Chapter 7 – Self Destruct

Author's Note

I know, its shorter than you probably want it to be, and its been forever. I wish I could say I had a good excuse, but really, I've just been lazy and writers blocked. I know, I'm a terrible person. I'll try and get the next one out sooner.

oOoOoO Naruto OoOoOo

Neither seemed willing to make the first move.

The Advocate and Architect stared at each other, one grinning, the other looking absolutely shocked.

After a moment, the Architects eyes narrowed. "I was right earlier – this is literally impossible. You can't be here."

"And yet - " the Advocate gestured, indicating his stolen body, "here I am."

"A facsimile. A tendril of influence. Nothing but the shadow of a shadow. If you tried to force even a fragment of your power into this world, it would pop like a soap bubble." His voice became more and more confident as he continued. "You're merely a construct, a clone, a piece of your consciousness stuck in a worthless shell."

"And what are you wearing, huh? A discount flesh suit?" The corpse chuckled. "At least I had the manners to wait till the owner was dead before taking over his body."

Naruto twitched, rolling over slowly as the two brothers faced off. Everything hurt, like he'd been using Sage Mode for hours. If he'd ever had Kurama extracted from him, this is what he'd imagine it would feel like afterwards. Sarutobi had impacted the wall near him, and was watching the events with horrified eyes. Hizashi was standing off towards the center of the room, head still bowed, meekly awaiting the commands of his new master. Naruto shuddered at his blank, staring eyes, and started crawling.

"I've had enough of your insolence," Architect said coldly, raising a hand. Two Root ninja appeared seemingly out of thin air, their appearances disheveled and bloody. "Use lightning techniques to stun it, then fire to finish it off."

The two Leaf ninja began making hand signs, no doubt to fulfill their masters order. Naruto glanced around, but there was no way he could assist. Avoiding fire techniques in such a cramped space would be next to impossible.

"You remembered. I'm touched." The monstrosity grinned. "However, I don't like this stage. Perhaps we should change location." He raised one hand into the air, palm open. "After all, those are very nice explosive seals you've written all over the dome."

Naruto's eyes widened in shock as he made note of the hundreds of etched markings surrounding them. Some of them were explosive seals?! If only ten percent of them exploded, they could level the Hokage Monument!

Advocates hand closed. The lines lit up red as the seals activated. Time slowed down for Naruto.

He was going to die.

Without accomplishing anything, he was going to die. Sarutobi, whose hands glowed with healing chakra, would die. Hinata, who was somewhere else in the compound, was going to die.

Her face filled his mind, smiling, eyes forgiving. Maybe that wouldn't be the worst.

No way in hell.

Naruto's eyes snapped open, flashing red as he poured all his strength into one final lunge.

oOoOoO Sarutobi OoOoOo

He formed the hand seals just in time as several moderately cataclysmic things occurred.

One, the 'Advocate' that had come out of Naruto's seal closed his hand into a fist, somehow activating another ninja's explosive tags without touching the seal array. Said explosive tags would pack enough firepower to destroy a large chunk of Konoha.

Two, the false-Danzo and his Root shinobi formed several earth techniques. The barriers rose, substituting quality for quantity as Hizashi moved into the circle with them. The Architects eyes glowed with fury as he looked at his brother, but he made no move to leave the protective dome.

Three, Naruto's eyes flashed red, and he was now just close enough -

"Earth style – Diamond Rampart!" Sarutobi roared, his lungs burning with the sudden effort. The crystalline barrier rose as the red glow deepened.

oOoOoO Shisui OoOoOo

Luckily, they'd just left the cave.

Because, well, there was no cave anymore.

Covered in dust, Shisui stared open mouthed at the collapsed entrance. Fragments of stone bounced off the top of his head. Luckily, the blast had mostly settled for collapsing the tunnel, or the fragments would be much sharper and way more deadly. As it was, his clothes were even more ripped and torn than when he'd come in, and there were several new bloody scratches to add to his misery.

"Hinata?" He called, turning towards the child, but she had been sheltered from the worst by the branch family member. He let out a sigh of relief. "Seriously, what the hells going on back there? Did those Root go suicidal or what?"

Something flashed through the trees. Shisui's Sharingan activated out of instinct - for a brief moment. His chakra was low enough, it turned off almost immediately. Root ninja – lots of them, probably all that remained of the force that had attempted to bring down the village. All of them were headed deeper into the forest, straight towards the ominous chakra signature.

What happened while I was on that mission? Shisui thought, before unconsciousness pulled him under.

oOoOoO Hiruzen Sarutobi OoOoOo

The rush of chakra required for the powerful defensive technique was very quickly draining his reserves. Sarutobi released the technique with a gasp, wincing as the movement put strain on his newly reconstructed ribs. He wasn't exactly the best at medical techniques, but he had enough knowledge to mend the fractures.

He turned to Naruto, running a green palm down his side as he performed a standard diagnostic technique. The boy's chakra was running wild, but the seal was holding, and his life wasn't in danger.

Whatever else he could do would have to wait. The crystalline barrier was disintegrating without his chakra to hold it in place.

To his surprise, the Advocate was standing directly outside his barrier, obviously waiting for it go down. The puppet cursed Danzo was still in his earthen dome. Sarutobi made a few seals, the familiar signs second nature to him after decades of practice.

"Summoning technique!" he called, biting one finger and slamming the hand onto the ground. Enma appeared, crouched and ready for combat.

"Easy there, old man," the Advocate said, holding his hands out in a gesture of peace. "Wouldn't want you to break a hip or something."

"What – no, who are you?" Sarutobi asked curtly, ignoring the insults. "Why are you here?"

"I already introduced myself, and as to why I'm here - " He jerked a thumb at the dome, " - well, its a bit of a family matter."

"Hiruzen," Enma spoke up, "I thought you dismantled Root?"

"I thought so as well," Sarutobi muttered, wiping off the trickle of blood that was running down his face. He'd never been the best medical ninja, but to tutor Tsunade, he'd learned the basics. His cracked ribs were mostly healed already, and he'd stopped actively bleeding, but he was still a mess. That chakra explosion had caught him off guard. "Still, its not the time for that."

"Considering we're surrounded by Root operatives, I think it actually might be relevant," Advocate said, nonchalantly stepping aside as a kunai streaked across the rubble-strewn crater, slicing through the area where he'd been standing a second before. "They were probably confused with my choice of disguise."

The dome cracked, earth chunks falling as it opened, revealing Danzo and his two lackeys.

"I can handle Danzo, or I can handle the Root operatives," Sarutobi muttered, "but I can't handle both."

"Truce?" Advocate offered.

"For now," Sarutobi said, standing. "Earth style – Lattice Dome." A dome of rock appeared, surrounding the unconscious child. "Enma."

The monkey king nodded, forming himself into the adamantine staff.

"How are we going to divide this up?" The Advocate said, eying the Root members as they stepped out of the trees.

"I'll take Danzo. You take care of the Root operatives."

Advocate scowled at him. "No, I'll fight my brother. Its the whole reason I'm here."

"That isn't your brother, monster. That's Danzo, a true patriot of Konoha, and he deserves to be treated like one." There was more iron in his voice than he normally put in it. Jiraiya had always told him that when angry, he could scare Tsunade, and out-glare Orochimaru. The two stared at each other for a moment, willing the other to back down. Finally, the Advocate snorted.

"Alright, have it your way. This body isn't in the best condition anyways. I'll pick up the spares, and you can take on my brother." Advocate grabbed the mans shoulder as he turned. Hiruzen almost counterattacked, but managed to stymie the impulse at the last second. "If you fail – I'll finish him for you."

"I wont," Sarutobi said, shrugging the man off as he stepped forward. The Advocate, whatever he was, simply grinned as he turned to face the circle of ninja. Without another word, both men exploded into action, leaping for their respective targets.

oOoOoO Minato OoOoOo

Minato staggered into the hospital, more from mental exhaustion rather than a lack of chakra. The Root attacks had ceased, the remaining minions of Danzo having retreated or gone to ground after their ignominious defeat. Despite the advantage of surprise, the weight of numbers was too heavily against them. It had been hideously bloody, but Minato's defense of the hospital let them save many lives that would have been lost.

He just hoped Kushina would forgive him for not telling her that Naruto had been kidnapped. It wasn't a matter of strength. Holding a child hostage against his mother would be childs play for someone like a Rock ninja. Sarutobi was strong – he could handle it.

Something erupted outside. Minato staggered, falling against an empty bed. Tray tables full of surgical tools fell to the ground. Patients followed them, some with broken limbs already. Nurses rushed around frantically, stabilizing patients whose wounds had ripped open once more.

"What was that?" Kushina asked, rushing to his side. "I feel – wheres Naruto?"

Minato could only stare into the distance; a malevolent energy permeated the air, weak at this distance but enough to make him nauseous. It disappeared almost as soon as he felt it.

The Kyuubi?

oOoOoO Fugaku OoOoOo

"This is all of them, then?" Fugaku asked, staring out at the fifteen Uchiha that had assembled. The atmosphere was relaxed, with an undercurrent of tension. They were making an effort to show how utterly unafraid they were, as if taking on the village they'd been born in was something they'd practiced for every day.

"Yes," Akira said, looking proud. "The Hokage has left the village with his wife. Shikaku is still in Anbu Headquarters, coordinating disaster relief efforts and scouting parties. These Uchiha will put everything on the line for their clan and strike a blow for our honor. When they day is out, we should be able to put the Hokage's hat on your head."

"And none of them have any. . . doubts?"

"No," Akira said, frowning at him. "They're absolutely loyal to the cause, and they share our ideas."

"Good," Fugaku said, his eyes closing. When they opened, they opened blood red. "Then we can begin."