Chapter 14 continued
Shiroi was cursing. He was slowing down, and Kimimaro just seemed to get faster. He had mastered the Dance of Roses: Red yet, and he might never get the chance to. The pink aura surrounding him was beginning to flicker in and out of existence as he running out of chakra. Shiroi lashed out with his blades, but it was futile. Kimimaro was too fast and too good. Shiroi watched in horror as his guard slipped and Kimimaro took advantage. There was a blade coming at his head, and Shiroi could do absolutely nothing to stop it. The world slowed down as Shiroi watched his end descend upon him.
However, Shiroi's story was not to end today as a sudden explosion of sand pushed Shiroi away from Kimimaro.
Sand? That's... Shiroi thought as he looked over his shoulder. There stood Gaara of the Desert, sand pouring out of the gourd on his back.
"What are you doing here, Gaara of the Desert?" Shiroi asked.
"I owe a debt to a friend." Gaara replied in his usual monotone.
"I see... I assume you want to take over." Shiroi answered.
"Yes, I will finish it." Gaara said.
Shioir shrugged, "It's all yours. I was outmatched and out of chakra anyway. I kills me to say it, but you got a better shot than I do. Be careful, he can manipulate his bones to attack, he can manipulate them at will."
Gaara was silent. Kimimaro just looked at the new arrival. He lifted his hand, the points of his finger bones poking out of his skin.
"Digital Shrapnel!" Kimimaro said as he shot his fingertips at Gaara. The fingertips met Gaara's defensive sand and after drilling into the sand a good ways, dropped to the floor uselessly.
"Gaara of the Desert, as your name states, you use sand." Kimimaro observed as he made ready another round of Digital Shrapnel. However, Gaara was planning on giving Kimimaro the chance to fire off another round as he lashed out with the sand. Kimimaro deftly leapt over the first strike quickly launching his second volley as he did so. Like the first time, the bullets impacted Gaara's sand shield and dropped to the ground. That was the last attack Kimimaro got for a while as he had to focus dodging Gaara's sand.
"What an idiotic name." Kimimaro said as he dodged, "You can't do anything unless you have sand." Kimimaro then looked around to see a bunch of small clumps of sand hovering in the air.
"Sand Shower!" Gaara said as the small clumps of sand descended on Kimimaro. Kimimaro attempted to dodge, but looked in mild annoyance as two tendrils of sand kept him fastened to the ground.
"But, if I have sand, I can do anything." Gaara replied as the sand began to cover Kimimaro, "Sand Coffin!" Gaara held his hand out at Gaara fist opened.
After the sand completely covered Kimimaro, Gaara clenched his hand, "Sand Burial!"
Shiroi winced slightly as he recognized the attack that had taken Rock Lee out of commission for over a month now.
"You're the foolish one." Gaara said to Kimmimaro as blood began to leak out of the sand, "It doesn't take any effort for me to make sand out of rocks and the minerals in the ground."
"Did you get him." Shiroi asked.
"Not yet." Gaara replied.
Shiroi watched in shock as Kimimaro forced himself out of the Sand Coffin. Parts of his skin were completely gone, and underneath Shiroi could see nothing but bone.
"Those bones... He's another monster." Gaara stated.
"Yeah, his body is definitely a boatload of problems." Shiroi answered.
"What pressure." Kimimaro said as he emerged from the sand, "If I hadn't made these bone masks right under my skin, I would have been crushed. I took you too lightly, but your sand will never catch me again."
In response to this, Gaara began to gather a lot of chakra and a lot of sand, "Sand Tsunami!"
Shiroi looked on in amazement as a large tidal wave of sand emerged from in front of Gaara and made it's way towards Kimimaro. There was no where for the Oto-nin to go as he was assaulted by obscene amounts of sand.
"That had to have got him." Shiroi stated.
"No." Gaara replied as he placed his palms on the sand as it settled, "Giant Sand Burial!" The ground shook as the sand crushed whatever was inside of it.
****, what power... Shiroi thought as he watched on from the sidelines.
"How persistent." Gaara commented as he raised up from the ground. Shiroi looked over into the sand to see Kimimaro crawling his way out. Gaara quickly responded wrapping up Kimimaro in another Sand Coffin and quickly crushed him in another Sand Burial.
Kimimaro exploded from the Sand Coffin, but he looked different. His skin tone was darker, and he had a tail and six spikes on his back made of bone. Shiroi looked on, and the only way he could think to describe Kimimaro was that the Oto-nin looked like a dinosaur of some sort.
Kimimaro charged at Gaara. In response, Gaara slammed a palm to the ground and created a wall out of the sand. However, it wasn't enough as Kimimaro exploded through the wall and into Gaara, knocking the sand user through the air. Gaara landed rather roughly a few yards away.
"Is this the limit of your vaunted 'perfect defense.' What a shame." Kimimaro stated. Kimimaro's eyes widened as he noticed sand start to fall from Gaara's body. Kimimaro quickly regained his cool, "But, of course, you were covered in sand to begin with."
Shiroi decided to use this time to try and end this here. He mustered the strength to swing his blades at Kimimaro's head. Kimimaro blocked the strikes then lased out at Shiroi with his tail. Luckily for Shiroi, Gaara was on top of things and a shield of sand appeared to stop the tail from landing a serious blow. Shiroi was propelled a few feet away as the sand expanded to get him out of harms way.
He's not quite as fast as before... Shiroi noted as he landed.
"Your sand is really starting to annoy me. You will be the first to die, Gaara." Kimimaro said as he leveled his gaze back on Gaara. Kimimaro then reached behind himself and began pulling out his own spinal column. Shiroi could hardly believe it, how could he do that, even with a Kekkei Genkai.
"Dance of the Clematis: Vine!" Kimimaro called out as he whipped out his spine at Gaara. Whip was an appropriate term because that's exactly how the thing acted, like a giant whip. Gaara defended with his sand as the spinal cord wrapped itself around him.
"Flower!" Kimimaro said as a large drill head of bone materialized on his other arm, "This is the thickest bone I can produce. It will easily pierce through your pathetic defense of sand."
"Absolute Defense: Shukaku's Shield!" Gaara announced as a large wall of sand that looked like a tanuki rose up between him and Kimimaro. Unperturbed, Kimimaro drove his lance arm into the shield, determined to break through it. The drill managed to dig through the shield for a few moments, but soon Kimimaro's bones were cracking. Tehn suddenly, about half way through the shield, the lance shattered completely.
"It's indeed solid." Kimimaro said as he watched his ultimate attack shatter.
"From underground I collect the strongest minerals. I then use chakra to compress them into a dense sand that surrounds me." Gaara explained, "Your abilities indicate that you carry a Kekkei Genkai."
"The Shikotsumyaku, from the Kaguya clan, is now my ability alone." Kimimaro answered
"You're the last of a clan. That means your clan will pass forever from this earth today." Gaara stated.
"Yes, because of my body's illness, I won't last long. But that destruction will never happen, for I am not alone. Since I am fulfilling Orochimaru-sama's dreams, I will stay in Orochimaru-sama's heart forever." Kimimaro stated with fervor.
"Orochimaru has brainwashed you." Gaara stated, "You're soulless." Gaara then began to call upon his chakra once more and began to sink Kimimaro deep beneath the earth. "You will sink to a depth of two hundred meters. There you will be held, and with the pressure of the sand on your body, you'll be unable to move a finger."
"Okay if that doesn't finish this..." Shiroi started to say.
"Dance of the Fern!" Kimimaro shouted from under the earth and created a literal forest of razor sharp bones. Gaara managed to save himself and Shiroi by putting them up on floating disks of sand.
"**** it, he's one tough *******." Shiroi stated.
"Yes, but it's over now. He will not come back out." Gaara stated.
"It's not brainwashing! It's all my own reasoning!" Kimimaro shouted from behind them. Gaara and Shiroi turned to look in shock as Kimimaro's body protruded from one of the bones, "What the hell would you know?!" However, the death blow never came as blood poured from Kimimaro's mouth.
Shiroi looked as the still body of Kimimaro before reaching out and poking it with his sword. "He's dead... finally." Shiroi stated.
Gaara slowly floated them clear of the forest of bones and they rested against the trunk of a tree.
"We would've been completely defeated there, wouldn't we?" Gaara asked.
"Yeah, but you know what they say, sometimes it's better to be lucky than good." Shiroi replied.
"He was the same as Naruto." Gaara said as he looked at the deceased form of Kimimaro, "Getting angry at someone insulting an loved one."
"Yeah, I guess he was in a way." Shiroi stated, "But he chose to follow a bad dude."
"But it doesn't matter, good or bad, no one can defeat loneliness." Gaara said.
Shiroi looked over at Gaara, "I guess you're right."
Chapter 14 conclusion
Naruto rushed after Sasuke as he entered an area he remembered vaguely from his history lessons at the academy. He was standing on top of the head of Hashirama Senju while Sasuke was standing on top of Madara Uchiha. They were at the Valley of the End.
"Sasuke!" Naruto called out. Sasuke just stopped where he was at for a few moments before continuing to wherever he was going.
"Hey, where do you think you're going? Konoha is the other way!" Naruto shouted, "Don't tell me you're running away to Orochimaru!"
"What if I am, idiot?" Sasuke replied, finally turning to face Naruto. Naruto could see the first stage of the curse mark active along Sasuke's face, changing the color of one of his eyes.
"What happened to changing yourself, you *******?" Naruto asked.
"I have my own path to walk." Sasuke replied. "Orochimaru has given me the power to walk that path. I need to be with him, not here playing childish games with you all. Go home, Naruto." Believing his part said, Sasuke turned to continue the journey to Orochimaru's hideout.
However, Naruto was not done, and used a chakra powered jump to launch himself at Sasuke. Naruto landed on the Uchiha with full force. Both of them skidding along the ground. When they finally came to a stop Naruto rocked Sasuke with a punch to the jaw.
Sasuke spat some of the blood brought up from the punch at Naruto. Sasuke looked at Naruto, "Have I gotten any stronger with my comrades?" Sasuke asked, Naruto just looked at him shocked. "I'm going to Orochimaru." Sasuke said.
Naruto gripped Sasuke's shirt and pulled him close, screaming into his head, "That ******* killed the Sandaime and tried to destroy Konoha! You think he's just going to give you power for free? He just wants to use your body as a container. You might not come back! You might get killed! I won't let you go to a place like that!"
"I don't care." Sasuke replied, "All I want is to accomplish my goal."
"No!" Naruto roared back, "I'll bring you back by force if I have to."
"Now that I think about it..." Sasuke said, "We've never had our fight."
Naruto looked down at his friend, "This isn't the fight I wanted..."
"Why should I care what you want?" Sasuke replied as he lifted Naruto up into the air with one hand. Suddenly, Sasuke released Naruto and punched him straight in the gut. Naruto couldn't believe the power as he went rocketing into the river below.
What power.... Naruto mused as he sunk into the river. However, Naruto knew he couldn't stop now, everyone had came this far and he had promised Sakura to bring Sasuke back. Naruto would keep his promise. Naruto made his way to the surface and climbed on top of the water, using chakra to keep himself above the water. Naruto then launched himself up at Sasuke, who was also coming in fast from up high. The two met midway. Naruto attempted to punch Sasuke, but the Uchiha dodged the punch and hit Naruto in the face with a kick.
As Naruto flew backwards from the attack he made a familiar sign, "Shadow Clone Jutsu!" One of the clones dug into the nearby statue with a kunai and the others grabbed the ankles of the one before it, creating a long chain of Narutos that ended in the real one. The chain whipped forward propelling Naruto into a massive kick that hit Sasuke in the face. Sasuke went speeding into the statue of Madara.
Naruto landed on Madara's fingertips, "Did that wake you up?"
"I've been awake since I came out of that coffin. I awoke from a foolish dream that I could live in a future with comrades drunk with the assurance of peace." Sasuke replied as he stood. Suddenly Sasuke flashed over to where Naruto was and punched him in the gut again, sending Naruto flying off the statue.
"The future is not where my dream is." Sasuke stated as Naruto hit the water below, "It's in the past, where it always will be."
Naruto resurfaced a few moments later. He stared up at Sasuke, "It seems your serious about this. ****."
"Yeah, I'm serious." Sasuke said, "I intended to kill you."
"Am I no longer your friend?" Naruto asked. He felt hurt at that revelation. Even though he would never admit it, Naruto had looked up to Sasuke as a kind of big brother ever since getting put on the same team. "Everything we did together as Team 7, is it all meaningless to you?"
"No." Sasuke replied, "It was not meaningless. To me, you have become my closest friend."
"I became your friend? Then why do you want to kill me?" Naruto asked, thoroughly confused. However, he didn't know about the requirements to activated the Mangekyo Sharingan.
"Because it is that bond that makes it worth killing you." Sasuke replied. His Sharingan was active now, reading all of Naruto's movements.
"I don't get it, but it seems you're serious about killing me." Naruto said as he clutched his fist. Soon both genin were throwing themselves at each other again. Each of them threw a punch that was caught in the off-hand of the other. They disengaged and Sasuke used the moment to grab a kunai out of Naruto's back pouch and threw it at Naruto. Naruto countered by getting a shuriken out of his hip holster and threw it so it hit the kunai and both fell into the water.
Naruto was caught off guard as Sasuke connected with a flip kick to Naruto's chin, causing Naruto to skip along the water. Sasuke hung upside down, smirk on his face.
"You said it yourself, you want this fight. There's no one here to stop this, I will kill you." Sasuke said as he ran through some hand signs, "Katon: Yari Daikage!" Naruto made his own seal as Obito's staff of fire appeared in Sasuke's hands.
"I'll beat the sense back into you Sasuke!" Naruto shouted, "Shadow Clone Jutsu!" A single clone popped into existence and began attacking the air around Naruto's palm. Starting the Rasengan.
Chapter 14 conclusion
"Rasengan!" Naruto shouted as the chakra sphere coalesced in his hand. Then the clone grabbed Naruto's free hand and spun the blond around and released him on a path towards Sasuke. The flame spear met the spiraling chakra in a clash of wills. The flames were sucked into the Rasengan as it expanded. Soon, the area occupied by the attacks explodes sending both combatants flying away from each other.
Naruto floated along the surface of the water while Sasuke was on a knee dozens of yards away. Naruto looked sadly at his friend as he began to stand up. He could feel water flowing along his face, it was warmer than the water of the river.
"What happened to you, Sasuke?" Naruto asked his friend, "What about those things Obito-sensei said to you.
Sasuke's eyes widened when Naruto brought up Obito's words. Was he truly becoming like Itachi? Was he allowing Itachi to ruin his life again? He knew revenge wouldn't make him happy, but could he really do what his cousin did and find a new family?
Sasuke felt the power of the first stage curse mark flow over him as he cleared his mind. This is what he wanted, what he had always dreamed of. He wanted, no, he needed this power.
"Katon: Phoenix Flower Jutsu!" Sasuke announced as he launched a series of fireballs at Naruto. Naruto jumped out of the way of the flames, just as Sasuke wanted. Sasuke followed up with a kick to Naruto's head while the blond was defenseless in the air. Naruto went crashing back into the water.
Naruto was lost in his memories of his friendship and rivalry with the Uchiha as Sasuke continued to kick the ever living daylights out of him. Naruto was suspended in the air, held by the neck, as he felt the anger rise from within him as he thought of how Sasuke was doing this to a "friend." He could feel the red chakra of the Kyuubi flow through him.
"It's too late for that!" Sasuke said as he made the Chidori in the hand not holding Naruto up, "Chidori!"
Blood mixed with water as it poured from the wound in Naruto's shoulder. The Chidori had struck into Naruto's right shoulder, and Naruto now found himself impaled on Sasuke's arm. Naruto's left hand rested on Sasuke's arm as they remained there.
"You prevented me from hitting your heart, but it's pointless. I've stabbed through your right lung." Sasuke said as he removed his arm from Naruto's flesh. "Your right arm is useless now, and it's difficult to breathe. You can't use jutsus or that technique either. Sasuke grabbed Naruto around the neck as he intended to finish it. Suddenly, a single question flashed through Sasuke's head.
Will you become like Itachi?
Sasuke tried to force his cousin's voice from his head, but it wouldn't go away.
Will you betray Naruto like Itachi betrayed you?
Yes **** it! I need the power to kill him, no matter the cost. Sasuke screamed into his own mind. Two simple words were the reply.
Sasuke screamed in rage. He dropped Naruto into the river. He didn't know what he wanted anymore. He wanted to kill his brother, he had wanted for so long and so much that he could taste it. He could feel that moment when he finally stripped the final breath from his ****ed brother. But now, Obito and Naruto had shown him a life he thought he had lost. He had friends, and there was the distinct possibility he could find love, something he hadn't felt since his mother died on that day. He was conflicted, before him lay two paths. One contained all his friends and his cousin. He could see the end of that path, the revival of the Uchiha clan and his happiness. The other path held nothing but darkness, but with that darkness came immense power, and at the end of that path laid his brother's dead body and the fulfillment of avenging his clan. Sasuke never even noticed the now healed Naruto approach him from behind.
"Rasengan!" Naruto shouted as he planted the ball of chakra into Sasuke's back. Sasuke shouted out in pain as the sphere shredded his flesh and then rocketed him into the canyon wall.
"Sasuke!" Naruto called out from the river, "You will not go to Orochimaru! I will stop you, even if I have to break your arms and legs to do it!"
Sasuke looked up in pain at the Kyuubi jinchuuriki. Naruto wasn't doing this for himself or because he wanted to. He was fighting to save Sasuke. Sasuke realized this, this was the bond they had forged. Naruto needed to do this so Sasuke couldn't give himself to Orochimaru. It stirred something in him, something he thought he had lost long ago.
"Thank you, Naruto." Sasuke said as he stood back up.
Naruto looked at him curiously, "What's wrong now Sasuke? I thought you were going to kill me."
"Not anymore." Sasuke said. "I'm sorry, Naruto. I've been a pretty horrible friend. I do want to change, but it's just so hard. I'd like to give it another shot."
The Kyuubi's chakra dropped from Naruto as soon as it came. Naruto sighed in relief as he went to help his friend. "Well that's good. It's good to have you back."
Sasuke smiled, "You're still an idiot."
Naruto smiled back, "Yep, same old Sasuke. Anyway, how do we call this. I mean you got my lung with a Chidori, and I got you in the back with a Rasengan. By all rights, we probably should both be dead."
Sasuke laughed and coughed up a little blood, "How about a draw?"
"I can live with that." Naruto replied, "Let's get you back home, so Grandma Tsunade can fix you up. I wonder how everyone else fared."
"Everyone else?" Sasuke asked.
"Yeah, a bunch of us came to rescue you." Naruto replied, "However, we had to split up to fight your kidnappers. I just hope Hinata-hime is okay."
Sasuke looked down at that. He didn't know what had happened, but if Naruto lost Hinata because of him, would Naruto ever forgive him? Hell, could he ever forgive himself?