Summary: The creation of an ascended being puts a strain on reality. A little too much effort on his part or even just a slight loss of control may very well result in a tear—a warping of time and space itself. Unfortunately, Naruto and Sasuke have to pay the consequences. [Time-Travel. Warring Clans Era. No Yaoi. No Bashing.]

Reviewer Acknowledgements: I would like to thank all of you for your continued support. I'm not ashamed to admit that your praise and criticism equally fuel my passion for writing, so once again, thank you: Infamous Storm, He-Who-Shall-Live, Analon, kenegi, Taijen, imsabbel, Battle neurosis, sendicard, , Guest, elainaparker, WRose, shadowmarialove, The Leader of Monkeys, mepredator, Grace of Hearts, alex. rushing. 5, OrangeInk101a, princessbinas, Arafell, evil vixen sue, roy23, Alice Uzumaki, 10th Squad 3rd Seat, bribright91, Blinded in a bolthole, Xsaku-uchihaX, Kyle Wilkinson, Infernezor, Mcnitra, E3-FantasyandReality, lizonjoe25, skepsis66, KagedIn, Nagato wannabe, MBScavenger1498, StoneLily, sinbad7771, Jouaint, uchihatetsu, DanielHimura, bunnyguest, Hmm, hash4uall, PeinVPuppy, Dragolight, NTFS, Sabaku no Marron, passer by, Itachifreak8271, Sabeth, Kyong Kybis, 3kitttens, Btralox, Nyght elf, ApocalypseDragon169, the kriticalking, Stoneboss, Dimension Distorter, Kazemi Reikaze, Crystalzap, jess4795, Angelbloodlover, turtlefan16, Ressan, KHARAKI TAKAN, Guest, Lightningblade49, enchanted-nova, FruitySmell, LuxEterna1, flevantein, Silvanon of the Orchard, vincent1875, Lonely Athena, Empty Surface, duchessme, kurokamiDG, The Sons of Sparda, Guest, Shiki no Mai, Dorcyy, nazgulofxord, LimitedEternity, kyuubi shadow, fuser, Lazyman12, FamousFox89 aka the black Crow, Deadzepplin, xXTraineraXx, jezz788, Sierra166048, RefleR, Mnsk, Duesal's phone, Nightshadegirl, Guest, AISmash, Sagemodeman, The Kazekage of Suna, Kist, Impstar, serialkeller, Aloxamax, apple, Tirielle, Steve225, kingston21, Fiana Ocrisielt, Cute Kirby, Alianachan, Guest, What a Secret it Would be, cyan96, XL, FullofSeoul, Azzurro, 13, Beloved Daughter, Kariska, irnzenmonk, Cassie's Bedlam, Digitize27, Highvalour, and Kasuke. Hagase (For some reason the last name will not save in its original appearance no matter how many times I try. I'll get it up when fan fiction stops being glitchy.).


Hands of Time

Chapter 5: Take the World by Storm


~o0O0o~

"Just take care of this body for a while. I've already overstepped my limitations in using Naruto's form as my own." The cloak flickered again, this time, the entire thing disappearing momentarily as the bestial features were replaced with gentler, more human ones. It came back as quickly as it had vanished.

"The first thing I'll make you tell me is how you managed to become trapped in a mere human!" He snarled, showing off massive canines in the process, but the other Kurama didn't seem phased at all.

"I will, I promise you. Take care of this body if you ever want to find out. Besides, I think you'll like the brat. He grows on you."

With that, the golden shroud of power receded, plunging back into 'Naruto's' body. The red, foxlike eyes vanished, replaced by pools of electric blue that quickly closed in exhaustion, and its thick, black whisker marks reduced to thin lines on its cheeks.

Kurama groaned to himself as the human before him crumpled to the ground, dead to the world. "I absolutely refuse to be shoved into a human!"


~o0O0o~

***Akuma no Mori: Forest of Demons***

Kurama once again sniffed at the human that slumbered in front of him. It smelled like blood, fire, and an insane amount of chakra—for a human that is—but it absolutely reeked of fox. There was no denying it any longer: the human had his chakra, his eyes, his voice, and his scent. That really was a future version of himself trapped within the boy.

Damn it!

The Kyūbi rose with a snarl and began pacing relentlessly in front of his cave, scaring away what little remained of the surrounding wildlife in the process. It had been at least three hours since his future counterpart had somehow lost control, and Kurama wanted answers. He would shatter continents before allowing himself to actually be trapped inside a disgusting human.

But this was no ordinary human. His future counterpart seemed to be strangely fond of it, and the way that its hair had stood up in that blazing chakra-state . . . it reminded Kurama of his old man.

The gargantuan fox stopped its pacing with a sigh. He looked wearily at the human's prone form, watching as the wind played with the sun-kissed hair and tugged at the burned, tattered clothing.

Why hadn't he killed the human yet? Why was he sparing this potentially delicious sack of flesh?

Because if you do, Kurama, I will tell you of the rise of the Jūbi.

The Nine-Tails took a moment to glare at the unconscious mortal before shifting his gaze skyward. The sun had set hours ago and now the world basked in the pale glory of the moon. He had always hated that thing, that . . . reminder. Sometimes, Kurama feared that the moon would come down and swallow him too.


~o0O0o~

***Eons Ago***

Water dripped from stalagmites and strained towards the ground. The fluttering of bats could be heard as they huddled close to one another, the sounds magnified as they bounced off the cold rock walls. This was hundreds of feet below without any natural source of light, yet there was no darkness. For this was and would always be the cave of the World-Breaker.

His mere presence cast the cavern in a near blinding brilliance.

A huge russet nine-tailed fox twitched at what the man had just said, "What?! The Jūbi's dead! You said you killed it!"

The aged man heaved a sigh. He snapped his fingers and crystals burst forth from the ground, growing themselves into an ornate throne which he promptly occupied. The structure glowed with happiness, strange as that was.

"Not even I could slay the beast. I merely split it." A silver eyebrow raised as the rich, baritone voice reverbrated through the air, "You know this, child."

It hit Kurama with the chill of an icy lake.

Fact: the Ten-Tails is immortal in every way.

The young Tailed-Beast managed a stuttering protest after a moment of stunned denial, "B-But you said that it couldn't come back since you used it to create us!"

Us, meaning he and his siblings—the nine Tailed-Beasts. The splitting of the chakra was an irreversible act, as was the subsequent creation of nine godly beasts using the divine essence of the Ten-Tails.

Yet, Kurama's father shook his head with another sigh, his spiky silver mane flowing with an unfelt breeze as he denied the statement. His robust frame seemed to slump for a moment, and his long beard brushed the ground as his head dipped.

"There are certain things that you have not been told, things that I have foreseen."

Kurama felt his blood run cold and his heartbeat falter. The light that dwelled in the walls dimmed, as if in fear.

The giant fox gulped, his youth clearly shining through with his uncertainty, "Things . . . you've foreseen?"

There was a tense pause as the air thickened and the temperature took a dive, causing their breaths to come out in cloud-like puffs. The old man bowed his head then, all traces of kindness vanishing from his face as purple eyes began to glow and long robes fluttered to a wind that wasn't there, "In an age of perpetual warfare, an era rife with mistrust and misery . . ."

". . . Old man?" His voice was off—like there were three of him speaking in sync. The sound resonated throughout the cavern, echoing against the damp stone walls until the air rang with his penetrating words.

Kurama was deftly ignored, "The demented shall triumph, and the world will know true sorrow."

"Wait, what's that even supposed to mean?" the young fox interrupted, trying his best to make sense that which was far beyond him.

The man looked up at him, eyes gleaming ominously in the darkness.

They pulsed.

Ice flooded Kurama's veins as twin ripples dominated his vision, nailing him to the floor with an otherworldly ferocity. His every instinct screamed at him to run as fast and far as he could, but he dared not move an inch.

Those eyes were a very sudden and very successful reminder that the man before him wasn't entirely mortal.

Those eyes which held life and death in thrall.

Those eyes that promised to obliterate should he be so foolish to interrupt again.

Kurama's mouth snapped shut.

"When nine ancient beings converge after millennia, that which was once the cage of a god will imprison the world at large!"

He was standing then, shouting with a fearsome snarl on his face and his eyes glowing with that alien light. The cave pulsed violently as he spoke, shaking to its very foundations with his every word.

The gargantuan fox cowered before a man a thousandth of his size, knowing that despite his comparatively small frame, he was ten-thousand times more powerful. Of this, there was no doubt: only a certainty born of terrifying experience.

Silence reigned supreme as Kurama laid still at the feet of his creator. It grew so heavy in the air that he could hear as the rocks danced with chakra, before it dawned on him at last—the man was having a vision, his blessed eyes ripping through the future and back.

Fact: true prophecy is all-encompassing and inescapable.

A voice as harsh and unforgiving as winter itself seemed to freeze the air.

"And when the Ten-Tails walks this land again in all of its terrible glory, the Apocalypse shall take the world by storm . . ."

For a moment, there was only the soft monotony of dripping water. Kurama was speechless with shock and disbelief, telling himself over and over again that it couldn't be true, that it was impossible.

It had to be.

When the Ten-Tails walks, not if.

But no. The old man was never wrong . . .

Nothing could stop this.

Purple eyes dimmed.


~o0O0o~

The night air fluttered, and a voice came with the wind. Destiny awaits, Kurama . . .

"Che!"

This was far too important for him to deal with on his own. Kurama was intelligent beyond measure, but he knew his limits. He needed help to devise a way to stop the rise of the Ten-Tails, otherwise all would be lost. And the only ones he could trust with something like this . . .

He raised his hackles and growled, the sound resonating from deep within. That growl slowly deepened to a rumble that shook the very ground and caused the forest to quake, then that rumble transformed into an earth-shaking roar that tore through the night.

By now nearly every living thing be it animal or demon had fled the vicinity.

Excellent.

The fox stopped, snapping its jaws shut as its roar echoed through the forest. When the recurring noises finally died down, it turned its snout to the moon and snarled, "Looks like we're doing that again . . ."

As if in response, a breeze caressed his burnt orange fur. The night was silent once more. The moon watched solemnly in indifference, and Kurama bristled ever so slightly under its watchful gaze.

With a huff, he turned back to the yawning mouth of his cave. "Let's just get this over with."

With slow, measured movements, Kurama raised all nine of his tails so that the ends stood straight up, and he opened his gargantuan maw as if to swallow the moon.

Then he focused.

He poured his strength in through his tails, channeling the overwhelming power until it released into the air in front of his mouth, pooling it all to a singular precise point a few yards in front of his gaping maw.

There was a moment of resistance, then the super-charged air gave way as negative red globules of energy gathered to meet their positive blue counterparts. From there they fused and took shape in the form of a monstrous sphere of the purest, densest, most destructive chakra in existence—the Bijū Dama.

This was not a weapon.

It was dark purple, perfectly spherical, and it rivaled Kurama with its sheer volume. Within it resided enough power to lay waste to a nation, enough strength to obliterate a mountain, and enough heat to vaporize an ocean.

The air burned, humming with its intensity, and the energy inside the sphere roiled with the volatility of an angry god.

This was destruction incarnate.

Kurama aimed skyward and released in an explosive blast. He watched as it climbed higher and higher through the clouds, so high that he thought it would hit the moon, before it exploded in the air and blasted everything with a wave of searing heat.

The forest bowed down to the resulting gale, and the air was brimming with an overpowering brilliance as the mass of chakra erupted in a storm of fire that could be seen for miles—something that Kurama was counting on.

It was a signal, a beacon in the night.

Here in this primal forest, in a place untouched by men since time immemorial, the Tailed-Beasts would meet again for the first time in centuries.

The winds of fate shifted ever so slightly, whispering through the trees like a forgotten name. They tousled and tumbled until they reached Kurama, then they stroked through his fur, grooming him as though he were their child.

The fox's fierce expression softened as invisible fingers twined round his fur.


~o0O0o~

***Wārusaundo: Whirlpool Sound***

A beast unlike any other surfaced in Whirlpool Sound after a long day spent relaxing underwater. It was horned, tentacled, and absolutely massive, its size rivaling entire pods of whales. Gyūki floated peacefully in the tide, enjoying the way the moonlight illuminated the shore only a few hundred yards in front of him.

A bit further inland, there was a small fishing town with all manner of colorful lights to brighten their homes. Today was some kind of festival, and Gyūki was content to enjoy the spectacle as he was—peacefully, from a distance. Humans always seemed to get frightened of the Tailed-Beasts, and if he showed himself they would run away in a panic. Powerful as he was, the Eight-Tails was perfectly happy to leave alone everything that didn't bother him.

So he remained in the water, tentacles swirling to keep himself afloat, eyes fixated on the colorful lights before him.

Then he saw something far, far brighter. It was in the west—a massive conflagration that consumed the sky, threatening to swallow it whole. With it came a potent blast of chakra that was all too familiar.

The octopus-ox stared solemnly as the once calm water became violent and choppy. The lights in the village dimmed, going out one by one. Shrill screams of panic could be heard over the relentless full-moon tide.

Gyūki nodded seriously to himself, "So it's time once again."

He turned and disappeared in the depths of the ocean, traveling at a breakneck speed.

It wouldn't do for him to be late.


~o0O0o~

***Mori no Kuni: Land of Forests***

"But I don't wanna go in!" He was a young, skinny-looking teenage boy who was currently standing at the foot of some long-abandoned temple. Messy black hair hung over an unremarkable face, giving him an almost helpless appearance.

"Oh shut yer trap, Daichi. Yer going with all the rest of us." A grizzled old man with scars that viciously slashed across the left side of weathered his face roughly pushed the reluctant teenager forward. "In ye go now."

A dozen or so burly men shifted impatiently behind them, fingering the crude makeshift weapons that hung at their belts. They sighed their annoyance when their boss's nephew started to whine again.

"B-But what if there are traps a-and—"

"Oh shuddup!" This time the poor boy was unwillingly propelled in an unrelenting march as the strange pair slowly but surely made their way to the temple door.

The structure itself was remarkable. Situated in the heart of the Land of Forests, it was alien—untouched by civilization for ages—and absolutely massive, towering almost to the canopy. If the trees here weren't so big, there'd be no way that it could've gone unnoticed as the centuries rolled by inexorably.

Crumbling columns dotted the courtyard in parallel lines, indicating that there may have been a portico of sorts leading up to the entrance. Here and there bits of broken stone could be seen strewn around the courtyard.

But that was the least interesting part of the temple, the boring part.

Strange symbols had been carved into the walls, telling tales of vicious monsters and heroic men of ages long past. Some of the animals looked like they had multiple tails—a fox with nine, a strange turtle with three, and several other baffling creatures—but that was probably just due to the carvings deteriorating over time.

Daichi stumbled to a stop in front of a seamless wall. Ancient though it was, there were no cracks of any kind that they could use to their advantage. Only a single hexagonal hole about the size of a small hand rested directly in the middle, facing in the direction of the rising sun. From the hole the carvings blossomed into what looked like rays of light, spilling out onto the land below.

The man behind Daichi crossed his beefy arms and nodded with certainty, "This is it. Get the thing out, squirt." The men cheered at that, the end of their long journey finally in sight.

The poor boy looked around with wild eyes for some form of escape, but he eventually resigned himself to his fate and pulled a stone hexagonal pendant resembling a stylized sun off of his neck. After a moment of fearful hesitation, he placed it in the hole with a click and pushed it into the wall about six inches deep. The effects were immediate.

The massive wall split in two with a grating rumble that shook the jungle to its core. Birds and animals fled the surrounding area while the treasure hunters looked on in awed silence and a teenage boy in fear. They had done it at last. It had taken years to find the key and even longer to find the temple, but now they practically had the prize within their grasp.

The treasure hunters took eager steps towards the gaping hole that was the temple entrance, but stopped cold in their tracks when the ground glowed red. Lines of light blazed to existence, tracing across worn stone and soil alike as they wove themselves into a pattern of incredible complexity. The group was frozen as the lines finished their dance, completing the trap as they winded around them.

A silence so profound that they feared the forest was dead.

"U-Uncle? Is t-this a—"

"Don't move kid," the man snarled back in answer to his nephew's fearful question. "Don't. Move. A muscle. This here's an ancient shinobi seal. Tracks by motion."

By now, every man's face was the picture of horror as their imaginations ran wild trying to think of what the seal could do; then they simultaneously blanched as a deep guttural growl rumbled from within the temple.

"What was that?!" It wasn't the boy this time: one of the men had finally lost his nerve and screamed out the question. "No! NO! I'm not gonna die here! I won't!" He took off like a gazelle, bounding away with incredible swiftness.

The leader stiffened. "Komuro, no! Don't—" He trailed off as the man suddenly halted in his flight, suspended in midair with an incredibly confused expression on his face.

That confusion swiftly transformed into a terrified realization as he began to scream in shrill panicked shouts.

"NO! NO! NOOOOOO—" He was cut off as his body imploded, splattering his stunned companions with his blood and gore. What was left of the man dropped to the ground with a squelch and the seal pulsed, as if challenging someone else to dare try and escape.

A silence so deep that it stilled their beating hearts.

Then the ground shook once more, and a thick purple poisonous fog flowed from out of the temple. The doomed treasure hunters hastily covered their mouths, still clinging stubbornly to their survival, but even these grizzled veterans knew when all hope was lost.

That moment came when the air filled with buzzing, and an overpowering presence dominated the area. When a deep voice roared from within the temple, they knew they didn't stand a chance.

"Freaking Uzumaki brat! Trapping me here was way too far for hide-and-seek! I was only kidding when I said I'd eat him too!" A monster almost as big as the temple itself zipped out through the door. It didn't seem to notice when its momentum sliced clean through several of the treasure hunters and forced the rest to duck in a panic, motion-detecting seal be damned.

The seal wasn't so forgiving.

The monster hovered in the jungle air, ignoring the lot of them as over half their number imploded violently.

"Oh yeah! Lucky Seven Chōmei is back! Whoohoo!" It did a happy backflip midair, buffeting the forest with gusts of wind, prompting more than a few birds to flee for their lives.

It was without a doubt the largest bug in existence, with a helmet-like head, six wings that were akin to a dragonfly's, and a single tail that trailed behind it as it flew. The air shivered as it was abused by the insectile wings, all other sounds drowned out by the steady drone it produced while keeping itself aloft.

A few moments later for reasons unknown the dark-toned beast turned to the east, its massive body blotting out the sky as it flew above them. "Of all the times for a family meeting . . ."

Down below the remaining men collapsed one by one with bleeding eyes and purple skin; they had fallen victim to the miasma. Young Daichi's unseeing eyes stared up unflinchingly at the moon.


~o0O0o~

***Ame no Tochi: Land of Rain***

It was not a happy night in the Land of Rain. The entire nation was always covered in clouds, perpetually in a state of rainy grey. It was for this reason that its people were always reluctant to bathe. In fact, they didn't really like anything that had to do with water. They saw way too much of the stuff on a daily basis to willingly scrub themselves off in a pool of it.

It was this unfortunate attitude that drew the attention of the Six-Tailed Slug—an obsessive clean freak of the First-Order, insufferable bastard to all who knew him. "Bathe in my bubbles you filthy little clumps of dirt! I shall clean you all!" It proceeded to laugh manically.

The titanic invertibrate conveniently ignored the fact that its chakra-bubbles were not of the cleaning variety, but in fact toxic and incredibly corrosive. Not to mention that they exploded on contact. In a word, catastrophic.

Everywhere in that certain unlucky village which Saiken had decided to 'clean' for the night, people ran for their lives.

"It's going to kill us all!"

"Stop moving! Don't you want to be clean?!" Its freakish need to be clean was nothing short of deadly.

"What did we do to deserve this?!" The villagers screamed in horror as the rampaging beast destroyed their homes.

"Aaaaahhhhh!"

"Mommy?! Mommy?! I can't find you!"

"BUBBLES! AHAHAHAHA!" There was an earth-shaking boom as one of the slug's accursed bubbles made contact with a building, instantaneously disintegrating the infrastructure. It collapsed within moments, kicking up a storm of dust and debris.

"We can't do anything! Everyone, just shut up and run! Go!" The village headman had finally captured the attention of his people long enough to direct them all away from the rampaging beast instead of just allowing them to run around with about as much direction as a headless chicken.

The forty-something man paused to scoop up the little girl who had been crying for her mother, muttering a quick promise to locate the woman when they had the time. Then the sniffling girl stilled in his arms.

"Oji-san, look!" She wiggled excitedly in his grip. "That bad monster's going away!"

The village leader turned around only to see that the monstrous slug was indeed quickly oozing away, finally leaving his home alone.

"Praise the gods, we're saved from that beast!" One of the other men had noticed as well.

All around, burned and ragged villagers cheered thunderously by the hundreds in joyous celebration. For a moment, the headman allowed himself to join them, whooping in delight as he plunged into the teaming crowd.

But then he saw it—the skies bled with orange and red in the east, lit with an inhuman power of epic proportions. It was in that direction that the Six-Tails traveled.

The man shuddered as he felt his heart go out to all who were in the slug's path. "Gods protect them."

The full moon was obscured by ever-lasting clouds as the small village burned in the night.


~o0O0o~

***Tsuchi no Kuni: Land of Earth***

The dolphin-horse's powerful hooves pealed like thunder throughout the vast rocky plains. She was a noble creature—strong and independent. For centuries she had lived alone in this arid land that she called her home, racing across the barren rocky fields so fast that sometimes she thought she could fly. Sometimes, she wished she could.

Tonight, the moon shined high above in its full glory and illuminated the entire area with pale, soft light. The wind was soft and gentle as a feather.

'Tonight is a good night to run.'

Kokuō slowed to a stop, admiring the sheer vastness of the plains she was traversing. She shook her neck, the movement rippling throughout her muscular body and five tails. The way the moonlight reflected off of her white hide gave her a ghostly appearance, as if she could vanish at any given moment despite her massive size. Once she finally managed to halt her run, she stood in place pawing at the ground with an enormous hoof as she gazed at the moon with a sense of forelorn nostalgia.

'We miss you, father. All of us.'

As suddenly as lightning without warning, there was a shift in the air and Kokuō's eyes widened in alarm as a wave of potent chakra washed over her. The last time she had felt this . . .

The Five-Tails turned her head Southeast. The clouds were completely blasted away in the far-off distance, and the sky bathed in a sea of flames that spanned for miles.

The dolphin-horse smiled to herself. "It's been a while . . ."


~o0O0o~

***Nishi no Kazan: Volcanoes of the West***

The lava was nothing more than a blanket of warmth to the King of the Sage Monkeys as he meditated in the heart of a volcano bordering the lands of Earth and Wind. It filled him with the strength of fire and earth as it swirled and bubbled in bright-red, superheated blobs of fluid.

The Four-Tails didn't so much as open his eyes when a burst of lava sprayed all over his right side, quickly dripping down his gorilla-like frame back to the lake of molten rock below.

He merely sat there, steadily breathing in and out. With each inhalation, the lava fled to the core of the volcano, doing its best to burrow deeper inside the Earth. But when he exhaled, it shot up with a vengeance, spraying in bright red plumes of liquid flame.

After a few minutes Son Goku slowly opened his eyes, but it wasn't because of the volcano. Something from the outside world had demanded his immediate presence. With a hoot of slight effort, the Four-Tailed Monkey bent his knees then jumped straight through the shaft of the volcano and emerged out the top in a single, effortless movement. The lava roiled due to his sudden activity, but he paid it no mind.

His attention was set on the skies to the east. They burned brighter and hotter than any volcano, and that subsequent blast of chakra was unmistakable.

"Humph! Let's go see what the old fox wants."


~o0O0o~

***Kawa no Kuni: Land of Rivers***

The Three-Tailed Turtle surfaced in a lake of pristine beauty—his home for more than three centuries. Young pines dotted the sandy shore haphazardly, and a veritable thicket of the taller, older trees stood proudly further away from the water's edge. He leisurely made his way to the sand, water cascading down his spiny shell like miniature waterfalls as he stepped out of the surf.

With a grunt of boredom Isobu lumbered across the beach, dragging himself with massive humanoid hands while three coral-crusted tails trailed behind him—ancient proof of his millennia spent in the ocean at depths that could crush and freeze most men. After centuries of murky waters and oversized fish he had tired of sitting in the water for so long, so he decided to use the moon's light to explore the land.

In truth though, he was lost. He had no purpose, no drive. Every single day meant nothing. Each passing year only meant that he was a bit older than before, that the sun had shined for a little while longer. He was merely set adrift in the unrelenting flow of fate and destiny, and he couldn't do a damn thing about it.

Even though he was ancient and mighty, his existence was hollow, empty.

And he hated it.

A cloud passing over the moon recaptured his attention, and he watched in contenplative silence as the pale light shifted through dancing shadows.

Admittedly, not much had changed in the past decade or so since he'd last set foot on dry soil. The trees were the same, even if they looked a bit less like oversized toothpicks having grown a bit.

There were the same bold squirrels, scolding him loudly for disturbing their rest with his walk. One of them even had the nerve to jump onto his face and start screaming at him head-on.

Isobu gave a long-suffering sigh before he puffed a gust of wind from his nose and sent the squirrel flying back into the conifers. He truly despised those things . . .

He was almost glad when they were all scared off by a blinding light from the west, and even more so when he felt a very unique blast of chakra racing close behind with a speed like no other. The air shivered with its potency, and the panicked cries of the animals gave way to a stunned silence.

When he felt the chakra of his brother, Isobu grinned and laughed, "Looks like it's time for a family meeting." Hopefully Matatabi wouldn't try to claw his face off again.

Most of all, he was just happy that for the first time in centuries something was finally happening: a gathering. The very word made his blood burn in anticipation.

The turtle looked at the lake for a moment, soaking in the sheer majesty of it all; then he turned and and curled in on himself, compacting his body into a ball-like structure that proceeded to roll away at incredible speeds.

The once still waters trembled in his wake.

The skies sighed in mournful melancholy as the winds of fate changed their course.


~o0O0o~

***Kaminari no Kuni: Land of Lightning***

Matatabi was nothing but a blur of blue in the moonlit night. She tore into the dense mountain forests, crashing through trees and boulders alike. Why? The reason was simple: revenge.

"I'm going to rip your flesh from your bones!" It may have had to do with the fact that the Two-Tails was a cat, but she was absolutely merciless to anything that disturbed her slumber. Well . . . anything, really. She took the cake for 'meanest cat'.

On this particular night, it was a very unlucky kunoichi who had intruded on Matatabi's cave, merely hoping for a place to sleep. The poor woman was frightened out of her wits when a monstrous creature that was made out of blue flames burst from deep within the cavern, intent on seeing her dead.

Well shit.

She did the natural thing and bolted, screaming for all she was worth. "Noooooooo! Please don't eat me! I don't taste very good!"

But Matatabi was never a forgiving creature. She was a feline in every sense of the word—intelligent, graceful, and incredibly vicious. "Get back here!" she hissed as she slowly gained on the admittedly agile woman. "Your organs are mine!"

It didn't help for the woman that the monstrous feline was hungry as well as angry. Revenge eating was scary, an activity Matatabi rather enjoyed.

"NOOOOOOO!" The immense cat huffed with annoyance as the woman picked up her speed. Pesky humans with their adrenalin and whatnot. That little kunoichi was way faster than she had any right to be, especially with her pitiful levels of chakra.

Then Matatabi stopped cold in her tracks as she sensed something that she hadn't felt in centuries, allowing her quarry to slip away in the process. "Che! Little weakling!"

The woman pounced on the chance, scrambling away for all she was worth. She disappeared into the night, becoming one with the shadows. "You can't run from me!" Matatabi called after her. Lies, but the woman didn't need to know that. She was probably soiling her pants by now.

The cat snickered, but was silenced when a blast of incredibly dense chakra washed over her, bringing with it a very particular scent—fox. Demon fox. She stood shock-still for a moment as she watched the skies burn in the southwest, then she groused to herself, "He's always had the worst timing!"


~o0O0o~

***Kaze no Kuni: Land of Wind***

"Wheeeeeheeeeee!" Shukaku was having a great time. It was a full moon, there was sand all around, and there were plenty of these pesky little shinobi to kill! One of them tried to sprint up his leg, but was swiftly swept away and subsequently crushed by an onslaught of sand.

"Let's get this party started!" The monster then began a series of poses in an attempt to dance which would have looked ridiculous if he wasn't so damn terrifying.

A small group of shinobi advanced from Shukaku's right, chucking a variety of pointy objects as they ran. Shukaku wasn't really hurt by the weapons, but they still stung. One of the men—apparently the leader—flung a few bombs in his direction. "Take him down!"

"Hey, quit it!" With a sweep of his arm, a massive wave of sand buried the small group of shinobi. Crush. Grind. Squelch. The One-Tailed Raccoon turned to the remnants of the force that he was busy curb-stomping with a wicked gleam in his eyes. "Now, let's have some fun!"

The shinobi gulped. Several wet their pants.

Shukaku whooped as he raised his arms high above his head with his palms straining towards the heavens. Then he got his groove on.

All of the shinobi in the area had to resist the urge to gag as the bulky raccoon started shaking its hips like there was no tomorrow. "Oh god, it's dancing! Make it stop! Make it stop!"

"My eyes! My eyes!"

"Why?! Is slaughtering us not enough?!"

Shukaku ignored the party-poopers as the sands rose and fell to the the tempo of his groove, steadily encroaching on the desert shinobi. "TIME TO BOOGIE! YEEEEEAAAAAAAAAH!"

But the raccoon cut short his early victory dance when he felt something that he hadn't felt in ages—a wave of power, a blast of searing heat. He turned his gaze eastward and witnessed the skies light up in a vast storm of fire.

"Aww, fuck it."


~o0O0o~

***Three Days Later***

Naruto awoke with his head pounding and his face feeling like it had been burned off then taped back together. His arms were useless sticks at his side and his legs may as well have been lead. Add to that the fact that he couldn't even remember the last time he had his ramen.

That settled it; mornings sucked.

He opened his eyes with a pitiful groan, squinting when the unwelcome sunlight engulfed his vision. Slowly but surely he pushed himself up off the grassy ground into a position where he could at least view his surroundings.

"And it finally wakes. Pathetic little human." A familiar voice shook the ground.

Naruto didn't so much as flinch as he sleepily rubbed his eyes. "Not now, Kurama. My head hurts like crazy!" He coughed when a large puff of steam flooded through his face. "Gah! What the hell, 'ttebayo!"

A demonic fox of gargantuan proportions shifted closer, staring ominously at his forbidden prey. "Naruto . . ." It said the name carefully, taking care to pronounce each syllable in a manner that would have sent chills down most people's spines. Then again, its voice along would have caused most to flee, a voice like a steel battleship against concrete. "We have much to discuss, you and I." The promise in those words was anything but good.

Said blond merely threw back his head and yawned widely, his pearly whites flashing in the sunlight. "Man am I tired! Sakura-chan and Kakashi-sensei would definitely—" He stopped cold as his eyes shot open. Hyperventilation set in as his memories crashed through his consciousness.

The rise of a monster far beyond anything they could hope to defeat. It's power unfathomable, its strength beyond compare.

'No . . .'

Flashes of a man who had absorbed a god. His eyes brimming with power, his rage a weapon of its own.

'No!'

Visions of treasured loved-ones being slaughtered in droves, all of them perishing for a single cause. Lifelong friends cut down right in front of him, the same people who had put their trust in him.

Worst of all, they hadn't just died; they died for him.

The people he had grown to care for, the people who had built him up.

Naruto hadn't seen their end, but he knew.

It all came crashing down to one simple thing.

He.

Had.

Failed.

Naruto couldn't tell when he started to scream. All he could remember was his throat becoming raw and his heart ripping in his chest.


~o0O0o~

Author's Note: I would like to give a huge shout-out to Dorcyy for recommending this story in her "A Chance for Prophecy". Should you readers check it out? Absolutely. It's one of the best time-travels out there. I would also like to thank sendicard and Infamous Storm for beta-ing this story. Without their guidance I wouldn't be half the writer I am now. Anyway, get ready for a totally badass Tailed-Beast Gathering!

And wherever you are, I hope you enjoy the holidays! :D

Well then, until next time.

P.S. Did you guys catch the Sage of Six Paths?