New Devil of The Gremory House
Life 43: Yūsha
Man, we're well into this July update spree and I'm surprised I managed to upload as much as I have. I'm thinking 1 - maybe 2? - more chapters for this arc. Or just one big ass chapter that'll never end. Looking forward to passing this milestone!
"How are you feeling?"
"Like my entire body was crushed under a landslide."
"Well that did happen at one point."
Naruto couldn't help chuckle but nearly caused a collapse of his internal organs when he did. The whiskered man was bandaged nearly from head to toe. After days of unconsciousness, with scores of apothecaries and medical practitioners coming in and out to do what they could, they had saved him from the worst of his injuries. And now all that was left was for him to rest and recuperate at his own pace.
"You need to lie back down." Yasaka said sternly as she put a hand to his chest and gently forced him back down. He couldn't do much to fight back against her as he barely had enough strength to sit up, "We didn't spend all this time trying to take care of you just so you could muck it up moving around."
"Sorry. Sorry." Naruto quickly tried to appease her so he wouldn't get an earful. Unfortunately for him she had several mouthfuls she could easily hold onto when he was in better condition. Instead she watched his expression sour slightly before he asked, "What are the numbers?"
"We got almost everyone out in time and to safe locations while you held him off. Things were a little dicey at times but everyone is safe and home again. And they all really want to see you again when you recover."
"'Almost everyone'? You mean-"
"Don't do that." Yasaka sharply interrupted him, "There's nothing we could have done when he started to attack. Be proud that you were able to save so many, and don't just focus on the ones you didn't."
Yasaka had heard for so many years about Naruto's Sacred Gear. A weapon that held the spirit of an almighty Heavenly Dragon that shook the earth itself. And that in return for the strength it granted him it would mean one day he'd have to face the one that held the other dragon. She thought it was just some delusion or rumor that floated around from anyone who previously wielded it.
But then he came. The wielder of the Boosted Gear.
He walked the streets of Kyoto's neighboring settlement. Walked alongside the numerous humans and Yōkai that had settled here in the years since its conception. He even managed to meet both her and Naruto to strike up a conversation. For a moment it seemed like neither of the Heavenly Dragons' hosts wanted to fulfill the destiny of their Sacred Gears…
But it was a lie.
He tried to catch Naruto off guard. And after that he threatened not only the settlement but all of Kyoto to make him slip up. He wanted to kill Naruto instantly and take a victory for himself.
But they acted quickly, getting as many people away as they could and allowing Naruto to fight the enemy directly. The battle raged for most of a day, and some people weren't lucky enough to get away, but finally it ended.
Naruto had won and the man carrying the Boosted Gear was dead.
"You know, I didn't think the day would come when I would have to actually fight the red one." Naruto said, going over his shoulder and reaching for his back, "I thought if I just didn't let the fate of this Sacred Gear dictate my life I could live how I wanted. But I didn't consider that the other party wouldn't want the same."
"That man was crazy. Desperate to be the strongest. There's nothing you could have done."
"I could have not been here." Naruto said glumly, "If I wasn't around this place wouldn't have been in danger."
"If you weren't around this place wouldn't exist." Yasaka countered, "In case you forgot you're the bastard who fixed me up, dragged me along, and made me stick around to realize your ridiculous fantasy through. And now here we are; a settlement with bonds and connections to Kyoto and other tribes for both humans and Yōkai. Proof they can live in peace and harmony."
"I bet they could've realized it eventually."
"If you didn't bug me about it I never would've realized it!" Yasaka said with a hint of infuriation as she stopped herself just short of smacking him. She shook her head, "A lot of work went into this place. And people appreciate what you did for them." Thoughts of the humans that had disdained Yōkai before and the monsters that hid and attacked from the shadows now openly living alongside each other flooded her mind, "If you suddenly up and left who would keep this place going?"
She was startled by his quick response, "What?"
"You would Yasaka. If I was gone you'd watch over this place."
"Hey don't dump your work on me."
"I'm serious." Naruto chuckled, "This might have been my idea but you're the one that made it possible. Working with the humans. Encouraging the Yōkai. Proving we can all live together. And all the ways you've changed since the wary, skittish girl that was prepared to kill or be killed when we met." Naruto reached up and gently patted her head, "I'm glad to see how much you've grown."
Yasaka frowned through the blush on her face, "Don't treat me like a kid."
"Can't help it."
"Naruto-kun!" The screen door pulled open as a female called out, "Are you-"
They looked back and saw a woman standing there in surprise. She quickly realized she barged in and stepped back, "S-Sorry. I didn't know you were speaking with Yasaka-chan. I'll come back-"
"Actually switch out. There's only so much of this idiot I can handle at once." Yasaka smacked his hand away and stood up. As she walked through the door and by the woman she leaned in and whispered, "He's still pretty beat up. So you'll have to do most of the work."
She left as the woman blushed and sputtered in response.
She was one of the first members of the settlement when they were first forming, and one of the people she and Naruto saved years ago in their travels. Since then she had developed a crush on Naruto that he hadn't realized for years.
Until Yasaka finally told him and they started to court each other.
She loved Naruto like a brother, and they certainly had shared a few nights together when they were both lonely and needed companionship, but her best friend needed to find love in his life. And it looked like he finally had.
The years went by and things settled back to normal. Land was rebuilt and expanded. Treaties and relationships were formed with neighboring tribes. Kyoto became more accepting of Yōkai and their mutual living became more common place. And even if dissenters argued and attacked against how they lived, they protected the peace.
Naruto got married and was very happy. It turned out Yasaka did get stuck with a lot more work as he and his blushing bride indulged in their marital joys. And more than once she was invited to join them in a night of fun.
Of course at one point she had to draw the line and say no more…
After all, looking at their first child and realizing she probably joined them on the night of his conception was just too much to handle.
"What the fuck?"
"Are you serious?"
People from both sides looked at Naruto in shock and confusion after his slip of the tongue. He shook his head, "Uh - never mind. Forget I said anything."
Cao Cao stifled a chuckle and looked towards his companion, "Hear that Minato? He thinks you're his dad. How's that make you feel?"
"Disgusted and weirded out." The dual-whiskered teen said with a grimace, "Why would he think I'm his father?"
"Wait wait wait! Mina-kun!" A pretty blonde girl in armor brazenly rushed forward, uncaring of the tense atmosphere and battle that was about to begin and latched herself onto Minato's back, "Did you have a kid? Did you get lucky and sire a boy who was taken into the Devil side and now you have to fight him in an unfortunate turn of fate?!"
"What are you talking about? That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard!"
"But I've seen it happen in TV shows! And manga! And comic books! It totally happens!"
"This isn't that!"
"Yeah Jeanne, you should realize that there's a glaring flaw in your theory." A massive, muscular man walked over to join their side with a cocky smile, "That would mean Minato's been with a woman enough to have a child. And we all know that ain't ever happened."
The girl identified as Jeanne giggled to herself as Minato growled, "Damn you Heracles."
"A-Are they just casually chatting in front of us?" Issei said, his annoyance bubbling over as they were dragged into this strange place by their enemies and then blatantly ignored like they weren't even a threat. He ground his teeth within the Scale Mail, "I'll show them! Dragon-"
A second knife slid into Minato's hand without pause. Naruto's eyes widened in realization, "Issei wait!"
The perverted [Pawn] fired an intense green blast towards their collected foes while they were gathered together. And as it approached Minato flicked the second knife forward and threw it within the vicinity of the powerful demonic blast. As Issei's attack drew closer and closer to the heroes, the knife flew between the Occult crew-
Naruto desperately ran in and kicked the three-pronged knife away. And as it sailed over the edge of the bridge and into the water, Minato raised the other knife to block the approaching blast.
Everyone on the bridge was sent stumbling as Issei's blast suddenly erupted in the river and sent a massive splash of water dozens of meters up. The Occult members were shocked by the explosion as the Hero faction were surprised to see the blast had been knocked off target.
As the displaced river water rain down over them, Naruto picked himself up and glared their enemies down. His eyes lingered on the whiskered blond across from them who was eyeing him down with an icy glare, "Naruto." Azazel grabbed his attention as he dried his hair, "Seems like you knew just what to do there. There's a lot about this that is confusing but mind giving us an appraisal?"
"Watch out for that kid's knives. They have a special space-time jutsu that let him instantly teleport either himself or other things between certain points. And he makes those points with his knives. That's how he sent the blast earlier into the mountains."
"And if you hadn't kicked that knife away, we would've been eating a Dragon Shot." Azazel noted as he pulled out his golden short spear, "Good call."
As Naruto gave his warning, Minato grew increasingly more agitated with each word. And as he finished the human blond was left seething, Heracles and Jenne whistling in surprise, "That's eerie."
"He got a lot of that accurate on the first try." Another young man, lean and silver-haired, noted as he walked up to join the rest of his comrades, "That raises some serious questions."
"H-Hey!" Issei freaked out upon seeing the familiar silver-haired enemy, "Are you that crazy bastard Freed?! Didn't you - like - die?!"
"Brutally." Yuuto added, "Between sacrificing flesh and mind for power and mine and Naruto-San's attacks…he's dead."
"And I'm not him. But I can understand your confusion. We were artificially made in the same warrior program so we're bound to share some similarities. But my name is Siegfried, and I've sworn to assist my comrades and uphold the great standard my name derives from. And since I've answered your question," Siegfried turned it around, "Do you mind telling us how you knew so much about our friend's abilities? Did Arthur or Vali inform you beforehand?"
"You think Vali would tell us anything willingly?" Azazel scoffed, "You obviously don't know the little bastard well enough."
"Good point." Cao Cao nodded as he stepped forward, "Then let's move on."
His comrades looked doubtful, "Cao Cao, you sure about that? If we don't figure out what they know-"
"I don't think they had any information prior to our meeting. You heard what he said right? He called Minato father, and also looks just like his ancestor centuries ago. I think he inferred on your abilities based on his prior knowledge from his world. Just fate and the universe indulging in their humor I suppose." Their leader said confidently, "But that doesn't matter right now. No matter what are we going to let these people stand in our way?"
As Cao Cao stepped forward, Azazel walked ahead to face him properly, "So you're the leaders of the Hero faction, huh? An honor to meet you face-to-face."
"For us as well, Governor-General-dono. We truly are in the presence of a legend."
"Oh stop it." Azazel waved off the flattery, "Speaking of legends, I can't imagine all these descendants and reincarnations of heroes through the ages convened together by happenstance. How did you all meet?"
"Like minds and all that." Cao Cao casually responded, giving Azazel a cheeky smirk that the Fallen Angel couldn't help but admire. Seeing a little bit of himself in the young hero's conniving speech, he listened as the Khaos Brigade leader continued, "You could say each and every one of us was touched by heroic stories of the past. Some of us wish to become heroes-"
A wave of cheers and agreement came from the countless foot soldiers that lined the street behind him.
"Some of us are heroes reborn and simply continue the bravery that made us renown in the first place-"
Heracles and Jeanne sounded off.
"And some of us are the true blood descendants of the legendary heroes who mark the legends and storybooks." Cao Cao motioned to himself as others behind him also stood up a little prouder, "As such we feel a duty to honor and preserve our ancestors' legacies."
Azazel nodded, "The family business? Okay, I can respect that." He then shrugged, "Then why do all this? Why target us?"
Cao Cao looked at him dubiously before shaking his head, "Azazel-dono, I believe you more than anyone else in this group would understand. You know that on the scale of lives in this world, humans are relegated to the bottom and barely ever considered. We're followers or sources of power for others' in their schemes. We're expected to be loyal or faithful or subservient. And if the needs arise, sustenance and entertainment. For all the years you've been alive…have the lives of humans ever been weighed against the rest of yours and come up equal?"
Azazel hesitated for a moment as he knew the question was rhetorical and any answer would just lead into Cao Cao's trap. The young leader chuckled, "It's understandable. For many of the supernaturally inclined humans are livestock or inconsequential."
"I won't argue and say that humanity have been given the best hand dealing with us," Azazel shrugged, "But in fairness most of them are completely unaware and unaffected by our ongoings."
"Ignorance is bliss, huh?" Cao Cao inquired with an unamused tone, "Covering our eyes and telling us things are fine as the world burns and falls around us isn't exactly a good argument, sir. And while capable humans may not be able to match in quantity towards your numbers, I think our quality and ability to grow is our greatest strength." He spun the spear in his hand along his shoulder, "And with this little blessing in my hands, I think I have a lot to offer in both of those departments."
Asia pulled Kunou back and hid her behind her back before she looked up. Her eyes lingered on the spear he held and she struggled to look away, "T-That spear-"
"Asia! Irina! Xenovia! Don't look at his weapon!" The Church Trio quickly recoiled and either covered their eyes or tried to focus their attention elsewhere, "The devoted and pious cannot look at it for too long or they'll go mad. Man, him having that…makes me think this isn't going to go very well."
"Azazel," Naruto urged as he stared at Cao Cao's weapon and felt the something inside him tremble, "What the hell is that thing?"
"You remember the Longinus? The Sacred Gears that stand above all others with the potential to change the world?" Issei raised his Boosted Gear in understanding, "That's the first. The strongest. The True Longinus. The spear that stabbed Christ and ended his life. One of the three holy instruments along with the Holy Grail and Holy Cross involved in the messiah's death and created the title Longinus in the first place." He bit his lip, "And long shot, you're the only one on your team with a Longinus?"
Cao Cao shook his head.
"Worth a shot." Azazel swiped his golden spear aside and summoned his resplendent golden armor around him. Without hesitation he charged forward to attack his opponent.
Cao Cao effortlessly swung his True Longinus and countered Azazel's first strike. As the Fallen Angel rushed aside, the young hero twirled his brilliant spear around, "Leo! Georg! Make some soldiers and bring out our friends!" He pointed the spear towards Azazel's approaching form and extended it a dozen times its normal length, "Everyone else! Entertain our guests!"
As the Occult members quickly prepared for battle, Yuuto summoned three swords at his feet. He grabbed two of them and tossed them back, "Xenovia! Irina-San!" As the Devil and Angel procured their weapons, the [Knight] announced to his friends, "We'll hold off the numbers! You take care of the leaders!"
"Oh no pressure." Naruto snidely remarked as he created two clones; one which immediately guarded Asia and Kunou while the other sat down to gather natural energy. The original stepped forward with Issei to face their foes head-on. In response Jeanne, Heracles, Siegfried, and Minato all stood and prepared to face them.
Just like Yuuto did before, Jeanne summoned two blades to emerge from the ground by her feet. She grabbed one and held it out, "Sieg-kun, you need one?" The sword man graciously nodded but refused her offer, summoning two swords of his own from his storage space. She looked down the row, "Mina-kun, you want some more knives?"
"I'm good." He pulled out a new set of his special knives, "I have more than enough for these fools."
"Oh yeah?" Issei's jets started to pump out green energy before he dashed forward like a missile, "Well let's see just how much you can handle!"
Heracles stepped forward and caught Issei's charge in his hands. The impact between the two was enough to crack the bridge underneath them and cause an explosion of air as they struggled for dominance. Even with Issei's Scale Mail boosting his strength, the reincarnation of the Greek Demigod persisted and matched him in strength.
"HA!" Heracles pushed back and forced Issei aside, throwing him into the bridge's railing and denting it under the force. The human warrior cackled, "Is that all you have to offer, Red Dragon? I expected - GUH!"
Issei rushed in and struck him across the face. The blow forced Heracles back, making him spit out a bit a blood before he chuckled with glee and rushed back in.
Naruto stood across from the three other heroes as Issei handled the big bastard and the others fought the legion of supporters they brought with them. As Azazel and Cao Cao exchanged fierce blows, Naruto drew out his knife and pointed it at his foes, "I'm gonna ask that you hand the kyūbi woman you kidnapped and we'll be nice."
Jeanne giggled as Minato just narrowed his eyes. Only Siegfried indulged him enough to converse, "Sorry but that isn't going to happen. The leader of Kyoto's Yōkai is an extremely valuable asset that we can't part with now."
"Fine." Naruto crossed his fingers, "Don't say I didn't ask!"
A dozen clones popped into existence around him and rushed the heroes.
"Blade Blacksmith!" Jeanne proclaimed as a meadow of blades sprung up between her and the Devil clones rushing their way. Several were destroyed by the swords that suddenly sprung up beneath them. But the clones that watched it happen quickly reacted and leapt over the field of holy swords.
Minato tackled one of the clones in the air and killed it with a stab to the chest. As he landed, some of the other clones turned to rush and attack him. The others made it across the gap and charged both Jeanne and Siegfried at the same time.
Naruto focused his Demonic Power along his knife and extended the blade, giving him some distance when he engaged both heroic sword-wielders in battle. Jeanne laughed gleefully, casually summoning swords from the ground to cut off his attacks as she treated their battle like a joyous game. Siegfried on the other hand was far more focused and composed. The way he effortlessly held off both of his whiskered attackers from approaching with his swordplay attested to years of honed training.
Minato cut the clones around him and was left facing only the original Naruto. Both whiskered blonds faced each other with glares. But as Minato simply eyed him with derision and spite, Naruto tried to glean whatever he could off his younger counterpart just from his appearance. He spoke up, "Why are you doing this?"
"I'm not answering your questions." He quickly responded, "Why would I waste my time answering the questions of whatever the hell you think you're supposed to be?"
"Really? Just gonna wave it off?" Naruto spoke with annoyance at the younger man's flippant attitude, "No curiosity? No dying to know more?"
"Here's what I know. You might be a clone or a descendent or a reincarnation or another version of my ancestor but it doesn't matter." He raised his knife, "I came to do what I set out to do and that's all there is to it."
"But your ancestor protected this place! Why-"
Minato spiked his knife forward and Naruto immediately dodged aside as he reappeared in a yellow flash and swiped for his neck. The younger blond gripped his knife, "Didn't I say so already? I'm not answering your questions!"
Naruto eyed the doppelgänger down before scowling back, "Fine. Then I'll make sure to ask when we take you in. Do it!" His clone popped to the side and sent the natural energy returning to him and his four clones. As his eyes gained an orange hue around him, Naruto felt his senses heighten considerably.
Minato drew another knife and took a stance before he rushed forward. Naruto charged in and met him head-on, exchanging slashes and jabs at blinding speeds to try and outdo the so-called hero. Even though Sage Mode gave him a clear strength advantage, the fact that Minato could keep up with natural reflexes alone was shocking.
The three-pronged knife stabbed towards his eye but Naruto blocked it with his knife. The two blonds glared each other down with only a few inches between them-
Yuuto rushed in, gifted with his [Knight] speed and slashed between them to disarm Minato. As his knife flew through the air, Xenovia jumped down with her sword over her head and Irina with a weapon of Light at the ready.
He disappeared in a yellow flash and reappeared in the air alongside them. Before they could properly reacted, Minato spun around and kicked them out of the air. As they landed roughly on the bridge Minato fell back through the air-
"Big Ball Rasengan!"
Naruto leapt towards his foe with a giant orb of chakra to send him flying. But Minato just threw his knife aside and vanished before the jutsu could even touch him. Naruto landed back on the ground and scowled as he saw the whiskered hero reappear further away.
"Wow," Xenovia grunted as she picked herself up, "Naruto, your dad packs a serious kick."
"And he's really fast!" Irina complained, "Naruto-San, can't you ask him to stop!"
"Don't start that!" Naruto barked before narrowing his eyes, "And they're not the only ones who are trouble."
Several consecutive pops of smoke signaled that his clones had been dealt with. And from a giant field of swords sprouting from the ground Jeanne emerged with a cheer of relief. And with two menacing swords in hand and a silver arm emerging from his back Siegfried walked out to join his comrades.
A mighty crash above drew their attention as Issei threw Heracles out of the sky and into the bridge. The powerful hero didn't look any worse for wear as he stood up and laughed, "Yes! Now this is a fight! I hope you have more to offer Red Dragon!"
Issei rejoined his friends, sporting a few cracks on his armor that he immediately tried to fix, "Okay, this guy is pretty strong. They aren't just for show."
"The other members weren't nearly as strong or capable as them," Yuuto said, looking back at the numerous other members he and the others had cleared through, "But these executives are going to prove a trying bunch."
Azazel clashed with Cao Cao above them before they separated and landed with their respective teams. The human leader let out a small breath before standing up and chuckling, "You're congratulating us but I thought at least one of you would be dead in our confrontation already. I think I'll have to reconsider my evaluations after this."
"We appreciate the praise but I think we'd like a better understanding of what it is you all are doing here?"
"Cao Cao!" A bespectacled magician behind them called out, "Leo is prepared and I have our support at the ready!"
The spear-wielder smiled and turned back to the Occult group, "Well Governor-General-dono, you asked so we'll be considerate. We're trying to become the greatest heroes in history, and we do so by completing great and unheard of acts that no others could dare imagine. So we're going to do what no one else in existence has ever managed."
"Kill Great Red."
There was a moment of pause after Cao Cao's claim where everyone listening tried to comprehend what he said. Azazel stood still in his golden armor before nodding, "Okay. Killing Great Red. Well I can't say you kids aren't ambitious." Azazel shrugged, "But you might want to try starting off smaller with easier, more accomplishable goals. Like world peace or killing off every deity in existence? That seems easier than…what you suggested."
"Oh it won't be an easy task. But we're not going in half-cocked. We've had preparations made to help us in the battle."
Azazel spoke grimly, "I don't think there are enough preparations in existence to handle fighting something like that."
"It's mindsets like that we're trying to take advantage of. Every other mythology seems to set boundaries and warnings for themselves. 'Never fight this.' 'Do anything you want but always be wary of this.' It's strange to see such old and powerful figures who are free to do anything limit themselves like that." Cac Cao smiled, "So what better way to prove that humans are ready to make a comeback than shattering your boundaries at any cost?"
Xenovia narrowed her eyes and grabbed the moment. She dug her foot into the ground and dashed forward, boosting her speed with her [Knight] attribute to close the gap in an instant. As she sped forward she tried to attack the heroes' leader while he had his guard down. But as she approached a swell of discolored fog raged behind him-
And a white blur shot out and barreled directly into her chest.
Xenovia gagged as she felt the pressure strike her sternum and send her flying back. Naruto quickly reacted and stepped out to catch her in time, "Xenovia!" The blue-haired girl gagged and struggled to catch her breath as she had a coughing fit. He looked up at her attacker and was shocked by what he saw.
A creature with a horse's body, a sleek head, and five-tails standing at the same height as them stomped its hooves and released a burst of steam.
[Kokuō! Holy shit they've made you tiny!]
Naruto snarled as Cao Cao scoffed, "Like it? We grabbed a few of these special monsters to help us in our cause. But their size is a little too much so we've been seeing how we can alter it with magic."
"How many of them do you have with you?"
"You sound interested."
Naruto's clone rushed away from Asia and leapt across the bridge to reach the Bijū's body in hopes of awakening it-
But another rush of fog ensnared him and stopped him from coming any closer. And a giant monstrous figure captured him between its hands and squeezed until the clone vanished completely.
As the fog faded away and revealed dozens of powerful, sturdy monsters that had suddenly sprung up to life around them.
"We knew you had a connection to these monsters, and that connection is what cutoff the Khaos Brigade's control of them." Cao Cao announced, "So we're going to make sure to don't get your hands on them by any means necessary."
"True Longinus, Dimension Lost, and Annihilation Maker. The spear to destroy worlds, the fog that encompasses them, and an army formed by the imagination." Azazel chuckled mirthlessly, "Man this pooch just keeps getting fucked."
Issei charged forward and was met with the immediate charge of Kukuō to counter him. As he pushed back against the five-tailed beast, Heracles chuckled and charged in to fight him again. Jeanne summoned a wave of blades from the ground with her Blade Blacksmith that Yuuto quickly matched with Sword Birth. He and Irina then engaged the reincarnated maiden and Siegfried in a match of their own.
Minato was about to throw his knife and join the other matches to overwhelm them but Azazel made the first move to rush him. So the young man threw his knives to teleport around the bridge and escape the Fallen Angel's assault.
Naruto created a clone who carried Xenovia back to Asia for healing. As his clone ran back, Naruto turned to face Cao Cao and the horde of monsters created by Annihilation Maker, "You kidnap the Yōkai! You bring the other Bijū here for your purposes! All for the sake of your damn goal! But what about them?! What about the mother you stole and the daughter you robbed and the poor victims you make your slaves?! Don't you have any thought for them?!"
"There is no great action or achievement made without a burden placed on yourself or others." Cao Cao responded, "For the sake of defeating a monster like Great Red, sacrifices are to be expected."
"Who asked you to destroy Great Red?! Who made you force those sacrifices on others instead of yourselves?!" Naruto yelled in furious indignation, "You dare call yourself a hero?!"
"Heroes aren't just limited to paragons of justice. They don't simply act in the best interests of the people and take every heart and soul into account." Cao Cao said with a fist to his heart, "My ancestor devastated the lands of China during the period of the Three Kingdoms. Heracles did many terrible deeds and selfish actions to complete his labors. Jeanne was a saint unlike any other who wanted to help the people, but she was still chastised and burned at the stake for her deeds. Even Siegfried committed his acts of heroics and chivalry for the sake of the woman he loved." He glared the blond down intently, "Every hero acts upon their selfish desires and the ones that don't are the ones that vanish into the annals of history. Minato can attest to that."
"So that's your measure of a hero?" Naruto spat derisively, "How selfish they are?"
"Oh anyone can be selfish. Those that are selfish and achieve their most wild desires that change the world themselves are what are known as heroes." Cao Cao smiled as he shrugged, "And even if they were selfish as they did it, as long as the people remember and become inspired by them then it's all the same."
Naruto felt his blood boil speaking with the leader of the Hero faction. Something about the man in front of him was so fundamentally different from himself that he couldn't even begin to understand him. All this manipulation and pain - f-for confirmation? To prove that they could be heroes just like the ones from their stories?
Naruto lowered his stance and narrowed his eyes, "I will never understand the mind of a fool who thinks the acts of heroes is so petty and shallow."
Cao Cao responded by lowering his own stance and readying his True Longinus, "And I will not waste my time trying to explain myself to a man that traded his humanity and tries to lecture me on heroics while he bears the mark of humanity's enemy on his being."
Naruto was enveloped in a golden light that reverted his body back to its stronger past state. And as his body was wreathed in Kurama's chakra he dashed at blinding speeds with a kick aimed at Cao Cao's head.
But somehow the man reacted, blocking his kick with the shaft of his spear and then parrying him aside as he spun his weapon around. Naruto slid to a stop on the bridge and turned to charge at Cao Cao again, but the hero aimed the tip of his spear at the whiskered blond as light gathered at its point-
Naruto leaned aside and barely avoided a beam of light that cut through the bridge, cleaved the river apart, and carried on into the reaches of the space they were located in. The ninja boy took the opportunity his foes big attack had created and charged in, "Rasengan!"
The spiraling orb of high-speed chakra slammed against the haft of the True Longinus and ground itself away in hopes of breaking through. But as Naruto and Cao Cao pushed against each other neither the jutsu nor the Longinus gave an inch.
Finally the Rasengan burst and both men retreated to gain some distance. Cao Cao still felt the reverberation of Naruto's attack grinding through the spear shake in his arms as he smirked, "Remarkable. I'm happy to exchange more hits with you," The Anti-monsters from Annihilation Maker made noises around them to signal that they were ready to attack, "But we won't be able to enjoy a fight if you're swarmed by these monsters, will we?"
Naruto immediately crossed his fingers in response.
"You just have an answer for everything, don't you?"
"Shadow Clone Jutsu!"
Xenovia felt the pain in her chest ease as the green glow from Asia's light healed her injuries. And while she was being healed the explosions of battles raging and her friends fighting echoed around them.
A herd of Naruto clones were fighting off the Annihilation Maker's monsters as the original contended with Cao Cao. Issei was being hounded on two sides as he took his battle with Heracles and the Bijū into the river. Irina was kept on the back foot by Jeanne's wild attacks and Yuuto was pressured by Siegfried's precise swings. And above their heads Azazel launched a swarm of attacks to force Minato to keep teleporting so that he couldn't fight back.
Xenovia tried to lift herself up but Kunou quickly grabbed her, "Wait! Please let her finish healing you fully before you go back into the fight!"
"I'll be fine." Xenovia said firmly, "I've fought in worse conditions than this."
"Xenovia-San, please!" Asia pleaded, "Don't rush off before I can fix everything."
An Anti-monster slipped through the cracks of battle and rushed towards the girls. Asia looked up in shock while Kunou stepped forward and summoned a wave of foxfire to try and melt the monster. However even though it was engulfed in flames it still charged-
Only to be bisected with a swift slice from Xenovia's blade.
As the Anti-monster fell apart, Xenovia stood proudly through her injuries and gripped her sword tightly, "It doesn't matter whether I'm injured or not. I am a [Knight] of the Gremory household and a warrior of the Church. Nothing like this is going to keep me down!"
Xenovia proclaimed, but as she watched the battle on the bridge unfurl she realized how bad of a position they were in. More enemies were being spawned by the second. Every one of them was being occupied by an executive of the Hero faction. And without Durandal she couldn't fight at full power.
If she wanted to jump in on a fight then Yuuto or Irina would be the best choices. Or if she wanted to thin the numbers then she had to do something about that boy summoning monsters in the back or the magician that was conjuring this fog in the first place. Whatever it was she had to-
The girls looked back at the sudden, unfamiliar voice that was trying to get their attention. They looked back to see a young lady in her school attire sitting on a broom with a witch's hat. The smiling blonde girl waved, "Hi there, nice to meet you." When Xenovia immediately turned around and pointed her sword the girl held her hands up defensively, "W-Wait! I'm not here to fight!"
"Then why are you here?"
"I'm here to help…" She paused and looked up thoughtfully, "'The ridiculous old codger that never knows when to call it quits'?" She asked and the trio looked befuddled by her question, "What about 'the visitor that always rushes in hopelessly'?" Once again they showed little acknowledgement, "Darn. I wish Vali-sama gave me better descriptions. Oh, is Oppai Dragon here?!"
"Issei-San?" Asia finally perked up, "Yes are you here to help Issei-San?"
"I am! I'm a big fan!" She clapped gleefully, "I'll go help right now!" She started to ascend through the air with her broom. Once she reached a high point she called out over the bridge, "Everyone! Can I have your attention please!"
The fighting slowed to a halt as everyone looked up at the strange girl. Cao Cao called out, "Le Fay Pendragon? Is that you?"
"Hi Cao Cao-sama." The young girl nervously greeted, "Sorry to intrude like this but Vali-sama has sent me to assist."
"Us?" Her silence was enough of an answer for him. The hero leader clicked his teeth, "That damn man is a constant thorn in our side. I swear every time I think I understand his whims he just swerves and does something else." He looked back up at the girl, "As a former member of the Hero faction I'm willing to be lenient and let you go if you turn back now."
"And I appreciate that leniency, Cao Cao-sama. But I am a member of Vali-sama's group now so I have to follow my orders! And that includes letting Gog-kun have a whack at you!"
Le Fay raised her hand and created a giant magic circle from which a behemoth pulled itself out. The giant golem dwarfed the bridge they stood on and towered over the river and streets around it.
"Gog-kun!" She called out to the behemoth with a cute nickname, "Whack them!"
The golem punched down and shattered a portion of the bridge with most of the Hero faction on it. Everyone desperately jumped back and tried to avoid its gargantuan fist as it tore through cement, rebar, and bedrock like it was cardboard.
The Occult crew tried to reconvene and gather back up on one side in a hurry. Irina, Yuuto, and Azazel rejoined Xenovia and the others while Naruto flashed to their side and Issei scrambled out of the smoke, "Holy fuck! That thing nearly crushed me!"
"That's a legendary golem from ancient folklore that was created as an weapon of the Gods. But it was abandoned and thrown into the Dimensional Gap to be forgotten in oblivion." Azazel chuckled behind his armor, "That cheeky scamp's been collecting toys while we weren't looking."
"Uh, that girl's on our side, right?" Naruto questioned, "She's not gonna turn that thing on us is she?"
"She says she's a fan of Oppai Dragon so she's happy to help Issei-San!" Asia piped up, "So we can trust her!"
"If she's a fan of the show I'm worried for her mental well-being."
A crack appeared along Gogmagog's arm before the tip of a brilliant spear pierced out of one side of it. The golem retreated back as the spear retracted to normal size and returned to Cao Cao's hand. The young hero looked no worse for wear after the golem had tried to crush him as he spoke up, "Le Fay, I hope Vali realizes that action, however futile, will have consequences."
"I'm sure he's considered it." Le Fay said, "And I don't think he cares."
"No I suppose he wouldn't."
"H-Hey!" This time another voice intruded on the fight. They all looked back as Rossweisse stumbled down the street and bumbled towards the bridge, "W-Why - what were you thinkin' leavin' me behind like that, huh? T-The nerves of you guyses!"
"Oh wow, she was drunk so I put her in a barrier to keep her safe during this. But she managed to break out of it sloshed." Azazel marveled, "Damn."
"I-I- w-what is - what am I lookin' at?" The Valkyrie mumbled as she tried to get a good look of what was in front of her. Her eyes focused on a blond on one side of the bridge and another on the other side, "O-Oh great! Now I'm seein' double! And one of 'im is glowin'! I get it! I'm a horny bitch! I'm a slave to me desire! I won't deny it anymore!"
"But I'm a teacher and a Devil dammit!" She yelled as her hair covered one eyes and her other grew bags to signal the influence of Isobu augmenting her powers, "I got more important shit to do than dream about gettin' laid!"
The water started to rise up from the river and separate into lines. Those lines formed patterns and the designs necessary to create magic circles. And from those thousands of water-created magic circles, her attacks started to swell and gather.
Cao Cao whistled as Georg fixed his glasses in disbelief, "Oh wow. Now that's impressive."
"SUCK ON THIS ASSHOOOOOOOOLES!"
Rossweisse threw her hands down and launched her myriad of spells from the magic circles that covered the sky around them. The Hero faction quickly retreated into the fog of Dimension Lost before they were overwhelmed with the onslaught of magic.
Issei watched in amazement, "Did you know Rossweisse-San could do this? Like was she practicing with her abilities when we weren't looking?"
"I heard she was training with how to be more precise and accurate with her water manipulation," Yuuto looked around and marveled at the scale of her attack, "But I think this is the first time she's pushed it this far."
"I can't believe she can control all this power."
A rogue fireball flying by their heads made them all jump in surprise. And a feeling of dread occurred as they saw more magical attacks being launched in every direction without care or concern.
"Oh shit she isn't controlling it."
It took some serious convincing from Azazel to get Rossweisse to stop firing as Dimesnion Lost faded away and they returned to the real world. But he did manage to make the drunk [Rook] stop attacking and calm everything down as the bridge returned to normal and the citizens reappeared around them.
Naruto ducked away to avoid causing a fuss with his sudden de-aged appearance. And the Occult crew decided they would call it a day and head back to the hotel to plan. There they would reconvene, work out a plan, and also-
"I am such a huge fan! I've watched every episode and bought the t-shirt and I've even memorized the theme song!" Le Fay joyfully explained as she spoke with Issei like a giddy fan meeting their idol, "Oh I can't believe this is happening!"
"It's nice to meet you too." Issei said humbly, "Thanks for jumping in to help us when you did."
"H-Hehe, it's my pleasure!" The young girl smiled brightly before pulling out her phone, "Can we take a selfie?"
"Sure." The girl leaned into his side and smiled as they took a picture together, "Is that all you want?"
"Yes! Thank you so much!" The young magician then ran over to Yuuto, "And you are so cool as the villain! Darkness Knight Fang is so cool and intimidating!" She asked and Yuuto agreed as he smiled for a selfie with her. She then turned and quickly ran over to Naruto as well, "And I'm so looking forward to what comes next!"
Naruto blinked, "What? Are you talking about that lazy guy in the show?"
"After the last episode?!" She squealed, "Oh I can't wait to see what the future holds for the Lazy Sage!"
Naruto was baffled as the girl took another selfie with him in it before he could even understand why. He turned, "What's she talking about?"
"Worry later." Azazel deflected, "Let's focus. Everyone, this little ball of fan-glee and magic is Le Fay Pendragon, Arthur's little sister and a member of Vali's group. She's an accomplished young witch and apparently a former member of the Hero faction along with her brother."
"If she's part of Vali's team and a former member of the Hero faction, what's she doing here?"
"Well Vali-sama sent me here for two reasons. I think he wanted me to help you~." Le Fay said with a hint of hopeful anticipation that it would ease her hosts' worries. But as she saw their expression remain unchanged she sagged, "But he stressed that he really wanted me to send a message that we're cutting ties with the Khaos Brigade."
"Really? He just quit?" Le Fay nodded as Azazel sighed, "I swear that boy…whatever he's doing or has his eye set on-" He snapped his finger, "On a whim it's gone like that. Let me guess he realized not only could he fight any strong enemies he wanted to as an independent force but he could also fight all the strong people in the Khaos Brigade if he quit like this?"
"I-I'm not totally sure." Le Fay meekly responded, "It's difficult to get a grasp of Vali-sama's mindset."
"Preaching to the choir." Azazel groaned and shook his head, "So am I to assume you aren't sticking around to fight with us?" Le Fay shyly nodded, "Well do you mind at least telling us a little about the Hero faction? I can work off some of the details from our fights but any concrete information would be wonderful."
"Of course!" Le Fay nodded, "I don't know everything because I wasn't that acquainted with every member but I will tell you anything you'd like."
"Good, but how about we let someone else start off…" Azazel and everyone turned to Naruto as the blond let out a loaded sigh, "Care to elaborate on that kid on the bridge?"
"He looks like my dad, except with whiskers." Naruto said, "Similiar face if just younger. Same name as him. And the moment I saw the knife in his hand and the technique he used to send Issei's attack away I knew it. That yellow flash between his knives instantly? It was the Hiraishin."
"I don't think Minato-sama ever made a name for that technique." Le Fay spoke up, "He never really told me much about himself. I know he was related to a wielder of the White Dragon from centuries ago, but there's been so much time between that generation and his that it's difficult to tell how related they are. I do know he's a prodigy when it comes to sealing techniques and that's how he gives his knives their attributes."
"Okay, so this kid is an alternate version of your dad. Crazy but we'll deal with it." Azazel carried in, "Any suggestions for the teleporting?"
"Avoid his knives and make sure they don't surround you. He can teleport between them instantly. I'd say keeping an eye on him but…well you can't exactly follow a teleporting ninja."
"Ugh, well that's great." Azazel rubbed the growing ache behind his brow away as he sighed, "Alright, I'm calling it. We know they have Yasaka-dono and who knows how many of the Bijū in their custody. We need a united front to attack them now." He pulled out his phone, "I'll contact some of the others for help…to…"
They noticed his hesitation, "Azazel-sensei?"
The Fallen Angel groaned, "Classic Khaos Brigade tactics." He turned his phone and showed the myriad of messages coming in, "They're attacking multiple frontlines to keep our allies preoccupied so they're not involved with the main problem here." The mixed-haired man laughed joylessly, "With one person who can make people disappear with fog, one who can teleport them between points, and one who can create an army of specialized soldiers on a whim they're razing hell on all sides."
"We're on our own."
Koneko looked down at her phone in silence alone in her room. The young freshman stared at the screen and her last few messages with Naruto.
He said they were fighting the Khaos Brigade in Kyoto and dealing with the kidnapping of an integral figure in the Yōkai community. While no one was hurt it didn't seem like their fight was easy. And while he didn't convey it completely through text she did feel like something was bothering him with the way his answers were so short and unclear. She wanted nothing more than to go help him and the others in Kyoto but they had already received the orders to hold the line against the threat rising here in Kuoh. Whatever was happening on their trip was rippling out towards every other mythology at the moment.
She hated this. She hated not being there to help him. To give him an ear to talk to and work through his problems like all the times he had been there to help her. It seemed unfair that he was always there when she needed him most but when the tables were turned she was being kept here to fight the foot soldiers and waste time.
She wanted to fight with him. Help him through whatever was troubling him. And prove she could be trusted.
She had a feeling she might have burned that bridge once already with someone else she treasured.
"Koneko," The knocking on her door made the young Nekomata flinch as she heard Rias' voice, "Onii-sama sent his orders. We'll be heading out soon to the designated spot."
"Okay." Koneko cursed how weakly she said that.
"Can I come in?"
Her knee-jerk response was to say no, and the realization that she wanted to say that caused another wave of self-loathing to turn in her chest. And with her prolonged silence Rias took it as a yes and opened the door.
She saw her little [Rook] sitting on the bed and looking so miserable it nearly crushed her heart. The redhead bit her lip and took a breath before stepping in and trying to figure out what she should do next. She sat on the bed next to Koneko in a tense silence that persisted for almost a minute. Rias clapped her hands on her knees to make some noise during the quiet…
Koneko tightened the hug she had around her legs and buried her face in her knees, "Do you hate me?"
That grabbed Rias' attention as she stopped to look at her, "What?"
"Do you hate me now?" Koneko repeated while hiding her face as much as possible, "After betraying your trust and watching you and Senpai…" The room was dark but with their night vision Rias could plainly see her ears turn red as her own face turned pinker, "Do you not want anything to do with me?"
"No! I-I mean no of course I still want-" Rias stopped herself and palmed her own face out how flustered she'd been. Taking a calming breath she recovered some of her sense, "Of course I don't hate you. And of course I still want everything to do with you."
"How?" Koneko weakly muttered, "Why?"
"My sweet girl," Rias turned in the bed and gently placed her hand on the younger woman's shoulder. Koneko hesitantly raised her head out of her knees and looked up at her, "Do you think just because you did something bad I would just stop caring about you?" Koneko lowered her gaze shamefully but Rias gently lifted her chin, "That chasm is deep and vast and I can't possibly imagine what you could do to reach it but it wasn't this."
Koneko gave a small nod but still looked glum. Rias decided to draw her [Rook] in and gently embrace her against her chest. The same thing they did years ago when they were first warming up to each other and she had to help her dear little friend through a trying time. To her surprise little white ears poked out of her hair and twitched as if begging to be coddled. Rias smiled and relented as she started running her hands through Koneko's hair.
"I'm sorry." Koneko murmured into her shirt.
"I know." Rias gently whispered, "I'm sorry too. He and I said we wouldn't ever do that where we all slept but we were just so-"
Rias felt a little flustered being accused of that by her young friend but kept her cool, "I-I suppose you could say that."
"That's fine. I was too. As was Xenovia-senpai." Rias felt like she'd just gotten punched in the chest. Xenovia was there too?! Oh…this was a can of worms that only got messier, "But at least you were with someone and had a relationship with them. I - w-we were just…" Koneko was reluctant to keep admitting it, "I'm so sorry."
"I already told you I forgive you." Rias chuckled, "And when Naruto gets back I'm sure he'll-"
"N-No!" Koneko quickly reacted, startling Rias with the concerned look in the Nekomata's eyes as she sat up and looked at her, "I-I'm sorry but please don't tell him yet. I don't want him to know what I did. I-I don't think he'll hate me but," Koneko lowered her head, "He might be disgusted or disappointed in me."
"Koneko." Rias gently held the younger girl's shoulders and got her to look up, "You remember he went on a trip with Xenovia, right?"
"She told him, didn't she?"
"I wouldn't put it past her. That girl really doesn't understand tact. Or shame." Koneko groaned and plopped back in the bed in defeat. Rias tried to console her again, "Look on the bright side. When he gets back I'm sure they'll have already talked and worked things out. So you won't have to worry about breaking the subject to him." She really tried to sound comforting but it didn't look like Koneko was having any of it, "Okay, we might need to work on this a little more. Once we're done thinning out the frontlines we can talk about it in bed-"
"No." Koneko quickly responded and interrupted. She pulled her hands away from her face to show she wasn't still reeling from the revelation of her mistake and had a somber expression. Rias watched as Koneko sat up and spoke, "I can't stay in that bed right now."
"Because it used to be where we all slept and rested and talked before the day was over." Koneko fondly remembered, "But now I try to go there and…I smell the both of you in the moment."
"Oh." Rias realized.
"I don't know what to do, Buchou." Koneko slid over to the edge of the bed and clasped her hands together, "I thought I was going to be able to keep up. That I could handle whatever it was that could earn his attention and affection. I thought we'd be able to sleep in the same bed together and compete like we did for awhile longer."
Rias nodded, "But then I did what I did."
"And you had every right to. You and him had been in a relationship all this time and it was natural that it would reach that point. And then I realized that this rattled me so much because maybe I couldn't imagine going that extra step." Koneko admitted, "Can I even hope to grab his attention when I wasn't ready to do that? I thought I liked him. I thought I was in love."
Rias stared at her [Rook] for a moment as the younger girl leaned back on the bed and took a deep breath. The white-haired freshman was trying to clear her thoughts and ease her distress but there was only so much that admitting like that would do. Rias nervously gulped and squeezed her knees as she tried to think of what to say.
"I…" Rias paused, "I didn't think I would feel like this." She giggled, "I never thought I would ever like someone and I had pretty much prepared myself for either an arranged marriage or a life without romance. I cared about my family and I loved the members of my peerage and that was enough." Rias smiled softly, "And then I had to bother with this reluctant, annoying, stubborn boy whose life I tried to save. And everything I thought I had prepared for…kinda just vanished."
Koneko looked towards her as she continued, "I didn't know it was love. He interested me. He made me feel different. Safe when I needed it and determined to do something when I had to do it. And the longer I spent with him the more this feeling of content and joy started to overflow. And we tried to - um - 'do it' several times over the last few months but something always interrupted. And to be honest I was relieved sometimes when it didn't pan through because I was nervous I was going to screw up somehow."
Koneko whispered, "What changed?"
"After our meeting the Maou and what he and I said to each other I just didn't feel any hesitation anymore. I didn't want to do it because of the heat of the moment or because I wanted to prove the universe wrong - don't ask." She quickly added, "I just knew it was the time. I wanted us to take the next step and I wasn't scared to do it."
Rias knelt down in front of Koneko so she could look up at her [Rook] with a smile as she held her hands, "If you feel any way that I do - and I'm sure you do - then you don't need to question whether you're in love. And you don't have to force yourself to do what I did in order to prove that." Koneko looked up tentatively as Rias squeezed her hands, "Just take it one step at a time."
"Wow, such heartwarming advice, nya." The moment was interrupted and both girls looked over to see Kuroka leaning against the doorframe, watching them with a coy smile on her face, "Right out of a cheesy teenage romance if I've ever seen one."
Rias frowned, "We cannot deal with you right now."
"Geez Heiress-chan no reason to be so uppity." The black-haired Nekomata said with a chide tone, "By the way you realize you're telling Shirone she can score with your mate, right?"
Rias grumbled a little at Kuroka's obvious prodding but took a deep breath, "It would be too stubborn of me to try and ignore that there are others that have grown feelings for him just like I have. And I believe that he has enough love in his heart to answer them as well."
"Oh cool, so if you're offering then can I take a go to, nya?"
Rias' eye twitched and Koneko immediately reacted, "I thought you didn't like Senpai?"
"Still don't but I guess I don't vehemently despise him as much as I did before when he snatched you away." Kuroka shrugged, her kimono slipping a little further and only being held up with the curve of her breasts, "I mean love and care aren't really necessary if you wanna just get in a quick hate-fucking. And if she's offering him on a silver platter-"
"That's enough!" Rias charged at Kuroka but the Nekomata leapt over her head and across the room to land by Koneko.
"Hey Shirone," The elder whispered to her startled little sister, "She thinks you should take your time but I think different. You need to be bold and take risks. Show him you won't be forgotten. Sure you might not have assets like some of us." She emphasized by crossing her arms under her breasts and pushing them up, "But you can make up for it with skill and daringness. Show him how Nekomata wow their partners. I bet it'll be better than the floppy fish routine he's had so far-"
Kuroka flipped backwards and avoided the whip of Destruction that Rias lashed at her in retaliation. As the black-haired woman landed and giggled to herself Rias was brimming with displeasure, "I'm getting real sick of this unwelcome intruder."
"Oh~, now that look is flattering. You trying to coerce me, Heiress-chan?" Kuroka giggled and skipped out the door, "By-"
She froze in place mid-step.
"I caught her! I caught her!" Gasper cheered as his eyes glowed while capturing Kuroka in his frozen time, "Buchou, I finally caught her! It took nearly a whole day but I caught her!"
"About time." Akeno said with scorn as she glared at the frozen Nekomata, "This bitch made us spend all day chasing her through the hotel. Clones of her in the baths. In the lobby. In the rooms! Bothering other guests! There are complaints at the desk because people are wondering if there's some 'woman on call' that graced their rooms and if they can have her back!"
Rias rubbed her brow, "Ugh, it's only trouble when this woman is around."
"Rias, we need to go out and help now." Akeno warned her friend, "What should we do about her?"
The redhead Devil rubbed her temples before looking back at Koneko. She turned to her [Rook] and asked, "Koneko, do you not want your sister bothering you anymore?"
Koneko blinked, "Why Buchou?"
"If you never want to see her again then we can take steps to make sure she never comes back here. But if you do want to see here, then we can use that to our advantage."
Koneko blinked in surprise, "You're going to use our strained relationship to manipulate her?"
"I was going to but I wanted to ask you. If you don't like that then we'll avoid it." Rias pointed back at the frozen Kuroka, "However she has drained any sympathy I could have for her and is basically begging to be messed with."
Koneko showed a slight smile and shrugged, "Well I wouldn't mind if Nee-sama stuck around a little longer." She nodded, "So go right ahead."
"Alright. Gasper, release her."
"Wait." Rias quickly walked over and pushed Kuroka over. She grabbed the collar of her kimono before she slammed into the ground and nodded, "Okay now."
"-e - wait wha-" Kuroka was dropped and slammed into the ground face first, "OW! FUCKING BITCH! How'd I end up on the ground?!" Before she could pick herself up, Rias rolled her over on her back and pinned her down with a foot to the stomach, "Oof."
"Now listen you." Rias spoke grimly as she stood over the older Nekomata, "I've had it up to here with your shenanigans. Now I know you're tricky, and slippery, but I promise that when everyone gets back here we will take the measures necessary to lock you out of here forever. And you'll never see Koneko again." Kuroka frowned and glared up at her in response, "Or…"
"You help us hold the line against the monsters being sent by the Khaos Brigade, protecting the front and Koneko and the others. Do this, as a favor, and we'll let you stay here from now on. No sneaking around. No hide-and-seek. No dropping by the rooms of other people! But as a guest." Rias offered, startling Kuroka with her proposal before holding out her hand, "Do we have a deal?"
Kuroka chuckled, "Damn Heiress-chan, I take back what I said. I bet you're a whole lotta fun to have on top - OOF!" Kuroka grunted as Rias applied some pressure to her stomach to shut her up. She grimaced before nodding and shaking her hand, "Free room?"
"And I can wash-"
"All the things a homeless person can desire." Rias stepped off her and pulled Kuroka up. Koneko watched in amazement as her surrogate sister and blood sister came to an agreement, "You sure you can risk turning against the Khaos Brigade like this?"
"Eh, it'll be fine. Vali's been meaning to cut ties for awhile now. If he hasn't already then this'll be the signal that it's time. Beside even if he didn't, I'd still do it."
"Because that's how much Shirone means to me."
Naruto had the room to himself as Issei was busy doing something outside. He said he was going to test something out but for the life of him he didn't remember what it was about. His mind was preoccupied with other things.
Like the missing fox. And the Bijū. And the fact his alternate descendent looked just like his father.
Man, how was life this fucked up?
[Maybe the universe just loves messing with you?]
"You joke but that might be a legitimate reason. It would explain why things never worked for me and Rias for so long."
[I think that can just be chalked up to horny brats trying to do inappropriate things at inappropriate times.]
Naruto huffed and dropped back on his bed. Tomorrow had been the day Azazel said they were making their move. They'd break down any barriers created by the heroes, plow through their defenses, and attack the heart of their plan while they had the chance.
"How many Bijū do you think are here?"
[Well they said they brought more than Kokuō, right? Maybe we'll get lucky and they'll have all of us together so we can finally return everyone to normal.]
"We're not that lucky." Naruto said as he stared up at the ceiling. There was so much about this that just kept getting more unruly and out of control. He wanted to get Kunou's mother back and retrieve the Bijū they had and solve this whole mess…
But he also wanted to speak with the misguided heroes. Their plans were wrong and they had to be stopped, but not everything they said was off the mark. Back in his world humans were the majority and affected most of the change in the world, but here it wasn't the same. They may have had the numbers but most humans were wholly ignorant of the grand existence of Gods, Devils, Angels, and the like that affected everything.
Even he had been killed in an altercation with Fallen Angels, even if he did force himself into the situation to try and intervene. So as a former human he could understand wanting to lift their standing in the world, but the methods-
[You're going to drive yourself insane trying to rationalize their goal like this.]
"But I can't just ignore it either." If he did he would never have a chance to speak with the boy that carried his father's name and face.
[Ignore it or not, you're still going to have to stop them, right?]
[Then focus on that for now. The rest will fall into place in time.]
"Naruto?" Xenovia knocked on his door, "Can I come in?"
"It's open." Naruto sat up as Xenovia walked in wearing her PJs. He scratched his back as the [Knight] walked over, "Already had your bath? Issei didn't try to sneak in did he?"
"No he didn't even try to catch a peek. Now that was a surprise."
"Man he must be taking whatever he's doing seriously." Naruto sighed and leaned back on his hands as Xenovia leaned against the wall across from him, "So what's up?"
"Nothing much. Asia said she wanted to check on Issei and Irina followed her out. I saw someone try to molest another person and stepped in."
"Some guy was attacking a woman?"
"Actually it was a guy fondling another guy. Desperately crying out about breasts."
"Huh, that's been happening a lot lately."
"I noticed too." Xenovia nodded, "After that I came here because I was sure you'd be thinking about what we learned today."
"Sorry to put all your effort to cheer me up to waste like that."
"Hey you said you'd be thinking about it afterwards and you are. Plus there's more to be concerned with now considering your alternate descendent father who isn't really your father." She paused and scratched her head, "That one hurts my head."
"Imagine how I feel." Naruto said with a chuckle before sighing and rubbing his eyes. If he was back home then he'd be able to close his eyes, cuddle with Rias, and drift off with his mind just a little more settled. This trip was taking its toll.
Naruto's eyes widened as something soft pressed on his back and he felt a tightness around his chest. Xenovia's arms were wrapped around him and hugging him from behind. The shock of her warmth and softness finally subsided and he looked over his shoulder at the blue-haired girl, "Xenovia?"
"You looked like you could use a hug." Xenovia said, lifting her head off his back to look at him, "I might not be doing a very good job of being your caretaker but I'm still willing to try."
Naruto relaxed and felt her embrace softly envelop him, "Heh, you know I never get to be big spoon."
"I can see the appeal." Xenovia leaned in and pressed her cheek to his shirt, "I could get used to this. Your back is pretty big and I like pressing up to it like this."
"What's gotten into you?"
"We'll since seeing you and Rias-Buchou do the deed I've realized I probably need to step up my game."
"Ha! You're gonna get more aggressive? Xenovia after roleplaying, washing yourself next to me, and grabbing my junk at the pool I seriously doubt there's any further you could go."
"I'm not really thinking aggressive." Xenovia's hand pulled his chin and turned his head as she leaned over his shoulder, "Maybe bolder?"
She leaned in a pressed her lips against his. Naruto was shocked by the sudden warmth and softness of her lips as she gently moaned in their kiss. The smell of fresh water and soap wafted into his nose and she tasted so nice that he slowly leaned in as well. The kiss was innocent and chaste before they separated, her face gently hued with pink as his own cheeks warmed up as well.
When they leaned in again it was his turn to take the charge. Their lips connected before Naruto pushed his tongue forward. Xenovia flinched in surprise before she responded in kind, opening her mouth further so their kiss could go deeper. The two shared it for a long moment before separating, their lips glistening from the saliva-
"What are you doing?"
She looked down and realized her hands were griping his chest, "Feeling your sweet voluptuous boobies of course."
"We need breasts." She rubbed his chest harder and Naruto yelped as her hands got friskier, "I must feel the tits!"
"Xenovia! Seriously I don't know what this is but-"
Clarity returned to Xenovia's mind as she realized what she was doing. The girl pulled her hands back and stopped groping Naruto as the awkwardness of their situation dawned on her, "Sorry." She apologized and quickly stood up, "I don't know what that was. I'll leave you-"
"Huh - AH!"
"Boobies!" It was Naruto's turn to reach up and grab Xenovia from behind. He pulled her back and she landed in his lap as one hand squeezed a breast over her shirt while the other snaked through the opening to grab bare flesh, "You got boobies! We need boobies!"
"N-Naruto!" Xenovia moaned as her body burned and pleasure erupted through her being from where he squeezed and played with her. Her mouth hung open and she moaned as he rubbed her, "W-Why are-"
"I need boobies! The big boobies! The soft boobies!" Naruto tweaked one of her nipples over the shirt while he grabbed a handful of the other one and rolled it around, "I love boobies!"
"I-If you want them that bad, then-"
[Naruto! What's going on?!]
[What the hell is this thing?! Get out of here you piece of shit!]
His Sacred Gear appeared on his arm and dispelled a red crystal that landed on the ground. Naruto returned to his senses and blinked, "What-"
[Naruto get that crystal! But don't touch it!]
Naruto scrambled off the bed and grabbed two pillows before snagging the crystal between them, "What the hell is this thing?"
[I don't know but I sense Issei and Ddraig's presence from it]
"Dammit should have figured." He glared down at the pillows, "Hey Xenovia, are you alright. I didn't mean…to…"
The blue-haired [Knight] was catching her breath, her clothes disheveled and partially revealing her breasts as her cheeks stayed red. She opened her eyes and looked to Naruto as he stared at her in shock, "I think I need another bath."
"Yo Senpai, you gotta here this." Issei walked in with a smile, "So I've been testing out this idea on how to keep up with - whoa! What happened here?"
"Issei, two things. First this is yours." Naruto opened the pillows and tossed the crystal back to its rightful owner.
Issei smiled with joy, "Oh you found it! Way to-"
"And this too!"
Naruto slammed his knee into Issei's stomach and floored the pervert in a single move. He dropped to the ground as Naruto huffed, "Keep your overrun libido to yourself."
It was the third day of the trip in Kyoto. It was supposed to be a day off for everyone on the field trip to enjoy. However instead the members of the ORC and StuCo were preparing for battle.
Today they would face the Hero faction.
Azazel turned to his juniors as they stood on the subway station in preparation, "From the swells of energy we and the reconnaissance have gathered, they're making their stand at Nijō Castle. Since there have been reports coming in all day that suspicious figures have been traveling around Kyoto and planning to retaliate, we're assuming their trying to thin the numbers and draw focus away from the castle for their experiment. Which is fine because while our reinforcements help me deal with that, we'll be sending in our primary fighting force."
The ORC and Saji nodded in understanding. They would be the ones going in and recovering Yasaka from the hands of the Hero faction. And once they did they'd escape as quickly as possible. They had reinforcements coming to help deal with the Hero faction but they couldn't risk dawdling for too long.
"I'm not expecting what you're going into will be easy, but hell I've seen you guys pull yourselves out of the shit nearly a dozen times over." Azazel grinned, "I got faith in you."
They didn't look quite charmed or fired up by his words of praise. Azazel scoffed and scratched his chin, "Aww, no words of comfort for your teacher about to hold the line? Well that's disheartening." He joked before his expression turned stony, "Listen, all of you, no matter what you have to stop them from completing their goal."
"Didn't you say it was a fruitless endeavor though, Sensei? That beating Great Red was impossible?"
"I did and I still think that. But I'm also sure they won't listen, endeavor forward, and do whatever they can to attack and kill him from here. And if they engage in a battle with him, and drag Kyoto into the mess along the way, I'm not sure how much of it will still remain." Azazel shook his head, "Take it from a former zealous fighter devoted to doing everything he can for his race - there are no limits or walls that can stand in the way of a young fool burning with fervor and a goal in mind."
With those last words his wings sprouted from his back and carried him off while the train arrived to take them away. The ORC members and Saji walked onto the empty car and made their way towards their destination.
A heavy air of tension settled over the car as the Devils and Angel were nervous about the upcoming battle. Or they should have been until the tension broke…
"So, a crystal containing your potential and new power has been lost across Kyoto? And people that the crystal touch become a part of the groping epidemic going around Kyoto? And you only now recovered it because it infected Uzumaki-senpai after he fondled Quarta?"
"She did it to me first!" Naruto reflexively called out further down the car before he groaned and palmed his face, "I can't believe that's my defense."
"Right~." Saji drawled before looking at Issei, "So this powerful crystal that hides your potential is going to make you stronger?"
Issei opened his mouth and paused before closing it. He thought real hard before shrugging, "Not sure. But I did practice a new technique that should help handle some of the guys we're facing."
"Are you sure it'll work?"
"Ugh, not certain. I only really practiced with rocks thrown at me from different sides by Asia and Irina."
"You're not exactly making a ringing endorsement for yourself, Issei-kun." Yuuto noted as he walked by and knelt down by a pair of seats to help one of their comrades, "Rossweisse-San, are you alright? We're almost there-"
"Stop!" The hungover Valkyrie cried out as she rolled around in her seats, "S-Stop the shaking. It's too much. It's all too much. Where are we?"
"We're on a train so we can't do much about the shaking. And we're off to fight the Hero faction."
"Our enemies? Remember? You attacked them yesterday?"
"My head hurts." Rossweisse looked up, "Asia-San, please heal me."
Asia stepped up besides Xenovia and Irina, "R-Rossweisse-San, my healing doesn't work on ailments-"
"Shh." Xenovia shook her head, "Just do it Asia."
"Give her hope." Irina sadly nodded, "We'll pray for her on the other side."
"Y'know I haven't really fought alongside you Gremory guys much but this…" Saji waved at their general situation, "This doesn't make me feel confident."
"Oh no~, I'm seeing things." Rossweisse cried, "I'm hallucinating! Little animals watching me over my head!"
They thought the recovering [Rook] was just losing her mind from the migraine but when they looked up they were shocked to see she wasn't.
A little fox was hiding atop the dashboard of the ads over the seats.
"Kunou?!" Issei called out in shock as the little fox yelped.
Naruto reached up and grabbed the Yōkai before pulling her down. She was covered in smoke before the little fox was changed out for a golden-haired kyūbi who was struggling to escape his grasp, "What are you doing here?"
"I-I wanted to go find my mother!"
"We're going into a battlefield! You shouldn't be here!"
"Don't tell me not to go to the place they're hiding my mother! I don't care if it's a battlefield or not - I have to find her!"
"But we care if you get involved! If you get hurt while trying to recover your mom-"
"Guys!" Xenovia called out desperately for their attention. Everyone looked in her direction as she stared ahead into the next car. And the gas that was quickly overwhelming it.
They were quickly covered before they could act.
Naruto opened his eyes when the sense of movement finally came to a halt. Lifting his head he looked around to see he was suddenly standing in the middle of an empty station with the fog of Dimension Lost lingering over the area. And when he felt the squeeze in his chest he looked down to see Kunou hiding her face in his shirt, "Kunou? We've stopped."
The young fox pulled back and looked at him before looking around. She released her grip and Naruto put her down, "W-Where did everyone go?"
"I don't know."
"What do we do?"
"I don't know." He reached over and grabbed her shoulder, "But stay close to me."
"I-I'm sorry about-"
"You will see your mother again, alright? I promise."
The gentle tap of footfalls broke the silence of the empty train station. Kunou flinched and Naruto stepped in front of her as a figure walked their way. A young man with black hair down to his shoulders and a dark green uniform stood across from them. He nodded, "Hey there Devil."
"Who are you?"
"You don't remember?" He asked, not agitated or insulted by his lack of acknowledgement, "I guess I understand. I was one of many that fought you at the time. How about this?"
A shadow lurched out of the ground and launched towards his head. Naruto grabbed Kunou and dashed aside as the weapon of shadow faded away and returned to nothing, "Oh yeah, now I remember." Naruto stood up and faced him properly, "You were one of the guys that attacked me, Issei, and Koneko in Kuoh. The shadow user."
"My name's Connla. It's nice to meet you again, Devil."
"What are you here for? Did you come to kill me?"
"I'd like to but there's a strong chance I won't be able to match you." He pulled off his sunglasses and glared the blond down, "So instead I'm here to waste your time."
"Issei-kun?" Irina whispered nervously as she gripped her sword and stood beside her friend, "I'm worried about the others."
"Yeah, we gotta find them." Issei looked around in a hurry, Sacred Gear at the ready as he prepared for an attack from anywhere. When nothing appeared he looked towards the stairs and made a run for them, "There! We need to get out of here!"
"But will the stairs lead us anywhere?"
"I don't know but they're our best chance to-"
Issei froze when he saw the figure descend the stairs to join them. Irina gulped and Issei raised his Boosted Gear defensively.
Minato of the Hero faction walked down with his hands in his pockets and eyed them carefully.
"He's the one that looks like Naruto-San's dad, right?" Irina whispered, "What's he doing here?"
"You know I'm right here." He spoke up, "If you have something you want to ask then do it."
"What's going on? Where is everyone?"
"You've been separated so that each of you could be attacked by one of the lower members of the Hero faction ladder." He tilted his head, "I guess Georg wasn't too accurate because some of you got caught in pairs. Oh well. It's still the same. They attack you, make you reveal as much of your skills as they can, and try to hold you back from stopping us." He shrugged, "But no one wanted to step up and fight the Red Dragon Emperor and we didn't think there was anyone strong enough to fight you anyway."
Issei narrowed his eyes, "Then why are you here?"
"Because the Red Dragon Emperor is right here." He smirked, "And I've always wanted the chance to beat you properly."
Thank You and Bye