[Second Chances Chapter 8]

XXX

Ok so he caved. He hated to admit it but kids his junior, mentally not physically apparently, had convinced him on a more... direct approach to dealing with the massive flying fortress in the sky. He had voted on going back to the village and telling the higher ups, his genin though voted on a more extreme idea.

It was that idea that currently had them climbing ropes up through the sky and towards the flying fortress over head. To a normal person watching this they would be referred to as idiots. All it would take was one ninja, either flying or just looking over the sides, to see three genin, a wolf dog, and a jonin who looked like a genin climbing up towards them.

They were sitting ducks and Naruto knew it. A simple cut of the rope and humpty dumpty would fall down and break every bone in their bodies. Granted he was shocked they hadn't already been discovered. Normally on a fortress like this where the main command was sensory ninja were stationed inside a sealing array that bolstered their abilities, but given the lack of attention they were getting this one must not have such a thing.

That was odd? Although sensory ninja were not common they were not extremely rare or anything. There should be at least two or three ninja in this group with good natural skills in sensing. Maybe they just didn't have the know how or the training to help along such a skill?

Whatever the case Naruto was thankful for the lack of notice. It wasn't easy climbing the ropes but they were making progress. It was hardest and Tsume given she had to use ninjutsu to turn her ninja dog into a copy of herself so that it could climb the rope. That strain on her chakra could be a problem if it takes too long.

"Ahhh!"

Naruto looked down and his eyes nearly popped out of his skull. Kushina's grip must have loosened or something cause now she was barely handing on with one hand! With the crazy wind this high up and the forward motion of the fortress, Harry knew they were in trouble.

"Sensei! Kushina's not going to make it" shouted Mikoto. She had been using her Sharingan to make sure they were not spotted, but the wind was really drying her eyes out and the chakra drain was beginning to be noticeable.

Naruto did something crazy. He let go of his own rope and began to fall. Tsume and Mikoto shouted in fear as their jonin sense seemed to go suicidal all of a sudden. Angling himself just right Naruto was able to catch Kushina right after she let go and grasp the rope with his other hand.

He bit his lip trying to ignore the rope burn on his fingers. He concentrated all of his strength just hanging on and not letting Kushina go. Eventually he was able to fight past the wind current and reapply Kushina to the rope.

"Are you ok?" Naruto had to shout because of the wind.

"Yea!" Kushina was a bit shaken up but she couldn't be the one who hindered the mission.

"Alright! We are almost to the top, just try to hang on a little longer!"

Mikoto and Tsume watched as Naruto rescued their teammate. They quickly continued their accent up the ropes with renewed determination. On the back of their minds they made notes to buy some fingerless gloves. Climbing rope like this was just a freaking bitch.

XXX

When they got to the top they pulled themselves over. They all caught their breath but Naruto was already checking the area. He didn't see any enemy ninja close by, though he could see some off in the distance patrolling certain areas.

He heard something coming and quickly jumped on his students pushing them down against the steel flooring. The roar of a glider rushing by was all they heard before Naruto allowed them to pop back up and look around.

"It seems they use those gliders to patrol the sides of the village and use the remaining ninja to guard the inner sections. That's good, means we don't have to worry about getting seen pulled to the side and interrogated so long as we on the outside."

Kushina looked around a bit as well before turning on Naruto. "But won't they recognize us? I mean we don't exactly look like were from around here."

Naruto held up one hand sign before a puff of smoke enveloped him. When it disappeared Naruto looked just like an enemy Sky Ninja he saw earlier, clothes, facial features, and forehead protector, the whole package.

"Transformation Technique, also known as the Henge, so may say it is a pointless technique but in truth it is a quintessential technique that is almost a need to know for those training in the art of espionage and spying."

The girls blushed a bit at that. They had all at one point said that it was stupid that the academy only taught the three academy jutsu, claiming them to be pointless and dumb. Now it seemed that maybe those techniques were vital to their survival as shinobi... you hear that some people, stop ragging on the shinobi system!

They still were not happy though. They had yet to see a single female Sky Ninja, leading them to believe that maybe the Land of Sky was sexist, believing men to be the only ones capable of being useful shinobi. If that was the case then they would enjoy sinking this place to the ground.

"Wow, you look like three dudes..."

Bam! Swat! Pop!

Naruto was on the ground with three knots on his head where the three girls disguised as dudes had walloped him. He didn't realize that in their mentality over the possibility of a sexist village against their own gender that he had set off a bomb by giving them a target to vent on.

After getting over the feminine beat down he just took, Naruto got back up and looked around. The place was massive. He noted that there was a strange formation to the layout of this fortress. In the center was a massive spiraling tower that rose up high into the sky, while around it was four large pieces that attached to it's base like a belt though each corner looked like it could be separated.

Or course the place was so massive that there was even building on these large connected pieces. From what he could see they each served a specific function. The one pointing North was kind of like an airport for those flying devices. The large crates and stuff being put into the West one was probably a large storage area, but the other two were a mystery to him. He suspected one of them would house a prison or interrogation building in it somewhere.

"So where should we head to first? Go to the power room and set up paper bombs? Push all of the materials off the side! No even better we find out who is leading this operation and take him out!"

Naruto sweat dropped. Kagami wasn't playing when he said that Tofu's daughter was a hellion. Reminded him a lot of Kiba but without being such an incredible idiot.

"Sorry no can do" chided Naruto lightly. "We have to act like professionals. Gather information, make a plan, then strike when their guard is lowest."

"Then we should probably find out a bit about this place. For starters what is their plans, what are they after, what is their military strength, what are their numbers, are their civilians on this thing or is it all ninja?"

Leave it to Mikoto to get right down to the nitty gritty. Still she was right. They were in the heart of enemy territory and the slightest mistake could end in disaster.

"What are you four doing?"

They all stiffened at that. They slowly turned around, a man wearing a Land of Sky forehead protector was looking at them with an aggravated look on his face. His vest was a bit different, indicating he was probably of a higher rank.

"I have told you four to stop slacking off!" He pointed a baton towards the disguised Naruto. "You were supposed to be lending a hand to the medical squad!" He then pointed at Mikoto and Kushina. "You two were supposed to help with the laundry down in section seven!" Finally he turned on Tsume. "And you were supposed to be helping the mechanics in the hangers on Flight Three!"

Naruto, Kushina, Mikoto, and Tsume all looked at one another confused as hell. The man seemed to notice this but got even madder.

"Unless you four want to spend some time in D&I I suggest you get to moving!"

"Yes Sir!"

They all just ran off into opposite directions, but they all read Naruto's soundless words. Don't worry, I'll find you soon! That made them feel loads better as they all ran off in random directions, not really knowing where they were supposed to go.

XXX

Although they were told to go help out with laundry, really they needed ninja to help them out with laundry? Geez how under staffed was this place? They still had no idea where they were supposed to go. Needless to say they ended up wandering around for a bit.

"This place kind of sucks" vocalized Kushina as they walled down a steel grate walkway. It seemed that regular steel plating was asking for to much and instead they needed these rough ass grate walkways which had to be murder trying to move things from one room to the next.

"Kushina keep your voice down" whispered Mikoto. "Don't forget you look like a man but sound like a woman. It would be kind of strange for people who are supposed to know you to hear such a major change in tone." Mikoto then dipped her head and a mischievous look crossed her face. "Or you could always tell people you a transvestite."

Kushina went to explode on Mikoto when someone called out to them. Turning around they saw another Sky Ninja looking at them.

"What are you two doing? You were supposed to be here an hour ago!"

Mikoto and Kushina gave each other quick glances. Mikoto decided to be the one who spoke first, given she was able to use chakra to alter her voice a bit so it wasn't so womanly, yea that's it.

"Sorry... we got lost on the road of life?"

There had never been a moment where Kushina wanted to slap the stupid out of someone more than she currently wanted to right now. For some reason that statement just pissed her off, without even factoring in the possibility of discovery and death!

The Sky Ninja didn't look to happy either. "Well because of your little trip the boys from the Thunder Birds unit are currently occupying the bathrooms." Kushina and Mikoto sighed happy they wouldn't have to do any laundry before Naruto found them. "So now were going to have to get their clothes while they shower."

It was like the world just got dropped on their heads. Their brains tried to compute looking for laundry and naked men showering at the same time but they just couldn't do it. Ignoring the rigid looks and petrified bodies the Sky Ninja got behind the disguised girls and pushed them forward.

Kushina and Mikoto fell down onto their faces, thankfully their transformation technique didn't dispel, before slowly looking up. Full blown blushes spread across their fake faces as their teen girl eyes saw fully grown men walking around naked as the day they were born like it was no big deal.

"Mikoto..."

"Yea?"

"I don't want to be here right now."

"Me either."

"Hey you two stop whispering and get to work" spoke the Sky Ninja as he walked off to the side and grabbed a basket of laundry. Mikoto and Kushina followed him with robotic like movements until they two had a basket of laundry a piece.

Everything would have been fine, they would have walked out, done some laundry, tried to forget what they had seen, and gone to sleep only to wake up the next day and hurl. It wasn't until two of the men decided to mess with the obviously recluse type ninja.

"Hey losers your forgetting something!"

Mikoto looked back just as some underwear popped her in the face. Kushina didn't look back so she didn't get any underwear to the face but they still landed on her head. Shadows covered both of the girl's eyes as the men began to laugh their asses off at their misery.

"You are..."

"What was that loser? I couldn't hear you!"

"She said your dead!"

It was like a space-time ninjutsu had been used because one second Kushina and Mikoto were standing there pissed as hell while being laughed at and then the next they were on top of the guys whose underwear had landed on them beating the life out of them.

This wasn't the normal ass kicking either. These men had ruined something for them. All women wanted to believe that at least there were some decent men out there, but after seeing these nasty, hair in the wrong places, fat, small junked losers naked they could barely hold onto their lunch let alone of that image of the one perfect guy.

Even some guys who had been standing near by but had not actually been apart of what was going on got dragged into the mix and beaten up. Just for being apart of it, just for being gross, they got beaten up. Eventually the guy who was helping them with the laundry was able to pull the two angry women of the bloodied and bruised guys.

"Alright, alright that is enough!" He pulled Mikoto off first and then he was able to get Kushina as well. "We will talk about this later! Just grab your baskets and get out!"

Mikoto quickly grabbed her basket and hauled ass quickly followed by Kushina.

"God damn! I haven't ever seen someone fight like that" spoke one of the guys who hadn't gotten beaten up and down then all around. "What are they special ops?

"No, they are just grunts!" Watching them run off though he had to admit they were skilled. "Maybe they need a promotion?"

XXX

Surprisingly Tsume was able to find the hangers all on her own without having to be dragged along by someone. She mainly attributed that to her strong sense of smell. Still she was starting to get kinda tired holding up the transformation technique that kept her ninja dog looking like her.

Not surprising was Tsume had zero real knowledge when it came to engineering or anything of the kind. Luckily while wandering around she met a fellow female though she couldn't tell given Tsume was disguised as a man who was willing to show her the basics.

"Don't worry about not knowing anything" spoke Luma as she walked through the hanger. "Most of the hands they send my way haven't ever done anything more than pick up and throw kunai. They think only four or five engineers can keep this place running with some extra hands, huh, right."

Luma was a... very big woman. She wasn't big as in fat, but she was huge when it came to muscle. Her arms reminded Tsume of body builders, her walk was powerful from the huge half muscles she had, and even her voice was a bit deeper than she would have guessed. If Tsume didn't know any better she would have guessed this may have been a man, or mainly man if you catch my drift.

She seemed to be in charge in the hangers as far as Tsume could tell. She knew a lot as well. From who should be doing what to who was good at what. She was even yelling at some of them guys who were slacking off even though they were obviously shinobi and she was a civilian.

As they walked down the hanger Tsume figured a bit of reconnaissance would be a good idea.

"So Luma, are you from the Land of Sky, or are you here just for the work?"

Luma stopped quick and looked back at her with an odd expression. Tsume was sweating bullets all of a sudden. Did she say something wrong? Oh no what if they found out she wasn't really an ally and turned her in. Ahh she really hoped Naruto-sensei would save her if worst came to worst.

"You must be a new recruit for the Land of Sky if you don't know."

"Know what?"

Luma just sighed. "Look at all of these workers, tell me what you see."

Tsume did as she was told. She looked out at the large hanger bay and watched the interaction between the people. At first she didn't see what Luma was talking about but slowly she started to notice a divide. The normal civilians were almost fearful of the shinobi, even the ones doing the same job as them.

Also now that she looked she could see that the normal civilian population, at least in here, was very small compared to the shinobi population. That and there was almost a ethnicity difference between the two factions. The Sky ninja were pale and kind of looked sickly, while the civilians were a bit tanner though they looked hungry.

"There seems to be a divide."

Luma nodded her head. "Yes, these people come from a village in the Land of Snow. They were abducted from their homes to use as mechanics and engineers for this place."

"Are you one of them?"

Luma sighed heavily and nodded her head. "Yes, I was one of them, and it is only through me that they are even treated this well. Before they were treated much closer to slaves, but I was able to convince the higher ups that if treated better the quality of work would improve."

"And they went for it?"

"They seem to have some very big plans coming up." She ran a hand through her short hair. "I don't know what they have going on and I'm not to keen on finding out, but if I had to guess they are going to use this place as some type of siege weapon."

Tsume looked over at her partner and gave an annoyed look. Could this war get any more complicated? They already had to worry about Iwa, Suna was acting oddly, Mist was at a civil war, Cloud was like a wolf waiting in the shadows to pounce on a weakened elemental nations, Konoha was the main target, and even they were having internal issues.

"Pop!"

Tsume looked backwards and saw that her Ninja Dog had reverted to it's true form. She started to freak out when a Sky Ninja walked up and started to turn towards them. As fast as lightning she karate chopped him in the back of the neck making him pass out.

As he fell she shoved him into a room and quickly closed the door. Her ninja dog quickly retook his henged form right as Luma turned around and gave them an odd look.

"You know, you two are an odd pair you know that."

"You have no idea."

XXX

Naruto stumbled out of the medical wing. He didn't really have much to do in there because so far they had been using air to land attacks therefore reducing the need for up close and personal combat. Without many injured Naruto was allowed to take the day off.

He just kinda wandered around, making sure to avoid anyone as much as possible while scoping the place out. He had already created two shadow clones to look for his team. He didn't dare make any more for fear of being discovered.

As much as he hoped they were alright all he could do was hope at the moment. There hadn't been any alarms going off or ninja rushing around so he assumed nobody was aware of what was going on yet.

While he worried he kinda got lost. The hallway he was walking down was made of pure steel giving it a real clinical feeling. At the end of the hallway he felt something cold. Narrowing his eyes he started to transverse the passage to see what was at the other end.

"And I said, if your going to look like a slob then you shout at least have some manners!" The man started to laugh even though his joke wasn't funny.

Three men were walking down the path to go to the core of their floating fortress but unfortunately the head researcher was kind of a quack when it came to comedy. Smart guy, terrible jokes. Kinda was like torture for the ears.

"Seriously you need to stop making up your own material" replied one of the body guards as they turned the corner. "I haven't ever heard anything that bad!"

The older one of the three deflated a bit. "Ahhh, come on you know you wana laugh!"

The youngest one punched in some buttons on a automated electronic security system before a loud beeping sound emanated from it. He looked back at the oldest of the three and shook his head. "No, we don't!"

The older man just humphed figuring these kids now a days just could not recognize real comic genius when it was presented to them on a silver platter.

"Fine, miss out!" He walked forward just as the metal door opened to give them access.

"Thank you/Finally!"

Naruto unglued himself from the ceiling as the small group passed by. He kind of felt cheated in a sense cause he strained his hearing to listen in on them when they were further away but all he got was that idiot's crappy jokes. So much for gathering information.

Landing on both feet without making a sound the super ninja made his way to the metal door. With a grin he quickly typed in the same password he saw the young man use a second ago. There was a flash of green right before the door opened up.

Naruto's eyes widened a bit with what he saw. It was a massive cylinder like room with fuinjutsu symbols like runes carved into them from top to bottom. In the center of the cylinder room was what looked like a large cocoon with something dark in the center. All around the cocoon were people with computers, chemistry sets, and other equipment.

One of the Sky Ninja turned around and looked at the door. It was closed and nobody was there. That was odd, he could have sworn he heard it open up a second ago. Weird, but it wasn't anything to worry about. He turned back around and continued to guard the researchers.

High up standing inside one of the large symbols was Naruto using the carved in rune as a place of hiding as he spied on the people below.

What are these people up to?

XXX

Down bellow Doctor Ling stood in front of the other researchers and spoke into a microphone so that everyone could hear him.

"Testing testing!" All the other scientists and ninja turned towards him. "Subject 001, the Zero Tailed Leach, also known as the Source. We will now begin operation Darkness."

Four Sky Ninja stepped up and turned their backs to the big wad off webbing. A single thread extended to all four of them and connected with the base of their heads where the skull and spinal cord met. Slowly a dark purple chakra crept out of the bundle and then into the sky ninja.

All of a sudden the Sky Ninja's skin turned a gray color and their muscles began to bulge. They began to grown as their lips turned a black color and their eyes started to glow a bright purple. Slowly a dark shroud engulfed them until they looked almost demonic.

"Success!"

The lead scientist jumped up running around like a clown. "The dark chakra shinobi embodiment test worked!" He was practically giving himself awards. "Now our shinobi will be unstoppable!"

All the scientists started to stand up and congratulate one another. It was all congratulations doctor so and so or this is amazing doctor so and so. They were so proud of themselves it was sickening.

"Urgggg"

One of the scientists looked towards the four enhanced sky shinobi and saw them looked upwards. He didn't get why they were doing that but they started to move around. There was an odd sort of communication between the four of them. More like grunting than anything else.

"What is going on?"

The dark sky shinobi didn't say anything, they just crouched for a moment before launching themselves up at an incredible speed and height all of a sudden. They smashed into the upper parts of the room causing pieces of the stone to fall down scattering scientists and their guards.

"What are they doing?"

"They must have gone berserk! Someone call command, tell them the experiment has gone out of control!"

"Right away sir!" One of the Sky Shinobi ran off to inform command.

XXX

A large pile of rubble shook for a moment before a large slab was pushed up and slid over. The time traveling body switching shinobi crawled out of the rubble rubbing his head in pain. He surely had not seen that happening.

How did they find me?

One moment he was spying from a great vantage point using various techniques to hide his presence and his appearance. The next thing he knew four juiced up sky ninja were slamming him through three feet of concrete and a net of re bar.

There was some heavy crunching sounds causing Naruto to look behind him. There looking at him with those purple sclera was the juiced up sky ninja. They didn't look like they wanted to be apart of a tea party either.

"What are you four doing!" Best pretend to be an innocent victim, maybe they just made a mistake. "I am a Sky Ninja just like you... well maybe not just like you four but were on the same side!"

They didn't say anything, in fact they kind of had a zombie like body language to them, and just attacked him without holding anything back.

Naruto quickly did a back flip to avoid the first punch but immediately had to duck to avoid the next attack. He didn't see the third one blind siding him and giving him the old double handed swing crush from the side. It was quite painful and sent him through three buildings.

Landing painfully in the street didn't give him a moments rest because the fourth one landed on top of him bringing several hundred pounds of pain down with him. The popping in his chest meant he had at least two broken ribs.

I can't hold back against these guys, thought Naruto as he stabbed the Dark Sky Ninja in the leg. The ninja didn't even react and as soon as Naruto pulled out his kunai it healed up by using some nasty looking black ooze. Gross.

The Dark Sky Ninja just reared his foot back and kicked Naruto in his side. The strength behind the kick was great because Naruto ate a mouth full of concrete before coming to a stop.

Pushing past the pain in his side, back, and ribs Naruto ducked past one of his enemies but slipped a paper bomb on him before jumping away. Another dark ninja showed up and stood beside the first right as it exploded. The mess was not pretty.

"Rohhggaggahhhh!"

"What the hell was that?"

Naruto looked around to make sure that the other two Dark Sky Ninja were not about to pounce on him before he went to check it out.

He crawled up onto a house and looked down. There was a man standing there with his hand wrapped around one of the dark ninja and it seemed like he was absorbing it's chakra. Once it was all done he let go and the big man fell to the ground like led.

"There, that's two down and two too go."

"Sir, reports say the other two are dead! It seems they ran into some explosions and did not survive."

The dark haired man ran a finger across his chin. "Was it one of our own that killed them?"

"No sir, they went on a rampage and ripped apart a small portion of the village. One of the buildings they broke was a shinobi supply store. We believe one of the paper bombs got attacked to them from there and activated with the Dark Chakra field they were emitting."

"Alright clean up the mess and do some crowd control. I will return to the control room to make sure the damaged seal has not given the Zero Tails any chance to escape."

"Right Sir!"

Naruto didn't know what dark chakra was, nor did he know what the Zero Tails was, but he knew right then and there he would have to find out. This place was much more dangerous than he first thought.

Regardless of that though he would need to find his team. With danger like this he would have to keep a close eye on them to make sure they did not get hurt or worse killed.