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Chapter 09: …Family…
The two Uzumaki women stared at each other dazedly. Both of them drinking in the other's features.
Natsuko launched herself at her mother and tackled her in a crushing hug that sent them both tumbling to the ground. They both shed tears of happiness and sorrow, glad that they could finally met but sad for all the years they could have had if things went differently.
Natsuko lifted her head up so that she could see her mother's face. "Wha… how are you here?"
Kushina smiled at her and Natsuko was struck by how similar they looked. If it wasn't for the difference in hair color, eye color, the thin whisker marks on her cheeks, and the slight difference in age they could easily pass for identical twins.
"I really don't know." Kushina answered. "I've been here for a while… ever since Kyuubi is gone. But I really don't understand how."
Natsuko tried to work out what was happening, thinking back to everything her brother had said, and trying to remember if any of it could explain what was going on. Then the answer came to her, slapping her in the face like a cold bucket of water.
She was a memory imprint.
The realization sent a pang of sadness through Natsuko's heart. She was still glad to see her mother, to get to talk to her and hold her. But the fact that she wasn't really her mother took away from the value of the situation.
Oblivious to her daughter's plight, Kushina untangled an arm from their embrace and pressed her hand to the blonde's cheek.
She smiled lovingly, fresh tears emerging from the corners of her eyes. "My little girl… my precious baby girl…" Her voice cracked a little. "You're all grown up…"
Natsuko felt her own eyes well up and leaned back into the hug. Imprint or not, she was still her mother.
When they finally cooled down they moved over to the tree, leaning against it, and each other, as the basked in a silent moment of mother-daughter companionship.
Natsuko laid her head down on Kushina's shoulder. "I don't understand. From what Naruto-kun told me you weren't there when Minato did the sealing. So how can he have added an imprint of you."
Kushina also tilted her head, laying it on top of her daughter's. "I wasn't and… I don't think he did. Given the argument we had before he stole you from me it would have been a stupid thing to do. He would have been worried that my imprint would try to destroy the seal before it could fully bind to you."
Natsuko smirked at the livid tone of her mother's voice as she spoke of her ex-husband. "So… how are you here then?"
Kushina sighed. "I really don't know Natsuko-chan. I'm good with seals, or… I was good, I guess, since I'm dead. Anyway… I really don't know what happened."
She paused and closed her eyes as she thought back. She had done so a good few times already since she first woke up and found herself in her daughter's mindscape. There had been other, earlier, times when she seemed to awaken, but they were all blurry and she didn't know what to make of them. Her earliest, reliable, memory before waking up under the beautifully blooming sakura tree, was of her laying on a hospital bed with her eight year old son sitting next to her, holding her hand as tear tracks ran down his cheeks.
She smirked. "So… how's your brother?"
Natsuko pulled away, blushing heavily at the slightly husky tone in her mother's voice. When she saw the sly expression on her face she instantly knew that the woman was aware of the intimate relationship that her two children shared. The ex-Jinchuuriki wasn't sure whether to be relieved that she didn't have to tell her mother about it, or whether to be worried that she would now have to explain herself.
Without really thinking, she blurted out the first thing that came to mind. "How did you know?"
Kushina's grin widened. She pointed up to the thick canopy of pink sakura blossoms above them. "I've discovered that each petal hold a memory. One of your memories."
She brought a hand up to her heart as if recounting a tragedy. "Imagine my surprise when, unaware of this fact, I went for a spot of tree climbing, brushed my hand across one of the pretty flowers, and suddenly found myself reliving my own daughter's memory of having her bum thoroughly ploughed. And by my own son no less!"
The only thing that kept Natsuko running for the hills, metaphorically, although since this was her mind she probably could create some hills to run to, was the now ear to ear grin on her face.
She smiled back tentatively. "And… you're okay with Naruto-kun and me being… you know?…"
Kushina sighed, her expression becoming more serious as she knew that this was an important discussion. "Yes! I'm okay with it! Don't get me wrong! I was shocked when I first found out. What makes it worse is that, since it's your memory, I relived it from your point of view. So it was basically as if Naruto-kun was fucking me!"
She shivered in what seemed to be a mixture of disgust, shock, and pleasure. "My little boy certainly has grown up…"
She met eyes with Natsuko and sighed again. "At first I was astonished. I mean, learning that you've missed seventeen years of your son's life, all of your daughter's life, and that they are now immortal and involved in a very intimate relationship with each other isn't an easy revelation. I literally fell right out of the tree. When I got over the initial shock I decided to look through some of your memories. Not too many! Just enough to get an idea of what's happened and what I've missed. It's surprisingly easy actually. You just have to place your hand on the tree trunk and focus on what you want, and the appropriate petals just fall down on you. I guess you could say that I got a rundown of the 'highlights' of your life.
"I can't say that I was surprised at how bad your life in Konoha was, to tell the truth I had feared that it would be worse. But it did prove to me that I was right in not wanting you to be the Fox's vessel. And then when you met your brother… well, let's just say that I can understand how things turned out the way they did and leave it at that."
Natsuko let out the breath she had been holding. "You're sure?" She asked, wanting to know without a shadow of a doubt. "I know it's a bit strange, because we're brother and sister, But we really do love each other."
Kushina nodded. "I know you do. And, despite the… unusual pairing, I think you make a beautiful couple." She smiled softly. "To tell the truth I'm a little jealous, I wish I had a love like the two of you share."
Natsuko looked down to hide her blush. She frowned. "I know how you feel about Minato… that's a bit of a relief actually, since both Naruto-kun and I hate him. But what about Naruto-kun's father? He never talked about him, although I'll admit that I haven't asked about him either."
Her eyebrows rose a bit when she saw her mother flinch, but she waited without commenting on it.
Kushina opened her mouth as if to talk, but closed it just as fast. "Naruto's father… it's complicated. I think it's best if we just…"
Natsuko interrupted her as she got an idea. "Hey! How about you show me? You know, directly, with your memories."
She flinched back, startled by her mother's curt response. "I didn't mean everything." She said, trying to hide her hurt feelings at being so harshly rejected. "Just like how you met and…"
She frowned when her words seemed to make her mother's back stiffen, before she shook her head vigorously, making her long hair fan around her in a red blur.
A single strand of Kushina's hair whipped out from the group and arched, almost in slow motion, towards Natsuko's face.
"I'm not going to show you anything about Nar…"
The tip of the long silky red thread brushed across the middle of Natsuko's forehead.
She was running as fast as she could but with her fractured leg, the slash on her stomach, the Lightning jutsu burn on her left arm, and the long set in weariness that was bogging her down, that wasn't very fast at all.
The Jounin in charge of her unit had ordered a retreat. They were to break ranks and disperse, before regrouping at the designated location in one week. Tears cascaded down her cheeks as she thought of how things had gone so terribly wrong for her clan and village.
At first the attack had been seen as something of a joke, even if there were three Major Villages leading it.
Uzugakure was a small village, with the Uzumaki being the only Bloodline clan. The other two clans, the Iga and the Koga, were specialists trained from birth in the arts of stealth/assassination and poison/combat respectively. The civilian born Shinobi constituted less than ten percent of the village's military force. Despite their small numbers, the ninja of Uzugakure had held no fear of falling to their attackers. The whirlpools that surrounded the village provided a strong natural defense and, while it could be crossed with Water Walking, it ate up a lot of chakra and gave the defenders easier targets to aim at. After that, the walls of Uzu were as good as any other village's, and more than enough to stop those who got that far until they could be taken out. And with the Uzumaki Ninjutsu specialists standing on the walls, using their large chakra reserves to send down wave after wave of Ninjutsu, well… there hadn't been anything to fear.
And then there was a breach.
Somehow one of the defending units had been taken out, leaving the wall unmanned long enough for some attackers to gain access to the inner village, while others placed enough explosives to take down the section of wall. She had been on the other side of the island, so it was the explosion that alerted her, and everyone else, to the threat.
And then it was over.
If the walls had held, or the initial infiltrating attack force been repelled, they probably could have withheld the siege for months. But as soon as the attackers set up a defensive perimeter around their access point, the tables had turned and Uzugakure was all but condemned.
With the risk of harming their comrades within the walls of their own village, the Uzumaki Ninjutsu specialists were unable to use their techniques to full effect. The Uzumaki who specialized in other areas, such as herself, as well as the Iga and the Koga Clans, put up a valiant effort, but against the overwhelming numbers of the Kiri, Kumo, and Iwa ninja there hadn't been any real hope. The fight had lasted for almost half a day, but eventually the village they were fighting for was little more than rubble, fire, and corpses.
She stopped to lean against a tree. The race to escape the ruins of Uzu had been a hectic one, so she wasn't sure what direction she had ended up taking. But given the size of the trunk she guessed that she was somewhere on the southern coast of Fire Country.
She knew that the surviving members of Iga and Koga had escaped, but most of the remaining Uzumaki had stayed to fight to the bitter end. She shed more tears as she thought of her mother and father. She may not have seen it, but she knew that they were dead, as were her cousins, aunts, uncles… She was already dreading the regrouping in a week's time, because that was when she would find out just how many had died. How few had survived.
She winced as she straightened up. She couldn't afford to stay in one place, especially not in her condition. A rustling made her spin around in time to see a blur curving towards her head.
There was a blunt 'thunk' of impact and her world went black.
LEMON WARNING: RAPE!
She groaned pitifully as she woke up but instantly regretted it. Her head ached. Her throat ached. Her breasts ached. Her stomach ached. Her legs ached. She halfheartedly tried to find a part of her body that didn't ache. She winced and clucked her tongue at the awful taste in her mouth as she blearily opened her eyes, her sleep clogged vision dull and unfocused. A soft gust of wind blow over her. She froze.
She was naked.
All traces of tiredness vanished as fear sent a burst of adrenalin through her bloodstream. She tried to get up, but the heavy weight of chakra cuffs pulled her back to the ground, making the metal restraints that pinned her arms behind her back dig painfully into her skin. She grunted and tried again more slowly, but froze when she both saw and felt a trail of white and red liquids oozing from between her legs.
Her mind came screeching to a halt as the implications sunk in. Despite being in her late teens she had never so much has been on a date before. The thought, and evidence, that she had lost her virginity in her sleep was horrifying. She started to tremble when she got a sinking feeling as to why her throat was soar, and what the unpleasant taste in her mouth was.
"Well well well boys! Look who's finally woken up!"
She twisted her head around in a panic, trying to locate the source of the jeering voice. Her eyes widened in fear when she saw a small campfire behind her, dug into a pit so as not to draw attention from patrolling squads, and a team of three Shinobi and one kunoichi sitting around it. Her eyes darted around as she struggled to get free.
From the trees that surrounded the clearing she could tell that they were still in Fire Country, but nothing more precise than that. The symbols on the metal plates of their forehead protectors indicated that her captors were from Kumo. From their somewhat torn clothes and the few wounds she could see she guessed that they had been part of the assault on her village.
Rage bubbled up inside her at the thought of all the people these four could have killed. Uzu-nin, friends, maybe even family. In a rage, she found the strength to shift to her side and pass her cuffed wrists under her bum, curling her legs up enough that she managed to get her hands in front of her. Just as she was about to charge blindly a large fist slammed into her face and sent her sprawling on her back, fresh blood dribbling from her now split lip.
She glared up at her attacker angrily. He was tall, over six foot, and very muscular. He wasn't quite 'dark skinned', but he was dark enough that it couldn't be put down to a good suntan. His hair, by contrast, was shock white and cropped short. His eyes were a dark stormy blue. If the situation had been different, very different, she would have found him rather handsome. But as it was, all she saw was his hungry, perverted leer he raked his eyes up and down her naked form.
He licked his lips lustfully as he swaggered towards her, unfastening his pants as he went. She hopped to her feet but before she could do anything more she found herself roughly pinned to a tree with her bound hands held above her head and only the tips of her toes touching the grassy forest floor.
He laughed loudly, his face close enough to hers that she could feel his hot breath prickling her skin. "Where do you think you're going you lil' bitch?"
She writhed and kicked out ineffectively, her sore muscles not generating enough strength to harm him. A hard punch to the gut slammed her back against the tree but she kept struggling despite the sting of her open wound. Another punch made her grimace and falter slightly as she tried to force him away from her. A third punch forced the air from her lungs and made her body go limp, stars danced across her vision as pain lanced through her body.
The Kumo kunoichi scowled in distaste. "Can you cut that out? You've been fucking her at every stop for the last three days already, haven't you had enough yet?"
He laughed as he finally got his erect cock out and rubbed it roughly against the entrance to his captive's womanhood. "Why the hell would I want to stop? With all the shit we went through to catch an Uzumaki alive I think we deserve a bit of a reward right guys?"
The other two men of the group chuckled and grinned perversely, obviously thinking back to the 'reward' they had enjoyed not so long ago. "Besides… Raikage-sama will start her on a breeding program the second we get her back home! He's not going to care if we get a bit of a head start."
The kunoichi scowl deepened. "Whatever! Just keep the fucking noise down! I don't want some damned Konoha-nin creeping up on us because you three were busy rutting your brains out!"
He clucked his tongue angrily, his good mood ruined by his female team mate's interruption. He turned back to the slim red head he held pinned against the tree and smirked evilly.
Her eyes widened in shock as he slammed his hips forwards, ramming his cock all the way into her vagina. Despite the total lack of arousal, the copious amount of semen that had already been injected into her while she was unconscious prevented any resistance to the harsh penetration. Without a moment's pause he started sawing in and out of her brutally, scraping her butt against the rough bark it was pressed to.
Her mouth opened wide to scream out in pain as her vaginal walls were stretched beyond anything she had ever consciously experienced. Before she could gather even a quarter lung full of air he blocked off her supply by crushing his lips into hers. She tried to twist away, but her upraised arms on either side of her head severely restricted her movements. She was forced to endure as his meaty tongue invaded her mouth, the salty aftertaste of whatever he had eaten for his meal stinging her painfully as it rubbed into her split lip.
She tried to stay strong as she struggled feebly against his grip, but with each thrust of his cock she could feel the foreign fluids, in both her womb and her bowels, churning around messily and driving the horror of her situation deeper into her mind.
Tears ran down her face, spilling out of her clenched eyes as he started moaning into her mouth. His hips blurred as he picked up his pace to an even faster one, using chakra to enforce his muscles. Blood smeared the bark as the constant grating bit into the soft flesh of her butt cheeks.
She struggled harder, trying to get her legs up between them but, much to her dismay, that only made her vaginal muscles clamp and clench around the invading member, making him grunt in pleasure at the increased tightness.
"Aah… fucking… shit yeah! You love this don't you bitch? That's right! Fucking clamp down on my hard fucking cock!"
With her mouth free from his she gasped for breath, shuddering as she was finally able to draw a full breath and air filled her lungs. Still recovering, she was unable to muster the strength to react as she felt his cock swell and shoot short spurts of cum into her already filled tunnel.
Through her tear blurred eyes, she was vaguely aware of the other two walking towards them…
Natsuko recoiled in disgust. Loud retching sounds carried across her mindscape as she sat on her hands and knees, dry heaving from the memories that had just been forced through her mind.
Kushina dashed over to her, uncertain of what had happened. One moment they were talking and the next her daughter was a shivering mess. Since she had had her head turned the other way at the time she had no idea what had provoked the change.
She placed a comforting hand on her daughter's shoulder. "Natsuko-chan what's wrong? What happened?"
Natsuko flinched back from the contact as flashes of her rape… her mother's rape… their rape, passed through her head. She breathed in deep panting gasps as she tried to calm herself. It was just a memory, only a memory. And not even a complete one.
But the feel of that vile creature moving inside her was searing itself into her very soul. It felt so wrong, as if she had betrayed her brother's trust, even though she knew that he wouldn't see it that way.
She remembered her mother's words and an idea sprung to her. She lunged at the base of the sakura tree and pressed her palm firmly against it sending out a plea for her brother, her lover, her Naruto, to cleanse her of the unwelcome memory.
Kushina removed her hand from her daughter's shoulder but delicately took her hand instead, tracing small circles with the pad of her thumb to help her calm down from whatever was bothering her. She blinked in surprise when the blonde suddenly reached out and touched the base of the tree they were sitting under but held firm nonetheless.
Her jaw dropped a little when dozens, if not hundreds of the soft pink petals rained down on them. The petals converged around the two Uzumaki females, landing delicately on their skin with each one bringing a single memory of Natsuko's time with her brother. Joking. Spending time together. But mostly…
Lots and lots and lots of it.
Within seconds Kushina slumped to her side, eyes rolled to the back of their sockets, droll pooling from the corner of her mouth, and her face stuck in an expression of unearthly bliss.
Shizune gasped in horror as she saw her friend take the lethal blow. She waited for a moment, hoping to see the headless body disappear in a cloud of smoke, proving that it was nothing more than a Shadow Clone, but it didn't happen.
She felt unbridled anger rise from the pit of her gut as she heard some of the fools in the crowd start cheering the blasted Uchiha for ridding them of the Demon Brat. If she had had any hesitation in leaving Konoha, which she hadn't, then it most certainly would have died out after hearing their cries of joy.
She looked to her side when she heard a faint whimpering and flinched back slightly when she saw that it was Ayame. As not only a kunoichi, but an experienced medical ninja, Shizune had seen a lot of gore. So the sight of a brutally decapitated body didn't really bother her. For her it was the fact that it was a friend who had died that made it hard. For a civilian however… a cold shiver ran down her spine as she briefly contemplated how horrifying it must be for the Ramen Waitress to see her close friend die, let alone in such a manner.
She turned her attention to Naruto, dreading the looks of horror, grief, anger, helplessness, and all the other expressions she could only imagine were running through his head.
He was smirking.
She blinked a few times and actually had to pinch herself to make sure she wasn't hallucinating. It wasn't a vicious smirk that hinted at a plan coming to fruition, nor an evil smirk that promised a long and painful revenge. It was a slight twitching of the corner of his lips, translating, if she had to guess, an unconcerned amusement.
She stared at him in shock, appalled at his lack of reaction. "Naruto?"
Naruto tilted his head towards his newly met friend but was taken aback by her scandalized expression and the tears that seemed to be gathering in her eyes. He looked to Ayame and noted that she already had tears running down her cheeks and an expression that made him think she was going into shock.
His expression changed to one of worry as he leaned towards them. "What happened? Is something wrong?"
Shizune looked back to the arena and Naruto followed her gaze, his face shifting back into a smirk as his eyes fell upon his sister's headless body standing in the middle on the stadium.
'It's taking a while for it to grow back… but then again, different parts of the body take different time to recover and I suppose the nature of the wound doesn't help. The electricity of the attack probably cauterized her neck, so it has to destroy the damaged tissue before replacing what's missing.'
He snorted in amusement as he waited for things to unfold, already looking to the Kage Booth since he didn't want to miss their expressions when Natsuko re-grew her head.
His eyes widened in understanding.
He spun to face the two understandably, now that he thought about it from their point of view, distraught women beside him.
"Natsuko-chan's fine!" He hurried to reassure them. "She's going to be fine! That's not the sort of wound that can kill her."
He stood and placed a comforting hand on each of them. "Look it'll heal up any moment now."
True to his words, and to the shock and amazement of all present, Natsuko's head started reforming before their very eyes. First the top of her spine, then the base of her skull started to take shape even as the neck muscles knitted themselves back into existence, within a matter of seconds.
He grinned at the startled looks on the spectators' faces. As Natsuko rolled her shoulders and cricked her neck. He gave the two girls a gentle pat on the back and sat back down.
'Let's see what she's got in store for him now.'
Tsunade gaped. When Sasuke's blow landed she had expected Natsuko to evade with a combination of Shadow Clone and Substitution, or maybe even a Genjutsu or secret techniques that she had developed. But what Natsuko had done was beyond all her expectations.
From Jiraya's expression it was obvious that the Kyuubi couldn't provide that level of regeneration. She knew for a fact that her own Creation Rebirth jutsu couldn't do what she'd just seen, and it was considered the absolute pinnacle of medical Ninjutsu. She had no idea what had just happened or, more importantly, how it had happened.
She turned in her chair. "Kakashi? Hiashi? What do you see?"
Kakashi spoke without facing her, his Sharingan eye still fixed on his ex-student as she turned to face Sasuke. "I have no idea what she did, but her chakra color changed. most of her body stayed the same shade of grey, but when her head… for a moment it went black, pure black, and the burnt tissue seemed to just vanish. Then it went white, with a slight tint of blue, and moments later her head was completely healed. I… I can't explain it."
"Fuinjutsu." Everyone turned to Hiashi as he spoke in his stoic voice, his active Byakugan also remaining trailed on Natsuko. "Hatake-san's observations were correct, but my eyes also saw a large amount of sealing kanji embedded within the chakra that… restored… Uzumaki's head. I am not surprised that he did not see them, they were so small that only the superior eyes of the Hyuuga would be able to detect them. I admit to not being a seal master but, despite the fact that I can barely even see it, the array in question is by far the most complex and… intricate… that I have ever laid eyes upon."
Jiraya frowned skeptically. "What of the Eight Trigrams Seal? Do you see any trace of it or any activity around it? If this new seal is as complicated as you're implying, then the interaction between the two could have disastrous results."
Hiashi's face remained stony despite the mild slight on his Bloodline. "There is no trace whatsoever of the Eight Trigrams Seal… nor of the Kyuubi's youki."
Jiraya turned back to the arena, muttering so that only Tsunade could hear him. "I don't get it. I can sense that the Kyuubi's youki is still there." He closed his eyes and she knew that he was sensing out with one of his Sage abilities. "I can barely make it out under all her chakra, her reserves are monstrous, beyond anything I've ever sensed before… even Hoshigaki can't compare to this. But the Fox's youki, it feels… different."
Tsunade leaned a bit closer to him, keeping her voice low when she saw Koharu stealing suspicious glances at them. "What do you mean different?"
Jiraya's frown deepened. "It has almost the same signature as her chakra. If it wasn't for the potency of the youki I probably wouldn't be able to tell the two apart." He shook his head disbelievingly. "I have no idea what she's done to her seal. Even if she had access to the Key to separate the Kyuubi's will from its power, which she doesn't, it wouldn't change the youki's signature to match hers."
"Are you sure?" The blonde Hokage asked. "Maybe her brother did something. Kushina was skilled in Fuinjutsu, she could have taught him enough that he modified Natsuko's seal."
Jiraya shook his head dismissively. "She was good. Maybe even a bit better than me. But the brat was what, eight years old when she died? She wouldn't have had time to teach him that level of Fuinjutsu and even if she had, he wouldn't be able to make another Key, which is the only way I can think of this happening. I'll summon Gerotora later to make sure." He paused for a moment, then continued at a normal volume, no longer worried about being overheard. "She's going to win this fight."
Tsunade sighed, ignoring the spluttering indignation of the Civilian Council, as she looked down at the two combatants and nodded in disappointment. "She's been playing with him so far. She is obviously above his level of skill, and say what you will about him but Sasuke is a powerful Shinobi. I'm starting to understand how they took down some of the Akatsuki." She shoot him a sharp glare before turning back to the fighters. "You'd better make sure you win you stupid pervert! Don't go underestimating your opponent just because he's a brat!"
Jiraya scowled at her. "I know! Even if we can't use what's in Minato's Inheritance Scroll because of the protections, we can't run the risk of it falling in enemy hands. You shouldn't have taken this bet in the first place."
She clenched her fist tightly, struggling not to send him flying into a low orbit. "It's not like we had anything to lose. With the Daimyo having given them a full pardon we couldn't legally withhold her inheritance anyway." She paused in thought as a question she still wasn't sure of the answer to popped into her head. "Why did the Daimyo give them a pardon? He rarely takes much interest in how the village runs as long as it doesn't affect him. I don't think I've ever heard of him directly countering a Hokage's order."
Jiraya nodded sagely. "He was under pressure from the other Daimyos. Snow, Vegetable, Wave, Tea… the list goes on. It really is amazing how many high ranking people's lives the Gaki has changed." He chuckled softly. "If she ever wants to build her own village she's already got the alliance part in the pock…"
His voice trailed off, eyes widening as he took in his own words. Tsunade reacted in a similar fashion. She almost sprained her neck as she twisted her head towards him, shock painted all over her face as she whispered once again.
"You've got to be kidding me! You think she's trying to found her own village?"
He shook his head and recomposed himself. "No, it's not likely. Building a Shinobi village isn't something that goes unnoticed. The only exception was Sound, and that's because there isn't an actual village, just a load of hidden bases. If they were trying to build a village they would need a lot of money, building materials, workforce, all that. There's no way that that sort of activity could go unnoticed."
Tsunade let out the breath she had been holding. While a new Shinobi village probably wouldn't pose much of a threat, it would complicate an already delicate situation. The Akatsuki was the immediate problem, but it was far from being the only one. Stone and Cloud were always looking to increase their influence and would have no problem going to war over it at the first opportunity. Sand was still an ally, but it was a very strained agreement and it wouldn't take much to break it off. Then of course there was Orochimaru who was probably coming up with plans for Konoha's destruction on a daily basis. A new village could provide the little tip of the scales that would send everything down a very slippery slope.
She shook off the troublesome thoughts and redirected her attention to the fight. Her eyes widened. "Sweet Kami…"
Natsuko kept a mocking grin on her face as her opponent gaped at her, but in truth her mind was on something totally different.
The conversation she had just had in her mindscape.
'I've got to tell Onii-chan as soon as possible.' The grin turned a little goofy in the afterglow of reliving so many… fun memories simultaneously. 'Well… maybe not everything.'
A girlish giggle escaped her lips. She had pulled out of her subconscious as soon as she re-emerged from the deluge of sakura petals, but not before she got a good view of her mother's dreamy expression. For Natsuko, reliving over a year's worth of almost daily mind-blowing sex had been intense. For Kushina it had been almost debilitating.
Natsuko had the feeling that there would be a long family discussion in the near future.
She focused back on Sasuke and lifted an eyebrow when she saw that he was still standing there staring at her. The eyebrow rose a little higher when she took in his Level Two Cursed Seal Form. Or rather, the spectators' lack of reaction to said form.
She pushed the thoughts aside and looked down at her Training Seal. She focused her chakra on it and the counter dropped straight down to zero. She tensed and relaxed her muscles a few times to get a better feel for the sudden loss of weight and restriction, making Sasuke snap out of his daze and glare at her as he prepared for the 'next round'.
"I don't know what kind of trick that was loser, but don't think it'll work twice! I'll show you the might of the Uchiha!"
She snorted but didn't comment aloud. 'It'll be over before you can do a damned thing Uchiha.'
Before she even finished formulating the thought she dashed forwards. A relatively slow widening of his eyes told her that his Sharingan could still see her movements but the hasty and, in her opinion, clumsy defensive posture he adopted made it obvious that his body couldn't keep up.
Easily getting under his guard, she sent a sharp right jab to his solar plexus before following into a left sweep kick that connected to the side of his knee. He twisted into the air, but before his momentum could carry him far Natsuko set him straight with a low left hook to the liver.
Sasuke's vision started to waver and his hold on his transformation slipped under the brutal precision of the blows. He saw her right elbow coming towards him but was unable to react as it smashed against his temple with a sickening crack. As he fell into unconsciousness, he felt a last surge of anger ripple through him, his slowly spinning Sharingan having engraved the dobe's bored expression into his perfect Uchiha memory. A last thought drifted through his fading consciousness.
He would find the source of her power, and he would take it! After all… he was… an… Uchi… Uch…
Natsuko smirked as he fell to the ground in a boneless heap, his trademark scowl somehow staying in place. There was utter silence as she looked up to the Kage Booth. By their shocked expressions, even Tsunade and Jiraya were surprised by the abrupt and anticlimactic ending to the fight.
Not waiting for the winner announcement, she walked towards the private waiting area that her brother and friends were sitting in. She had to exercise every bit of self-control she possessed to not break into a flat-out run after what she'd found during her trip into her mindscape.
Naruto looked up as his sister sauntered into the waiting area. She seemed calm on the surface, but after all the time he had spent with her he could tell that she was actually bursting with excitement over something. He spared a glance at Shizune and Ayame. They were still recovering from the recent presumed death of their friend, and apparently hadn't noticed that said friend had just entered the room.
He walked up to her with a small smirk. "Nice work… although I'm surprised you finished it so soon. You completely dropped your Training Seals after the head shot. Did he piss you off that much?"
Natsuko shook her head. "No! I was pulled into my mindscape."
A wide enthusiastic grin split her face and she looked around, to make sure there were no eavesdroppers, before rising up on tip toes to whisper in his ear. "Okaa-san was in there."
Naruto's eyes widened so much that they looked like they were about to pop out of their sockets.
He stared down at her in shock. "Okaa-san?…"
Her smiled dropped a little, taking in the mournful tone of his voice. It was rare to see her brother's composure slip. Except in bed of course. That though quirked the corners of her lips back up a little and she almost thought that she could feel a sense of agreement echoing back from their mother. She knew that the loss of their mother was a wound to her brother's heart that still hadn't healed, but hopefully that was a situation that would soon be resolved.
She nodded to him once. Slowly. "Yeah. I met her in my mindscape. That's why I finished the fight so fast. Our… conversation… was cut short when I was pulled back out, but now that I know she's there it shouldn't be too hard to speak to her again. If you do the same we can get going and I'll give you the full story when we get back to Uzu. We can always visit our other potential allies later."
Naruto frowned slightly, but nodded. "In that case, it might be a good idea for you pop up to the Kage Booth so that you can take the scroll as soon as I win. I won't be long."
He walked out.
Natsuko turned to her friends who were still huddled in a corner. Her eyebrows raised at their peculiar actions, wondering why they hadn't greeted her yet. She walked over.
"Hey! What's got you two all in a tizzy?"
Both older girls spun on their bench at the sound of their friend's voice. Shizune had been comforting Ayame after seeing the unexpected decapitation. Even after her head had healed, it was still a traumatizing sight for the Ramen girl. With their attention focused on each other, neither of the young women had noticed Natsuko's arrival or Naruto's subsequent departure.
Ayame's bloodshot eyes widened and she suddenly surged forwards, leaping at her 'little sister' figure and clutching her in a tight hug.
Natsuko blushed, remembering what they had been doing just moments before her fight. She pushed it aside and directed her concern towards her tearful friend.
"Ayame-nee? What's wrong?"
Ayame glared up at her incredulously. "What's wrong? What's- You died is what's wrong! Do you have any idea what it was like for us to see you have your head torn off?"
Shizune grinned as Natsuko backed away from the angry waitress' scolding.
Looking for a way out, the female Uzumaki's eyes landed on the medic. "Shizune-nee! I was wondering…" She bit back a sigh of relief as Ayame stopped for her to speak. "I know that Konoha's full of Uchiha lovers, but how the hell is it that no one seemed to care when he used Orochimaru's Cursed Seal?"
Shizune gave a half shrug. "I'm not entirely sure. I had already split off from Tsunade by the time that became an issue, so I don't know what really happened. I long since stopped paying attention when people started talking about anything that concerns him. There's only so much a girl can stand to hear about the greatness of the Uchiha before she goes crazy."
Ayame sat back on the bench, pulling Natsuko down between her and Shizune. "Actually… Jiraiya wanted to have it sealed off but the Uchiha complained, saying that he needed the Seal's power to kill his brother. Then the Council stepped in and pulled weight, saying 'Uchiha-sama will use Orochimaru's power for the good of Konoha', or whatever bullshit they use to justify their crap. Apparently he uses it all the time on missions."
Natsuko and Shizune stared owlishly at her.
"What! I'm a waitress! Nobody pays attention to me when I'm washing dishes or cleaning the counter surface, so they talk about all sorts of things. I swear, if you want to gather information on people's lives you should just start a chain of Ramen Bars…"
Her voice withered off.
Shizune and Ayame looked at the dreamy expression on Natsuko's face with a mixture of amusement and dread. They had the distinct impression that Natsuko now had a new objective to reach, on top of founding her own hidden village.
Natsuko shook her head to regain focus. "Okay girls something's come up!" She grinned when she saw that she had their attention. "We got some last minute information so we'll be leaving as soon as possible. Naruto-kun is going to finish his fight quickly and I'm going to go up to the Kage Booth so that I can collect the scroll as soon as possible. Teuchi-ossan and the clones have probably finished packing by now, so I'd like it if you could join up with them and then wait by the village gates."
She was both surprised and pleased when both of her friends obeyed and followed her instructions without question or hesitation. She hadn't meant for it to sound like an order, but in hindsight she had to admit that it probably had. Her brother always listened to her opinions, but this was the first time that she felt as if she was… in charge. It was an oddly satisfying experience.
She waited until they had left before destroying the seal tags that maintained the Privacy Jutsu and leaving the waiting area.
Naruto took his time as he walked through the corridors towards the arena floor. He could have ran, or jumped straight down from the viewing area, but despite wanting to be expedient he felt the need to think things through. He knew it was important to keep a clear mind during battle, especially against an opponent of Jiraya's caliber, and thoughts of his dearly departed mother were one of the few things that could effectively cloud his judgment. So he walked slowly, giving himself the time he needed to reflect on the most recent development.
His sister had spoken to his mother in her mindscape. The obvious deduction was that she was an imprint conserved from the Eight Trigrams Seal. The problem with that was that it simply wasn't possible.
'I was with her during the sealing. So she couldn't have been there to layer the chakra required for the imprint's creation.'
His steps faltered for a moment.
'In fact I think she died at the same time as the Kyuubi's youki disappeared. Which would be the exact moment of the sealing.'
He rubbed his chin as he walked down the last set of steps.
'Maybe the imprint's creation was spontaneous? She was holding Natsuko-chan before Minato stole her… if she took that opportunity to layer her chakra onto Natsuko's body, consciously or not, then that chakra could have been formed into an imprint at the time of the sealing. Still… if that were the case the imprint would have been formed without focus or intent. As a result it would be incredibly vague… more like a bundle of emotions rather than any intelligence or memories. But Natsuko gave the impression that they had an actual discussion, so that can't be right.'
He sighed as he walked into the arena. The mid-morning sunlight made him smile as it splashed over his face, he couldn't help but have a good feeling about this.
Tsunade almost jumped out of her skin as Natsuko appeared in the chair Jiraya had occupied just moments earlier. She hadn't even sensed her arrival.
She stared at the girl as she lounged elegantly in the rather uncomfortable chair, an eyebrow quirked in restrained amusement.
"When did you get here?"
The blonde Kage's left eye twitched in annoyance.
"What are you doing here?"
Natsuko leaned into the chair's backrest and looked down to where her lover had just entered the arena.
She shrugged casually. "Well… originally Naruto-kun was going to take his time beating the old pervert to a pulp for lying about what happened to me after the sealing." She made a show of buffing her fingernails on the breast of her mini-T-shirt, making many of the surrounding males swallow deeply at the slight jiggling of her assets.
She held back a smirk. "Fortunately for him something came up, and we're in a bit of a hurry. So now Naruto-kun will just get it over with so that you can give us our winnings, and we'll be on our way."
She glanced lazily at the scroll displayed on a small ceremonial table in front of the Godaime Hokage.
Tsunade arched an eyebrow mockingly. "That's a bit cocky isn't it? Thinking he can just deal with a Sannin that easily."
Natsuko just shrugged again, as if indulging the questions of a stubborn child. "Naruto-kun has been hunting S-Rank Shinobi since he was ten years old. Not on a regular basis obviously, since there really aren't that many around, but you get my point."
She saw her ex-leader's unbelieving expression and sighed. "Fine don't believe me… Just keep that scroll handy and be ready to heal your team mate. I've got the feeling that he's going to be in a world of pain by the time this is over."
The last Senju still wasn't sure what to make of this new Natsuko. She didn't put much credence behind her estimation of her brother's skill. Kids always tended to overestimate themselves and Jiraya, for all his faults, was a very powerful Shinobi. She had no doubt that, in an all-out fight, he was the strongest of the Sannin by a good margin. While Natsuko's fight against Sasuke had been surprisingly one sided, the thought that the other Uzumaki would do the same thing with Jiraya was simply ludicrous.
She carefully ignored the small voice of uncertainty in the back of her head.
The one that always spoke up whenever she was about to lose big time.
Naruto looked around the arena critically, taking in the damage that remained from Natsuko's fight. There wasn't much, some scorch marks and a few relatively shallow foot trenches. There was a number of kunai scattered around, one of which he recognized as Natsuko's, but nothing that would affect his fight.
Especially since it was going to be a short one.
The problem with many high level Shinobi was that, during a fight, they had a tendency to slowly build up to their maximum ability, starting off at an 'average' level and slowly increasing it until they overcame their foe. From what Naruto had observed, they did so with the misbegotten impression that it allowed them to hide their true strength and would give them an advantage over their enemies.
He snorted quietly.
Most ninja were incredibly short minded. They just didn't seem to realise that the longer you fought, the more the opponent learnt about you. Taijutsu style, Elemental Affinity, Genjutsu capability… The longer the fight, the more was revealed. Knowing that your enemy tended to dodge to the left rather than to the right could be the deciding factor to the battle. Naruto's philosophy was to use whatever he needed to end the battle before it really got going, before his enemy could pick up any of the habits he hadn't gotten rid of. That was how he had stayed off of everyone's radar for so long. No witnesses, no torn up battle fields, just a dead opponent and a collected bounty.
Overkill was better than 'no-kill'.
That was why he was so fond of Blood Chakra, when properly wielded it was incredibly deadly and almost unstoppable. It was also perfect for what he had in mind for Jiraiya.
He sighed impatiently. 'Just as soon as the pervert shows his ugly face.'
As if in answer to his unspoken call, a large cloud of chakra smoke popped out some twenty feet in front of him. The cloud cleared to show a large orange toad with Jiraiya on its head, standing with one leg raised up and both arms thrown to the opposite side.
He started hopping from side to side. "Hailing from th…"
Naruto immediately blocked out the self-proclaimed Super Pervert's self-introduction and looked down at the Training Seal on his forearm. The counter showed that he was currently at Level 99, but then again he had been at that level for a few years now. Level 99 was the maximum for his training method, the perfect balance of strength, speed, flexibility, and endurance. From this point, if he were to increase his training, he would have to specialize. Such as augmenting his gravity training to increase strength, but at the price of bulking up and losing speed. Or raising his resistance training to increase his speed, but at the cost of compacting his muscles and losing endurance. It was all a matter of balance, and he had reached the point where he couldn't gain some without losing some.
With a small pulse of chakra the counter dropped to 0. He tensed and relaxed his muscles a few times to get them used to the change, then simply stared at his opponent as he finished making a spectacle of himself.
Jiraiya finished his dance with a flourish, but carefully hid his disappointment at the kid's lack of reaction. While most people thought that his self-introductions were just a byproduct of his eccentricities, which was partly true, they were also a good way to judge someone's basic character. He usually got one of two reactions. Either the person thought that he wasn't taking them seriously and charged head on, or they took him for an idiot and let their guard down. While he hadn't been expecting anything too extreme, the utter lack of response was frustrating.
He dismissed his toad and grinned widely. "So! You ready to do this brat? You sure you don't want to give up while there's still time?"
Naruto opened his mouth to give a scathing remark before shaking his head. He bit back the small rant he was tempted to give and looked pointedly at the Kage Booth, smirking slightly when he saw his sister sitting next to the Hokage and completely ignoring the angry glares she was getting from the Council.
Tsunade got to her feet and the cheers from the spectators quieted down enough for her amplified voice to carry clearly to each corner of the stadium.
"Now for the second fight. Jiraiya of the Sannin, Toad Sage of Konoha versus Uzumaki Naruto."
The cheers at Jiraiya's name were replaced by loud murmurs at the announcement of the second Uzumaki. There were a select few who could vaguely remember him from their time in the academy, but for the most part he was unknown.
Tsunade's hand rose above her head as she prepared to give the 'Go'. "Once again the fight is until incapacitation or surrender. Killing counts as a loss. Ready? Fight!"
As soon as the signal was given the crowd went wild. Civilians were screaming themselves hoarse in anticipation of seeing the legendary Sannin's strength and Shinobi were watching intently eager to learn from the battle.
Jiraiya slipped into an advance Taijutsu stance.
Naruto just looked at him with a blank expression. He turned his head slightly, glancing up to where his sister was grinning down at him.
Jiraiya almost scoffed at the rookie mistake. Taking your eyes off of the enemy was a sure fire way to get yourself killed. He immediately dashed forwards, using the kid's distraction to close the distance between them with his fist reared back for a hard punch.
His entire body seized up.
Cold, hard Killer Intent enveloped the village, sparing only four people from its icy embrace. Jiraiya stood unable to move as his body bowed to a primal instinct of ineluctable fear, screaming at him to flee but stopping him from so much as twitching a muscle.
Completely taken by surprise, it didn't even occur to him to flare his chakra to shake off the oppressive feeling of unavoidable death.
His heartbeat sounded in loud erratic thumps that echoed deafeningly in his ears. The world around him seemed to throb in concordance with his bloodstream creating a nauseating dizziness to rise in his throat.
His vision tunneled in on the giant of a man standing in front of him, zooming in and out of focus.
He heaved in a deep breath.
It was over.
Before he could properly recover Jiraiya's eyes widened in shock, finding Naruto standing right in front of him with his sword drawn and pressed to his neck, a trickle of blood seeping from the razor thin cut it had created.
Barely holding back a startled cry he leapt backwards. With his many decades of experience finally kicking in he landed in a defensive stance, his expression showing a new level of seriousness as he realized the true level of the threat.
Natsuko was stuck between an amused smirk and a worried frown as she watched the perverted Sage take control of the momentum of his hasty retreat and land on his feet in a ready stance.
She gazed around and chuckled softly when she saw that quite a few of the spectators were still recovering from the wave of killer intent her brother had generated. The others were out for the count. They were lucky that he had only enhanced it by infusing it with his chakra in a small perimeter around him, otherwise there would have been more than a handful of heart attacks. As it was only Jiraiya had felt the full brunt of the passive attack.
Nonetheless, with the general shock it had created, she doubted that anyone but her had been in any condition to notice the red glow that surrounded Naruto's sword as he made the small incision on Jiraiya's neck. That was what worried her. She recognized the usage of Blood Chakra, and was starting to ask herself if Naruto was going to forego their plans and just kill the guy.
"What the fuck was that?"
She ignored Tsunade's incredulous gasp and shifted in her chair, taking a better position in case she had to act.
If Naruto did lose his cool they would have to fight their way out of Konoha, and with at least a quarter of the Shinobi force being present in the stadium that would mean one hell of a fight. If that happened, her position inside the Kage Booth would prove a blessing since she would be able to take out some of the most powerful adversaries before they had time to react.
She sighed. 'I hope you know what you're doing Naruto-kun.'
Naruto waited patiently for Jiraiya to recover. While the man was doing an excellent job of hiding it, the red headed male Uzumaki could tell that he was still a bit shaken.
Finally getting fed up with the wait he sheathed his black katana back on his shoulder. "You should give up Jiraiya. I've already won this match."
Jiraiya narrowed his eyes angrily, though it was mostly directed at himself since he knew he should have been more careful. "You might have gotten a good cut brat, but that's not enough to count for a win! I don't know what sort of trick that was, but don't think it'll work twice!"
Naruto opened his mouth to respond then frowned. He had an odd sense of deja-vu.
Then it hit him.
He chuckled. "Did you actually just paraphrase the Uchiha runt? Don't you have any shame?"
Jiraiya flushed then growled. "I don't know what you're talking about! Now get ready!"
Naruto smirked evilly as his adversary flipped through a series of hand seals with very impressive speed, finishing on a Tiger Seal.
"Fire Relea… GRAAAAG!"
Jiraiya fell to the floor with blood pouring out of his eyes, nose and ears. The entire stadium, apart from the two Uzumaki, watched in morbid fascination as the Sannin twitched in pain. His skin slowly turned redder and redder until tiny beads of blood were seeping out of the pores of his skin.
Naruto walked up to him and, with a small kick, flipped him on his back. The blood had stopped seeping out, but from the small puddle that was forming it was obvious that there had been a lot of loss.
This was, perhaps, Naruto's favorite blood related jutsu.
By inserting Blood Chakra into the bloodstream through an open wound he could gain temporary control of it. He would then have the blood force its way out, ripping the infected opponent apart in the process and, if needed, collecting the blood for further use. In Jiraiya's case he had simply reduced the amount of Blood Chakra he inserted so that, while it did do a considerable amount of internal damage, it wasn't anything immediately life threatening.
He turned to the Kage Booth. "He's out!" He spoke calmly, using a bit of Wind Chakra to project his voice. "You should probably get him to a medic."
Tsunade quickly got to her feet and was about to jump down to her friend when she was stopped by a hand on her shoulder.
Natsuko nodded her head towards the scroll. "I think you have to make the announcement Tsunade-san."
Anxious to see to her friend Tsunade barely thought as she picked up the scroll and thrust it to the girl. "Winner Uzumaki Naruto! Here take it!"
She then jumped down to the arena, hands glowing green as she started running diagnostic jutsu over Jiraiya's chest.
Natsuko looked over the scroll carefully, analyzing the kanji of the seal to make sure that it was a blood storage inheritance scroll and not some sort of trick, before pocketing it. She smiled as Naruto appeared next to her in a blur.
He quirked an eyebrow at her. "We good to go?"
She nodded. "Yep! It's authentic! Heheh… I even recognize Minato's hand writing."
"Okay then let's…"
"Stop right there!"
They turned to see Danzo and the Council Elders standing behind them. It was Danzo who had spoken.
He slammed his cane down in what they supposed was a 'I'm in control' manner. "Put the scroll back. This charade has gone on long enough. You will leave, but the scroll will stay where it belongs. In Konoha!"
Curious to see how things would play out, the Shinobi Council remained silent. While they may disapprove of the underhanded tactic, they could also understand where the three veterans were coming from since none of them wanted to see secrets of their Legendary Yondaime leave the village. Of course, that fact that Natsuko had already demonstrated an extraordinary mastery of the Flying Thunder God made that somewhat of a moot point.
Both Uzumaki gave him a blank stare.
Naruto made a mild sneer, making it seem as if he was looking down at some undesirable bug. "We had an agreement with your leader old man. Reneging on it would be… unwise."
A collective shiver ran down their spines as he added a short burst of killer intent with the last word. While it was nowhere near as heavy as the previous one, it was an uncomfortable reminder of how easily he had beaten their strongest Shinobi.
Something none of them had quite come to terms with yet.
Koharu glared at him. "Be respectful of your betters boy, we will not stand for your disrespect! As for the… agreement, the Council did not Officially ratify it. As such we are not held to it."
Seeing that his sister was about to argue, Naruto placed a hand on the small of her back. "Natsuko-chan I'll finish up here, why don't you go ahead?"
She looked into his eyes questioningly and nodded slowly. "Okay, see you in a bit."
She kissed him on the cheek and disappeared in a flash of yellow.
Naruto turned back to the Council members with a pleasant smile on his face while letting out a small amount of killer intent, just enough to make them all nervous.
His tone was ice cold. "Seventeen, hmm… almost eighteen years ago, Minato stole my sister from our mother's arms so that he could sacrifice her for your… pathetic… village." They bristled at his words but an increase in the killer intent stayed their tongues.
"The very next day Jiraiya and Sarutobi used a dead child's corpse to create a Dead Clone Seal, tricking me into believing that my last family was dead. When I left this… pathetic… village, they sent Hunter-nin after me, despite the fact that I wasn't a Konoha Shinobi. I suppose that that should have made me realise that something was wrong but what can I say? I was an eight year old emotional wreak.
"I spent the next thirteen years mourning her. Paying homage to a corpse that wasn't hers. So you can understand that I have very little tolerance for Konoha. I could have killed Jiraiya a few moments ago, the only reason I didn't is because I don't want the Fourth Great War to start… Not just yet… But I swear, if you give me a reason I will drown this pathetic village in a sea of blood."
His killer intent rose a little more as he stared them in the eye with a frosty glare.
"Just give me a Kami-damned reason…"
Silence reigned as he let them take in his words and his 'not-so-subtle' threat.
When he was sure that they understood he turned and vanished in a burst of speed. He knew that they would do something stupid eventually. He was counting on it.
How else was he supposed to rightfully get his pound of flesh. All he needed was a reason.