beneath them into pieces.

'He's even stronger and faster than before!' Yagura noted with some alarm as he spun around Naruto's now exposed back and slammed both his palms into it. "Sangoshō. (Coral Palm)"

Large formations of coral grew on his back restricting his muscles in that area. Naruto gritted his teeth in pain as he was sent flying several meters before slamming down both feet on to the ground and sliding against the dirt. He looked up just in time to see Yagura leaping towards him, ready to attack once more. Naruo refused to give him the opportunity. He drew back his axe-sword horizontally in preparation to strike. "Nine Lives Blade Works!"

Yagura found himself facing nine high-speed simultaneous strikes. It was a testament to his skill and experience as a ninja that he managed to avoid the first attack but he could not avoid the rest. Naruto targeted the upper arm, collarbone, windpipe, temple, diaphragm, ribs, testicles, and thighs. If Yagura hadn't been in his Biju form he would've been nothing but dismembered body parts by now. Even then the attack accomplished tremendous damage to his body. The jagged edges of the blades sawed into leaving bloody gashes and wounds in to Yagura who was now coughing up blood.

'Looks like the Sanbi gives him extremely high defensive properties' Naruto thought. 'That would've taken out any normal ninja. Yagura… you're as fearsome as the rumors say.' Naruto shifted his body for a moment and gasped when he felt immense pain from his back where Yagura had struck him earlier. 'Shit… it's like my entire back is paralyzed. What the hell was that attack?'

'It's called Sangoshō kit. It's a strike that grows paralyzing corals on to your back, restricting your movements.'

'Kurama is that you?'

'Who else would it be dumbass?' the now identified fox asked snidely.

Ignoring the jibe, Naruto asked the question that had been on his mind ever since he had fought Gaara. 'Kurama, why can't you ever give me cool abilities like that? I thought you were supposed to be the strongest Biju.'

'… because shut up.' The fox answered without really answering the question at all. 'Anyways you should get back to your fight. The Sanbi jinchuriki is starting to get up'

"You son of a bitch!" Yagura snarled as he struggled to his feet. "I'm going to kill you."

An explosion of malicious chakra sent Naruto flying back high into the air. He twisted Nine Lives around and used it to shield himself from the blast but even then, his arms strained to hold the sword against such a powerful shock wave. Landing an enormous distance away from where he was thrown, Naruto looked up to see a giant three tailed turtle. It resembled a much larger and detailed version of Yagura's previous Biju form.

'Is that… the Sanbi?' Naruto questioned Kurama.

'Yeah, that's him alright. Watch out kit, the Sanbi might not be the strongest of us Bijus but he's definitely not the weakest.'

'Oh, really?' Naruto asked sardonically. 'And here I thought fighting one of the tailed beasts would be easy. Kami knows this must be my first time ever fighting one.'

'Che, smartass.'

"DIE AOZAKI!" The Sanbi… or Yagura… or whatever the hell that damned thing was, screamed at him. The Sanbi jumped into the air and rolled itself into a ball crashing into the ground towards Naruto. The sharps protrusions on its back made this attack akin to that of a saw blade. (I believe this attack was called 'Shell Spear' but it was never identified in the manga)

"Rho Aias!" Naruto shouted, once more calling forth the seven petal shield to defend himself. The instant the Sanbi's attack struck against his defense it smashed through first three layers almost instantly. Though the attack slowed, it showed no signs of stopping as Sanbi continued to roll. The fourth layer fell and the fifth followed soon after. Naruto stared in disbelief as his ultimate defense was quickly being overcome as though it made of thin ice.

'Rikudo Sennin's balls! Stop gawking and get the hell out of the way, kit!' Kurama screamed at him.

Following Kurama's advice too late, Naruto jumped back as the Sanbi smashed through the remaining layers of Rho Aias and bulldozed right over him. Naruto screamed in agony as the body-slam pounded him into the earth, breaking several of his bones in the process.

Naruto writhed in pain on the ground, coughing up large amounts of blood. Many of his ribs had been cracked or broken. The sharps spikes on the Sanbi's back caused severe lacerations into his flesh. Naruto was facing major internal bleeding and organ failure. He looked up to see the fully transformed Sanbi heading west to where the main battle was currently raging. A single attack with the Bijudama (Tailed Beast Ball) could easily wreak havoc on the rebel forces and change the tide of battle. He could not let that happen. He would not let that happen! Ignoring the screaming protests of his devastated muscles, Naruto inched forwards as he crawled on the ground, desperately trying to stand up.

'Kurama, I could use some chakra here.'

The fox complied and with tremendous effort Naruto stood up and closed his eyes, tracing a copy of Avalon within his body. The exquisite sheath combined with the effects of Kyuubi's chakra did wonders in healing his damaged body. Naruto focused his chakra into his hand as he began forming his next sword. The air around his hand pulsated a golden light as he traced a straight sword. Its blade shone silver, its cross guard virtually golden and its handle was a royal blue.

Naruto lifted his sword high into the air as the golden energy of his sword swirled around him, pulsating large amounts of chakra as he poured in as much of Kurama's chakra as he possibly could. A column of light emerged from its tip to pierce the sky, Naruto swung down the blade, shouting the name of the miracle he held in his hand as he did so. "EXCALIBUR!"

A golden beam of light shot out at the biju. The Sanbi froze in mid stride as he turned to his left, catching only a glimpse of the attack before it overtook him. The Sanbi's form completely disintegrated under the golden light, flinging Yagura's original body into the ground. In the end, the Mizukage had been taken completely off guard. Whatever, defense Yagura could have had to counter the attack, he simply didn't have enough time or space to deploy it. Though Naruto may have struck the decisive blow, Yagura lost to his own complacency.

Naruto wouldn't make the same mistake. Still hurt from his injuries, Naruto limped forwards into the smoking ruins of where the Sanbi had once stood, looking for either the Mizukage or his corpse to ensure that his opponent was dead. He found it. But what he did not expect, however, was to find Yagura's body draped over another man's shoulder. The tall man had pale blue skin, fish-like eyes and markings that looked like gills under those eyes. As the man saw Naruto approaching, he smiled revealing sharp shark teeth akin to those of Zabuza, Suigetsu and Chojuro.

"Hoshigaki Kisame," Naruto commented, recognizing the man instantly. "Kirigakure no Kaijin (Monster hidden in the mist) and wielder of the infamous Samehada. What are you doing here?"

It wasn't surprising that the man would be here. Kisame was one of the few remaining members of the Seven Swordsmen after all. But it was his appearance that alarmed Naruto. Instead of the standard Kirigakure flak-vest and garb that most jonins of Kiri wore, Kisame had instead chosen to wear a black cloak decorated with red clouds. His forehead protector had a long, horizontal scratch carved across the symbol his village. Naruto knew that it was a traditional method for Missing-nins to show they had rescinded their allegiances and rejected their villages. So what the hell was going on?

Kisame grin widened even further. "Well, well aren't you a smart one." He snorted. "Go home kid, this is grown up business. You may have defeated Yagura but you're way out of your mind if you think you can beat me, especially in your condition. I'd rather not have to kill an already half-dead twelve year old." Naruto snarled as he leapt forward and swung Excalibur down own the fished faced swordsman. Kisame smirked. "Well, I guess you're not as smart as I thought you were."

He swung Samehada off of his back a brought it to bear against Excalibur effortlessly blocking the attack and they stood in the deadlock for several moments. To Naruto's shock however, Excalibur began dematerializing in front of his every eyes as it reverted back to the chakra with which it was initially created.

Now empty handed, Naruto ducked as the giant bandaged cleaver passed over his head and jumped back to his original position. Standing up, Naruto glared at Kisame. "Your oversized fish stick absorbs chakra doesn't it?" he asked flatly, already knowing the answer.

"Yep." Kisame answered. "You figured that out pretty quickly. If I didn't know any better I'd say your swords there were made of chakra." Naruto didn't answer turning Kisame's smirk downright feral. "You're fucked."

Kisame moved in a blur, crossing the gap between them in an instant. Naruto dodged to the left but Kisame proved his skill with the sword and shifted his grip at the very last second, swinging the Samehada directly at Naruto. The sword cleaved large chunks of flesh right off of Naruto, tearing through his skin like butter.

"My Samehada doesn't cut." Kisame told the blonde who was now convulsing on the ground in pain. "It shaves you to ribbons!" He lifted his cleaver off of his shoulder and raised it up into the air for a final strike. "This is the end, brat. You brought this upon yourself."

"Ameratsu!"

Kisame jumped back as black flames separated him from Naruto. In less than an instant Itachi, standing in all his glory wearing his standard ANBU uniform, landed in front of Naruto putting himself in between the two.

"Well, if it isn't the Konoha no Karasu (Crow of Konohoa), Uchiha Itachi." Kisame commented with amusement. "Looks like I get to meet a lot of interesting people today."

"Hoshigaki Kisame," Itachi returned pointedly. "You will not lay a hand on this boy. The rebels have won and they will soon be arriving. I suggest you leave while you still can." In any other circumstances, Itachi would have taken his chances and fought the swordsmen of the mist. However, his main priority right now was getting Naruto to the nearest medic. Naruto was suffering from severe wounds and injuries so it would only be a small matter of time before he finally died of blood loss. Fighting Kisame now would only waste their already limited amount of time and place Naruto in further danger.

Kisame shrugged, nonchalantly. "Whatever. I already have what I came here for anyways." Hefting Yagura over his shoulder, he walked off, disappearing into the mist.

Naruto visibly relaxed and gave his surrogate older brother a weak smile. "Itachi nii-san, just in case I don't have a chance to say this later… thanks." He closed his eyes, exhaustion washing over him as he fell into a deep sleep. Now that he thought about it, it had been quite a few days since he had last slept.

o0o

Minato sat in the waiting room of the hospital outside of the recovery room where Naruto was still unconscious, healing from his wounds. By the time Itachi had brought Naruto to the nearest medical station, he barely enough blood to sustain a kitten. It was miracle he managed to survive it at all. Right now in his hand, Minato held the memory crystal that Naruto had thrown at him the day before. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn't bring himself to stop looking through its contents over and over again. When he first watched it, he wondered just why Naruto was so willing to let him see such an intimate moment of his life. To guilt him? No, he understood now. It was to show them how a real parent was supposed to act towards their child. It had its intended effects. Neither he nor his wife had the gall anymore to call themselves parents in front of Naruto… Not when there was already someone else he acknowledged to fulfill that role… someone who loved him to the point where they would give their lives for him without hesitation.

'I can't believe it took all this for me to finally realize how badly I screwed up.' Minato thought bitterly. He thought back to the time when he first found out he would have twins.

"A boy and a girl eh? Heh, I bet Hitomi will be just as beautiful as her mother. And Naruto… Naruto will be a ladies man just like his old man." He had bragged. The comment had earned him a smack to the side of his head from Kushina.

To the time he sealed the Kyuubi into his own children:

"Hitomi… Naruto. You two are the heroes of this village." He had told them as he held them fondly in his arms.

To the time of the council:

Minato had slammed his hand into the table so hard it cracked. "Hitomi will not be a weapon and Naruto will not be executed!" he roared, glaring at Danzo. "Over my COLD, DEAD BODY!"

'When?' He asked himself sadly. 'When did I forget what it meant to be a father?' He sighed sadly. "I took the mantle of Hokage to change this village for the better. Instead I let it change me for the worst. What… What have I turned into… these past thirteen years?''

o0o

That night, Naruto dreamed once more. The red knight accepted his death, just the way he had accepted what he believed would his death all those years ago during the hellish fire of his hometown.

He found himself in a field of blades and he saw someone, a girl with dark long twin tails. Her name was Rin if Naruto recalled correctly.

But the red knight called something else. He called her 'the world'. He called her… Alaya.

Alaya offered him an opportunity… to become something called a Counter Guardian. The red knight was ecstatic.

To continue fulfilling his ideals even after death. To continue being a hero and saving others. It was something he had desired. He accepts this offer without a moment's hesitation.

But it was lie. To be a counter guardian wasn't to be a hero. It was to be a killer, a cleaner that exterminated the thousands that had to be sacrificed for the continued survival of humanity.

He was surrounded by so much blood, so much death… it made him sick.

Again and again, the red knight killed, trying to tell himself, deluding himself that someday somehow the world would become the ideal he had wished for.

But an eternity passed and his ideal remained only just that… an ideal.

He saw it over and over... Meaningless massacres. Meaningless suffering. Meaningless happiness! He was forced to watch it all.

Even when he refused to look, it surrounded him. That isn't what he wished for! He didn't become a Guardian for this!

o0o

Naruto jerked awake from his nightmare, his heart beating completely out of control. He checked his surroundings to find himself in a hospital bed, most likely somewhere inside a hospital. His wounds had been cleaned and bandaged. His ripped and ragged clothes were gone instead replaced by a hospital gown. Belatedly he looked to his left to see a mop of red hair resting against his sheets. It looked like Kushina had fallen asleep by his bed, tear stains were still visible on the white fabric by her face.

Naruto sighed, resting his head against both his hands. Why was he having these dreams now? Those dreams were supposed to have ended years ago when the red knight had died. Those dreams seemed so real. He could feel the emotions, the perceptions, the very pain the red knight experienced. Sometimes he had trouble distinguishing them from his own perceptions. There were often times when he wondered if maybe his perceived life was actually the dream while his dreams of the red knight were actually reality.

This particular dream disturbed him the most. The red knight had fought endlessly for a utopia, yet even after fighting for over an eternity, he never found it. Naruto took a moment to think about what that meant for his own path. If his ideals couldn't be reached, if his path lead only to the deaths and pain of others… then what was he really fighting for? Why was he fighting so hard? He spent several moments in silence dwelling on that question. After a while he leaned back and sighed in sorrowed resignation. He fought for those ideals because they were Mana's ideals. He fought for them because he admired the red knight and his mother for following that path. Emiya at least believed passionately for what he was fighting for, even if he did borrow those ideals from his father. Naruto knew that he only fought for them for no other reason than because his mother fought for them. Naruto laughed bitterly. "Emiya, you weren't the biggest fake. I am."

The sound stirred Kushina awake from her sleep. "Naruto?" she muttered, blinking at him sleepily. She looked up, dazed and disoriented as she looked around before spotting Naruto, her eyes widening. "Naruto!" With that cry she launched herself at the blonde, wrapping him up in an embrace.

Naruto sighed tiredly as he felt himself smothered by the blubbering red head. "Kushina, get off of me." He really wasn't in the mood to argue.

Kushina flinched at the tone and backed off of him immediately, looking slightly abashed. Before he could ask any questions, the door behind her creaked open and Minato popped his head in to see what the commotion was about. Seeing Naruto conscious he smiled. "Ah, good you're awake. You've been out for three days. I'm glad to see you're alright." Naruto didn't bother deigning that a response as he glared flatly at the older blonde. Minato's smile faltered before his expression turned serious. "Naruto we need to talk."

"I thought I already made it clear. We have nothing to talk about Namikaze-sama." Naruto told him with dead finality.

"Naruto please, this is serious." Minato told him. "Itachi told me, you fought Hoshigaki Kisame."

Naruto smiled sardonically. "You mean the guy that rendered my primary jutsu completely useless and nearly cleaved me in half? Yeah, he kinda left an impression on me."

"Is it true he wore a dark cloak with red clouds on it?" The Yondaime asked, ignoring the sarcasm.

"Yes, but why does it matter to you?" Naruto asked, raising a brow.

"Because it means he was a member of Akatsuki." A voice to his right answered. Naruto turned around to see Jiraiya climbing in through the hospital window. The Toad Sannin looked uncharacteristically serious as he held Naruto's gaze. "They're an organization that's currently after Jinchūriki. To be more precise, they're after the biju's inside the Jinchūriki." He told him, answering the unasked question.

"If that's true, then why didn't he take me when he had the chance?" Naruto asked skeptically.

"Probably because he didn't know you had the Kyuubi." Jiraiya answered him. "Hitomi was the only person who was revealed to have the Kyuubi's chakra sealed within her. You were announced to only have the soul."

Naruto's expression darkened. "Are you telling me the only reason I'm still alive right now is because that bastard didn't realize I was a Jinchuriki?"

"More or less." Jiraiya answered, nodding.

"Naruto, I beg you to come back home to Konoha." Minato pleaded with him. "You don't even have to be a ninja, just let us protect you. Not even you can hope to fight against a group of S-Class Missing-nins."

"Namikaze, you're laboring under the assumption that I hold any value in my life at all," Naruto informed him flatly. "an assumption that it completely wrong in this case. I'm not afraid of facing this organization and if they ever do managed to capture me…" he shrugged casually. "I could kill myself in less than an instant and take both me and Kurama before they even come close to extracting him."

"How," Kushina asked sadly. "How can you say something like that?"

"When life holds so little for a man what reason does he have to fear from death?" Naruto asked rhetorically. "I refuse to be your weapon and I refuse to be your prisoner. Even if it means I won't live very long, I at least I would live free and by my principles."

He got up from his hospital bed despite his injuries, ignoring Kushina's protest. He slipped off the hospital robe and traced a new set of clothes around his body. His red cloak was a miniaturized version of the red knights' own coat altered from the Shroud of Martin. His black cargo pants were made of a special artificial material that could be reinforced to be stronger than steel. A white dress shirt lay under the overcoat, since the red knight's usual breastplate was reserved for only battle purposes. After having been subjected to two life shattering revelations, he walked out of them with only one dominant thought in his mind. 'I need a drink.'

o0o

As it turned out, it wasn't very difficult to find a drink in the mass orgy of celebrations and excitement of the rebel victory. Zabuza had found him immediately and dragged him to a large square table that had been filled to the edge with bottles of brandy. Ao, Chojuro, Haku had been there too. Apparently Suigetsu was still in the hospital recovering from his wounds while Mei was busy trying to restore administration under the new regime of Kirigakure. Naruto wasn't sure how it started, but somehow Zabuza and Ao got it into their heads to start a drinking contest between the five of them. Haku opted out of the competition, refusing to drink a sip of alcohol while Chojuro had been coaxed into drinking by Ao who had insisted that all real men drank alcohol. Unsurprisingly then, he was the first to drop out of the competition. Ao lasted much better, passing out after his eightieth bottle. Naruto however, partially due to his Uzumaki metabolism and partially due to the Kyuubi's healing properties, had matched Zabuza drink for drink and was now on his twenty fifth bottle while still only tipsy.

Haku sighed as he watched his master destroy his poor liver with the substance he had practically inhaled the past hour. "Zabuza-sama please stop, you're clearly going to hurt your health."

"Hagu, I refush to loose to thiz kiz!" Zabuza shouted, a drunken slur covering his accent as he stood up and pointed accusingly at the offender. He would have also slammed a fist down onto the table except his complete loss of motor control caused him to miss the table entirely. It should be noted that by this point, Zabuza was completely wasted.

"Zabuza-sama, Chojruo-san passed out after his first drink." Haku informed him flatly.

"Ohhhh… riee. I men, I refush to loose to thiz kiz!" He shouted once more, adjusting his aim.

"… Zabuza-sama, that's an empty barstool."

"Aw yu shure Hagu? Thee look so aliek." Zabuza commented in befuddlement.

Haku sighed in exasperation. "Zabuza-sama, just take your last drink already."

He did so, grabbing the nearest bottle of brandy and chugging down his throat, in a single go. Slamming the empty bottle back down onto the table Zabuza wobbled in his seat for a moment and the hiccupped. He groaned leaning back into his chair… and then completely toppled over on to the ground, completely unconscious.

"Zabuza-sama!"

Naruto looked around the table at his unconscious and defeated foes as he leaned back against his chair and smirked, sipping another shot of bandy.

'I am the champion of everything' He thought to himself, feeling more victorious now than when he beat Yagura or killed Gato.

o0o

Deleted Scenes: Zabuza's Four Drunk Personalities (Inspired by CollegeHumour's Your Six Drunk Personalities)

The Sad One:

"I don't get it Haku." Zabuza bawled as he chugged even more alcohol down his throat. "Why would they pick Mei to be Mizukage instead of me? I mean I wanted to be Mizukage before it was cool."

"There, there Zabuza-sama." Haku patted Zabuza on the back consolingly. "I'm sure being Mizukage isn't all that it's cut out to be. I hear there's a lot of paper work involved."

"I mean I'm stronger than her, I'm cooler than her, I even have a better mission record that her." Zabuza whined pitiably as he counted off the reasons why he should rightfully have been Mizukage. "Is it because I don't wear a shirt? It's because I don't wear a shirt isn't it? You know I don't like how the fabric itches my skin. Those discriminating bastards."

"It's okay Zabuza-sama." Haku reassured him. "We still like you even if you don't wear a shirt."

The Violent One:

"Watcha lookin at ya punks!" Zabuza roared as he swung around his massive Kubikiribocho. "Ya wanta piece of me? Do ya?! Do ya?! HUH!"

"Zabuza-sama no! Please don't kill the rabbits." Haku yelled as he grabbed on to his master and desperately hung on for dear life. Seriously why did his master have such a hatred for those cute furry little animals anyways? Substitution Jutsu? Why bother using a log? Just use a rabbit. Target practice? Screw the target post just use a rabbit. Hungry? Who cares if the fridge is full we're having rabbit freaking stew tonight!

The Stupid One:

Haku sighed in relief as he walked into the hotel room he and Zabuza was staying for the time being. Tonight had been exhausting and he swore to himself that he would never let his master touch alcohol again if he could help it. Eventually he managed to drag the drunken swordsman back to their hotel room, miraculously without the deaths of any innocent bystanders, something the young Hyoton user was sincerely proud of. After dropping off the Zabuza on to his bed, Haku had gone to the local convenience store to buy some ingredients and food in order to prepare for Zabuza's imminent hangover the next morning. Bag of groceries in hand, he unlocked the door and walked in.

"Zabuza-sama what are you doing!" Haku immediately screeched.

Zabuza looked up from his work to stare at Haku like he just said the stupidest thing in the world. "What does it look like Haku? I'm disarming an explosive tag."

If that wasn't bad enough, he not only had the one explosive tag he was working on but hundreds of other explosive tags piled around the room, waiting to be detonated at the first spark. Where the hell did he even get those in the first place?!

"Zabuza-sama you couldn't disarm one of those when you were sober! What makes you think you can disarm them when you're drunk!?" Haku yelled.

"Haku, if I don't do this everyone in this damn village and their mothers will think I'm a pussy!" Zabuza informed him with a indignant tone. "And besides, I just have one more step t-"

BOOOM!

The Flirtatious One:

Zabuza slammed the large double doors open, knocking them both off their hinges, as he strolled into the Mizukage's office with a confident smile on his face.

Mei looked up in alarm. "Zabuza what the hell are you doing?!"

Zabuza slammed both hands down on the desk as he leaned over towards the newly instated Mizukage with a leer on his face. "Hey baby… watcha doin'?"

The transition of Mei's face from alarmed to annoyed was nearly instantaneous. "… What?" she asked flatly.

"Listen," Zabuza explained as he leaned a little back. "I'm an extremely sexy young man lookin' for a good time tonight. You're a moderately attractive career woman nearly at the end of her prime who's clearly desperate for a significant other in her life. I think we all know what's going on here. So…. How's this gonna happen?"

Mei started twitching violently. "Zabuza, you are clearly inebriated so I will be lenient this one time and give you ten seconds to leave my office."

"Oh, playing hard to get I see." Zabuza said as he nodded in complete (mis)understanding. "I've dealt with woman like you before." He looked around the room to check if the coast was clear. "So… how much?"

Mei's bloodlust was so monstrous it made Yagura's look like that of a sick puppy. Unfortunately, Zabzua was far too drunk to notice it. "Momochi Zabuza, did you just imply that I'm a prostitute?"

"Listen woman! Enough with the games!" Zabuza shouted as he slammed his hands down on Mei's desk once more. "How much is this going to cost me?!"

Mei smiled. It was not a good smile. "… Your life."

*The Next Day*

Naruto looked up at Mizukage's Tower in confusion. "Haku, what the hell happened to that rabbit's pen, who stole all my explosive tags and why is Zabuza crucified to the side of Mei's office?"

Haku sighed as he rubbed his temples in resignation. "It's a long story Naruto-san, a loooooong story."