7. First Contact
Night had fallen and the four devils were examining the church from a good vantage point. No one had entered or exited the church since they arrived there.
However, the closer they came to the church, the more uneasy they felt. Issei was outright sweating from the nearness, while Naruto was merely on edge. Yuto and Koneko did not visibly react to it, but they had been devils longer.
They definitely noticed it though. Yuto even went as far as to say, "From this presence, it's certain that there is a Fallen Angel inside".
He removed something from his jacket and showed it to them. Apparently, he had the blueprints of the church.
"How did you get that?" Issei asked in surprise.
"Well, it's basic when you are going into the enemy's territory," Yuto told him casually. "Besides the sanctuary, there is also a dormitory. The sanctuary looks suspicious."
"So we can ignore the dormitory then?" Issei asked.
"Most likely. Most stray exorcist groups usually make some alteration to the sanctuary. They usually perform suspicious rituals under the sanctuary."
"Why?" Issei asked in genuine confusion.
"It's the place they used to respect as a holy place, and by doing something that rejects God there, it makes them satisfied because it's an insult to God. Because they loved God, because they were rejected by God, they purposely cast evil spells under the sanctuary as a representation for their hatred."
The answer made Naruto consider the vengefulness of the former followers of God. He had never really considered how much hate they must have had for him.
"The sanctuary is located right behind the entrance. I think we can go straight in. The problem is to find the door to the basement once we get in the sanctuary, and also if we can defeat the enemies that will be waiting for us."
Nothing more was said before they made their way to the front of the church.
They passed through the entrance and headed straight for the sanctuary. Instinctively, they knew that their presence had been noted by the fallen angels already.
Stepping into the sanctuary, they saw the altar and pews. Overall, it was an ordinary sanctuary. The candle lights and interior lamps lit the sanctuary.
Actually, it appeared that there was one change. Naruto was pretty sure that the statue of the cross was not supposed to include a headless man.
The sound of clapping filling the sanctuary suddenly.
A man walked out from behind the altar. With his distinctive white hair, Naruto assumed he was the exorcist that Issei encountered previously. The look on his face implied as much too.
"Well, I never met the same Devil twice before! You know, since I'm super strong, I cut Devils into pieces when I first meet them! Once I see them, I cut them up on the spot! I then kiss the corpse and say goodbye! That's how I used to live! But since you guys ruined my style, I'm so lost! That's no good. It's not good to interfere with my lifestyle! You guys piss me off! I hope you guys will die!"
He took a gun out, along with the hilt of a sword. Suddenly, a blade of light emerged from the sword, reminding Naruto of a lightsaber.
"You guys came to rescue Asia-tan, right? Hahaha! Devil are big hearted for coming to rescue a bitch like that who would even heal Devils! Well, just being entranced to a Devil should make that Sister die!"
Alarm was clear in Issei's eyes as he spoke.
"Hey! Where is Asia!?"
"Well, there is a hidden stairs under that altar. From there you can go to the place where they are doing the ritual."
They were all surprised to hear the exorcist so casually reveal the location of the hidden stairway. The sheer arrogance in the man's eyes was almost as surprising. Even against four devils, he appeared completely confident.
"Sacred Gear!" Issei exclaimed, summoning the red gauntlet on his left arm.
Naruto attempted to do the same, but before his Sacred Gear could form, he felt pain shoot through his body. He internally cursed, realizing that the source of the pain was the spot where Akeno's spell hit him earlier. His body couldn't handle the stress of using his Sacred Gear.
His failure went unnoticed as Yuto unsheathed his sword and Koneko lifted a pew above her head effortlessly.
"Get smashed," she said before she threw the pew at her with her incredible strength.
The exorcist casually jumped over the pew.
But he was not merely fighting one person.
With his incredible speed, Yuto came within range of the exorcist in the blink of an eye. The exorcist was no pushover though. Their blades met, producing sparks. Despite the exorcist's blade being made of light, it was still quite solid. It even sounded like it was metal as it pushed against Yuto's.
"Hmmm! Hmmm! Such a pain! Why are you guys so noisy!? I'm super very bad! I'm sorry for talking in a death language! Forgive me after you die!"
Yuto dodged a barrage of soundless bullets from the exorcist's gun while continuing to attack the enemy.
Even more amazing than Yuto, however, was the exorcist. Never before did Naruto think he would see a human fight on par with a Devil.
Despite Yuto's speed, the exorcist's reaction times were good enough that he can meet him blade for blade and still survive.
"Impressive. You are quite strong," Yuto complimented, smiling.
"Ahaha! You too! A Knight, huh? Not even a single blind spot! This is great! Yes, this is what I'm talking about! Lately, I haven't had an awesome battle like this! I was about to cry because of it! But now, I'm going to kill you!"
"Yuto, let me handle this," Naruto said, stepping forward. "If we waste too much time fighting this guy, we won't make it in time to save Issei's friend. I have a feeling that we don't have much time."
Naruto felt the eyes of Konko and Issei on him, but he did not look back.
"You are right," Yuto conceded. "Be careful though. This is not an enemy that you can be careless with."
"I won't," Naruto said, dashing towards the exorcist. He was unable to dodge the exorcist's gun, but he did not need to. Despite stinging, the bullets of light bounced off of him. Holes could be seen in his clothes, but he possessed the defense of a rook.
Lashing out with a fist, Naruto managed to hit the exorcist. He was able to lean back so that the hit barely touched him, but it was still enough to send him sliding backwards.
"Go!" Naruto ordered, keeping his eyes focused on the exorcist.
"Be careful," Koneko and Issei told him. Moments later, the altar was destroyed by Koneko's fist and the trio made their way down the stairs.
"You're pretty cocky," the exorcist said with a laugh. "I'm going to enjoy cutting out to pieces!"
He put his gun away and came at Naruto with his sword.
Naruto did not have the speed or reflexes to dodge the attack. Looking down, he could see where the blade of light pierced his stomach. He could feel where it came out of his back too.
He coughed blood into the exorcist's face and lashed out with his hands, sending the exorcist flying back and crashing into the wall. He could barely stop from collapsing from the pain of the exorcist's attack. It was much stronger than he had anticipated.
"Not bad, but you're going to die!"
Naruto knew that he would die if he did not do something different. He probably should have let Yuto continue to handle the exorcist instead of volunteering. As he was, he would lose, and none of his spells would have helped too much. His offensive spells lacked the speed to hit the exorcist, and he did not think he could pull up a defensive spell in time to block the exorcist's blade.
He only had one choice.
Taking a deep breath, he called forth his desires. At the forefront was his desperation to not only survive but to win.
He felt pain consume his body as his Sacred Gear materialized, but he did not so much as flinch. Pain was inconsequential in that moment.
"A Sacred Gear user?" the exorcist asked curiously.
"Yes," Naruto answered, glancing down for a moment. The fourth magatama had appeared. "I guess there's one good thing about this fight."
Suddenly, Naruto was standing in front of the exorcist with his hand around the exorcist's throat.
The exorcist's wide eyes revealed his shock. "But you're a rook! You're almost as fast as that knight."
Instead of answering, Naruto squeezed his hand and shattered the exorcist's sword hilt. With the hilt destroyed, the blade followed.
"I'm almost as fast as he was when you fought him, but he was just playing around," Naruto told him, shaking his head. "But this is the end."
Suddenly, the exorcist became aware of Naruto's right hand. A orb of red energy stood floating before it.
"Magic Bullet," Naruto intoned, blasting the exorcist through the wall and to the outside of the church.
Already, he was finding it harder to breathe. Shifting the focus of his Sacred Gear to defense, he found that he felt a little better, but the stress of his Sacred Gear on his injured body was not making things easy.
Quickly, he followed after the others down the stairs.
The sight he came to see when he reached the bottom of the stairs was not what he hoped to see though.
About ten exorcists, a fallen angel, and a girl in little clothing could be seen. The exorcists were holding his comrades off, while the fallen angel appeared to be doing a ritual. A magic circle could be seen on her chest, along with the girl's.
Quickly, he gathered his devil powers and shot it at the fallen angel as an overpowered Magic Bullet.
With ease, she created a spear made of light and sliced his spell in half before looking at him with utter disdain.
"So, it looks like Freed has been defeated," she noted. "He did not go down without a fight though."
"Naruto, are you okay?" Issei asked, looking at Naruto in shock. The bloody sword wound could be easily seen.
His words caught Yuto and Koneko's attention as well, though they were careful not to drop their guard. Even so, they looked worried and guilty.
Suddenly, everyone heard a voice that made them stop what they were doing.
"Raynare, may I ask what you think you're doing?"
The fallen angel looked more worried than Naruto could have imagined.
Looking behind him, he saw a man descending from the stairs. With half black and half blond hair and a beard on his chin, the main had a very distinctive look. He appeared laid back and calm at first, but his eyes revealed a fury that sent a shiver down Naruto's spine.
"Azazel-sama…" Raynare whispered.
That was not a name that Naruto wanted to hear. It belonged to one of the leaders of the fallen angels. It belong to a man that Rias had told him far exceeded the combined power of her entire peerage. Against a man of his caliber, death was guaranteed.
"Imagine my surprise when I heard that your group was causing problems with devils in the territory of the Gremory group. Going against my orders and killing the wielder of the Boosted Gear, attacking devils that serve one of the Seventy-Two Pillars in their territory, and even going so far as to plot behind my back to obtain Twilight Healing… you are lucky that I'm the only one that came here. Are you trying to start another war?"
As he finished speaking, a magic circle appeared next to Naruto. Rias and Akeno were standing in the center of it.
"I apologize for the trouble that my subordinates have caused you," Azazel said, looking at Rias. "You have my word that they will be punished for their transgressions."
"But Azazel-sama-" Raynare started.
"Enough!" Azazel said, making her grow frightened. "You will all report to headquarters. You do not want me to have to chase you down."
Slowly, the exorcists left the room. They were followed by Raynare, her ordered her to wait in the sanctuary for him.
Once it was just the peerage, Asia, and Azazel, he let out a sigh.
"Thanks for contacting me, Akeno. The last thing we need is a war to break out," Azazel said, looking at the Queen. It confused Naruto. He could not fathom how she knew a leader of the fallen angels.
She looked at him with distrust before she spoke. "I was just following orders." She glanced at Rias as she finished speaking.
"The last thing we need is a war between the devils and the fallen angels. From your reputation, I did not believe that they were following orders. Doing all of this in the territory where the sisters of two of the Satans reside… it is not your style."
"No, it's not," Azazel said, glancing at Asia for a moment. "I will leave now. There is an uneasy peace between our people, and I do not wish to cause any problems by staying here longer than necessary."
Just like that, he made his way back up the stairs.
After he was gone, Issei rushed to Asia's side.
"Naruto, what happened to you?" Rias asked in concern, taking in his appearance. The look of guilt on Akeno's face did not go unnoticed by either Rias or Naruto.
"I underestimated that damned exorcist. I'll be fine," Naruto said, explaining the situation in detail. He looked to Akeno before he spoke again. "Relax, it's not your fault. My Sacred Gear couldn't have stopped his sword anyways. At best, it can double my defense, and that wouldn't have helped much."
That did not completely take away the look of guilt on her face, but she did not say anything else.
"I can heal that," Asia said, catching their attention. She looked a little nervous as all their eyes rested on her.
"Are you sure?" Issei asked carefully. "You're not hurt, are you?"
"I'm not hurt, and I can do this," she told him, making her way to Naruto.
Holding her hands up to his injury, he saw a ring form on each hand. A light came from the rings, and he felt the pain slowly leave him. After about a minute, he was completely healed.
"Thanks, I feel a hundred times better," he said, deactivating his Sacred Gear. While he felt tired after doing it, it did not knock him out like it would prior to her healing him.
"Tell me something, Asia," Rias said, catching her attention. "How would you like to join my peerage?"
In the end, Asia refused to become a devil. Despite being kicked out of the church, she still worshipped God too heavily to undergo a change that would bring her pain simply to pray. Rias actually accepted her decision and instead made a deal with her. If Asia served as the peerage's healer, she would be under their protection and Rias would take care of the problems that arose from the fallen angels no longer looking after her.
Naruto was not too concerned with the whole situation though. He was so exhausted from training for so long, using his Sacred Gear, and fighting the exorcist that all he wanted was to go to sleep.
Right after arriving at his apartment, he did just that too.
The moment that he was asleep, something unexpected happened though.
Instead of one of his unusual dreams, he found himself in an open expanse of white space. He was wearing the Kuoh Academy uniform. His eyes were focused on something that was a hundred yards away. Rather than something, it was someone. Dressed in an orange and black jumpsuit with a forehead protector that he recognized from his previous dreams, he saw himself.
"Hey Namikaze, I'm glad to see that you heeded my call," his alternate self said with a grin.
"Naruto Uzumaki?" Naruto asked, remembering the name that the alternate version of himself used in his dreams.
"Just call me Uzumaki, and I'll call you Namikaze. It'll be easier," his alternate self said, walking towards him. "I'm not good with complicated explanations, so I'll just come right out and say it. I'm your past life, and you're supposed to be my reincarnation."
Naruto was not sure what to say to that.
"Those dreams you've been having were my memories. I was hoping I could help you out, but I guess those memories didn't exactly come out whole. Now that we've met, I might be able to help you a little better though," Uzumaki said, looking a little sheepish.
"Why did I start getting those dreams after I became a devil?" Naruto asked, regaining his wits.
"Ah, well I didn't actually wake up until you touched that rook," Uzumaki replied. "I'm kind of surprised how different we are, to be honest. It took a war for me to calm down, and you're actually mature and smart. If I had told Sakura-chan that I'd be like you in my next life, I'd never have believed it." He laughed a little, thinking back on old times.
"I don't understand. So I'm actually a reincarnation of some guy from the past?" Naruto asked, unable to fully understand what was going on.
"I'm more than just some guy, but yeah," Uzumaki said, looking rather amused. "That's actually why you have Sennin no Magatama. I guess the guys that write those books about Sacred Gears would call it something else, but it seems like a better name to me."
"You know about my Sacred Gear?" Naruto asked in shock.
"Your Sacred Gear is one of a kind. No one else has ever had it. Well, I suppose it's actually based off of something that I had, but that's a story for another time," Uzumaki said, shaking his head. "The Sennin no Magatama will have six magatama when it's complete, so you've made good progress so far. You'll need to master it completely if you're going to use it so openly though. If anyone realizes who you are, you're going to be getting a lot of attention, and most of it will be bad. Anyways, I think that's enough for tonight. If you ever want to talk, you'll find me when you dream. You and I… we're the same. We share this soul, and I'll always help you if I can."
And with that, Naruto found himself falling from the expanse of white space into one of the few normal dreams that he had experienced as a devil.
It seemed that he was going to wake up with more questions than he went to sleep with.
Author's Note: I hate writing with a headache. My goal was to finish the first arc with this chapter though.
As you see, I went a different route than most people. Azazel has been introduced early, Asia is not yet a devil (though she can easily become one in the future), and Raynare is still alive. All three will have important roles in this story.
I look forward to seeing what everyone thinks of this chapter in general. Oh, and just a reminder to people... if you flame anonymously, I can reject your reviews before they are even posted. Or I can edit them and make them say whatever I want. Honestly, most flames make me think of a second grader getting mad at someone, so I end up more amused than hurt or even annoyed when I get them.
Anyways, thanks for reading and reviewing.