A Sage's Mission
Thanks to those who answered my question on Great Red. It gave me ideas I didn't think of, to work with.
"Thinking/ conversation with Tailed beast/Sacred Gear within the mind, Scape."
"Tailed Beast/Sacred gear Dragon speaking."
Chapter 15: A Snake's genius.
"Ahhhhh, I missed again!" Kunou pouted and stamped her feet, she's been at this since mid-day, and she can't seem to hit the target. "How many has it been now?"
"You're at around thirty-seven throws," Naruto answers light-heartedly while taking his turn, and he bullseyes another target. "You sure you're holding it like I said? I'm having no trouble." Naruto decided to throw again, hitting the target dead-centre once more.
"You've had years of practice, of course, you're having no trouble." Kunou liked many things, but the one thing she hated was failing. She came into this with full confidence she'd master it in two, no one hour...yeah about that...
Even though Yasaka and Naruto had a...progressive conversation about being sensible, responsible and...other things. She did agree to let Naruto teach her daughter how to throw shuriken. Only because Naruto already promised Kunou, he would.
Naruto and Kunou were at one of the Urakyoto's palace's courtyards. This one had a few trees at the back wall. Seven targets were set up at various distances. From ten feet to thirty feet, four are on the floor with around four to five feet between each of them. The last three were hanging off the trees at different heights, but one of them was facing the left side rather than facing straight ahead. Kunou's having difficulty hitting the one only ten feet from her, she had no idea how she's supposed to hit a target that isn't even facing her...thirty feet away.
Kunou, trying to be clever, threw the shuriken like she would throw a ball, and finally hit the target that was ten feet away. "Ha, got it that time!" She thumbed her chest and held her head high, brimming with smugness. Kunou expected Naruto to congratulate her, but all she got from the Shinobi was a cheeky smirk.
"Nice try, but..." Naruto didn't need to say anything else, he just pointed at the target. Kunou snapped her sights to it...and saw her shuriken, while it did hit the target, it didn't stick to it. It was on the floor, with only a small scratch mark on the target to show for it.
"What, but I hit it?"
"Throw like you just did, and the only thing it's going to do is smack off the wood; it won't pierce the target." Naruto shook his head as he explained it to her. "And you won't reach further distances like that either."
Kunou crossed her arms and puffed her cheeks. Naruto would call her adorable; if he didn't have a hunch, it would only annoy her more. The young Kyubi really wants to get good at this.
Naruto held up another shuriken. "Let's give you a refresher, watch what I do. Now you can throw it vertically or horizontally, but I prefer horizontally so we'll go with that." As Naruto went through the steps again, Kunou paid close attention to his words and movement, making several mental notes.
"Hold the shuriken by one of its points, between the index finger and the thumb. Bring your arm across your body like this..." Then Naruto quickly threw his arm out at a ninety-degree angle. The shuriken spun and soared through the air and hit one of the targets thirty feet away. "Once you've thrown it, it's all down to your aim; that and the wind too."
Kunou nodded her head and took a few more shuriken. At first, she practised the motion and finger placement. After going through the motions a few times, she made another attempt. Coping Naruto's movements to the letter, she threw the shuriken. To her shock, it passed the ten feet target and narrowly missed the twenty feet target. The shuriken was stuck in the ground on the left side of the target.
Before Kunou had a chance to moan again, Naruto spoke. "You missed the target sure, but that's your best distance yet." Naruto then crouched to her side and pointed at the shuriken across her line of sight. "And unlike all the other times, your shuriken had the force to pierce the ground." All the other ones Kunou's thrown are laying flat; scattered across the ground of the courtyard.
Kunou took that well and smiled, feeling proud of making some progress. "I just need to keep doing it like that?"
"There is one more thing you should be doing, but get used to throwing it like that first. Then we'll move on to that step."
"Can't I learn it now?"
"Get this part down first."
"Listen to your teacher, my daughter," Yasaka spoke from behind them; she was sitting on a wooden porch by a few sliding doors to the palace. "You must learn to walk before you learn to run."
"Yes, mother." Kunou sighed but lamented, and continued to practice the throw as is, while Naruto backed from the young Kyubi and approached Yasaka.
"See, Kunou can learn some things from this. Like how to improve her throwing and learning patience."
"And is patience a trait you learned from this?" Yasaka gave Naruto a knowing look out of the corner of her eye.
"Maybe..." Naruto looked away; that was a trick question from Yasaka, wasn't it?
Yasaka may have agreed to let Naruto keep his promise to her daughter; but she will be there to watch...that was non-negotiable. While she was there to supervise and watch over her daughter, she was also curious why Naruto used such weapons. "Most opponents one would face would not fall to such a weapon likely."
"Unless you were up against amateurs, shuriken won't do much on their own. But add a Jutsu to them or use them in the right circumstances and it's a whole other story." Shuriken aren't typically used for decisive hits, but for distractions and shallow strikes to weaken a foe. "You'd be surprised how a distraction or a little hit can make all the difference." That time when Naruto and Sasuke had to free Kakashi sensei from Zabuza's Water Prison Jutsu; back on their first 'real mission'. If they didn't know how to throw kunai, shuriken and other ninja tools, that could have been their end.
Both Naruto and Yasaka stood there for a while, engaging in simple conversations, as both watched over Kunou, who was improving her throwing. After a few more attempts, Kunou's throwing skills visible improved; with shuriken reaching further distances, some even hitting a few targets. Naruto decided to show her the next step.
Naruto went through the motions again with her, but this time he added a flick to the wrist. "At the end of your throw, flick the wrist; it gives it more power and gives you more control over its direction." Naruto demonstrated this and nailed another thirty-meter target.
After finally being shown this step, full of excitement and determination, the young Kyubi wasted no time and got to implementing that trick...with some success. At times she'd get the timing right and hit a target...other times she'd flick too hard, and the shuriken gets thrown well to the side...sometimes even out of bounds. That gave Naruto a good laugh, much to Kunou's embarrassment. Her red face became an endless source of amusement for Naruto.
But this embarrassment streak didn't last, and after many, many attempts, Kunou finally hit a target at thirty meters; it was a bullseye.
Kunou may be panting and may have a sore arm and wrist from all the throwing and flicking. But despite all of that, Kunou radiated nothing but joy. She spun around and rushed to her mother and teacher. "You see that mother? You see, you see; I told you I could do it. See, see Naruto, I said I would master this." Yasaka's daughter was blissfully delighted.
"Mastered it, huh." Against targets that aren't moving...or can't fight back. "You've got a good throw...but there are still things you haven't learned yet." Rather than just telling her she hasn't mastered it, Naruto would instead show her a higher level. Since Kunou had a strong drive and was surprisingly competitive, this would be the best way to show her.
This time Naruto took out two shuriken and held them both in one hand. Both Yasaka and Kunou paid close attention to what Naruto intends to show them. With great speed, Naruto throws both shuriken, which travelled across the courtyard close to each other; one at the front while the other was mere inches behind. But both went to the left side, away from the targets.
Kunou tilted her head in confusion. "Did he miss?" Only for her eyes to widen when it happened.
The shuriken at the back hit the one at the front, and that shuriken curved around; hitting the one target that faced the left side. Kunou was wondering how one was supposed to hit that target.
Naruto returned to the two Kyubis. "There's always a new level to reach," Naruto smirked at Kunou's surprised expression.
Kunou rapidly shook her to compose herself. "I'm going to give that a try then." She was about to run off to practise, but one of Yasaka's tails wrapped around her and lifted her helplessly into the air.
"I believe that's enough for one day."
"No buts my daughter. Your arm and wrist are already sour from this, and you have other duties to attend to today." Lessons, magical practice and more.
"Okay..." Kunou whimpered, and Yasaka released her daughter.
"I'm sure we can pick this up again at some point Kunou. That's if of course, Yasaka's okay with it?" Naruto quickly added that in; he didn't want to go through that conversation again.
Kunou snapped to her mother with big pleading eyes. Even if her mother was all but immune to these...she had to try.
Yasaka silently stared at her daughter, weighing her options. "At another time when nothing is going on."
Considering her busy schedule, Kunou was more than happy to get that answer. She, at least, has a chance.
"Now Kunou, what do you say?"
"Thank you, Naruto for showing and teaching me how to throw shuriken." Kunou bowed to the Shinobi, demonstrating a princess's formality.
"No problem Kunou. I'll see you around." Naruto jokingly gave them a two-finger salute as a send-off.
"So what are you going to do for the rest of the day Naruto?" Kunou asked.
Naruto shrugged. "Gaara wants to see me about something. Don't know what it's about though."
Opening the doors to the Shinobi embassy, Naruto was greeted by the reception staff; two receptionists at the front desk, one on the computer, the other sorting out stacks of paper work. Looking around, Naruto saw several ANBU guards. Since this is technically the 'front lines' and the only lifeline back home, it made sense to have the ANBU here.
Naruto greeted the staff and asked about Gaara. After checking the schedules, one of the receptionists had an aid escort Naruto to Gaara's office. The intertie of the building looked similar to Yasaka's palace. But some Shinobi decorations were thrown in.
Arriving at Gaara's office on the third level, the aid left Naruto to his meeting with the Kazekage.
Naruto knocked and gave it a few seconds.
Turing the knob, Naruto walked in casually. To others, Gaara is the Kazekage, but to Naruto, he's a close friend. "What's up Gaara, keeping busy?"
Gaara was sitting at his desk, windows behind with a good view of the city. In front of the desk were two sofas, parallel to each other, with a short table between them. Around the room were a few plants, straight from the greenhouses of Sunagakure. The room's walls were painted pale cream, looking just like sand.
"I have, as has everyone else." Gaara kept up his stoic attitude.
Naruto slouched on one of the sofas. "And how's that been for ya?"
Naruto succeed getting Gaara to chuckle, if only slightly. "I am grateful Temari and Shikamaru are here to assist me. Spearheading an alliance between worlds is a tricky endeavour."
"Taking missions here's no picnic either." Naruto would've liked to continue the small talk with Gaara. But Gaara wouldn't have called him if it wasn't important. "So do I have another mission?"
"A task...and a future mission."
"Okay, so what's it about?"
"First, I wish to speak with you about your mission to bring back Kuroka." There are a few things to sort out with that.
Naruto's shoulders slumped, and he breathed out a heavy sigh. "I know it could have gone better. You won't be saying anything I have already berated myself for ya'know."
Gaara leaned forward on his desk and interlocked his fingers, and he rested his chin on them. "The main objective was successful. You prevented a war and brought us a prisoner that has helped point us in the right direction. But now our original plan will need some changes."
"Which parts?" Some of it, all of it?
"Original, I and Lady Yasaka would seek diplomatic meetings with leaders of other Factions to help expand our reach in this world. Improve our knowledge and track down any leads to the Old Satan Faction and this Khaos Brigade." Making allies with other Factions would help too, depending on the Faction of course. "But because you and your team were found out by the Devils, they will be looking for you. So instead you will have to work in my stead and meet the other Factions."
Naruto was shocked, he did not expect this. Finding Yasaka, sniffing out the other Factions and their motives, fighting and taking out the bad guys, that's Naruto and his team's job; the diplomatic stick was Gaara's. "Umm...Gaara?"
Gaara continued to speak, preventing Naruto from interrupting him. "It's not ideal, but this direction can help keep the Shinobi world concealed from the Three Factions and beyond for a bit longer."
"I'm still not following."
Gaara handed Naruto a piece of paper, his eyes widened when he saw his picture and name on it; and when he saw what's written at the top of the page. "Wanted: Naruto Uzumaki. Species: Human. Age: Approximately eighteen to twenty-one. Abilities: Senjutsu and what is believed to be Youkai Spiritual Energy and a possibility of an unidentified and concealed Sacred Gear. Threat Rating: SSS-class. Report on sight wanted alive for questioning." A drop of sweat rolled down Naruto's cheek...seems Sirzechs was not going to be a good sport about it. Gaara then handed Naruto another one, and then another, and another. These ones had Hinata, Konohamaru and Raphtalia respectively, each having an A-class threat rating. "So umm...I've noticed there's no cash reward." Where's the incentive.
"This was taken straight from the wanted lists from the Devil's Network. Or Internet as it's called." The human world and Underworld have their own ones. "This information has likely already or soon will found its way into the hands of the other Factions. Your existence is now known Naruto."
"How'd you even get this?"
"It's not a secure as the Devils hope. Speak to the right people, look in the right places, and if that doesn't work; hacking into the system is a good fall back option." No matter what...the information will find its way into the hands of others.
Naruto placed the wanted posters down on the desk. Took a deep breath, and collated his thoughts as calmly as he could. "Okay...but how does my face on a wanted poster make me eligible as a diplomat?" The opposite should happen; Naruto's now the guy you want away from the critical talks.
"It was under Yasaka's recommendation. And her argument proved sound."
Naruto scratched his head, he had nothing, no idea what Yasaka's talking about. What sound augment?
Gaara pushed Naruto's wanted poster across the desk for Naruto to take a second look. "The other Factions will look you up and will find nothing on you. This would make them interested in finding and meeting you. Also, look here, at the crimes section." Gaara pointed for Naruto to see.
There was nothing for Naruto to read...he had no crimes listed. "What the..."
"The only crime you've committed was striking a Devil King even if he attacked you first. But as Yasaka pointed out to me, the Devil Faction's pride won't allow others to learn of this fact. So not only are you and your team wanted by the Devils, and you're an unknown. It is also unknown why the Devils want you in the first place." There's a chance...the Factions would be racing each other, trying to get to Naruto first. To find out why and how a human who came out of thin air, is suddenly one of the most wanted men by the New Satan Faction. "With this in mind, we can predict how the other Factions will act around you." Even control it to a degree.
Kurama already saw the other reason for Gaara's decision to appoint Naruto as a diplomat. "They'll all be focused on you, and if you also keep their attention on your mate, and brat student. The less likely they'll found out or suspect a whole other Faction of humans like you." Play the part of a couple of humans working for the Youkai and Yasaka. Since Kuroka was spotted as well, the Factions will be looking at the Youkai Faction. The Shinobi will have to hide in plain sight and do their work; while Naruto and his team will need to stay in the light for the Factions to see.
The Shinobi will want to improve their position in this world first, build up more connection, strength and even allies before the whistle on them gets blown. This world will be looking for Naruto, and so the Shinobi will use him as bait for as long as they can. Get the Factions to look where they want them to look.
If they start sending out other teams into this world, to meet the other Factions...this world will begin catching on...it wasn't just three humans. And as Yasaka already said, the more they use their powers, the less people will think its Youjutsu.
Gaara continued. "Surprisingly, people here will want to meet you more now. Those with strength and power are acknowledged. Also, those with a strong reputation, even if its nature is sour. This may not be the reputation you wanted Naruto, but it's one that will get you noticed." And that reputation is already building up within the Angel and Fallen Angel Factions. Vali saw Naruto and would have reported it to Azazel. Now with this poster too, and the suspected fact Naruto defeated Kokabiel...yeah Azazel will want to meet Naruto. Xenovia will have informed the church also, which might reach the ears of the Angels...thrown in Raphtalia and the Fused Excalibur, and God's death...
Naruto dropped his head. "It has to be us...out of necessity."
"Earning their trust, bringing them here where they can be informed in a controlled setting. We want to keep a tighter lid on this...to prevent any more leaks." Expand their reach; while keeping their true identity a secret until the time is right. A tall order to fill, and one that's unlikely to go smoothly.
Naruto frowned; an air of uneasiness surrounded him. Gaara noticed. "I understand this is not ideal...this is not something I like either, and neither did Yasaka." They're asking him to be hunted down.
"No, I understand that part, and I agree with it. The longer everyone spends looking at me, the safer everyone else is until we're good and ready to reveal ourselves. Not happy with Hinata, Konohamaru and Raphtalia being in the same boat but...we're Shinobi, we are those who endure." No matter what gets thrown at them.
"Then what troubles you?"
Naruto leaned further back into the sofa, staring up at the ceiling with uncertainty. "I could have done better at Kuoh."
"You were sent into unknown territory with many uncertainties..."
"I'm the squad's leader, and my decisions lead us to getting split up, and having a bunch of one on one fights that could have ended differently." No communication, new enemies with new abilities, in enemy territory...sort of. It was anything but a success of leadership. "And if I was just a second slower, Xenovia would have been killed by the crow, that's on me." Naruto laid out a plan, and they followed, which lead to that. Naruto has to take responsibility for that.
"Naruto!" Gaara sternly spoke his name to stop his rant. "I understand your grievances. But no one becomes a perfect leader overnight, and no one is free from making mistakes. While you haven't had much experience as a squad leader, if you want to fulfil your dream of becoming Hokage, then this is something you have to meet."
Naruto said nothing and listened to his friend's every word.
"Shikamaru's first mission as squad leader didn't end on a high note. We were both there after all." Then there was the time with Asuma...
"Yeah...I remember." Naruto failed to stop Sasuke that day.
"After that failure, he thought less of himself as a leader too. But he soon rose up from that...you must do the same. Your ability to inspire others is second to none. Now continued to endure and become the leader and Hokage you must be." Naruto's words reached and help Gaara a long time ago; it's time he does the same for his friend. "The situation we now find ourselves in is not ideal. So take responsibility and help me fix this. Think of this as a chance to atone for your shortcomings you believe you had in your last mission."
Naruto stared at Gaara with a neutral expression; impossible to tell what he was thinking. Until Naruto burst out laughing, what started out quiet and slow, soon reached the level of hysterical laughter. Gaara had no reaction to it; he just let Naruto work it out of his system. Until Naruto finally stopped and whipped away a single tear.
"Ya'know when they made you Kazekage before I could become Hokage, I was so jealous of you...happy for you...but still jealous. But honestly...you keep showing why you're the best guy for the job." Naruto had a wide grin across his face. "Alright Gaara, if that's an order from you as Kazekage; and your word as my friend. Then I guess I have no choice." Naruto then leaned closer to Gaara and whispered. "But can you give me some tips?" Gaara's the Kazekage here; he's got the experience with leadership and being diplomatic.
"Of course, me and Shikamaru will help couch you. You'll need to find your own style of leadership, but we'll help you along the way." Gaara could see Naruto's doing better, which eased Gaara's worries. "Now two things left to discuss. First, what was your impression of Sirzechs Lucifer?"
Naruto rubbed the back of his neck, thinking back to when he met the man. "He's not what you would expect, with everything we've heard about Devil society. He seemed pretty down to earth, though I think he's overprotective of his sister." He didn't let Kuroka's insults slide. "But...he had this air about him."
"How so?" Gaara wanted to know.
"Well...he carried the same presence as guys like Hashirama, and even Madara had. Like you know he's strong and high up there. I don't know how he stacks up against them in a fight but from what I felt about him...the top ten wasn't a bunch of talk."
"If I remember the report about that...he was the sixth place holder on that list?"
"Yeah, and the other top Devil is right below him. With four guys stronger than them..." If the Biblical God is really dead. "...and about four others that are somewhat comparable." The ones below them on the list.
"How significant is the 'Top Ten List' to you then?" Is it something the Shinobi world should take seriously?
Naruto spoke his mind; he said what he truly believed. "If a fight does happen between the Devils and us; and that's a big if. Sirzechs should have a 'Flee on Sight' order attached to him."
That got Gaara's attention, and he continued to listen to Naruto's explanation.
"Me or Sasuke should be the only ones to take him on. I'm confident either of us can handle him...but against any other Shinobi or Youkai...doesn't matter how many you throw at him." The reputation Sirzechs has, the atmosphere around him, and the power Naruto felt from him...sending anyone else against him could be suicide.
Gaara took Naruto's claim very seriously. The idea that Naruto was comparing him to the likes of Hashirama and Madara was telling. Gaara and the other Kage battled Madara in the war, and they were incapable of defeating him. "I'll be sure to inform the others about this."
"Be sure that you do." Everyone on that list is significant. "And what was the last thing you wanted to talk about?"
Gaara opened a drawer in his desk and pulled out a report; handing it to Naruto. "We believe we've found a way to reverse the Evil Piece's Devil transformation."
Underworld. Gremory Castle:
Rias surveyed the wanted poster over and over, hoping for something, anything to come to mind; she was hoping for an epiphany. The wanted poster of Naruto Uzumaki and all the data they had on him...which was laughably little. They didn't even know his exact age, only a rough guess. The same with the other two, Hinata and Konohamaru, there was so little to go on. Raphtalia was here too, but her they could understand...expect for the Holy Sword...it's all so stressful.
It worried her, it truly did. She found nothing; her brother found nothing...no one knows who these people are. At first, it only bothered her, not knowing who Naruto is; Rias disliked being ignorant of anything. But after what happened in the forest, the thought of him defeating Kokabiel...and striking her brother like he did. Someone like this was wandering around her territory, got close to her servants.
"Still leering at it?" Sona asked, sitting at her side.
Rias and Sona were in the Underworld, at Rias's home. She came here to check on Kiba alone. Her servants were worried about him too; Issei really wanted to come here. But Kiba's still asleep, it is best he doesn't have any visitors for now.
But Rias also came here because she needed to talk with the others; or more like they wanted to talk to her and Sona before they return to the human world.
Rias put the poster down and narrowed her eyes at Sona. "I'm not leering Sona, just thinking."
"There's not much to go on." Sona calmly responded.
Rias felt different. "He's friends with that murdering Stray Devil. It's obvious he's with the Youkai."
"What do you expect to happen, go over there and confront them about it. Relations between Devils and Youkai are strained at best." And the higher-ups ordered them not to get involved. "Naruto wasn't trespassing; you gave him permission to be in the town. And the action against your brother is being kept under wraps."
"It doesn't make sense, they don't make sense. I'd feel better if I knew something about him."
"We know his name and some of his capabilities. But..."
"I want to know what makes him tick."
Sona raised an eyebrow when Rias said that. She could see the glint in her eye, one Sona has seen many times from her friend. "You're thinking of adding him to your Peerage?" After what happened...
"There are still things about him that worries me. But we saw a glimpse of his abilities. His potential is something rarely seen. If he became a Devil, imagine how far he'd go?"
Sona leaned forward on the desk and clasped her hands together. "You only have two Pieces left Rias. He may be too strong for you to reincarnate with just a Knight or a Rook. And he leads a team, what about them?" Rias only has two spots left.
Rias had an idea. "We both have room in our Peerage's and go to the same school. We both improve our Peerages, and they get to stay together and live for thousands of years. It's a win-win."
Sona didn't understand where this came from. "He concerns you yet you want him in your Peerage...why Rias?"
"My brother and the others are worried about this because we don't know anything about him. If we convince him to join us, then he'd be an asset rather than a concern to the Underworld." Humans all have one thing in common; they all have a single desire above all others. If Rias can found out what that is, then she's confident she can convince him to become a Devil and serve her. "He could be interested in the benefits offered." Rias grew a calculated smile.
Sona disagreed with her friend. The way Naruto stood against Sirzechs was vital insight into his character. She still thought it was a reckless and foolish move, but Naruto did something very few others would do. How's Rias supposed to convince someone like that to her side? Sona doubted she could, and she only saw Naruto for a few seconds.
The doors to the room opened, and those that wanted to speak with them appeared. A trio of High-Class Devils entered the room. At the front, towering above everyone else was the strongest young Devil, Sairaorg Bael. He had short black hair and violet eyes, wearing clothes he typically used for his training sessions.
To his left was Seekvaira Agares, a woman with long green-tint blond hair and pink eyes. She wore glasses and a blue robe that was form-fitting.
Behind them both, was a gentle-looking young man with blue hair. His eyes were nearly closed shut yet he could walk just fine. Concealing his clothing was a white clock. He came in with a gentle smile, his name was Diodora Astaroth.
"It's a pleasure to see you all again." Rias greeted them respectfully, but noticed someone missing. "I believed Zephyrdor was also joining us?"
"He said he had better things to do. His exact words were 'why do I have to care about a human who beat a pathetic Fallen Angel and ran away like piss-ant coward?" Sairaorg spoke as he took his seat, shaking his head as he talked. To him, Zephyrdor was short-sighted.
Seekvaira agreed and talked as she took a chair. "He misunderstands the context. Escaped, not run away; how many of us can say we'd accomplish the same thing when facing Lord Sirzechs?" Run away is an act that has not reached its outcome. But escape is a conclusion.
"Come now, Zephyrdor is only stressed because now he has new responsibilities that have been thrown on to him. It's ill of us to judge him when we too have been in the same position at one point." Diodora spoke with a soft tone, being forgiving of Zephyrdor's behaviour.
The other understood where this was coming from. Zephyrdor became the new heir of his house recently because the intended heir perished in an accident. But the others in the room felt Diodora was too easy on him. Zephyrdor's attitude hasn't changed since becoming the next potential candidate, he was always like that.
Rias coughed into her hand to get everyone's attention. "Still it's nice to see everyone again. You caught us before we would return to Kuoh. Is there something you need from us?" Rias spoke on her and Sona's behalf.
Sairaorg spoke first. "The pillar clans have been a buzz about this Naruto and those that follow him. He came out of nowhere, believed to have bested Kokabiel, and next to no information can be found on them." Sairaorg smirked as he talked. "The clans want to find him, but they told us not to get involved. You two saw him; do you know what's going on?"
Rias and Sona internally flinched when Sairaorg asked, doing their best not to give themselves away. The hidden truth that only the leaders of the clans and the Devil Kings knew was Naruto striking Sirzechs and getting away with it. A human touching the strongest Devil...and the many mysteries that surround him are too much to ignore.
But Rias and Sona were ordered not to tell anyone else about the incident in the forest. Else the Devils will lose face. "He was defiant of my brother in such a brazen way, and has close ties with the Stray Devil Kuroka," Rias spoke the truth, but not all the facts.
"I was unaware Sirzechs had such a side. To call for such a manhunt only because someone talked back to him." Sairaorg smirked when he saw it. An action she regrets, Rias looked away for just a second, too fast for others to notice. But he saw it, it was a 'tell'. Something else happened that the higher-ups don't want anyone else finding out. "As I suspected." What really happened to give this Naruto an SSS-Class threat rating?
If Naruto's genuinely that strong, then Sairaorg relished the chance to test himself against the one who defeated Kokabiel. Win or lose, he'd enjoy himself, but would never ask Naruto to join his Peerage. His Peerage is for Devils like him...Ones not looked at with high regard, from others with noble birth.
The Nobel Devils at the table continued to discuss the situation, exchanging theories, suspicions...trying to learn new information from the ones who saw them.
This continued on until Diodora interrupted it. "Rias Gremory, what can you tell me about this lovely young lady." Diodora held up the image of Hinata Hyuga. Out of the images of the three humans, this was the one he looked at the most. Even Naruto, the guy they came here to talk about wasn't as interesting to the gentle Devil.
"Not much, I'm afraid. Hinata looked the less confrontational among them and seemed close to Naruto. Good friends or maybe more, I'm unsure." Rias then raised an eyebrow as she asked Diodora a question. "Why? Does she interest you? Do you wish for her to join your Peerage?" It's known Diodora's Peerage is all women, but their origin and abilities have a tight lid kept on them...it's believed to be a tactic for future Rating Games.
"She seems like a sweet innocent girl who's gotten caught up in some dangerous business. I merely worry for her safety." Diodora continued to stare at the image of Hinata Hyuga. "Such breathtaking beauty." Diodora's eyes opened ever slightly, showing his gold and red eyes. This Hinata was just his type.
So soon, how have the Shinobi already found a way to undo the Evil Pieces. Naruto was happy about finding a way to help those hurt by the Peerage System. But still shocked how they've found a way when it hasn't even been a month yet.
Naruto would have said granny Tsunade was a true genius. But she wasn't working alone...Naruto saw the name of the guy working alongside her.
"I'm honestly surprised granny would let him anywhere near Konoha?" He may not be an enemy of the nations anymore, but no one has forgiven or forgotten what he's done.
"In times of great need, you may have to turn to sources and aid from those you even have animosity for." Kurama didn't care much for him either.
"No matter how you look at him, ya have to admit he's one of the smartest guys around. If he can use that brain of his to help the world...well I say that's a good thing." He's paying his dues one way or another.
"Doesn't mean he should be trusted." Not with his track record.
"I'm optimistic about him, but I won't let my guard down around him either." Kurama felt the same; he'll be keeping a close eye on that snake.
Naruto rushed back to Konoha after Gaara explained what's going on. Now Naruto finds himself walking through the underground complex of the Hidden Leaf. The stones, critical research and more, all that top-secret stuff is down here. Naruto lost count of how many security doors and checkpoints he's walked through.
Naruto made it to the section of biology and analyse. When he made it to the doors, he saw a familiar face.
The two stood before each other; it's been a while.
"How's the Shinobi world been?"
"Quiet. There have been no reports of Devil sightings. But I've heard you've gotten involved."
Naruto rubbed the back of his head sheepishly. "I um...met Sirzechs and a few other Devils."
"So I've heard...could have gone better. And...what about Sirzechs?"
"He's the type of guy only you or I should take on, and if the other top ten are like him, then you get the idea."
Sasuke took that on board. Personally, he thought he should be there to aid Naruto. But he also understands why he needs to stay in the Shinobi world for now. There are too many uncertainties. "Let's go in, they're waiting for us."
Naruto nodded and followed.
The due pushed the doors open and entered the large room. Around them were tables of what you would typically find in a room of science; funnels, beakers, conical flasks, test tubes and more. The walls were covered in large pieces of paper with handwritten notes; computers showing the vital signs of a familiar foe. Looking at the end of the room, behind a large glass panel, leading to another room, was the Stray Devil Naruto captured. Still the same giant creepy spider he remembered; asleep and restrained with tubes and wires connected to her.
"Good, you've both made it." Tsunade, the fifth Hokage greeted them, wearing a white lab coat.
"Hey granny, it's been a while." Naruto waved to her as he approached. But Sasuke ignored her and instead looked to the other occupant in the room.
"How have you been doing Sasuke?"
Orochimaru, a man with a snake-like appearance; his skin a pale white, golden eyes with slits, purples markings around his eyes, and a mouth with fangs. He wore plain grey grabs and black polo trousers, with a think purple road tied into a large knot around his waist. Like most others, he had a pair of standard Shinobi sandals.
One of the Three Legendary Sannin, Orochimaru was one of the greatest criminals of the Shinobi world. But after the Fourth Great Ninja war...he's in a unique position. While still a self-serving individual who sought the secrets of life. He now does so in a humane way.
His genius will now work for the betterment of others, not just himself. But he is not a free man. He's watched at all times, never allowed to go where he wants, or do what he wants. Should he step out of line just once...he'll forfeit what little freedom he's allowed to have. In some ways, he's a prisoner, and the Shinobi world is his cell.
Orochimaru chuckled at Sasuke's short answer, and Sasuke followed up with a question of his own. "Have you found a way to reverse the effects?" Naruto listened in, wanting to hear this answer just as much, if not more.
Orochimaru gestured to a computer screen. "There are still things for me to learn about this Evil Pieces. But I've come to understand the process of how one is turned into a Devil. Truly, the inventor of these devices deserves my praise." The snake talked as he typed on the computer, bringing up a new screen.
Turning the monitor to them and stepping out the way, Naruto and Sasuke saw it. The screen showed an x-ray view of the Stray Devil. Large dots of red filled every centimetre of her body.
Orochimaru explained. "The red dots is the Demonic Power that runs throughout her system. The Evil Piece is programmed to inject Demonic Power into the person, to find and interact with the cells of the body; turning them into Devil cells." It transforms people into a Devil on a biological level. The autopsies on the capture Pure Blooded Devils gave them a plentiful supply of Devil cells and time to research them. "With some experimentation, I learned a secret, one not found in any documentation given to use by the Youkai." Orochimaru looked at them with an insane grin. "The transformation isn't permanent."
Naruto and Sasuke shared confused looks, not understanding how he came to that conclusion.
Tsunade walked to the monitor and took over. "With information provided by the Youkai and our own research into Demonic Power, we've been able to create a seal that works on said power. We then used it on the Evil Piece itself, reducing the amount of Demonic Power that's being injected into the body. Until one portion of the Stray Devil's body completely lacked Demonic Power." She then typed on the computer, switching it to a new screen. "And this happened."
It was like the previous x-ray screen of the Stray Devil, filled with red dots of Demonic Power. But Naruto and Sasuke could see, near her lower waist, was utterly devoid of red dots. Instead, that part of the body had green dots.
Seeing that they noticed, Tsunade explained. "Those green markers are human cells."
Sasuke put two and two together. "The cells reverted back to their original species, in this case, human cells."
Tsunade nodded. "The transformation only lasts as long as the cells are being affected by the Demonic Power. Take that away, and the transformation will be undone." A similar premise to Jutsus, best way to end a Jutsu is to eliminate the caster. In this instance, the Evil Piece is the caster.
After having it explained to him, Naruto grew hopeful. "So if we drain all the Demonic Power out, and remove the Evil Piece, they'll go back to normal?"
"Yes but as well all know. If the Evil Piece is removed, the Devil dies..."
"Not quite." Orochimaru interrupted. "It's not the removal of the Evil Pieces that kills the host, but the loss of Demonic Power." The Evil Piece can be removed without killing the host. But they lose the source of Demonic Power, which they need to live.
"How did you come to that conclusion?" Sasuke asked. The Evil Piece reminded Sasuke of Orochimaru's Curse Mark. When it's activated, the body takes in natural energy and undergoes physical changes. Changes in skin, wings and more; Jugo had even more, such as shields and cannons for arms. But he can turn it off and go back to normal with no side effects...mostly. So what makes the Evil Pieces different?
Orochimaru grinned. "Because the body is now dependant on the Demonic Power to function; without it, their system goes into shock." This will lead to death.
"That...sounds like Chakra." Naruto saw the similarity. "If we lose all our Chakra, we would die too."
It's a paradox...to turn a Stray Devil back to its original species; they must remove the Evil Piece, to stop the introduction of Demonic Power that's keeping them as a Devil. But now the body needs the Demonic Power to live. Like a drug, they're dependent on it.
"It's quite the conundrum we're dealing with. The Devil, who invented this, Ajuka Beelzebub, he accomplished what he set out to do." It worked for its purpose. It allowed them to add new Devils to their dwindling population, and the biological changes also affect their reproductive organs. A child from a reincarnated Devil would be a Devil, and the snake guessed the child wouldn't need an Evil Piece to remain a Devil.
"You wouldn't have called us here unless you found a way to break this loop," Sasuke said, who's absolutely sure his former sensei has a solution to this problem.
"I'm touched by your faith, my dear Sasuke." Orochimaru joked with his trademark smile. "The trial to overcome is the body's dependence on Demonic Power...but what if we changed that."
"Another form of energy to sustain the body," Orochimaru smirked.
A glint appeared in Sasuke's eye; he's already caught on. "You're not suggesting..."
"Chakra my dear Sasuke, we give the Stray Devil Chakra to survive off of."
Naruto jumped in between them, holding his hands up to them both. "Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa slow down. I'm not a scientist, but even I know that won't work. They don't have a Chakra Network like we do; we can't give them Charka like you're asking." Naruto can pass his Chakra to others just fine. But for those without Chakra Networks, he can only have Chakra stick to them, like how he transported Raphtalia. Or cover them with Chakra to heal wounds, such as what he did with Kokabiel. But for the body to become dependent on it, to become truly one with it...you need a Chakra Network for that...it's impossible without it.
Tsunade stepped in to explain. "That is why we summoned you two back. We're going to give her a Chakra Network, and we need your help to do it."
"You can do that granny Tsunade?" If she can, then that's amazing.
Tsunade smiled from the compliment but shook her head none the less. "Medical Ninjutsu hasn't reached the point where we can create a Chakra Network ourselves." She then looked at both Naruto and Sasuke with a sly look. "But you two can change that."
"Me and Sasuke can...how?" Naruto has no clue.
This only made Orochimaru chuckle even more. "How you've already forgotten Naruto...did you not save Guy from the Eight Gate of Death. Or restore Kakashi's lost eye, an eye he lost years ago, and of course, awaken Obito after he had the Ten-Tails extracted from him." The more he listed, the deeper his grin got, as if he's getting excited.
Without warning, Kurama took over Naruto's body. Naruto's features became more defined, and his bright blue eyes were repealed with Kurama's deep red.
"You're suggesting that technique?" Kurama's deep voice was heard from Naruto's lips.
"Indeed, I am Nine-Tails." Orochimaru was unfazed by Kurama's sudden appearance.
"The Creation of All Things technique, the old Man's Jutsu. Brazen for you to ask such a thing from them." To use that Jutsu...to physically create a Chakra Network...
"As of right now, it's the only way."
Kurama grunted, as absurd as it was, Orochimaru was right. Kurama didn't know of any other way to fix this paradox. Accepting reality, Kurama switched back to Naruto, and his body's features returned to normal.
Naruto was not happy with Kurama just taking control. "KURAMA DONT JUST SWITCH ON ME WITHOUT SAYING ANYTHING FIRST!" They had an agreement about this! If you want control, you ask first. Naruto then turned to face Orochimaru. "And what do you mean do the Creation of All Things technique?! Me and Sasuke are the best there is, but even we can't pull that Jutsu off."
Orochimaru agreed with Naruto. "Of course, you can't. Not the full thing and never to the level of Hagoromo's use. But using it at its lowest level to give just one person a Chakra Network...it's plausible."
"Kurama, is he right? Can we really pull that Jutsu off?"
Kurama was slow to answer; he thought it over before speaking. "You two could never use it to the same degree as the old man did; never being able to create beings such as me. But with your power of Six Paths Sage Mode and the power of Yin-Yang release; combined with the visual prowess of Sasuke's Rinnegan, enhance by his Six Paths Chakra and his power of Yin release...if you merge your Chakras together...you might just be able to perform the Jutsu." As crazy as it sounded to the Kyubi...these two Shinobi have a chance.
"But...I don't even know how to do the Jutsu."
"I was created by it. I know it well from my time with the old man. I can guide you through it. But in the end, it's up to you two brats to make it work."
Naruto was flabbergasted by this. To use the Jutsu that split up the Ten-Tails into nine separate entities...the Rasengan training sounded impossible back in the day...now this. But if they do this...and it works...then people like Kuroka have a chance at a new life. Regardless of the odds, they need to try, for them and for anyone else hurt by the Evil Pieces.
Naruto turned to Sasuke, with firm resolve, ready to get started. "Kurama will guide us through it. What do you say Sasuke, will you help me out with this one?"
Sasuke's silence would have been a clear enough answer for Naruto. "Yeah...let's do it." But he also felt the need to say it, the same resolve radiated from him too.
Naruto and Sasuke stood next to the captured Stay Devil on a lab table. Various wires, tubes and machines have been hooked up to her. They're ready to begin the procedure.
Back in the lab, Orochimaru and Tsunade watched through the glass panel, communicating through a microphone. "We'll be monitoring her vital signs from here. Once we've detected the introduction of Chakra, and the forming of a Chakra Network, we'll begin the extraction of the Evil Piece and venting of Demonic Power. Our timing is crucial here." Orochimaru stood ready at his station, a button away from starting his end of the procedure.
"And what happens if we screw this up?" Naruto needed to know what the fallback option is.
"I'll reinsert the Evil Piece back into the body. But complications are bound to happen. The odds of her passing are..."
"Then we won't screw it up." Naruto interrupted, not letting Orochimaru finish that sentence.
"As you will then." Orochimaru was ready to begin on their mark.
Naruto stared silently at the sleeping Stray Devil next to him. Her appearance may be monstrous, but she was anything but that. No, this girl is a victim. They can't screw this up...they won't screw this up.
"You ready Sasuke?"
Sasuke was looking at the Devil too, having his own thoughts on the matter. He turned to Naruto and answered. "We do this, and we have a path towards a defence against the Peerage system."
"And those that want nothing to do with it have a new path in life." Naruto continued off from Sasuke.
No more words were shared; the two are ready to begin.
Closing their eyes, and controlling their breathing, the two Shinobi called upon their power.
Sasuke's hair moved slightly with a will of its own, showing his left eye. This wasn't like the Eternal Mangekyou Sharingan...it was his Rinnegan. A purple eye that had concentric circles, containing three tomoe on its two innermost circles for a total of six within the eye. The most exalted eye amongst the Three Great Dōjutsu, with the others being the Sharingan and the Byakugan; Sasuke was blessed with this eye from the founder of Shinobi, Hagoromo Ōtsutsuki.
Naruto closed his eyes, and opened them, revealing different eyes from his natural sky blue. His eyes were yellow, just like regular Sage Mode. But instead of just having Toad eye pupils, Naruto's also had fox slits going through them; with no pigmentation around his eyes. This was Naruto's most divine form of power, Six Paths Sage Mode, granted to him by Hagoromo Ōtsutsuki as well.
With their powers ready, both Naruto and Sasuke lifted an arm, bringing their hands together; fusing, merging and synchronise their Chakras into a single authority. With Kurama now connected to both of them, he instructed them with the technique.
As if on instinct, they slammed their joined hands onto the Stray Devil, and cast the Jutsu.
Orochimaru and Tsunade could feel their presence...the powerful Chakra in that room. Naruto and Sasuke's Chakra became visible; blanketing the room with it.
Even if they controlled it, it was getting hard for Orochimaru and Tsunade to breath. But they couldn't worry about it, the Jutsu has been cast, they need to perform their end now.
The strain...the weight of this Jutsu...was indescribable. The two strongest Shinobi could feel their hands burring from the concentration of power...to think Hagoromo could use this Jutsu to its fullest and with ease.
No, they can't get distracted now; they had no time to complain, no time to worry, and no time to lose focus. They must fight through the strain and perform a miracle.
Naruto and Sasuke were the only ones who could sense it. A Shadowy figure was behind them. The silhouette was the spitting image of the Sage of Six Paths, holding up two flames. His right was blue flame, his left was red flame.
It's as if Hagoromo is with them...helping them along the way...if he's even there at all.
Using his Yin power and the visual prowess of his Rinnegan; fuelled by Naruto's Yin-Yang power, Sasuke created form from nothing. A Chakra Network slowly began formed inside the Stray Devil. The accuracy it needed to be...and to run it throughout the body...Sasuke was panting hard.
As the Network was forming, Naruto used his power of Yang, and his power of Six Paths Sage Mode; Naruto breathed life into nothing. The Chakra Network was being brought to life; pure Chakra slowly filled it. Even with the limitless stamina grated by Six Paths Sage Mode...Naruto felt the strain too, but he gritted his teeth and pressed on. He can't stop, not when they're so close.
Orochimaru and Tsunade watched the x-ray...it's working, a Network, an honest to Kami Chakra Network is forming within her body; Now's the time. They activated the machines hooked up to the Stray Devil. Red energy flowed through the tubes; Demonic Power was being drained out of the Devil. A sealing Jutsu appeared on her body, one that will pull the Evil Piece right out of her.
This was it...they had to get this right. Orochimaru must pull out the Evil Piece and all the Demonic power so she'll return to human form, just as the Chakra Network is fully formed. So her body will draw on that for sustenance instead...it all came down to this moment.
He watched the screen.
Ran the numbers through his head.
Timing was everything.
"..." He sweated.
"..." He breathed.
"..." He saw it.
"Is it over?" Naruto asked himself. His eyes were shut tight, refusing to open. He dared not move his hand, having no idea if they're still performing the Jutsu.
Did they do it?
Should he move now?
Naruto was unsure of anything...should he...?
"YOU STUPID BRAT, OPEN YOUR EYES ALREADY!"
Naruto's head rang like a church bell, Kurama's head-splitting voice echoed in his mind.
"Ow...hey you dumb fox, what's the big idea?! Can't you see I'm stressed enough as it is?!"
"Open your eyes, damn it."
"If it will get you to shut up then I'll..." As Naruto opened his eyes, he flinched from the pain, coming from the palm of his hand. Naruto saw smoke steaming from it, scorch marks across his skin. It stung like a son of a bitch. "The Chakra was so strong and concentrated I burned my own hand, even while in Six Paths Sage Mode." That's some powerful Chakra.
Naruto heard someone else grunt from pain. Across from him was Sasuke, in a similar state. His one good hand was burned too, but was worse off; Naruto could see some of his skin burned away and flesh on full display.
Naruto reached over to him. "Let me help you their Sasuke." Naruto's burns were already healing, so he'll just give Sasuke some of Kurama's Chakra to heal his wounds.
Sasuke nodded as thanks...but he refused to look at Naruto, his eyes were fixed on one person only. "Naruto...look." Sasuke's eyes were widening from the sight.
Naruto followed his path, and his eyes shot open too...the Stray Devil...
Gone were the spider body and eight limbs, now they are replaced with human arms and legs. No more eight freighting red eyes, but gentle chocolate orbs instead. She was as naked as the day she was born...but Naruto didn't care about that. He could sense it, she no longer felt like a Devil...the Demonic Power is gone...and Chakra...pure, true Chakra flowed within her.
Naruto needed to know and wasted no time, and brought an ear to her chest...he listened for it.
Naruto's eyes water and his breath hitched, the sound became bliss. "A heartbeat...she's alive." Naruto backed up with an honest smile that would bring anyone else but Sasuke to tears. He wiped his tears on his arm and laughed with joy. "We did...we did it Sasuke."
Sasuke hid it far better than Naruto did, but even he felt great joy from this. But he settled with only a small smile.
Naruto and Sasuke joined back up with Tsunade and Orochimaru. The due were taking a seat and a rest, they used up a lot of Chakra pulling off that Jutsu. Lucky for them, Tsunade got to work restoring the Chakra they lost.
Tsunade too felt a need to rejoice. "Well done you two, you're always worth betting on." Mostly Naruto, but she decided to put some faith in Sasuke as well.
Naruto laughed, he still hasn't gotten over their success. But Sasuke remained focus and asked the much-needed question. "Did it work Orochimaru, were there any complications?"
Orochimaru turned the monitor for them to see her new x-ray. "As you can clearly see, her system is completely void of Demonic Power. Her mutations have vanished, and the Evil Piece is..." Orochimaru opened his hand. "...right here." A red chess piece, if Naruto remembers right that's a pawn piece.
Orochimaru held it up above his head, ogling it with a creepy grin. "There are so many things I'm going to peel from you." Orochimaru then glanced at Sasuke's heavy stare. Pocketing the Evil Piece, the snake answered the other unasked question. "She is one-hundred per cent human. Without the Demonic Power maintaining the Devil cells, it became impossible for the mutations to remain in place."
Naruto was glad to hear it. "So we can do it then. Find people who want out of the Peerage System and help them."
"Not yet, we can." Sasuke abruptly responded.
Naruto narrowed his eyes at his rival. "You're doing it again, always being the killjoy."
"Look at the effort it took for us to do this for just one Stray Devil. How would you go about doing this for a few hundred, or even a thousand?" Sasuke's asking the real questions here.
Naruto held up his finger to answer...only to stop midway when he thought about it. "Wait...ah, man." Sasuke was right...again. It took time, effort and a lot of Chakra for them to do this for just one girl. How in the name of Kage are they supposed to do this for several hundred or more? Naruto held his forehead in annoyance. "Would the world give us a break already?"
Tsunade chuckled for Naruto's antics, letting it go on for a bit longer before breaking the news to him. "Its fine Naruto, we've already considered that." The fifth Hokage then leaned next to a table that had a specific machine. "We made sure to get it all on record."
"We monitored and record the effects of the Jutsu; we now have detail on how a Chakra Network is created. With some work on our end, we can develop a device that replicates the process in its entirety." It would be one of Tsunade's proudest moments.
"You're going to replicate the Creation of All Things Jutsu?!" Shut the front door.
Tsunade burst out laughing from Naruto's guess...this kid still has a wild imagination. "Not a cat's chance in hell. We'll only be able to replicate the creation of a Chakra Network. We won't be able to deviate from that."
The sound of something slamming on the table behind Naruto and Sasuke was heard. The duo spun around to see Orochimaru with two massive glass capsules. "But you're Chakras are still needed. So feel free to fill these up for us. Oh and the ones in the back room too." They'll need plenty of Chakra to get things going. Well, at least Tsunade's here to restore the Chakra they'll lose.
Before Naruto go to that, he wanted to check something first. "Hey granny, can you wake her up?"
"I can. Why?"
"Then can you please do that? I want to speak to her." Naruto asked earnestly.
Tsunade was split. Ideally, she should be resting after such an operation. But her vital signs were stable, and the former Devil's been asleep for days. "Fine, but if something happens, I'll immediately put her back to sleep."
Naruto thanked Tsunade, and both of them entered the room with the sleeping, former Devil. Tsunade's hands glowed with Chakra, and she placed her hand on the young girl's head.
After a few seconds, the girl's eyes fluttered open, for the first time in days. She looked around the room strangely.
"Hello, my name's Naruto. I know you must have a lot of questions, but know you're with friends." Naruto greeted her gently, hoping to not scare her.
The girl sat up from the table and said her first words.
"Ba-w-wa..." Wait...the hell was that?
"I'm sorry I didn't catch that...is that your name." Or a new kind of language? Something's off.
The girl's mouth opened wide. "Ow-wuwu-ma." She then reached out to Naruto's cheeks and pulled on them...and giggled like a kid.
Naruto pried her hands off of him and rubbed his sour cheeks. "What is this?" This was starting to creep Naruto out.
The girl then looked over to Tsunade, and before the fifth Hokage could say anything. The former Devil grabbed her breasts, earing a surprised moan from Tsunade, and dreaded fear for Naruto. Is the fifth Hokage going to bring down the roof...literally.
The former Stray Devil pulled, squeezed, and smacked Tsunade's breasts around. All the while still giggling like a...kid...like a baby?
With a solemn sigh, Tsunade gathered Chakra in her hands and touched the girl's forehead, sending her back to sleep.
"Granny...what's wrong with her?"
Tsunade crossed her arms under her bust. "Her body was returned to normal. But her mind is still too far gone." Tsunade spoke with a heavy heart.
Naruto mournfully looked down at the sleeping girl. "No...Damn it." They can't save who she was before. Just like Kuroka and Yasaka said, those that lose themselves after going stray...their minds are destroyed. Whoever she was before...is dead.
Tsunade placed a hand on Naruto's shoulder. "We'll get her the help she needs. But she'll have to grow up, all over again."
Naruto accepted it, it's the best they can do for her. But he just has one regret that will forever eat at him. He'll never know her name, and she'll never know it, or who her family was...she's lost everything.
"And people look at them as if they're nothing but monsters that need killing." Naruto walked away with fire behind his eyes. He was not happy.
Naruto and Tsunade joined back up with Sasuke and Orochimaru, catching the tail end of their conversation.
"...with that in mind what's the next step?"
"We'll develop the device and test this out on another subject," Orochimaru explained.
"You want Naruto to capture another Stray Devil?"
Orochimaru shook his head. "We already know this works on mutated Stray Devils that were former humans. We need someone different." Already having an idea in mind, Orochimaru turned to Naruto. "You've met another Stray Devil, a Neko was it?"
"You're talking about Kuroka." Naruto rubbed the back of his head. "That girl would jump at the chance to be a Neko again. Except she's not in a good place right now, doesn't know about who we are, and has a terrible history with experiments."
Orochimaru didn't care. "Her history's of no matter to me. We still need her for this." The snake spoke without a sense of guilt.
"Don't be callous. I'm not dragging Kuroka back here. If we do need her help, she has the right to know and make the chose herself."
Tsunade got in between them. "Look, boys, we first need to make sure there are no unforeseen side effects from this before using it on others. Naruto, we do need her help. When the time comes, just talk to her and ask if she's on board with it."
"I'm for helping her. But after the stunt she pulled, I don't know if the Kage would be okay with her knowing of us."
"Then you'll have to speak on her behalf."
Naruto agreed...if he does let Kuroka know, it's going to be one hell of a conversation.
Raphtalia wonder the halls of Yasaka's palace, deep in thought and looking for her friends, Naruto specifically. But he's not around. She found Konohamaru training with Sun, and Hinata was just sitting outside the palace. Naruto may be in Konoha so she'll have to wait for him.
But there's so much on her mind, she needs to speak with someone who can help her. Raphtalia was going to talk with Hinata...but with who's on her mind, it might not be suitable to speak with Hinata about such things.
Raphtalia needs to speak with her instead.
She entered Yasaka's chambers and sat down with her queen. "I'm sorry for disturbing you lady Yasaka. I know you must be very busy." Both the Youkai were kneeling on some cushions around a short table. Enjoying some light tea.
"Perhaps but I still have time for my people, and you've had some lively days." Yasaka sipped her tea while conversing with Raphtalia.
"I'm actually thankful for these...'lively' days."
"Oh, do tell." Yasaka was interested.
"I got to learn more about what happened, and I even got to prove I'm not a liability...but I'm...grateful for meeting Kiba."
"Didn't he try to kill you?"
Raphtalia nodded. "He did...but he also showed me."
"What he was in that forest...was what I would've become if I stayed as I was. I nearly did become that, I was going to kill him, even when he's a victim of these times, just like I am." It doesn't excuse his actions, but Raphtalia can relate to him, why Kiba did what he did. He lost everything, just like she did.
Yasaka was invested in this conversation, to see one of her people rise up. She wanted to know more. "So you spared him to avoid becoming like him."
Raphtalia's face grew a dust of pink when she remembered. "It's because of his words."
Yasaka stopped mid-sip when she heard that, and saw Raphtalia's face. Is she...
"I remembered Naruto-Sama's words to me, back when we arrived at my village. Even back then, he just knew...or had such confidence in me, that I would make the right decision." It should have ended then. Naruto did what he promised to do, get her home, to her village and her people. Even if her village was gone, she could still live in Urakyoto. But he never pushed her away and accepted her as one of them, never asking for anything in return. Rather than trying to get her to help him, it was the other way around.
Naruto never gave up on her.
"Lady Yasaka...I don't know what I...if I..."
"You don't know if you can look at him as just a friend anymore."
Raphtalia's cheeks became a deeper red, and her tail swung side to side. After what felt like a lifetime, Raphtalia finally nodded to her queen, silently answering the question.
Yasaka knew that polygamy was something that happens in the 'Super Natural World'. It's not frowned upon here...but this is someone from a new world, not theirs. It could be completely different, Yasaka didn't know. Naruto and Hinata are happy together, would they be okay...expanding their...family? With the dynamic happening between Naruto, Hinata, Raphtalia and maybe even Kuroka...Yasaka should have expected this to happen eventually.
"I want to remain by their side lady Yasaka." Raphtalia didn't want to get separated from them.
Yasaka drunk the rest of her tea and spoke her sincere thoughts. "If you feel it's your place to stay with them, and to remain by his side, then do so. They have become family to you have they not? If you're happy with them, then that's all the more reason to stay. But in the end, it's your choice." Raphtalia came back from her despair because of them, and she'll grow even more if she stays with them. "But whether you're feelings for Naruto are possible...that is something for you, them and the future to decide." Raphtalia needs to be honest with herself and her friends.
Raphtalia heeded Yasaka's words. She needs to decide what she wants to do.
Naruto walked out of the Shinobi embassy in Urakyoto, his steps were slow and sluggish. He continued to think about that girl...
"Naruto-Kun, I've been waiting for you." Hinata was sitting on a bench outside the embassy. She got up and approached Naruto, greeting him with a loving hug.
Naruto was slow to return it. "Hi, Hinata."
"What's wrong, Naruto-Kun, has something happened?" Gaara already informed her where Naruto went and what his task was...did they fail?
The two walked together slowly, heading for the palace. "Ups and down Hinata...we've developed a way to reverse the effects of the Evil Pieces. In a few days, we'll be able to turn anyone changed by the Evil Pieces back to their original species." Naruto then had a deep sigh. "But the Stray Devil we captured...she's human again, but her mind can't be saved."
"But we still have the means to help others effect by the Peerage System. Like Kuroka."
"But anyone who's had the mutations...whoever they were before can't be saved...How is Kuroka doing? She still in her room?"
"She hasn't left it since coming back. I tried to speak with her, but she pushed me away. The only one that can talk to her is Yasaka but even then...all I hear is crying." Hinata wished she could do something to help her.
"In Kuroka's mind, she's lost everything that ever mattered to her. The last string was Shirone, but she doesn't believe her story. Kuroka's lost hope."
But Hinata knew of a way to change that. "But this development, we can turn her back into a Neko; she'll no longer be a Stray Devil."
"Yeah but it doesn't mean the Devils will pardon Kuroka, and we'd have to bring her to Konoha to change her back. I'm not sure if the Kage will want her knowing of us after what happened." A and Onoki will undoubtedly have issues about it, can Kuroka be trusted?
"I think we can trust her Naruto-Kun. We can trust Kuroka because we know what motivates her. All she wants is her sister back, and this will help her do that." They can even turn Shirone back to a Neko. But it's her choice; they won't take her and force it. Or they'll be no different than what some Devils have been doing with the Peerage System.
"I feel you Hinata, I really do. I just don't know how to go about it yet." They'll need to inform Yasaka about this development first. Naruto realised something. The procedure can be performed on Youkai to give them Chakra...wonder what that will mean for them...well they'd be stronger for one. "Oh, by the way, did you ever figure out why Kokabiel freaked out on you?"
Hinata shrugged. "No...That was the first time we ever looked at each other...we have no other history. The only thing different about me is my eyes, but the Byakugan doesn't exist here." Plenty of people have seen Hinata's eyes and had no reaction like that. Hinata then looked away with slight embarrassment. "Maybe Kokabiel did have a scary ex-girlfriend that looked like me." She didn't want to give Naruto's joke any credit.
Naruto coughed to stop his laughter. "I was only messing...besides you, and scary don't mix."
"Huh?" Hinata looked at him oddly.
"I'm biased about it because I love you and all...and you don't have a scary side."
This time Hinata giggled. "No, you just haven't seen it yet." She played along with Naruto, with daring eyes.
Naruto looked at Hinata challengingly. "Is that so huh?" he had a real shit-eating smirk.
With a skip in her step, Hinata got in front of Naruto. Bending over a little and looked at him with a beautiful smile. "Maybe one day you'll see it."
"I'll be shaking in my sandals."
Naruto and Hinata continued to joke with one another as they made their way to the palace and soon made it to its steps. Only to see Raphtalia sitting at the top of the steps.
She seemed different. The air around her was...stronger in a sense.
Raphtalia spoke. "I need to talk to you two...it's important."
Raphtalia was nervous; ever since they came back from Kuoh, she's had much to think about, and much to come to terms with. She's spoken to Yasaka in length about her decision, one which Yasaka supported.
She walked down the steps of the palace to her friends and teammates. She had something important to say. "Naruto-Sama, Hinata...I know I've said this many times...but thank you, for everything you've done for me." She then pulled out her Fused Excalibur. "I've come so far by standing with you, and I've discovered things about myself I never knew existed. And I know what I want to do now. I will make Rizevim Lucifer answer for what he did...but I want to do it the right way."
Naruto and Hinata gave Raphtalia their complete attention, as she spoke from the heart. "You always told me to be wary of revenge...and I didn't understand what you meant by that. But after meeting and fighting Kiba...I came to understand what you were trying to protect me from...and I don't want to end up like that. That's not what my mother, father and my friends would want from me either." She refuses to lose herself in her battle against the Devil that destroyed her home.
Raphtalia then looked straight into Naruto's eyes. "I want to hear your story Naruto-Sama. I want to know how you dealt with revenge...I want to follow that path. But before that..." Raphtalia lifted her sword and pressed it into the ground and got on one knee. "I am a member of this team, but I wish to make a pledge to you Naruto-Sama. From this day on, I am your sword. Where you go, I go." Raphtalia emitted such conviction that no one around her could speak.
Naruto...didn't know what to say. He's so happy she's reached this conclusion about her mission to stop Rizevim...but pledging herself to him... "Raphtalia...you will always have a place with us. You're a comrade and a precious friend to us, to me...but you don't have to make a promise like that."
Raphtalia shook her head, not allowing Naruto to continue that line of thought. "No, I do Naruto-Sama. This may not be something you understand...but it's important to me. Even if you disagree, I make this pledge to you all the same. I am your sword." In this moment, there was no stopping Raphtalia.
Naruto knew this...this was who Raphtalia really is. Without the suffering and the guilt...she is one of strength, determination and loyalty; one who does not back down. Naruto could not say no to her...but he can add his own spin to it.
Naruto slowly approached her. "Well...if you're going to be my sword, then I guess I'll have to be your shield. Through thick and thin, we'll watch each other's backs." Naruto raised his fists to her and waiting for her to accept.
With glimmering eyes and a beaming smile, Raphtalia rose to her feet and bumped fists with Naruto. There pledge to each other was cemented.
Naruto shut his eyes and had a big cheesy grin. He was ecstatic that Raphtalia has come so far. But Raphtalia had difficulty looking at Naruto...she glanced at him when his eyes were shut...with a look of longing and flushed cheeks.
Raphtalia has found a place where she belongs...and has come to accept what Naruto means to her.
Sasuke was summoned to the Hokage's office just as Naruto left. He can only guess Kakashi has a mission for him. It wouldn't have been a good idea after what he and Naruto just did. But Tsunade restored his lost Chakra, so he's ready to go.
Sasuke turned the handle and walked into the Hokage's office, and there Kakashi was, sitting at his desk with a laptop in front of him.
Kakashi casually raised his hand for him. "Ah Sasuke, good you've made. How are things?"
"You wanted to see me, Kakashi?" Sasuke got straight to business.
Already expecting his former student to have no time for small talk, Kakashi got to it. "As you know, we informed the other Kage in the Shinobi Union and the Feudal Lords about the attack from the Devils and the other world."
"But we also informed the general of the Samurai, Mifune, of the Land of Iron." The Land of Iron is a neutral nation and the only nation which employs Samurai instead of Shinobi for its military. They're independent from all the other nations. But ever since the Fourth Great Ninja War, relations between the Shinobi and Samurai have improved. They're not allies with the Shinobi Union per se, but more like good friends. Under the clause of the joint 'Shinobi Samurai act' should another threat that endangers their entire world appear, then the Shinobi and the Samurai will stand together against this threat.
Kakashi then handed Sasuke a message from the Land of Iron. "There have been strange occurrences happing in the Land of Iron recently. At first, they were unsure who was responsible, until a Samurai unit engaged in a skirmish. They pushed back the attackers, even killed a few, and now they can confirm Devils are in the Land of Iron."
Sasuke read the report thoroughly, taking in every detail. "Are they remnants from the group that tried to attack Konoha?"
"We don't know. If they are, then there should only be a small force to deal with. If not...well that's why I want you to go there and assist them." Kakashi gave him his mission. "Sasuke, go to the Land of Iron and assist the Samurai with this threat. Find out where they came from and put a stop to whatever goal they have in mind."
Sasuke accepted the mission and was about to leave, but Kakashi had one more thing to say. "The Samurai haven't forgotten what you did during the Five Kage Summit. They are professional soldiers and will work with you...but don't expect them to welcome you with open arms." Kakashi won't beat around the bush; Sasuke did kill Samurai that day.
With his back still turned to him, Sasuke spoke earnestly. "I know what I did that day. It's one of my many regrets. I suppose this is a chance for me to start earning their forgiveness. Failing that, I still have to help them." Sasuke has a lot to make up for. And with that, Sasuke activated his Rinnegan and diapered in wormhole emanating from his eye.
It's time for Sasuke to return to the Land of Iron. Not as an invader, but as a defender.
Chapter 15: A Snake's genius. Complete
Because Naruto and his team are no longer hidden, and people knowing the Youkai are connected to Naruto. Urakyoto and the Youkai faction will be watched. So the Shinobi have got to change the game. Rather than having Gaara go out. They'll have Naruto and his team seek out the other Factions with the Youkai, to reinforce the idea that Naruto and his team are a couple of humans working for the Youkai Faction and Yasaka, and there are no other humans like them. While the rest of Shinobi hide in plain sight at Urakyoto.
Naruto will need to meet the other Factions and the right people, determine if they're trustworthy and if they need to be brought into the loop. Then bring them to Yasaka and Gaara for them to learn the truth.
Example: They may not want the New Satan Faction to know the truth, but they may want the Angel Faction to know.
Since Naruto's been discovered by the other Factions. Rather than just trying to hide him, they'll take advantage of other Factions looking into him.
Basically, Naruto is bait for both potential allies and foes alike. If he can't find them, get them to find him.
Yes, members of the Old Satan Faction know about a new world, but they won't tell the New Satan Faction about it. They want to kill them and reclaim their power, not give them any handouts.
The Evil Pieces have very little explanation about how they turn people into Devils. Other than reviving someone who recently died and whose body's intact, and only being able to turn those weaker than the King, and being unusable on Gods and Buddhas; there was plenty of room to add my own spin to them.
Naruto and Sasuke won't have the Creation of All Things Jutsu on call. They can only use its lowest levels, and it is impractical nearly all the time. The effort, Chakra and time it takes to use will make it useless in a fight; and they'll never do stuff like what Hagoromo did.
I've giving Sasuke two new abilities that exist in canon Naruto Shippuden. Hint: They use to belong to someone important to Sasuke, that's no longer around. Can you guess what these two new things are?
The Ōtsutsuki are in this story as you all already guessed. You may ask why the Shinobi haven't thought of them...well Kaguya and her sons were all the Ōtsutsuki clan had, at least to them...
It was during the Boruto anime/manga that clan members beyond Kaguya and her sons were learned. Sasuke spent a long time investigating Kaguya's dimensions when he believed Kaguya created White Zetsus for some other threat, one he did not know. By the movie, when both Naruto and Sasuke are adults, he found Kaguya's castle and her scroll. Then and only then did he find and learn of other Ōtsutsukis.
The only clue in Naruto Shippuden was when Hagoromo and his brother suspected Kaguya was looking out for something, but they never knew what it was either. Problem with that clue, it was a back story Hagoromo told the previous 4 Hokage who were reanimated. Those Hokage and Hagoromo never told anyone else about it. They went back to the afterword without telling anyone, so the Shinobi would be ignorant about that story.
Next: Chapter 16: Uchiha in the Land of Iron.