Swordsman X

Yes I am excited to start another story, but the excitement will pass and my enthusiasm will wane. ( It always happens, doesn't it ? When that time comes, I may finally write in a less serious manner. ) Suggestions are very very very welcome.

This first chapter is a spoiler ( Naruto Manga chapter 393, 394 ). Ignore it if you want to. Afterwards, well, I don't know the Marvel Universe enough to spoil anything at all. XD

The End is just the Beginning

Above, the dark, gloomy, overcast sky. Below, a shadowy forest partially alight in fire. Black fire.

Contrasting extremes of cold and heat set up fierce winds that tore at anything standing up. Grass, trees.

Birds and animals fled from the howling gale and all - consuming flame.

And from the middle of the forest arose a terraced hill, topped by a plateau laden with pale brown and grey rubble, the large cracked remains of a megalithic structure.

Gradually the storm clouds cleared, and a slit opened up above the hill. A thin beam of golden sunlight shone down and illuminated the scene around the ruins.

There, facing each other, several boulders apart, stood two young men, one appearing to be in his late teens, and the other in his 20s.

"Your eyes belong to me now, little brother." Itachi huffed under his breath. The battle had taken a tremendous toll in him. He now stood with a slight hunch. Even his black hair drooped heavily over his head, face and neck, doused wet by the rain. His black T-shirt and pants were dotted with blood stains. There was blood on his face too, streaking down from his eyes. He stared ahead, exhausted but determined, the brilliant red irises in his eyes inspiring intense fear and panic in anyone who looked into them.

Such fear and panic was felt by his opponent, now equally spent and leaning with his back against a half crumbled wall.

Sasuke looked just like his older brother, though he did appear younger and his hair drooped less. He was naked from the waist up, his gi having been burnt off by the black flames summoned by Itachi, exposing various cuts and bruises sustained during the fight. Below the waist he wore a dark blue kilt, with a thick green rope in place of a belt. Strapped to his back through this rope was what appeared to be a pale brown, metre long and inch broad wooden stick, as well as a pale green utility pouch. His eyes were a glassy black, with hints of red flashing occasionally in his irises.

Now he fixed his terrified gaze upon Itachi, as the latter slowly stepped towards him. Above the latter there towered the skeletal apparition of a giant, long-nosed goblin, its face contorted into a murderous snarl. "I'll take them slowly, I want to savor thi -."

Itachi halted and doubled over. He shuddered and staggered as he coughed up a voluminous splash of blood.

Taking advantage of Itachi's internal injury, Sasuke fished out a small black dagger from his pouch. Attached to its ring-like pommel were two strips of white paper, each with the Kanji for "explode" written on it. He gripped the hilt of the dagger tightly, and the papers started to burn.

Swiftly, he threw the dagger at Itachi, and braced himself.

The blast rocked the hill and set the centre of the plateau ablaze with a several-stories high ball of bright white and orange fire for a few seconds. Sasuke knelt and closed his eyes as a gust of hot air rushed over him.

And then the echoes died down, the dust slowly settled, and the fire rose and dissipated, leaving a mild blast crater under it.

And in its centre stood Itachi, unaffected. The ghostly giant goblin was more solid than it appeared. He continued walking in his hunched, determined manner towards Sasuke.

"Fuck you !" Sasuke produced another black throwing dagger, this time with a long string of lighted explosive notes trailing from its pommel, and threw it at the opponent advancing menacingly like a zombie towards him.

Sasuke ducked behind a section of stone broken off from the wall. He heard several thunderous explosions, felt the ground shake beneath him, and hot air rush past him.

When all was quiet, he stepped out.

And Itachi stood right before him, staring at him with those terrible red eyes, half closed from exhaustion. Blood had gushed from his mouth and he wore an unwholesome expression.

"My … my eyes." Itachi raised his blood stained hands.

Sasuke cursed and gripped the top of his wooden stick. The top one quarter broke off and between the two resulting sections appeared the glint of metal, revealing the stick to be actually a sheathed sword, a straight, more primitive version of the common Katana.

"DIEEE !" Sasuke leapt up just as he had completely drawn his Chokuto and pointed it down at Itachi.

The next moment, he was slammed against the wall. "Agh !" The air left his lungs and the blade flew from his hands. Shocked and overwhelmed by an unbearable back-ache, he slumped down unto the ground below the wall.

He struggled to get back on his feet, and looked up in time to see Itachi's bloodied fingers a few centimeters from his forehead. He gasped, eyes wide in terror, and he tensed.

Now those fingers touched the middle of his forehead, and they pressed.

And they slipped.

Itachi muttered something incomprehensible, and he fell forward, collapsing against the wall beside Sasuke.

For a while Sasuke stared forward, motionless. Then he took a deep breath and stared down at where Itachi lay face up. The latter's eyes no longer possessed their frightening glare. No more panting from exhaustion either.

Sasuke knelt and looked down at the lifeless body of his older brother.

The fight was over, and now that Sasuke was no longer fearing for his life, or overcome by a strong desire to destroy his enemy, his memories took advantage of the moment of peace to invade his mind again. Memories of all the events that led up to this point.

Itachi murdering his best friend to gain a more powerful form of the Sharingan. The massacre of the Uchiha clan. Sasuke's vow to personally kill Itachi. Itachi's carefully laid out plans to obtain a permanent Mangekyou Sharingan. In the end, the very reason that Itachi needed to steal Sasuke's eyes also weakened him so that he died, not by Sasuke's hand, but of the side effects of his own incredible powers.

"Stupid." Sasuke sighed. "Even if you stole my eyes, it would be useless. They will not develop the Kaleidoscope Wheel-Scripting Eye, at least not in the way you want me to. I am not like you."

Now a tear trickled down Sasuke's cheek. "Why, why must you kill Mother and Father, and Aunt … I respected you so much. If you just told me …"

Sasuke shook his head and picked himself up. His usual blank, cold expression returned to his face. There was now nothing to get depressed about. He had done what he had set out to do years ago.

Finished. It's over.

Sasuke spun round and stumbled his way over to where his sword had fallen, near the edge of the plateau. Clambering over the rubble, he peered down over the side of the cliff.

It was a vertical drop down, to a broad river roaring past the foot of the hill. It was white from the churning and rapidly flowing water. Strange, he had not noticed any rivers when he came to the hill.

He picked up his sword, sheathed it, and, using it to prop himself up, he stood at the edge of the cliff and took in his surroundings. All around, the forest was being swallowed up by black flames. A sea of black flickering tendrils, like a monster from a Lovecraftian nightmare, gradually reduced the surrounding vegetation and soil into smouldering black ashes. Even as Itachi lay unconscious, probably dead, the aftermath of one of his most dreaded Techniques continued to spread and threatened to engulf the hills as well.




No, no, I am not like you.

Sasuke gasped, appalled that he was actually enjoying the sight of destruction. Swaying, he tried to steady himself, in vain. Now he was suddenly aware of how much the battle had drained him physically. He felt his legs give way, and did nothing to stop himself from falling forward. He might as well have dived. Not much difference.

At that moment, a faint impression of what Itachi said before he collapsed surfaced from the back of his mind, only now he could actually make out the rough meaning.

"It's only just begun."

It all went black even before he hit the water.

( If you have read the Manga, you will know where my story deviates from it. Now the X-over can begin :)

And yes I like to write X-overs because they require less thinking XD

Again, suggestions are very very very very welcome.

Happy Easter Sunday !

Star )