Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto or Mass Effect.
Chapter 65: You want to talk about it?
"Right this way, right this way," the weedy looking man said as he ushered Naruto into a room
Naruto allowed him to do this but it didn't mean he approved of it. "Man, this guy is being pushy without actually pushing me."
"It can happen," Saiken told him.
"Besides," Kurama added, "You agreed to this."
That was true. It was why he wasn't trying to argue with the guy. He was led into a room that looked like it was filled with cameras and lights. "Please wait in here, sir," his usher told him, gesturing into the room.
He stepped inside immediately noticed something. "Hey, where is everyone else?" he asked, looking back at him.
He waved it off trying to make it seem like it was nothing. "Oh, don't worry about that, sir."
The blonde was most certainly going to worry about that. In his experience, walking into a room and being told to wait there meant the waiter was going die, sometimes by the room itself. He glared at the man and folded his arms. "That's not good enough," he said, a warning tone edging his voice. "Where is everyone else?"
The man laughed nervously. "They're on their way soon. The producers didn't want to spook you with the people right away."
What was he, some kind of fragile glass picture? He had never met the producers for this documentary and already he wanted to have a word with them. "Uh-huh," he said, not believing a single word he was being told.
The man was actually sweating down. He pulled out a handkerchief and pressed it against his forehead. "Sir, please just wait here. Your interviewer will come in first and then the crew will be right behind me." He vanished out of the door faster than Naruto could say anything to him.
The blonde glared at the door. "Why don't you leave me in a room with a bomb?"
Kurama rolled his eyes. "That already happened to you."
He knew that. He could deal with that with relative ease. Being shoveled into a room and quickly left alone was enough to make his shinobi senses perk up and look for danger. He forced himself to breathe easy. He was not in any danger here. He was still on the island. The Tribe or the Akatsuki hadn't found him.
He walked past all the cameras and lights. They were all focused on one area and that's where he would go. He found himself looking at a couple of chairs facing each other against a set of bookcases. He went over to one of the bookcases and reached for a book. It came out easily. "At least it's not faked," he thought to himself, putting the book back. That was a comfort."
"Hey Naruto," said Kurama.
"Look above the bookcases."
He tilted his head upwards. Right above was a map of the Elemental Countries. It was done in paper and ink, showing an artist's detail to it. He only had to look once at the paper to know that it was old. He didn't even have to see that to know it. He had seen this map long before he came into this room.
"I see that you've found the map," an old voice said from behind him.
He turned around, stopping himself from reaching for a weapon. A man with a mane of silver hair and matching trimmed beard, stood with the cameras. His green eyes looked curiously at him behind a pair of glasses. He was dressed simply, a pair of pants and a sweater. "Who are you?" Naruto asked.
"I am Nathanial, professor at the Library with degrees in historical warfare," he introduced himself with a slight bow. His tone was polite and cultured. He came forward with his hand extended. "There's no need to introduce yourself. You don't require one, Naruto Uzumaki."
The shinobi shook the professor's hand. "Glad to hear someone say my name without attaching 'lord' to it," he remarked. It felt nice.
The professor chuckled. "Considering that we're going to be talking quite a bit, I felt that a bit of comfort will go a long way."
"So you're going to be interviewing me?"
"Yes." He looked up at the map. "As I was saying, I see you found the map."
"It's kinda hard not to miss it."
He smiled. "It's an antique, dated back to the Fourth Shinobi World War."
"I know. I've seen that map before."
Nathanial looked at him with a quizzical look. "Oh? Have you?"
"Of course I do. That's the same map we used to see how much ground we had lost during the war." He stilled remembered that map being lined with red ribbons, showing just how much Obito and his followers had taken. He looked at Nathanial. "But you already knew that, didn't you?"
"I did. This map was preserved since the war's end, stored in Konoha's Shinobi History Museum."
If he had been walking, that piece of news would've stopped Naruto dead in his tracks. "Shinobi History Museum?" he repeated.
"Yes," said the professor. "It's been generous loaned out to the company for this documentary. I believe that the producers hope you will use it show where battles occurred, a sort of prelude before we go there in person."
"Wait, go back a moment. There's a museum about shinobi in Konoha?"
He looked at the shinobi with a baffled look. "Yes, I already said there was. Is that so surprising?"
"Considering that it's supposed to be a hidden village, yes it's surprising." The first time he had ever been to a museum was when Jiraiya took him to one on their training trip. It had been about the capital and to be honest, he found it boring.
"Ah, yes, I can see how you would see it like that." He sounded a little uncomfortable, which was odd since he had nothing to be uncomfortable about. "You must realize, Naruto, that Konoha is no longer really considered a hidden village. It's a city that's stretched out beyond its original borders."
As much as the fox would love to say otherwise, Naruto wasn't a complete idiot. He knew full well that with two thousand years the village would grow into something more. That wasn't what worried him. "Do they still train shinobi there?"
"Yes, they do."
He breathed a little easier at that. "Thank Kami for that." He glanced at the professor. "So how faithful is the museum?"
Nathanial gathered he was asking if it told the unvarnished truth about Konoha. He had visited the museum many times and found it did not pander to anyone. "It's completely faithful," he said with surety. "In fact, I've noticed that in your section of the museum, you were frequently called a knuckleheaded idiot in your childhood."
He shook his head and laughed. "Yeah, that was true."
"Still is," Kurama said.
Chōmei was more focused on what they heard. "Naruto, you've got your own section in a museum."
"Not worried about that right now, Chōmei."
"How could you not be worried about that?" It wasn't everyday somebody heard that they had a museum section. And yet, here was his Jinchūriki making it seem like it was nothing.
"You know, Naruto," suggested Nathanial, "you really should go see that museum."
"That's if they let me go to Konoha," he replied with a small bitter seed in his voice.
He hesitated, unsure of what to say to that. Perhaps the simplest would be the best route. "Who are they?"
"You know," the blonde said, throwing up a vague gesture, "the powers that be. The ones who have me staying here for my protection."
"I thought that you had left to go to the Land of Waves and the Great Jungle."
"I had to get permission for that first one and someone requested that I go to the second. Somehow, I don't think that they'll let me go back to Konoha."
He stopped himself before he said anything revealing. He didn't know if the professor was read in on his situation. It was best not to risk it. He readied the lie. "I'm technically a prisoner. They might be thinking that my going to Konoha would give me the courage to run away."
"No, of course not," he said instantly. "I would have to do several things there before I would even think about running off. I would have to report into the Hokage, check in on everyone that I had known, eat at Ichiraku Ramen, not to mention make sure that my apartment is cleaned out." He paused and looked at Nathanial. "My apartment is still there, right?"
"Yes, it is. The entire apartment block has been turned into a historical site."
He didn't know what that was supposed to mean but it didn't sound like a good thing. "They turned it into a museum?"
"…More or less, yes."
"Look at it this way," Shukaku said brightly. "You'll never have to worry about where your fans are going to be. They'll be right outside."
"Would one of you kill him, please?" he begged the others.
Kurama pretended to give it some thought. "Tempting but no," he finally said. "I need someone around that I can insult."
"So," asked Nathaniel, "are you ready?"
He looked up at the map one more time. "Care to help me bring that thing down?"
"Down?" the professor repeated quizzically.
"Yeah, down. You guys were planning to use it for this documentary, right?"
Realization dawned in his eyes. He looked up at the map. "Yes, that was the plan. I believe that they wanted us to use pointers to point specific locations on the map."
"While it's still up there?" asked the blonde.
"Fuck that." He went to the shelves and started climbing up. Thanks to the sturdiness of the shelves and his shinobi training, he was able to get on top without anything breaking. He lifted the map off its hook. "Coming down," he called out, shifting the map so it would start falling downwards. "Grab an end, would ya?"
Nathaniel was almost in shock at what he was seeing. "You can't be serious."
"Of course I'm serious. Grab an end." Shocked as he might've been, the professor still grabbed the end coming towards him and held it steady. Naruto leapt down from the shelves, careful not to break the map he held. "Thanks," he told Nathaniel. He looked around and saw a predicament. "Hm, we're going to need a table."
"A table?" repeated Nathaniel.
"Yep, a table," he said with confidence.
"Why would we need a table?"
"To put the map on it," he replied. He glanced down briefly at the map in question. "Also, we're going to have to take this out of its frame."
"Yeah, that way it can rest better on the table, not look so stiff." He started to eye the framework. "You know a way to get this free?"
The professor stared at him in complete shock. "You, you can't be serious."
"Of course I am. It'll work better this way, trust me."
"And already, he doesn't trust you," Saiken remarked, seeing the look on his face.
"That's because he knows, on some instinctive level, that if he does trust Naruto, he's going to end up doing something he'll regret," Kurama declared.
Naruto shot an inward glare at the fox. "I heard that."
The doors opened with a loud slam and people started flooding through them. They filled the room and their voices did the same thing. "Is this what a studio looks like all the time?" Naruto had to wonder. They were only doing a documentary and it was this crazy?
Kurama watched with an abject fascination. "Makes Shinji's offer less appealing doesn't?" he asked. Naruto nodded.
"Hold up! Hold up!" shouted a woman, coming to the front. She wore a shirt that sleeves pushed back to her elbows and had a hard expression beneath her glasses. "Just what the hell are you doing?" she demanded.
"Who are you?" Naruto asked back.
She glared at him. "I'm the woman who's going to kick your ass all over these walls if I don't a proper answer, now!"
"Think she's related to Sakura?" asked Gyūki.
Son looked at her more closely. "I think she's supposed to have pink hair."
"Not necessarily," Isobu objected. "That Grissom guy we met only had Sakura's eyes, not her hair."
"I'm sorry, ma'am," Nathanial apologized to the lady. "This was something that I had not planned on doing."
She fixed him with her look. "What is it?" she asked.
Naruto needed some answers about who this woman was. "Hey, Nate," he said, "Who's the woman?" He jerked his head at the woman in question.
She folded her arms. "I am standing right here."
Nathaniel looked at him with a slightly panicked eye. "She's Astrid Edman. She's the producer of this documentary."
"Oh, alright," he said. That was somebody he could talk to. He looked over and asked her, "Hey, any chance you can find us a table?"
She frowned in confusion. That same confusion was tinged with irritation. "What in the name of Odin do you need a table for?"
He jostled the map. "To put this down on it," he replied.
"He thought it would be better, ma'am," Nathaniel explained.
Naruto nodded in agreement. "Also, we need to take this out of the frame."
She looked at him speculatively, not at all what he had been expecting from her. "Why exactly do you want to take it out of the frame for?" she asked finally.
"So we can drape it over the table, just like we used to."
"Naruto," said Nathaniel, "this map hasn't been used for over two millennia. We can't just take it out of the frame and drape it over a table."
"Why can't we?" he asked. "That what it was supposed to be used for."
"You know what?" said Astrid, "I like it!" She broke out a wide grin as she whirled around. "You!" she called out, pointing at one of the crew. "Go find a table. Make sure it's big enough for the map." It was a testament to how well the crew must've known her that the guy took off without asking a single question. "Eric!"
One of the guys working on the cameras came over. "Yeah, boss?" he asked, making sure his hat was still on backwards.
"I want to reposition a camera."
"How?" he asked her.
She looked over at the men still holding the map. "Where were you planning on putting the table?" she asked Naruto.
"Right between us," he answered. He also wondered why she would ask that question. Where else would he put the table?
But she just grinned again and said, "Perfect." She turned for the cameraman. "You think you can angle a camera so it's looking down at the map?"
He just smirked. "Of course I can. You doubt me, Astrid."
She rolled her eyes. "Just get to it, Eric."
"Yeah, yeah," he said, giving her a wave of the hand as he walked off.
Son listened to the two of them and knew instantly what they were. "They're friends."
"Yeah, we saw that," Matatabi told the Yonbi. They weren't blind.
Naruto was focused on more important things. "So, are we going to get this out of the frame or what?" he asked, jostling the map again.
Astrid nodded. "Someone get some tools and get this map out of the frame!" she shouted at the crew. It was a good thing that people who helped make the set also knew carpentry. They were able to get the map out of its frame with ease.
Finding the table and getting the camera set took a little longer. Naruto and Nathaniel waited off to the side while the work was being done. "I must say," remarked Nathaniel, "This is certainly not how I expected the beginning of this to go."
Kurama snickered. "How much does anyone want to bet people say that a lot after meeting Naruto?" he asked.
Naruto replied, "No bet." They probably did, in one way or another. While they waited, he looked over at the professor. "So, you ever worked with a guy named Zaeed in the library?" he asked.
Nathaniel was a little surprised by the question, mostly because he hadn't been expecting it. "Why do you ask?"
"I worked with the guy for a bit and he saw that he used to go to the Library for historical warfare."
"Wait, Zaeed?" repeated Nathaniel, "Zaeed Massani?"
"Yeah, that's him."
He smiled. "I do know him. In fact, I remember him fondly. He used to be one of my students, one of my best actually."
"He mentioned that he liked the wars that involved multiple nations."
"That he did. I remember that we used to have quite the arguments about some of those wars." His smile turned fond. "Our one argument about the Sea Emperors managed to draw such a crowd that even the head of the Library came to see who would win."
Now the blonde was curious. "What about the Sea Emperors?"
"Oh, it was the old question that's been hashed since it was first asked."
"I haven't heard it."
Nathaniel just remembered that the man beside him had missed out a lot in the past two thousand years. That wasn't to say he didn't read up (the professor had had shinobi in his classes and knew they came prepared) but he probably read the broad strokes and not the details. He might know about the Sea Emperors but not what was discussed about them. "The question was whether the Sea Emperors after the original were ordered to become so by the Alliance in order to provide the Alliance with an enemy. I took the side of it not being true and Zaeed believed that it was. In his own words, the only kind of enemy who persisted for that long was an enemy needed."
"Makes senses, I guess," Naruto conceded. He wasn't a great thinker about these kinds of things. But that was mostly because he hadn't thought about it much.
"What do you think about it?" the professor asked him. It was a great opportunity to peer inside the shinobi's mind and look at what made him think before the cameras came on.
Naruto thought about it for a moment longer and then shrugged his shoulders. "Eh, it doesn't really matter."
"…That's it? That's all you have to say about it?"
"Yeah, pretty much." He saw the disappointed look in the guy's eyes.
"I think it was expecting a little bit more from you," Gyūki noted.
He said, "Yeah I can see that."
"So give it to him."
He was already planning to do that. "Look, Nate—can I call you Nate?" he asked. "Nathaniel kinda gets a mouthful after a while." He probably should've asked earlier but it slipped his mind.
Nathaniel didn't really think it of such. That was his name and people called him by it. But he was used to be called Nate, mostly by friendly colleagues. "By all means," he permitted.
"Thanks. Look, I wasn't there, it's already happened. There's no real point in discussing the idea, not unless we can ask the guys yourself."
"I know. I probably wouldn't do well in your Library. I wasn't really good at sitting still and taking lessons like that. My attention kept wandering and I was frequently bored."
A question came to Nathaniel. It would probably be rude to ask such a question but he felt like it should be asked. "Do you know nothing besides being a shinobi?"
Fortunately for him, the blonde wasn't offended. "No, not really," he answered with a shrug. "It's been my life since I was twelve."
"Then what are you going to do when you finally retire?"
That question made him pause. "Retire?"
To his mind, shinobi didn't retire. They kept going, kept serving, until they died. The only ones who didn't go that way, who did actually retire, were the ones who were injured so severely that they couldn't recover. "I never thought about that," he said. "I didn't think that I would ever retire."
"People do retire. Some of my colleagues at the Library are retired shinobi."
"Huh, how about that?" he thought to himself. "Well, I don't think I'm going to retire."
"I've heard a lot of young people going into the military say the same thing. They like to think they're invincible."
"They've said that too." The shinobi he was talking about meant differently but it was still needed to be pointed out. Despite his being sealed away, Naruto Uzumaki was still a man in his late twenties. His own life was ahead of him and it could go past his being a shinobi. "If you do retire, what would you do?"
The first thing Naruto wanted to say was that he wasn't going to retire. They almost came up out of his mouth. But the professor was curious about what he might do if it happened. It made him think about it too. He didn't think he could go to a place like the Library. He would go stir-crazy. He didn't have any skills that weren't involved with the shinobi life. If he retired, he would be lost, adrift. "I don't know what I would do."
Kurama rolled his eyes. "You're being overdramatic, kit. You'd find something."
The fox was right. He would find something. As he thought about it, a memory came back to him, a memory of his childhood. He had kept a garden on the rooftop of his apartment before he became a Genin. It was his little sanctuary against the world, until a fire burned everything to ashes and the landowner refused to let him rebuild. "I could become a gardener," he finally said.
"A gardener, interesting," replied Nathaniel.
He shrugged his shoulders. It was his decision in the end. "I've got something of a green thumb."
"Alright," Eric the cameraman called out, "We're ready for you!"
They started back for the chairs, with a table and the map now in between them. "So, have you read your lines?" Nathaniel asked Naruto.
"Lines?" he asked, not sure of what he was talking about.
"Your lines, what you're going to say when we start filming."
"I had lines?"
"They were sent to your room."
"Oh, that." Now he knew what he was talking about. There was a small stack of papers on his table. It wasn't there when he had gone to sleep so naturally he was cautious. He didn't touch it. "Sorry, didn't look at it."
"I didn't know where it came from. For all I know, it could've been a bomb. Besides, why would I need lines? I know what I'm talking about." Quite frankly, the fact that they had tried to give him lines felt a little insulting. The professor looked like he disagreed with the sentiment. "Look, just start like you would and I'll reply like I would. We'll go from there."
"The producer is not going to like this change," he told him.
"They wanted me. They'll be getting me. That means everything."
"Oh dear," he thought to himself. He hoped they wouldn't get in trouble for this.
They sat down in the chairs. Naruto relaxed into his while Nathaniel sat a bit more formally, crossing his leg over his knee. "Three…two…one…and action!" the director called out.
He looked at the camera. "As many people have said over the years, the Fourth Shinobi World War was a watershed moment in history," he began. "But we have known what that war was truly like, having only seen it through books and videos. Now, however, we have a chance to know what it is truly like to have lived and fought in that war. I am Professor Nathaniel Flynn. With me is the man and the legend, Naruto Uzumaki."
"Is he going to call you that the entire time?" Gyūki asked a distasteful look on his face.
"Kami I hope not," Kurama grumbled. "We don't need him getting a swelled head over this."
"I resent that," Naruto told the fox.
"Then don't get a swelled head."
Nathaniel looked at him. "Hello, Naruto."
"Hey there, Nate," he said back. "So, where would you like to start?"
"At the beginning," he replied. "When would you say that the war started?"
He settled into his chair, ready for what came next. "I know that officially the war started when Obito proclaimed it to the Kages. For a time, we felt the same way too. But the war, the real war, started when we received word that the Land of Water's capital had been destroyed."
"Did it feel like an ordinary day that day?"
"All days do," he said, but still nodded. He leaned out over the map. "When we got word about what happened, Obito had already struck two days ago. The Godaime Mizukage sent her fastest shinobi to the mainland to find the closest hidden village. Konoha was the closest."
"Why had the shinobi and samurai begun to retreat to their separate villages? Wouldn't it have been best to stay united in the event that Obito reappeared?"
"I don't know if the Kages discussed that or not. But the general belief we all had was that since the Alliance didn't know where Obito was, it was best to go back to our villages and keep an eye out for him." He began to use his finger to trace out what he was describing, sweeping across the map in long strokes. "The Kiri shinobi had already gone back to their hidden village while the rest of us were still moving supplies. Konoha was the closest hidden village before going to Suna or Iwa. It was decided to use it as a focal point before moving the other shinobi back to their homes."
Nathaniel followed his fingers with sharp eyes, taking in everything. "And then the messenger found Konoha."
"Yeah, he practically killed himself getting to the gate." He paused and remembered that day. It had quickly turned chaotic once that Kiri Genin staggered through the gate. "His showing was a mixed blessing."
"How so?" asked Nathaniel. "We have always been led to believe that it was his race to Konoha that alerted the Alliance."
"It did, but it also showed how we had let our guard down. Even before we all started running for the Land of Water, we knew that we wouldn't be able to save all of it. We got warning that Obito was coming for Kiri and we all went there to prepare a defense."
"Were you there personally? After all, the war was started to protect you and Killer Bee."
"The both of us were there. We already had the argument about us not fighting with Tsunade and Bee's brother. There wasn't any time to have it again, not when it was likely we were going to lose one of the hidden villages within days."
"And so, the Battle of Kiri began." He looked at Naruto. "What was it like?"
"Confusing, at first," he answered. "We didn't know when or where Obito would strike. Not to mention we were still trying to deal with all of the civilians being evacuated. Tensions were running high with all of us. That's when Obito struck. He hovered above the village like he was some kind of god.
"He didn't destroy Kiri like Pain had Konoha. I don't know why. Maybe it was because he wanted to make us suffer for continuing to fight. He started raining down Amaterasu fire onto the village. Everything started to burn. People started to scream." The memory of it came in a flash. For a moment, he could still smell the fires burning everything they could find.
"Don't think about it, Naruto," Kurama told him.
Gyūki agreed. "Suppress it."
He took a moment to breathe and focus. He took that memory and shoved back down into his mind. He had to keep talking to prevent the memory and the like to bubble. "Our heavy hitters turned their jutsus skyward to attack Obito. It didn't work. He would knock the jutsus aside or simply moved out of the way. They caused more damage to the village than he did that fight."
"How was the Amaterasu extinguished?"
"Sasuke had come with us. He wanted to fight Obito but as soon as the Amaterasu started raining down, we had to convince him to put them out."
"That was never mentioned."
He couldn't help that small smile come onto his lips. "That's because the convincing came from me and Sakura through bodily harm. I threatened to kick his ass and she told him that she would punch him clear across the village if he didn't put out the fires." Nathaniel looked a little surprised at that, and a little sick. "We didn't mean it. We had to motivate him."
"Yes, by threating to kick him in the ass up and down the main street of Konoha," Kurama remarked with a very dry tone.
He ignored the fox. "The fact is, he started putting out the fires and we were allowed to deal with the rest of the problem. But it didn't take us long to realize what happened was a lost cause."
"And that's when the complete retreat was given?"
He nodded. "As soon as they knew we couldn't hold him, the Mizukage and the Raikage ordered the retreat. No one argue with the order, not when the village was already burning. We all ran for the nearest port and sailed away from the Land of Water. The Mizukage never forgave herself for what she had done."
"And then you prepared for the next strike."
He looked down at the map once more, bringing his hands out to it. "We thought that he would travel from the Land of Water to the nearest port, either in the Land of Fire, the Land of Lightning, or somewhere in between. We put watches on the coast, waiting to see him coming. But he slipped right past us" He traced where he thought Obito had flown. "We guessed that he flew out of sight of the coast until he reached the Land of Tea. We had no one watching that coastline and he flew over unhindered, right into the Land of Rivers. He had gotten behind us and laid waste to another village before we could respond. This time, we didn't reach them in time. We spent a day looking for survivors and getting them to safety. After that, there was a change in tactics required. The Kages called a meeting of all available strategists and tacticians in our ranks."
"And were you a part of that meeting?"
He laughed a little. "Good Kami no," he said. "My idea of tactics was to charge into battle and make it up from there. I was good at improvising but improvisation was not needed at that meeting. Sasuke and Shikamaru were called to join. The meeting ran for an entire day and had everyone holding their breaths. We all wanted to know how we were going to beat Obito.
"When the meeting was over and they all came out, they got swarmed, demanding answers. The shinobi were ordered to keep the civilians back and calmed while the meeting-goers were able to get out onto the streets. The Kages made the official announcement the next day but everyone who was a friend to one of the strategists or tacticians heard what the plan was heard about it within hours."
"And this plan was the Flexible Response?"
He couldn't help the grimace. It just came onto his face. "I really wish that we had come up with a better name than that. It sounds like something out of a book. The people who hadn't been to the meeting just called it the Plan."
"What were the details of the Plan?"
"The idea was to have shinobi forces spread out throughout the land, positioned at villages, towns, and cities. If Obito was sighted, there could've been at least a warning so we could have a quicker response time." He spread his hands out like he was pushing apart sand. "The bigger the place, the more shinobi teams were put there. The only places we couldn't put shinobi were the capitals."
Nathaniel nodded. "Yes, I've read about that. A reason had never been given for such a move. Why was it? Was it due to a lack of manpower?"
Naruto only wished that it was because of that. But the true reason was something much more stupid. "Actually, it was because the daimyos didn't want the shinobi in their cities."
"What? That's the reason?"
"Yeah," he said with a short nod. "Sounds truly stupid, doesn't it?"
Whether it was stupid or not was beside the point. "Why would they refuse shinobi support?"
"I didn't know at the time and just called them idiots. I guess they were afraid that for all the support and strength the Alliance was showing, they didn't want them in the capital in fear of taking over, or something like that. The Kages tried to protest the idea, to make them change their minds, but they were stubborn and refused. It took us losing the Land of Fire capital and the loss of Kumo for them to change their minds."
"I see. But as much as we know about the war itself, we know so little about the kind of lives being lived. What was that like?"
"Honestly, it didn't feel like any other kind of life."
The professor considered those words. They weren't the kind he had been expecting to hear. A quick glance out of the corner of his eye showed that Ms. Astrid was talking to the director. She must've thought the same. It looked like she was about to have the director stop shooting. He had to keep going. "Are you saying that because it was your life?" he asked before the director could say anything.
"In part, yeah," Naruto agreed. "The rest of it was beside a level of tension layered over the village, life went on as it always had. People woke up, went to work, enjoyed times with their friends, and came home to their families. The shinobi who weren't heavily involved in the war still took jobs."
"Still?" he asked.
"Cut!" the director shouted.
Astrid strode forward to them. "What is going on here?" she demanded.
Naruto looked up at her, confused. "What do you mean?"
"You're not saying your lines!"
"I know." Did it really take them that long to figure what he was saying?
He didn't see the need for her to shout. "Yes, I didn't read the lines you gave me."
The director came up behind her. He heard that last bit and now was rubbing a crease in his head. "Why didn't you read them?" he asked.
"Mr. Lee," asked Nathaniel, "Did anyone send a person to tell the commander what the lines were?" If they hadn't, it would explain how the blonde distrusted it.
He scowled, making the creases on his forehead more visible. "He was sent an email."
He looked at Naruto. "Did you look through your email?"
"No. I don't look at it first thing in the morning." There were more important things to consider, like getting breakfast, checking the news to see what was happening in the galaxy.
"Thor's storming fury," Astrid muttered. "We're going to have to cancel the day's shooting." She glared at Naruto.
"Oh dear," said Nathaniel. He was hoping that it wouldn't come to this.
Naruto had a different thought. "Why should we cancel?" he asked the producer.
"So you can learn your lines!"
She clenched her hands into her claws. "Are you trying to make me kill you?" she demanded.
"Ha! I wish she could do that," Kurama said with a bark of a laugh. "She would barely scratch you!"
"That might do something, actually," Saiken commented. "Have you seen her nails?"
They certainly were long enough, Naruto noted. It was probably not a good idea to make her really angry. If he was to use the scale of anger from Tsunade and Sakura, the producer hadn't reached that level yet. "Astrid—"
"That's Ms. Astrid to you, buddy," she snapped at him.
"Whoa there, a woman with attitude," remarked Son. He grinned. "I like it."
Kokuō rolled his eyes. "You would."
Naruto ignored them both. "Astrid," he said again, ignoring her angry look. "May I ask who was it who wrote me lines?"
"Our writers," she told him.
He nodded. "Why did they write lines for me? It seems kinda pointless."
"They're writers," the director told him, pinching his nose in the process. He looked like he was trying to stop himself from having a migraine. "They're supposed to write you lines."
"I get that."
"I don't think you do. Otherwise you would've read your lines and memorized them."
"Look, you guys wanted me for this documentary because I offered an actual view on the war. Am I wrong?"
Nathaniel came to his side of the argument. "No, you're not wrong, Naruto." He looked at the producer and director. They nodded shortly.
"Then why would you have writers give me lines? It doesn't make any sense. If you want the truth of what happened, let me say I think." He gestured at the professor sitting across from him. "He can guide me with any questions he has ready for him but I'll answer with my own words, not anything that was prepared in advance for me."
Both Astrid and Mr. Lee looked like their perfect plan was crumbling into dirt all around them. He found it a bit odd and funny at the same time. It was like they never considered this possibility. It was like they didn't know what they were getting into when they brought him onboard. Nathaniel glanced at him and said to them, "It does make sense. Talking to him just now, it felt more real than any line that could've been written for him. Perhaps we should continue with this."
Mr. Lee considered it first. As surprising as it had been, he could see the logic behind it too. It would add a sense of realism to the production. He looked over at his producer. "We might as well let them continue," he told her. "See where it goes."
If she was a more stubborn woman, Astrid Edman would've argued the point. She was almost tempted. But she also had a production to shoot and wasting time was not an option. "Alright, fine," she conceded. She threw one last look at Naruto. "Don't make me regret this."
They walked back to their seats. Naruto and Nathaniel settled back into their seats once more. "Three…two…one, action!" called Mr. Lee.
Nathaniel slipped back into performance like nothing had happened. "Still?" he asked, repeating the question.
Naruto nodded briefly. "A hidden village's lifeblood was in the missions it took. We had to take them in order to survive."
"But on the whole, everything felt normal?"
"Everything was normal. There were even days when it felt like there wasn't a war. Of course," he added, "we were always quick to lose that feeling. One slip up and we would've been dead."
"You also gained an unlikely ally during the war, Orochimaru. What was that like, having him on your side?"
He knew the answer to that instantly. "Unsettlingly," he told the professor.
He started nodding. "I believe I can understand that."
"You can't, not until you ever met Orochimaru."
"But you've met him. Can you elaborate?"
He didn't want to. Thinking about Orochimaru and what he had done to them all, in spite of his helping during the war, made Naruto start looking for weapons to use. He had always wanted to bury a kunai into the Snake Sannin's head but he refrained himself from doing that, no matter how tempting it was.
But he was asked a question and people would probably want to know. "The first thing you have to realize about Orochimaru was the impression he first gave a person," he explained. "I talked to him many times and each time I felt like he was sizing me for an experiment he was working on. I wasn't the only one who felt like that, practically the rest of the Konoha Twelve did too. But in spite of his impression, he was also a good talker and could be quite convincing when suggesting a plan of attack. He was so good that we were afraid of what would happen if he was left alone with Sasuke. So we swore to never let that happen. Every time they were in the same room, one of us would be there." Usually it was either him or Sakura.
"How did the rest of the Alliance feel about the Snake Sannin?"
"No one trusted him. Both the Tsuchikage and the Raikage advocated executing him ASAP but the other three refused. From what I heard, it wasn't Tsunade who saved him."
The professor didn't know that and was a little surprised by it. He would've thought that as old teammates, the Godaime Hokage would've been the first one to argue on Orochimaru's behalf. "If not her, then who?" he asked.
"The Mizukage, Mei Terumi. We were told she said that we would need every shinobi in this fight, even if we don't like them. But even she didn't trust Orochimaru. An ANBU guard was placed on him whenever he was in the village."
"How was his relationship was Lady Tsunade?"
He didn't need to think about that one. He already knew it. "They were cordial with each other, probably almost friendly. Shizune once told me about how the two of them would spend long nights drinking and reminiscing about their old days. I didn't believe her and so did no one else. We didn't think that Orochimaru was even capable of reminiscing. He was a traitor to the village, after all."
"Do you know what would've happened to him had he survived the war? Would he have come back to the village?"
The shinobi shrugged his shoulders, saying, "Honestly, we never thought about that. There wasn't any time to think about it. The war loomed over all our heads and the only kind of thinking we did about what came next was the immediate end: killing Obito."
"But not all shinobi thought the same."
A scowl came onto his face at that implication. "He had to bring that up."
"Of course he had to," said Gyūki. "It was a part of the war. Did you think that he was just going to leave it?"
He was hoping for that, just a little bit. But it was asked and now he had to answer it. "At the start, we all did," he told Nathaniel. "But as the war kept dragging on, people started to think that we were on the losing side. No one outright said it but if we paid attention in a restaurant or a bar, any one of us could hear the mutterings."
"Did the Kages do anything to prevent such mutterings?"
"None that I was aware of," he replied. "We were all so busy trying to fight the war, we didn't think about the civilians were saying."
"But it wasn't just the civilians. Shinobi were talking about it too."
"They were. I just thought it was something to talk about when we were running to the rescue or fighting the people Obito led. I was wrong when I started learning shinobi was defecting to Obito's side." He remembered all those who betrayed the Alliance. It had always left a sour feeling in his stomach.
"Add some detail, gaki," Kurama told him.
"He sees the broad picture of the defectors. He doesn't see the names or the faces. Give him some of those faces, those names."
It was a good point. "What really hurt was how I knew some of the defectors," he told Nathaniel, "And not just me. There were others who knew them."
He leaned forward. "Like who?"
"There were three girls, Ami, Kasumi, and Fuki. Back in the Academy, they used to bully Sakura and Ino. They had managed to make peace before we graduated. Sakura and Ino probably thought of them as friends, or at least partially. Looking back now, I could see how they might've felt insecure and jealous. Ino and Sakura had become Chūnin within two years of becoming shinobi and looked like they were on the fast track to be Jōnin during the war. Meanwhile, they were still stuck as Genin in what they probably thought what was a rapidly hopeless war."
"And so, they defected."
"Yeah," Naruto said with a short nod. "They defected. They just left the village and headed for the land Obito controlled, the same as the other defectors. We were all a little surprised by that, Ino and Sakura a little more than the rest of us."
"History has told us the defectors were sent almost constantly out into battle against the Alliance, fighting the people they served with. Did that happen with you?"
"With those three?" he asked, shaking his head. "No, I never saw them after they defected. None of us did. We had gotten a report that they had died fighting in the Land of Mountains. We weren't that sadden by their deaths. If we had been closer, that might've been different. What we felt was probably closer to disappointment."
"Was there anyone who defected that you had known on a better level? Someone you had considered a friend?"
His first thought went to the rest of the Konoha Twelve. But he stopped and extended the boundaries. "There were a few but one hit a little harder than the rest. A kid called Shiro." He paused and then amended, "I say kid but he was probably two years younger than me."
"What happened to him?"
"He defected. But before that, he looked up to me. He thought that I would be the one who would lead everyone to victory. He called me sempai and defended me from the naysayers, even getting into brawls on my behalf. Kami knows how many times me or someone else had to pull him out of those brawls. And in all honesty, I didn't want his hero worship."
"Was it hero worship? Did he not simply admire you?"
He shook his head hard. That wasn't it by far. "No, it was definitely hero worship. He was probably the first one who started to call me Lord Naruto, even after I told him not to. He thought that I could do no wrong. That made his defection hit even harder."
"He doesn't sound like the kind of person who would believe Obito was winning."
Nathaniel asked him, "What made him defect?"
"The fact that I wasn't a hero like he thought I was," he answered. He leaned over the map once more and pointed at the Land of Fire. "It was a battle close to the capital, the one after which we realized Obito was going there. It was a big town and we had managed to get there to prevent utter destruction of the place. One of the kunoichi stationed at that town was Shiro's sister and one of the shinobi coming with the response team was his brother. Shiro tried to get on the response team and when he couldn't, he begged me to keep his family safe.
"I made him that promise. But when we got there, his sister was already in the thick of things. A house exploded with her on the street in front of it. If the explosion hadn't killed her, the house collapsing onto the street would have. Her brother was a hothead eager for the fight and any possible glory that came with it. As soon as we came into contact with Obito's forces, he charged right into the fray. No one was able to pull him back and it made the other hotheads charge in after him.
"That was what the enemy had wanted. It was a damn trap. As soon as they ran, Obito's men collapsed a building behind them, cutting them off from the rest of us. We could've gone over the building to their aide easy but the rest of the enemy forces were doing their best to keep us busy, trying to go after the civilians we were evacuating. By the time we were able to send people to support, it was too late. All the hotheads had been slaughtered. The worse part of it was I couldn't find Shiro's brother."
"There were too many bodies?"
"Not just that. Obito had descended upon them and Shiro's brother, still hungry for glory even as everyone was being killed around him, thought he could end the war right there. We got over the building just in time to watch Obito snap his neck with indifference." He could still see the head jerking to the side, the neck snapping. "Stupid kid," he said to himself, sad and angry, "He was a stupid kid who didn't listen."
Nathaniel didn't speak on those words. "What happened after the battle?" he asked.
"We took the dead we could find back home. Shiro was there at the gate, waiting for us." If he closed his eyes, he could still see the eager look the kid had watching them come in. "The first thing he saw was his brother's body. The first thing he asked us was where his sister was. We told him. He started crying and then he tried attacking me, screaming that I had promised him they would be safe. Chōji and Kiba had to pull him off me and drag him back into the village. The last thing he screamed was that he hated me, that I was a failed hero.
"I could see his point. I did fail to keep his family safe. But we were in a war. There was nothing I could've done to save his sister, not when she was two streets down from where I was. I tried to keep his brother from rushing into battle but the idiot would not listen." And no matter how many times he tried telling Shiro that, the kid would not hear it.
"And so he defected?" asked the professor.
"No, not right away," he said, shaking his head. "He spent two months stewing in his anger and hate for me before deciding that Obito would have the way to kill me."
"The Alliance shinobi had standing to catch any one they saw trying to defect. Why didn't you try to stop him?"
"He defected when I was out trying to save another town." The news reached him when he finally got back from that mission. "But even if I had been there, I don't think I would've tried to stop him."
"He keeps surprising with his words," Nathaniel thought. But that was to be expected. "Why?" he asked.
"Shiro hated me, blamed me for what happened to his brother and sister. When his parents died in a construction accident he blamed me for that too. I knew him and considered him a bit of a friend but if I had gone after him, he would've turned it into a fight and I would've killed him." There was no doubt in his mind and his voice that would've been the outcome. They might've both been Genin but Naruto's skills were simply better than Shiro's.
"Did you ever see him again?"
"Once, when the Land of Fire capital fell," answered the shinobi. "It had been six months later and we had been hearing that Shiro was making more than a name for himself on the other side. He was shooting up in the ranks and thoroughly enjoyed being called the Viscous Little Bastard. We ran into each other outside the palace. I was trying to protect the people getting out. He was trying to loot it.
"He had his men back off, saying that I was his and his alone. He must've thought that it was going to be some kind of grand fight between us, something that would be told for years to come. The setting was right for it in any case."
Nathaniel frowned. "I don't remember there being a battle on the palace steps."
"Good. There wasn't one. The fight lasted a minute, if that. Shiro charged at me, throwing all the punches and kicks he could at me. Then he stepped back to ready a jutsu. That's when I stepped in and killed him. He was so focused on beating me that he didn't think about his own defense. It allowed me to slit his throat with one kunai swing." He remembered the kid falling to the ground, his brown eyes still full of hate but also with confusion. He didn't know he was dying and he still wanted to kill him.
The professor shifted a little in his seat. "What happened after that?" he asked. "Did his men try to avenge him?"
The question was asked sincerely, he knew that. But he couldn't help chuckling at it. "No, they didn't."
"One thing we had on the people following Obito was discipline. They followed him and their own personal leaders because they had power and were willing to enforce their authority through that power. If a leader was killed, his men would tear themselves apart fighting to become the next leader. There were several assassinations we carried out just for that effect."
"But if that is so, why were there holdouts from the war? By your own words, they should've torn themselves apart after Obito was killed. The Reforging shouldn't have happened."
"Ooh, he's got you there," Shukaku remarked.
Naruto mentally replied, "No he does not." He knew how he could respond to that. "I've read about the Reforging and it seems to be only the smartest leaders survived the war to hold onto their lands. But even then, they still fell to fighting each other. It's just a varied length of time. In any case, Shiro's men didn't care that he had died. They just wanted to loot the palace and have the women. I made them think otherwise."
"How?" asked Nathaniel.
"Does he gotta ask?" The man said he taught shinobi. He had to know. But if this was for the cameras, might as well give an explanation. "I showed them all just what I would do to them if they took another step up the stairs with my killing intent."
"Ah, yes, that would do it."
"It would. So," he asked, resting back into the chair, "what else would you like to know?"
They were able to get through the first day of shooting without any minor problems. And the next day went on better. As the days of shooting went on, the only things that irritated Naruto was how they would constantly cut or reshoot something. But he didn't let it build up inside him. It was just a matter of business.
By the time the shooting had been going for two weeks, the production company was finally able to convince Naruto's handlers (a word that was better than babysitters) to allow him off the island. He would've thought they would start taking him all around the Elemental Countries so he could show them the different battle sites. But instead, they had taken him to the Frontier, to the Library.
It had certainly been an experience. Walking through those halls and looking at the classes, while not being an experience he wanted to be a part of, he could see how Zaeed studied here. He knew the library, which the multiple campuses and buildings were named after, would've gotten Shikamaru's interest, even if he called it a drag.
He had wondered why they had taken him here. It was quickly explained when they showed him one of the Library's recent jewels, a 3D map that was capable of adjusting size and scale of what the users were seeing. The first time he saw it, Naruto thought it either Full Immersion came from or Full Immersion inspired it.
They shot that next week using the map. It was fun, Naruto could admit to that. But it felt like something was missing to it. It wasn't like having the kind of map he was used to nor was it like actually being there. He did what they asked him, talking through the question and showing it on the map but it didn't have the same kind of feel.
When he finally brought up with Nathaniel (someone who helped him understand this kind of production), the professor was quick to explain. The idea was to use the old familiar map as a start, segue into the 3D map while he was talking, before finally showing the both of them and other experts on location.
Someone in the crew had suggested they build sets for the places that had changed too much over the years. Both Astrid and Naruto put their feet down on that idea, rejecting it. She rejected it because it would take too long and cost a little too much. His reason was simpler: he was either going to do it in the actual locations or not at all.
That was how he found himself back in the Land of Fire, in the city of Nakatani. "Hard to believe that this place still exists," he silently remarked, standing in the middle of the street and looking at everything.
"I find it hard to believe that they were able to rebuild at all," Gyūki said. "After all, this place redefined the phrase 'burning wreck' after Obito was done here."
"Hey, Commander!" one of the crewman shouted. They had taken to calling them that after he kept asking them to stop saying "my lord."
It took him out of his gazing and back to where he was. "Yeah?" he said, looking over at where the crew was setting up.
"We're about ready to start shooting. You wanna come back over here so we can do it?"
"Coming," he said back, walking over.
Nathaniel was standing close to the crew, along with a hulk of a man named Björn who had a doctorate in construction (a degree that Naruto had no idea even existed) and another in history, specifically historical cities and how they were built. Compared to the rest of them, the sole woman of the group looked like she was on the small size, standing tall at five feet and three inches. Doctor Isabella had her degree in jutsu, specializing in their effects. She was there to understand the jutsus that Naruto would bring up.
He walked up to the three of them. "You guys ready?"
Björn gave him a look with his brown eyes. "Should we be asking you that question, my lord?" he asked. Out of everyone there, the Midgardian was the only one who kept calling him that.
He gestured to the buildings around them. "This is the first time you've been back for a long while."
"And if this was Konoha, I would be having a much different reaction," the shinobi told the bigger blonde. "Honestly, this place was just another battle to me."
"But this was the place that Orochimaru died," said Isabella, her Hispano (what he had been calling Jungle) accent floating over her words like a musical note. "This is the place of the Snake Chase."
"I know it is, Isabella. But to us, even if we had lost that bastard here, it was just another battle to us."
She became confused. "Bastard?" she repeated.
He clarified, "Orochimaru."
Her eyes shined with recognition but then they dulled with a slight anger. "That's a bit harsh, wouldn't you say?"
He actually had to stop and look at her. "Is she…defending him?"
"I couldn't say for sure," Isobu told him, "But it definitely sounded like that."
"You've gotta be kidding."
"I don't think she is."
"Care to correct her?" Kurama asked him. It was best done quickly before they figured out just how long she held that opinion.
He agreed. "A bit harsh?" he repeated.
To her credit, Isabella stood firm. "You might've had trouble with him, Commander, but he was still a person, with all that meant."
The urge to mock her with laughter was almost overwhelming. He forced it down and actually talked to her, although his voice was laced with scorn. "He twisted my teammate's mind against himself, making him leave the village for revenge, attacked the village and killed the Sandaime Hokage, and wanted to live forever by using people as hosts, taking over a new one when the old couldn't hold him anymore. Every time he came near us, he caused headaches. So you'll have to forgive if I choose to see him as a snake bastard than a simple human being. He couldn't be classified as such."
Björn listen to what he said and looked rather impressed by it. When Isabella opened her mouth to protest, he stopped her. "Leave it be, Iz."
She stopped and swung a glare at him. "How many times have I told you not to call me that disgusting name?" she demanded.
He backed off with his hands up and a grin on his face. "Sorry," he told her. Calling her that was a surefire way of getting her attention. "But the man has a grievance with him. Don't try to make it any different." He had served in the military as both a tank crew member and gun battery on a ship. He knew what grievances looked like and knew better than to interfere. They got worse because of the interference.
"Could you take your places, please?" Eric the cameraman called out to them.
That broke up their conversation. They walked over to the other side of the street, in full view of the cameras. They didn't have Naruto in the center but more off to the side. That way, he could start leading them into the city. "Three…two…one…action!" the director called out.
"Here in Nakatani," began Nathaniel, "was a battle where the Snake Chase occurred. The Snake Chase is famous for two reasons as it is the first time that Obito descended into the battle himself and for the death of Orochimaru." He looked over at Naruto. "What exactly happened during the battle? What caused it?"
"From what I had learned, Orochimaru had gotten some message and took off immediately. Sasuke had seen him as he raced out of the village. He said that it was the only time he had an expression panicked fear on his face. Tsunade quickly assembled a team to follow him with her leading it. Due to how Obito's forces were taking over the Land of Fang and were shifting teams to respond, the most sent after Orochimaru was twenty, the Konoha Twelve and Anko Mitarashi included. At top speed, it took us three days to reach this town, just in time to start seeing it burn."
"Nakatani is one of a unique set of constructions in the Land of Fire," Björn said, gesturing his hand at their surroundings. "Originally it was a town for mining a nearby vein of iron. The vein ran dry just as the Third Shinobi World War were beginning and combined with the threats coming from the Land of Wind, people were rather quick to leave. The Sandaime Hokage ordered such towns to be fortified and resupplied. So we have a unique blend of simple mining town architecture and shinobi fortification."
Isobu was listening to him with a rapt attention. So were Chōmei and Son. "Wow," the Yonbi said, sounding very impressed by what he heard.
Isobu nodded his head. "I know," he agreed. "Hey, Naruto, did it really have that kind of architecture?"
"I don't know. The place was on fire and we were trying to get the people out. There wasn't really any time to stop and admire the place," he replied.
"Who found Orochimaru first?" Nathaniel asked him.
"On our side of the fight?" he asked back. The professor nodded. "It was Tsunade, Sakura, and Ino. They were at the edge of town, checking all the evacuees for injuries. They told me that Orochimaru leapt down from a nearby building, told Tsunade to catch, and threw his granddaughter at her. He banked and ran back into the town, disappearing as fast as he had appeared. At the time, they didn't know the baby was his granddaughter. The most likely thought was she was another one of his experiments."
"The history books say that when the team realized Obito was chasing Orochimaru, you followed the chase, hoping to take down Obito."
"Taking him down would be a bit of a stretch. At that point, we were trying to distract him, keep him unfocused. But yeah, we went after them." He noticed that the director was silently signaling him to move, to walk through the town.
He turned and did just that. They could hear the camera crew following behind and said nothing about it. They were doing their best to keep their attention on what they were talking about. "So you followed right after Orochimaru passed his granddaughter off to Tsunade?" Nathaniel asked.
"No," he said with a shake of his head. "It was a little later than that. Remember the medical setup had been placed at the town's edge. The rest of us were inside the town, trying to get everyone out. We first heard the chase and thought it was another part of the town collapsing on itself. That changed when we figured out that the noise was getting louder and closer."
"And then you chased after him."
"And then we chased after him," he agreed. He came to a stop at a four-way intersection. It looked all nice and clean now. All he had to do was squint his eyes and think to remember what it looked like back then. The buildings on fire, the streets littered with rubble and bodies, the feeling of heat on his skin, and the unfortunate smell of meat being cooked all around them.
He pulled himself out of that memory and focused on what it was now, clean and peaceful. It wasn't a ruin now. "We came through here," he told them. "Orochimaru ran through here with Obito flying above and us coming in from behind on the rooftops."
Björn cast his eyes upwards at the roofs, analyzing them. "Given that the roofs were made of ceramic tiles, the supporting frame was wooden, and that the entire building was possibly on fire, staying to the rooftops is a dangerous move. The roof could've collapsed underneath your feet at any given moment and would've certainly collapsed if you had stayed on it."
"A few roofs did collapse underneath our feet," Naruto admitted. "We almost lost Sai that way." If Shikamaru hadn't been there to grab him, he would've fallen to his death inside that burning house. "Thankfully, we learned to adapt. Every time we landed on a roof, we made sure to jump off fast."
"With that kind of speed and focus centered on ensuring you could keep going, you had to have lost time in casting your jutsus," Isabella remarked.
"Not as much time as you would think. By the time Obito had attacked Nakatani we had all gotten proficient in flipping through handseals on the fly." They had been a little good at it before the war but that's where it really got honed as a skill. "We were able to keep up with Obito while staying safe from the roofs. The only downside was that our aims were wobbly at best."
It was a little embarrassing to think about it now, really. "We kept missing Obito."
Her face blanched. "You were throwing jutsus and missing? You could've hurt someone or yourselves! You could've destroyed the town even more!"
"Hey, give us some credit," he protested. "No one got so far ahead that they would actually be in the firing line. And we knew that we were in a burning town, that's why we had to refrain from using Katon jutsus. Mostly we were using Suiton or Fūton." They had been using the Suiton to finish off the fires that had broken out. It was just a matter of using it on a wider spread.
Nathaniel asked him, "Where do you think the Snake Chase started?"
He gave it a long hard thought as they walked down the street. "I think, Nate, it started when Orochimaru found his granddaughter crying in front of the wreck that used to be her home. Her parents must've pushed her out before they died and he found her there. Obito found the both of them and decided to have a little fun with Orochimaru."
"Are you saying that Obito just chanced upon them?"
"Either that or he was waiting for Orochimaru to show up. He did have a sick sense of dramatics." They had learned that aplenty during the war.
"Björn, where was that house?" the professor asked him.
He walked over to the nearby wall and pulled out a map. It was a map of the place back during the war but it didn't look old. It actually looked new. "How they'd pull that off?" Naruto wondered.
"Maybe he copied it from somewhere and printed it off," Kurama told him. The fox didn't really care about how he got it. That detail was meaningless.
The camera crew got in closer, focusing right on the Midgardian. "From what we've gather from records and history, the house was in the market district, right here," Björn said, tapping a pen in the upper east portion of the town. "It was close to the marketplace itself, a block south." The pen rested on the street he thought it was.
"Looks right to me," Naruto thought to himself. He was a part of the group that found the house after the battle. He hadn't been the one who found the bodies but he had been the one who found the picture of Orochimaru holding his grandchild with her parents at his side, all smiling happily, genuinely happy (it was an emotion he never saw the bastard use in that kind of situation).
Björn looked back at him. "Where was the medical station set up, Naruto?" he asked, angling his body so the map could be used by more than one person.
The blonde started forward. "Don't block the camera," Matatabi reminded him.
"I know." He had already been told that by the director many times.
"So move around."
He mentally rolled his eyes. "I'm already doing that, Matatabi, sheesh." There were times that cat was such a mother hen. He angled himself against the map and examined it. He knew the layout and quickly understood where everything had been. "Here," he said, tapping the south east side of the town.
Björn nodded and examined the map more closely. "Given how it was likely he wanted to avoid being an obvious target, he would've stayed close to the ground. So that means traversing by rooftops would be out." He tapped and traced the pen across the map, emphasizing each point made.
The shinobi saw what he was doing. He was drawing out the route Orochimaru ran through the town. He silently held out his hand to the Midgardian. Björn gave him the pen and he uncapped it. "He wouldn't have been able to take the main streets," he explained, crossing them out. "They were too exposed and filled with people running."
"It would've provided him with cover," Nathaniel countered. "Orochimaru was known for being uncaring about civilians unless they were important."
"Yeah, but he was more concerned about making sure his granddaughter got out safely. Trying to get through all those civilians would've slowed him down and make him easy for Obito to see him. He could've collapsed a building onto a street, plugging it and making everyone slow down or stop." He circled a large block south of the marketplace and crossed it out. "This part of town was already burning so he would've avoided it if he could. And this part," he circled another blocked and crossed it out, "had already collapsed and would've made traversing it impossible."
Björn stared at the map as it was now. He took the pen back and traced lines through the possible routes. "That meant he would've gone through the alleyways. With what you've given, that limited his escape routes to these three."
He looked at those routes. They were jagged things that stretched over a confined two block radius. But they also seemed to lack meaning. They couldn't describe what it all felt like, to be closed in like that, the sounds of the town being destroyed around you, a man with god-like powers chasing after you, unsure where the path you were taking would go.
Nathaniel stepped close to the map. "Here's the thing," he said. "As soon as he gave his granddaughter to Tsunade, he ran back into the streets. He didn't even try to hide where he was doing."
"Of course he would do that," he told the professor. "He had tried to stay out of sight so he could protect his granddaughter. Once he had passed her off to Tsunade, he could be as open and blatant as he wanted to be. He did on purpose."
"So it was to give Obito the target he wanted?" asked Isabella.
He nodded. "That's all there was to it."
She looked down the street. She must've been imaging it. "What did Obito use against Orochimaru when he chased him?"
The director was signaling them to move again. Naruto stepped away from the map and started down the street again. "Jutsu-wise?" he asked her as they followed him. "That time, he stuck to using the Gudōdama (Truth-Seeking Balls), firing them down on Orochimaru."
"What was their top speed?"
He never actually thought about that. Then again, he had never really stopped to observe a Gudōdama in action. He had always been busy trying to make sure that he didn't get hit by one. But now that he thought about it, he couldn't give an actual answer to that question. "Hmm, off the top of my head, I would say that they were just as fast as Lee at top speed with his weights on."
"How fast was that?"
"We could still see him move, even if he got a little blurry." Lee had gotten so fast with the weight on if he had taken them off, he would've turned invisible. That's how fast he would've been moving.
Isabella frowned at him. Clearly he wasn't giving her the information that she wanted. But she didn't object to that. She simply asked, "Was that their only speed?"
"No. Obito was able to change their speed if he wanted. I think that he even did that when he was chasing Orochimaru." It might've been his view from behind as the chaser, but it did seem that the Uchiha took his time readying those jutsus.
Björn had taken out the map again and quickly looked at it. "Where would you say that Orochimaru was running to in the town?"
"I don't know. After Obito had left and before we learned the truth, the common idea was that Orochimaru had a safe house or a lab somewhere in the town and that he had been heading there so he could hide. But after that, we just figured he was running so Obito would follow him and no one else."
"How strong are these Gudōdama?" Isabella asked him.
He didn't hesitate when he answered, "Very. I once saw Obito throw one of them through a building. It went through all the walls from one side to the other. The building collapsed because of it." The Land of Sound fell mainly because of that jutsu.
They came to another intersection in the streets. For a brief moment Naruto didn't know where he was. The street looked different. It wasn't burning and not collapsed. He had to take a moment to remember it from the rooftops. "That way," he said, pointing off to the right. "We ran down that way."
Isabella had another question. "Tell me, Commander," she said to him, "Would you consider Obito's ability to fly a jutsu?"
"If it was, it had been one I had never seen before," he remarked.
"That's not true," Son argued. "The Sandaime Tsuchikage had a jutsu that could make him fly."
"I thought that it was a jutsu that altered the weight of something," he replied.
"So it's not really flying, is it?"
"Did you see him in the air?"
"Yeah, I did."
"Did he look like he belonged there?"
"He did look comfortable."
"Was he able to move around like he knew what he was doing?"
"He was flying."
"Hang on, Naruto might be right," Chōmei said. "If it's just altering the weight so it's lighter or heavier, than it's not really flying."
"He was flying."
"I'm the one who knows flying. I don't change my weight when I want to move and I have to flap my wings to move."
"That doesn't have anything to do with flying."
"Excuse me!? Who's got the wings here?"
"What's that got to do with this?"
"Alright, just stop," Naruto told the both of them. "I'm getting a headache from all this shouting."
They did stop their arguing but they kept glaring at each other. The rest of the Bijū watched with a small amusement. It was funny to watch the others fight. It wasn't so funny when it was one of them. "Ah, just let them fight," Shukaku urged him.
He was adamant when he said, "No."
"So you don't think that it was a jutsu that allowed him to fly?" Isabella asked him, bringing his attention back to the present. "It does have a remarkable similarity to the Sandaime Tsuchikage's jutsu allowing him to alter his weight."
"See?" asked Son.
"Oh shut up," Chōmei snapped.
He was on them fast. "What did I just say?" he asked. He didn't wait for an answer. "If what Obito did was the same thing, I never saw him start it up. You have to remember, we weren't looking for him on the ground. He was usually up in the air, watching from above."
"How fast did he fly?"
He snatched the "huh?" back before it came out of his mouth. She wouldn't have appreciated it. "Are you hoping for an exact number?" he asked, wanting to be sure.
"It would be nice." She wasn't hopeful though.
He shrugged his shoulders. "Sorry, we never stopped to clock his speed."
Björn chuckled, it rumbled out from his chest. "I imagine he wouldn't have stopped to let that happen," he said.
"You would be right."
Isabella wouldn't give up. "A rough estimate?" she asked, prodding him.
He looked back at his memories, thinking about all the times he had seen Obito fly through the air. It's funny but whenever he looked at the man, it was like he was looking back with eyes full of disdain. He had never given up on his opinion about Naruto. Neither did the blonde. "The fastest I've ever seen him go was when he crossed the Land of Fire capital while bombarding it," he finally answered. "It was from a distance as the capital was in its last moments and he was going from each side in about ten-fifteen seconds."
"With the wind or against it?" she asked him.
He hadn't thought of that. He did and realized something. "I don't think it matter," he replied. "He always seemed to move with ease through the air." It wasn't much but Isabella was happy enough. She stopped talking to him and began looking intense in her thinking.
They walked through the town following the path he remembered chasing Obito. Everywhere he look could remember how the town looked the last time he had been through. When they reached a T-section in the streets, he came to a stop looking at the wall in front of them. "Here," he said, coming to a stop. "This is where it ended."
They came to a stop around him and looked at the wall. It was a nice wall, brightly shining thanks to the sun. But he could still see it scorched with fire and splattered with blood. More than that, he could still see Orochimaru sitting against it, an irreparable wound torn through his midsection.
Nathaniel looked at the wall. He saw only the wall. "This is where Orochimaru died?" he asked.
"Yeah, this is where we found him once Obito had gotten bored. He was missing an arm, his feet were broken, and it seemed like every time he breathed, blood leaked out. He saw us and asked to see the girl. It was a good thing that Sakura had been there or we never would've known what he meant. Tsunade came with her and Anko. Orochimaru asked for her, took her in his remaining arm, and said 'live well, hime,' kissing her on the forehead.
"He asked Anko to look after her, to take care of the one of the few good things he'd done in life, to care for his granddaughter." He chuckled at that memory. "The only ones who probably weren't surprised by that announcement were Tsunade and Anko. Anko didn't tell him anything. She simply nodded and walked off with the baby in her arms."
Björn was hooked into the story. "What happened then?"
"Tsunade asked to be alone with him so they could talk. Normally we would've protested. After all, Orochimaru had been a traitor to the village. But we could all see that he was dying so we did as we were asked. She came back to us a half hour later and told us that he was dead."
"And that was it?"
"For the history books, probably," he said back. "For me, it didn't stop until we got back to the village. I went to the Hokage building to double check something with Tsunade, only to hear crying coming from her office. When I looked inside, I saw her with a bottle in one hand and a picture of her old team in the other. She cried about how she missed them and she wanted them back." It was in that moment that he realized something. That no matter how treacherous or evil Orochimaru had been, he had still been her teammate and her friend, once. He understood it. He felt the same about Sasuke.
"Did you do anything?" Isabella asked him.
He shook his head. "No, there wasn't a need for me to be there. I closed the door and left her alone. She needed that time."
"And cut!" shouted the director. And the somber air around them just seemed to vanish. "Nice shooting everybody! Let's break for lunch and we'll do the medical setup next."
"Are they going to need me for that?" Naruto wondered as he watched the crew start packing the equipment up.
"Probably yes," Nathaniel told him, "But only for telling us what it actually looked like."
He shrugged his shoulders. He figured that was why he was here. "Alright, but I wasn't there the entire time."
"I think they'll be glad for you being there at all." He went after the crew, following them to lunch alongside Björn and Isabella.
Naruto didn't follow them at first. He looked back at the wall. He still expected to see Orochimaru there, dying against the wall. But the bastard wasn't there. He hadn't been there for over two thousand years. "Is this what it's going to feel like for the other places we go?"
"Most likely," Kurama said. "You'll have to get used to it."
There was truth in that. He would have to get used to it. He had agreed to do this documentary. There would be more places like this, places that were different now. He would see them all. It was what he wanted. He went after the others, leaving behind the scene of Orochimaru's death.
Codex Entry (Fashion): THE HUMAN SUIT
Few fashions from Earth have survived to this day, with new clothing ideas brought in from the Citadel races. The human suit, is one of those fashions, having survived centuries of change in fashion. It is a versatile outfit that is used in various formal occasions, from weddings, to college graduations, even to business meetings. It is also considered to be one of the most important things a human male should own.
The human suit comes in a variety of names and titles: 'tuxedo,' (or simply 'tux') 'business suit,' 'dress suit,' even a moniker as degrading as 'monkey suit.' However, all suits are consistent in the following factors:
-they consist of a three-piece set: a jacket; a buttoned, long-sleeved shirt; and long-legged pants (called 'trousers').
-they almost always require something tied around the neck such as a necktie or a bowtie, except if the wearer wishes to wear the suit with the collar unbuttoned.
-they tend to be made of thin textiles, and are light.
There are different variations of the human suit, but the following are the most well-known:
- Elemental Nations suits tend to have a narrow cut, usually have two buttons on the breast, and have no padding in the shoulders. They have narrow trousers, and the jacket has no side vents. When tailoring for clients that expect to see conflict in the future as Shinobi and Samurai do, the suit is modified to have much better freedom of movement for deft movements without compromising on being presentable.
- Frontier suits are known as 'sack suits' due to their loose cut. The jacket has no padding in the shoulders, and tends to have three buttons and a single side vent. This is due to the fact that the Damned Land can be considered desert, and the bagginess of the suit in formal occasions allows for a more comfortable affair for the wearer.
- Imperial suits (or 'Steel suits') are somewhere in the middle between Elemental and Frontier suits, being tailored specifically to the wearer. The jacket emphasizes the wearer's chest, and has padded shoulders, pocket flaps, and two side vents. Due to how much emphasis is placed on the chest area, the suit often includes a vest in the set.
- Jungle suits from the Great Jungle are famous for being armored versions of any other suit. This is done without compromising the lightness of a suit, using ballistic fabrics to protect the wearer from gunshots.
After humanity's introduction into the galactic center, the suit soon became popular for various individuals among many non-human races, and tailors are almost guaranteed find work for anyone that has the money. The trend in popularity is that slightly bulkier non-human races like Turians tend to favor Frontier and Jungle suits, while naturally slimmer races such as Asari, Salarians, and Drell prefer Imperial and Elemental suits.
Author's note: Thank you for all the reviews you've sent me.
Thus starts the production. I will admit that I don't know how production on a documentary goes or if it's any different from an actual movie production. I'm just going on the assumption they're basically similar and work from that.
I do believe that people would've defected to Obito's side. Why wouldn't they? He had the power and it looked like he was winning. There are people who just want to be on the winning side
If it helps, think of the suits like so: Elemental suits = Italian-style, Frontier = American-style, Imperial = British-style, and the Jungle = Columbian Kevlar business suit. Once again, I have to give thanks to Kurogane7. Many of the codex entries come from him.
I'll see you all next chapter!