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Chapter 08: Of Immortality…
Natsuko collapsed onto Naruto's bare chest, her firm breasts smooching between their perspiring bodies. It had been a few days since they first made love and they had spent most of that time putting the expression 'Going at it like bunnies' to the test. That left large groups of shadow clones smoldering in jealousy as they were forced to continue training while listening to the increasingly load moans and screams of delight. Not to mention having to clean up the 'flooding' left in the wake of the two love birds. Needless to say, if it wasn't for the fact that clones had to do their assigned task and would disperse on their creators' death there would have been a full-blown revolution in the safe house.
Blissfully ignoring her doppelgangers' malcontent, the female Uzumaki pushed herself onto her elbows so she could peer into her lover's eyes. She shifted her weight onto her right arm and, with her left index finger traced across his collarbone eliciting a small shiver from him. She continued down, past the spot above his heart where their mother was sealed (The seal doesn't show unless chakra is being channelled into it.), and down to his stomach, her finger rising and falling with the dips and rises of his toned abs.
"What's this one for?" She asked, trailing her finger along the scrawl of a large seal. "It looks like the one I have for Kyuubi."
Naruto flicked his eyes down, even though he knew what she was talking about, having placed it there himself.
"It only looks like yours because I wanted it to." He answered. "It's a common practice for seal masters to have the actual array of their more complex seals hidden in a design. It makes it harder for other's to understand it. This particular seal does quite a few things. How big do you think my chakra reserves are?"
"I don't know. But you're easily Kage level."
Naruto snorted softly causing her to give him a frowning pout. He shook his head in amusement. "Sorry, it's just that a Kage is generally defined as the strongest ninja in the village, so technically if there aren't any ninja above Chuunin level…" He pushed the thought aside and got back to answering his own question.
"I've already told you that the Uzumaki have large chakra reserves. Okaa-chan, for example, had the largest in Konoha. I would say she had at least three times as much as Minato and she was a Kenjutsu specialist so they weren't as large as they could have been. There's a reason the KKI (Kumo Kiri Iwa) alliance didn't even try to get Uzu to join them and just launched a surprise attack, they couldn't afford to have them as enemies. A fully trained Uzumaki could, quite literally, throw high-level jutsu for hours on end. You however have the Kyuubi on top of the Uzumaki Kekkai Genki so your reserves are already higher than even the best Uzumaki Ninjutsu specialists were. You could already create a thousand Kage Bushin when your chakra control was all but non-existent. And that's a lot since I never saw Okaa-chan make more than about one thousand five hundred. I…"
"Hang on a minute!" Natsuko interrupted incredulously. "What do you mean she could only make one thousand five hundred? I can create over five thousand if I want! Hell I've seen Kakashi make at least fifty and that was after a fight with Zabuza!"
Naruto lifted an eyebrow. "I think you're underestimating how hard the jutsu is to perform. There's a good reason it's classified as a Kinjutsu. Hell, there are a bunch of good reasons. I've known Kakashi and I seriously doubt that he can create more than five shadow clones, especially given how lazy he became after he got his team mate's Sharingan."
Her eyebrows rose to her hairline at that snippet but she was too curious about the previous matter to ask about it. "Well I'm telling you I saw him make at least fifty!"
He sighed. "OK! OK! Tell me what happened."
"Well…that's it! He fought Zabuza, then Gato arrived with his thugs so I created a bunch of shadow clones and so did he."
"OK! But are you sure he made Kage Bushin?" He countered. "Keep in mind that the various Bushin techniques are some of the easiest to do without seals. I doubt he's smart enough but he could even have made the hand seal for Kage Bushin and used Mizu Bushin (Water Clone) instead, or Tsuchi Bushin (Earth Clone) or even a regular academy Bushin! The fact is that you saw him make a bunch of clones and you assumed they were the same type as yours."
Her mouth opened and shut a few times as she realized he was right.
"Besides," He added. "If it was that easy to do, everyone would do Kage Bushin training."
"Hang on a minute!.. again." She exclaimed before finishing sheepishly at the volume of her voice. "Does that mean kaa-san had, um, three hundred times more chakra than Kakashi?"
He shook his head no. "Not at all, remember the basic scrolls on chakra. At any given time the human body produces chakra and, if the ninja's reserves are full, that chakra leaks out of his/her body. As the ninja grows, gets stronger and trains the amount produced slowly gets bigger. As it gets bigger it puts a strain on the ninja's chakra coils and ends up damaging them. Fortunately the damage is little enough that the ninja's natural healing repairs it and, in the process of doing so, reinforces and thickens the chakra coils. The more a ninja's reserves grow, the thicker and tougher their coils get. The Uzumaki naturally have thicker and tougher chakra coils so we can handle the strain of Kage Bushin much better. In your case the Kyuubi adds more pressure to your coils forcing them to develop even more, which is why you have big reserves even for an Uzumaki."
She nodded slowly in understanding then looked at him, confused. "What about you? I know you can make just as many clones as me but you don't have a demo…" She trailed of, eyes wide as she looked back down at the seal on his belly.
"Wo-hooh!" Naruto exclaimed. "Slow down there hime! I don't have a demon sealed in me. I would have told you ages ago if that were the case. No, the seal has a couple of purposes. One of which is to create a thin barrier all around my body that stops my chakra from leaking out and forces it back into my chakra coils. That puts more strain on them, which forces them to thicken and so on and so on…"
"So.." She started hesitantly. "How big are your chakra stores?"
"Well, I painted the seal on when I was eighteen, so I've had it for about six years. I also got some serious boosts by taking chakra pills when my reserves were already full." He frowned at the memory. "That hurts like a bitch by the way. So…yeah, my reserves are quite a lot bigger that yours still." He grinned at her. "You can call me the chakra monster."
She looked at him incredulously. "That's lame Onii-chan!"
He scratched the back of his head. "Yeah… sorry about that! Humor was never my strong point."
Natsuko tapped her chin thoughtfully, a slight frown on her pretty face as she looked at him.
She ran her hand back over the seal on his stomach. "Does it have anything to do with why you look like you're eighteen rather than in your mid-twenties?"
Naruto hesitated for a moment. He sighed. "I was hoping to wait a bit more before telling you about that."
He pushed himself into a sitting position, forcing Natsuko to do the same. There was silence as she sat, watching him think things through.
"When Okaa-chan…" He began slowly, before shaking his head reproachfully and starting over. "When Okaa-san died… I was a wreck. I was very strong by anyone's standards, especially for my age, but I was still just an eight year old kid. Losing both my mother and my newborn sister, even if that was a lie, pretty much destroyed my world."
He paused, his eyes looking into the distance with a haunted look that made sadness echo in Natsuko's heart. She sidled up to him and wrapped her arms around his side as he continued.
"I had always liked researching and creating new stuff, but after that it sort of became an obsession. A refuge to take my mind off of what I'd lost. If that hadn't happened I probably wouldn't have made a quarter of the discoveries I've made. Anyway… back on track.
"For a while I tried to find a way to bring you both back. I had hear of the Kuchiyose: Edo Tensei and I was trying to create my own version, a better one, one that would completely bring you both back."
Natsuko's eyes went wide, both I shock and a little fear. "You… you're trying to bring Okaa-san back?"
Naruto shook his head sadly. "No. I was trying. But I stopped before I completed the jutsu."
She felt a bit of relief and let out the breath she had been holding. The idea of having their mother back was nice, but there was something about bringing back the dead that just made her queasy. "What made you stop?"
Naruto shrugged. "I calmed down… thought about what I was doing. I realized that I really have no idea what happens to someone when they die. I don't really believe in heaven and all that, but who's to say that she isn't in a better place? I didn't want to risk bringing her back and having her resent me for it."
Natsuko nodded in understanding and pressed herself into his bare chest, comforting him with her embrace.
Naruto continued. "Still… I had made some interesting discoveries, one of which was the two most Complex Chakra types I've found to this day." He tapped a finger on his chin. "Hmm… I would call them 'Life Chakra' and 'Death Chakra', since that give's the best idea of what they do. But it isn't really the best name for them. In my opinion 'Growth' and 'Decay' would be better. Growth Chakra combines all five elements, and it causes the growth of all living things. Plants, animals, humans, etc. . I won't bother even trying to explain it to you. It's horribly difficult to mold, and even after all this time it take most of my concentration just to produce some, so forget controlling it enough to shape it. Decay is the same, but opposite. It also uses all five elements, it's also unbelievably hard to mold and near impossible to shape. The difference is that, as the name suggests, I causes all living matter to decay."
Natsuko frowned. She was only just getting the hang of the whole Complex Chakra theory. Combining two of the main elements was hard enough that she really didn't feel like messing around with five.
"What has that got to do with you looking younger than you actually are?"
Naruto chuckled mirthlessly. "When I gave up trying to bring back the dead I turned to a more… feasible endeavor. I began looking for a way to prevent someone from dying. In other words I started working on the rather overused concept of an immortality jutsu."
The young Uzumaki woman blinked and turned her head to look up at him. "What do you mean 'overused'?"
He chuckled in earnest. "When we leave the safe house we'll be going to one of the Black Market spots. We need to get you some experience and the best way to do that is to hunt a few bounties. When we're there well look through the descriptions for some of the higher ranking ones and you'll see what I mean. The amount of nutcases that claim to be immortal is astounding."
"How do you know that they aren't?" She asked curiously.
"Some of them might be." He answered with an uninterested, one shouldered shrug. "In fact I'd say that some of them actually are. But most of them are just run-of-the-mill average ninja with delusions of grandeur.
"Putting that aside. Rather than looking for a way to avoid death, I looked for a way to preserve life. It might sound like the same thing to you, but I think there's an important difference. It made me look at what was rather than what wasn't. if you see what I mean.
He paused again to organise his thoughts. "The way I see it there are three stages during life. During the first stage we're full of growth. Our body grows at a relatively fast pace, turning us from babies to children, to teenagers, and finally to adults. But as we get older, the growth slowly gives way to decay. That brings us to the second stage, our prime. It's the stage where, physically, our body is at its best. An active balance between both growth and decay. Ninja, thanks to their chakra usage and active lifestyles, can usually prolong this stage without actually trying. That's why many middle aged Shinobi and Kunoichi look younger than they are. The last stage is when the balance is broken. Decay overtakes growth and, steadily, the body starts to feel the consequences of its age, becoming weaker and weaker until eventually it just gives out.
"The basic idea of my immortality jutsu was simple. I would harness Growth Chakra and Decay Chakra inside the body, using a specifically designed Fuinjutsu to shape it so that the balance is maintained indefinitely, thus creating a 'false prime condition' that would prevent the body from aging.
"From there I had to tweak it to take care of wounds at high speed to prevent 'violent death'. For example, if a finger is cut off, the jutsu automatically creates a temporary, and localized, imbalance. The Growth Chakra will completely override the Decay Chakra, promoting an explosive regeneration that would rebuild the severed finger in a matter of seconds. As soon as it's done, the balance is re-established and the body returns to its 'false prime condition'.
"It was all theoretical at first. It was a way to keep my mind occupied, and I just wanted to see if I could actually succeed in doing it.
"I first tried it out on this funny little monkey called Jack…"
Natsuko couldn't help herself, she snorted incredulously. "Jack? You have a pet monkey called Jack?"
Naruto rose an eyebrow. "No, actually, he wasn't really a pet. Just a stray monkey I picked up. Not that it matters… he ran away."
She rose an eyebrow right back at him, her incredulity taking another leap. "He… ran away? You're at the level of an S-rank ninja and your pet monkey… Jack… ran away?"
Color rose to his cheeks. "An immortal monkey alright! The jutsu works perfectly! I threw a Fire Jutsu at him that burnt off everything from the chest down, but two seconds later it was completely healed and he was running again. By the time I got over the shock and caught up to him he jumped off the side of a cliff! Kami knows where he is now… he could be off with pirates for all I know."
Natsuko gave him an amused and overly condescending grin. "Of course he could… But, monkey business aside," She snorted at his angry glare. "what happened next?"
He glared a bit more, though there wasn't any real anger behind it, and then sighed. "I never really intended to use the jutsu. I just wanted to see if I could do it. But once I had done it, and had proof that it worked… well I just couldn't not use it! So I did. On both Kisa-chan and myself."
Natsuko nodded in understanding. She had often experienced the same thing. While the comparison was perhaps a bit far off, it was similar to how she started pulling pranks. At first she had just been thinking up ways to get back at those who teased and mocked her. But once she had thought up a great scheme it seemed like a waste to not go through with it. She supposed that he had a similar feeling. After all the effort creating the jutsu must have required, the temptation to use it must have been overwhelming.
That he had used it on his personal summons was unexpected. But it did explain their closeness. In fact, now that she thought about it, she had rarely seen him summon any tigers other than Kisa, and he would often summon her just for a chat or to spend time together. If it wasn't for the fact that she was a tiger, Natsuko knew that she would probably feel a bit jealous.
She pulled away so that she could get a better look at him. Her eyes once again going down to the seal that had aroused her curiosity. "So let me sum this up. When you were… eighteen?" At his nod she went on. "When you were eighteen you used the 'immortality jutsu' you had created, and now your chakra reserves are beyond massive, you'll stay young forever, and you can recover from just about any wound… what about poisons?"
He nodded dismissively. "Anything that adversely affects the body is eliminated. For example, Chakra Pills would work just fine, as would Blood Pills, but cells affected by Soldier Pills would be destroyed by an increase in Decay Chakra before being restored by an increase in Growth Chakra because, while they may provide a temporary increase in power, they are actually very damaging to the body.
"Of course that also has it's down points. For example, the Regeneration Factor you have thanks to the Kyuubi accelerates your physical training. When your muscles are put under too much strain it boots in to make them adapt, making them strengthen faster than an average person's would. With my Healing Factor however, an over strained muscle is considered damaged. So an increase of Decay Chakra would destroy the damaged fibers before they are replaced by an increase in Growth Chakra. And since the new cells would be perfect copies of the most recent healthy, that is to say non-damaged cells, over-training would be pointless. That's why you're catching up to me so fast, you can afford to train until you drop whereas I have to take it relatively slow."
Natsuko frowned. "I would say that that sounds awfully simple for an immortality jutsu, but I guess it's more complicated than you make it seem. What I don't understand is how Decay Chakra destroys the right cells. How does it destroy cells at all?"
Naruto scratched his head as he tried to formulate a way to phrase his answer. The jutsu was complicated because of all the little things that he had to add to make sure it ran smoothly.
He shook his head. "I want to ask you a question first, and you don't have to answer right now, but I want you to think about whether or not you would like me to…"
He blinked. "What?"
Natsuko rolled her eyes at what, in her opinion, was a stupid question. "Yes, I want you to use your jutsu on me! I've never really wanted to be immortal… I've never even thought about it… but if you're going to live for Kami knows how long, then I want to be right there with you Naruto-kun."
Naruto felt a stupid 'happy grin' creep onto his face and couldn't do anything to stop it. He reached over and brought her into a tight hug, scrunching his eyes up to prevent joyous tears from falling onto her bare skin. He had hoped that she would accept, but he had plagued been with the fear of her refusal. To hear her accept wholeheartedly and without a moment of hesitation…
He smiled and kissed her, trying to convey the full measure of his emotion. "Thank you."
Despite her instant agreement, they had waited until the time was right to actually apply the jutsu. Mainly so that she could take advantage of the Kyuubi given Regeneration and advance her physical training faster.
Like all regenerative abilities, it was a double edged blade. Because it worked by accelerating cellular division to repair wounds, it also had the side effect of proportionately shortening her life span. Fortunately that loss would be nullified the moment they used the jutsu, so they weren't worried.
Natsuko, now seventeen years old, was sitting nervously under the Sakura tree in one of Naruto's, no… their safe houses, where she was waiting for her boyfriend to explain the actual process of applying the jutsu. They would be doing the actual application the next day, but Naruto had insisted that there be a waiting period so that she could ask any questions she came up with, or make up her mind if she still had doubts.
She shook her head bemusedly. 'What a baka… as if I'd ever want to leave him.'
Naruto came out of the small house and sat in front of her, setting a stopper sealed vial of black liquid between them.
He looked at her seriously. "Right I'll get straight to it, if you have any questions I'd rather you wait until I've finished. Do you want to ask any before I start?"
"No, go ahead."
"Alright then. The first step would normally be fairly simple, all I have to do is remove all the pre-existing seals from you. Normally that would be a simple matter of removing training seals and storage seals, maybe check for the odd memory seal or something. But in your case there's the complication of the Eight Trigrams Seal. Overlaying a complex seal with another one is a recipe for disaster if they aren't well tailored to each other, and in this case they really aren't. So the first thing I'll have to do is completely get rid of the seal containing Kyuubi."
He rose a hand to forestall her objections. "A removal function is already included in the Eight Trigrams Seal. I think Minato intended for you to use the Nine Tails' power for the good of Konoha or something of the sorts. The problem is that, to use that function the way he had planned, I would need the Key… and I have no idea where it is. My guess is that it's either with Jiraya or the Toads, neither of which are likely to hand it over. Since I can't remove it properly, I'm going to have to do things the hard way and collapse it. The Kyuubi will probably try to escape and It'll be your job to hold it back. Not for long, and I'll be slapping a Youki Suppressor Tag on you to make your job easier, but it'll still be mostly up to you."
He rubbed his forehead tiredly. "I don't know how this 'battle of wills' will happen. It might just be a matter of using your chakra to keep its youki from escaping, or it might draw you into your subconscious where you'll actually have to fight. If it's the later… don't worry! You only have to hold the fox back, that is to say that I need you to stall for time, not beat it. Oh! Because of the nature of the seal both you and the fox will be in 'neutral territory', so to speak, so don't go trying any 'this is my mind do as I say' shit because it won't work.
"On the other hand Kyuubi isn't the only one you'll have to face. The Eight Trigrams Seal can hold a memory imprint of the user, in this case Minato. Normally you'd have to fight him to, but in this case we're lucky because, with the collapsing of the seal, he'll be in your territory. You will be able to do whatever you want to him because it's your mind. Unfortunately you really won't have time to indulge. If you take the time to torment him Kyuubi could use the opportunity to escape.
"In short! Get rid of Minato as fast as you can then move onto Kyuubi. While you're doing that, I'll be taking care of the tricky part. As soon as the seal starts collapsing your body will start breaking down. I will literally be carving out a secondary chakra system to house the Kyuubi's youki. It'll be quick and rough work, with only a few dozen Tenketsu rather than the usual three hundred and sixty one, but it'll hold the youki permanently and you'll be able to access it at will.
"When that's done I'll move onto what would normally be the first part of the immortality jutsu." He picked up the vial of black stuff and waved it in front of her face. "This is a specially prepared solution that I'll inject directly into your heart. It'll spread through your body and help the Fuinjutsu bind to you.
"Next, I'll activate the Fuinjutsu, there are roughly three hundred hand seal so it'll take a while, before applying it to your stomach. Going by experience, it'll take five seconds for the Fuinjutsu to set in, and only then will your body stop breaking down.
"At that point it's pretty much over. If you can hold back Kyuubi until then, you'll be able to banish it and its youki will become yours, filling in the secondary system I will have prepared. Then all that's left to do is add on the Chakra Shell and your Training Seals and we're done."
He went silent and looked at her expectantly, waiting for any questions she might have.
"I thought I would die if the seal was broken?" She blurted out.
Naruto grimaced and gave a jerky nod. "You would. That's what I meant when I said that your body would start breaking down. But the immortality jutsu will fix it up and you'll be fine."
Natsuko nodded in understanding, having suspected the answer, but wanting confirmation. "What did you mean when you said that I could destroy Minato with my mind?"
"The Eight Trigrams Seal is designed to hold an imprint of the user, in this case Minato, so that it, he, can repair the seal if it ever weakens. Like I said, I don't know if that means that he'll appear in your mind or not, but if he does you can destroy him simply by 'wanting' it. The best I can compare it to is the Yamanaka Clan techniques. If you have enough mental strength you can simply 'push' them out. Minato's imprint will be a lot easier than pushing out a Yamanaka because it is just an imprint, it isn't a full person. My guess is that it'll have the knowledge of the seal, obviously, so that it can do repairs, it'll probably have some sort of 'battle experience' and knowledge of jutsu, basically anything that could come in handy to help it keep the seal intact. On the other hand it probably won't have any of the random or trivial memories that give it its identity of self. Which is why it'll be fairly easy to dispose of."
She frowned in confusion. "Then why can't I do that with Kyuubi? No, wait! You said I can't do that with Kyuubi during the first bit, but I can when the jutsu is in place? Why's that?"
Naruto grunted as he thought of a way to explain. "The Eight Trigrams Seal creates a sort of bond between you and Kyuubi. As long as that bond is there your subconscious is a sort of middle ground between the two of you. Even when I collapse the seal its… structure… will remain, which is why, normally, your death would also mean your tenant's death, the bond would drag the fox down with you. Once the immortality jutsu is activated that structure will be erased, so the bond will be broken, and the Kyuubi will be a foreign presence in your mind that you can dispose of. It'll probably be a lot harder than dealing with Minato, but since we already know that you've been able to resist Kyuubi's power when it's tried to influence you, I'm confident that it's within your grasp."
"But if I get rid of Kyuubi, won't I get rid of its youki too?"
Naruto shook his head. "Kyuubi is its youki. All of the Bijuu are. A Bijuu is a constant amount of youki that… Kami knows how… gained and developed a form of intelligence. When you 'get rid of it' you'll be destroying that intelligence, but not destroying the youki."
He scratched the back of his head in thought. "Picture it like this. You're a cup and the Kyuubi is… strawberry flavored water that's held inside you. You'll be getting rid of the strawberry flavour, but keeping the water. Over time the water will probably gain a new flavour, but it'll be Natsuko flavour. The youki will become a part off you rather than something you hold back."
Natsuko folded her arms in her lap and leaned back against the tree. "So it'll just be a secondary chakra source… does that mean it'll be easier to control?"
Naruto nodded slowly. "Yeah. Until now you had to fight for control because you would want to do one thing, and the youki's own intelligence would want to do another, and the more you used the harder it got. Once the Kyuubi is erased it'll be just like normal chakra, you'll still have to learn how to use it, but you won't have to fight for it."
The next day found Natsuko laying naked on the couch, her fists balled in anticipation. Naruto stood next to her with two shadow clones, the one on the left was holding a thick paper tag and the one on the right was carrying a syringe filled with the black liquid needed to help bind the Fuinjutsu to her body.
"Ready?" Naruto asked, getting a sharp nod in return. "Then let's get to it."
He went through a long series of hand seals, a sight that seemed strangely foreign to Natsuko's eyes. When he finished his hand was glowing with blue chakra Kanji but before she could get a decent look at them the glow increased to almost blinding levels. To break the Eight Trigrams Seal enough that it would start to collapse, she knew that he not only had to have a detailed understanding of how it worked, but he would also have to put a lot of power into it.
She braced herself as he reared his hand back and struck his Kanji covered palm into her seal.
"Sweet Kami-sama that hurt!"
Natsuko blinked her eyes open, from having clamped them shut against the pain.
"Damn… here again."
She looked around the sewer/basement/boiler room that was her subconscious, with no small amount of distaste. A loud grumbling noise drew her attention to one end of the passage and her eyes widened when she saw a flood of violent red youki pouring towards her. She reacted without hesitation.
Her hands came up in front of her and three Wind Tigers, each seven foot at the shoulders, sprung to life and charged at the oncoming wave of youki. Natsuko fell into place behind them, completing the diamond formation, protected by her creations. The first tiger only slowed a little as it collided with the front of the wave, sending youki crashing to the sides as it opened up a narrow path. The chaotic energy gouged into the walls and it was only then that the young Uzumaki noticed that they were crumbling, slowly falling apart like a dried up sand castle.
"I guess that's how my mind shows that my body's starting to die…" She murmured, oddly indifferent to the idea since she had full trust in her brother's skill. All she had to worry about was keeping the demon contained.
She snapped her attention back to the path before her as the first tiger blinked out of existence and was replace by the one to its left.
They continued running down the straight corridor surrounded by a continuous stream of youki when… all of a sudden… it stopped. Natsuko blinked as her tiger suddenly had a much easier time parting the red sea in front of it and they soon burst out of the corridor.
She looked back to see that the youki was still gathering up, but didn't seem to be making any progress. She frowned at the sudden change before comprehension dawned on her.
"Naruto-kun must have activated the Youki Suppressor Tag."
Her danger senses went crazy and she jumped to the side just in time to dodge a massive paw. She looked up to see the Kyuubi no Kitsune in all its terrifying glory snarling down at her with waves of youki bubbling off of its legs and running in slow thick rivers towards the tunnel she had just exited.
"GRAHAHAHA! YOU PATHETIC LITTLE NINGEN! I'M GOING TO RIP Y-"
Natsuko's Wind Tiger made a running jump and flew, literally, through the air to claw its way into the Demon Fox's face. She was dismayed to see only the tiniest of scratches appear on the behemoth before it was filled in with more youki, giving the impression of having healed. She briefly wondered why it had so little effect when the other tigers had torn through the flood of youki in the tunnel quite easily but pushed the thought aside as the giant, and very angry, fox started gathering massive amounts of youki in front of its mouth.
She cursed under her breath as she gathered her chakra. "Crap! 'Just hold the Kyuubi back!' He said. 'You don't have to beat it!' He said. I'll be lucky if I last three seconds."
One thing that she sometimes mourned from her 'idiot days' was her eternal blindness to the strength of her enemies. She had faced down Zabuza, Orochimaru, a partially released Shukaku and other powerful foes with only the skills of a subpar Genin, but she had never stopped to consider the fact that she might actually loose, let alone die. Now that she had smartened up, and was a very high level kunoichi, she was painfully aware of how fearsome her tenant truly was. The display she put on in the Valley of the End was like a drop of rain in the storm compared to the monster in front of her.
As much as she would hate to admit it, she would later come to understand people's wariness of her.
Knowing that backing down wasn't an option, she took a brave step forwards, knelt down on one knee, and slammed both her fists into the steadily crumbling floor. Her chakra flared impressively and the ground in front of her almost instantly turned into molten lava. Huge, twelve foot wide, balls of magma shot at the fox, converging on its mouth and smashing into the sphere of youki it was creating.
Kyuubi roared as the cluster of boiling rock projectiles and its own unfinished attack crashed into its face and exploded, tearing off its muzzle before more youki built it back up. Unnoticed by Natsuko, the fox's overall size decrease by a tiny amount.
One of the nine massive tails swung around, and Natsuko had to jump high into the air, propelling herself with Wind Chakra to rise higher and faster to avoid being hit. She flipped over and stuck to the ceiling as the youki appendages flailed around madly, trashing up the floor and spraying the remaining magma about. She pressed her hands to the slowly degrading roof and pumped even more Lava Chakra into it. She shaped her chakra to bend the flow harmlessly around her, and protect herself from roasting alive, as several dozen tons of superheated rock came caving down.
The Kyuubi roared, its anger growing, as the scorching weight landed on its unprepared back and half crushed it as it was forced to its belly.
Natsuko grinned victoriously and ran, upside down, to another spot of the ceiling, fully intent on repeating the process as many times as possible to slow the fox down.
Just as she was about to unleash a second wave a glimmer of blue caught her attention. She tilted her head in time to see a thick blue tube… thing, easily ten foot in diameter, that seemed to be siphoning off the youki that was pooling around the edges of the room.
She cursed, shaped the lava into a large serpentine dragon, jumped on its back and flew down towards the drain, running a desperate race as more and more youki was leaking out.
"Damn it Naruto! You said it would be a matter of seconds! I've been in here at least ten minutes already!"
Nearing the half-way point, and starting to fear that she had failed, she was once again distracted by a deafening roar. Her eyes widened as a huge youki enhanced shockwave blasted out from the Kyuubi, sending the magma on its back flying in all directions as the dense sphere of destruction rippled outwards. She hastily ordered her dragon to wrap around her in a protective cocoon and pumped more chakra into it to help it hold.
She smashed against the inside of her defensive ball as it was buffeted backwards, only surviving the contact because of the large amounts of chakra she was using to strengthen her body.
She let the severely weakened dragon uncurl itself, as soon as she felt it was safe, and stood on its steamy back. Her eyes momentarily widened in shock at the destruction the fox's attack had wrought. The room was now almost perfectly spherical and, if she had to guess, roughly half the size of Konoha. The only irregularities being the parts where larger and larger sections were breaking off and falling down.
Another, smaller, shockwave brought her attention to the very bottom of the crater. The Kyuubi was glaring at her murderously, with its throat bulging as if it had just swallowed a large…
She paled. "Crap!"
She flared her chakra as high and as wide as she could while taking in a deep breath.
The fox's maw opened fully and a devastating beam of energy blasted out. "KYUUBIKO IMARI!"
Sweat poured down Natsuko's face as the Kyuubi's attack screeched towards her, bristling the hairs on the back of her neck with its sheer power. She released her breath in a strong Spear of Wind and then thrust her hands forwards, forcing the air all around her to gather in a cone pointed at the dead center of the oncoming blast of youki.
Her dragon fell apart as soon as the two techniques collided and, without footing, she was blasted back against the curved wall. The last of her breath was forcefully ejected from her lungs, but she kept her hands up and held the wind cone in position, gritting her teeth as the beam was split in two careening off wide to either side of her and gouging out massive portions of the wall. When the assault finally stopped Natsuko used Body Flicker to get away from between the two blast craters.
That proved to be a wise choice as it gave her the perfect vantage point to see the fox slamming its giant clawed forepaw down on the spot she had occupied just moments prior. She breathed out in relief as she used chakra to keep her feet from slipping on the curved surface of the wall/floor that, she only now noticed, seemed to have a black ooze bubbling up from between its many cracks.
Her relief and observations were cut short when she realized that dodging the blow had placed the fox nearer to the exit than she was. Not only that, but the thick pipe was now completely red and was still draining youki outwards.
Fortunately, the mighty Bijuu seemed to have no intention of making a quick escape, as it turned to her with another, even bigger attack charging up. She created a bunch of clones and stood at the side of the group as they all started pushing Lava Chakra into the ground to create a more solid defense…
The world went grey.
Natsuko looked around wildly as everything, which admittedly wasn't all that much, disappeared from view and was replaced by an endless sea of uniform grey. She scrunched her eyes shut and opened them again, but nothing changed. She couldn't even see her hand in front of her face. She felt panic start to descend as she realized that she couldn't even move, or rather… she could move, she just couldn't feel that she was moving. Naruto hadn't said anything about this, and for a moment she wondered if it meant that she had failed. Was she dead? Would she never see him again? Never hold him? Kiss him? Make love to him?
And then it was over.
She breathed out a sigh of relief as feeling came back to her. The grey flashed a bright white, before slowly started to fade in favour of a multitude of colors that gradually became more defined.
When the white had completely receded she found herself standing in a near perfect replica of the safe houses Naruto had built. Everything was there. The stony archway that lead out. The soft grass that covered the ground. The few fruit trees standing off to one side. The small traditional styled one story house. And, finally, the full bloom sakura tree.
There were a few differences. Firstly, there were two ponds and two streams, instead of just one, with both leading off into the wall of the dome-like cave that the safe house was built in. A simple wooden arch bridge crossed over both of them in one go. The first pond, and the stream connected to it, was filled with light blue water that she instantly recognized as having the same 'feel' as her chakra. The second pond was empty, as was the stream bed that connected to it. The second difference was that, under the sakura tree, there was a transparent blue ice block, similar to the one Naruto kept their mother's body in, with what was clearly a naked female held inside.
Curious, she started walking towards it.
She spun around, startled by the sudden but unmistakable roar. Her eyes widened when she saw the huge blast of angry red youki speeding towards her. Instinctively, she threw her hands up in front of her…
The blast had disappeared.
The monstrous attack had simply vanished before it could reach its target or cause any damage whatsoever.
"You'll be able to do whatever you want because it's your mind."
Her brother's words played through her mind as she stared at the dumbfounded Demon Fox. She took a moment to take in the strange sight that was the Bijuu in her subconscious. Her subconscious. It was rather curious, the beast was still at its full size, which was considerable higher than the cave's ceiling, and yet it had no problem fitting in.
She shook her head to clear it of the strange observations. 'This is my mind… I don't suppose there's any reason why it should obey the laws of Nature. Yeesh! I'm starting to sound like Naruto-kun.'
She looked up at her no-longer-tenant with a vicious smirk. "Oy! You bastard Fox! Get the fuck out of my head!"
She brought her left hand up to face level and snapped her fingers loudly. Very loudly. So loudly in fact, that the sound echoed around like a clap of thunder. For a moment nothing happened. Then overwhelming aura of malicious intent that constantly radiated off of the Kyuubi simply vanished. Natsuko watched in awe as the giant fox seemed to lose its shape and floated into the empty pond. It shimmered a bit, before running down the stream like a river of wine.
She shivered as she felt a tingle in the back of her mind as the youki slipped under her control. A grin stretched her face as a tugging sensation in her gut pulled her away.
Despite having expected it, Naruto flinched at the ear splitting scream that tore from his sister's throat, as well as its abrupt end when her eyes rolled into the back of her head and her tense body slumped in a dead faint. Keeping his mind focused he held his hand up in front of him and closed his eyes.
Creating either Growth or Decay Chakra separately was difficult, but he needed to mold both at the same time. Slowly, a white glow encompassed his left hand and a black glow encompassed his right, he immediately began a new, and longer, sequence of hand seals.
Vile red youki started bubbling up from the seal as it started to unwind, small black kanji splitting off from the spiral and disappearing one after the other. The left-hand clone slapped its Youki Suppressor Tag on her forehead before the youki could seep out too much and forcing it back into her body. The sealing array on the thick piece of paper came alive and glowed brightly as it struggled against the amount it was forced to restrain. Thankfully, the youki receded.
The same clone snatched her up and carried her to the next room where a vast sealing array had been carefully inscribed all over the floor and up a good part of the walls. He gently set her limp form down in the only unpainted area in the middle of the room. Seeing the original, who was still performing hand seals, and the other clone, who had his syringe at the ready, enter the room, he set to work on his last assigned task.
He knelt beside her, placed his hand on top of the rapidly collapsing Eight Trigrams Seal, and forced his chakra into it. He held for a moment before wincing when the Kyuubi's youki latched onto it, seeing it as a possible way of escape. Without skipping a beat the clone shaped his chakra into a very thick chakra string and stretched it into Natsuko's dying body. He worked as fast as possible, while remaining as precise as he could and coaxing the youki along the same trail, branching off at all the right places to create the secondary chakra system. When he completed the last coil, he held it in place and caused sharp 'spikes' to shoot out at strategic points, allowing roughly sixty small bursts of youki to escape her body, thus creating the Tenketsu.
With his job done the clone got back to his feet before leaving the room, not dispelling himself so as not to risk distracting the original.
The original Naruto Finally completed his hand seals, leaving his right hand glowing grey, its shade perfectly balanced between white and black. He pressed his hand down on the floor and the large sealing array in the room lit up in the same colored glow. Gradually, parts of the array lightened, glowing white, while others darkened, glowing black, but most parts of it stayed in the original color. Suddenly the whole thing shimmered and twisted, before swirling onto Naruto's palm. When every surface of the room was cleared Naruto's palm bore a near perfect replica of the seal he bore on his belly.
He nodded shortly at his remaining clone.
Seeing the nod the clone plunged its syringe into Natsuko's erratically beating heart and pressed down on the plunger, emptying the contents into her bloodstream. He then followed the first clone's example in leaving the room without dispelling.
Naruto knelt next to his sister. Without preamble he tore of the Youki Suppressor Tag, ignoring the wisps of youki that were seeping out of the newly formed Tenketsu, and slammed his right palm down on her now seal-free stomach.
Grey, black and white kanji shot out, curling around every part of her body as Naruto took a few steps back. When her entire body was coated in grey, even her hair, the light 'throbbed' a few times. As the creator of the technique, Naruto knew that this meant that she was being scanned, evaluated, and memorized. The jutsu would take an imprint of her body, evaluate and rectify all the 'damaged' parts, then memorize the end result. In the future all damage would return her to a fully healed seventeen year old body.
Naruto dispelled his clones as he watched the grey begin to sink into her skin, signaling the jutsu's completion. Normal, black ink kanji swirled to her stomach, taking a shape similar to the Eight Trigrams Seal, before disappearing from sight, leaving his lover's tummy with smooth and flawless skin.
He sighed in relief. "Jutsu success!"
No longer pressed for time, he took out a brush and ink and he carefully replaced her Training Seals, adding in the slight modifications that would allow her to alter them even after he activated her Chakra Shell.
He paused for a moment. Natsuko was easily deserving of S-Rank status by now, she only needed more experience and she would probably be the most powerful ninja in the elemental nations, second only to him. He hadn't explicitly told her so but, with their chakra capacity, their ability to learn and master things at inhuman rates thanks to Shadow Clone training, and the latest addition (in her case) of the Immortality Jutsu, they were almost godlike. Even the most powerful of ninja couldn't use their bodies to full capacity, at least not for long, but with the jutsu to repair any damage the very moment it happened the two Uzumaki could open all Eight Inner Gates without worry if they wanted to. With that sort of strength he didn't have to worry about her being overpowered or captured, even with the threat of Akatsuki lurking over her head. But that didn't mean he shouldn't prepare.
With a short nod of agreement to himself he slipped his hands between her legs and gently parted them. He dipped his brush in the ink and, pressing it to her upper inner-thigh, started writing down the Kanji for a Fuinjutsu he had created as a posthumous gift for the third anniversary of his mother's death. Despite its small size, it took almost fifteen minutes to complete. When he finished he activated it by feeding in some of his chakra. The coils of kanji unfurled themselves, reaching out like a crawling vine to her private areas, breasts as well as her mouth, before rolling back up and disappearing, leaving no visible trace of the seal whatsoever.
Naruto rearranged her legs and sat back with a satisfied smile on his face, assured that his sister and lover would never be… 'touched'… by anyone but himself.
He finished his work by painting and activating the seal for the Chakra Shell, then picked her up bridal style and carried her to the bedroom to recover. Just as he placed her down on the bed, her eyes snapped open and she sat up, almost bumping their heads.
Naruto blinked, not having expected her to awaken so soon, but he easily shook off the surprise. He had been alone when he applied the jutsu to himself, so he really didn't have a set idea on how long it should take. Before he could ask how she was feeling she looked down at her stomach.
Natsuko blinked in confusion as she ran her slender fingers over her sealess belly. She looked up in mild panic. "What happened? Why haven't I got the seal like yours? Did it go wrong?"
Naruto hastily placed his hands on her in a reassuring gesture. "It's fine! It all went just fine. The seal isn't visible because I added on a few kanji to the array so that it would sink into your skin and mask itself once it was complete. I know you like to wear those sexy little tops that expose your slim and perfect midriff so I thought that would be for the better." He finished with a suggestive grin.
Natsuko nodded and grinned back. They both knew that those tops were mostly for his benefit, rather than hers. After all, he was the one who got the permanent eye candy as they walked from place to place.
He peered into her eyes questioningly. "How do you feel? Were there any problems?"
Natsuko blinked a few times before actually taking notice of her brother's face just a few inches from her own. "No, I'm fine. I feel…great!"
She rolled her shoulders experimentally, stretching her arms above her head and smirking when her brother's graze wondered down to her rising breasts. Then she frowned angrily as she remembered the way-more-then-a-few-seconds fight she had had against the Kyuubi.
Naruto blinked out of his perverted observations when she bopped him none to gently on the head.
"'Were there any problems?'" She asked incredulously. "I was in there for aaaaaaages! I dropped a hundred tons of boiling rock on its back and it just shook it off! What took you so long? I didn't even see Minato-"
Suddenly images danced through her mind as if she had just dispelled too many Shadow Clones. Observations, thoughts and conclusions wormed their way into her head but, unlike the feedback from her clones, they felt strangely foreign and she had difficulty processing them.
Naruto, who had recoiled because of her punctuating each of her sentences with a solid bop on his head, leaned forwards worriedly as she spaced out, her eyes staring forwards vacantly as their lids fluttered up and down.
"Natsu-chan? Natsuko are you alright?"
She blinked as she seemed to slowly come back to her senses. "Flying Thund… Eight Tri… Key…"
She finally snapped back and rubbed her temples with nursing care.
She looked back at her brother with a freaked out expression on her face. "I think… I think I just got a bunch of Minato's memories."
Naruto quirked an eyebrow at her. "Huh?"
Natsuko frowned a little as she went over the memories that were just forced on her. "Flying Thunder God, Eight Trigrams Seal, the Key, Fuinjutsu, Taijutsu… I can remember a bunch of things." She gained a sour look, pursing her lips in displeasure. " I can remember sealing the Kyuubi in… well… me."
Naruto's forehead creased in thought. "What happened when you faced him?"
She glared at him reproachfully. "I didn't!"
After a detailed rundown of what happened in her mind, and the appropriated amount of praise for actually facing down the embodiment of Natural Disaster, Naruto took a moment to try and figure out what could have happened. He had been quite sure of himself, so he was rather embarrassed that things hadn't gone as he had anticipated.
He scratched his chin. "I think that, when I broke the seal, the initial wave of youki could have destroyed the imprint of Minato… no… it would have destroyed the chakra, but not the actual memories of the imprint. You carved your path through that wave easily enough because it was uncontrolled, whereas the actual Kyuubi itself had focus and easily overpowered you chakra with its more potent youki. For each youki attack it used, you probably had to use many times more chakra just to equal it's power. The magma was more effective because it was more… 'physical'."
He paused in thought before shrugging. "I can't be sure but my best guess is that, when you wiped the youki clean of Kyuubi, Minato's memories were left floating around your head."
He continued hesitantly. "The imprint couldn't do anything because it no longer had any chakra, so when you thought of Minato… his imprint's memories were integrated into your consciousness. The discomfort was probably due to the differences between your minds. When you get feedback from your clones it works out well enough because their mind works the same way as yours, but Minato's would be different enough that it felt… wrong."
Natsuko nodded distractedly. After facing the Fox and experiencing its power first hand she was eager to try and use its… her…youki. She closed her eyes and reached inwards, searching for the source of her energies. She easily recognized her own chakra, as well as the new sensation of containment that she supposed was the Chakra Shell redirecting her chakra back into her body to increase her reserves. She smiled as she identified the heavier feel of the youki and pulled it up to the surfaced. She was momentarily surprised, but very pleased, with the easiness of the task compared to the few previous times she had used it when borrowing from the Kyuubi.
She opened her eyes to see that her body was surrounded by an uncontrolled aura of potent red youki. Unlike previous times it didn't thrash around wildly or form a fox-like shroud. It simply roared around her like a well stoked fire.
There was no maliciousness whatsoever.
Kyuubi was dead.
Natsuko grinned happily… Her brother had freed her of her burden.
There was a blinding flash. When it cleared Sasuke had touched ground on the other side of the arena, his feet digging up two ragged trenches as he skidded to a halt.
Thirty feet behind him stood the now headless body of Uzumaki Natsuko.
Natsuko blinked in surprise as she looked about her mindscape. This was the first time she took a head shot, but from what her brother told her it was supposed to be over pretty fast.
She sighed despondently. "Why is nothing ever normal with me?"
She smiled and looked around fondly. She hadn't been in her mindscape since she destroyed the Kyuubi and she was curious to find out exactly what changes had happened. Remembering the block of ice that she never managed to get a look at, she made her way over to the sakura tree. She was only slightly surprised to find that the body in the casket was her own, and that its head was glowing white. She suspected that it was connected to the Immortality Jutsu, the image her body returned to when it was damaged.
The sound of a door rustling open on well-oiled hinges made her spin around. A beautiful woman with long red hair walked out, swinging her head from one side to the other until her eyes landed on Natsuko.
Her eyes widened. "Natsuko-chan?"
Natsuko's jaw dropped. "Okaa-san?"