A/N: EDIT: Damnit, I mixed up Elizabeth's name with Eleanor!
Also, fine screw it. Got lambasted for even writing this in the first place, but death threats? REALLY?! I'm so done with being harassed like this...
I'm sure you're wondering where I went, and I'm sorry for leaving this story behind for so long. If I'd had it my way, I would've written the final two-three chapters for this by, but alas, life, health and certain...marital issues kept me away from this particular story for awhile.
I was in a happier place when I began writing this story, and as a result the updates flowed like wine. I had a muse, someone who inspired me to write. Then the love of my life passed away and the world went cold. I couldn't look at this story anymore. Couldn't come back for...well. Awhile. So I moved on.
An old friend of hers convinced me to continue, so here we are.
Now, as I'm sure most of you may not recall the ending of Sage In the Clouds. That story was finished quite some time ago. But ended on a rather alarming note, one I promised would carry over into this particular tale.
And I keep my promises.
Omega vs Sage, otherwise known as Naruto vs. Naruto.
Lets see who comes out on top now, shall we? Ready? Set? GO!
"Beware of an old man in a profession where men usually die young."
Two's Company (Prelude to the End)
Rapture trembled with fear.
Blazing bolts of brilliant lightning leaped through her halls and tore through anyone foolish enough to trespass. Great gales shrieked and howled, scouring everything clean. Raging flames melted steel beams and cracked hardened glass, sending seawater spilling in as the great city. Splicers fled from the chaos in droves. Some survived. Some did not. Some were to outrun the waters. Others found themselves sealed in as the blast doors slammed shut and drowned within the rising waters.
They were the lucky ones; they were spared the chaos that followed.
Those that lived had to keep running; those lived to see the clash of titans continued. And what a clash it was.
"You'll never take me alive!"
Omega grunted as a clenched fist slammed into his skull and knocked a tooth loose. That punch alone rattled his old bones but he weathered like the rock he was and drove a plated elbow into his attacker's ribs. An angry yowl greeted him and he spun, flung him up and over his shoulder into the ceiling. Sure enough the madman caromed right off said ceiling and came flying at him all over again in a storm of desperate strikes. Once again, Omega -Naruto!- patiently weathered this fresh assault with stoic patience, picked his moment, and lashed out.
Cartilage buckled beneath his fist and the Sage spiraled away from him in a shower of blood.
How long had they been fighting like this? Minutes? Hours? Days? He could no longer say. It didn't matter.
A Rasenshuriken keened to live in the boy's palm and knowing better than to take that head on, he dove aside to safety. An ominous crunch behind him heralded the destruction of yet another wall, but this time, the weathered pipes held and the glass beyond didn't burst. Thank heaven for small mercies.
Lighting leaped from his fingertips, arced across a puddle, and found his younger self when he tried to rise. A cry rang out and the scent of burnt flesh reached him.
His heart cried out and he stomped it into oblivion.
They were each fighting for their own reasons, not solely for their own being, not even for their very existence...but over a girl. It seemed a silly thing to fight for so close to the end of the world, but there it was. Worlds had collided and theirs was a clash that had been a long time coming...and not quite for the reasons one might expect.
His younger self was naive.
Naruto had seen the future when he'd slain Fontaine, and what came of it. And what he'd seen had shattered him.
"His" Elizabeth would die in a city surrounded by clouds. The young woman that the Sage so-cherished vanish into the ether ripped away, never to be seen again. Her fate was connected to the Elizabeth he knew. He couldn't stand that. Couldn't abide it. And if that meant he had to toughen his "other" self up, if it meant beating him within an inch of his life, or even killing him to prevent the foul calamity that was coming...well. Sacrifices must be made.
If that made his family hate him...so be it. This was for their sake.
So he ignored the taunts his younger self made, and fought on in stoic silence.
"Aren't you going to say something?!" his younger self ripped a chunk of masonry free and flung it at him. Omega caught it with a flick of telekinesis and sent it slamming back into his face. This time, he heard something snap and he couldn't quite quell his guilt at the anguished yelp that followed. "It doesn't have to be this way!" he ducked under a stream of fire, rolled, and lobbed a brace of kunai at him. "Just send me back! I can fix this! We don't have to fight!"
...yes." Omega grunted into the silence that followed. "We do."
Nothing personal, kid. Desperate times called for desperate measures.
His younger self was stronger, quicker on the draw, and angry to boot. He had strength, speed, and power on his side. Rapture wasn't his home. He cared not for whatever damage he did and so attacked indiscriminately, using every trick he had available. If he kept raging about like this, he was going to bring the entire city down on their heads. Naruto wasn't keen on the idea of drowning. He'd lost his helmet near the beginning of their brawl and hadn't been able to find it since.
Didn't matter. Age did not trump experience.
When the Sage in the Clouds flew at him again, Omega gave ground readily; thereby forcing him to follow. Naruto took the bait. Of course he did. How could he not? His only choice was to attack, lest he lose his quarry, and with him the chance to return to his world.
That was the catch, wasn't it?
The Sage didn't want to kill him; just maim him, wound him enough to force his compliance. Sadly, the sentiment wasn't shared. One of them had to die. Worlds were colliding. Timelines blurring. The universe didn't like its peas mixed with its porridge.
Yet another Rasenshuriken streaked his way.
Omega bounded over it. Then he leaped at him, hands clenched into claws.
Blue eyes widened in surprise, but this time, he wasn't able to skitter out of the way in time.
By the time he realized his peril, it was too late. The full weight of the Big Daddy crashed into him and rammed him against a wall. An elbow crunched under his chin, snapped his head back and bashing his head against a rusty pipe. Even as his younger self blinked the stars out of his eyes it was too late. The deed was done. A gloved hand found his throat and pinned him down. Wrestled him to the ground. Red eyes met blue. His boot flew out, collided with the Sage's skull, and the young man went limp.
Omega held him aloft, swinging one hand back. An angry Rasengan snarled in his palm, bright and pure.
It would've been so easy to kill him in that moment. To swing his arm forward and end his younger incarnation once and for all.
But he couldn't do it.
Call it sentiment, call it sadness and sorrow, call it whatever you like; his arm simply refused to obey his command. He couldn't find it within himself to end the young life before him. Oh, he knew he should; knew it would be the quick way out, the easy way out, a simple way to fix reality as he knew it. Perhaps that was why he'd lost his nerve here, at the end. He'd never been one to take the easy way out. To end an innocent life. Coward, he hissed at himself. What's one life compared to the lives of your friend and family? Nothing. Insignificant. And yet...!
Omega regarded his unconscious form for a long, bleak moment. He blew out a sigh.
...damnit. Now what the hell am I going to do with you?"
Sadly, the decision was wrested from him.
Naruto didn't hear so much as he felt the portal snap into existence behind him. The tear in reality seemed to hang there behind him, condemning him with its silence. Even then he almost dared to hope against hope that its owner would leave it be. That she'd see the wisdom of what he was doing. Ha! He should've known better. She always had a temper.
"NARUTO UZUMAKI! YOU PUT THAT BOY DOWN RIGHT NOW!"
Aaaaand he'd been busted. Blast it all. Caught in the act.
With a put upon sigh, Naruto dropped his victim.
"Lizzie, sweetie, I can explain...
A/N: Aaaaand our boy got caught. I'm sure you saw that coming.
Next chapter will be far longer. This was merely something to whet your appetite..
Experience wins over youth more often than not, I've found. Sorry, Sage. You never had a change here.
Ach, I'm really bloody rusty, but I'm slowly getting back into the groove of things. I hate cutting this chapter short, but I'm weak as all hell right now. But as I said with Prince of Darkness , I'm making been making the rounds and finishing stories properly these days. This one was already nearly complete before the love of my life passed away; and I aim to finish what the two of us started together.
Only a few chapters left now! We're nearly there!
So...in the Immortal Words of Atlas...
...Review Would you Kindly?
"Both of you!" Anko grabbed them each by the ear and drove their skulls together. "BEHAVE!"
"Machine gone goes BRRRRRRRRRRR!"
The gun barked merrily in her hand, mowing splicers down like mad dogs.
...is...is someone going to stop her?"
Eleanor shook her head rapidly.
The madness continues!