Sealkeeper: He Who Binds
Chapter 173-A "Into the Darkness"
Patron Release 2023.04.18
Despite what Tsume and Guren would assume, Naruto and Orochimaru had not in fact taken the train to Ta no Kuni. Having only recently sent it to pick up Juugo and his girlfriend- or whatever they were to each other. Lovers?- he didn't actually know where it was at the moment and didn't have the time to find out. Instead, he and Orochimaru had simply grabbed the supplies they deemed necessary for the journey and made their way to the north-west.
It hadn't quite been decided if they were going to try going over the waters of the Gaikotsu bay as the most direct route to Orochimaru's Tetsu no Kuni base or if the delay of finding a boat- or the exhaustion of water-walking such a distance- meant they should peel off to the west along Ta no Kuni's northern border on their way to Tetsu, but they had time to figure that out. Only half way or so as the crow flies, they still had some thirty miles before they hit the coast. As it stood, Naruto was leaning towards Ta no Kuni simply because he didn't really feel like crossing nearly fifty miles of ocean, even if it was mostly enclosed.
He was starting to wonder if it may have been a better idea to run along his underground railway, if only so they didn't have to keep avoiding the surge of possessed Zetsu monstrosities that was making their way south into Hi no Kuni. Eliminating them would be nice, but it would take time they did not have and it would be best if no one knew he and Orochimaru were on the way to the Deep Cells.
Hopefully they could take control of it while Zetsu assumed his creations only had to contend with Overseer Jirobo and his Oto Shinobi.
No point in giving up the element of surprise, after all.
There wasn't anyone who wasn't surprised when armored Wolves made an appearance in the north-western corner of Hi no Kuni. Even the Wolves under High-Captain Yuto hadn't expected any sort of backup.
Not that this was actually backup, not really. That had been made clear enough. The Wolves brought here weren't here to help with the conflict between Iwa, Kumo, and Konoha. Rather the Wolves that had been here were joining the new Wolves who intended to continue north where Tsukuyomi required aid.
Learning that Tsukuyomi was both on the field and in need of their assistance had immediately lit a fire in the Wolves that had been supporting Hi no Kuni's Samurai. They hadn't even hesitated to leave their temporary allies behind, though it was doubtful they were too worried.
Iwa forces and the strange monsters had been the greatest threat but both groups had pushed north, almost as if drawn in by the larger conflict.
And now the Wolves were about to do the same.
The three dozen Wolves under High-Captain Yuto increased to four and the armors developed by Shizune and her team were passed out to as many as they could. It was unfortunate that only about half the Wolves would have access to such an advantage but they couldn't delay for more when Tsukuyomi needed them.
A group of so many Wolves- well-known ANBU-level operatives- was intimidating enough on its own, to see them in some sort of Chakra armor only increased that.
And the seven prototype rigs that lumbered alongside them like mechanical ogres?
Those were simply terrifying.
Ay lounged against a pile of rubble within the shell that had been a Iwagakure home only hours before. It had not been easy to breach the perimeter, especially not with those monsters at their flank while they dealt with Iwa's Home Guard, but once they were in things had taken an immediate upswing.
Sealing their breach behind them kept them safe- or more safe- from the monsters and allowed them to focus on Iwa Shinobi who were still distracted by the monsters they were trying to keep from their village.
And they had to keep them from all the village, too, which means indirectly they were exhausting themselves in an effort to keep Kumo Shinobi safe from them. It was a most excellent position for Ay and his forces to be in and had allowed them to carve away a chunk of Iwagakure to serve as a temporary camp.
It would have been exceedingly dangerous to do this if Iwa wasn't otherwise occupied but for once those monsters were working in Kumo's advantage and by the gods they were going to make use of it.
With a foothold secured, Kumo's occupation was already inevitable.
And with just a little luck, maybe Iwa would end up killing off the last of those monsters at around the same time. That would certainly be convenient.
A battle between three parties was difficult enough to keep track of, but if one stepped back enough and watched over a period of time it was hard not to notice the ebb and flow that developed as each group attacked and was attacked in turn by either of their two opponents.
When you added a fourth, inhuman element, well, that just muddied the waters even more. Driven by something unknown and with no sense of self preservation to be witnessed, the monsters attacked whomever they could whenever they could and could shift the dynamics of an engagement in an instant.
Sometimes they ended up saving a group because their attackers were now occupied, other times their timing would spell the end of a group of already exhausted and injured Shinobi. They could rouse parties that would otherwise be sleeping, negating ambushes, and their very presence often deterred attacks altogether, as no commander wanted to risk their men against the monsters and their Shinobi foes.
The ebb and flow was still there, of course, only now it crashed against the bloated bodies of the dead that spun away currents in all directions. A pattern, though wild, that could be charted with enough skill and patience.
But sooner or later, something was going to have to give.
"Jirobo, status report!" Orochimaru's newest overseer nearly cried in relief as he heard his master's- mistress's?- voice behind him. He didn't, of course-even if the stress had been getting to him- because it would have been an extremely foolish thing to do in Otogakure period, let alone in the presence of Orochimaru herself.
A glance behind him showed she had swapped bodies again and at her side was…he was pretty sure that was Tsukuyomi, her beloved crimson prince. For being the man whose entire purpose was to secure fitting gifts for the young man, Jirobo hadn't actually ever seen him in person. Those purple eyes met his and the sudden weight on his soul was more than sufficient to convince the overseer that this was in fact some sort of deity.
Those eyes simply didn't belong to a man.
"We're doing our best to stem the tide, Orochimaru-sama, but we don't have the manpower to completely halt their advance." Or even most of it, honestly. He doubted they were making any sort of major difference to the number of monsters leaving the Deep Cells in new bodies. The only reason they were still standing was because the monsters were more focused on just getting out than anything else and they immediately proceeded to wherever they had been instructed to go without sparing Jirobo and his forces any attention.
He was sure, though, that if he moved his people into the entrance of the Deep Cells to completely block them off that the monsters would tear right through them all to clear a path. Which meant picking off what they could from the exiting nightmares was the best they could offer the world in the name of Orochimaru. It was an unfortunate truth but they did their best to bear it anyway. It wasn't like they had any other options.
"The bodies-" He continued. "-That you've sent us have managed to keep us in the fight, but only barely. I'm not sure how much longer we can even do this much."
"You may not have been able to stop them, but you've done well in limiting them as much as you could." Orochimaru offered some rare praise. He'd taken the initiative to bring forces to the outpost as soon as it had gone dark and had remained there fighting to reclaim it since. That's the sort of thing she liked to see from her minions.
Recognizing this, Jirobo was quick to show gratitude on behalf of all Oto Shinobi present.
"Thank you, Orochimaru-Sama." Then he paused, flickered his glance over to Naruto and back, and asked; "Do you have a plan to retake the Deep Cells?" An understandable question considering it was just herself and one other who had come, not the army Jirobo had been hoping for since he first arrived.
"Naruto-kun and I will handle it," She assured the man. "Make sure to get anything that manages to slip past us."
"Of course, Orochimaru-sama." He had no idea how they could possibly manage- even knowing Orochimaru was an S-Rank Shinobi- but it wasn't his place to question. And regardless of his mistress's- despite her current body, he couldn't help but feel that 'master' was more appropriate- success, it looked like he would be done here soon.
That was encouraging, even if one of the ways he was possibly leaving was by returning to the earth.
"And you'll have some help, too." Naruto spoke up for the first time since his arrival as, with a single handsign, he brought forth four perfect copies of himself.
Without needing further instruction the four clones each called upon more of the Chakra that had been borrowed to create their forms. Two Naruto were quickly encased in solid armor of green so dark it was all but black, a coating of bright emerald-green flames licking at the surfaces and glowing between the plates. The other two became monoliths of crumbling sandstone adorned with accents of Karura's golden Chakra, the very wind trembling in their presence as it picked up loose bits from their armor to orbit around their forms in miniature sandstorms.
Jirobo- and the nearby Oto Shinobi- stared in wonder and a few took steps to increase the distance between themselves and the demonically-powered clones. Far more concrete than eyes that saw through him, this was a casual display of monstrous power. He could feel the weight of the Chakra pushing against him and his every instinct- both that of a Shinobi and the more primal instincts of a simple animal- screaming at him to distance himself from anything resembling a Biju.
"Oh?" Orochimaru stared at the clones curiously. "That's new. I didn't realize your clones could safely use such an advanced form of the Biju cloak." She was assuming that's what it was because the Biju chakra was unmistakable but curiously enough there weren't any tails present.
Unless this was a stage directly before the first tail? If that was the case it was a terrifyingly monstrous power held within her crimson prince. She could only assume the willing aid of the Biju in question would allow it to be possible- and perhaps the fact that their seals touched upon the Sealkeeper which could change them to allow their chakra out more efficiently. Did not having to fight a seal designed to constrict Biju chakra really make such a difference? Orochimaru could believe it, even if the seals were designed to allow some of the chakra through there was sure to be losses during the process, not least of which was actually powering the seal enough to stand against the rest of the Biju trying to escape.
She might have to beg- and persuade in other ways, of course- Naruto to allow her to examine his seal for better ideas for her own Ten no Juin. It had been set aside as 'complete enough' but perhaps it was time to pick that project up again and refine it even more.
And who knows, maybe if her seal really was fighting against part of itself, correcting that could make it even easier for her to inhabit bodies. Maybe she could even do so permanently.
Not that she needed it anymore or even particularly wanted to be able to do so, but it was her Jutsu so she may as well make it perfect for posterity's sake.
…Did posterity matter when one was immortal?
"Katsuri was a bit bored in Oni no Kuni." Naruto explained. "She ended up asking one of the clones she was with if they were able to make use of a Biju cloak and this was the result."
"Mmm, that could be useful in clearing out the Deep Cells." She noted.
"I'll do you one better." Three small bursts of smoke gave way to Karura, Isobu, and…..Uzumaki Mito?
Orochimaru stared at the third woman curiously. Obviously she was missing something.
"Ichibi, Sanbi, and Kyuubi." Was Naruto's lean introduction but it was enough for Orochimaru to understand. "I figure three Biju should be more than enough to help us reestablish control over the Deep Cells, no?"
Her gaze moved to rest on the Daimyo of Nami no Kuni and became unmistakably hungry.
She hadn't been aware he could call upon the Kyuubi no Kitsune from within his sister's seal and having three Biju at his beck and call? Orochimaru didn't think she'd ever been quite so aroused.
"Oh yes, more than enough." She all but purred. "Let's get started, then. The faster we get this done the sooner I can express my …appreciation… for your help. "
The slightly disturbed expressions that found its way onto the faces of her Shinobi was nothing new to her. The jealous look from the Kyuubi no Kitsune, on the other hand, very much was.
Orochimaru found herself liking it.
No matter how much the Shinobi currently fighting in the north-west corner of Hi no Kuni had come to loathe the monsters that had attacked them over the past few weeks, their sudden disappearance made them all much more uncomfortable than the monsters had ever managed with their presence.
It hadn't been obvious at first, each group assuming one of the others was the current focus of their attention, but when they proceeded to meet each of those groups on the battlefield and none of them seemed harried suspicions began to rise.
Were they gone? That was a bit too optimistic for even the most naive Shinobi. So, if they were still around but weren't here, where the hell were they?
That was the question that had them all uncomfortable, not necessarily because they were anticipating some sort of ambush or a larger attack in the future- though both possibilities were most certainly noted- but because there was a possibility that if they weren't attacking here because they were attacking somewhere else- like the homes those same Shinobi weren't currently around to defend.
Kumogakure had the benefit of being the farthest away and, thus, the least likely to be attacked by any monsters who may have lost interest in the current conflict and moved on to new prey. That was good for them because with the smaller force that had been left to harass Konoha and Iwa forces they couldn't afford any drops in morale or distractions on the battlefield.
Konoha forces were in an interesting position when it came to the possibility of the monsters slipping deeper into Hi no Kuni territory. While the idea was certainly worrying and Konoha really wasn't all that far away, they could reassure themselves with the knowledge that Hi no Kuni's Samurai forces had already been deployed to protect the rest of the country from the Shinobi conflict spilling over.
If nothing else, they would be able to send word back to Konoha if the monsters really were heading that way so that any Shinobi remaining in Konoha would be ready to defend it. And, if they were really lucky, some of the Samurai techniques might prove more efficient against these monsters and they would just be able to put them down before they got anywhere close.
Iwa was a much more complicated matter. While they were farther away than Konoha- or, at least, didn't have to worry about the towns and villages between the battlefield and their hidden village quite so much- a lot of their forces included members of minor villages from the area. Those villages didn't have standing forces ready to defend them, because those same Shinobi were here where the monsters suddenly weren't.
So while the Iwa Shinobi weren't worried their allies were and it was causing discord that affected them as a whole. Not an enviable position to be in. They did have the benefit of finally receiving the rest of their forces when Kurotsuchi managed to rejoin them but unfortunately the plan to have Kurotsuchi and her forces flank Konoha was disrupted by the Wolves who kept them pushed towards the western border- and the monsters.
Kurotsuchi's forces had been heavily devastated and what remained weren't much better in the way of morale than the forces that had been engaging and distracting Konoha for weeks.
It didn't help that both groups seemed to resent each other for 'having it easier' and what Suna natives had survived were already talking openly about heading back to Kaze no Kuni to ensure it was safe from the monsters.
They had signed up to attack Hi no Kuni directly, after all, not to join the open conflict. It wasn't helping the other Shinobi from minor villages feel like there remained any benefit to them or their villages in Iwa's plans.
And suddenly Iwa's forces were fighting to stay together just as much as they were Kumo and Konoha.
Things really couldn't have gotten worse for them.
Or they didn't think they could, before a runner from Iwagakure mentioned their hidden village was under attack from a large Kumogakure force.
With every meter they descended the shadows seemed to come more alive, twisting and turning in ways that couldn't be explained by the lantern Orochimaru had snagged from a nearby room.
They also seemed to gain a…presence, somehow becoming more physical and gaining a weight Naruto could swear he felt moving through the air- as impossible as that should be.
Then again, a lot of impossible things seemed to happen around him. He couldn't say he was really surprised to be encountering yet another one. This one, at least, was not something caused by him.
When the light of Orochimaru's lantern finally made contact with the ground of the Deep Cells- at a distance far closer than it should have managed to reach the cold concrete- Naruto turned his attention to the three Biju who had accompanied him down.
Karura and Isobu were notably on edge. The world they had entered was wrong and their every instinct screamed that fact at them. Still, there was a determination easy to see. No matter how much they didn't like this place they were here for him and would remain to make sure he was kept safe from this- whatever the hell it was.
Mito did a much better job at hiding how much these Deep Cells were already affecting her, shown only in a tightness around her eyes and the slightest of twitches as the shadows twisted around the group.
Naruto couldn't tell if it was her pride keeping her from letting others see or if she was trying to prove that allowing her to join them had been the right decision to make. Either way, she did nothing to stop Isobu from slipping one of her small hands into her own.
"Karura, Isobu, Mito- I don't want to take any risks while we're down here." He addressed them. "If one of the spirits tries to inhabit your Kage-Bunshin I want you to dispel immediately and get back to the safety of the seal. Understood?"
All three of them nodded in acceptance but it was Karura who had questions. Or she was the one who decided to voice them, at least. "Is it so bad that they manage to get a Kage-Bunshin?" She asked. "We'll know they can do it, then, and it's not like you can't dispel it with one hit if that happens, right?"
"First, because we don't know if they can we also don't know what else they can do." Explained Naruto. "So we're not taking the risk. Also, if they're within the Kage-Bunshin when the Chakra returns to the seal I don't want to chance it dragging them into the seal too."
The look of understanding that would have spread across her face was instead superimposed by disgust at the thought of bringing one of these things back into her seal with her.
"Mito, you're the most offensively oriented-" which was a little strange considering one of her greater powers was actually healing but perhaps that was one of the benefits of being the strongest of the Biju. "-So I want you in front. Any of them with a body- reduce it to ash."
Mito gave a nod and moved up to the front of the group, peering into the darkness with her burning red eyes. Naruto turned to his own Biju next. "You two are defensive, so I want you flanking us. They probably won't be able to get around, though, so I expect you'll be keeping an eye on Mito more than Orochimaru and I. Do what you can to defend her so she can focus on her task. Understood?"
Karura shot him a smile and "Yes, beloved." while Isobu gave an adorably serious nod and "Okay, Tou-san."
"Alright, then." Naruto's purple eyes moved to the Snake Sannin. "Which way are we going?"
"Where else?" She asked, hoisting a lantern that failed to penetrate the gloom. "Into the darkness."
The body groaned in protest as it moved for the first time in countless years, the sounds echoing throughout the otherwise empty chamber. Grey flesh undulated almost erratically to a dozen heartbeats that couldn't quite agree on timing while black ichor wept freely from between twisted tendons.
Nine eyes opened to shine a sickly yellow light through the dark room deep beneath the mountains of Ame no Kuni Pein had set aside for meetings of the Akatsuki.
The fool had no idea.
It had taken time to settle into its new body but that had been expected. The Gedo Mazo had never been intended for this and technically it shouldn't have been possible at all.
Fortunately neither should this former inhabitant of the Deep Cells. Its entire existence cared not a whit for the laws of nature or reality, both of which were twisted and warped in its very presence like a dye seeping into the woven fabric of the universe to interminably stain it.
There could be no going back, not without discarding the whole of creation and starting anew.
Perhaps that's what she'd do.
Taking a step to the side to avoid the acidic ichor that had begun to pool around the sitting statue, Zetsu couldn't help but smile. Things were finally going right. Not in the way planned, not in any way that had ever been intended, but he'd make it work.
She was growing restless, he didn't have any time to waste.
The mouth of sharpened teeth opened and closed as it worked its new jaw and- satisfied- it peered down at the plant hybrid as it took- and released- a large, putrid breath. Being placed within the Gedo Mazo hadn't improved it any, but at least Zetsu could see this thing breathe.
"This will suffice." It declared with a voice that sent wretched vibrations through the air unfortunate enough to carry it. The voice- and the being- paused and the darkness around them seemed to pause too, a stillness settling that was unnerving only because you didn't know there had been movement before. "But….why?" It finally asked. "We have an accord, but what do you gain from this?"
The voice of the being still vibrated through Zetsu's body, pooling in the gut and spreading like dread up into his lungs and back down his spine, but it was somewhat lessened by the physical presence of vocal cords from the Gedo Mazo.
Zetsu was sure, though, that with every word they were forced to form those same vocal cords wept with blackened blood.
"To keep them from interfering," Zetsu answers, cocking his head to the side. "But mostly because I needed your power." With that answer he placed a hand on the Gedo Mazo and melded into the desiccated body of the Juubi.
The being roared in a mixture of pain and outrage but the manifestation of the Shinju recognized the son of the Rabbit Goddess above the malicious, reality-warping spirit that had taken residence within it and control was easily usurped.
Having previously contained all nine Biju, there was plenty of room for the two souls.
Idly Zetsu did wonder if he was now a Jinchuriki of this nameless- only because he couldn't actually speak or comprehend the name it did have- being. Or was the Juubi technically its Jinchuriki?
Bah, it hardly mattered.
Eight of the nine eyes dimmed from sickly yellow to a more muted gold as Zetsu took his place. The ninth- center- eye instead filled with a luminous silver like a full moon.
Zetsu took a moment to marvel at his new body and the power that now filled it before he smiled. It was time.
The Deep Cells proved to be much larger than Naruto had expected. Passages broke off from the main thoroughfare and twisted away deeper into the cold stone. Unfortunately Zetsu seemed to have taken advantage of that fact as the bodied spirits poured from many of them which meant it was likely he had split his clones between them.
They were going to have to check and clear each one to ensure nothing managed to slip away, but that was a problem too. With exhausted Shinobi guarding the exit and already escaped monsters doing gods-know-what throughout the world, they needed to ensure this was taken care of as soon as possible.
Some protection or guarantee against the oppressive darkness that filled those same tunnels would be a welcome aid, too, and so it was decided the best course of action would be for the three Biju to split off and do their best to clear those tunnels being- unquestionably- the strongest of the group while Orochimaru and Naruto pushed deeper to figure out what denizen of this strange place could tell them what the hell was going on.
Oh, and if that same bodiless spirit could be used to start putting things back in order that would be great too. They were going to need to be strong enough to control the others but anything that already had a body was going to be loath to surrender it and would never be satisfied remaining down here within it.
But if they were a stronger spirit, surely they would have been one of the first to demand a body for themself and would have been able to force the issue with its fellows. Whatever was left probably wasn't the strongest- though surely there would be a strongest of those yet to gain bodies- which meant until they managed to clear out all those with bodies its position wasn't even secure and its aid would be limited.
What a mess.
Even worse, Orochimaru wasn't entirely certain the monsters killed on the surface wouldn't just end up releasing their spirits back to the Deep Cells after the clone body was killed. Part of her suspected they would. Was it even worth trying to make a new pact with one of them in that case?
Even if it wasn't, she really didn't know what else she could do. If there had been no Zetsu bodies down here she'd just seal the damn thing but that would just force them to find a new way out and she was familiar enough with Zetsu and his abilities- though apparently not with him as a person if this was the sort of thing he had decided to do- to know escaping the earth wouldn't be terribly difficult for his clones.
A new way out would only make it harder for her to stop the deluge of malicious spirits pouring out of the Deep Cells.
So the current bodies needed to be eliminated, but they couldn't do that very well- or be sure of their success- without the aid of those who held dominion over the living darkness that surrounded them. Taking over some island country and just lighting the rest of the world on fire was looking more appealing by the minute.
A chain as dark as the shadows speared another host Zetsu and three more ensured the body wouldn't see any further use. Naruto tossed the remains further away and they vanished from sight- and perhaps reality- a few meters away.
Those twisted clones were plentiful down this main hallway, Orochimaru had noticed, but the many faces in the darkness- the inhabitants who were supposed to fill this place- were worryingly absent. Just how many of these monsters had already managed to loose themselves on the world?
And just how deep were they going to have to go to find what they needed?
Beside her Naruto suddenly stiffened and glanced into the darkness that had fallen in behind them. After a moment his eyes met hers.
"They're back in the seal."
It took Orochimaru a second to comprehend what he was saying.
"All three?" And at the same time? That was more than a little worrying. Kage-Bunshin or not, what had managed to overcome three Biju?
"...Yeah." A pause. "I think we're about to have company."
Sealkeeper: He Who Binds
Chapter 173-B "Omaru"
Patron Release 2023.05.11
If there was a silver lining to this it would be the fact that they wouldn't have to go track anything down- mostly because everything they were hunting had decided to converge upon them en masse.
Curiously, that had even included Zetsu clones that weren't possessed. Perhaps the process took time or they were running out of spirits who wanted to leave the Deep Cells. Naruto thought it was probably more likely that they felt the need to eliminate the immediate threat to Zetsu's- the original, that is- plan.
Fortunately while Orochimaru and Naruto didn't have the raw power of Biju they had the benefit of not being housed within Kage-Bunshin bodies. One hit was all it took to eliminate one of those whereas Naruto could shrug off just about anything that didn't hit his torso or remove a limb entirely. Credit for that mostly went to Mito, who was focused on pumping her Chakra through the seal to heal any injuries he accumulated while Karura was focused on using a small amount of newly made sand to block- or at least redirect- as many attacks aimed his way as she could.
They made a surprisingly good team that way, even if they didn't particularly like working with each other. And while they handled defense Isobu was more than happy to lend her own Chakra to enhance Naruto's normally black chains. Now a very dark green and coated in thin tongues of flame like seaweed dancing in an unseen current, they had very little trouble burning their way through the corrupted and twisted flesh of the possessed Zetsu clones.
The regular Zetsu clones didn't fare any better, either. Which was good, considering there was no way he could have ever cleared the number of bodies being thrown at them by simply impaling them with his chains and the previous blunt edges of them hadn't exactly managed to keep the monsters- possessed or not, Zetsu was a monster as far as he was concerned. An odd stance to take for someone who was bedding Orochimaru of the Sannin- down permanently.
Unfortunately Orochimaru, while stronger, didn't have quite the same advantages Naruto did. Most notably the lack of a Biju defending her or healing her wounds. She was able to shed her damaged "skin" to rapidly recover from injuries but it took a massive toll on her Chakra reserves to do so and didn't exactly have Biju to lend her some extra like Naruto did.
And while generally Orochimaru would disagree whole-heartedly against the notion, in this case she was more important than Naruto. She was the one who had previously created pacts- now broken- with the beings down here and only she knew how. If they wanted things under control- or under some semblance of control- she was the one who had to make it through these monsters to find the strongest denizen who had yet to acquire a body.
Which meant it was up to Naruto to do whatever he could to protect her as they moved.
Because they were moving. Staying still would have let them attempt to fortify their position, perhaps, but it also made them a stationary target for the monsters to throw themselves at. Staying mobile was helping to keep out of their reach for the most part, though that was unlikely to last. As soon as they hit a dead end or found what they were looking for, they were going to have to make a stand.
Hopefully not a last stand.
It was often difficult- or even nigh impossible- to keep track of time accurately during combat. Between a flood of adrenaline, the exhaustion waiting just a step away, and the fact that one had other things they were busy focusing on meant time slipped by at some unknown rate in the background.
For some who immersed themselves within it hours could fly by in a moment and for others those few minutes spent holding out for backup seemed to take hours.
Naruto couldn't say for sure which of these he was but he did know that it felt like he'd been trapped down in the darkness of the Deep Cells for days. Whether that was minutes or hours- or, perhaps, it really had been days now- he had no idea.
With Karura and Isobu lending him their Chakra and Mito doing her best to heal him as he fought, he was lasting a lot longer with the Biju Chakra than he ever had before- which made him suspect it probably had been hours- and when the damage became too much he would rely on his own strength while MIto healed his "resting" body.
Resting in the sense that it wasn't actively being torn apart by the corrosive Chakra at the moment.
He hadn't been counting how many times they'd switched but he probably would have lost track by now anyway.
Or maybe he was only imagining things. It could be difficult to tell down here where the shadows were a reality- and a law- unto themselves.
He spared only a glance through the ornate doorway where Orochimaru had managed to locate an unbodied spirit. Whether this was by choice- preferable, as he understood it- or simply because all the spirits stronger than it had been able to gain their own bodies first- which would still mean it was the strongest of what remained- Naruto hadn't had a chance to learn before he'd found himself acting as a wall between the two and all the Spirits who had managed to get bodies.
Well, maybe it was more fitting to say he was being the door considering he was in an open doorway. Whatever door once hung here was long gone and Naruto had a suspicion that had been the case for probably many times longer than he'd been alive.
There was a thrum in the air surrounding the Snake Sage, a feeling of power and life- which was strange considering where they were and what they were dealing with, though perhaps it was less life itself and more a sense that the surrounding area was becoming a being of its own right- as negotiations continued.
Or maybe they were done and this was part of the pact they were to form in order to seal it? Naruto really wasn't very well informed about any of this and he couldn't exactly hear what was being said by the two- assuming words were being exchanged at all- over the shrieks and screams of the possessed clones.
It would seem that even an existence in constant pain was preferable to remaining in their bodiless state. Well, that or they had been tricked into it and were now stuck. Regardless, the Daimyo of Nami no Kuni couldn't find it within him to pity the abominations that filled this place.
Another twisted Zetsu flung itself at him from the darkness of the hallway only to be caught and crushed by Karura's sand.
'How many of these things were there?' He had to wonder. He thought the problem had been the number of these things clawing on the surface of the world but the numbers estimated by Orochimaru as having escaped was very obviously eclipsed by the sheer number who still seemed to reside down here in the depths of the world. It was almost as if- and it wouldn't surprise him in the slightest were it to be true- they had been left in wait down here in anticipation of his- or at least Orochimaru's- interference.
Still, he was certain he'd ended well over a thousand of them by now and there didn't seem to be any change in the constant flow of opponents coming his way.
'But of course there wouldn't'. He already knew even as some part of his soul resonated with an answer he sought but could never truly comprehend. 'Should every spirit of this place be gathered and counted, their numbers would match exactly to every star that had ever died.'
And there was some thought, a whisper in the back of his head that may have been in his own voice or that of a stranger proposing an even more absurd idea; 'And every star that would ever die.'
That would be impossible but this place seemed to care little for the laws of the universe, as if they were mere suggestions in order to provide a starting point and a seed of inspiration for the creativity of powers incomprehensible to a simple Daimyo of a small island nation.
The darkness purred in approval of his thoughts- or of something he could not see- and Naruto felt his unease tug the corners of his lips into a frown.
He really hoped Orochimaru was almost done, there was no way he could kill every star in the sky.
His soul seemed amused by that- the stars in his sky were but a grain of sand compared to the oceans of the void. There was only one being who could hope to snuff out the stars of a universe and it certainly wasn't him- and his unease only grew in weight.
If he never returned to this place it would be far too soon.
At first, the deep rumbling that filled the air over the battlefield was thought to be caused by some sort of attack. Genma's first indication it probably wasn't was the way other leaders for Kumo and Iwa- Since the Shinobi of Kumogakure had joined the conflict it had been rare for all three forces to be fighting simultaneously, though the most worrying aspect of today's three-way battle was the fact that it meant none of them were under attack by the monsters that had become so common to those on the front lines- took their own moments to attempt locating the source of the noise.
And then the ground shook.
Rumbles that had only resembled thunder quickly became a deafening roar of the earth as it protested the treatment it was receiving.
Instinct won out over common sense, drawing Genma's eyes not to the soft soil-or what had been soil, now more blood and ash than anything- at his feet but towards the horizon.
As big as this seemed to be and as close as it sounded to be so loud, something inside him screamed that it had to be even larger, even louder, and that meant it had to be much, much farther away.
He was right.
The Kaidan mountain range- stretching between and connecting the borders of Ame and Kusa- was only just visible from where he stood on the most eastern front of the battle. In fact, at this distance it was hardly more visible than a haze intruding upon the blue of the sky.
And then the peak of Mt. Ōi split apart.
Genma found himself blinking both in surprise and in an attempt to clear his vision which was clearly impaired at the moment.
But blinking didn't change anything- the mountain was still split. It wasn't just the peak, either, as when he was certain he was no longer seeing things- unless that was some elaborate and exceedingly subtle Genjutsu he'd been caught under- the break in the mountain had continued down two thirds of the way to the base.
He could only tell because the previous purple-blue of the smudge had a deep line of black that spilled out from the fracture like a rolling fog.
Forcing Chakra to his eyes to temporarily sharpen his vision- he'd be paying for it later, assuming he managed to keep himself alive, because the delicate sensory organs were not designed to be placed under that sort of stress and he didn't have a Doujutsu and generations of genetics to change that- he was able to see the shapes that spilled forth and scurried over the split mountain like ants on a dropped bean bun.
That would explain where the monsters were- though certainly not why- but even as they seemed to organize themselves and start towards the battlefield Genma currently stood within he realized that was hardly their largest issue.
Because at the top of Mt. Ōi a giant humanoid figure glowed with bright purple Chakra and moved erratically, as if forming complicated handsigns using the entirety of their body.
And whatever that was, Genma was willing to bet, it wasn't going to be any good for any of the Shinobi present here regardless of the village they called home.
It was almost two hours later- the struggle between the three Shinobi factions still going strong- that the monsters joined in. Their speed had been respectable for that distance but nothing absurd, as far as Genma could tell.
For a Shinobi, that was.
He didn't know if the leaders of the other groups had been paying attention to the movements of the monsters but he'd made sure that his Konoha forces were as far away from the oncoming horde as he could manage in the midst of active battle. The others either hadn't been tracking them or simply hadn't been able to adjust things to their favor.
Or maybe they had been banking on finishing this skirmish- rather long for a skirmish, actually, but Genma couldn't think of a more suitable word at the moment because it didn't really feel like a battle, not in the way Shinobi fought- before the monsters could arrive. That could even be how they planned to finish the fight if they could manage a withdrawal timed perfectly with the arrival of the monsters to finish off their injured and exhausted opponents.
It wasn't necessarily a bad plan but there was no way in hell Genma would try it. There was just way too much risk. He did have to wonder what the chances of both opponents going for it, though, assuming that's what happened. Regardless, when the monsters crashed into his enemies' flanks he was quick to start regrouping his forces.
They could try running- and a lot of the minor villages Iwa recruited seemed to be doing just that, returning to ensure their homes were protected as they bore witness to just how large the host of monsters really was- but Genma's experience told him there wasn't any point. The monsters would give chase eventually and he'd rather face them head on then force his comrades to expose their backs.
And even if they did retreat, what then? Sure, from the looks of things they could probably manage to outrun them back to Konoha but they would still be heading in that direction- he'd just be leading them back to the village. The only positive would be that his Shinobi would manage to get maybe two or three hours with their loved ones before being right back to fighting for their lives. He'd much rather have them do that right here and now while those same loved ones were far away.
It gave them the option of having somewhere to retreat to later and he didn't have to worry about anyone going rogue because they were worried about their family in another part of the village. No, this was a much better option in the long run.
Genma would marshal the Konoha forces and strike back at the monsters as they busied themselves on Kumo and Iwa Shinobi, and then he would push towards the Kaidan mountain range and put a stop to whatever that giant form was doing.
Already he could swear he felt a subtle buildup of Chakra in the air and every instinct that had kept him alive over the years told him it was a result of whatever the hell that thing was busy doing.
There was no way splitting the mountain had been the end goal, though something deep in his soul told him he didn't want to know what was actually being attempted. Whatever it was simply needed to be stopped so he never had to even consider it again.
He took a moment to look over his troops- his comrades- as they gathered themselves and quickly redistributed their remaining supplies. Healers worked tirelessly not to heal patients but to just get them to a point where they weren't in immediate danger of dropping dead and, perhaps most importantly, remained capable of fighting. In this case, quantity was better than quality because they needed every able body they could get.
Anyone who wasn't capable of fighting was more or less dead anyway as soon as those monsters reached them and they couldn't risk the life of what medics they had trying to protect them. Better to give everyone a fighting chance than to take the time to give just a few an even better chance.
When he was satisfied that they were as ready as they could be, and with the Monsters still busy fighting the foreign Shinobi, Genma nodded once to himself.
And then they charged.
"It's done." She announced as she stopped just behind him. "The pact is formed and sealed."
Naruto glanced over his shoulder at Orochimaru, noting the glowing symbols that spread over her skin much like her own Ten no Juin covered her subordinates when active. Unlike the black of the Ten no Juin, however, these were a sickly yellow and the light they gave off turned her paler skin into an almost jaundiced pallor. That paired with her obvious exhaustion made her seem sickly and weak.
Giving a nod, Naruto returned his attention to the darkness before him so he could avoid any surprise attacks. They had slowed temporarily- for which both Mito and his body were grateful- but he was expecting them to renew their assault with restored vigor at any moment.
"Good," He spoke into the darkness- idly, he did wonder if it was possible for the surrounding shadows to steal his voice from the very air and keep it from reaching its intended target. It did not seem impossible or even unlikely to a man who had delved down into the darkness of this world and been forced to hold his own against its tides- and wondered if they were finally going to be done with this place. His memories of how sunlight felt upon his skin seemed to fade more and more with every second he spent in this accursed place. "Is there anything else we need to do?"
"I'll need to mark the boundary of their domain," She gestured to the doorway she stood in despite knowing he couldn't see her. "Which will help solidify and legitimize its power over any unbodied spirits further in."
He caught onto the important part of what she wasn't saying. "So everything between here and the exit isn't going to be under their control?"
"...No." Well, it looked like they'd be fighting their way out still. So much for the hope they might be able to gain an ally who could grant them safe passage. Not that it wasn't expected, why would those who had gained their own bodies obey one who could not touch the physical world? Mortals were expected to be commanded by such beings, that was the natural order, but even with new bodies these spiritual beings- these twisted Kami Greater and Lesser- were hardly 'mortal'.
"There's no helping it, then. Do what you need to, I'll hold them off." And then they would fight their way out. What they probably should be doing is hunting everything down and destroying them but that was no small task. Instead if they could get out of here they would only need to defend from anything trying to come out. What did they care that the monsters were here so long as they stayed here? Hunting parties could be sent in regularly to start thinning them out and if they were really lucky some of the monsters might start fighting themselves.
Naruto didn't know what happened once one of these clone bodies was destroyed but that was a problem for another time. The immediate concern was to stop the active attacks of these monsters. Everything else could wait.
The sharp tang of fresh blood hit his nose when Orochimaru slit her wrists but he was only able to glance back long enough to see her crouch down and begin painting her blood between the doorway for a second before he had to react to a new surge of monsters throwing themselves at him with even greater ferocity.
Not him- Orochimaru.
Obviously they knew what she was up to and wanted to put a stop to it. He could only hope that meant they were doing something right.
Unless, of course, whoever was currently leading- directing? -these things was using this as an elaborate bluff in order to convince them to continue making a huge mistake. Somehow, Naruto thought that would be about right for his usual luck.
After all, things had been going just a bit too smoothly so far hadn't they? If they continued he would have to start worrying about what was going wrong back on the surface while he was away.
While the Wolves had been quick to disengage from any conflicts in Hi no Kuni for the purpose of supporting Tsukuyomi, they hadn't quite managed to make it to Tetsu- in fact, they were pretty close to the capital of Taki no Kuni -before the monsters rejoined the battle between Konoha, Iwa and Kumo. It left them in a confusing position.
On one hand, these were the creatures Naruto and Orochimaru had left to hinder. Did their presence here- and their arrival from the west- mean that whatever Naruto was doing wasn't actually in Tetsu no Kuni at all? Were they going to the wrong place? And even if that wasn't true, could they really ignore these things out in the open like this? Would Naruto rather they help him by stopping them here so Konoha and Nami wouldn't have to worry about them anymore?
And on the other hand, a majority of the Wolves really didn't give a damn what happened to Konoha or even Hi no Kuni as a whole- though Nami certainly benefited from its alliance with the much large country- and currently had orders to aid Tsukuyomi in Tetsu no did it matter if they left the monsters to fight off the rest of these Shinobi? Either they would be killed off or they would continue through Hi no Kuni on their way east- assuming that's the direction they were going, anyway, and not that they were only moving towards the Shinobi conflict as their target- which meant there was still a while until the host of beasts hit Nami.
Hi no Kuni would serve as a buffer long enough for them to do what they needed to do and get back to protect Nami.
In the end, however, one thought stood out above the rest- if these were the things Tsukuyomi was trying to stop, such a force represented a threat to their lord. It simply couldn't be allowed.
Clearly this would have to be dealt with expediently, but that didn't mean Tsukuyomi no longer required their aid. They simply needed to make some adjustments to take into consideration the fact that- in a way- this also aided their lord.
High-Captain Yuto knew what needed to be done, even if it didn't align with the orders they had received. In the distance he watched as Konoha Shinobi surged towards the monsters currently occupied by Kumo and Iwa Shinobi and pushed in towards their inhuman opponents. Some elements of the Iwa forces were desperately attempting to flee- no doubt minor villages who had come to the conclusion that they wanted nothing to do with this conflict any longer- only to be chased down and attacked by these unnatural predators.
Curiously enough, many Iwa and Kumo Shnobi on the far edges of the action were folding in towards the back of the Konoha forces where they received aid without hesitation and moved to protect the medics and support personnel. The presence of the monsters hadn't ever managed such cooperation before, perhaps this time it was simply the sheer number of them bearing down upon the Shinobi?
Yuto frowned. It was possible, but it hardly felt like the real r\eson behind their actions. Anything from morale to logistics could have played a more predominant role in causing the three factions to ignore their current conflict in favor of uniting against this forth foe. But whatever it was, High-Captain Yuto couldn't see it and that caused an uneasy feeling to pool in his gut.
Was it a possibility that there was something else encouraging this behavior that it was simply out of range for his vision? Yes, unfortunately, and if it was something important enough to make Iwa, Kumo, and Konoha throw away their hostilities- even temporarily- then there could be no doubt it held the potential to be a threat to their lord.
Yuto glanced back at his forces- a majority of the Wolves- and knew it would likely make up the difference between the Shinobi and the monsters they were fighting. Not in number, perhaps, but certainly in raw strength. The prototype armors alone would make a significant impact as they had already proven defending Hanahime from these creatures.
And the likelihood of them being able to descend into the Deep Cells in order to aid Tsukuyomi and Orochimaru was always slim, so they didn't lose anything keeping them here. That left Wolves in the more standard armor Tsukuyomi had wanted and Wolves without armor beyond their regular uniform. The decision on who to have continue into Tetsu no Kuni was not a difficult one to make.
"Shoyuke," Yuto caught the attention of one of the armored Wolves. "Pick five more with armor and continue towards Tsukuyomi." He ordered before turning to address everyone else. "The rest of you, ready up. We're going back down to clear out those fuckers before Tsukuyomi Tou-San has a chance to worry about them."
There was a cheer throughout the gathered Wolves- not because they were going back to the fight but because they had the opportunity to be immediately of use to their lord. What more could they possibly ask for?
The air was hot and damp, sticking to his lungs as he drew in ragged breaths. He wasn't injured, fortunately, but even the constant use of Biju Chakra could only last Naruto so long- mostly because that very same chakra took a toll on his body. Everything worked- thanks to Mito- but gods above and below if everything didn't also fucking hurt.
It didn't help that his own reserves were just about depleted- not that his reserves were especially large after the damage that had been inflicted upon his original Chakra System- and there was only so much he could recover while using the Chakra of the Biju.
That probably pointed to him not having been in the darkness of the Deep Cells for all that long now that he thought about it, though it had certainly felt like years since he'd seen the light of the sun.
He still had his newer Chakra System- the one added to his body by the formation of his modified Ten no Juin- but he was saving that for an absolute last resort. He never had gotten around to testing it and this was hardly the place to do so now.
If the metal lift that had brought them into these depths wasn't in view he might be rethinking that stance at the moment but he had enough- barely- to make sure both he and Orochimaru managed to get on.
She was stronger than him, that wasn't really a question, but she didn't have three separate Biju supporting her either. Normally that wouldn't mean all that much but she'd spent much of her strength forming both the pact with the bodiless denizen of the Deep Cell- did that one have a name? Did any of them?- and in defining its domain. It had taken more than just blood, Naruto understood enough from what he'd seen to know that Orochimaru's part of the pact wasn't just providing souls to those down here but also to serve as the physical anchor to this world in lieu of their own bodies.
Becoming a bridge between the physical and spiritual worlds was not without cost, which had sapped a great deal of both her Chakra and her physical energy so it had been up to Naruto to ensure she got out safely.
Some sort of tail- he refused to think of it as a tentacle- shot towards them and he released a pained grunt as he moved his shoulder into the line of fire to keep it from reaching a defenseless Orochimaru draped over his back. In retaliation he sent out a chain of his own, piercing through the monster's head and breaking its ties to the physical world with the death of its host.
Karura's Chakra burned through his veins as she directed a wave of sand to push the other monsters further back. It returned to him immediately after, knowing there were only moments before they recovered and unwilling to be too far from him when he came under attack again.
Slinging her unconscious body onto the lift, Naruto almost toppled onto it after her. With significant effort he caught his weight on the railing and hauled himself up into a crouch. A chain was used to start the motor that would permit their ascent.
With a jerk the lift started, the engine humming, and the shrieks and cries of the monsters only became more frantic knowing their prey was on the verge of escape.
But the lift wasn't exactly quick.
The sand valiantly attempted to form a wall blocking off the hallway that led to the chamber- was it a chamber if it was also a shaft?- but was stretched too thin to form spikes or withstand the force of the bodies throwing themselves towards their targets.
'Come on, almost there.' Five feet from the ground and the monsters were closing in, grabbing hold with hands, claws, and any other limb they could extend in an effort to stop them. Already the motor was protesting the added weight of a dozen bodies trying to pull it down, filling the air with a sharp squealing. Other monsters began grabbing hold of the first few, unable to reach the platform itself but adding their own mass to foil the motor. Obviously they were at least intelligent enough to recognize that weakness and strike at it.
He still had the option of the stairway that spiraled up the shaft- no doubt how most of the monsters left this place after receiving bodies of their own- but he wasn't sure he had the energy to manage that and he doubted he'd have the chance to stop and rest part way up.
'Mito, I need fire.' He could feel her discomfort with his request and he knew why. He didn't have any fire Jutsu and while she was primarily aligned with that element she didn't actually have any fire jutsu either- in fact, she didn't have jutsu period. She was a Biju, not a Kunoichi- so the only thing she could really do was convert her own Chakra further towards its natural inclination of fire and push it through his Tenketsu.
It would not be pleasant.
'I know, Mito, just do it.' Liquid fire flowed into him from the seal he shared with his sister and built up for a single unending second- and then it burst from his body in a wave of flames that spilled down and over the platform like a heavy fog.
Pained screams and the smell of putrid, burning flesh filled the air but removed most of the monsters and allowed the lift to continue to the surface. All it had cost was a lot of pain and the majority of his clothing.
Twelve feet, they couldn't reach it anymore.
But not all of them had been forced off. Covered in burns, three blackened clones pulled themselves further up in an attempt to join them on the lift. Gritting his teeth, Naruto used the last of his own Chakra to form as many black chains as he could, wrapping them around his limbs like makeshift armor. The protection, while certainly beneficial, was not at all the purpose.
In an imitation of Suna puppeteers- and, in fact, much like a puppeteer that even now worked with his forces- Naruto used his chains to turn himself into a puppet. His movements controlled through his chains as his flesh threatened to fail him.
With halting, jerky, movements he managed to reach the first monster whose entire torso now rested on the platform and a solid Isobu-enhanced punch sent it back down to his brethren.
The skin on his right arm burned away beneath the chains, his flesh long having exceeded any human limits for exposure to the caustic Chakra of Biju, and Mito couldn't risk pumping anything else through his body.
He paid it no mind, instead twisting his body around and stumbling to the next one. It had already managed to bring one leg- some sort of triple-jointed amalgamation of hoof and feathers- up and was moments from being entirely on the platform.
Naruto dealt with it as he had the previous, this time sacrificing the skin on his left arm, and turned to face the monster that had dragged itself onto the platform. It didn't seem to have any interest in him specifically, its attention firmly on the unconscious form of the Snake Sennin, and even as Naruto pushed himself towards it he knew he wasn't going to reach it in time.
His chains were breaking apart and he was already struggling to maintain his balance.
'Karura….' There was no sand around for him to make use of- it was all thirty feet below them and would never reach them in time- but he only needed a little of her Chakra.
"You don't have any way to direct it!"
'My mouth, expel it through my mouth.' It was a bad idea. A very bad idea. A Bijudama required a specific balance of Chakras- when used by anything not a complete Biju, that was- so what he was about to use be would be a volatile, unbalanced mess near some rather key parts of his body. Namely his neck and his brain, both of which could be easily destroyed by a premature detonation of Karura's Chakra.
"But beloved- !"
'Just do it!' She obeyed despite her reservations and Naruto could suddenly taste the golden Chakra that pooled above his tongue. Or he could, for the single moment it took before his tongue was too burned to taste or feel anything. It built and built and built and with an agonized scream it burst forward like the first rays of dawn to completely erase the thing's torso.
Blood already pooled in Naruto's mouth, dribbling through unresponsive lips and flowing back down his throat. He probably wasn't going to be talking- or eating- in the next few days.
'Thank you girls, you all did great.'
Completely spent he collapsed onto the platform only to hiss as his bare flesh made contact with the metal that had recently been coated in Mito's fire. Rolling over to his side he grabbed Orochimaru and had to peel her body from the superheated metal leaving generous portions of skin and flesh behind.
He grimaced as he placed her atop him. She had avoided most of the fire itself because he'd been over her when he released it but she hadn't escaped the results. He wasn't sure if she'd be able to heal herself completely from this; she might just be better off getting a whole new body.
That really was convenient, actually.
Ignoring the blood that seeped from her wounds he dug one hand through her pockets until he managed to find an explosive note that he tied to a Kunai from the pouch on his leg. Activating it with a miniscule burst of Isobu's Chakra- and noting that everything hurt so much at this point that he couldn't even feel it now- it was tossed to the far wall where it clanged against the metal staircase.
Hopefully that would keep them from being able to follow them- at least until they built up enough bodies to make it to the next highest section of the stairway, anyway.
Assured they were now as safe as they possibly could be he surrendered to both pain and exhaustion, both of which called for immediate unconsciousness that he slipped into without protest.
A nap sounded just fine to him.
And maybe when he woke up this nightmare of a day would finally be over.
Standing perfectly still atop a nearby hill, a woman watched the Wolves join the fight against the possessed Zetsu clones. Long white hair danced in the breeze and offered a striking contrast to her dusky skin.
Omaru, Naruto had named her- something to differentiate her from the existence she was otherwise a complete and perfect copy of. But there were other differences too, things that weren't immediately visible. They were more different now than they were alike but, then again, perhaps in truth she was closer to Orochmaru than any simple Kage-Bunshin could ever hope to be.
The eyes of Omaru were a brilliant, vivid green. Perfectly cut emeralds that all but glowed as the light reflected off of them.
But as she gazed down on the struggle of four different groups against the spirits from the Deep Cells her eyes were pale and clouded, their color replaced by a milky white that could easily be mistaken for blindness.
While the forces below her struggled to survive and a giant worked his complicated Jutsu in the distant mountains a twitch pulled at the corner of rose-pink lips-
And Omaru smiled.
It's looking like the next chapter may conclude the story. My thanks to all those who have been with me over the years and especially to the Patrons who have helped support me while I worked on this.
Cephalon Keeper, Michael Huber, B4NH4MM3R, Jacklefrackle
Ronji, Luxano, Theepicslime
The SHARP fox, Malte Krain, StayFrosty, Noah, Alex Robb, Jeremy Webb, Jamel, McKinzie, Tjk9399, magicheart 0, Gamer91, Marcothephoenix, Xerxes8796
Tim Keizer, Daron Smith, gabriel reynoso, Romulan, Shi_no_Kage, Whatzzzzzzzup, Nick Payne, Christopher, Desertgem1, Liam Kearney, TormisD92, Sedition, Michael Vargas
Angel Morales, Brendon, Joe Schumacher, Michael Friede, Nilzor, Chase, Maroner, Forseeti, Carlos Campbell, Thanyx, Slip123, Nicholas Hoover, Supernowy, Milton Pereira, YGO, Louis Lennin, OldManCain, Brandon Romero, MB, Brandon, LoneSaiyan, Para, Nekrull DeUmbrus, Jennifer carpenter, HKaz, Pantheras, MasterT941, J. G., Tyrell2000, Gobo, June Tai, james escobedo, Sebastiaan asselbergs, James, TheGreatBubbaJ, TheAbsoluteMonarch, JonCotterill, Zack Crum, SMatatabi, Matthew Smith, Wrex, DamnedThrice, DualEquinox, Carl Confoy, James Fleming, Sivellan, Marin Dimovski, J. G., DARKAR, Mike Law, Pope Gregory Trivium III, Zachary Smith, MythicFool
Until I next have your attention, I remain,