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.