"Just because something isn't a lie does not mean that it isn't deceptive. A liar knows that he spins a delicate web, but one who speaks mere portions of truth in order to deceive is a craftsman of the most virulent and lasting destruction."

Kanu Unchou could safely say that this should be impossible.

People should not be able to jump across city rooftops like overgrown demon grasshoppers from hell.

And yet here the blond was doing just that, while carrying her to boot!

But even more astonishing than that was the fact that Ryuubi and Hakufu were keeping pace, even moreso they seemed to be gaining!

Still whatever shock she held about this situation was quickly set aside for the time being as she assessed the circumstances they now found themselves in..

"What's your plan!? You can't expect to outrun them forever."

"Not forever no." The blond admitted. "Just long enough for me to think on what to do!"

"That paper you placed on Sonsaku-san started this. If we can take it off-"

"Thought of that, but that doesn't factor in little Ribi-chan."

"Ryuubi!" She snapped

"Whatever!" He snapped right back as he shot off the ground. Once more the feeling of wind through her hair and the vertigo of the rise and fall hit her before they hit the ground again.

Kanu looked over the Shinobi's shoulder, sharp green eyes easily finding Ryuubi's face twisted with rage, eyes glimmering with an unquenchable thirst for blood.

"We always got Sonsaku-san back to normal by placing her unconscious. We can do so again here!"

"Maybe. Since we don't know just how much weaker or stronger Ryuubi's demon is we'll have to be careful. But I don't have anything better at the moment" Naruto admitted as he jumped again. "Still, that seal should only suppress demonic chakra. I saw it work a million times! What's happening right now doesn't make-" He stopped feeling the surge of power behind him.

He turned in mid air, drawing the sword as he released Kanu's legs, ready to deflect, strike, or even invoke the weapon's unbreakable defense, only to see the attack aimed at a different target.

"Roll!" He yelled as he threw the Seito girl, pushing her land on the roof as the edge he was about to land on exploded into dust and bits of nothing.

He tried to grip the now loose debris with chakra, stumbling as it gave way beneath his weight, straining to get enough of a foothold on something to jump again.

Then the green eyed thing slammed into his side. He gripped at her wrist holding her clawed hand in place as he'd done so often in her berserk states as she gripped at the sword, uncaring for the razor edge that bit into her palm.

It slipped his mind that the creature in-front of him was not the raging beast that was so easy to outwit on all the previous occasions.

Her hand glowed with green energy, a surge of power as intense as any demonic attack he'd seen from his own era as well as the Sengoku period, only this one was about half a second away from going off right in his face.

The blade in his hands glowed with its own resplendent waves of chakra before the explosion hit.


"What's happening!?" Kagura snapped, using her fan to shield her face as the corrosive, vile youki lashed out at them.

But the kappa was too busy to pay attention to her. Hollering and whooping in its strange native language it received similar replies in kind from the shamans that had been conducting the ritual as they leapt free of the once pristine lagoon, its waters now boiling, red like blood.

It was the wind that whispered to her first.


She stiffened her heart hammering in her chest as she struggled between duty and self preservation. She'd never heard the voice of the winds so urgent.

Before she could decide what to do, the mountain shook all around her and the screams of the sentinels echoed down from the world above.

"You cannot protect him Kitsune!"


Kanu rolled as she landed, gaining her feet in time to turn and see Naruto get tackled by Hakufu, both of them disappearing beneath the edge of the building.

She stood, ready to rush over when she realized she had her own problems to deal with in the form of her best friend Gentoku Ryuubi.

The girl crashed onto the rooftop with little in the way of grace or form, all but falling flat on her face before she recovered and rushed Kanu on all fours.

The raven haired Seito student took her stance, lashing out with a perfect kick that smacked into Ryuubi's cheek.

The blow would have knocked over any other fighter, but Ryuubi's head merely whipped to the side, continuing her charge and shoulder tackling the unbalanced Unchou before she could recover her proper footing.

She fell onto her back, Ryuubi's full weight knocking the wind out of her. Her hands gripped at the brunettes', just in time to keep herself from getting disemboweled but not quick enough to keep the claws from cutting into her side.

She brought her legs up, behind Ryuubi who was straddling her by that point, crossing them at the shins to coil around the once gentle girl's neck.

She straightened her body, pulling Ryuubi back, off of her, and tightening her legs over the windpipe in the process, Ryuubi's wrists still in her iron grip.

Unchou suffered quietly, as she listened to Ryuubi's strangled efforts to get air, willing the girl to just pass out so she could let her go.

The building shook.

It was like the hand of a god rattling the earth for one second and holding it perfectly still right after.

Then she saw the sky above her beginning to move.

Her eyes widened, head tilting to the side to find the undeniable truth that the building was tipping over.


Hakufu howled.

The scream actually hurt his ears, making them ring with a high pitched whine. He felt her let go, and immediately kicked her off. The blue shroud of chakra died away, the ultimate defense having served its purpose, allowing him to push himself off the now collapsing building and onto a light post.

His blue eyes need a second to take in the entire scene, watching as Hakufu, letting off smoke from her hands, face and upper body smashed onto the sidewalk with a crack of concrete, startling the common people that hadn't managed to run away quite yet.

The blond looked up, finding that nearly half of a six story of a building had been blasted away, rubble and broken bodies disappearing into the folds of collapsing concrete and iron-work as his eyes trailed up to the ceiling of the crumbling structure.


He jumped, rushing up the still intact side.

Just before reaching the edge, now nearly upside down he saw the two tangled bodies tumble right over.

He reached out, gripping the startled Kanu's arm, placing his feet on the roof of the building before jumping, straining his legs to carry the dead weight of two girls clear across to another, safer perch.

Kanu held onto Ryuubi's shirt, gripping the cloth with her one remaining hand, straining with her grip to keep the girl from falling a half dozen stories to her death.

But Ryuubi's faculties of rational thought were severely impaired, and with breath back in her lungs, the spots in her vision fading, and her limbs now free of Kanu's iron grip,the beast wearing her skin did the first thing that came to her mind.

She attacked.

Claws dug into Kanu's forearm, slicing deep, four lines carving through flesh and sinew to scrape bone.

Kanu held on tighter as she screamed in pain

Ryuubi clawed again and again and again, hacking away at her limb, slicing the flesh to ribbons until finally, Kanu's hand lost all feeling and her grip went completely slack, letting the brunette fall.

With the forward momentum, she slammed into the side of the building with a sick crack of snapping bone, the arm and leg of her left side twisting awkwardly before she hit the ground, smashing into the floor four stories below with a gut churning crack and a roll. Ryuubi came to a stop in the middle of the road, hissing and snarling as she struggled to pick herself back up. The fact that she was able to move at all was a small miracle.

Naruto landed, barely managing to keep from hurting Kanu with the fall. His eyes widened as he saw her mangled limb. The blood was drenching them both as it trailed down and poured off her limp fingers in a steady stream.

"Oh no."

He gripped her bicep squeezing with all his considerable strength to stymie the blood-loss as he began to undue his belt to make it a tourniquet.

"R-r-ryuubi-sama." Kanu gasped, her eyes closed in pain.

Naruto offered a half look over his shoulder, his eyes widening at the sight.

Ryuubi was back on her feet. The screech of braking tires brought the berserkers' eyes up, gold iris' glowing with hate.

She stood to her full height, and with a roar brought her fist straight down over the hood of the approaching car, smashing its front bumper into the asphalt and flipping the vehicle up and over her head with its momentum

Then there was another explosion.

The collapsing building, the cars, the pedestrians and Ryuubi herself were engulfed in a hurricane of green eldritch energy.

Naruto felt the massive rush of power smash into his chest like the wind of a hurricane.

The blast vanished, and Naruto was left staring at a charred stretch of city, with everything that had been within the blast zone...gone. Not even debris remained.

All that was left was Ryuubi and Hakufu.

Hakufu's skin was cracked, forks of glowing power spider webbing just under her skin, her eyes seeping crackling green bolts of energy.

She turned her eyes right up towards him even as Ryuubi rushed in to attack.


The wall exploded, peppering them with bits of rock and choking the air with dust before Kagura whipped it away with a swing of her fan. She swung it once more when she caught a clear sight of the charred man entering through the doorway.

Her wind blades might as well have been as dull as the wheels on a cart. His flesh was completely unbroken. As he stepped in through the doorway the flames that danced along his sword flared to greater brilliance, illuminating the whole room.

"It is the Miko..." He hissed, eyes narrowing as he made his way closer, paying as much attention to Kagura as a human would pay attention to a fly on the wall.

"Something is wrong." The voice was as soft as a bell and Kagura only now noticed the woman floating over the debris to come to a stop next to the hulking, charred brute. 'I sense Uzumaki-san. But..." The woman's eyes widened. "Its a trap!"

Behind her Kagura heard one of the Kappa shout. When she turned it was just in time to see Kagome pull herself up from the water, smiling beneath the veneer of amused red eyes.

"You always were the brightest of the three Iza-chan."

It was Kagome's voice, twisted and wrong. Laced with malice, it dripped from her mouth like an oily poison as she smiled.

Kagura tensed.

The burnt man surged forward the flaming sword burning like a star as he swung towards the possessed priestess.

"No!" She shouted, moving to swing her fan again when trees erupted from the ground beneath her feet binding her with vines stronger than any steel, bamboo stems sprouting like rods to cage her

Kagome's hand rose, that cruel smile playing at her lips as a barrier of pink energy emerged, stronger than any the miko had ever managed to form on her own strength.

The burning sword struck with a roar that shook the cave apart, stalagmites cracking and falling like ungodly arrows from the cave ceiling.

Blood bloomed from the priestess' lips trailing down the side of her mouth even as Susanoo's blade was repelled.

"This is why you lured us here!" Izanagi's voice was cold and flat, no longer was she the meek child woman that had stood behind Suzanoo, rapidly taking her place was the moon goddess of legend as all the pieces came together in her mind. "You cursed the girl! And you knew her friends would try to save her."

"Only the most powerful of healing magic could ever hope to work." The demoness gloated. "Once they brought her here...well-" Kagome's other hand came up, and with a veil of swirling red mist breathed out from her bloody lips the red fox sword was in her grasp. "I gave you a bright carrot to jump at my little hares."

"It bears his aura. That is why we could feel him on this world" Suzanoo growled, stepping back. Why all the schemes harpy? Why not simply bring her here yourself!?"

The creature that was now Kagome scoffed, rolling her eyes. "Oh dear me you are rather slow. Iza-chan, would you like to try?"

"You're stalling us." Her eyes narrowed. "You've erected another barrier...we can't leave this mountain." She looked down, the eddies of magic becoming crystal clear in a moment of focus. The healing energies...you're siphoning them through the priestess. That's why you took her and waited for her to be brought here. You've combined her holy gift, your demonic powers and the raw energy of this lagoon to boost her mortal strength enough to delay us long enough so that you may carry out your true goal!"

Kyuubi/Kagome's smile was almost sanguine as she made a sound of satisfaction. "A little overcomplicated perhaps. But where would the challenge be in keeping things simple?"

"We will break through this!"Susaano snarled

"In those limited forms?" She grinned offering a 'come hither' wag of her finger. "You will...but not fast enough I assure you!This little girl's strength and will to live is strong...stronger than many. You'll have to break it first.

Suzanoo's sword roared to life and with a thrust that rattled Kagura's teeth in her jaw, sparks of power burst from where blade met barrier, a second later The barrier was under assault from a second source, spears of bamboo lanced up from the ground and down from the ceiling, crunching down on the Miko's shielded form like the jaws of the earth itself.

Kagome's face twisted into an ugly smirk, even as Kagura saw the holy power crackle across her skin and the blood begin to drip from her eyes. The demoness cried out as a bolt of holy power seared her flesh.


She walked across an ocean, the sloshing waves of the shoreline gave way to a deep blue and then...she wasn't sure when, she'd only done this once before, the blue became black, gradually darker and darker until she was standing on liquid midnight.

The waves had long since stopped the waters were still with a mirror sheen beads of starlight reflected on its crystal surface.

Every step formed a perfect ripple, spreading outwards over a sheet of stars.

She was not even within sight of her goal by the time the first of the warriors arrived to bar her path.

She grinned, imagining her adversary now, donning his armor, ready to brandish his spear in defense of this place.

He knew they could not stop her. They were here merely to stall her, delay her approach. To even hope to weaken her was a task a millenia to soon for such...children.

Her sharp features lengthened, becoming lupine as she abandoned the pretense that was the veneer of civility, of humanity giving into the primal side, the beast within that had been leashed and coiled so very tight for so long.

She howled, her voice spreading across the cosmos in a single instant; nine lashing tails whipping behind her.

She was the last of the Nine, the greatest and most powerful beast of the earth that had ever strode across the flows and eddies of the great wheel. The one created to be the first and only truly living natural disaster.

These protectors...these warriors of the heavens would know her power now just as those of their kind that had fought her and her siblings at the dawn of ages.


Naruto turned, grabbing the bleeding, half conscious Kanu again before he searched for an escape. "Brace yourself." He said before stepping off the roof.

There was a moment of weightless vertigo before his legs slammed onto the roof of a moving cargo truck.

The vehicle lurched to a stop, and with a thought Naruto formed a clone, the apparition drawing a kunai blade and pressing it to the emerging drivers throat. "Drive!"

The real blond turned to look above, eyes narrowing as he saw Ryuubi lunge off the roof like a pouncing cat.

The truck lurched forward, with the driver pushing down on the gas at the clones urging, it wouldn't be fast enough.

Setting Kanu down, the jinchuuriki formed his handseals. "Katon: Ryuudan!" He breathed out of his masked lips the roaring, fiery beast that surged upwards, looking to swallow Ryuubi whole before the attack exploded infront of her forcing the girl away with the power of the blast, smashing her through the windows of the building.

Finally the truck picked up speed, and soon enough the driver started baring his horn to the other cars ahead of him, the clone not letting him slow down, forcing the truck to maneuver through the tightly packed streets of the Japanese city.

Naruto turned around, now having a moment to tend to Kanu's injury as he wrapped his belt around her limb, tightening with all his strength.

"Look at me!" He demanded of the anguished woman.

She did, opening one green eye to meet his as she sucked in harsh breaths.

"You have to stay conscious." He ripped off the shins of one pant leg, moving to use it to wrap Kanu's mauled limb. "If you-"

"Look out!" She snapped, eyes widening.

Naruto turned, once more drawing his sword, ready to use its ultimate defense when a green blade, no wider than a needle punched right through his ribs.

The blond coughed, tasting blood as he reeled, gripping his side. He turned his eyes above in time to see Hakufu fall onto him like a Valkyrie. Falling on his shoulder with a drop kick, hard enough to have the metal flooring beneath his leg buckle and collapse inwards, the sheer force on his collar bone making him drop the dragon sword.

A blade of pure chakra swallowed her limb, from her wrists to the tips of her fingers as she slashed at him..

He dodged, striking out with a brutal roundhouse that connected with her face! Kanu attacked from the ground with a sweep kick that smacked into the back of a knee, making her stumble enough for Naruto to deliver a straight front kick right on her forehead, knocking her flat on her back.

Naruto turned, ready to grab Kanu again and keep fleeing when the beast-like Ryuubi jumped up from the side of the truck, slamming into him, her claws carving bloody gashes over his shoulders and down his chest.

Naruto stumbled, cursing as the heel of his foot came in contact with nothing but air, standing at the edge of trucks crate. He gripped the edge with chakra, his foot coming up to smash his knee into the girls sternum, knocking the wind out of her. Grabbing onto her neck he lifted her before smashing her back down onto the metal flooring, cracking her skull against the metal flooring

He brought his hand up, blocking a kick to his face before pushing against Hakufu and moving to take up a proper stance again when Ryuubi recovered, impossibly fast the girl crawled over him like some mutant arachnid, pinning his arms to leave him open to the green chakra blade now rushing towards his chest.

The truck gave a sharp turn, too sharp and the blond cut the chakra to his feet as Hakufu stumbled.

The rear wheel of the truck-bed smashed into something, stopping the truck dead. The force catapulting him and Ryuubi through the air away from Hakufu smashing with brutal force against the brick wall of a building, Ryuubi's grip immediately going slack as Naruto felt the wind knocked out of him, even with her body cushioning the force of his impact.

They landed on the roof of a parked car, with a crash of dented steel and broken glass. The vehicle roared with its alarm as Naruto stumbled to reach his feet as quickly as possible.

He groaned, trying to regain his bearings, hoping the girl was alright. With an impact like that she was suffering some kind of internal damage she might even be dead.

Then he heard the crunching of glass behind him.

The blond stiffened, turning in order to see her picking herself free of the debris and broken glass, snarling and hissing.

He formed his handseals as she charged, slamming his hands into the ground to erect four walls of stone around her.

The chakra spike warned him of his other opponent.

An expression of steely determination turned into one of shocked surprise as he found himself staring at an incoming car...

One that had evidently been thrown...

He dived forward, rolling as the vehicle smashed into the sidewalk with a crash of dented steel and shattered glass, reaching his feet as he looked up to see Hakufu, one hand held aloft, with a wall twisted shards of metal, glass and stone debris hovering behind her ready to be unleashed like a volley.

'They're getting stronger!' He realized, dismayed.

Naruto's mind whirled with possible strategies and tactics, as he heard the earth wall crumble behind him! She'd torn through a wall of reinforced stone like wet cardboard!

He takes his stance, drawing two kunai as he shifts, positioning himself to keep both girls relatively infront of him.

Then, to his shock, Ryuubi and Hakufu fall to their knees, evidently struggling to even remain conscious!

The blond straightened, looking between the two faux Jinchuuriki before he heard a new voice.



Her eyes could just see the fruits of her enterprise, lying just ahead of her as her powerful strides carried her across the dimensions of time and space that made up this place.

Then he appeared. She was not surprised. Never would this treasure be unguarded, never would this power, the greatest left to all creatures, be left for someone like her to simply take.

Someone who would seek to step beyond their station.

He came on wings of gold light, brilliant, resplendent power caressing her with a searing caress.

He was half her size, in this, her true form but his strength could not be denied.

"You have no place here!" His voice was like a crack of thunder, lesser creatures would fall to their knees, weeping at it, or driven mad.

She smiled.

"Amaterasu. You seem so very lonely today. I thought I might come to keep you company."

"Your acts here are unforgivable! Your...heresy is nothing less than egregious! To offer a human the highest power! And then deface this place with your vile presence for some...misbegotten scheme!?"He roared out his anger, and she could feel his seething hatred burning across her mind. "Your life ends today! As it should have ended ten millenia ago with the rest of your kind!"

"Hahahaha. Try to stop me then Amaterasu! You've defeated me before! How hard can it be to do so again?"

"I do not need Susanoo or Izanagi to fell you creature! Your arrogance will now be your undoing!

Kyuubi roared out her challenge as a spear of light sped forward seeking her heart.


Turning the Shinobi felt himself stiffen with stunned surprise.

Hovering above him, wrapped from head to toe in bandages, was a man. Horrible burns revealed past whatever peeked out from between the strips of cloth.

It was his eyes, dark piercing eyes that rang across his memory of another beast with that gaze, and a description of the man that would be its primogenitor.


The man did not turn his gaze to him, he merely stared past him. At Hakufu.

The creature that controlled his charge visibly struggled to speak as she lifted her head enough to return the stare of this new arrival. "You...can't! It was not meant to be forever!"

"I can!" The burnt man roared back. "I am the strongest! I am the one that saved us! And always I grow stronger! Soon I will strike that deceiving demon down into the hell that spawned her!"

'Kyuubi did this?'.

"You dance...to her tune." Hakufu gasped, choking out the words as Ryuubi passes out, the orange red chakra vanishing from her body, receding back into the seal. "It is madness! Madness that grips you as it does sister!"

"I will have the power to destroy her!"

"She pulls at your strings! Break free of your enthrallment! The wheels cannot turn forever you know they cannot!" She pleaded. "The Uzumaki must die..."

"He will..." The bandaged man replied, turning his sights for the first time onto Naruto, silver reptilian eyes fixing themselves on the living calamity. "But only when I am prepared. For now the treacherous Kitsune can keep her toy."

"She has set us on this path!" Hakufu howled.


It was a battle that was played across the fabric of universes. Whole worlds burned with a single breath from the demoness lips. Stars died as Amaterasu deflected her blows, their clashes of power imploded solar systems. A rain of destruction played across a million worlds across every plane of existence; the seams of the universe itself coming undone as these two gods among mortals struggled.

It lasted an instant, decades, centuries, the very concept of time didn't exist in this place. A single movement could last a year and the clash of power could last a lifetime.

Each time Amaterasu's blade found its mark the kyuubi would respond with claws that were lances, teeth that were swords, tails that were battering rams. Light battled the most wretched of corruptions. Evil chakra spilled across the realms of existence driving back the brilliance to swallow everything in the gaping maw of death before the deity rallied his strength, driving back with holy light with just as much zeal.

Blood caked her red fur, armor was rent and torn asunder but there could only be one victor this day.

With a cry, the spear flew through the air, from lance, to light, from light to something else entirely.

The blow pierced her flesh, exploding out of her back as the beast gave a roar of agony, brilliant luminance burning her from within before her teeth bit down in a lunge, very nearly catching her prey in her last burst of strength.

When she opened her eyes again, she was in her human form, bleeding and broken, a gaping hole bled out her life's essence from her pierced chest as Amaterasu stood over her.

She chuckled, the sound bitter. "I see...you're still stronger than me."

"Your station was set...it was never your place to change it."

"So simple for you to say...to be content. You who sit the highest, looking down on those beneath." She turned her eyes to him, meeting his gaze beyond the glare of light that enveloped him. "You'd kill him simply because your afraid of loosing that place."

"The balance must be kept! Your human will be found, he will be cut from the fabric and erased from having ever existed"

She smirked. "You've always been strong...but that in itself is your weakness. Its led you to be presumptuous of your victory...Illusions have always been my specialty."

Her clawed hand rose from the folds of her red dress, coated with blood. A glowing, pearl like jewel in her grasp, its pink aurora slowly fading to be replaced by bloody red.

She laughed...long and loud as she gripped the blade of that deadly spear, stopping it dead as it bit into the flesh of her palm.

And he could see it there...see the future laid bare before him as she stared at him. And in that future, leering through that gaze he could behold something...apocryphal...

There in those maddened eyes he could behold only...oblivion.

And he could only agree...

"You should have just killed me Amaterasu!"


"It was her! She has sundered heaven!" She screeched, now struggling to reach her feet.

Naruto's eyes widened turning to stare at the orange haired girl. 'Kyuubi...what did you do!?'


The shinobi turned in time to see Kanu, battered and bloody, the raven haired seito student threw the blue dragon sword towards him with a cry of effort before she collapsed, the dizzying effects of the blood-loss sapping her strength as he caught the weapon in his grasp.

"Let me end this now!" Hakufu begged

The burnt man raised his hand. "I will end it..." He said. "I will take back what she has stolen...and keep what I have taken!"

The earth shook beneath his feet, the sky darkened then became impossibly white, the colors of the world shifted and bled, melting into one another

The sword in his hand burnt his grip, and he held on, clutching the weapon for all he was worth as the whole of the world bled away and all that remained was the blade before the world turned white.


Sesshomaru stopped.

From full stride to dead stillness the Taiyokai of the west held himself frozen, every primal instinct of that base, animal side hissing at him as his stomach turned and the very air seemed to turn dry and scratch at his throat.

He turned, looking at Inuyasha, and merely by his face, he could tell the Hanyou could feel it as well, whatever 'it' actually was.

He looked up to the sky as the rumbling of thunder trembled the earth beneath his feet, only to find the sky devoid of clouds.

Suddenly, the temperature rose, the sun becoming scorching hot in an eyeblink before it rapidly cooled, and he could see his own breath hovering infront of his lips.

"What the hell's going on!"

He had no idea...he only knew that it was nothing good.

And far away, standing amidst the waters of a dead healing spring, two beings knew the same to be true.


"For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, so that many may pass through it."

AN: I always found it curious that no one ever really asked or noticed that I never quite mentioned what happened with the Jewel at the start of this fic. :p

And so Kyuubi's plan comes to bear fruit, a big piece of the picture is revealed with the other half of it to be shown soon enough.

This chapter has been 90 percent done for a week. But with classes and finals coming up I've barely had time to do anything so I apologize profusely for the wait. As it stands this story will be going onto the backburner for a time so that I can focus on, and finish my other story "Souls of Heroes" Once that's done, I'll return to finish the other half of this fic.

Also for those of you who don't know the "Countdown to midnight" is a term that became widely used during the cold war when the science and defense committee created the "Doomsday clock" where "midnight" was the destruction of the world by nuclear war and the minutes was how far away we were from reaching it. Since then the term "Countdown to midnight" has been coined to indicate a rapid increase in the danger of widespread destruction or even the extinction of mankind for the wide plethora of reasons that can wipe us out. The clock was at its lowest point back in 1992

PS: As a side note, in case you were wondering the story will start to pick up quite a bit from here