Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto or Final Fantasy VII Remake

Co-Author and Beta: Godospartan the Kitsune

Chapter 10: Horror in the Undercity: Act 3

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Naruto was leaping from rooftops at impressive speeds with determination glowing. Tifa was following the dirt path below, with Barret just behind her. An emergency message came across two-way radios around sector one undercity, which set the trio from doing their round in sector two to charge towards the distress call.

The blond's ponytail whipped as he gripped his katana tightly. *Let us get there in time!*

"Prepare for anything if that is the case, Naruto. We have no idea what we're dealing with," Kurama interjected.

'Way ahead of you, partner.'

"Can you see anything up there!" Barret shouted up with a loud huff.


The gun-armed man growled, "But we're getting close, aren't we?!" Tifa questioned with concern in her voice.

"Less talking, more running!"

Following the towering man's orders, the trio dashed to the outskirts of sector one.

The faster of the trio managed to make it to the area that was tunneled in recently, and as he broke open the gate, his eyes went wide, his gut churning at the sight. The other two sprinted up to him when they noticed his arms slump. Coming to a stop, Tifa was about to turn her head to check with her own eyes when Barret pulled her back. He noticed the look on their friend's face and knew it had to be horrible. "You might regret eyein' the situation..."

She knew that was Barret's paternal instincts taking over, but it did not sway her, "Not like I hadn't seen bad stuff before." however, to her surprise, the giant man did not move.

"You ain't seen nothing like this," the severity in his voice drew her attention.

Naruto, however, has seen far worse back home. But it did not make it easier to see the massacre before him. Blood was everywhere, and people's limbs were all around the area. The bodies were members of the Watch and several civilians.

The blond cursed, kneeling in front of a dismembered corpse, "It's Derrik's unit." he spoke back to Barret and Tifa.

"Hmm... Derrik was supposed to be scouting elsewhere; what brought him out here?" Though it wasn't strange, it did make the big man wonder what pattern of movement they were looking for.

"You might want to back off, blondie. That smell is disturbing, and not in the normal bad way." But, sharing senses, the fox could tell that this wasn't normal, even by their enemy's standards.

Backing off, the sage wondered what he could do for the dead and to make the monster pay as quickly as possible. "Barret, take Tifa and get to the Watch; inform them of what we found. Tell them to get toxic protective suits, and this monster's got a new trick up its sleeve." The smell was already affecting him, and something was muddling his mind from the stench being so foul with unique dismemberment.

Observing from afar and beyond the view of the trio sat Relmyna. Disdain glowed in her cold, piercing, and calculating crimson eyes. "Far too crude. It acts more akin to a feral animal than an actual monster." the elven woman scoffed, "progress of a modern realm indeed." However, a sinister, unhinged smile soon graced her dark grey lips, "Well, with a bit of experimentation, I can truly bring out this creature's true savagery." Vanishing, a peal of low and barely audible laughter was made, but none could hear it from such a distance.

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The mood within Tifa's bar was dour as late-night reports finally came this morning from Watch HQ. Aerith could feel the emotions running wild from within everyone. Barret paced around at one side of the bar while Naruto was doing the same. Biggs, Wedge, and Jessie bore disheartened gazes while each read the reports themselves. The buxom barkeep sat on a barstool beside the florist, who warmly held her hand in comfort.

"Did any of you know Derrik and his crew?" Aerith questioned gently.

"We grew up with him," Wedge's voice sounded distant and mournful. "Raised in the Leaf house like Biggs and me."

Jessie's lower jaw shuddered while fighting the tears swelling in her eyes, "He was my first boyfriend..."

"Jeez, that was the dude you were worked up about back then?" the more grizzled of the trio mentioned. "He could have done much better than you did to him."

"Hey, I let him go BECAUSE he treated me right; I was confused! I wasn't sure what I even wanted back then!" Jessie was full-on tear flow now. "Damn it... I never got to apologize... He didn't deserve to get hit by that horror."

Feeling a hand on her shoulder, she looked to see Naruto consoling her. He knew she would do something reckless if she were left in her thoughts any longer. "The best way to apologize now is by honoring his sacrifice... He died trying to protect the innocents in the area, and we have to do so. And you can't do that if you die in a blaze of glory."

Jessie kept his tear-filled gaze up at the blond man. "I know... but like hell will I not be there when we finally confront this thing. I owe Derrik that much, at least."

"As long as you keep your cool," Naruto remarked with understanding rubbing his large hand on her shoulder in a gentle manner, which was warmly received as the ponytail young woman leaned into his touch. "And don't let revenge consume you. Trust me that goes nowhere."

A low grunt came from Barret, "Besides, the real assholes at fault is Shinra. It always comes back to them."

Kurama could feel the intense and utter hatred of the gun-armed man for the global ruling company. Even Naruto could feel not even from using Senjutsu. "What did Shinra do to you, man?"

At that question, the hulking man stopped pacing, frowning, "...I trusted Shinra once. And I lost more than half of my arm." He raised his grafted firearm. "It was a lesson never to trust devils in a suit."

People in positions of power were nothing new, though it never was just the higher-ups people could see. But, unfortunately, too many times had Naruto known the ones you see are just smoke and mirrors for the real horrors. 'Can't say I blame him for being fixated, comforted in a target you can imagine rather than the monsters you can't even begin to understand.'

"And if they don't start getting their act together, we know how sideways it gets, boy." being in complete agreement with his Bijuu, they thought to lay the tracks silently.

As her curiosity was sparked, the flower girl of the group made her inquiry. "What happened? and what else did you lose?"

Glancing over with a stern look. Then, finally, Barret seems to relent to open up a little, "I lost my wife and best friend... And Shinra covered it all up, blaming Avalanche for it."

"The Eco-Terrorist group that has been a pain in Shinra's ass?" Naruto questioned as he heard the name a few times around the slums.

"Same one," Biggs addressed, taking a sip of his drink, "They have been in a sort of a cold shadow war with Shinra for a few years. From what I've heard, they have been fighting since εγλ 0001, about a year after the ceasefire with Wutai."

A giant huff came from the big man, once more pacing, as he turned to the others from his new corner of the bar. "Nothin' from Shinra is ever that simple. Whatever those ninjas are doing has the big wigs up top less interested in a war and more interested in Mako. And whatever people say about Avalanche, we can all agree that Shinra needs to be ripped from their luxury seats and stopped from making monsters like the one hunting down here. Am I wrong?"

Noticing the eyes on him, the Sage could tell he was being evaluated. "Why ask me?"

Tifa looked up from her glass, "Well. So, what do you think should be done about Shinra outside of your amnesia?"

At that question, the blond rubbed his chin. Then, thinking for a long moment, "We are talking about the company that quite literally rules the damn planet outside of Wutai. You can't just take on such a group with a bulldozer mentality."

Oh, the sheer irony was not lost on him of all people saying this. But after all the harsh lessons he learned back home, he had to get smarter. "If avalanche plays by Shinra's rules, they will lose. But you also have to think ahead because if I mean a big IF, Avalanche brings down Shrina. After that, the colossal power vacuum will have everyone with a hint of clout coming out of the woodwork to take over." The Uzu sage crossed his arms, "And that would also imply I'm actively trying to fight them."

"Aren't you in a way," Biggs brought up, "With the Turks and now this monster from Hojo."

"I'm not actively seeking a fight against these guys. But, despite what they may try to capture me, and while I have no love for those reactors. I will defend myself and the Undercity for whatever comes."

"But your super powerful, man," Wedge interjected.

Naruto glanced over, "And that's the thing. I'm just one guy, but I'm not some overpowered super boss or something from a video game or manga. We all know at least three Turks can fight me evenly in martial combat. So who is to say what one of those SOLDIERs could do?" He lightly swayed in thought, "And then there is one thing of AVALANCHE that I'm not too keen on."

"What's that?" Tifa questioned while Aerith had a knowing look.

"Terrorists would imply they are not bothered by who gets in their way of fighting against Shinra." But then, the face of the blond grew cold and stern, "I will never allow innocent civilians to be caught in the crossfire of my battles."

A low grunt came from Barret, "Even Shinra employees?"

"If you go with the logic, everyone working for Shinra is the enemy. So then you might as well target their families, including their children."

Gasps came from several people as the sizeable gun-armed man criticized, "The hell, man!?"

However, the blond did not waver as he shrugged, "If a person's hatred and vengeance supersede everything else, then you go after them all. At least from what I've seen from idiots who have gone after newborns because their great-grandfather slighted their clan back in the day." Irritation glowed on the blond's face before strolling over and sitting on a bar stool beside Aerith. "And I draw the line at hurting people who cannot fight back, regardless of their employment."

Tension filled the room, the silence as everyone tried to judge his answer and digest what he had just said and suggested. Some people in the room suddenly felt relatively small, as if they were silent watchers. Although Tifa could see Barret struggling to make any sense before speaking aloud, his being quiet right now was commendable, though his grit teeth and clenched fist were worrying.

In one moment, the giant and darker-skinned man relaxed, huffing aloud. "Too bad they don't have any concerns. How many civilians have been taken out thanks to their monster? But, unfortunately, they play by a different rulebook, and it's been made to cause as much suffering as possible."

"And I have no intention of letting them use it." The eyes of the two men were glued together. Even though the glasses. "But the moment we start playing by it, we are no better than them. That's my point. If Avalanche doesn't give a second thought to the people, are they claiming to save them? Then they are just Shinra with a different name. Shinra claims to be doing the best for the people?"

"You play their rules," Naruto continued, "You will lose."

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Jessie grunted after Naruto and Aerith left the bar. Before returning to Sector five, the blond had to go over some things with Sofiya. "Well, we got our answers on whether whiskers would join Avalanche or not."

A loud huff came from Barret, seated on a bar stool beside Tifa, "He made some good points, though." The buxom barkeep remarked.

The heavy-set member fiddled with his cup as he considered the implications. "Do we write it off? I never did feel good about taking things up top... I-i mean, I am all in on stopping Shinra, but-"

"We got it, Wedge. And I agree; I am starting to think we're not thinking about the consequences enough." Biggs stood as he gave his thoughts. "Shinra's good at PR campaigns. Even Sofiya, as she's told everyone how she'd never trust Wutai and hates her former employer, isn't about to step up just because it's right. I mean, there IS that saying. Right? 'The path to damnation is built upon the best intentions?'"

"So we just let things get worse, slowly, until we're all rubble under the plate?" Jessie questioned.

"Uzumaki is entitled to his opinion," Barret interjected. "But don't think he sees the bigger picture."

Tifa looked up at the large man, "And what's that?"

"As long as those reactors stay on, the planet will die. Sofiya and the rest of HQ think we can stop Shinra without sacrifices. But that's not how life works, and we all know it. We don't have the luxury of playing it safe. Not if we want to save Gaia."

Something about what the Sage had said was eating Biggs up. Then, not even sure where it came from, he made a comment that gave them all something to think about. "But what's the point of saving the planet if everyone in it is dead because we didn't care enough to save them too..."

"I wish Myrna were still alive," Barret omitted, gently garnering the other's attention, "A lot of things made more sense when she was here." He took off his shades, his eyes glowing with memories of the past, "I know she'd be pissed off with all I've done. But she would understand why I'm doing it. Still, she'd deck me without a second thought."

Being a coal miner's wife was not easy. And Myrna was a hard woman, the kind of woman a man only finds once in their life. And if she is gone, you never find her again.

The towering man of muscle nodded, "No matter what, we keep moving forward because those we have loved and lost would want us to do that. Of course, there will be consequences for all we did and will do. But we face it with pride, knowing we did the right thing. Not for us, but for the planet and everyone living here now and in the future."

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Adjusting his glasses, Hojo grunted while staring into his monitor. His eyes went through every detail of his specimen, roaming throughout the Undercity.

The monstrous being moved through the shadows of the night came, finding a new hunting ground for its hunger. 'Everything is going as expected. Soon it will lead them to the trap, and all will come to fruition. None know this creature's true abilities. It will be quite a surprise for him.'

Speaking of his target, he eyed the footage for what seemed like the one-thousandth time, the red aura and the weird energy. Nothing on record held a candle to the feats shown against the Behemoth King. No analysis brought up a residual effect of anything on Gaia. No Lifestream energy, no Mako energy, no Materia usage, nothing. Hojo had no idea, except it was seemingly coming from within the ninja.

'Truly remarkable, Wutai would have never hidden such power during the war. Whatever other village is hiding in the world is genuinely skilled.' Hojo craved inspecting and studying every inch of the Uzumaki boy to see what that power was. His being around Aerith also piqued his curiosity, wondering just what this hidden shinobi village had plans for with the possible last Cetra on Gaia.

He blinked, looking over to the third monitor that showed his specimen's tracker tag seemed to glitch for a moment before returning to normal. The scientist waved it off, "Need to order those new monitors sooner than I had planned."

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Standing within a sizeable artificial cavern made of broken machines and metal Relmyna cocked a brow with a raised glowing hand. Before her stood the feral beast, now frozen in time with chronomancy. "Now that I see you up close, I am more disgusted. No true artistry at all." The elven woman huffed.

Walking around it, she made a note of every imperfection and every weakness. "Whoever made you must have thought themselves quite the mind. I can see the false pride of a deluded man in every pore. A feral diseased dog on the prowl, uncared for—a tool. But, you can become much more. You have that potential, that evolution, begging to be given."

With a slip of her hand, the monster contorted to stand, presenting itself for whatever she deemed required of note. "Yes, I can cure you of that egotistical waste of creation that makes you suffer. And when you are perfect, you will do as I say... And give quite the show." A grin, wide and cheshire in nature, spread along the lips of the woman. She clapped her hands. "Let my work begin..."

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Cissnei leaned against a busted soda machine in sector four slums. Her foot tapped impatiently with her arms crossed under her medium size bosom and adorned in ordinary civilian attire to blend in amongst the crowd. "Feels like we're sitting on our hands," the redhead muttered.

On either side of the petite woman were Maur and Judet, also in regular garbs, sighed. "Because we are not supposed to do anything." The raven-haired taller woman quipped, "Even doing this might cost us our jobs."

Maur grunted, "Kind of hard to stay back in HQ when people's lives are at stake. And that damn monster, from what I heard, took out more people the other night."

Anger and frustration glowed in Cissnei's eyes.

Not even the others with her could deny that the fact the monster targeted and killed more civilians and innocents was just too much. "Do we even go back after hearing about the most recent murders?"

"We have to, as much as this is making everyone second guess their positions." Kicking the dirt, the redhead was glaring out into the open area. "I won't second guess or abandon Tseng, and if he's there, so will I be when we finally pinpoint this thing and do something about it."

Maur and Judet glanced at each other before sighing, "We follow your lead, boss lady," the former detective mumbled. They understood why this was so personal for their little boss. She came from the slums; this place was her home. "So, how should we track this damn thing?"

"The detective can't figure it out," Judet mildly mused, earning a deadpan from her partner.

"If you wanted a tracker, you should have brought Freyra down here."

"She is currently on a mission with her SOLDIER girlfriend, Runa," Cissnei clarified.

As they continued to walk, the air started to feel odd but not ominous, so the trio didn't think anything from it. Heading through the next sector, Cissnei looked at a nearby area. "There were so many kids here back in the day... At least half of them were monster food. I can't even begin to describe the sorrow I saw in this place."

That drew Judet's attention, "what about the Watch back then?"

"They were starting and could barely do anything compared to now." it wasn't long after Shinra adopted her and began to train her. But Veld saw her talents and had her brought into the Turks program. After that, the little girl became Cissnei and never looked back.

Yet, she had never forgotten where she came from.

"And with the current issue, they are somewhat out of their depth here." Maur addressed surveying their surroundings. "Except for Uzumaki, maybe, but who knows how that will end up being when he finds it, or it finds him."

Picking up a feeling and hearing something nearby, the team shut up to see what they could find—hoping to track this thing quickly. Unfortunately, as they turned to corner, they saw an armored car and one of their Turk brethren. Cissnei cursed aloud. "We might have to pray that the ninja finds and destroys it, fast... We might not be able to help much in this case..."

"Giving him all the information we had on that thing was as best as we could do from our end," Judet interjected as she waved down Balto, who took notice of them approaching.

With a katana strapped to his belt and adjusting his rectangular glasses, a scar on his face, the short raven-haired senior Turk member nodded to the trio, "We found no traces yet of the Yin/Yang, ma'am."

Cissnei crossed her arms under her bust, "We need to regroup with Emma's and Legend's teams. Rest up for another patrol later."

"Yes, Ma'am, Cissnei, Boss-lady." The other three Turks saluted before moving out.

The petite redhead looked up at the steel plate above her; '...Wonder how you'd handle this mess... Zack.'

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Naruto stared at the worn ceiling with his hand under his head, lying down on one of the church pews. "did your seer's sight catch this coming to happen?"

Aerith kept her gaze on the flowers near the altar while she worked. "Nope, things have been random since you showed up, honestly."

"Count on an Uzumaki for letting in some chaos to the mundane," Kurama chimed, laying on the blond's stomach in a small fox form.

"Hardy har-har..." The deadpan look was a giveaway of having heard such too many times. Not like it wasn't warranted, but still. "It's not like I asked for this kind of thing."

"Would you rather things not be so interesting?" Slit eyes met narrowed lids. They both knew the answer to that one.

Picking some of the ready flowers, Aerith hummed aloud. "I seem always to attract the strangest of men, always so carefree or ready for action. Haven't guessed if it's a curse or blessing at this point."

The ponytail blond glanced at his friend, "Do I measure up to your old boyfriend?" Playfully the florist's response was sitting up, raising her hands like a scale and swaying evenly, "Better step up my game then, shouldn't I?" A giggle came from Aerith before she continued her work.

Both knew they were deflecting from the current grim situation in the Undercity. But the sage learned long ago being hyper-focused and obsessed leads to mistakes. And he couldn't afford to make any with this 'Yin/Yang' creature. So he had to admit getting the files from Tseng and the others surprised him a few days ago.

He, Aerith, and even Kyrie looked over all the papers he was given.

Seeing the countless horrors of Guildenstern and Orochimaru was nightmare fuel. However, this 'professor' Hojo was a close third compared to the first two monsters.

"Think I can trust the stuff Tseng sent about this monster?"

At that, the young woman peered towards the tall blond, "absolutely."

If there is one thing Naruto could say, Aerith never wavered on having trust in the Turks and professing they were good people. The sage would have no problem with that if they weren't tied with Shinra, who wanted both him and Aerith for their schemes. It might be the old shinobi paranoia about it, but he trusted his gut. However, he kept things cordial out of respect for his lady friend.

Between the two of them, Kurama had his gut feeling. "Think they might be more altruistic than their employer, like some of our former enemies turned friends of the past?"

The thought occurred to him, but something didn't sit well with him about the situation, like there was more to it than the Turks' morality being against their profession. Still, he got up with Kurama leaping off to stand next to Aerith. "Why do you pick so few from here? And only certain ones?"

"Because these I sell on the upper plate," Aerith winked, looking up, "And to the right people who need them most."

Her words drew Naruto's and Kurama's attention, "Wouldn't that be dangerous going up there?"

Aerith rolled her eyes, "I've been doing it for years. And like I told you, Shinra wants me to come to them willingly." She stood up, holding her freshly plucked flowers to gaze at him eye to eye, "Afraid someone just going to pluck me out from the street?"

'Yes, but that is beside the point,' He mentally mused before noticing Aerith deadpan, "No peeking in my head without permission."

"Kind of hard when I can hear your thoughts being so loud."

Kurama snorted, leaping onto his partner's shoulder, "He's always been noisy. Even in the head."

The blond ignored that to keep talking, "That's where you go when you're not working anywhere else?"

"Yup." She rolled her eyes upon seeing the worry in his cerulean orbs, "If your that bothered, just come up with me then."

"Not the most appealing thought; attention draws to me down here enough as it is. And I am not dressing up just to fit in and not be gawked at."

Giving his nose a poke, she was more than happy to pout like a dog to get him to give it another think. "My old boyfriend wasn't so against it, so you lose points there."

Why did this feel like a competition or something with a guy Naruto had never met? Then, Deadpanning with a low groan, "Fine, I'll go to the upper plate with you." He might as well make use of that damn card Andrea gave him.

"Yay!" Aerith cheered, bouncing on the balls of her feet, "You won't regret it."

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Crossing his arms, Naruto sat quietly beside Aerith as they took the train to sector five upper plates. A warm hum came from his female companion while holding a small weave basket on her lap. Absently the sage surveyed the railcar they sat in with a few others. It was a lot more modern when compared to the trains back home.

That might be why he mentally preferred them when compared to these trains.

As they got closer to the upper plate, the entire train was showered in a weird field of light from the front to back. Aerith looked to see her partner this trip, scanning around, curious. "Security measure, scanning for any undesirables."

"Like me, maybe?"

"No, you have your pass. So as long as you do, you're considered safe." And boy, was she ever so glad he did have it.

Though that got the blonde wondering, "And your pass? Or are you so frequent a traveler they don't need to scan you?"

The honest answer was much more complex. "You're not wrong, and they can tell the system to scan certain things for those who go back and forth. But, you know why the scan would pick me up in a heartbeat and let me through. I've been called entitled over my 'unique' case with the company..."

Of course, she had special privileges given Aerith's importance to Shinra.

"And it looks like whoever Andrea knows gave you the means to not be bothered." Aerith quipped in amusement.

'I still like to know just how deep those connections are. But likely be better if I didn't.' Kurama, in agreement, grunted but said nothing as the train came out of the dark tunnels to an open area revealing the upper plate.

Aerith kept her emeralds on the blond, who leaned forward to look out the window. His brow steadily rose to take in the multiple clean buildings.

XxX ~ xx ~ XxX

Upon stepping out onto the train station, the brunette could not hide the pleasing smile on her lips. Naruto's eyes glowed in awe seeing countless buildings of various sizes but also so clean and well-kept.

It was insane to think this is what Shinra could do, given the dedication to do so and the right community for it. What made the sage feel put off was that it didn't feel like it was some authoritarian cleanup detail. Instead, it was like everyone kept the place clean and cared about it, not because they were forced to. 'that kind of cleanup is obvious to see, but it's not here…'

Knowing she had wowed him with the city, Aerith took to poking his whiskered cheeks for attention. "Feeling a little better about the idea of escorting me through these streets?"

Her mood slowly turned, seeing the confusing frown on his lips, "You weren't expecting this." More a statement than a question.

"No... Not at all." 'These guys rule the whole damn planet but don't act like it.'

Kurama shared his partner's confusion, "Or we're not seeing something."

"...I trusted Shinra once. And I lost more than half of my arm." Barret raised his grafted firearm. "It was a lesson never to trust devils in a suit."

The blond remembered the words of his gun-armed comrade. His eyes soon came to stare at the most prominent building on the upper plate. "Shinra HQ?"

The brunette followed his eyes and nodded, "Yup." But, then, she looked back, "you thought they were an authoritarian government?"

"Kind of hard not to, considering what they did to you, Barret, Wutai, and who knows who else."

"That's one way to look at it... But the truth is even worse on the inside." The sight-seeing done, she started walking out to the more crowded center to sell the flowers she picked. "Shinra makes enemies of those in their way, but then run every lie under the sun to gain support, and then reward those who support them, those who choose to work for them."

"Ignorance is bliss." That kind of thing was one of many things that didn't sit right. "If they only knew and were given proof of the horrors Shinra perpetuates. Would they reject their comfortable lives for the betterment of their fellow man?"

The two finally began to leave the station, with Naruto following his friend, "It is not all bad, though."

A cock rose in disbelief from the blond, "Despite all you just said."

"There are good and decent people who want to help the citizens and make Midgar safe for all." She held her basket close, "But I get why Barret and others only see the darker side of Shinra."

"Got any examples of the good side? Because there's little active Shinra good being seen so far." The inner fox mentioned.

Closing her eyes at memories past, the woman could only sigh a little before trying to say it right. "As much as you believe the Turks aren't as good as I say they are, my question is, have they attacked you with the intent to kill you? Maybe they took your loved ones and made you do what they said? They've been forthcoming with their words and actions, haven't they?" Then, seeing she hadn't yet convinced him, she turned to the big guns. "Well, there was my old boyfriend. He was an active Shinra agent before he disappeared. Just because you cannot see it does not mean it does not exist. You know that all too well, don't you? Nothing's as simple and clean as it all seems."

Finally, Naruto rolled his eyes, "alright, you win." The Brunette flashed a victorious smile bringing a skip to her step. "Don't expect me to trust the Turks outright. I don't know them as you do."

"Better to earn trust, I think someone said once," Aerith remarked as the two soon came to an enormous plaza with all manners of shops and cafes.

Around them, the sage saw adults and children enjoying their lives like most people in the slums below. However, his sharp hearing picked up the word 'slum rats' and a few looks of disdain from some people glaring at him and Aerith.

He leaned down to her ear, "Guess calling us slum rats means folks up here don't like folks from the undercity?" he whispered.

Still waiting for someone interested in the presentation of her flowers, she leaned back to him with her whisper. "Do you expect Shinra to say 'the slums are honorable and filled with good-hearted people? It makes it easier for them to steer their charges to work for their benefit if they make the Slums look like a cesspool. Which, it can sometimes be."

"At least she looks like she can blend in. Not a fancy thing she's wearing, but it still looks clean. You, however, blondie..." The fox remarked, as clearly, Naruto chose to keep comfortable in his clothes, which weren't exactly prim and proper like the people around.

As the hour passed, they sold a dozen flowers, with one person buying a small bouquet for some anniversary. "Are people that unable to get flowers anywhere up here? Thought I saw someone's yard with a crop or two."

"They are fake." But her words surprised him, "the only real flowers that grow are around my home and the church."

...Now that he thought about the dirt area he saw around her on the upper plate felt off...

"If you think about it, it is much like what we didn't feel outside Midgar."

That drew the sage's attention before his eyes zoned toward the massive Mako reactor of the sector.

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Naruto looked over several papers sitting on his couch, "This feels off." Jessie and Aerith sat on either side of the tall blond.

"There hasn't been an attack or sighting in days," A grunt came from Barret, sitting opposite him with Tifa, who spoke up. "Everyone is a bit on edge."

The round member of the bunch was finishing off the snack he was given by his host. "Rumor has it that whatever it is is done hunting down here and went into the wastelands."

"We all know that's not the case, Wedge. Not to mention, all of us here know it's a Shinra beast." Biggs corrected, sitting beside him at a table the blond got. "We thought we were figuring out its pattern till this."

"Sofiya has gotten the Watch on alert for anything," Jessie brought up, "But there is only so much we can do right now."

Naruto leaned back against his couch, "I don't like sitting my hands like this."

It was a moment of thought before Barret let out a howl and stomped on the floor, careful not to wreck a wall or piece of furniture once again. "Is there no way to find this thing?! Nothin'?! We have no clues, no tracks, not a single way to grab its attention?" He pointed to the host of the house. "Ain't it even after you? Won't it come knocking the moment it finds you? What is the deal with this thing?!"

The Sage deadpans, "Go ask Hojo. How the hell would I know what this thing does?"

It was a bit of a lie, given how Tseng sent him documents about this Yin/Yang creature. But revealing that info to Barret and the others gave their resentment to Shinra, which did not feel wise.

The big man grumbled before getting out of his seat to pace around, "Sorry... Just this damn monster has me worried about Marlene."

"Family comes first," Naruto spoke with understanding, "I might not be a father, but I got plenty of family who means everything to me."

Biggs cocked a brow, "That means your amnesia is wearing off?"

The time still passed, up until Naruto received quite the shock. He stood up as if he was launched from his seat. That had got their attention. "What's up? Did you think of an angle?"

"No... I think I know where this thing is hiding. But I think I know why we haven't seen it in a while..." The images from his clone that vanished to send the information were staggering.

The moment his words left his lips came a deep and thunderous ear-piercing roar that sent the group into immediate action dashing out of the blond's home.

XxX ~ xx ~ XxX

Out of the group, Naruto and Tifa were the fastest and charged ahead of the others while moving through panicked fleeing masses. 'This thing looks nothing like Tseng's pictures showed!'

"The aura is the same," Kurama growled, feeling the immense malice coming further ahead.

'Then what the hell happened to it then!?'

The Bijuu held no answers as the buxom brunette and tall blond rounded the corner skidding to a stop at the horror before them. Unlike the Turk's information of this beast to be at least two and a half meters, it was well over three with leathery white and golden skin blended. Every inch of its body was a thick muscular frame; instead of two elongated arms, there were four claw-like hands. While one of the heads looked the same, it did not share the top portion of the second. That head was now enlarged and on the upper torso of the monster. Its looks were demonic, with large incisors. It growled with fury while its glowing yellow eyes looked for another victim.

Barret and the others soon caught up with Naruto and Tifa, "Holy fuck!" The Gun-armed man cried out with gasps of horror coming from Jessie and Aerith as they saw mangled and torn bodies around the giant beast. Blood caked the ground and parts of the area where corpses lay all over as the monster walked through the gates.

Up high above the sector floated Relmyna in the air with her arms behind her back. A pleased crazed smile draped her lip, "Now show me if you are truly worthy of being our lord's choice."

Knowing this thing was dangerous, the Sage shouted the orders. "Jessie, Wedge, Biggs, you help get the civilians out of here to safety! Barret, cover them till they are clear, then help! Tifa, help me distract this beast!" Naruto wasted no time creating several shadow clones.

Though just as things were starting, the monster was quick to grab two people in one claw and three in another, as its third arm gathered rubble and tossed it at one of the escape paths. It was trying to block and hunt every last person in its sight.

One clone quickly cleared the rubble with a Rasengan, then two of its pals helped it grab some civilians to run off. Seeing this, the beast crushed one of its hands full of people and killed them as it ran, with impressive speed, to take out any stragglers.

It was stopped in its tracks when it was kicked in its top head by Tifa, thrown by the sage to give her the power and speed to knock the thing off course. With its quick stumble, Tifa went to the surviving captured folk and tried to pry the hand open. "This thing.. has a grip!"

A spear of pure ice hit the massive beast's face that came from Aerith's staff from a reasonable distance away, "Do whatever we can to save these people and stop this monster!"

Once Biggs, Wedge, and Jessie could fully clear out the terrified civilians, Barret held up his gun-armed but waited for the right moment to strike once the captured people and friends were out of the line of fire. "I just need a clear shot!"

The face within the chest bulged with the muscular surroundings and turned to see Tifa's attempts at saving the few in its grasp. It had a wild grin as it slowly got tighter around the screaming victims. Then, shoving a heel on the palm and grabbing the fingers with both hands, the buxom fighter yelled to keep it from squeezing any harder. "It's too strong!"

Before many could blink, the creature's blood sprayed out as the back of its arm was cut into by the dark-colored blade in the hands of the shinobi, cutting into the flesh. It was not very deep, only a gash that wounded the creature with barely any damage. Though it was enough to shock and hurt the monstrous being enough that its grip lessened, giving Tifa the footing to rip the hand open and get the people falling to the ground to be freed.

Seeing the prey freed, the creature rose a foot to crush them quickly, only to find the ground not soaked in the blood of recent death. Looking forward, the top face saw Naruto's clones getting them out of the way and freeing the lane for Barret to start blasting it with bullets in rapid fire. "Eat some lead, shithead!"

Once knowing all the sector five civilians were all bunkered down at the doctors, Leaf House, and central building with Wedge as their guard. Jessie and Biggs quickly returned with their respective firearms raised and started firing at the beast.

However, they and Barret bore a look of annoyance as the bullets were barely more than bee stings to the monster. Aerith sent more shards of ice which the beast took notice of and swatted away with an arm. Then Tifa noticed an orange glow from the mouth of the demon's head on the chest. "Scatter!" She called out.

As a stream of fire erupted from the demon's maw, none had to be told twice.

Coming down from a significant leap, Naruto tried to go for the creature's blindspot as it was attacking, going for the neck this time. But he was surprised when the actual head turned to meet him, and a claw stretched out to take him with a speed that he thought impossible for one so big. Barely slapping the claw and rolling over the arm to strike, he attempted to end this quickly.

It didn't happen, as the head ducked down in a bizarre contortion that saved the creature's skin. The creature punched the bottom of its arm to launch the sage into the air, control of his footing was lost, and a perfect target as the beast's chest turned to face him and fire another spray of flame.

Utilizing her powers to the fullest, the resident florist summoned as much ice as possible and shot rapid-fire missiles at the creature's back. The shards peppering the outer skin to hardly any purchase. Some fragments managed to poke small ticks into the outer layer, but they were not much more profound.

This distraction was enough for the creature to turn and punch at the sage with both arms. But, as he was the original body, he was not in any mood to get hit by this thing. Thankfully, one of his clones managed to jump up and launch him backward away from the strike. But, it was, ultimately, not enough.

Naruto's arm was struck with enough force to take the arm straight out of each socket down the length of his bones, as the clone who saved him from the brunt of the attack was smoking faster than ever. Landing back and gripping his arm, Naruto growled in pain. 'Alright, that's not natural! This thing's that strong, that big, and that fast!?'

"Naruto!" Jessie called out as she rushed for the blond to help. But, instead, it brought her into the sights of the monster who brought up its two lower arms to crush her. Seeing all this, Naruto bit back the pain before pushing enough chakra into his legs. Then, in a blink, he used his good arm to grab the ponytailed brunette out of the way as the giant fists came down and cracked the ground with force.

The two rolled till nearing Biggs and Tifa, who ran over, "Are you two alright!?"

A low growl came from the Uzumaki, holding Jessie close while she stared at where the monster almost flattened her like paste. Her amber eyes looked back at the blond, who soon stood and snapped his arm back into its socket by slamming it against a metal pole stuck up in the ground. He hissed, gazing back at Jessie and giving the nod back.

"Whatever happened to this thing, we can figure out once it's dead," Kurama chimed.

Biggs shook his head, "And you did all that while still holding your sword with your bad arm. Just how badass are you, man?"

XxX ~ xx ~ XxX

Delight glowed from Relmyna as she observed the battle before her. Though frowned upon, extras interfering, perhaps it was better to see if they all could survive against a true challenge. Her crimson eyes soon took note of several flying mechanical automatons below her, keeping their full attention on the conflict.

Her brow cocked with mild indifference.

XxX ~ xx ~ XxX

Hojo leaned forward from his chair at his desk, staring at his monitor. The Slug-Rays he had deployed into the Undercity came to life upon his creation's encountering Uzumaki. But what he saw... that was not his creation, and yet the camera sown into it showed the battle on his second monitor.

"What is this?" Confusion glowed in his voice. First, his creation had been non-responsive and barely active for days. Yet the body camera had shown nothing but darkness. And just an hour ago, it finally reactivated and had charged start for sector five. But what he saw from the Slug-Ray drones was not Yin/Yang. It couldn't be.

His attention soon returned to his first monitor as one of the Slug-Rays began to rise further in the air before the camera focused upon crimson-colored eyes. A feminine chuckle came through the speaker before the feed became static.

XxX ~ xx ~ XxX

The machine Relmyna lifted with a wave of her hand soon exploded from lightning that surged from her hands. The drones sharply started to survey the area, but the elven woman was gone before they even could see her.

All this went unnoticed on the ground as Naruto gazed at his arm, which glowed from Aerith's healing magic. "Can you still fight Mr. Hero!?" Barret called out.


"Good, then you and Tifa use your speed to draw him out of the sector! It's too compact to fight this thing here!"

"That's if it follows us! What would be best? Think one of the junked areas would be best?" The team spread out as their enemy got close enough to slash with its claws, an upper arm swinging up from one side and the lower swinging up from another in a cross shape, causing little error on their parts to survive with Tifa grabbing Barret out of the way and the rest jumping back and running to cover. Naruto himself spreads out with clones to direct attention.

"Naw! Lead the thing to the old diggin' site! Nothing it can throw there!" Grunting as he got up, he started walking back as he continued his firing, aiming for the eyes to blind it; even if it didn't hurt, he could still make it work for its attacks.

Without another word, Naruto, his clones, and Tifa soon dashed around the giant beast garnering its concentration. All the while keeping their senses sharp on account of the alarming swiftness so as not to be struck by a fist or foot. The monster snarled with vexation, and the few preys only exploded into clouds instead of blood bathing its hands.

Tifa perfectly backflipped away from the monster's claws, just Naruto leaping back with her near the gates. Briefly, the blond flared Kurama's chakra, which seemed to gain the beast's complete focus. "That's it, you four-armed bastard! I'm right here, come and get me!"

The buxom brunette side-eyed him for a moment as she felt his weird power before it faded just as quickly. Then, looking back, she saw the monster gazing at them like a hungry animal. "You got his attention."

"Then start running!"

Dashing out to the broader area, the beast was lumbering not a single second, as it ran with such speed to catch them. Seeing Tifa lagging, Naruto turned swiftly with a clone popping up next to him with a Rasengan in hand. Tossing the clone to its demise, the Raengan was met with thick skin and nothing to show for it except making the monster stomp to a stop and crush the clone into smoke.

That gave Tifa a better distance, for which she was grateful. Not long did, they manage to get to their new battleground. What surprised them, more than anything, was that they knew the creature was following... but they were met with nothing to see. "Where did it go?!"

Being careful not to hurt the woman that led the beast with him, Naruto shoved her to the side with the leg, causing her to roll right out of the way as he leaped from his spot. But, it was close enough, as the creature sprang up from the ground in mighty fashion, rock and dirt flinging about from its show of strength.

'Tiger, Ox, Dog, Rabbit, Snake!' The blond's hand seals were quick, using some of Kurama's chakra as the lightning material glowed brightly. 'Fūton: Daitoppa!' Extending his right arm with an open palm unleashing a mighty torrent of wind combined with a strong level of lightning. It struck Yin/Yang's upper torso, sending the beast flying back while being electrocuted. It roared in pain from both heads before smacking it back on the ground.

Barret, Aerith, Jessie, and Biggs soon caught up to Naruto and Tifa as dust and debris flew from the monster's crash.

"Alright, cut off any exits! Give the man an arena!" Barret ordered his guys. Keeping in their direction, the gun spewed rapid-fire destruction immediately upon the monster's rising form.

Doing nothing was more like an annoying flash every time it hit an eye. As the massive altered monster got on its feet, it jolted into a sprint at the sage. The speed was even quicker, causing Naruto to twist and turn his body to the punch defensively as the claw swung down at him, skewering the ground he once stood as he recoiled away.

He generated his Rasengan at the massive size behind the thing and tried to smash the full brunt of the attack into the head, but Yin/Yang recovered, caught the ball in both hands, and used overwhelming force to push it back against his enemy. Grunting in an effort, Naruto held on until he could think of another idea.

A reprieve was on his side when Tifa launched herself up above and somersaulted to gain the momentum needed for her attack, drawing her legs out at just the right moment on her landing to strike with the sole of her foot to knock the creature's head aside.

It was enough to cause a sting and recoil of the attention on the stalemate holding the giant ball of chakra. With that split second, Naruto infused his Rasengan with wind attributes and then caused it to become unstable before bursting the orb right into the entire front of the monster.

As the multi-colored creature was using its size to push down on the blast, the sheering-slicing wind lifted it from the ground as it cut into its flesh, cutting even through the thick skin and muscle, as it was covered in multiple lacerations. Still not deep enough for fatal, or even significant, wounds. But it sure as hell hurt, as Yin/Yang fell to the ground in a roaring pain, smashing the ground with its fists as it flailed from the cuts for a moment.

What looked to be a tantrum, however, was a berserker state appearing within. It was on its feet again in no time as its color began to change to a brownish-orangish hue and its muscles bulged even further in size. Then, with a single stomp of the dirt, the entire area shook beneath the group's feet, knocking Biggs on his backside and the others nearly on their faces, with Naruto being quick to jump into the not to be affected instinctively. Seeing his friends being shaken so horribly from that, at that distance, though? 'He's even stronger?!'

Jessie first recovered her balance and grabbed several custom design explosives latched to her belt. Then, pulling their pins, she reared her arm, "hope you like it spicy, you bastard!" Then, finally, tossing the grenades at the beast.

Catching the two objects in one hand, the other swiping out at the blade coming from the main threat of a target, the top face turning as the beeping got louder. Then, crushing the grenades in hand, the explosives erupted glamorously in a large, loud, and destructive kaboom as the one who tossed it yipped in excitement. "Take that!"

The smoke cleared, and Yin/Yang was unharmed, except for the mild scorching of the tough skin, which they knew was without damage otherwise. The lower faces spewed fire, but with its newly enraged rampage, the fire radiated heat even hotter than previously, so much so that Naruto had to duck out of the way entirely. "Did it eat some of that blast? Its attacks are stronger! Watch it!"

Getting behind the thing, Tifa anchored her heels hard to the dirt below and grabbed the risen heel of its turned leg. In an attempt to cause it to become vulnerable to a variable combination of attacks, she groaned heavily, strained in her attempt to lift and toss the creature off its footing. Finally, with her impressive strength, she tripped the leg up enough to cause its stance to break. "NOW!"

Several clones came rushing from the front now, each flying through a different set of seals that eventually caused a hail of wind and stormcraft to blast into the thing's chest face with the force of a Behemoth, maybe two, which finally started toppling it.

Their victory was in sight, or so they thought... But, instead, it was dashed when the bottom arms caught its fall, the top ones crossed to taunt them. Tifa, who had gotten out of the way, was turning when it flung its foot and kicked dirt at her, the intensity of the kick flinging it at high velocity that riddled her with bruises from the rock and clumps smacking her in every location and knocking her back.

Aerith, casting a field in the area with her magic, saw the bartender fall to her back a distance away and ran to her aid. "Cover me!"

"Was already gonna!" Reloading his massive gun, Barret loaded his unique shot. "HEY! EAT THIS!" During the entire back and forth, Yin/Yang had leaped back to its feet and, in a blink, was in front of its target, already throwing every arm into a combination attack of punches and slashes, each being narrowly evaded by the sage who was dancing through every flip and angle not to get hit.

Thankfully, the blast from Barret smacked the back of the creature's knee, causing enough of a split-second pause that Naruto summoned his Rasengan, filled with wind chakra and added to with the Lightning materia that the moment it struck the chest face; the creature finally roared in pain once more, the full brunt of the attack causing more damage to the creature and knocking it back.

Barret cheered, "How did ya like that, you son of bitch!?"

As if the creature understood if torso-face erupted, a massive torrent of flames rose like a pillar. At its peak, human-sized fireballs rained down, driving everyone to duck for cover. But not before Biggs saw one of those projectiles going near an enormous tanker, "There is still fuel in that!"

"Cover your ears!" Barret roared.

Within a moment, the area exploded into flames and dust. The shockwave rocked the group sending a few flying, Naruto and his clones included, as they all popped in smoke. The ponytailed blond cried out, hitting some metal scrap before slamming into the ground.

Tifa, with quick thinking, grabbed Aerith, but the force of the blast sent both screaming and flying. They would have struck the ground harshly if not for Barret grabbing both in a hug and skidding back before falling on his rear. Jessie's ears ran like a bell as she was well hidden under a barrier of scrap beside Biggs.

"Ouch..." Naruto groaned, getting to his feet with a hiss of pain. He covered his eyes as dust and smoke engulfed the entire area.' So that bastard isn't dead, is he?' Only hearing Kurama growl was his answer. It was then he saw a towering silhouette. 'Oh fuck…'

Kurama's eyes glowed, "Use my full power Naruto."

'I Don't have many choices, do I?'

"Not since those stupid reactors cancel out your Senjutsu."

The sage huffed, 'And I was close to reaching tier two before this crap.'

He was grateful for the heavy dust, and dense smoke concealed his actions from the others as the blond and Bijuu connected and combined their power. Golden orange flames engulfed Naruto, forming his chakra haori with black bars. His whiskers became solid black lines, with his skin turning goldish yellow. His eyes are the same in color, with slit irises.

Aerith froze beside Tifa and Barret, shifting her head towards the heavy fire, dense smoke, and massive dust cloud.

"If you don't want the others to see this, move fast, brat."

'Got it!'

Having to jump, the creature's upper left claw swiped at him instantly, and the sage dodged speedily as he struck his sword into the ground behind him and used it to kick off, spiraling his body like a torpedo as he rocketed his head to his target.

To the untrained and naked eye, any who would watch the smoke would only see a subtle aura moving at such speed it was making trails of light with impacts, and nothing else, which was all Naruto wanted them to see, as his head smacked into the palm of the creature who caught him. Yin/Yang brought him in with his lower right arm and brought both his upper right and lower left to flatten the ninja's torso into atoms.

Within an instant, Naruto held the clawed hand on his head with his body ramrod straight and, with all his might, struck up into the elbow of the arm holding him, causing the arm to bend and his body to pull away from both fists, just grazing his back. Then, within the moment's safety, he quickly activated a jutsu, though nothing came from his hands as he was lifted with his legs caught by the arms that tried sticking him.

The monstrosity grinned, feeling its victory at hand. But as that final arm came rearing back, the sword that was left behind was suddenly jabbed into its shoulder, only sinking itself halfway to the hilt. The target was the head, but Naruto knew that was too easy, as the enemy saw at the last moment. Still being held, Naruto went into his next move. Utilizing his more potent form, the Materia in hand glowed brightly before sending a bolt of lightning right through the creature's entire body, Yin/Yang screeching and letting go in pain.

His sword glowing, the power of his jutsu manipulating it, he focused the sword's position to pull out and caught it in hand just in time to infuse it with his chakra and strike at the legs. This was foolhardy as he faced a Berserker from a creature of malice and death. The damage done by his Materia use made the being even faster, as it noticed the blonde racing for a cutting of the legs and caught the hand with the blade mere inches from the edge touching its knees.

Letting go of the sword, the blade did the work anyway, slicing into the thicker and tougher hide enough to cause some more damage. Then, as the being fell to a single knee, it grabbed the blade and tossed it with so much strength that it buried itself through the ground a dozen yards away.

Standing up, clasping both hands below him, Naruto struck out with a dual-fisted uppercut to the head of the beast, finding purchase that reared the thing back from pain. The two took a split second to look into the eyes of the other, time itself almost frozen for them as they moved and perceived so quickly it was like the dust cloud barely moved around them in any way to improve visibility.

Yin/Yang swiped out, catching Naruto off guard enough to need to block the palm of the creature as he was smacked back and away, the force of the strike nearly breaking his enhanced form's arm a second time. Then, swiftly coming upon the ninja again, the next strike drove a fist down into the ground as Naruto pushed himself away, only to be caught by the foot with one of the four arms acting so independently as if they had minds of their own.

Being risen and pulled in for a clawed strike to his gut, Naruto activated a desperate tactic, surging his chakra to empower his strike. 'Fūton: Kazekiri no Jutsu!' From his hands, a right wave of energy sliced into the arm, coming at him, cutting into the flesh almost as profoundly as his blade would have, though the strike bounced surprisingly to cut into the arm holding him, and he was let go.

Flipping downwards and landing on the ground, it took the glowing fighter all his wits to run to the side of the monster's next strike, which was a stomp to the ground. As he moved away, he had to duck under the swipe of the lower arm, and the incoming punch from an upper arm swung at him at great speed. Jumping over it and using it as a platform to get out of the way of the lower arm of the same side rising with its massive claws to skewer him, he summoned his Rasenshuriken once more and threw it out of the smoke. "This better work!"

"If you intend to use what I think you intend to, then better be ready to cut off the power the instant it's summoned. That smoke is dying, and that move will kill it entirely!"

'I know, so be ready to give me EVERYTHING!' Falling from his jump, Naruto looked down. Big mistake. 'Because this will hurt, and it'll take it all to kill this fuck!' Yin/Yang leaped to greet him with a smack from his fist, launching its target down to the dirt, then called with both bottom arms clasping into combined fists to drive its fury.

With a blink, Naruto was rolling his body away from the force of his speedy dodge, the fists crashing into the ground. However, the earth that was broken up and lifted from the impact into the air was grabbed and thrown by the monster right at him, where he had to duck and dodge everyone, running to the side and sliding under a giant boulder thrown by the thing.

But as he got up, he was once again set upon, the speed was unreal, and the power of the kick that launched him into the side of a hill was excruciating, almost breaking his cloaked form's body. 'Gonna feel this for a week!'

Yin/Yang was above him as he was on in a small crater from the force of the strike. The top head smiled wickedly as both bottom arms grabbed his arms and held him down. A single word finally escaped the beast's lips, both of them at once in reverberation. "DIE!" The upper arms reared back and started to pelt the blonde's body with rapid-fire punches, going harder and harder with each strike.

After a couple of dozen punches, the Sage could feel a few broken ribs, his face swelling, his arms being pulled so harshly out of place his muscles seemed to stretch to ripping; he was thankful his fox cloak was durable and healing him as it was because if not for that he would be dead. Then, finally, the punching stopped, and the slitted eyes stared into the monster's as he was let go, and the creature produced its claws for a final strike.

Finally, the Rasenshuriken the sage threw had returned just in time, having built upon itself with more chakra in its absence to dig into the monster with impressive force and sheer cutting power, backing the thing up and breaking its stance and stopping its killing blow.

The time was ripe; the creature in position, Naruto and his foxy friend surged every ounce of their power into one final moment as he stood and reached his hand out. Within a nanosecond, the blade thrown away was in his hands again. 'Saving my ass, this Fūton: Suiran Reppū technique!'

Before Yin/Yang could react in time, Naruto struck and sunk the entire blade finally within the chest face that was still being ground into by the Rasenshuriken. Suddenly the blade was covered in the golden aura, the orang-ish hue summoning the power of the Kyuubi in all its might, as the ball that was stabbed into by the blade turned large and covered the creature in the power of the user's chakra.

The full power of this surge of chakra was mighty; the blast itself finally uncovered the battle for all to see, and it was an impressive sight as Naruto called out his final move. 'Fūton: Ryūjin Rasengan!'

From the sword and the Rasenshuriken sprung forth a dragon's head that ate into the beast's body; the golden orange chakra was swallowing and burning and ripping the entire creature's body from skin to flesh bone, taking every ounce of the power of the Kyuubi. The massive dragon's head moved as it launched itself and the monster in its maw into the ground and atomized the thing in mere moments, the power of the Jutsu shaking the very earth at their feet. All stared in awe as the dragon vanished and Yin/Yang along with it entirely.

The exact moment before the dust cleared was when the blond cut off the link between him and Kurama—fading instantly and falling onto his back in sheer exhaustion. Before he knew it, Aerith knelt beside him with her healing materia glowing brightly. "What the fuck was that!?" Barret loudly questions, sprinting over with Tifa, Biggs, and Jessie.

"Oh, just some techniques that hurt me as much as the bad guys," Naruto hissed, being helped, sitting up by Tifa and Jessie.

"Are you alright?"

The buxom barkeep's concern made the Uzumaki chuckle, "Nothing a few days rest won't cure."

Biggs whistled at the crater's edge where the monster once stood, "Why didn't you use this stuff at the Corneo Cup?"

"Because that crap is overkill and overly dangerous. I might have hurt civilians using them there."

"That was reckless," Aerith lightly abolished despite having a cheeky smile on her lips. At that, blond shrugged, feeling his body mend by Kurama's and the Cetra's healing.

The gun-armed man huffed, "Let's get back to sector five."

XxX ~ xx ~ XxX

Leaning back against his chair, Hojo rubbed a hand over his mouth. His brow furrowed as he rewinds the images taken by his drones.

Even his drone could not capture what happened after the smoke appeared fully; the statistics and power levels were drastically changed; he could tell something incredible happened but nothing else. And the aura was much different than the Corneo cup. "So many questions, so much potential. What is possible? What can be done with this information..."

His eyes fell to his second monitor to the paused image of red eyes.

XxX ~ xx ~ XxX

Despite protesting, Biggs and Jessie had the blond's arms over their shoulders, taking him back slowly. Aerith only giggled, hearing her friend protesting he could walk himself, but the others did not have it. "We will have you looked over by the Doc," Tifa remarked, looking over her bruised and scratched body.

All of them looked a bit worse for wear, but all agreed Naruto had the lion's share of the damage.

Absently Jessie glanced at Naruto, "Thanks for saving my ass back there."

"What friends do."

Their mood grew somber as they neared sector five to see the people come out of hiding and mourn their lost loved ones. Wedge was soon running up to them, "You guys alright!?" Kyrie and her Grandmother followed the rotund man.

"You should see the other guy," Biggs's quipped in his usual humor.

Despite the anger on the buxom teen's face, her eyes conveyed worry at the horrid state of the older blond, "You overdid it, didn't you, you big oaf."

"Well, he does have a hero complex as Zack did," Aerith smirked despite the deadpan glare from Naruto.

Mireille shook her head, "Is it dead?"

"Yup, Mr. Hero finished it off," Barret answered, thumbing to the blond, "How bout next time not using skills that hurt you too, along with giving assholes dirt naps."

"I have been working years on those jutsu Barret; believe me when I say still getting the kinks out is a priority." They all stopped as Tifa caught a rock thrown at the sage.

At the gate threshold, a man stood angrily and threw the rock, "This is because you are here. Go back home, you stupid Wutai scum!" A few others joined his screaming of hate and slurs flung at the former shinobi.

"Hey, he just saved-!" Jessie was about to correct them, though Naruto tapped her head slightly. Seeing him ignoring the abuse, she wondered if he had taken too many to the head during the fight.

"Let it go... Whether you tell them or not, they see things differently, and it'll take time to convince anyone who lost loved ones and homes of the truth. Their pain is no less intense than mine, just settled differently."

"The truth should matter more than their feelings, especially if it weren't for you, more would be killed. You are a damn hero, and they shouldn't be treating you like the killer here." The other shoulder-carrying friend put up a counterargument.

Looking around at the people and damage, Naruto sighed heavily. "I'd love to be trusted and shown I'm not the villain others claim me as. But, take this as why. Did it take how long to find and beat this thing finally? How many died as the watch was unable to do anything? And today, the creature killed how many, destroyed how much, in a world already crumbling? Then, suddenly I get there, the one who beat the Corneo cup, and things are safe again. Without context, wouldn't you be angry?"

Kyrie and the others were about to protest until Mireille raised a placating hand, "Uzumaki's right. Folks around here are not thinking straight right now."

With nothing else to be said, the group neared the gates, though stopped again by several people blocking the way, "Take that Wutai somewhere else! He isn't welcome here!" A person declares their anger quickly turns to panic as Barret raises his gun arm into the air and fires.

The hulking man soon stood in front of the group with an enrage gaze, "Either make your goddamn asses useful and help the wounded or get the fuck home to your families!" He roared, driving the angry mob to scatter.

"Always count on Barret to make an impression," Jessie quipped with a lopsided grin.

In the distance, Relmyna stood on the roof of a building with her arms behind her back. While her eyes carried a look of indifference, a tiny smirk crossed her lips. "Adequate, but we still have time to test you before the great play begins. To be chosen by our great lord, one must fully embrace their madness." Her smirk grew to a smile pure in insanity.

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