Spiral Dragon, chapter 18

fanfiction: an amateur or hobby writer playing in someone else's sandbox.

Ninja Invasion & The Lost Arc

* break *

Deidara was looking for somewhere that the dragon wasn't when he saw those big faces on the mountain. Naturally he'd thought those a particularly good target for his art. Naturally he'd ducked up the nose of the Third Hokage when a blast of lightning-and-fire went shooting past him.

Naturally he'd found a ventilation shaft. Or it was an emergency escape exit. He wasn't sure which. For ninja the two terms sort of blurred together.

Naturally, Deidara the new explosive expert in Akatsuki thought this was promising and tried to find his way through what very quickly became a maze of passages. Also naturally, he got lost.

So he left blobs of explosive clay behind to mark where he'd been because even HE wasn't so fond of explosions that he wanted to trigger one while he was underground and not sure where exactly he was. Imagine if he set off an explosion and found he'd just blown up the Hokage's toilet. He was NOT a prankster to find any satisfaction in such things.

Though he DID put triggers in place. Once he got out - THEN he'd blow this annoying little maze up.

Deidara was grumbling to himself as he turned a corner and skidded to a stop. He stared.

The large crowd of identically dressed shinobi wearing masks and black cloaks stared back.

A large figure with a bandaged head in the background waited five seconds before saying a single word.

Deidara wasn't expecting "welcome" - which he didn't get. He HAD rather expected something along the line of "kill" - which was pretty much what the bandaged guy said.

"Bad day! Bad day! Very bad day!" said Deidara as he turned and sprinted away. Not that his hand-mouths weren't chewing and spitting out little bits of clay as he went. He still wasn't too sure setting something off wouldn't bring the ceiling down on him.

* break *

Onsa was a jonin of the Sound village. He was also called Onsa the Fork. He had brought out his special weapon, the tuning-fork sword, the edge of which was reinforced to allow it to vibrate at frequencies such that it could cut through most substances.

He woke up and realized that his left arm now ended at the elbow and he had a few other injuries as well. Mainly because someone had thrown a concrete wall at him.

Making a mental note that cutting an incoming wall in half so that both halves fell to either side of him SOUNDED good. Certainly it would have been an impressive visual. That it had sufficient mass and velocity to knock him down and then land on top of him was most definitely NOT the sort of impressive visual he'd been aiming for. His sword could cut through most substances given a split-second to do so, but apparently did NOT block kinetic energy from such.

Fortunately, one of the giant summons running around had cracked the ground here and he could conceal himself there until he could make an appropriate escape.

Unfortunately, the crack he'd slid into opened up into some sort of maintenance tunnel. Fortunately he'd landed on some soft sort of clay.

Knowing that Konohagakure No Sato had a soft underbelly, hardly proper ninja at all after all, Onsa readied his most devastating attack if someone not from his own village should pass by.

Like that one, one of their ANBU apparently finding him. The Sonic Lance attack went out, Onsa using a ranged attack after his sword attack hadn't gone well, and charged with fire chakra to be especially devastating.

There was something called a "domino effect" where one thing triggered something else which in turn triggered a third and so on.

If one asked Kakashi Hatake about it, he'd talk about a kunoichi named Domino from way back during the First Ninja War who specialized in elaborate traps and that she was the origin of the term. Just about everyone else would say that was complete rubbish. A few, such as members of the Nara clan, would point to a wooden block game as the origin. Where the game came from was unknown, though a few would speculate it was related to mah jongg.

A large clump of explosive clay detonated. The explosion reached the next section of little presents that Deidara had left behind. These also exploded and the fire spread to other little clumps of clay.

Onsa the Fork had a brief moment to realize that something was terribly wrong before the first set of explosions reached him.

Deidara had a moment to realize how beautiful this set of explosions were before he decided to just use a jutsu to pass through the ground and attempt to escape that way. Not that this made much difference as the level of explosions sent pressure waves through the rock.

* break *

"Hah!" declared a Sound-nin. "Let's see you get me now!"

At which point an air vent cover the Sound-nin was standing on exploded for no adequately explored reason.

"Did I just explode an enemy by staring at him?" asked Sasuke, who was still trying to get to Itachi's position when this weird Sound-nin had intercepted him.

"For a dojutsu, the Sharingan is a pain," said Shikamaru. "It's entirely too troublesome to contemplate."

The Sound-nin landed half-on one of the seats nearby, accompanied by a crunching noise that did not bode well for the individual.

"Where'd he go?" asked Sasuke, as he now had a direct line-of-sight to where Itachi HAD been and could see he no longer was.

"Where'd who go?" asked Shikamaru, but Sasuke was already moving again. Shikamaru rolled his eyes, and slowly made his way towards where Choji and Ino were. This was all way too much hassle. He stopped on the way, noting an unconscious girl from Sand lying in the stands. The idea that taking and guarding a prisoner could be less of a hassle than actually going out and fighting DID occur to him.

* break *

"Fifty-seven, fifty-eight, fif... where is everyone?" asked Rock Lee.

Naruto took a swig from his water bottle then pointed at the trail of broken bodies they'd left behind them as they'd left the arena area and gone through the streets of Konohagakure.

"Oh," said Rock Lee. "How many did you get, Tenten?"

"I'm not so childish that I keep score," protested Tenten.

"Not so many then," mused Lee. "YOSH!"

"You took out a Sound-nin with a rubber duck," said Naruto to Tenten. "Who the heck could expect that sort of thing?"

"Well, one tries," said Tenten, blushing and sticking her tongue out in embarassment over that having been seen.

"Yosh, I will..." Rock Lee went silent, glancing at Naruto. If only he understood what "not making it weird" meant. Perhaps? "Sorry, no. I can't think of anything to top that."

Tenten fell over and landed on her face, so Lee considered that perhaps that was not what the youthful Naruto meant.

Tenten squeaked, not that she'd ever admit it, when she realized she was just getting up when there was an S-Class criminal standing right in front of her!

"Used his Sharingan too much, chakra exhaustion. Please look after my foolish little brother," said the S-Class Missing-Nin, dropping Sasuke Uchiha in front of them.

* break *

For those who just wanted to attack something or someone, this was a target-rich environment. One could send out an attack and hit SOMETHING after all, and a fight was almost certain to start.

Sasuke, still trying to reach where he'd last seen Itachi, had activated his Sharingan. This resulted in him adding to his repertoire: four martial arts manuevers (Bucket Kick, Rabbit Punch, Ferret Snatch, and Pimp Slap); two sword techniques (Riposte and Stabby Hell); one spear-based attack (Yakitori Strike); two ninjutsu (Katon: Burn Knuckle and Doton: Earth Wall), and finally the Shunshin manuever.

Itachi sighed, picked up his now unconscious and chakra-exhausted little brother, and deposited him near the Kyubi jinchuriki with a remark on watching over the foolish little brother. It might have been out of character for his cover - but he was tired and sore and quite frankly vexed with everything at this point.

Going out of the village he snagged a box of pocky, an Ichiraku "Naruto Special" To Go, and decided to find a nice dark room to lose the migraine headache he was acquiring.

That was his excuse and he was sticking to it.

* break *

For some, it was an ideal situation. One side attacking the other side attacking a third side who was attacking another and in many cases nobody was sure whose side any single individual was on. Some Sand-nin were still fighting alongside Sound-nin against Konoha-nin. Some Sand-nin were now fighting Sound-nin alongside Konoha-nin. Some Sound-nin were attacking everyone and anything including inanimate objects just because.

Overhead, a dragon had just launched an attack that had taken out half of a distant mountain during a fight with several summoned beasts with googly eyes.

A ramen seller sold a missing-nin a Naruto Special and gave him extra napkins and an aspirin because the guy looked like he could use it and was fairly polite. Also three boxes of Pocky.

For others though - control of a situation was paramount to them.

"Konan?"

"Nagato?"

"Let's go home."

"Yes, Nagato."

A little scrap of burning vegetable matter crawled across the rubble.

"Is that... Zetsu?" asked Konan.

Nagato looked around the rubble of the cave, and then to the open sky as the chamber was now mostly missing. "We'll need to take stock of resources but Itachi has Orochimaru's ring, so that much was a success at least."

"That you're down to two bodies at this point..." pointed out Konan.

Nagato didn't say anything else at that point, mainly because he was busy coughing.

"Not as much of a problem as all this rock dust," countered Nagato before he started a coughing jag.

"True," said Konan.

* break *

"HAH!" said a genin that was wearing a Konoha headband, throwing herbs of some kind at Naruto.

"Wha?" asked Naruto.

"Die for Lord Orochimaru!" declared the genin.

"WHA-CHOOOOOOOO!" sneezed Naruto.

Tenten withdrew her spear, which she'd just used to thrust into the genin - who was OBVIOUSLY some idiot who decided to pick up a fallen Konoha headband and try wearing it. Probably a Sound-nin.

"WHA-CHOOOOOOO!" sneezed Naruto again. "Wha aa ell?"

"Allergies?" asked Tenten, taking in the red and swollen look Naruto's face was developing. "That looks rough."

"Nah wiking viss," declared Naruto as he tried to wipe running eyes and nose and other reactions.

"I would imagine not," agreed Rock Lee. "Do not worry, friend Naruto, I shall make up for your lack of-"

"Mind if we join you guys?" asked Shikamaru as he walked up with his team.

"You're taking prisoners?" asked Lee.

"You guys are doing it wrong," said a chunin, stopping for a moment. "You've got the ropes wrong. This is how you're supposed to bind prisoners. Honestly, what ARE they teaching genin nowadays."

"Ah, I see," said Lee as the chunin whisked the ropes away with a couple of tugs and then reapplied them in a complicated arrangement.
"Urk," said Tenten, thinking this was something entirely different.

"It's an art," said the chunin. "Huh. I think I'll find some demonstration models to display. Be just a bit."

"Uhm," said Tenten as the chunin left.

"That's pretty good," said Ino, giving a couple of tugs on the ropes. "When she wakes up, she's not going to be able to move. And the positioning of the hands are going to make it difficult to do hand-signs."

"Less troublesome that way," summed up Shikamaru, idly wondering if he could get some practice doing this with Ino. She would be a lot less troublesome for at least a brief period. Hmmm. Maybe a variant of his shadow-binding?

"Oh, something just gave me a major chill," said Ino, looking around for whatever it was. Might be an enemy ninja sneaking up on them after all.

"Yosh! I will master this new capture art!" declared Lee. "I... where are you going, Tenten?"

"I'm going to go find something to stab," said Tenten.

"Oh, yes, the invasion. We should go make sure the civilians are getting into the shelters," said Choji. "And find a place to drop your prisoner off."

"Well, maybe I'll just fight you!" said Kankuro, dropping down from a place of concealment.

(STAB!)

(SMASH!)

"Shadow Bind"

"WACHOO!"

"Eewww, Naruto-san, you just blew out three seats and smashed his puppet."

"Uhm, actually," said Tenten. "I think that was him. I stabbed a puppet."

"So he used an illusion so that the puppet looked like him while he used another illusion to look like the puppet himself?" Rock Lee shook his head. "How does he manage to adjust for viewing angle?"

"Practice I suppose," said Tenten.

* break *

Okay, Plan A had been a bust. From what he'd seen, it looked like everyone was attacking mostly everyone else with clumps of Konoha-nin and allies handling most of what came their way.

Plan B was also straight out. Just killing Sarutobi and disrupting their little sales pitch/exam, demonstrating weakness on the part of Konoha was not likely. Most of the VIPs and their ilk were safe and not looking particularly incompetent.

Plan C's time had come. His limbs had been hacked off, he had half of his tongue, and he had a face of dog pee.

The snake-shedding body replacement technique. He just generated another body within himself and then crawled out through his own mouth. A bit chakra-heavy to do it, and you had to have a complete understanding of the human body and how it worked, but when things had gone as bad as this - darn near indispensable.

Just had to wait for a moment of inattention and NOW!

(STAB!)(SLASH!)(DE-LIMB!)

Okay, it looked as if Jiraiya WAS paying attention despite the arrival of... was that Mei Terumi? Oh hell.

Well, he might have to wait a bit and THEN try again with Plan C. He really hated Konohagakure No Sato, they couldn't just follow the path of Plan A and this would already be over except for the crying.

"I'll get you yet, Sarutobi! And your little dog too!"

"Oh, are those the chakra-draining tags?"

"And the suppressing handcuffs. We want to be sure, after all."

"We could wrap him in bandages, hang him from a rafter, beat him like one of those dolls that have all the candies inside," suggested Kiba. "One of my sister's team had something like that once."

"Interesting," said Ibiki Morino, who was suddenly there and looking down at him with an expression Orochimaru didn't like at all.

* break *

She'd run to the compound. She'd seen the priestess go into her office. She'd seen the barrier break. She'd seen the dragon appear.

This close - she could sense details about chakra that were hidden at a greater distance. She could tell.

It was the nature of a retroactive history change that only a few individuals could tell that something was off, and most would simply shrug and think that their recollection was simply off.

Karin was unaware that in the original timeline, her mother had not sung to her of the ancient Uzumaki line and how a dragon was rumored to have been the founder of the line. Of a bedtime story of how a dragon had fought with two brothers against a horned rabbit of the moon. Of how only the main Uzumaki were supposed to have the blood of a dragon sleeping in their veins.

Karin remembered her mother singing nursery rhymes about the sleeping dragon. Karin saw a dragon. She knew.

The priestess was an Uzumaki was a pretty darn huge dragon.

Karin found a nice quiet place. She was going to have to think about this one.

* break *

It began fairly early because not everyone in Sound was a fanatic follower of Orochimaru. Some were mercenaries who were mainly after being able to eat on a regular basis and at least occasionally sleep indoors.

First it was one or two of the invaders just turning and leaving the whole thing behind them as soon as they realized that this was rapidly becoming clusterdump territory. Then it was small groups of four or so invaders breaking off and trying to find an exit.

"They're running," noted Izumo Kamizuki.

"So they are," agreed Kotetsu Hagane. "Well, some of them."

"Tea?" asked Ayame.

"Ah, yes, Ayame-chan, that would be nice," said Kotetsu.

"Shouldn't you two be helping repel invaders?" asked Teuchi, standing behind the counter and clutching a ladle.

"I'm protecting a business that's staying open during the invasion, and besides - that dragon isn't exactly precise in the attacks department," pointed out Kotetsu.

"WAGHHHHHHHHHHH!" screamed a Sound-nin who was on fire as he ran past the intersection.

"Honestly," said Izumo. "Letting a little fire bother him. Who are they letting into their ranks?"

"Probably the low-level grunts who are supposed to get killed but otherwise tie up the resources of the invaded village," said Ayame as she poured tea.

"Huh, that sounds pretty accurate," agreed Izumo.

"Not your first rodeo, eh?" asked Kotetsu, taking the tea.

"What's a 'rodeo'?" asked Ayame.

"An ancient pre-ninja era sport involving cows," said Teuchi. "Required expert timing and balance to grab the bull by the horns as it charged and leaping over it, riding it until it was exhausted. The participants were called 'cowboys' for that reason."

"I see, you're pretty well-read there," said Izumo.

"A ramen chef must be well-versed in a variety of subjects," answered Teuchi.

"What do you suppose all those underground explosions were?" asked Ayame. She didn't want her father getting started on football as she didn't like hearing about those ancient bloodsports, with teams of warriors fighting for some sort of religious artifact cup that could heal wounds. "There's still smoke pouring out of the First Hokage's nose."

"Nothing important, I'm sure," said Izumo.

"GRAAHAAAARAAARAAAAR!"

"Okay, who brought a Tailed Beast?" asked Kotetsu. "Seriously?"

"That's the One-tail," said Teuchi. "Which means-"

A large dragon circled overhead, drawing fire from the sand monster.

- break -

"Hinata-chan?" asked Naruto as the bob-haired girl came running.

"Naruto-kun!" exclaimed Hinata as she ran up, then began gasping to catch her breath.

"Yosh!" said Rock Lee. "Naruto-san! I and Tenten shall continue to the shelter with-"

"-our prisoner," said Shikamaru, seeing the opportunity. Guarding the shelter and turning over a prisoner would be MUCH less troublesome than hunting invaders.

"Right," said Choji, thinking he knew where Shikamaru was going with this. Besides - there would be more shadows in the shelter area for Shikamaru to use. Plus - snack machines. All this was nerve-wracking and it was making him hungry.

"GRAAHAAAARAAARAAAAR!"

"Another giant monster?" asked Choji.

"The dragon can't blast down at it," said Tenten. "Those explosive balls she spits out would take out buildings."

"Right," said Naruto. "I'll summon my dragon."

"That thing's three times the size of your dragon," pointed out Tenten, figuring the dragon they'd ridden to Wave was the one Naruto was talking about.

"Yeah, I've fought things bigger than me... and my dragon's fought things bigger than both of us before," said Naruto.

"Naruto?" said Tenten, flicking her gaze between the group heading towards the shelters and Uzumaki. On the one hand, she was pretty sure nothing she had was going to phase the big monster sending attacks towards the huge dragon in the sky. On the other hand, she was pretty sure that the other two were going to be where the action was.

"Hinata? Are you up for this?" asked Naruto.

"We were relieved at the infirmary by Kurenai-sensei and two other jonin," said Hinata. "I didn't really get the chance to do much..."

"Okay, well, then," said Naruto, feeling some surge of chakra mixing with his own. "Then let's do this."

Tenten was watching. Why was the Hyuga heiress acting like she wanted... oh. That power-sharing thingie. "Good idea. You should do that power share stuff with both of us."

"Eh?" asked Naruto.

"EH?!" asked Hinata.

"We're in the middle of an invasion," pointed out Tenten. "If anything qualifies as 'desperate times' - that's the sort of thing."

"Bu-bu-but..." Naruto paused and got a distant look on his face.

- break -

He was in a sewer.

"What the hell?" asked Naruto.

"Use some of my power," said a figure behind the cage.

"Why?" asked Naruto, peering in the gloom. Was that some kind of rabbit?

"Because, while I might have an issue with humans and being caged - you're a dragon. And frankly it gets damn boring in here."

"Okay, but we'll have to chat about this later," said Naruto. If he got enough power to cover giving the two with him a boost - then everything would work out, right?

The figure in the cage grinned, showing white teeth. "You're not going to argue?"

"Nah, you want to watch. Then watch me being awesome. Cause dragons have a natural tendency towards awesome," said Naruto.

- break -

"You okay?" asked Tenten. "You seemed to space out for a second."

"Well, we don't have the fuuinjutsu set up," said Naruto, grasping at a reason not to kiss two girls.

"Eh?" asked Hinata from where she'd finished scrawling out lines of chalk.

- break -

Keri circled Konohagakure, having relaxed the spells that allowed her to shrink her form. Necessary as the fight so far had taxed even her reserves.

The summons had been difficult mainly in that they had kept appearing and were some form of undead. She hadn't even known this world HAD undead and so hadn't prepared any spells for dealing with the buggers. Blow one up or crush it under-claw and the summoner had kept re-summoning the same thing. Eventually she'd spotted the summoner hiding among the buildings and had used a quick Arcane Barrage to deal with that one.

Then someone had shown up and resurrected the summoner.

Finally she'd dealt with the Priest (who was apparently undead himself) and then the Warlock who'd kept summoning all these undead beasts. Necromancer. Whatever he was.

It had gotten even more complicated by some idiot throwing giant snakes into the mix. Then someone, that Jiraiya fellow she was thinking, started throwing giant toads at the giant snakes.

Then the explodey guy on his giant clay pigeon. This invader had apparently a goblin's own love of explosions because he had been throwing them about. Wearing the black cloak with red cloud design that was one of the invading groups.

FOUR different times she'd had to throw off genjutsu aimed at her and two different control spells of some sort.

Now there was a giant beast who was NOT undead but had roared at her and was now spitting earth-natured chakra balls at her like some gnomish anti-aircraft gun. Except a gnomish anti-aircraft gun would have jammed by now. Or melted down. Or the hamsters would have gotten loose.

Dodging was difficult at her usual size, but she was having trouble hitting the little bugger without taking out a section of the city. If she could get a breather, it would be a different story but she'd been taking on one opponent after another after another two for some time now.

Hmmm. Naruto was doing something with those two girls there. Ah. Well, couldn't blame them. Lots of pointy metal being thrown about. Wanting any advantage you could get or borrow or steal was kind of their normal standards.

* break *

They were twelve, or thirteen in Tenten's case. Kissing was not quite so interesting as it would be in another year or three.

That didn't mean there wasn't some blushing and nervousness involved.

Tenten was just after an edge in the current fight. After the ritual, hurried as it was, she felt strength flowing through her. Also oddly hot and somewhat like when she'd gotten ahold of a bottle of junmai ginjo sake and had wondered what all the fuss was about.

Hinata knew immediately something was wrong. Her lack of self-confidence immediately pounced on the fuuinjutsu she'd inscribed. Had she failed to get something down exactly right? Was there supposed to be a "cool down" period before reapplying the jutsu like there was with using soldier pills?

"Let's go," grumbled Naruto, flashing his shadow-clone-transformation "summoning" technique. "We've got a sand monster to take down!"

"You don't have the rope harness on," said Hinata, then reddened again as she realized what she'd said.

Tenten nodded, thinking it wasn't strange to talk to a dragon if the dragon could actually talk back. "We can use the tree-climbing jutsu to hold on, but try not to shake us off, eh bud?"

The dragon snorted. "Yeah. Let's go."

Tenten held on tightly through the launch, only letting go her grip when they were leveled off and relatively stable. A small storage scroll was selected and a crossbow pulled out. She only had six explosive notes of the right size to attach to the bolts - and they were of dubious use against something as huge as that monster - but she wasn't going to sit on the sidelines of this fight if she could help it.

"Uhm, dragon shot!"

"That's not a special jutsu," said Tenten to Hinata as they circled the sand monster.

"It... well..." said Hinata.

"Meh, if it feels better to call it out like some special technique, fine," said Tenten. With HER team, she could really complain about little procedural details?

- author notes -

just finished binge-watching My Hero Academia on Crunchyroll, so slowing down a bit here. That and got some pretty darn bad storm damage during monsoon season here in the desert.

so yeah, here's an invasion where nobody's plan works out.