My Fanfics (Fairly productive month):
Fanfics that I have found interesting and have recently been updated:
A Final Fantasy 7 Fanfic
Summary: Cissnei wanted to save Zack that night, only to find that it was too late. Though she couldn’t bring him back to life, she could keep his legacy alive. That was why she refused to abandon Cloud on his journey, despite going against her former friends and colleagues.
A Bleach Fanfic
Summary: A/U: Victory came at a price. Aizen’s defeat left the Soul Society in shambles, and the balance of souls collapsed. So, Ichigo Kurosaki was sent back in time to stop it from ever happening and arrived that same faithful night that Hisana made the biggest mistake of her life. From there things began anew…
A Harry Potter Fanfic
Summary: The war is over. Too bad no one is left to celebrate. Harry makes a desperate plan to go back in time, even though it means returning Voldemort to life. Now an 11 year old Harry with 30 year old memories is starting Hogwarts. Can he get it right?
A Harry Potter Fanfic
Summary: Hermione grows up as a maths whiz instead of a bookworm and tests into Arithmancy in her first year. With the help of her friends and Professor Vector, she puts her superhuman spellcrafting skills to good use in the fight against Voldemort.
A Pokemon Fanfic
Summary: Time travel, based on the Anime. So, the world ended. That’s bad news. Who best to get to fix it? Well, there is this guy with a track record in world saving… Not entirely serious. T rating may be overdoing it.
A Naruto Fanfic
Summary: Blind loyalty is simple. The problem only begins when the world makes you open your eyes. Sakura-centric, AU, pre-timeskip.
A Naruto Fanfic
Summary: Our heroes did not come from a future where everything has gone horribly wrong. They did not travel back in time to save the world from a bleak or miserable fate. As a matter of fact, all they want to do is find a way back home as soon as possible. [cracky, epilogue-compliant time travel fic]
A Naruto/ Fairy Tail Fanfic
Summary: Naruto knew something was up the moment he landed in the strange forest; being sucked into the sky should have been his first clue. How’s a shinobi supposed to adapt to such a strange new environment? Easy, one step at a time.
A Pokemon Fanfic
Summary: Towns and cities, now a string of funeral pyres, lie behind and beyond us. As we make our way through each settlement made cinders, our strength begins to falter. Horrified, we’re hoping, praying for answers at the elusive horizon. Will things ever be normal again? Will we? And if we ever find out what’s doing this, what could we even do to stop it?
A FSN Fanfic
Summary: “With swords that aren’t yours, with skills that aren’t yours, for dreams that aren’t yours. Your entire existence is a lie!” – “Then I’ll show you that even fake dreams can become reality.” A different choice, a different path, a different FATE. Shirou/Multi
A FSN Fanfic
Summary: Emiya Kiritsugu was happy living the rest of his short days. He had put his past behind him… until he began to dream of futures that had yet to be. Let it be known that the Magus Killer was not dangerous simply because he was dying and had no plans to fight.
A FSN / Persona Fanfic
Summary: A chance decision leads to an unlikely discovery. The mention of a rumor leads to an unbelievable mystery. And the connection to a long forgotten family leads to an unforgettable experience. Welcome to Inaba, Yu Narukami… or should I say Shirou Emiya? (Co-Authored by Nameless Flame Wielder)
A FSN/Worm Fanfic
Summary: Shirou Emiya was going to be a superhero, even if it destroyed him.
A Sword Art Online/ Dark Souls Fanfiction
Summary: A fic in which Kayaba decides to put the player’s humanity on test as they try to rekindle the flames, constantly struggling against the Kingseeker system that keep amplifying the difficulty.
A SAO Fanfic
Summary: AU reboot of the entire SAO storyline, beginning from the premise that Kayaba Akihiko was obsessed with magic and Norse Mythology rather than swords and pure melee. As a result, he created the Death Game of Alfheim Online rather than the floating castle of Aincrad—a world in which PvP is not a crime, and the nine player races are in competition to escape.
A Worm/ Dark Souls Fanfiction
Summary: Nadalia, the Child of Dark, escaped the sovereign’s invasion of the Brume tower, finding refuge in the dark chasm. It was from there that her spirit wandered somewhere else. A place beyond the scope of light. Beyond the reach of Dark.Finding a very special mortal girl.Seek strength Taylor. The rest… will follow.
A Worm/ Dishonored Fanfiction
Summary: When Taylor went into the locker, she drew the attention of two beings. One offered an absent thought, and a broken tool that wasn’t even meant for her. The other took a more personal approach.
A Worm/ Bioshock Fanfiction
Summary: Cauldron has competition as Taylor sells Vigors to all those who are wanting powers, including one Max Anders.
A Worm/Supreme Commander Fanfiction
Summary: A Worm Fic. Frustrated with her school life, Taylor Hebert dons an unfinished costume and goes off into the night to fight crime as a superhero. She stumbles across an infamous crime lord, Lung, talking about killing some kids. Taylor decides she has no choice but to act……and Lung kicks her ass. Not because she’s weak. Far from it. Taylor Hebert is hamstrung by being a moral person with an exceptionally lethal power set, one with horrifying and even potentially global implications.
A Worm / Final Fantasy XIV Fanfiction
Summary: Taylor Hebert triggers with the power to become Primals. All of the Primals.
A Worm Fanfiction
Summary: For Taylor Hebert, death was just the beginning. Reincarnated into an alternate reality version of herself she awakens to find herself trapped in a very familiar locker. Now armed with knowledge of her previous life and the ability to not just control bugs but also manipulate their biology, Taylor sets off to do what she always wanted to: be a superhero.
A Worm Fanfiction
Summary: In the wake of the Locker Incident, Taylor goes comatose. Wracked with guilt, Emma and Madison trigger. Things spiral from there as they quickly go different routes, both seeking redemption in a different way.
A Worm Fanfiction
Summary: Taylor triggers with a different power. With the ability to see the auras of those around her, as well as to imbue items with her own emotions, Taylor’s life takes a different direction.
A Worm Fanfiction
Summary: Sequel to Wake and Cenotaph with Taylor as an independent Rogue/Vigilante.
A Worm Fanfiction
Summary: Quarrel was allergic to bee stings, and now Taylor is the Butcher – but the Administrator shard is strong enough to hold off the voices in her head, for now. What will Taylor do, when circumstances conspire to keep her on the wrong side of the law?
A Worm Fanfiction
Summary: The war on Earth Bet is lost. In a desperate gamble, Taylor finds Phir Se. He sends Taylor back in time with a mission to kill Scion and the Endbringers. With her knowledge of the Apocalypse, can Taylor save the world from destruction, or is history doomed to repeat itself?
A Worm Fanfiction
Summary: Taylor ends up being rescued after facing Lung by Purity and ends up being mistaken as an Empire Cape. Things spiral from there.
A Worm Fanfiction
Summary: In a world where Eden managed to land safely, Emma Barnes seeks strength to put Taylor in her place as she triggers with Oni Lee’s power. Enter Wyrm.
Naruto: Wind Monk Banishment 13 (Main)
Chapter 13: Awakening
He was being chased. Sasuke didn’t see who it was doing the chasing, but he knew what it felt like to be chased. That was the case here, and he found himself regretting the intimate use of his genjutsu with her girlfriend. And he didn’t have any weapons. Why couldn’t they pull this bullshit some other night?
The trees surrounding Tsunade’s place were thick and hardy, making the branches sturdy and wide enough to support his weight as he made his way down towards the village with his unconscious former teammate. The Anbu guarding Naruto might be dead, but there were others there who could help him.
Sasuke almost stumbled as a lance of pain stabbed inside of him, a lingering ache from where Hinata has stricken him. She was seriously trying to kill Naruto, and he doubted she would give up. Fuck, what was he going to do about that? There was no good ending here for her, not at this rate, and the fallout from it would end up on Naruto’s shoulders.
They had already done enough, but her death would turn Neji and Kiba against him at the very least. Considering the Sannin intended to reintegrate him into their forces, something Sasuke doubted was likely but everyone was entitled to hope, that would only add to the problem. Plus, she was legitimately sick in the head from her family screwing her over. Having been on the receiving end of Itachi’s idea of brotherly love with watching him kill their parents over and over, he knew damn well how hard that played on the mind.
His thoughts about trying to convince Tsunade not to execute her came to an abrupt halt, much like he did, when he was hit by a blunt force long-distance chakra strike that belonged to her clan. His Sharingan whirled as he traced the lingering motes of chakra that marked the trail of the attack to find her location and then used his chakra-coated feet to slide down the tree and take refuge behind it as another two strikes blew gouges into the bark. He was working on the assumption that she didn’t actually have the reserves left to punch through the trunk entirely, and thankfully that was correct.
“Hinata, give it a rest!” he called out. “You need to get medical attention before those wounds kill you!”
No answer back, but he didn’t think it was safe to move. The moment he ducked out of cover, she would see it with her Byakugan and he would be a sitting duck. That was one thing she had on him, range. Yet, if he didn’t move, then she’d just sneak around to get into a better position, unless she had already succumbed to her wounds after that last attack. It said a lot about the situation when the latter was bordering on a best-case scenario.
Sasuke’s head snapped upwards when he heard the almost silent sound of wood splintering above him as it gave birth to that… thing that was after Naruto before. It grinned as it pulled itself loose and lunged for them, forcing Sasuke to move from his cover. It was exactly what he wanted to avoid as another chakra strike from Hinata, who had moved for a better vantage point as he feared, hit home and Naruto was knocked from his arms.
Sasuke could only watch as Naruto’s unconscious body was sent falling down the slope, disappearing into the darkness of the night. It’d hurt, but the fall wouldn’t kill him. That moment of a distraction was still all it took for the creature to lunge and entrap him, melting onto his skin in an effort to become one with him.
“Gotcha!” it said, leeching off his already low chakra reserves.
“GET OFF!” Sasuke called forth the remainder of the chakra before it could be spent and transmuted it into lightning that draped him like a serpent, surrounding him and electrocuting the creature with its potency. It tore away from him with a minor scream before scurrying down to where Naruto fell. He made to go after them when the lightning sputtered out, taking his strength with it as he fell to his knees and braced his arm against a tree for support.
“Shit,” he hissed. The sweat now pouring down his face curved around his lips as he gritted his teeth. He was too tired to move, but if he didn’t do something Naruto was going to be taken. He tried to get back up and stand strong, but the flesh was unwilling and he collapsed again as his eyes flickered back to normal, no longer capable of using the Sharingan from pure deprivation.
“Not like this,” he told himself. Sasuke had sworn to make amends to Naruto for that day long ago, his lightning-wreathed hand plunging into his body and burning his blood, tearing his muscles, and breaking the bones of his ribcage. It was only a fluke and the fox that he hadn’t killed Naruto then.
Unable to walk or even stand, with cracked ribs and blood from where his flesh had been raked by wooden pikes, Sasuke resorted to dragging himself down the slope.
With Naruto – Inner World
“The system needs to be changed,” Naruto stated as he left the torrent of memories that was his own, unbridled vision. His other half just stared at him silently, not mocking or denying, nor approving. Naruto’s shoulders sagged as he understood he was lying to himself again. “No. The system needs to be abolished.”
It was a conclusion he had come to, but not an ideal one—nor practical under normal circumstances. Taking out the five major Hidden Villages wouldn’t work because there were dozens of smaller ones that would rise up and make themselves the new powers of the five nations, perpetuating the cycle of violence and death. It may even be worse considering they would vie against one another in hopes of achieving such a thing, collateral damage would be unavoidable.
“The sage gave them a gift in hopes of ending the wars, failing to realize that his gift would be turned into another weapon,” Dark Naruto said, breaking his silence. “He did not want to see that, even if he took away all of their weapons, humans would continue to kill each other by tearing out each other’s throats with their teeth. They squandered his gift—tainted it.”
Naruto knew where the train of thought was going. They should take the gift back, severing the ability to connect hearts and spiritual energy with physical energy. He wanted to say it was impossible, but it was usually easier to destroy something than to create it. “That won’t stop the violence.”
“But they won’t taint his gift further.”
“It’ll take time—even if what you’re asking is possible.”
“We have a long lifespan and there is an entire world,” his other half stated.
“You really think it could be done?”
Dark Naruto smiled. It was not a kind smile, but one of assurance and rather smug. “We think it could be done. I am you and you are me. If the thought was not there, it would not escape our lips.”
“It’ll lead to more deaths in the end, before equilibrium is reached.” They were empty words, a last futile attempt to avoid that long road that there was no escaping from once he committed to it.
“Blood that would have been spilled regardless,” Dark Naruto argued, crushing the attempt ruthlessly with infallible logic. “You cannot save what is beyond saving. You cannot change the world from chaos into paradise, but—”
“—you can at least take away one source of the chaos,” Naruto finished with a sigh. “I got it. I just wanted to be left alone with Fuu, maybe start a new village free of the violence, but I can see that sort of life is beyond me.”
“Have you come to terms?“ Kurama asked.
“We have,” they spoke in unison, the darkness woven together in Naruto’s form unraveling itself and shrouding back into the original. The ink-black darkness dyed his hair in its color, and his eyes turned from azure to violet. Unified, Naruto stood up and reached up to the sealed orb of purified Yang Chakra only for the lock to come undone. He held the luminous sphere that contrasted his appearance with a resolute gaze before looking into Kurama’s eyes.
“You’re at the starting line it seems then, Kit,” said the fox.
“Don’t call me ‘Kit’ anymore,” Naruto stated. “Not after we’ve come to terms. Not after what we’ll do from this point…Are you okay with this, Kurama?”
The Nine-Tailed Fox tilted its head.
“You didn’t aid my darker half in Uzushio because he was going for pure destruction,” Naruto clarified. “What we’re doing here may be structured, but the end result will be possibly more devastating.”
“True.” What could be construed as a chuckle left Kurama’s mouth as his tails wavered back and forth. “But to accomplish your goal, you will need to free my brethren from their fate. You will crush our enemies that seek to enslave us, and shatter the vessel of the Ten-Tails. You, descendant of the second-born of our father, will then unmake the system birthed by a perversion of his wishes. The price you will pay will be your future, will it not?”
“So it seems,” Naruto agreed.
“This presents the best chance of seeing my father’s gift removed from unworthy hands. I have no qualms about accompanying you for the rest of your life as those who abused his gift are made penitent by watching as it fades from their eyes, knowing that they are former shells of fleas that were once capable of bending the world to their will through his arts.”
Naruto nodded. “I’ll need to do research and deal with Akatsuki first, but I’ll do it…”
“Then you can start with the one pursing you now.” The world rippled and Naruto watched as the scene played out around his body. The altercation between Hinata and Sasuke, the arrival of Itachi and the masked man, the chase and his body being thrown aside by the last attack as the effect of unsealing the chakra was starting to bleed out into his actual body. Kurama snarled at the masked man, his tails becoming more rigid in their movement as his lips curled back to reveal his fangs. “That chakra as sinister as that which controlled me once before, that of the arch-traitor himself… ”
“Then let’s get started,” Naruto stated as he crushed the sphere in his hand. The Yang chakra consumed him like a curtain of flames, spreading over his body until it was engulfed by it. “We’ve slept long enough.”
There was a flash in his mindscape as his consciousness surfaced for the first time in days, and Naruto opened his eyes to reality in time to see the a chakra-coated palm poised to strike him.
It hurt just to breathe. Every breath was haggard and stretched her lungs into where she had been run-through, fresh pain surging through her body and making every step agonizing. Life seeped out with every drop of blood spilled, an agonizingly slow death from having her stomach impaled.
She’d been used tonight, by chance rather than anything else. She had been meant to take the fall for Nine-Tails’ being spirited away, blood spilled on her hands. The thought didn’t bother her as much as it should have, not when it was just as likely she wouldn’t have made it this far without the interference—only she had no intention of failing in slaying the fox.
She’d attacked Shino-kun, who had been her silent ally through their training. She’d led Kiba-kun on, knowing full-well that they wouldn’t meet alive again after this night. She’d given up everything else at this point—friends, family, allies, everything. There was no turning back.
No matter what, she had to kill it.
Her eyes picked up Sasuke’s fleeing form in the darkness, burdened by injury, lack of chakra, and the fox. He wouldn’t get far. She struck with a ranged technique and staggered him, but he quickly recovered from the assault. She was weaker than she thought apparently, but it didn’t stop her from using both hands this time and blasted twice only to blow out chunks of a tree.
It left her panting as she leaned behind the one she was near, eyeing him as he yelled for her to stop. Her rebuttal was to navigate around in order to get a chance at another shot. Only the pain had worsened, leaving her legs ready to give out mid-transit.
Just a little more, she told herself. All she needed was a little more time and it would be over. Then she noticed the thing that had been in the room reconstituting itself on the bark of the tree above his head. It lunged for Sasuke, forcing him to abandon his hiding place, and Hinata struck again with success—albeit too weak to do anything critical or severely damaging with how weak she had gotten.
No matter. The fox was thrown down the slope, coming to a rest against a tree at the base in the darkness. It was her chance. She threw her remaining strength into descending downwards with her failing legs until she came to a clumsy roll at the base, down on all fours as blood seeped down from her mouth and the gaping wound in her gut.
Just a little further, she told herself as she crawled over to him and rose onto her knees. She looked down at the fox’s peaceful sleeping face and felt hatred towards it. That hatred allowed her to grab hold of enough chakra to wreathe her hand in it until it glowed with pale-blue fury. A single strike that would blow away his heart and rend his chakra network beyond repair, even as Yang chakra began bleeding out of him.
Her palm descended towards his unguarded chest. His left hand came up and caught her wrist before it could touch and inflict the fatal wound. His eyes opened, azure pupils gently staring into her hue-less pair.
For a single moment, from exhaustion and pain, what could have been had things been a bit different flashed through her mind in an effort to escape the suffering she was in. They could have married. They could have had children. They—she could have been happy.
“Narut—” The words that slipped out so carelessly in a moment of weakness were cut off abruptly as pain lanced her chest, flaring for a brief moment and then going numb. She looked down to see that his palm was pressed against her chest, the yellowish-tint of Yang chakra between her jacket’s surface and his hand. As he drew back his hand, she saw that crimson coated it and realized that her heart had been pierced by a chakra blade.
With that realization, her strength finally faded. It flooded out of her like the blood from her wound. She swayed to the side, before falling to her right onto the ground.
He caught her before she hit and gently laid her body supine as death gripped her and her consciousness wavered. It was as if he was mocking her, showing her kindness after he had killed her. It was laughable, even when he reached down and closed her eyelids as if to tell her to sleep.
As death solidified its hold on her, dragging her soul to the Pure Lands, the visions of what could have been returned. It was solely the efforts of her dying brain, trying to comfort her with what had been her deepest desires during a time when she had been innocent, before the truth came to light: A life with a different Naruto, one that became the Hokage, and with their two children. It wasn’t a bad dream.
Wrapping herself inside of that fantasy, Hinata Hyuuga died with a soft smile on her face.
Kanna was hoisted in the air, forced to scrape her nails against the surprisingly sylvan arm that held her aloft, digging its fingers into her throat to suffocate her. It had simply been the two of them alone, the unconscious green-haired Jinchuuriki and the current Wind Daimyo, when she left to use the bathroom. When she returned, it had been in the room and tried to grab Fuu. Kanna had reacted on reflex upon seeing it by hitting it with the vase holding the flowers that were present, only for the thing with green hair and skin as pale as bleached wood to grab her by the throat.
She struggled, even if it was fruitless, refusing to be the same victim that she had been when she had to be rescued by Naruto years ago. But it was in vain as the creature that only bore the shape of a human in the loosest of sense smiled in an ugly sort of manner. Her vision was tunneling, her thoughts swimming away with her consciousness.
Then there was a loud crashing sound and a strong wind passing by that brought both air and freedom. She gasped as she hit the floor, panting frantically as her body tried to take in as much air as it could to make up for the lack. It left her dizzy, even as she tried to raise her head to see what happened.
Fuu was awake, out of the bed and shrouded in a greenish-cloak of chakra that wove itself into five tails connecting to her tail-bone. The wall that had been near the window had a gaping hole in it, as though something had been plowed through it. From the corners and the edges of it swarmed insects of all kinds.
“F…” Kanna tried to speak as the insects swarmed the Jinchuuriki of the Seven-Tailed Beetle’s flesh and melded together, becoming armor formed of chitin and chakra plates that overlapped every inch of her skin while forming red lens to act as her eyes. But her voice was lost to her as she gasped for air again.
“There’s nothing more you can do,” whispered the amassed insects around Fuu in a distorted version of her own voice. She now seemed clad in armor of some kind, encapsulating her body like a knight of a foreign-land that worshiped or paid reverence to the King of the Insects. From the hump-like protrusion on her back, unfurled a pair of translucent-orange wings resembling those of a dragonfly.
They fluttered to life, scattering shimmering powder as she walked towards the opening. Then, with another step, she walked off the ledge and took flight.
“Shit…” Sasuke swore at the halfway point of the slope, sliding down it in hopes of not being too late. He found those fears to be somewhat misplaced as he managed to peer through the darkness well enough without his Sharingan to see. There were two corpses and one figure standing, wreathed in a golden light hover over them.
It was Naruto, and in his right hand was a chakra blade construct in the shape of a broadsword. In his left… was a head—his head to be exact, being held up by the hair as the eyes were opened in disbelief and the mouth hanging wide. It had been severed at the neck, what looked to be roots starting to slowly lengthen from the bottom while the body next to it was slowly sprouting branches and leaves to shelter the young woman who lay beneath the tree next to it as though sleeping.
Naruto lazily tossed the head at his feet and then looked up towards him, a change lurking beneath his eyes. Then he lunged for him before Sasuke could get any words out, a golden streak suddenly filling his vision. Amidst the howling wind that he found himself a part of, the Uchiha felt himself becoming rejuvenated to an extent, no longer on the doors of death from chakra exhaustion and injury. And, as the excess energy tapered off, he could have sworn he heard Naruto talk.
“We’re even now, Sasuke,” he said. “Be by your brother’s side while he dies.”
The next thing he knew, Sasuke was back in the building he had just fled from, a grand portion of the wall in front of him missing to reveal the skyline that extended to the opposite side of the village and gave him a view of what looked to be a shooting star vanishing further into the distance. A hacking cough grabbed his attention, breaking him from the daze he had been in. The words Naruto had given him only registered when he was in mid-turn, able to see a sight that he once dreamed of and now hated.
Itachi was slouched on the floor with his back against the wall, blood leaking from several wounds that had pierced through his body by the wooden pikes embedded to keep him anchored to the wall. His eyes were droopy and half-lidded, while his head was leaning forward in a manner that made it seem like it would fall off if not attached to his body.
“Itachi!” Sasuke couldn’t help but yell as he crouched down next to him. His voice seemed to stir the last bit of strength in the elder Uchiha brother.
“S-Sasuke.” Itachi swallowed. The blood and sweat glistened off the moonlight as he struggled to keep his eyelids from closing. His right arm reached ahead of him and a pair of fingers found his calloused hands and held him tight.
“I’m here,” he said. “I’m okay, he didn’t do anything permanent. I’m healed now.”
“Good,” Itachi rasped haggardly as he forced himself to keep speaking. “D-Don’t let him get the Jinchuuriki.”
“Save your strength,” Sasuke pleaded. He was stronger now than before, Yang chakra having been infused into him. He could get down the village in practically no time before Itachi died. “Come on. Let’s get you to a medic.”
“In my ro-robe, a Will fo…for yo….”A final exhale, tired and hoarse, left his mouth. Then his eyes closed for a final time, strength leaving his hand as it went slack in Sasuke’s grip. Itachi’s head tilted to the side enough that his raven-black hair covered the left half of his face.
Sasuke heart froze as he felt the hand slip out of his grasp. “No,” he whispered, reaching down and feeling for a pulse in a desperate attempt at denying what had transpired as clear as day. “No, no, no, no!”
When he could no longer deny it, his cry echoed through the night, only to be drowned out by the flare of flames coming from just outside of the village. His brother fought and died for him here tonight. The realization stung more than anything else. The tears that rolled down his cheeks quickly turned from crystalline-clear to coppery-crimson, and pain unlike any that he’d felt before in his heart was reflected in his eyes.
The Mirror Wheel warped into a Kaleidoscope.
End Note: Beetle Chronicle updated earlier this month. Check that out too.
Read the rest of the comics at Snafu-Comics – See more at: http://snafu-comics.com/swmcomic/an-open-invitation/#sthash.T0dSil2r.dpuf
Vim & Vigor
(A Worm / Bioshock Fanfic)
Outline: Taylor triggered as a Chemical Tinker with the ability to make Vigors and Plasmids from Bioshock. Armed with the ability to give others powers, why is Greg her first choice?
Warehouse – Docks, Early April, 9:24 PM.
I couldn’t believe I was finally doing this, out in full costume and everything. It was about time. I did the training and knew how my powers worked.
My first night out and I already found my targets. I was on a rooftop, hidden behind a broken neon sign on the top of an old building across from a pair of warehouses. There were the Merchants, loading up white vans that looked like they had been beaten by bats and ran through the mud.
‘Are you ready?‘ came through the radio attached to my ear, beneath the full face mask.
I adjusted the mask to make sure it was on straight. “Yeah, Ta—”
‘We’ve been over this,’ she cut-in. ‘Don’t use my name while you’re out in a mask. I don’t want to take any chances that someone can pick up on the channel, Tonic.‘
Greg rolled his eyes, grateful that Taylor couldn’t see him do so. The camera inside of his mask, a cheap spy camera he bought from this store he knew with a voice modulator, only showed what was ahead of him because of where it was placed. “I’m ready.”
‘Okay, first take the Energizer in the flask. That should excite the cells out of dormancy and make them unstable again.‘
I know, you’ve explained it a dozen times, I thought as I reached down into the utility belt I wore and pulled out a cheap pewter flask that had a worn emblem on the front. Twisting off the cap, the luminous bright blue liquid sloshed around inside the dark container. I still wasn’t clear on exactly what it was, but I knew it let me use the powers that she created.
She explained it so much that I knew by heart what it did. My cells had been changed by the formulas that I had taken once before, and the Energizer made the cells unstable to be capable of becoming something superhuman. My powers would last until it was used up and they became stable again, meaning, I was a Grab-Bag cape as far as anymore knew.
“Down the hatch,” I murmured before drinking it down. Not a second afterwards, I felt like I was on a sugar-high that made every part of me tingle beneath my skin. The echoes of power inside of my body from the ‘Vigors’ that I had drank once before became active once again.
‘Now, take the new Vigor,‘ she told me. ‘It’s called Eye Spy, and it’ll give you a combination of Stranger/Thinker powers to let you see through walls on the basic level, with living things appearing highlighted, and turn completely invisible to regular sight at a greater cost.‘
“Neat.” Taylor’s Tinker power was really versatile. Not to mention I could think of a lot of uses for this….
‘Don’t get any ideas,‘ she warned. Crap, I said that last part out loud, didn’t I? ‘Powers are not a toy, even if you could use them on your own.‘
I gave a small grunt as I reached for the small plastic bottle that was about the size of my palm and almost mistook it for lime-green soda. You would think that superpowers would come in a fancier container rather than a recycled bottle that had been cleaned out and marked by a small symbol taped onto the surface of the plastic. Then again, tinkering was expensive and that was part of the reason I was out here.
I chugged it down and watched my skin fade, revealing bones as I flexed my fingers. Then they vanished too, until I was completely invisible. Then everything flashed and I was solid again. “Trippy.”
‘Did the hallucinations pass?‘ she asked. ‘How bad was it?‘
“Not as bad as the bullet-stopping shield.” I concentrated on the mystifying sensation inside of me now and felt my eyes tickle before my vision shifted. I could see through the walls, with the people being sort of illuminated silhouettes.
‘Locate where they keep the money first with your vision.‘ I could hear the clacking of the keyboard keys on the other end. ‘Don’t get caught. Skidmark and Squealer are there. The latter is harmless outside of her contraptions, but Skidmark is the leader of the gang for a reason beyond his mouth.‘
If I remembered off PHO correct, he was some kind of low-level Shaker that manipulated an area to apply vectors to whatever was on or above it—a deflector field with a pushing effect. There was an entire discussion board on how he was using his powers wrong and would have a much higher rating if he wasn’t always strung out on drugs. Either way, he wasn’t a Brute so I didn’t think I’d have trouble with him.
X-Ray picked up where the drug lab was inside of the warehouse and the sheer number of goons inside with only two exits they could take in and out. As for the money, they were loading it into one of the vans, packed in a number of duffle bags that counted at least ten and rising. There were a few gunmen outside of that were monitoring the grounds, and on the second floor of the warehouse there was an office where two people were on a couch—oh, I did not need to see that!
“I need brain bleach!” I murmured, deactivating the power. There was sex and then there was… whatever that was. Who does that sort of thing in a drug house?
‘What’s wrong?‘ Taylor asked. She regretted it the moment I explained what I saw over the channel. ‘Eugh…That’s probably Skidmark and Squealer.’
“But how could they, with the—”
‘Nope, we never speak of this again,’ she ordered. ‘Just lay traps at the entrances. That will deal with the reinforcements, but you’ll need to be careful in dealing with the gunmen outside. Keep it quiet, grab the bags you can, and then just get out of there.‘
“Got it.” I climbed down the side of the fire escape and got to ground level before grabbing hold of that mystifying echo of power and holding onto it until it cloaked me invisible. There were five gunmen roaming around, but they didn’t see me as I ran across the lot and jumped over a stack of boxes near the mouth to an alley between the two warehouses. There I slipped into the side door.
I released the Invisibility once I was around a corner and out of sight, before grabbing hold of the Shocker power that thrummed inside of me. It manifested as purple crystals jutting out of my skin, electricity arching between them, the air around me filling with the scent of ozone. I had to tell myself that it would heal, but that didn’t make it any easier to deal with.
I held onto it until the lightning began to crystallize together and then launched it into the ground in front of me to create a cluster of five bundled near the entrance in a network. The Manton effect caused it to trigger when a living person other than me entered into its range. The moment they went for this door, they were in for a shock. That would take them out of the fight.
I grabbed hold of Invisibility again and went around to the front entrance, where the garage door was raised. That would be harder to lay a trap for since the crystals were pretty obvious. Then again, if I did this right, could I get away with more than one or two bags? Taylor would probably want that. I pulled down on the lever controlling it and switched it to closed, leaving the whirring of the gears to attract attention.
“What the hell?” one of the gunmen pacing outside came to check it out. The moment his back was turned, I dropped invisibility and embraced the electrical powers again to shoot him in the back. He went down with a scream and drew eyes on me.
“Cape!” someone screamed, and I could hear them starting to panic as I went invisible again and snuck out the garage while they filed in to try and get me.
I skirted around to the other side of the vans, out of sight. X-Ray showed they were looking for me on the inside before I released it and embraced Shocker again. I charged another trap and sent it towards the side of the garage entrance before screaming, “Out here, morons!”
‘Tonic, what the hell are you doing?‘ Taylor demanded. ‘You could have grabbed the bags while they were still inside and disappeared!‘
Too late for that now that I had their attention. They tried to rush out the front only to trip the trap. Blue and white bolts jumped up into them and they hit the ground screaming and twitching in pain at having been caught in the electric field. More screams afterwards told me that they found the rear set as well. With both their capes inside too, I was in the clear.
I opened the door to the van with the money and found the keys inside of it. I started the van up, buckled in, and pressed down on the gas. The van peeled off and down the road of the docks, leaving the warehouses behind.
‘Ditch the van! Now!‘ Taylor yelled. ‘Turn somewhere off the main road and get out of there! ‘
“Why?” I didn’t get it. Weren’t we going to take it anyway? What’s the problem? “Isn’t it better to take all of the money now rather than a few bags?”
‘No, a missing bag or two they’ll give it up because there’s no way to catch up to you!‘ she said. ‘An entire van is worth coming after you! Did you forget what Squealer specialized in!?‘
The van suddenly jerked as something hit the rear wheel and I lost control. It swerved and tipped over to the side, skidding along the road until it crashed into a lamp post. The air bag popped out and slammed me in the face hard enough that I felt the mask threaten to embed itself into my skin.
‘Gre—Tonic, are you okay?‘
“Y-Yeah,” I managed to get free of the seatbelt and got the door open. I stumbled out when the glare of a bright set of lights made me turn away as if it slammed a fist into my face. I shielded my eyes to see that somehow what looked to be a tank made from a hummer with about a dozen guns managed to sneak up on me.
“You got a lot of nerve you little shit-stain.” That’d be Skidmark, standing with the lights behind him so that only his silhouette was visible. “Coming into my territory and stealing from me? You done fucked up big-time.”
“Tell him, baby!” said a woman’s voice. I looked towards the window of the vehicle and saw who I think was Squealer popping her head out of it. She was kind of hot, but kind of dirty as well. The kind of woman you didn’t take home to your mother.
“Um… sorry?” I said. “I’m still new at this.”
“Well, you won’t make that mistake again.” He turned to Squealer. “Cap the fucker, babe!”
Taylor screamed something, but I was already using the Repulsion Shield power to stop the bullets in mid-air before they hit me. The thing kept shooting though, forcing me to hold it longer as the metal melted and spun around what looked to be a sun in the palm of my hand as my fingers burned black and exposed bones. When it finally did run out of ammo, my fingers were burned down to the bone near my palms.
“Fuck!” one of them said. “He’s got the same power as that bitch from before. Run the fucker down!” Okay, now I was sure that was Skidmark now. Squealer pulled her head back into the tank-hummer and revved up the engine, planning on making me a red-smear across the front of it.
I panicked, throwing the ball of molten metal down as far ahead of me as I could, right along the path. The trap hit the ground as Squealer burned rubber. The force of the explosion sent me flying off my feet and I ended up spinning butt-over-head until I slammed into something metal that dented and then hit the ground.
It hurt, but I felt the injury healing courtesy of that Energizer I took to use my powers. Then I heard the crash and forced myself up to see that the tank-hummer that she cobbled together was upside down, wheels spinning and metal strewn all over the floor. Despite being hit by the trap, it was still in one-piece somehow.
‘Make sure she’s alive,’ Taylor said.
X-Ray revealed she was moving around, struggling to undo a belt-buckle. Good. Taylor would have been even more pissed if I had killed someone. Then I noticed the ground shifting beneath me only to find that it had been painted with a glowing band.
No, not the ground. I was moving back from the middle of the spectrum, caught in Skidmark’s power at work. He thrust his hands out, the color deepening as he applied it over and over. Then he jumped towards it and I found myself being shoulder-checked fast enough to get the wind knocked out of me.
I wheezed as I put my hand up in time to get another Repulsion Shield up, the spinning blue disk that generated a field stopping the shots of his handgun from reaching me for a few seconds. I got back onto my feet while he emptied the entire clip into trying to hit me.
He applied his power again, saturating the ground horizontally with me standing on the far end of the band. I was sent skating to the side and came to an abrupt stop at the end, tripping over the edge of a sidewalk. He grabbed a piece of metal to use like a baseball bat and stepped towards the band.
I called to the sensation of energy that was wild. It was like trying to tame a quake in my hand. My hand fractured, flesh ripping like cracks in the ground as the bucking energy rumbled beneath the surface and built up until I exhaled and released it. The air was displaced as gravity within an arch in front of me reversed and sent Skidmark sprawling into the air helplessly as his power brought him before me.
“The fuck is this?” he blurted out. “Do you people pull powers out of your ass all the time?”
I heard sirens in the distance as I stood up while the Merchant floated there. The gunfire and swearing alone probably got calls sent to the PRT and they’d send someone to deal with this. Time to go. I ran over to the overturned van, noticing that the rear tire had been shot out, and grabbed what I could carry.
Then I spent the last of my energy using Invisibility to get out of dodge.
An Hour Later
Taylor was pissed when I got back to where she set up shop. As much as I liked her, when she got mad it scared me. More so when I knew now that she was a Cape who made powers and had her own in the form of summoning crows out of her hands that went for the eyes.
“—promised me that you would do as I say and take my place until I got better,” she continued to yell. “That means not drawing any more attention to ourselves and you listening when I talk! And yet, your first night out, what happens!?”
“Sorry, I just thought—”
Taylor slammed her palm on the table next to me, not giving me a chance to finish. “Greg, look at me!” She yelled, pointing down to her legs. “The last time you didn’t listen to me, this happened! Did you forget that already?”
I felt my stomach drop staring at her in the wheelchair as she pointed. It was my fault she had ended up in it. “I didn’t mean to—”
“You never do. But it happens—and if you had been a second slower this time, Squealer and Skidmark would have killed you! How can I let you to go out again if I can’t trust you not to do something that will get you killed?”
“I just wanted to make sure you had enough to get more of those things.” I gestured to the inside of the aquarium that housed some kind of glowing sea slugs that she used. She was complaining that Case-53 guy that looked like a Deep One from that literature book we had to read last year was raising his prices when it came to gathering them. They didn’t have a long life in captivity, so the substance they produced to make her Vigors and Energizers was limited.
Now that I think about it, she never did mention how she got in contact with him or got all of this stuff like the power generator. Some of it could be picked up on the roadside or a thrift store, but I doubt that fancy looking device that poured out a fresh batch of flask-juice was just sitting out on the curb. Then again, she had been at it for at least a month or two before I found out her secret and she knew pretty well how the Merchants operated. Not to mention what Skidmark said. How many times did she do this to them?
“Pay attention, Greg!” Taylor snapped.
Crap, I drifted off. “Sorry. It won’t happen again. Promise.”
She just scowled at me before she turned in the wheelchair and rolled past another table. There were some vials on it and some sort of machine. It was making a new Vigor she was working on to grant Telekinesis-Blaster powers.
“Uh, can’t you breed those slug things?” I asked, trying to restart the conversation rather than letting it end with her mad. I read somewhere that getting Tinkers to talk about their work was good for shifting the mood, and judging from how she had all that stuff written on the board she would know how they worked, right? “Or increase the amount they make?”
“No.” Taylor said. “I’d have to implant them in a host to get more.” She rolled to a stop at the table where I placed the four duffle bags of money on and slipped on a pair of gloves before she started placing them in a sorting machine. Paranoid, or did she not want to touch anything the Merchants did….
“I can go back out again if that wasn’t enough then,” I offered as I used a few squirts of hand-sanitizer myself. Couldn’t hurt. “You can give me another flask, right?”
“Leaving aside what just happened, I don’t want to risk toxicity building up by letting you go out more than once a week with it. Too much in too short a time becomes habit forming, changing the way you think until I refine it further. Let it clear out of your body naturally before the next test run.”
That meant she would let me back out in the suit eventually, with a new power to boot. Good. Who knows, maybe if I help her out enough she’d forgive me for putting her in the chair in the first place once she got better. Then we could be partners for real, maybe even change our names to something that matched—like Vim and Vigor.
I liked the sound of that.
End Notes: As of right now this is a one-shot. I might add to it over time, but seriously I have no end-game plan so I don’t want to make it a big thing.
So, how did I get this idea in the first place?
Well, I came across a fanfic called Market Competition that gave me the initial idea for a Bioshock Crossover with Worm, namely you got superpowers in a bottle. But, at the same time, my need for neglected characters and/or redeemable characters sharing the spot light with the main protagonists came up. I didn’t want to do the standard Lung battle from Taylor’s point of view either, so these factors combined and formed the thought ‘why not put Greg into it against someone he could beat—namely, the Merchants who waste their potential?’
Greg is… a teenager, combined with a lack of subtly, going off-track easily, and a need for attention and to fit in. Taylor is more subdued when out of mask, so you can imagine that she has her work cut-out in keeping him in check as basically her side-kick/replacement. How did they start working together? Why is she in a wheelchair? How is it his fault?
Eh, take a guess or write your own version as a challenge.
Glossary: Because Taylor renamed the original formulas to suit her liking.
Energizer – Eve or Salts
Shocker – Shock Jockey
Zero-G – Bucking Broncho
Eye Spy – Peeping Tom
Repulsion Shield – Return to Sender
Nevermore – Murder of Crows
How Vigors Work: In this one-shot, the Vigors basically reconfigure the body to be capable of producing the effects but Energizer is needed to activate the change. It comes with a healing factor as well, like how the damage to Booker’s hands regenerates, but it only works when the cells are unstable. The reason Taylor doesn’t take any to heal her legs is because she has a limited supplies due to not going the Little Sisters/Bonesaw route to get hosts, and the damage had been done right after it had worn off, so she’s out of commission until they’ve healed naturally.
Greg’s Powers: Eye Spy, Zero-G, Shocker, Repulsion Shield
Taylor’s Powers: Nevermore, Repulsion Shield, Shocker
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Naruto: Wind Monk Banishment – Beetle Chronicles
Chapter 3: A Tale of Seven-Tails Pt.3
Author’s Note: Shibuki is around Fuu’s age (give or take a year), rather than whatever Canon would be, on account of being an AU… and the fact that I refuse to believe he was 20 in Part I, the village leader, and that much of a pansy.
Fuu: Age 12
The forest seemed to go still as the curtain of droplets fell from the grey heavens above. It was raining as the green-haired Jinchuuriki of Waterfall stood before her opponent, with her legs spaced from one another and tensed in a manner that would allow her to move to left or right. As time had passed the looming horrors of puberty had begun to make themselves known, and her hair had grown a bit longer in tandem with her body having grown in height.
Standing opposite of her was the current bane of her existence to date, Suika. Suien had ordered him to assist in her training as he had business to take care of. He stood there in the rain with his posture relaxed, arms at his side as the streamlets of water flowed down his body, seeping from the high-collar of his blue-and-orange jacket and snaking down his black shirt and bare arms.
Fuu hated the man. Without a doubt she did. If Suien’s training was rough, his was simply abusive in nature with how he constantly struck her hard enough to leave bruises that were sore and tender for a good and long time after he was done.
And the asshole did it without ever losing that bored look on his face. She wasn’t even sure he was human with how he could carry out some of the executions he did in the Worm Pit while looking like that. Or worse, when he made Fuu do it.
Since that first time she was forced to put down the child for the village’s sake, she had been instructed to do it more and more to her dismay. Men and women, old and young, no one brought there was spared. They made her handle every third one brought in while Suien and Suika took the other two.
Her gaze briefly faltered as she wiped the water from her eyes. She was starting to regret not keeping her bandana to cover her eyes so the rain didn’t get into it. Perhaps it was because she was entering the age of teenage rebellion, but she normally left it behind while out in the forest unless she had to wear it. After everything she had to do for the village, how she lost her innocence that day when she killed the son of the traitorous merchant, she couldn’t stand it unless she had to.
Suien seemed to understand that. He always gave her a cookie afterwards and let her go get some rest, although she never could because she would hear the screaming of the dying, begging her not to kill them in some manner or other. He only told her that she needed to wear it during an active conflict, such as fighting off more Grass shinobi. He even let her take some of their things too as spoils for doing a good job, saying it would be their little secret.
So far she had gotten some make up a kunoichi had brought for some reason that didn’t matter once her bugs got to her, some extra rations for when she felt a little hungrier than normal since she was a growing girl, some technique scrolls, and some excess supplies that came in handy for training. But her favorite was an orange book that held her interest. Fuu briefly entertained the idea of being in love like the people in those books were before they got…intimate.
Then the idea died as the silence of the forest, besides the pattering of the life-nourishing rainfall hitting the thirsty fauna, was broken by the arrival of bees and wasps that had heeded her call. They formed a swarm as Fuu ordered them to surround him and attack, sending her intentions through the chakra they were empowered by. She didn’t hold back, giving them the order to kill when it came to him.
The apathetic look on his face didn’t change at all as he made the hand signs for what Fuu recognized as the Grand Fireball technique. He was a fire-user in contrast to Suien, who mostly used water techniques. Fuu’s skills were geared towards water, along with the sole lightning technique she had learned from a scroll she took off one of the Grass shinobi. Even then she botched every few times.
It honestly rankled her that her bugs were such a bad match-up against her mentors. While Suien could use water to crush them, he not only burned them but, even when she could take authority over his spiders, he could make a giant flaming spider to kill them before trapping her in their silk webbing. It was like the village chose them specifically to counter her… of course they did, what was she thinking otherwise?
He soon breathed out the chakra molded into heat and flames as a constant stream of burning fire, rather than the namesake, just like she figured he would. The technique was good enough as long as he kept the flow of chakra fluid and constant. He spun as around with it to set the spiraling horde aflame while she used the opportunity to run to a near tree and jump above him while he was focused on them and blinded by his own technique to what was coming.
Just like all the other elements, there were two types of ways chakra manipulated water. The first was that it bled outwards, soaking every bit that it could find and then bending it to the user’s will. While less intensive than converting and creating chakra into the element, it was reliant on the amount of moisture in the surroundings to make up for the lack of necessary elemental nature.
The second was that chakra itself was converted into water. This false element was much like the fire he used and why it didn’t kill him from the heat, a chakra construct made to simulate the real element and its real effects to an extent. The benefit of this meant that it could be used anywhere and molding the chakra or changing its properties was so much easier, but it was dependent on chakra reserves, costly, and if the chakra was stripped from it then every drop vanished.
Sensing chakra was something most shinobi couldn’t do either, unless it was in very high amounts and almost to the point where it was visible. And, while a normal Genin would need to declare the name of the technique to focus on crafting it, Fuu didn’t need to even whisper as her chakra clung to the moisture in the air and pulled it towards her outstretched hand. It coalesced and was made harder as it formed a blade, perfect for a stealth-kill.
With the Water Slicing Sword in hand, one of the first techniques she learned, Fuu descended upon the Jounin like a Grim Reaper as his flames died with the rest of her bugs. He looked up from either her shadow being cast or the break in the rain above him. But it was too late. The blade was swung with all the strength her lithe body could offer and drew an arch through the falling rain as it came around to cleave his head open….
It passed through. As though she was cutting down a ghost there wasn’t any noticeable resistance as the Jounin’s facsimile vanished. She landed into a botched roll and ended back up on her feet while trying to ignore the pain in her shoulder as she looked around for the bastard.
“Pathetic.” Suika’s voice came from behind her. She swung the blade around on reflex to meet the source. He grabbed her Water Slicing Sword with his right hand, the fingers closing in on the flat sides. He then lowered it, bringing his left fist around to her cheek and knocking her down to the soggy ground.
On her hands and knees as she tried to pick herself up, he set his foot on her back and pushed her down until she was laying in the wet grass and moist dirt from which earthworms writhed in nature’s shower. No matter what she tried to do, even as chakra gave her strength above a normal twelve year old, she couldn’t stand. All she could do was turn her head, glaring at him with spiteful green eyes.
“You rely too much on your insects,” Suika scolded in his usual apathetic manner. “Your hand-to-hand stunk until just then and your basics still need work if you fell for a Clone and Body Flicker combination. Perhaps you should spend your time doing that rather than reading that orange book….”
Her blush at that was furious and her rage at him was so thick it could be cut with the blade in her hand if she could get a decent angle to use it. Maybe she could get his foot that was on the ground? She contemplated it for a moment and her fingers tensed to move when the sound of clapping came from over the rain and signaled the end of the sparring.
Suien had returned. He was leaning against a tree so the leaves above shielded him from the rain. “That’s enough.”
“Is it done?” Suika asked, removing his foot from her back.
“The incursions have stopped for the moment,” he said. “But they’ll pick back up soon enough. Like I feared, they know the location of the Hero’s Water. That’s what these latest incursions have been about.”
Fuu stood up and rubbed the sore spot where Suika, the douche-bag that he was, had been grinding his foot into. “How do you know that?”
“Just as they have spies in our village we have a share in theirs.” He mused it over. “Well, some coerced civilians and a shinobi of the Leaf village in their ranks that passes along the information, but its close enough to the point. Most likely one of Shibuki’s father’s men told them during the last incident, where they drank the water in its hiding place and then left to fight. I was already on the front-lines, so I was unable to taste it.”
“In that case, shouldn’t we tell Shibuki and get him to move it?” Fuu asked.
Suien shook his head. “No. The Hero’s Water should be moved, but not with Shibuki knowing.”
Fuu looked at him skeptically. From her point of view, that was treason talk. Considering what she had been made to do in the Worm Pit for that sort of thing, she was starting to wonder if he had been replaced by someone in a Transformation.
Perhaps sensing this, he raised his hands in a placating gesture. “Hear me out. We’re the ones defending the village and risking our lives. When was the last time they sent us assistance before the threat was taken care of?”
She thought about it. The answer was maybe once, and that was simply because the enemy was reclusive. The number of times they had been at risk, and she nearly died, were far more than that. “Okay, but what’s the got to do with the Hero’s Water?”
“Who’s better qualified to look after it?” Suien said, gesturing to himself, Suika, and Fuu. “They don’t care about you, but they still throw you to the wolves and expect you to die for something you haven’t even seen. Once it’s taken by the spies, do you really think they’ll just call it a day and let you back into the village?”
A frown formed on her face at that. Shibuki would… would he let her back in? When was the last time he even visited her? Did he even care about her anymore?
“Let’s say I agree with you,” Fuu finally said, “what would I need to do?”
“Talk to Shibuki,” Suien said. “Get him to tell you where the Hero’s Water is. Then leave the rest to us.”
Later that Night
A fly floated in the air above the secluded village almost lazily as it circled around in search for a place to land. A shinobi on guard swatted at it while it buzzed around him, keeping on-guard as silently as he could while the pest annoyed him relentlessly. He remained blissfully unaware as the Jinchuuriki of the Seven-Tailed Beetle slipped past him in the water below.
They had no reason to suspect she’d entered. She hadn’t set foot in the village for a long time. The phrase ‘out of sight, out of mind’ was clearly at play, and she was willing to utilize it to its fullest effect.
Though it did rankle her how easy it was as she swam like a toad beneath the water’s surface with a re-breather in her mouth. Honestly, if she could sneak in this easily then they had gotten lax in their defenses like Suien said. On the other hand, maybe it was because she and the others had been doing such a good job of keeping them safe that they felt the extra work wasn’t worth the effort.
That made it worse that she was being treated like this—isolated from the village when she was the only thing keeping it safe. On her worse days, she honestly wondered why she didn’t let Grass burn this place to the ground. It was then she thought about Shibuki and what he’d meant to her when they were children, before she was taken from his side. Did he even remember her?
She noticed the guards posted around his home, perched on the rooftops above. They were alert, in contrast to the guy she distracted before. That could be a problem. Thankfully, there weren’t any real sensors in the village so her next plan went off without a hitch. Small beetles in the air above them carried small seal slips and she triggered them.
Inside the slips was a sleeping gas, thin enough not to be visible even as they noticed the scent in the air changed. It was a Grass blend, meant to paralyze and put to sleep at the same time. They had taken it from some corpses they looted. They were out cold before they knew it, remaining perched as though nothing was wrong.
Fuu emerged from the water and carefully used a technique to dry her clothes and skin without leaving a puddle behind. She then guided some of her larger insects inside of Shibuki’s home and used them to unlock his door from the inside, not wanting to trip the alarm seals on the window. She closed the door behind her gently and then took a minute to appreciate being in his home for the first time in years. Nothing much seemed to have changed….
She shook her head to avoid falling into the nostalgia trap and went up the wall next to his stairs, not wanting the creaking to give her away. She climbed up to Shibuki’s room and repeated the trick she did before to get his bedroom door open without making too much noise. She shut the door quietly and just stood there, watching him sleep.
Shibuki was sprawled across the surface of his bed, sheets wrinkled beneath him as he snored softly in a shirt and his boxers. The part of her that liked to reminiscence about the old days noticed he hadn’t changed at all in that aspect. Only back then he would have taken up less space and she’d be curled up next to him and fighting in her sleep to get more cover from beneath him. She missed those days a lot.
Her footfalls were soft as she approached his bed and ended up leaning over him while he slept, the light of the moon slipping in through the blinds patterned over them. Her eyes took notice of something she hadn’t in the distance. To her surprise, he had gotten… handsome, if she had to put it into words.
The part of her undergoing puberty brought thoughts of the orange book, leaving them flashing across her mind, and she inadvertently licked her lips. The moment the rational part of her mind kicked in at the realization of what she was doing her face turned red and flushed. She ended up letting an embarrassed noise slip out of her mouth.
Shibuki’s eyes snapped open with that sound. She placed a hand over his mouth before he could yell or anything, giving his eyes time to adjust to room and see her holding a finger to her mouth. His eyes darted around to see if anyone else was there before he nodded.
She lifted her hand from his mouth and sat down on his bed. “Been a while, hasn’t it Chibi-buki?”
Shibuki sat up. “How did you get in?”
“Your guards were asleep on the job,” she told him while kicking her feet back and forth lazily. “Snuck in that way. Really, you need better security if I can get in this easily.”
“I’ll talk to them in the morning.” He rubbed his eyes and then gave Fuu a once over, almost the same way she had done to him.
An impish smile came across her face and she leaned closer, giving him a better look. “See something you like?”
He blushed for a moment and shook his head. “No, it’s just… you’ve gotten bigger.”
“Well, of course I have. I’ve been fighting to keep the village safe all the time.” Her smile turned into a pout. “Speaking of which, you know about the spies?”
Shibuki nodded, and a bitter expression formed on his face as he crossed his legs. “I’ve read the reports from Suien. Hard to believe it sometimes with how peaceful things are inside the village.”
“Yeah, because I’ve been trying my hardest to protect it,” Fuu said, bringing her hands to her bare arms between the arm warmers and her shoulders. “It’s been harder than you could imagine. The things I’ve seen, the things I’ve done, the pain I’ve gone through… because they want the Hero’s Water.”
He looked guilty at that. “Fuu, I swear if there was another way—”
“You don’t know what it’s like.” She grabbed his hand with her own and raised it to her chest, holding it tightly between her fingers. It felt surprisingly calloused, like he had been training with a sword. “Shibuki, when was the last time you’ve had to kill a man? Feeling the blood drip down from the kunai into your hands, and then watching as thousands of insects tear them apart in order to hide the bodies?”
“That’s the sort of things I’ve had to look at constantly,” she continued. To her surprise, her voice was growing hoarse as the truth mixed in. She lowered her hand to where her seal was. “I wasn’t even ten when I was expected to learn how to access the Seven-Tails’ chakra or risk being eaten by spiders, and then the killing and torturing before I had even turned eleven.”
“Fuu, I know it’s hard—”
“No, you don’t!” She didn’t mean to nearly yell at him, but it came out with the tears. “You turned me into a kunoichi, a killer… a weapon for the village… I tell myself every night that I cry myself to sleep that you would make it go away and tell me I’ve done enough, but the next day it starts again.”
She curled up and cried like she hadn’t done in over a year, not since the boy whose throat she slit for merely being related to a traitor. “I’m always fighting, and killing, and hurting others, all because of Tana and his bakery. Suien and Suika are relentless and tell me to follow orders, but how can I be so blindly loyal to a village that treats me like a walking plague?”
He said nothing, though he should. He was the village’s leader and those words were tantamount to treason. But he didn’t. Instead, he wrapped his arms around her in a hug.
“Please, Shibuki.” She begged him, nestling her face against his chest and holding him tight. “At least show me what I’m fighting for. Let me see with my own eyes what I’m killing others for left and right? Give me a reason to keep going!”
Shibuki let her go and stood up off the bed. He walked towards the wall, stopping and bringing a hand to his face in thought. She figured it was eating him up on the inside.
Fuu kept crying, not only out of the truth of her words, but hatred at herself for what she was doing. She knew how soft he was. She was playing on his feelings, manipulating him so that his guilt worsened. Even if it was true, she didn’t want to hurt him.
“…Okay, Fuu.” He opened his closet and pulled out some clothes to get dressed. “I’ll show you what you’re fighting for. We’ll need to do this quick, while those guards are asleep. No one else can know.”
“Thank you,” she said, wiping the tears away. Damn Suien and Suika for making her do this to him. “I… thank you, Shibuki. Thank you.”
Inside of the Tree
Fuu silently emerged up from the water and found herself in an underground pocket of air nestled beneath the roots of the great tree. She noticed air must’ve been coming in from above because the water hadn’t risen. Did that mean the tree was hollowed to some extent?
“Pwah!” Shibuki gasped as he emerged from the water next to her, shaking his hair. He nodded his head up and to the side. “There, climb up there. The roots will give way to the side.”
She climbed and pushed where he said to. The roots there were thinner, easier to brush aside and slip into. She made to climb further up them… and then thought twice about. Occasionally flirtatious due to puberty, with a fetish for a book she shouldn’t be reading, she might be. A flasher, she was not. She jumped back in the water.
“You first.” He looked confused. Apparently the same thoughts that passed in her mind weren’t even a factor in his. She chalked it up to the orange book she read and clarified. “I’m wearing a skirt, Shibuki.”
His eyes widened in understanding and he blushed again. “Right. I’ll go first.”
He climbed past her, not meeting her eyes, and pushed aside the bundle of supple roots that led further ahead. Fuu walked behind him, using her chakra to make the trip easier. They were near the top of the tree’s interior when they entered into what looked to be a natural chamber inside of it.
“We’re here,” Shibuki said, using the same technique to dry himself off that she did and then heading into the center, where there was a small shrine. And there, hanging beneath a small torii, was what she presumed to be the Hero’s Water.
The liquid was inside of a glass-like gourd bottle, nearly full and crystal-clear. Fuu found it difficult to believe such a thing could be the most valuable treasure in the village. In all honestly, she found it almost sad to think that this could be what Grass was willing to throw their men and women into the grinder for.
Yet, Shibuki held the bottle tenderly between his hands. Not a surprise. His father had died from drinking it the last time. How painful must it have been for him to look at it, knowing that while his father died because of it, he would likely need to use it as well should she fail in her duties?
“This is the Hero’s Water.” He handed it to her. “The liquid inside is produced by the tree every 100 years, or rather that’s how long it takes for enough to accumulate and fill a bottle. It increases one’s chakra output by ten-fold, in exchange for part of their life. It goes without saying that, for a skilled shinobi, so much chakra would allow them to deal with any threat.”
“But is it safe here?” she asked as she twisted it around in her hands. “Everyone knows how sacred this tree is, even if they don’t know it’s here in particular. What’s stopping the spies from finding it eventually? Wouldn’t it be better to move it?”
It was a valid question considering that her insects could have literally crawled through a number of nooks and openings that she noticed. No wonder they didn’t want her in the village—she would have likely have found the place by accident. For Shibuki’s part, he shook his head.
“I can’t let anyone move it, Fuu,” he said. “No one besides me is supposed to know where it is. The reason I’m showing you this is because you asked me to give you a reason for why you fight. I wanted you to see for yourself the three treasures of this village that Father told me was my duty as the leader to protect.”
Her ears perked up. “Three?”
“The first are the people,” he said, gesturing out of the hole towards the village underneath. Fuu personally begged to differ, but he seemed to think otherwise. He gestured to the bottle. “The second is the Hero’s Water, meant to protect the first treasure.”
That made sense, she supposed. “What’s the last?”
He pointed to her. “You, Fuu.”
A flash of surprise came over her face at the thought of being a treasure of the village. Then she recalled what lay inside of her. It wasn’t her, who was the treasure. It was the demon inside of her. Her heart dropped a little at that, knowing he saw her as an object because of what was inside of her.
“So, the Jinchuuriki is the third treasure,” she said, holding the bottle slightly tighter. Part of her wanted to break it, she would admit. It was like he was saying she was no better than it. “I shouldn’t have been surprised. There are only so many of us, aren’t there?”
“None of them could replace you, Fuu.” He took the water from her and set it back in place. “To be honest, the Hero’s Water is also used as a safety measure to suppress the Jinchuuriki should they go out of control. Because we theorize that the tailed-beast inside is able to learn from its hosts, you shouldn’t know at all where it is since it would be the first thing targeted.”
That… complicated things then. If that was true, then she just necessitated the Hero’s Water being moved one way or another. Maybe it would be best if she told Suien not to tell her wherever they were going to hide it. Still, a question came to mind.
“Why show it to me then?” she asked. “I mean, if you had told me back in your room, I would have understood. I… I’m a liability. Logically speaking.”
“Isn’t it obvious?” He took her hands into his gently, kindly. “It’s because I trust you, Fuu. More than anyone else in the world.”
She found herself stunned, heat spreading across her face. Was it puberty again? She shook it away and looked down to the ground. “Y-You do?”
He gently guided her chin up and looked her directly in the eyes, a warm smile on his face. “I’ve missed you, Fuu—seeing you, hearing your voice, holding your hand. You aren’t just any Jinchuuriki, but my best friend in the world. You’ve been there through the good time and the bad, even my father’s death. You haven’t lost control, and you’ve been fighting day and night to protect people who only see the demon and destruction caused in the past. How could I not trust you after all we’ve been through?”
He thought that highly of her, when the truth was so different. She fought not for the people who abandoned her, but because of the memories she had of him. Yet, he believed her to be so pure and noble that she was risking her life for those who shunned her. He thought she was that wonderful of a person with all his heart, enough that he’d….
“Fuu, what’s wrong?” he asked. “You’re crying again.”
“Huh?” She reached up and touched her cheek, only to feel the wet, hot tears on her fingertips. It took her only a moment to realize why.
He trusted her. He trusted her more than anyone else in the world, despite carrying the village’s demon. He was possibly dooming them if she lost control of it by showing her this, but he did it anyway—all so that she felt appreciated.
And she had manipulated him into doing so, betraying their friendship by taking advantage of their bonds. She used those feelings to get what she wanted. She was a horrible friend.
“I’m so sorry …” She trembled in place as the tears flowed even quicker. Her arms wrapped around his back and held him tight as a raw cry came out of her throat. “I’m sorry for not believing in you all this time!”
He let her cry on his shoulder without a word until she had no more tears to shed.
End Note: Yeah, sorry for the long delay… I have no excuse barring work is busying.