Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto nor Sekirei, all characters, thoughts and ideas that exist in this story that were taken from the original works belong to their specific creators, Masashi Kishimoto and Sakurako Gokurakuin. Only original thoughts and or characters created in this story are my own.
Chapter 48: To Bring Down an Emperor
Hanabi had her eyes closed as she rested against the pillar of an overhang outside a once popular mall. Due to the mass evacuation from Shinto Teito over the past few months many of the stores within were now empty. The only ones that remained were the privately owned, small mom-and-pop shops, that simply couldn't afford to pack up their lively hood and move elsewhere.
The overhang covered a shaded a large portion of the sidewalk that ringed the building. Just past the sidewalk was a large parking lot. Normally on a day like today it would be filled, but Hanabi counted only thirty total, a far cry from the six hundred it could hold.
It was the same mall where Naruto and Hanabi had gone to many months prior to buy Naruto a new cell phone, the same one where they had first encountered Higa Izumi.
She couldn't help but think about what life had been like back then, how things would have been different if they hadn't met Musubi. That had been the trigger for everything and the key event that had kick started their participation in the Sekirei War.
It couldn't be called anything but a war now.
And here she was now, calmly waiting for her father to find her. There was no need to act natural, or to try and blend in with the sparse crowd. Her father would come for her.
Hanabi could hear a commotion in the distance; she could feel the ground shake and the wind howl. It was coming from the direction of Naoki's forward command outpost. She didn't worry too much about that, Naruto was there and he would take care of anything. Those explosions and quakes were probably him going overboard, again.
Besides, she had more important things to worry about, such as the individual she could see approaching her from within the store with her Byakugan. She had seen his approach from quite some ways away. He, too, wasn't making any attempt to hide himself.
"Hello father," Hanabi said as Hiashi walked through the sliding doors. She didn't bother to turn around, keeping her eyes focused straight ahead on the building in the distance, MBI. Oh how she wanted to aid in the assault on that structure but her Hokage had given her strict orders to stay away.
"Hanabi-san," Hiashi returned her greeting as he stopped just a few feet to her left. He too stared into the distance. "You've become as beautiful as your mother once was."
"Thank you," Hanabi replied, "It seems old age hasn't blinded you to the obvious," she quipped.
"And her tongue as well it seems," Hiashi said with a grimace, "I should punish Naruto-san for getting you pregnant but if you're anything like your mother he probably didn't have a choice."
"You should take better care of yourself, you don't look like you've slept well in a while," Hanabi said as she noticed the exhausted state of her father.
"It has been difficult sleeping lately."
"You don't have to do this father."
Hiashi gave his daughter a once over, "You're not dressed for battle," he stated, ignoring Hanabi's statement.
"We're not going to fight," Hanabi replied, "Naruto-kun has relieved me from active duty." There was a hint of dissatisfaction in her voice.
"As he should, the battlefield is no place for children," Hiashi said in approval. With his Byakugan he could see straight into his daughter's womb, he knew how far along she was. She was in no condition to be fighting a battle.
It also made what he had come here to do all that much harder.
"I'm going to say it again, father, you don't have to do this."
"If you know why I'm here, and you know who I serve. Then you should know this is preferable to the alternative."
"The only alternative I see is Orochimaru's defeat," Hanabi replied as she pushed herself off the pillar and turned to face her father, "I don't know what it is Orochimaru plans to do, but I know what Naruto-kun intends. It is unlike anything you can possibly begin to imagine."
"And you can't begin to imagine what Orochimaru-san is doing, ten thousand years of planning have gone into this day," Hiashi refuted as he turned to face his daughter.
"It won't matter, it really won't," Hanabi said. She had to suppress a chill of fear, "Naruto-kun scares me, what he's capable of doing, where he intends to go, I try to follow but he's diving head long into something I can't even comprehend."
"Then it's your job to keep him grounded in reality," Hiashi said.
"That's half the problem," Hanabi muttered to herself. Sometimes she didn't know what reality 'was' around Naruto.
Hanabi let out a soft sigh as she saw her father dip into their family's classic stance. It wasn't like she had truly expected her father to stand down, he had no reason to believe anything she had to say, and Orochimaru truly was a terrifying person.
"If you have no intention of defending yourself, please keep still, I will make this as painless as possible," Hiashi said as he pointed an open palm at his daughter, fully intent on tearing out her Sekirei core and child.
"I'm sorry father, but I never said I would just let you kill my child," Hanabi said as she raised a hand to her earpiece, "I'll see you in a few days, it's time, Yuuchi-san."
Before Hiashi could twitch a muscle Yuuchi was suddenly there, her hand clamped around Hiashi's wrist like an iron grip, preventing him from moving it an inch. The small Sekirei Pillar was dressed in her white skin-tight body suit like she had been the day before. The difference this time however was that the machine on her head was nowhere to be seen and the exposed part of her front was covered with gold armored plate mail.
"Yuuchi-san?" Hiashi gasped, startled by her sudden appearance, "You're alive?"
"Of course, Hiashi-san, do not be so quick to kill me off," Yuuchi replied.
The two stared at one another for a brief moment. Then they moved, going instantly from a standstill to full motion. Hiashi's free hand lashed out at Yuuchi's arm, chakra dancing along his fingertips. The hand moved with deadly speed and intent as he tried to sever the tendons in Yuuchi's arm.
He wasn't fast enough however as Yuuchi whipped around and yanked on Hiashi's wrist. The younger man was pulled off his feet and hurled through the air around the small Sekirei. To anyone not in the know it would look absolutely ridiculous to see such a seemingly small child throw a grown man like he was nothing more than a stuff animal.
Hiashi tried to twist in mid-air to land on his feet but failed. His eyes widened as he saw black lines rapidly spreading across his body. Even as she threw him through the air Yuuchi was wrapping him in a powerful seal, one that was robbing him of his ability to move.
He let out a sharp gasp as he was slammed harshly into the pavement. Without any control over his body he hadn't been able to prepare for the impact at all. He could only watch helplessly as the seal crept alone his entire body.
"Father, Naruto-kun will free you from Orochimaru's control, but for now I'll have to ask you to go to sleep, I'll see you in a few days," Hanabi said as she looked down at her father without expression.
"So Miya-san isn't in control of Kouten…" Hiashi trailed off as he stared up at Yuuchi with a light smile on his face, "Heh, seems things aren't going as according to plan as Orochimaru-san would like." Hiashi looked over at his daughter and gave her one last smile, "Be careful, Naruto-san isn't the only one who can reverse causality…" he whispered as his eyes closed and he drifted off to sleep.
"Naruto-kun, we have a problem," Hanabi said in concern.
"I heard," said one of the people nearby who had stopped to stare at the commotion. There was a small puff of smoke and the person was replaced by Naruto. "I'll inform the others," he said and disappeared in cloud of smoke.
"It seems our task has just became that much more difficult," Yuuchi murmured as he stared down at the comatose Hyuga.
"Perhaps…" Hanabi said thoughtfully. At first she thought it was a horrible thing, regardless of how he had learned of the technique, having the ability to manipulate the laws of causality could only be a bad thing.
However it also opened up some interesting possibilities.
"We don't need to worry about it," Another spectator said as she approached the two of them. A cloud of smoke momentarily covered her and another Naruto clone appeared beside them.
"Naruto-kun… how many of them are you?" Hanabi asked as she pointed at the spectators.
"All," every spectator replied as one. There were clones out there keeping all the regular people away while hundreds of other clones flittered through the mall, equipped with seals designed to mask their chakra coils so that they appeared no different than a regular human to the Byakugan.
"Oh Naruto-kun…" Hanabi said with a sigh as she shook her head in exasperation.
"I'm not going to let anything happen to you."
"Please explain what you said earlier," Yuuchi cut into the conversation. To her Orochimaru getting his hands on reality defying seals could only spell bad news and definitely more important than Naruto's use of the shadow clones when not necessary.
"There is a reason I haven't done anything to improve the reversal of causality seal. The concept is a double-edged sword. If Orochimaru uses it, he will quickly come to realize that fact," the clone said with a shrug of his shoulders, "Anything 'he' does will be unstoppable, but at the same time, anything 'I' do will also be unstoppable. The seal is not easy to create and requires a large open space, if he's going to use it, it won't be in Shinto Teito."
"Kouten, he has it set up on Kouten, that is the only explanation," Yuuchi said with a thoughtful look on her face. Him setting up the seal on Kouten would explain all the odd feelings and issues she was coming across with her connection.
"Then it's likely I won't even face him down here," Naruto said as he turned to the nearest three spectators, "take Hiashi to the secured location—"
"Endless Nine White Heavens!"
Before Naruto could even blink the world froze. That was the only way he could explain it, everything, the clones, the structures, the ground, it was all encased in solid ice. The oddest thing about the whole thing was that the clones never dispelled, it was like they were simply 'held' in place, frozen but undamaged.
"Naruto-san, take Hanabi-san and Hiashi-san and run, now," Yuuchi said as she stared up into the sky at a small dark form hovering in the sky, a hundred feet above them.
It was then that the last clone of Naruto realized they were surrounding by a constantly pulsating and shifting seal barrier that was wrapped around the four of them. It looked like four thin lines of seals wrapped, constantly spinning around them forming a bubble.
"As quick as always Yuuchi-san," a melodic voice said from above them.
The clones eyes narrowed as he stared up at the small person floating in the sky, "That's No. 11, isn't it?" he said as he looked over the enigmatic Sekirei. She was small, about as small as Yuuchi, with long blond hair and blue eyes, wearing nothing more than a flimsy small black dress that seemed to show more skin than it covered and a pair of black lace panties that was completely exposed for all to see.
"Yes, No. 11, Evangeline, and I cannot face her and protect you all at the same time," Yuuchi said as she kept her gaze firmly on her opponent.
"You intend to defeat her?" Hanabi asked.
"Delay is more like it, I will keep her occupied until you take MBI, that's all I can promise. She is more powerful than Naruto-san in his current state," Yuuchi replied.
"Even with Sage Mode and the Celestial Gates?"
"Where is Akitsu!" Naruto shouted up at the small girl.
A grin creased Evangeline as she slowly floated closer to the ice covered ground, "Ah, you must be Naruto-kun, or a clone of his anyways. Your Akitsu-chan is so cute, and very loyal. Even now she's trying to finish the mission you gave her," Evangeline said as her grin turned into a smirk.
"Mission…" Naruto trailed, confused by her statement. Then realization struck him. Akitsu was still going after Haku, he had never gotten back to her to tell her the mission had been scrapped.
"Don't worry, I taught her enough to overcome Haku-chan, that's one 'mother-daughter' reunion that's not going to end on a happy note," Evangeline said with a wide grin on her face. The look on her face hinted at a hidden meaning in her words but none of them had any idea what it could be.
"Naruto-san, leave, now," Yuuchi said as she started to move forward, "I am dropping the barrier and if you are not gone by then you will be frozen over with Hanabi-san and Hiashi-san."
This wasn't the time for banter, even now the Endless Nine White Heavens was trying to breach her barrier to reach Naruto's clone. So long as he was still here, it wouldn't end, and she wasn't going to waste precious chakra keeping him free, she still needed to complete her own objective, and for her that took precedence over Naruto's own plans.
"Yuuchi-san…" Naruto said, his voice going low and dangerous.
"Do not take that tone with me, I am not yours to command, I have my own goals and I will not sacrifice them for you," Yuuchi shot back sternly.
Naruto blinked in surprise. He opened his mouth to argue but quickly snapped it shut when he thought better of it. "You know, sometimes I forget that," he said to himself, "Alright, I'm going," the clone said as he picked Hiashi up and threw him over his shoulder. Placing a hand on Hanabi's shoulder the three of them disappeared.
"I was supposed to make sure Hanabi-san was taken care of if Hiashi failed," Evangeline mused as she stared at the empty place where Naruto and the others had just been.
"You did not seem to try very hard," Yuuchi replied as she dropped the barrier. If Evangeline had wanted to, none of them would be alive. That attack was nowhere near her strongest.
"True, I'm changing sides," Evangeline said with a grin and laughed, "I've grown fond of little Akitsu-chan, I want to see how she develops in the future, so much potential, as expected of someone related to me."
"Haku-san is her mother," Yuuchi corrected her.
Evangeline just laughed.
"What did you do?"
"The original No. 07, the one that was supposed to come with Miya-san, yes she was Haku's daughter, but Miya-san killed her before we left. It was not Haku's egg that was used for her replacement; why else do you think Akitsu-chan's Norito is one of 'my' spells?"
"I saw Haku-san go into…" Yuuchi trailed off as Evangeline began to laugh again. Yuuchi let out a low sigh, as she realized what Evangeline had done. "You never change, do you?" Chances are Evangeline had done it just to spite Haku and Miya, not because she actually wanted a daughter. She enjoyed doing things like that.
"Of course not, now, come, let's have some fun. I may not care about that buffoon and his plans, but that doesn't mean I don't want to see how much my dear Yuuchi-san has grown over the years," Evangeline said as she halted her slow descent to the ground, hovering a dozen feet above the frozen earth, "Naruto-san and that idiot Jack are tearing up western Shinto Teito, let's tear up the east."
Yuuchi sighed and settled into her fighting stance. She had been correct in her assessment that if something could go wrong around Naruto-san, it did. Facing off against Evangeline was almost as bad as facing off against Orochimaru himself.
She was now doubly glad she had taken all the semen she could get from Naruto this morning. It had left her feeling uncomfortable and bloated. She had looked almost six months pregnant afterwards, and being squished into the body armor didn't make her feel any more comfortable. However she would be much emptier by the end of this battle. She'd probably use up all of her own simply keeping up with the immortal vampire floating in the air before her.
"That's the go signal! Go go!" Colonel Roy said as he pounded on the door to the cabin.
"I don't hear the go signal…" the pilot said as he tapped his communication device.
"A giant sword just slammed into the Councillor's forward outpost! Whether we go now or not the battle has already begun, now fly!" Mustang snapped angrily.
"R-Right…" the pilot said as he hit the throttle on the transport helicopter. He couldn't help but gape at the ridiculously huge sword that the Colonel had pointed out. It was large enough to stick up above the city skyline.
"All units, begin Operation Gumdrop!" Colonel Mustang said ordered over the communication line. There was a slight look of distaste on his face as he gave the order, Naoki's damn Sekirei, Neptune, had been left in charge of naming their operations as a means to occupy her attention.
As a result there were many names like that. Gumdrop at least made a modicum of sense in their case as they were actually dropping out later. However he felt sorry for those who were a part of Operation 'The Final Pudding' and 'Lolipop Crush'.
There were four different divisions hitting Shinto Teito simultaneously, one from each direction. Each division was commanded by a Major General. Overall command was given to Councillor Naoki and General Yoshitsune who had been more than willing to throw his complete support behind the councillor after a traumatizing incident a few days prior.
The western division consisted primarily of ground forces with several scout helicopters providing intel and support, would handle securing the perimeter of Shinto Teito. They were also supposed to meet up with Councillor Naoki, unfortunately from the looks of it that wasn't going to be possible as a major battle erupted in the west between two powerful forces.
The northern division was similar to the western in the makeup of their forces. They were pushing hard for MBI HQ as there wasn't any need to take control of the north. MBI didn't have any troops there due to the close proximity to the former Izumo Inn and Naruto's secret base.
The eastern division was made up almost entirely of foreign military forces and was where the bulk of the naval fleet was. They'd storm into Tokyo Bay and take control of the waterfront. From there they'd land a crack troop of marines and take control of the surrounding area and support the assault on MBI with air support from the multiple carriers in the group.
Major General Olivier was in charge of the assault from the south and had split the attack up into three different regiments. There was the air brigade and two ground. One of the ground regiments was heading for the Imperial Palace and would secure it and the surrounding area. The second would take control of the general area. Their forces, the airborne one, was made up predominately of helicopters, a combination of both attack and transport. They were headed straight for MBI. They would parachute down while the gunships gave them cover fire.
All forces had orders to avoid battle with any Sekirei they encountered. Naruto had his own on standby to take care of them should any appear. Even now Colonel Mustang could see the western division taking steps to avoid the massive battle that was erupting at Naoki's former forward outpost.
"I hope he's still alive," Roy muttered as he glanced out the window down at the escalating battle. There was an enormous mushroom cloud hanging in the air. A titanic explosion had ripped up a major section of the city over there. Things were getting pretty intense , which was a good thing since it meant that at least someone was down there fighting for their side.
He just hoped Naoki was still alive, he would be needed to take control of the chaos this battle was sure to cause.
The sky flashed as something bright streaked through the air and slammed into the ground.
"Holy shit was that a meteor?!" one of the soldiers in the helicopter exclaimed as he stared out the window.
"Yes, it was," Roy replied impassively.
"Forget the meteor guys, check out the weird shit over here!" Another one shouted as he looked out a window on the opposite side of the helicopter.
Roy made his way to the other side of the helicopter and glanced out the window. A grimace crossed his face as saw what the soldier meant. A large section of eastern part of the city was encased in solid ice.
Even as he watched, a large section of ice shattered into tiny shards and converged upon a single point. Only to be blasted away an instant later.
"What the hell…" the soldier muttered.
Roy felt like saying the same thing as he watched the earth split open. From within that gap molten rock and ash began to spew into the air like a volcano. The colonel blinked as he realized it actually WAS a volcano.
And then things got even stranger as the eruption of molten rock coalesced into the shape of a massive dragon's head. The dragon's head spiraled upwards for half a mile before it curved and dove back down towards the city.
And was promptly swallowed by an even larger construct formed out of pure darkness that rose up from the frozen city. It looked like one of those worms from the movie Dune.
A massive pair of ethereal arms formed and grasped onto the worm of darkness. The darkness was drawn into either arms where it was purified into brilliant white light. There was a massive detonation as the worm of darkness and the ethereal hands exploded. The buildings shook and swayed and began to sink into the ground. Roy couldn't understand why until he realized that the entire section of the city was engulfed in molten ice.
If he wasn't seeing it firsthand he wouldn't have believed you that ice could be turned molten, but that was the only way to describe that liquid flaming mass of ice that was dissolving the city around it.
"I'm damn glad I don't have to wade through that shit!"
There was a bright flash of light behind him and a moment the helicopter rattled as a wave of turbulent air rolled past them.
Another fiery ball streaked through the sky, passing very close to them. The shockwave from its passing almost caused them to go out of control.
"It's not much safer up here," another soldier muttered as he held on for dear life. He was as willing to give up his life for the cause as the next soldier but dying before he even arrived was not something he wanted on his tomb stone.
"It's not going to be safe anywhere soon," Colonel Roy said as he turned to his men, "We're approaching MBI, get ready to drop."
Roy couldn't help but let a sweat drop roll down the back of his head as he heard a collective sigh of relief escape from the soldiers on his command. Not that he could exactly blame them. Even if they were up against plasma and laser weaponry, at least they could understand how they died.
"What the HELL is that? When did the Eldar get involved in our war?"
At first Roy was utterly confused, he had played Warhammer 40k as much as the next man but that was a game, not real life. Then he looked out the window towards the molten ice and couldn't help but let another sweat drop escape.
There, in the very center of it all, rising from the center of the volcano, the only part of the place that made any sense, was a forty foot tall construct of flame and death that looked like it had been ripped straight from said game.
"We come in peace?" one of the men said hesitantly as he waved at the Avatar of War.
A helicopter ahead of them exploded as lance of light tore through it.
"Sir! We're being targeted!" came a cry from the cockpit.
"The MBI satellite!"
"That's our cue boys! It's time to bail!" Colonel Roy said as he hit the lever and opened the sides of the helicopter. "We'll huff it the rest of the way on foot!"
They weren't far away from their intended drop zone, couple miles at most. Roy could see the other helicopters following suit as men began to jump out and para-drop into the city. The gunships immediately began evasive maneuvers as they flew down between the buildings and began to look for targets to eliminate.
Another helicopter exploded under an onslaught of plasma balls.
"Jump! Jump!" Roy said as he leapt from the side of the helicopter. He didn't look back as he ripped the cord on his parachute and began to glide down to the city. The men on the helicopter followed quickly behind him.
When the last man had left the helicopter banked sharply did and headed back the way it had come. There wouldn't be any need to pick them up. Either they'd be successful and the city would be theirs, or they'd all be dead.
Roy could already see gunfire breaking out between MBI and his regiment. Some were being taken out before they could land but most of his men were making it to the ground. In a way it was a good thing they had jumped early. It meant that there was less resistance to impede their landing, even if it did make the assault on MBI HQ harder once they were on the ground.
He just hoped Naruto and his Sekirei were ready to deal with Minaka's Sekirei holed up at MBI HQ otherwise this was going to be a very quick assault, and not in a good way.
"Another war," Seo said, letting out a small sigh as he watched a group of gunships fly overhead. They could hear a firefight in the distance, the sounds of guns firing and explosions.
"Is it Naruto-san again?" Minato asked as Kaho leapt to the next building with him in her arms.
"Not this time, at least not entirely," Matsu said as she looked at Minato with a serious expression on her face. She was being dragged by the collar of her dress, her legs flailing in the air, behind Homura.
"What do you mean?" Minato asked.
"Naruto-san is obviously involved, but this has been building for some time, it probably would have erupted without any involvement from Naruto-san. The country is rising up against Orochimaru, or Minaka-san as they know him."
"Then we don't need to find Naruto-san," Minato said.
"Yes," Matsu agreed, "there's a good chance that MBI is already under attack. If Naruto-san was going to attack Orochimaru, now would be the day."
"Not sure how I feel about getting caught up in a war," Seo said distastefully, "projectiles have a way of hitting me in the face more often than I'd like."
"Well Shiina-kun will protect me! I'm going to rescue okaa-san," Yukari said fiercely as Shiina carried her from rooftop to rooftop.
"I agree, this is our best opportunity, I'm not wasting it," Minato said. "Let's go Kaho-chan, to MBI!"
Seo let out another sigh, "You kids are going to be the death of me," he muttered as he followed after them.
"Interesting…" A Naruto clone said as he shadowed Minato and the others. He was dressed head-to-toe in ANBU gear. "I better make sure they don't get in over their heads. They're not ready to face a Shinobi yet, not without assistance."
"We're going to have a long talk as to just 'why' you went back for that Patriot Missile Launcher," Hanabi said the moment they arrived back at Epsilon; they being her and the clone that had teleported away with her.
Her father was safely secured in an alternate dimension and being watched by multiple clones to ensure that the seal keeping him pacified didn't weaken at an inconvenient time. Hanabi really wished she could speak with her father while he was being held but she understood the necessity of keeping him completely locked in stasis. There were abilities that, if trained long enough, could be activated with a simple mental command and they couldn't risk that.
"It's not in the backyard," the clone refuted as he started for the stairs down to B1.
Hanabi followed close behind, "That really wasn't the point of my reason for leaving it behind," she said with a dead-panned expression on her face.
"Look at it this way, it can be used to help protect Konoha. Boss plans to purchase several more and hide them in strategic locations, just in case," the clone said.
"That wasn't really the reason you went back for it, was it though?"
"Well, no, but does that matter anymore?"
Hanabi let out a sigh, "Oh Naruto-kun," she said in exasperation. "Don't hand over the Interceptor though."
Naruto looked at Hanabi in confusion, "Why? I was going to give it to Naoki as an inauguration present."
"It's too advanced," Hanabi explained, "we're on the same side, but at the same time we're not, we need to hold at least a few technological advances over him. He's bound to gain a lot in the MBI raid, so will the foreign powers. Make sure you have Blanc erase any information on the interceptor."
The clone made a clone that dispelled itself, relaying the information to the others.
"Done, although I thought you would have been upset over that one," the clone muttered to himself as he scratched his head. Even more than the patriot missile launcher he was certain Hanabi would have torn strips from his hide for taking that.
"Of course not, that was a brilliant move, depriving Orochimaru of advanced technologies, empowering ourselves and giving us an edge in the future, I approve," Hanabi said with a hint of pride in her voice. A queer look crossed her face however when her mind moved on to the next item, "but really Naruto-kun? Statues?"
"Ya, Boss isn't sure either, he hasn't sorted through all the clones memories from that time so he's not even sure where they came from," the clone apologized.
"Just return them when you figure it out."
"You can count on it, they don't even look particularly nice."
The two didn't speak again until they finished making their way through the house the command center located on B1. The room looked the same as always save that the map in the center of the table in the room had been retrofitted to provide real-time updates of what was going on out in the city. There were a series of red, blue and green dots and symbols. Red dots represented MBI forces, the symbols changed based on what it was, a dot for a soldier, square for vehicle, triangle for an emplacement, etc. The blue dots were Naoki's forces and the shapes and symbols held the same meaning as the MBI ones. The green dots were Naruto's forces, his Sekirei and clones. There were only two symbols for the green forces, small green dots for clones, and triangles for everything else.
There almost as many green dots as there were red dots. Naruto had a lot of clones out there doing various things, there had been several hundred near her just at the mall.
Chime could be seen peering curiously down at the various happenings; she was the only other person in the room. She was the only one not being deployed out in the city for the war. Aside from sparing Chiho the harsh realities of what would occur, Naruto had other plans for her.
She was going to be the only one accompanying him to Kouten where he intended to face down Orochimaru. She was the only one he could bring with him and be reliably certain that she'd live to see another day, and that was because of her Norito's ability to control Fate.
"What's going on out there?" Hanabi asked as she looked over the map on the table.
"Lots of shiny sparkly dots are moving around the map," Chime said with a shrug, "I'm not a strategist, I have no idea if this is good or bad."
"Hmmm," Hanabi murmured as she sidled up beside Chime and glanced down at the map, "Most of the outer city has been taken, Tokyo Bay is under our control, and Naoki's forces are coalescing on MBI, where the bulk of the MBI troops are."
"Oh that's good, I think?" Chime said hesitantly.
"It is, although I would like to know why Blanc is streaking towards MBI at super-sonic speeds…" Hanabi said as she frowned at the green triangle that was bulldozing its way eastward across the city.
"Blanc got backhanded by Jack Rakan," the clone piped up, "it's hard to catch her when she's moving that fast, even if we teleported to her, she'd be past the point of teleportation before we could orientate ourselves and grab her."
"Is she going to be ok?" Chime asked worriedly.
"Yup, I can sense her emotions, she's pissed, but not really hurt, her Norito was in full bloom when she got hit, there probably isn't very much that can hurt her physically when she's like that."
"Why are there six green triangles out there?" Hanabi asked in confusion. There should only be four. The fifth one Hanabi could make an educated guess. That one was in the east where she had just been a few minutes prior, that was probably Yuuchi.
"We added Yuuchi to it, that's her in the east fighting."
"And what's this other one in the west? There shouldn't be any Sekirei of ours over there."
"Ah… well…" the clone coughed uncomfortably.
"What did you do?"
"It was an emergency, we needed more firepower to fight Jack," the clone protested. Distraction was more like it. Blanc and Neptune weren't meant to actually defeat Jack, simply test the limits of his ability, and give Naruto enough time to set up another sequence of attacks.
"We added Neptune to our list of Sekirei…" the clone said sheepishly.
"Isn't she Naoki's?"
"Well, ya, she is… but she's ours as well. She's bound to both of us, Naoki gave her to us anyways during the meeting. We'll work on slowly deadening her bond with Naoki until it's completely gone."
"You're going to steal his Sekirei?" Hanabi asked incredulously.
"He gave her to us!" the clone protested. "Besides… she's immortal like Blanc," the clone said sadly, "it's best if we're all together, for the sake of our sanity in the future."
Hanabi sighed and nodded her head, "Alright, I understand, am I going to have to share with her as well?"
"No, don't worry about that, you'll understand when you see her. She's more childlike than most children," the clone said, waving away her concern, "she prefers her normal state and in that state I don't think she could care less about being sexually active, at least not with a man anyways, she seemed awfully fond of Blanc."
Hanabi didn't say anything but she did let out a mental sigh of relief. She realized that Naruto had taken her in an emergency situation to give himself an advantage in the situation he was dealing with, so she could accept that. It was tactically sound, her only issue was the domestic problems that may arise afterwards.
But if she didn't have to share Naruto with her at all, at least not while she was alive, then she had absolutely no problem with Naruto taking Neptune as his own. In fact she almost approved of it in that situation.
"Oh! Blanc-san stopped!" Chime said as she pointed at the two green triangles on the map.
"Yume caught her, good," the clone said as he looked on approvingly. Blanc was now at MBI and could go ahead with manipulating the data found therein.
Wait a minute, the clone just realized she may not even have to after what was about to happen. The clone shrugged mentally and pushed the thought aside.
"Is there going to be a Shinto Teito left after this war?" Chime asked, more than a little worried, as she saw entire sections of it get destroyed. She had just seen the Imperial Palace disappeared under a hail of tank fire and missiles fired from the warships in Tokyo Bay, guided by laser.
"Probably not," Hanabi admitted, "but that's not an issue. Cities can be rebuilt, and I'm certain Shinto Teito, or Tokyo as it'll probably be renamed, will be back better than ever soon than you think." It may not be in the same place, or nearly as large, but Tokyo would be back.
The three continued to watch in silence as the war began to escalate. The northern division coalesced on MBI to support Naruto's Sekirei and the paratroopers that were making their way up from the south.
"Never thought I'd be seeing you again so soon," Alice said as she pulled the trigger on her assault rifle, sending a rain of bullets down the street at a pair of MBI soldiers hiding in a nearby building. She quickly ducked behind cover just before plasma blasts shot past her. She glanced at Yume and gave her a quick grin, "I made a LOT of money because of you."
"Our destination is the same," Yume said with a smile, ignoring the comment about the money. She stood up and tossed an energy blast into the building causing the front of it to explode outwards killing the two MBI soldiers that were shooting at them. She casually dodged the oncoming attacks as she slowly returned behind her cover.
"Just glad you're on our side," Alice said as she cautiously peeked over the cover, looking for more hidden enemies. She was forced to quickly duck back down as another rain of plasma shots descended upon her. "Damn there are a lot of them."
They had made good progress through Shinto Teito until just now, the streets were crawling with MBI troops, armored vehicles and turret emplacements. It was impossible to make it through without heavy equipment.
The entire platoon she was a part of was bogged down here and the main reason was the line of defensive turrets and armored vehicles blocking the road up ahead. Since they had parachuted into battle they didn't have the necessary fire power to push through easily. It didn't help that the nearby high rise was filled to the brim with MBI soldiers firing down on them.
"Well, MBI is just a block away," Yume pointed out.
"It might as well be on the fuckin moon if we can't get there!" Alice complained.
"We'll get there," Yume said comfortingly. There was a massive boom and suddenly the nearby building that housed the majority of the entrenched MBI troops collapsed, taking out the street and a dozen armored vehicles and all of the soldiers within range, "see? Miya-san is clearing us a path."
"That woman is strong," Alice murmured with respect as she saw the building collapse.
Miya suddenly appeared, walking casually out of the cloud of dust and smoke, completely unharmed and unscathed. She was completely clean as well, as if the dust and dirt was afraid to mar her perfect figure. She gave Yume a smile as she casually sheathed her sword.
"It seems you're less inclined to leave people alive now, Yume-san," Miya said as she approached the two women."
Yume looked mildly embarrassed as she cleared her throat, "I did not work so hard to spread love amongst the troops just to have others ruin it."
"Oh? I'm quite certain you could have disarmed or knocked them out without any trouble," Miya said with an amused look on her face.
Yume looked uncomfortable as she turned away from Miya, "How are things going with Hayate-san?" she quickly asked, trying to change the topic. She didn't want to admit it but Naruto's influence was starting to spread to her pretty badly. She still fought for love, but there was definitely a subgroup of individuals that she felt didn't deserve love, a subgroup that seemed to encompass everyone that opposed the love of others.
A wicked grin crossed Alice's face, "I need to thank you for that, that boy is hung like a horse."
Yume gave her a side-long glance, "I'm happy for you, I think?" she hadn't gotten them together because of that.
"Bet there isn't another man as large as him," Alice said with a grin.
That seemed to irk her for some reason, "My Naruto-kun is pretty well endowed, besides, he can replicate himself," Yume said with a smile on her face, refusing to let her Ashikabi lose.
"Wait what?" Alice asked as she gaped at Yume. "Replicate himself?"
"Yume-san, you should not be giving away Naruto-kun's secrets," Miya chided the brunette.
"No wait, what do you mean replicate? Like clones?"
"Like me!" a voice said as a clone of Naruto popped his head out of a nearby sewer grate.
"Like… him…" Yume said as a sweat drop rolled down the back of her head.
"Kami damn it! Where did you come from?"
"Well mommy said a stork brought—"
"SPINNING PILE DRIVE!" A shout came from above. Everyone paused and looked up.
There, in the air above them, falling rapidly from the top of one of the nearby buildings, was another clone, spinning violently in the air. Grappled between his legs with his head down was an MBI sniper, crying like a baby.
There was a sickening crunch as the MBI sniper was slammed head first into the road. The force of the impact caused the clone to go up in a puff of smoke as well, leaving behind nothing but a broken and mangled body.
"You two have a… very… interesting man," Alice said hesitantly as she eyed the ruined body lying in the middle of the street.
"Oh Naruto-kun," Miya said as she shook her head in exasperation.
"Hey! That sniper was about to try and shoot you, no way I was going to let that happen," the clone in the sewer said as he tried to defend said actions.
"By pile driving them into the street of the top of a high rise?" Alice asked with a quirked eyebrow.
"You can't say you've never wanted to do that!" the clone said indignantly as he pointed at Alice. He got three identical dead panned expressions. "Well, the pile drive I mean, not necessarily from a rooftop," the clone hastily tried to salvage his point. Suddenly a queer look crossed his face as he turned westward, "Oh, and umm… Yume, could you please catch Blanc?" the clone asked.
"Naruto-kun… what did you do this time?" Miya asked as she let out a long sigh.
"Hey, in my defence it wasn't actually me this time."
"Naruto-kun, where is—" Yume stopped as she heard it.
Or rather the swearing, oddly enough that came first, followed by the sound of walls being knocked out. All of a sudden the front of a store to their left blew out and a white and blue streak came shooting out of the debris.
Yume reacted instantly. The ground fractured under her feet as she pushed herself to her limits in an instant. No one aside from Miya and the clone saw her move, one moment she was standing still beside Alice and Miya and the next she was in the air, catching Blanc.
The journey through Shinto Teito had thankfully slowed her down sub-sonic speeds but there was still a tremendous sound as Blanc slammed into Yume's arms.
Yume twisted her body in midair and brought them back down to the ground. Her feet dug trenches through the asphalt street as she tried to slow the two of them down. By the time they had managed to stop they had been carried to the other side of the street where the wall of the building there had managed to finally stop them.
It would need to be repaired however as there had still been enough force to crack the wall.
Yume peeled herself from the wall and began to carry Blanc over to Miya and Alice, "Are you alright Blanc-san?" she asked as she looked down at Blanc in concern. The small Sekirei definitely looked like she had been roughed up. She was caked in dirt, the front of her suit, just above the navel, had been torn open and small rivulets of blood escaped from minor scrapes found there. Yume's biggest concern however was Blanc's back. The clothing had been completely shredded there and it was covered in blood. Her travel through the city had opened up thousands of tiny wounds on her back.
Blanc struggled in Yume's arms for a moment before she managed to push herself away from the concerned Sekirei. "Kami damned piece of shit, frickin hell bastard whore! I'm going to rip his tongue out and shove it so far up his ass he'll f'in taste the damn thing! Then I'm going to really start getting nasty!" Blanc cursed as she rolled up her imaginary sleeves and began to float back the way she came.
Another clone suddenly appeared behind Blanc and wrapped his arms around her waist, holding her in place, "Ah, sorry Blanc, can I have you help Miya and Yume?" he asked.
"I going to kill that bastard until he's dead, bring him back and then kill him again!" Blanc snapped angrily as she tried to move. It was in vain however as Naruto's clone had glued himself to the ground with chakra.
"I know but…" Naruto's voice dipped and became inaudible to everyone save Blanc as he whispered instructions into her ear.
"Damn it, fine, but you better make sure he dies painfully!" Blanc snapped.
"Don't worry, Boss plans on liquefying him," the clone said with a grin.
"Tsk, I want a video so I can gloat at the bastard later!"
"Done!" the clone said and let go of the small Sekirei. He gave her a quick kiss on the cheek and disappeared.
"How the hell did he do that?" Alice asked as she gaped at where Naruto's clone once was.
"Our Ashikabi is quite talented," Miya said with a little smile on her face. She turned her attention to Blanc and made her way over to the small Sekirei. There was a concerned look on her face as she noticed Blanc's state, "are you alright Blanc-san?" she asked in concern.
"I'm fine, it looks worse than it is. These scrapes aren't even gonna slow me down. Let's just get this over with so I can watch that damn video," Blanc said as she looked up at the MBI building that towered in the sky.
"How many women does your man have?" Alice asked.
"Enough yapping, Sergeant!" a small, lithe woman barked as she hurried across the broken street, cutting sharply into the conversation. The woman was dressed similarly to the other soldiers on the field but this one had a slightly more elaborate insignia sewn to their fatigues. She was the one in charge of this group of soldiers. Said soldiers were currently rushing up the street towards the broken building, "We need to reach MBI and support Colonel Mustang, ASAP."
"Yes Captain!" Alice said as she saluted her superior officer. She turned to Yume and Miya, "Sorry, we can catch up later, see ya!"
The Captain eyed watched Alice head off down the street for a moment and turned to regard Miya, "Thanks for the support, certainly made things easier."
"Oh, you don't need to thank me," Miya said with a light smile on her face, "MBI and I have some… history together, I'm just catching up with them."
The captain eyed the ruined building a second time and let out a short laugh, "Well, as far as I'm concerned, you can keep catching up with them for as long as you like," The Captain said and with that she saluted Miya and took off after her soldiers.
The three of them, Miya, Yume and Blanc, followed after the soldiers, going at a more leisurely pace. Their task wasn't to deal with the MBI soldiers, that was for Naoki's men to deal with. They were supposed to conserve their strength for when the real threat appeared, which were the Sekirei stationed at MBI.
"What happened Blanc-san?" Yume asked, referring to how Blanc ended up flying halfway across the city.
"That f'in bastard ambushed us at Naoki's outpost, destroyed the entire thing with a giant frickin sword," Blanc said heatedly.
"Is Naoki-san still alive?" Yume asked in concern.
"Ya, Naruto got everyone out safe and sound. But then the bastard stole everyone's panties," Blanc spat out. She was doubly glad that Naruto had protected her from that man, she wasn't sure how she'd have felt about being felt up in his search for panties.
"Naruto-kun took them?" Yume asked in disbelief, mistaking what Blanc said and really hoping that she had heard wrong.
"No, no, not that bastard, the other bastard, the one that destroyed the outpost," Blanc hastily corrected herself. "He's a giant pervert, and indestructible, he caught my Norito in his teeth!" she growled, anger boiling inside her once more as she remembered that incident. She had poured all her strength into that attack and he had simply winked at her like it was nothing! "Then he backhanded me across the city."
"Will Naruto-kun be alright?" Yume asked in concern. It seemed as if this Jack Rakan was something else entirely. No one should be able to catch a Norito in their teeth, that was simply ridiculous.
"He seemed calm enough, like he had a plan for the prick," Blanc muttered, despite her words though she sounded more than a little concerned herself.
"Don't worry!" said Naruto's clone as he popped up beside them from another sewer grate. "Jack's about to fall prey to Boss' seal, it doesn't matter how powerful he is, he can't protect himself against the very laws of existence."
"Is Naruto-kun playing around with…" Miya trailed off as she noticed Alice, running back towards them as fast as she could. For a human it was actually pretty impressive, she could have easily been a contender for the Olympics at the rate she was huffing it.
A frown creased Miya's face, in fact all the soldiers were running as quickly as possible. More than a few of them looked as if they'd look death straight in the face and were trying to run away as fast as possible.
"We'll leave 'them' to you!" the Captain called out as she bolted past Miya, "We'll find some other way around."
"Them?" Blanc asked curiously as she looked around in confusion as the soldiers continued to stream past them.
Who 'they' were didn't remain a mystery for very long as three forms topped the rubble of the fallen building. All three of them were dressed in clothing that would look out of place on the battlefield, or at any time really. They also carried themselves with an air of confidence and power that the humans of this world could never hope to match.
The first individual was a tall, dark-skinned man with and dark eyes with bone-white spiky hair that covered most of his face, including his left eye. He wore white, segmented breast plate over a high-collar sleeveless shirt and black pants. There was a tattoo emblazoned on his left shoulder and the hilt of a large sword could be seen poking over his right shoulder.
The women standing beside him was shorter by a head and had piercing brown eyes. Her dark brown hair was tied up into two small buns on either side of her head. She was wearing a standard white Chinese blouse with burgundy trim and wore fingerless dark green gloves. Her baggy, burgundy pants that went down to mid-calf were split on the sides at the waist exposing her skin. You could see the small thin white band of her panties circling her waist. On her feet was a pair of blue sandals.
The third individual was dressed far more exotically than the other two. One would argue she was actually 'armored' instead of dressed. A thin layer of opaque bluish white ice was moulded to her body. It seemed to flow with the movements of her body, almost like a second skin. It covered her torso completely but left her shoulders and upper arms bare as well as the sides of her hips and waist and her upper legs, thighs, and knees. From her back sprouted a pair of ice wings that looked both beautiful and deadly at the same time.
It didn't take a genius to figure out who they were.
They were Orochimaru's Sekirei.
"Oh my, we seem to have some visitors," Miya called out to them as she put a hand on her cheek and tilted her head slightly. The smile on her face was anything but warm as she looked up at the three Sekirei, "thank you for saving me the effort of finding you."
"Darui, Tenten and Haku," Yume said as she identified them from left to right, "Miya-san, these three aren't like the others," she said cautiously as she eyed the three of them carefully. The emotions they possessed were few and far between, like they were suppressing or hiding them. The only time she had seen anything similar was when Naruto and Hanabi prepared themselves for battle, and those were two individuals she wasn't confident she would emerge victorious against.
"Let's just smash em and move on," Blanc growled.
"I'm sorry, but I have orders to deal with a separate issue, Tenten and Haku will be enough for the three of you," Darui called out to them. He turned to Tenten and tapped her on the shoulder. He said a few things to her, too quiet for the three of them to hear, before he jumped westward and disappeared from view.
"Yume-san, go after him, we can't let him ambush the regular troops," Miya commanded.
"Yes Miya-san," Yume said as she jumped moved to follow.
It was only due to her quick reactions that prevented her from being impaled upon a razor sharp ice spike that ripped out of the ground beneath her.
"I'm sorry, Yume-san, but I can't allow you to interfere," Haku said. With a mighty heave of her ice wings she propelled herself into the air and positioned herself between Yume and the direction Darui had gone.
"Darui-san has no interest in Naoki's troops, in fact it's better that they all gather here," Tenten said as she stepped for as well, "if they want MBI, they can have it, who is in control is soon going to be irrelevant."
"What do you mean?" Yume asked, almost dreading the answer.
Tenten almost looked amused, "You don't honestly expect me to answer that, do you?"
"Yume-san, Blanc-san, for the sake of Orochimaru-san's goal, please stand still," Haku said as she summoned hundreds of needles of ice around her, "I do not like to kill, so I will make it as quick and painless as possible."
"Like frickin hell I'm going to just stand here and let you kill me!" Blanc snapped angrily.
"I see," Haku said sadly with a slow shake of her head. Her eyes hardened and her face became expressionless, "then you leave me no other choice but to—"
Whatever Haku was about to say was cut off as a massive dragon's head of ice roared over the rooftops and down upon her. The head of the dragon was almost twenty meters tall and left a long trail of ice behind it. The beautiful shinobi was forced to shift from the offense to defense. The needles of ice quickly coalesced together between her and the dragon forming a powerful barrier.
However unlike the last time the dragon didn't simply crash against the barrier, it split into four smaller dragons at the last moment and twisted around the barrier.
Haku's eyes widened momentarily in surprise as she used her wings to hastily propel herself upwards and away from the attack.
The dragons however didn't explode when they collided on the other side of the barrier, instead they recombined and became a large dragon once more and continued the chase.
"Tenten, I'll leave them to you," Haku shouted as she beat a hasty retreat as she attempted to outdistance the attack.
"I alone will be enough for the three of them," Tenten said as continued to stare at Miya, Yume and Blanc, paying no heed to the aerial battle.
"Akitsu-san?" Miya called out hopefully.
A clone of Akitsu made out of pure ice formed in front of Miya, "Hello, Miya-san, can't talk, need to complete my mission," the clone said simply before it dissolved into water.
"Akitsu-san has become stronger," Yume said happily. It was good to hear from their wayward sister after so long. None of them had seen or heard from her since the meteor.
"Yes, let's finish nuisance and catch up with her," Miya said as she drew her sword and pointed it at Tenten.
"Ah, the Totsuga No Tsurugi, I remember forging that blade," Tenten said as she eyed Miya's longsword, "that certainly brings back memories."
"Then you know what it is capable of," Miya said.
"Yes, that blade will not touch my skin," Tenten declared as she settled into a fighting stance, "now, come, let us end this."
"… the decoy has been taken," Yuuchi heard a voice speak into her ear through the small communication device tucked inside.
That was the signal, she was done here with Evangeline, although truth be told she was probably done regardless of the signal arriving. She couldn't risk taking any more damage or using any more chakra if she wanted to be able to accomplish her own task.
The small Sekirei groaned as slowly picked herself off the ground and crawled out of the crater her body had made. Being slammed into pavement at super-sonic speeds was never a very pleasant experience, never mind what it did to the landscape.
"You've grown rusty over the years," Evangeline said with disappointment as she looked down upon Yuuchi with imperious look. Dark energy streamed off her body and her normal alabaster skin had turned the color of midnight. Eerie white runes ran up her arms and legs. Jutting from her back was a massive construct of ice, blackened by the darkness she had absorbed.
It was her Magia Erebea, fully activated and empowering to levels few could ever dream of. In her state she was more than a match for the legendary being of old, the Jubi. As she was all the water, wind and yang elements in the area around her were part of her Absolute Dominion.
The small Sekirei Pillar didn't respond as she pulled herself over the lip of the crater and rolled onto what was left of the cracked and ruined street. She let out a small sigh as she glanced around the area. The entire place was annihilated. It didn't even look like a city anymore.
It looked like Hell had been transplanted into the middle of Shinto Teito, then frozen over, melted, and frozen a second time. Rivers of molten rock, metal and other unidentifiable material, flowed through the area. In places the streams were suspended in air, held aloft by the powerful magics and seals employed by the two titans.
Along with the molten streams were geysers of pure darkness. They dotted the landscape, spewing hundreds of feet into the air before finally dissipating. There was a particularly large concentration of darkness to her left where Evangeline had employed a powerful spell to rip her avatar of fire to shreds. What little was left of it could still be seen here and there, scattered across the ruined landscape.
The worst of it however, was the ice. It was everywhere. If the landscape wasn't burning or spitting out darkness, it was frozen over. It wasn't even always 'solid' ice as in many places molten ice still flowed.
They had turned this part of the city into a nightmarish hell. It was doubtful it would ever be the same again.
It was doubtful this part of the city would even exist come tomorrow morning.
"Too tired to speak?"
"No, simply not worth a response, my aim was not to defeat you, simply delay you," Yuuchi replied, "I have done that, there is no longer any reason for me to battle you."
Evangeline let out a sharp laugh. "That's so like you, Yuuchi, trying to spin everything positively. Face it, you can't beat me, you never could."
Yuuchi grimaced as she pushed herself up into a seating position, "Perhaps, what will you do now? You say you no longer wish to support Orochimaru-san, we could use your help."
Evangeline laughed and crossed her arms beneath her chest, "I thought about it, but no, it's much more entertaining to watch you all struggle. I trained Akitsu-san and I'll let you live, I think that's more than enough help."
"What is Orochimaru-san planning?" Yuuchi asked quietly.
Evangeline smirked, "Oh he wants to be God, he plans to recombine all the tailed beasts and take their power for his own and then suck this planet dry."
Yuuchi nodded her head, "I see, yes, so Naruto-san was correct in his assessment of Orochimaru's plans." Most of them the plans anyways. Sucking the planet dry was new but they had suspected the rest, and knew that Orochimaru had something in mind that was planet wide.
Evangeline's smirk slowly disappeared from her face, "You already knew?" she asked, somewhat disappointed that she wasn't able to surprise her.
"Suspected, and hoped, yes," Yuuchi replied, "the instant we found out that Minaka-san was Orochimaru-san, we knew that there was something more to the shifting of landmarks, streets and buildings than random whim. Doubly so when news of activity of Orochimaru's Sekirei outside of Shinto Teito came to light. Anyone proficient with seals could see that he was building something."
"You want that snake to succeed?"
Evangeline eyed Yuuchi for a few moments before her grin came back in full force, "Now I definitely can't wait to see what you two have in store. Please put on a good show," the ancient vampire said and with a wave of her hand she disappeared.
Yuuchi let out another sad sigh, "It will be a show the likes of which this world, nor any other, has ever seen. I fear nothing will ever be the same after today," she said sadly.
Many people were going to die today, many good people. They could save so many by warning them, but that would give away too much. They couldn't let Orochimaru know that they knew what he was planning, and that they wanted him to succeed. He would definitely change things to account for that action.
Yuuchi glanced westward towards MBI and shook her head sadly.
It would be a miracle if anyone in Shinto Teito lived to see tomorrow.
Some were to be saved, the Sekirei and Ashikabi, Naoki and his closest confidants, and a select few others. Each of them had clones tailing them to get them to safety once Orochimaru activated his seal.
But as for the rest…
Millions were going to die, so that the billions would live.
"The distractions are finally gone, it is time to begin," Yuuchi said to herself as struggled to her feet. Activating the seal within her womb she absorbed all of the 'energy' stored therein.
A pleasant sigh of relief escaped her mouth as she felt herself reenergized. More than that the discomfort in her abdomen disappeared as her inflated womb returned to its normal size.
Taking one last glance around the ruined city Yuuchi closed her eyes and activated a storage seal on the back of her neck with a surge of her chakra. The machine headdress reappeared around her face.
And an instant later she disappeared.
Haku twisted around in midair and held a hand out towards the oncoming dragon of ice. Four massive blocks of ice slammed into it from either side, severing the head from the rest of the ice flow.
She stopped and let the dragon's head snap down upon her. Just before it crushed her however a spiked bubble of ice wrapped itself around her. The dragon's maw shattered upon the neigh impenetrable defense.
"Impressive," Haku said as she detonated the ice around her, the barrier and the dragon's head, with a flare of her chakra. "You've grown since last we fought, Akitsu-chan."
"Haku-san, I will complete my mission," Akitsu said as she appeared on top of the upper most ice block Haku had used to stop her dragon attack.
"And I will complete mine, which is to eliminate you and collect your body for Orochimaru-san to use," Haku said with an emotionless voice. She couldn't afford to let any parental feelings get in the way of her mission. With a wave of her hand the ice block that Akitsu was standing upon shifted and speared her through the legs in a dozen places.
But Akitsu did not bleed.
Instead she broke apart into millions of slivers of ice that shot towards Haku.
"An ice clone, with voice projection, you really have improved," Haku said with a hint of pride in her voice as she raised a barrier between her and the ice needles. A few twisted around the barrier and came at her again but with another wave of her hand Haku took control of those and sent them shooting towards another Haku that had appeared to her left.
That one quickly fell and broke apart under the barrage, revealing it to be yet another ice clone. Haku couldn't help but let a small smile escape her. She stretched out her senses and tried to feel where the real Akitsu was. Unfortunately the sheer amount of chakra in the air made that rather difficult, especially since it was difficult to sort her own from Akitsu's.
But there was another way to find her beyond chakra sensing.
"I won't be beaten like last time, I can't return to my Ashikabi until you are dead," Akitsu said, her voice floating in from nowhere.
That was all Haku needed, she had found Akitsu.
"I believe I mentioned this before, Akitsu-chan, you are strong, but you don't possess the skills necessary to defeat a shinobi," Haku said as she formed a dozen lances of ice around her. With a wave of her hand she sent them careening into the ground where Akitsu was.
Akitsu had definitely grown, being able to project her voice like that, but she would need more than that to defeat a shinobi. Any good shinobi could locate the origin of a thrown voice given enough time. And time was what Akitsu had given her.
"I know, I remembered," Akitsu voice came floating up from the ground below. A moment later she burst from the ground, hastily dodging the lances of ice.
She knew far better than Haku seemed to realize. Evangeline had said that, given enough time, she'd be able to over-power Haku, but time wasn't something she had. So instead she needed to exploit Haku's greatest weakness.
It was a weakness that all those who knew how to fly possessed, and something Evangeline herself had painstakingly purged herself of after falling prey to it numerous times.
The weakness was simple.
Those that are used to looking down on others, often forget to look up.
Akitsu could still hear those words in her head. There were many different meanings hidden in that simple statement, but in Haku's case it was literal. It was a lesson Akitsu was going to teach her, the painful way.
Normally someone of Haku's level of skill would be able to sense an attack from any direction. But there was something different about this battle. Akitsu exhibited no bloodlust, no battle fury, no killing intent. To her, this was simply a mission she must carry out so that she could start exploring her exhibitionist side with her Ashikabi. Nothing more, nothing less.
Evangeline had already told her of her origins, her 'real' origins. Akitsu had no attachments to Haku, nothing positive or negative.
This made Akitsu virtually impossible to sense since the air was filled with her chakra, clouding anyone's ability to sense her through that method.
And it was why Haku never noticed the real Akitsu descending towards her at terminal velocity.
There was a loud crash as Akitsu slammed into an unsuspecting Haku from above. In her hand was a kunai, lent to her by Naruto. She slammed it into Haku's back, taking control of a small section of her ice armor, and forced it through into her spine.
The sudden shock and loss of control over her body made Haku's control over her armor tenuous at best. Taking advantage of her shock Akitsu asserted control over the ice that encased Haku's body and shattered it, leaving Haku naked and helpless. Before the shards of ice could go anywhere however Akitsu changed them into slivers of ice and hammered them into Haku's body.
Haku cried out in pain as thousands of needles tore through her vulnerable body.
The two of them began to tumble through the air towards the ground. Without the wings to keep the two of them aloft gravity was quick to reassert control. Just before they hit the ground Akitsu shifted Haku's limp body under hers and used it to cushion her fall.
There was a sharp crack as Haku's head hit the ground violently. Her eyes glazed over and blood began to pool around her face. Akitsu slowly picked herself off the ground looked down at her target.
Haku was very much dead. Her head had split open from the impact with the ground and most of her body was shredded due to the ice needles she had hit her with. If that wasn't enough the kunai she had used to sever Haku's spine had been forced all the way through her chest.
"Goodbye, Haku-san, and thank you, I will never forget the lessons you taught me," she whispered.
Akitsu went to take a step forward and stumbled as exhaustion finally caught up with her. A pair of arms were quick to catch her before she fell however.
"You did good, Akitsu," Naruto said as he steadied her on her feet.
"Naruto-sama," Akitsu said as she whipped her head around to look at her Ashikabi. She hadn't expected to see him quite so soon.
"Come, your job is done, I need to get you to safety," Naruto said as he wrapped his other arm around her waist.
"I can still fight," Akitsu protested.
Naruto shook his head, "No, you're exhausted." It was obvious to anyone that Akitsu was running on fumes. The battle against Haku hadn't been particularly long or difficult, however it had come on the back of long, hard training and an earlier defeat.
Akitsu hadn't had time to simply rest and recover.
"Yes Naruto-sama," Akitsu said as she wrapped her arms around his waist as well.
A clone popped into existence beside Haku's body and gently picked her up. She would be buried beside Sakura and Musubi back at Epsilon. It was the least he could do for the woman who had taught him the single most important lesson in his life.
A moment later the street was empty save for a large pool of blood and intricate ice sculptures that seemed to just hang in the air.
"See? Aren't you glad you brought little ol' useless me along with you?" Matsu asked as she finished hacking into yet another terminal. The security door controlled by the terminal slid silently open along its well-oiled tracks.
"Ya, ya, whatever," Seo muttered as he hurried through the now opened door, "let's get this over with and get out of here, this place gives me the creeps."
Minato had to agree with Seo as he patted Matsu on the shoulder and headed through the door. This place was definitely creepy. They had made it into MBI pretty easily, MBI's standard forces really weren't much of a match for their Sekirei.
The first floor of the building had been bustling with activity with people running all over the place, many of them running 'away' from them screaming in terror. Blowing open the front door with a massive ball of fire probably wasn't the smartest idea in hindsight but Homura had insisted.
MBI was a big place with most of the publicly known activities taking place on the upper levels. However they needed to descend into the bowels of the building to get to where Takami was being held.
That was when things began to get creepy. The place was desolate. That was the only way to describe it. There was no sign of life, warmth or comfort to be seen, only long metal hallways stretching out before them, their monotony broken infrequently due to small inlaid doors, which they quickly found out were simply painted on. There were no intersections; at least they had yet to encounter any.
And every now and then they'd run into a security door that had been locked tightly. If Matsu hadn't been with them they'd have never gotten this far, they were disconnected from the outside world and required her to be directly touching them to hack into the systems.
Unfortunately each door simply opened up another long hallway that seemed to curve ever so slightly to the right.
"How much further Matsu-san?" Homura asked.
Matsu frowned and pushed her glasses up her nose, "I'm not entirely sure, I've never been down in this part of MBI, there's no security cameras to get a grasp of the layout." At least she could find any she could hack into.
"It feels like we've been going in circles," Yukari complained.
The frown on Matsu's face deepened and her eyes narrowed suspiciously. She discreetly tore off a piece of her dress and dropped it on the floor without anyone noticing.
Ten minutes later, and four more hacked security doors, Matsu let out a sigh and abruptly sat on the ground.
"Matsu-san? What's wrong?" Minato asked worriedly as he stopped and hurried over to his Sekirei.
Everyone else stopped and glanced back at Matsu as well with varying looks of curiosity and annoyance on their faces.
"We're going around in circles," Matsu said as she pointed at a piece of cloth sitting on the floor. It was so small you wouldn't have noticed it unless you were specifically looking for it.
It was the piece of cloth Matsu had torn off earlier.
"What? That's impossible! Where are the stairs we came down then?" Seo demanded.
"That's another problem entirely," Matsu said dryly. "We've been lured into a trap."
"Very astute," a voice suddenly said as a speaker popped out of the wall above them. "I failed to finish you earlier, your mother was the bait to bring you back so I could finish the job. Thank you for walking into my trap."
"Why don't you come here and face us like a man!" Minato shouted up at the speaker.
"Like a man? Do you even know what it means to be a man? No, I don't think so, you're going to die, slowly, painfully. Please cry out as much as possible, you do have an audience you must perform in front of."
"I'm not going to die! I will rescue my mother!" Minato shouted back.
The response wasn't what they expected. Walls of solid steel came down on either side of them, trapping all of them inside.
Then they yelped in pain as the floor became electrified for a brief moment.
"Homura!" Minato shouted as he rushed towards his Sekirei.
"Yes Sahashi-san?" Homura asked hurriedly.
Minato kissed her, activating her Norito. Brilliant yellow wings of flame burst from Homura's back as the chakra within her spiked. Despite the beautiful display of pyrotechnics it did make the small enclosure rather warm.
"These are the flames of my pledge, burn the karma of my Ashikabi!" Homura chanted, "what do you want Sahashi-san?"
"Melt the walls!"
Before Homura could so much as form a lick of fire the voice came back over the speaker, "Burning up all of your oxygen isn't the most intelligent of ideas. That isn't steel, it's a new metallic alloy that MBI created, it's melting point is over fifty thousand degrees Celsius, but if you wish suffocate to death, feel free to try and burn your way through."
Another shock ran through the floor, causing everyone save Homura to cry out in surprise and pain. This one was more powerful than the previous, giving them a hint that Darui intended to ramp things up until it eventually killed them.
"Onii-chan, what do we do?" Yukari asked in fear. This was worse than being trapped by Higa.
Minato's brain worked quickly. He had noticed something with that last shock, "Activate everyone's Norito," he shouted as he ran over to Kaho and Matsu.
With their Norito activated there was more chakra channeling through the Sekirei's body, they could withstand more punishment that way. It wouldn't get them out of this situation but it could buy them so more time to figure one out.
"I got no problem with that!" Seo said as he pulled Hikari and Hibiki close and kissed the two of them passionately.
Yukari followed suit with Shiina as Minato gave Kaho and Matsu both a kiss as well. The small enclosure was filled with brilliant light of various colors as five different Norito's blazed into life around them.
"Good, I'm glad you choose that path, it will make this longer and more painful, if you have your Sekirei carry you it will lessen the pain you feel from the shocks," Darui said over the speaker system, "You will be forced to watch your Sekirei collapse in pain and die before you do, and on that note…"
A third shock ran through the floor, this one strong enough to deaden the feeling in Minato's, Yukari's. Only Seo was fine.
"Damn you!" Homura growled at the speaker as Kaho quickly picked Minato up and held him in her arms.
"Is it wrong to be thankful of all those times my girls electrocuted me?" Seo asked as he eyed the floor warily. He was used to being electrocuted by his girls, the little shocks running through the floor was nothing compared to what he was subjected to on a daily basis.
"This isn't the time for jokes," Yukari snapped at him, she was being carried in Shiina's arms, much like Minato was in Kaho's.
"I wouldn't have guessed," Seo said and winced in pain as a fourth shock ran through the floor. This one was powerful enough that he felt it.
More shocks came, every thirty seconds, stronger than the one before. By the seventh the Sekirei were starting to be affected by the shocks. On the eighth Hibiki had grabbed Seo and yanked him from the floor despite his pained protests that he could still go on.
The tenth brought Matsu to her knees. Homura quickly grabbed her and threw her over her shoulders.
By the fifteenth the shocks were so strong that the Ashikabi were beginning to feel it despite being carried.
The sixteenth brought Shiina to his knees.
"Damn it I'm not losing my bishounen here!" Yukari shouted angrily, "stupid damn floor! Shiina, obliterate it!"
"Yes Yukari-san," Shiina said as he brought his power to bear, amplified by his Norito, on the floor. It began to decay in seconds, breaking apart before it fell.
"Uh oh…" Yukari said suddenly as she realized what was beneath the floor.
"Good work escaping this trap," Darui's voice appeared on the speaker again, "however I wonder how you will deal with the hundred foot drop beneath it."
The floor gave way sending everyone tumbling into darkness.
"And beware the spikes at the bottom," Darui's voice called out after them.
"Spikes?" Seo asked nervously.
"Minato-san! Below us!" Matsu shouted in a panic.
Everyone looked down and blanched. There, at the bottom of the drop, was a platform filled with spikes. Evil nasty looking things that were designed to slide in easy, but tear out all sorts of important bits when pulled out.
Homura quickly came up with the best course of action, "I'm sorry Matsu-san," Homura said as she let go of Matsu. Homura shifted the direction of her fall and caught Kaho and Minato in her arms.
"It's fine, I understand," Matsu said with a small smile. She turned to Minato and gave him an even bigger one, "I love you Minato-kun, take care of Kaho-san for us."
"Ya, I'm glad you were my Ashikabi, thank you for everything," Homura said as she smiled up at Minato. She glanced at Kaho, "take care of Sahashi-san."
Kaho gave the two of them a sober look and nodded her head, "I will, I promise."
"NO! You can't do this!" Minato screamed as he realized what it was Homura was doing. "Shiina can melt them, can't he?"
"Not fast enough to save us," Homura said sadly as she held her hands up high, holding Minato and Kaho above her head.
It took all of Homura's will power not to bend her legs or weaken her hold on Kaho and her Ashikabi as she was pierced by a four different spikes. Three of them went through her legs, tearing out huge chunks of muscle and shattering bones as they did so. The last one went through her abdomen, tearing through her innards.
Homura didn't look to the side as she heard four more impacts, of which only one didn't sound like her own. She had to get her Ashikabi to safety before her strength ran out.
Thankfully the spikes were on a raised platform positioned just under the chute they had fallen through. The room was dimly lit, but it was enough for Homura to make some things out, such as the fact that the floor of the large room was flat and smooth.
"It's up to you Kaho-san," Homura said as she threw the two of them over the platform and down into the room below.
"Let's go Shiina!" Homura heard Minato's sister shout.
Homura smiled as she watched the two of them leap over the edge of the platform, following after Minato. That was one more, at least Minato won't have to face what was coming alone.
"Just set me down between those spikes," Seo grumbled.
"I could toss you over as well," Hibiki said painfully through clenched teeth.
"And do what? I'm staying with you two until the end," Seo said as he carefully positioned himself between several spikes, making sure not to touch them, they were all razor sharp.
"Trying to be cool even at the end, that's so like you," Hikari said and tried to laugh. The pain quickly put an end to that however.
"Matsu-san… are… you alright?" Homura asked quietly as she stared down into the room below. She could see her Ashikabi cautiously making his way across the room with Kaho, Shiina and his sister at his side.
"I've… been better…" Matsu whispered, "who knew being impaled on spikes would hurt this much?"
"How much time do you think we have until we bleed out?" Homura asked quietly.
"Enough time to see Minato-san win," Matsu replied. Honestly she had no idea but she refused to die before seeing this through to the end, even if she had been relegated to nothing more than a dying spectator.
Minato didn't know what to feel as he cautiously made his way across the floor, being careful to watch out for any more traps. Frustration, anger, pain, sorrow, guilt and many other emotions boiled just beneath the surface.
He had gained and lost so much over the past several months, and even now it wasn't enough. Even as he sought to regain his mother, he was losing two of the Sekirei he loved, victims to a vicious trap set out by the man who had captured his mother and imprisoned her.
And he still hadn't even seen a single hair of the person responsible.
"COME OUT HERE ALREADY!" Minato bellowed angrily, tired of being led around by the nose. Yukari jumped slightly, startled by his sudden outburst.
The sound of slow clapping reached their ears, "Again you made the right decision," Minato heard Darui's voice, this time it didn't appear to be coming through a speaker, but instead was coming from up ahead. "It would have been impossible for all of you to survive, so sacrificing some so that the others may live was the right choice. However did the right individuals sacrifice themselves?"
The lights suddenly turned on full, illuminating the room in its entirety. Now that it was no longer shrouded in darkness Minato could see that it resembled a training room. There were actually many raised platforms dotting the room, although only one had spikes on them. Aside from the platforms there were other obstacles and targets to help with various kinds of training.
Standing not twenty feet away was the source of Minato's troubles: Darui.
"So you finally decided to show yourself," Minato spat at him. He was never one to hate others, he was always looking for the best in everyone, but this man, this one person, was someone he could never forgive.
"Sorry, but a Shinobi that shows himself is no Shinobi at all," Darui said.
"I'm going to beat you, save my mother and get Homura-san and Matu-san medical treatment!" Minato declared fiercely.
"How dull, you're chasing after so many goals you'll never accomplish any of them," Darui said with a shake of his head.
He snapped his fingers.
The floor opened up to either side of him and from within those holes rose two more platforms with a Sekirei on each.
The Sekirei to Darui's right had a curvaceous body that would put just about anyone to shame with a chest that was almost hundred inches around. She had long purple hair that was pulled back into a pony-tail and the sides of her face were framed with long bangs. She wore a short maroon one-piece dress that was opened in the front to expose her navel and her amble cleavage. It ended just below her hips, barely low enough to cover her butt cheeks.
Minato's eyes widened in shock as he saw who it was on Darui's left. She was a small Sekirei with long blond hair with vibrant green eyes wearing a pale green one-piece dress that went down to her knees.
"Kuu-chan!" Minato called out, happy to see his smallest Sekirei alive and well.
"Sorry, but we decided to bring her back, this reunion isn't going to be as pleasant as you might hope," Darui said, although he didn't sound very apologetic. "And this is Kazehana, Minaka decided to give her what she wanted, she can be of some use," he said as he introduced the Sekirei to his right.
"Are you the meanie bullying onii-chan?!" Kusano shouted at Minato angrily.
Darui laid a hand gently upon Kusano's head and rubbed it, "Sorry, he's a meanie that will need to be punished."
"For my Ashikabi I will gladly strike you down!" Kazehana said as she rubbed her hands through her hair and stared at Minato with contempt.
Minaka had finally accepted her love after rejecting her earlier, on the condition that she defeated these intruders. For him she would do anything.
"What have you done to Kuu-chan!" Minato demanded.
"Sorry, but her mind is just so easy to bend and break," Darui apologized. "There isn't much left in there anymore. Between Ayesha and Nio, Mikogami and the severance, the reattachment and the deactivation coupled with the reactivation and Minaka's tender embrace…" the dark-skinned man shook his head sadly, "She was let out into the wild too soon."
"Damn you!" Minato growled angrily.
"Kazehana, Kuu-chan, please deal with these intruders," Darui said as he took a few steps backwards.
"Of course! This'll be easy," Kazehana said as she stepped off the platform and onto the floor.
"I won't let anyone bully Onii-chan anymore!" Kusano shouted.
Before anyone could do anything however a pair of hands tore through the floor beneath Kazehana and yanked her into the floor, encasing her completely up to her neck.
"Doton: Shinjū Zanshu no Jutsu!" A clone of Naruto said as he pulled himself up from the floor. "Glad I decided to tag along with Minato," the clone said.
"What is going on!" Kazehana cried out in fear and shock as she struggled against her binding in vain.
"Impossible! The floor isn't made out of earth!" Darui shouted as his hands flashed through a series of hand signs.
"It is now!" the clone said cheekily as he raised a seal that changed the elemental properties of whatever it was attached to.
"Raiton: Kuropansa!" Darui shouted as he released his chakra into the technique. A massive panther formed out of black lightning shot out from his hands and blasted across the room.
"Too slow!" the clone said as he whipped out a kunai and slit Kazehana's throat.
The panther slammed into the clone, exploding into a massive light show of black lightning, destroying the clone and ending Kazehana's misery at the same time.
"Sorry Minato, but time is something we no longer have," another clone of Naruto said as it appeared a ways away from the two groups. "If you don't finish Darui and rescue your mother within five minutes, you're all probably going to die."
Karasuba suddenly appeared behind Kusano, there was a Naruto clone beside her holding onto her shoulder. Naruto had implanted a Hiraishin marker on Kusano when he had freed her from Mikogami so that he could reach her at any time.
Before anyone could so much as blink Karasuba's sword ripped through Kusano's chest, tearing through her core along the same path that Miya's had gone along not so long ago. Kusano screamed in pain and twitched violently for a few moments before she deactivated a second time.
"I'll be back for you after you're done!" the clone said and disappeared, taking Karasuba and Kusano with him.
"Why? What the hell is going on?!" Minato demanded, completely confused. He had just been reunited with Kusano, only to find out her mind had been broken again, and then lost her in the span of a minute.
This was simply too much to take.
"Sorry, it seems like I need to deal with you myself," Darui said disappointedly. He had been ordered to make Minato suffer more, to help break Takami, but it looked as if things were starting to come to a head, they could always bring his soul back later and torture that instead, it was time to kill him.
"Kaho!" Minato barked, he was upset, confused and angry and he wanted someone to pay for what was going on.
"Yes!" Kaho replied and was at his side in an instant.
Minato quickly bent down and kissed Kaho a second time, boosting her Norito a second time.
Brilliant blue wings burst from Kaho's back a second time. "This is the dance of my pledge. Pierce the calamities that befall my Ashikabi!" Kaho's voice rang out across the room. Energy began to pour off Kaho in waves as her power skyrocketed again. Her naginata glowed and began to shift as it morphed into that deadly spear that could reverse causality. The blade became jagged and deadly and the entire shaft seemed to glow with an ominous power.
Kaho pointed her spear at Darui and called out that one fatal name, "Gae Bolg!"
"I won't be killed by something like th—"
Darui's voice was cut off as the spear bent and twisted and shot down through the floor. Everyone stared at it in surprise, not quite understanding what was going on until the Darui that was standing in front of them began to dissolve into mud.
Kaho, not really understand what just happened yanked on the spear. It came out from the floor with a pop, followed by a grunt of pain. The spearhead was covered in blood. The four of them could only stare at the end of the spear uncomprehendingly.
"So… that… was why… Orochimaru-san… said to… eliminate… Kaho… first…" Darui's pain filled voice floated up from the hole in the ground. "It is your victory, you… did well… you… chose correctly. I am sorry… truly sorry… I lied… Takami-san isn't here. Orochimaru-san… doesn't want… to lose… his… " he was forced to stop as a fit of hacking coughs wracked his dying body.
Minato rushed to the hole in the ground and peered down at the man hiding therein. "Where is my mother?!" he demanded. He had come here to rescue her, that had been the entire point of them being here. Killing Darui was secondary to that.
"Not here… not… anymore…" Darui gasped out, "Please… tell Naruto-sama… it wasn't… his fault."
"What wasn't his fault?"
"He… will… understand…" Darui said as he let out one last rattling gasp and died.
"I heard, Darui-san," A clone of Naruto said as he appeared beside Minato, "I'll make sure Boss knows," he whispered as he pushed Minato to the side and reached into the hole.
He disappeared an instant later, taking Darui's body with him.
"Time to go!" Yet another Naruto clone said as it appeared beside Minato and Kaho. There was a second one beside Yukari and Shiina.
"Wait! What about my other Sekirei!" Minato cried out as he whirled around to look up at the spiked platform.
However there wasn't anyone there, only blood stained spikes.
"Already taken care of! We gotta go! It's fucking coming down!" the clone shouted as he grabbed onto Kaho and Minato.
All of them disappeared and an instant later MBI was vaporized.
Author's Notes: The fights could have been a lot longer, I know, and I could have even done a proper one for Yuuchi vs Evangeline.
But I didn't. There are plenty of reasons why, but suffice to say that I'm running out of steam with this story now that I'm entering the last two-three chapters. Another reason was that some of them didn't really need long fights. Akitsu's was really just an extension of the previous and Yuuchi vs Evangeline would have been too complicated to explain.
And yes, there really is only that many chapters left.
As for Minato vs Darui, I'll be frank, now that the scene is over with. I hated the Minato scene, I really didn't want to do it, but it was almost mandatory. It couldn't avoid it. If Minato didn't exist in my story, I'd be much happier, but his interaction was required to some extent and ultimately the way my story was written culminated with this event. You won't see him again aside from a small snippet in the epilogue.
Which is ultimately why I made the final confrontation so short. That and it's kind of hard to have a long fight when one side has a reality defying weapon that guarantees a critical hit. I could have very easily drawn that battle out, I know, but I decided not to.
Also, something else to keep in mind. Not only for this chapter but the next chapter as well, even if Naruto IS tailing everyone with his clones, the clones can't interfere with the fight because they don't HAVE enough chakra to be of use. A single weak clone isn't going to stand up against people like Darui, Tenten and Haku who know about them, their weaknesses, and are able to destroy them in an instant. They exist for a singular purpose, to get people the fuck out, and would only interfere at the very last moment to save their Sekirei's life or something similar.
The one that tailed Minato was sort of an exception to the rule.