Title: Inheritance of Hatred: Chapter 8
Pairing: Eventual SasuNaru
Summary: As the Fourth Shinobi World War rages on, Naruto has only one goal: Uchiha Sasuke. He’s trained, he’s chased, and he’s hoped through the past few years, all for the sake of his wayward teammate. But it will all end here.
A/N: If you haven’t read up to chapter 512 in the manga, the second and third scenes may be slightly confusing.
Kakashi pulled his hitai-ate down, covering the Sharingan eye once more. Kabuto was slumped unconscious in front of him on the ground, still held in place by the barrier. Around him, his team murmured questions, but Kakashi ignored them. The information he was able to glean from the medical nin was alarming; he never imagined such a thing was possible. But if it was true…then there was a good chance they could defeat Madara.
“Sensei?” Sakura looked nervously down at the captive man. With Kabuto in tow, she didn’t see how they were going to bring Naruto back with them, especially if he resisted.
The Jounin finally looked up. “Okay, we have to get Kabuto back to headquarters. I’m sure our interrogators will be able to get some valuable information out of him.” Moreover, perhaps they’d be able to find a genjutsu to trick the man into dispelling the technique reanimating all the dead shinobi on the front-lines. That advanced of an illusion was not his expertise.
“What about Naruto, senpai?” Sai looked pointedly at the blond jinchuuriki, who scowled in response.
With a sigh, Kakashi looked at his student, who was standing rigidly in place. “Naruto, it’s imperative that you return with us. If Madara manages to get both you and Bee-san, then the world is his. It’s as simple as that.”
Not surprisingly, the blond shook his head vigorously. “Kakashi-sensei, you guys need to trust me. I couldn’t live with myself if I just walked away right now!” He pointed emphatically behind them, towards Madara’s base. “I won’t abandon Sasuke to that evil bastard! I’m going to save him and bring his ass back to Konoha, even if it kills me!” He lowered his voice then, speaking just to Kakashi. “Yamato-sensei is in there too; I sensed him when we were fighting Kabuto. If you won’t help me bring back Sasuke, at least save Yamato. After all,” Naruto dropped his gaze. “Didn’t you always teach us…that those who abandon their comrades are worse than trash?”
His dark eye widened slightly, and Kakashi was reminded of another young, determined shinobi who also had refused to quit, once upon a time. Obito’s eye twinged, as if in reminder to the man of a lesson hard learned. He wondered if this was how his father felt the day he decided to save his friends at the price of victory for Konoha. His very core felt torn between the two mainstays of existence: duty to his country and his devotion to his comrades. And yet, Naruto’s words hit a vulnerable nerve. Because the boy was right: he, too, probably couldn’t live with himself if he just turned and ran from this place.
“All right,” he finally acquiesced quietly, closing his eyes. Tsunade was going to kill him for this. Sai started to protest, but he waved it away impatiently. “But if this goes south, we all get out of here ASAP, understand?” Sakura and Shikamaru looked nervously at each other, uncomfortable, but didn’t argue.
Naruto nodded hard, unable to restrain his relieved expression from spilling out.
“Good. Then here’s the plan.” Kakashi nodded at their prisoner lying on the ground. “The three-point trap needs to be bound to at least one person in order to still work. Sakura,” He looked to their only remaining medic. “That will be you.” Kakashi could clearly see the hurt and defiance in her green eyes, but the Jounin knew it to be the only way. Sakura was a good shinobi, but she lacked the strength of will to properly fight against Sasuke. Even now, he suspected she still carried romantic feelings for the traitor, and they would only work against her if they confronted the Uchiha.
“The rest of us,” He continued, giving Sakura an apologetic yet stern look, “Will split into two groups.” In precise movements, the silver-haired man nicked the skin of his left thumb on a kunai, letting several drops of blood well up before he tapped the ground. “Kuchiyose no Jutsu.” With a popping sound and a puff of smoke, two ninken appeared: a small brown pug and a gray-furred dog. Both wore Konoha hitai-ates and blue vests emblazoned with Kakashi’s trademark heno-heno-moheji seal.
“Pakkun,” he said to the brown pug. “You’ll accompany Sai and Shikamaru. The three of you will infiltrate the base and attempt to find Yamato. More likely than not, Madara will have had him incapacitated in some way, so bring him back to Sakura for medical treatment if possible. Keep your communicators on at all times.”
“Got it, chief.” The little canine strode over to his two assigned ninjas, barking at their heels. “C’mon pups, let’s get to it.”
As the group moved off, Sakura bit her lip as she watched them go. The kunoichi knew she should fall back and find a safe place to wait it out, but she needed to try once more. However, before she could step forward or even open her mouth to speak, Naruto looked back. Their gazes met, and the jinchuuriki gave her a look that was both pleading and sympathetic. It’s for the best, he clearly conveyed, once again asking Sakura to put her faith in him and trust it would be all right.
“Okay,” she mouthed back, dropping her eyes as she felt tears start to form. As the pink-haired girl maneuvered her prisoner into a shaded spot behind some bushes, she felt nostalgia rush forth fast and heavy. It was only three years previous that Team Seven had emerged from that arduous mission in Wave Country, strong friends. But now it seemed lifetimes ago, a fragile period that could never be regained.
“I see two entrances, over on the southwest side.” Shikamaru gestured tersely. “How do you want to proceed?”
Kakashi looked at both, two dark portals into the underground base. They were about ten meters apart from each other, with nothing distinctive about them. “Pakkun, Shiba,” he barked, turning to the ninken. “Can you pick up scents coming from either of those?”
The pug sniffed loudly at the air, his eyes narrowing in concentration. There’s a lot of weird smells coming from the first one, I think it’s that guy you called Zetsu? It’s a bunch of the same odor, like clones.” He took another whiff. “And it’s faint, but I can smell a bit of that Kabuto person’s scent along there too, mixed with some of Yamato’s. Seems like he was carrying him.”
Next to him, Shiba whined, nose quivering in the air. “Boss, I’m getting only two scents from the second entrance. Both Uchiha.”
Kakashi frowned underneath his mask. He’d hoped to find Sasuke separate from Madara. This complicated things, especially if there were more Zetsus lying in wait somewhere inside. Their group was too small to combat any large number of enemies. “Okay, change of plans then.” The Jounin peered forward. “We’ll enter as a group through entrance A, Pakkun at the front, Shiba covering the rear.”
One by one, the group cautiously made their way through shrubbery. Pakkun moved easily with his small body, nose alert to any new scent and ears perked. Kakashi followed directly behind him, Sharingan peeking out from under his hitai-ate. He flattened his body against the rock wall directly next to the yawning portal, pausing a moment for his team to catch up. Naruto did the same, concentrating on dampening his chakra signature. Stealth had never been his strong point, but so far it seemed to be all right.
A few feet ahead, the ninken pug sniffed experimentally before nodding at its master. Kakashi held out a flat palm and gestured forward, signaling for them to proceed. Naruto darted forward, following closely behind Pakkun. Shikamaru and Sai moved in after a few seconds, with Shiba on their tail. The silver-haired man took one last look around the outside, a final check for any enemies before slipping silently after the rest of the squad.
Sasuke walked up the staircase slowly, listening carefully to the sound of his footsteps echoing. Any sound was preferable to the relentless voice in his head. It made him restless, itching to go out and do something, anything. He reached level ground again, raising his head towards a pale light.
He’d entered into the main part of Madara’s base, a huge cavern carved into the bedrock. Black patterns were painted on the walls, flanking the feature dominating most of the space: Gedō Mazō, the Demonic Statue of the Outer Path.
Sasuke stared up at it, uninterested. While he was aware of its purpose of containing the energies of the Tailed Beasts, he found the gigantic statue to be vaguely disgusting. Its ragged body sat cross-legged on a lotus flower, looking like a grotesquely deformed deity. Shackles hung from its ankles and arms, chaining it into place. The uneven protrusions from its back resembled rough tree limbs, making a crude fringe. The statue’s stony surface emanated a faint, eerie glow, filling the area with an ethereal light. Beneath the enormous flower it sat upon extended a thick stem, sprouting up from the depths of the cave. He’d only been there once, and had glimpsed the mindless entity growing at the base of statue. And while he bore no love for the Shodaime Hokage, Senju Hashirama , even Sasuke was nauseated by the appalling experiments Madara conducted.
He gazed up at the statue’s blindfolded face, its hands held up in wait for the final two Tailed Beasts to be sealed within it. Very soon- if Madara had his way- the Nine Tailed Fox’s powers would be added to the collection, and Naruto dead at its feet. Unwittingly, his hands clenched at the thought. It would be a pathetic way to die, the life sucked out of you by a statue. He didn’t think that would suit the blond…
Sasuke turned away, unwilling to look anymore at Gedō Mazō. He began to walk back towards the stone stairs, to make his way outside. But then…he felt it.
His Sharingan eyes caught it first, the barest traces of chakra wafting up from the pit beneath the Demonic Statue. It floated lightly towards him like smoke, curling weightlessly against his skin. It was a strange yellow-orange shade, and felt oddly familiar as it mingled with his own chakra. The feel was welcoming rather than hostile, like a breath of warm air. Faintly, he now detected three other chakra signatures lingering in the air, the tiniest trace of a person passing. Evidently, Madara’s defenses had not been adequate in keeping out intruders.
Stepping further into the cavern, the Uchiha made his way to the set of stairs winding downwards, to the base of the lotus. His shoes barely made a sound as he descended, hands tracing the damp walls of rock.
“What the hell?” Naruto looked aghast at the strange column of organic matter. It was a deeply disturbing sight to all of them: The torso and upper body of a man grew out from it, deathly pale and unresponsive. Many hands also extended outwards, circling him like the petals of an awful flower. Yamato had been set in front of the man, and he hung limply in place, either unconscious or dead. “Kakashi-sensei, what…who is that?”
The Jounin looked grimly at the clone, heart heavy. He was surprised Naruto didn’t recognize it. The man’s face was prominently displayed in the village, on the mountainside. “Shodaime-sama.” Or at least, what was left of him. Clearly, Madara had devised some way to clone the long-dead Hokage, producing the shell of a man they now beheld. It disgusted him to his very core to see such a noble individual used in so vile a manner. Suppressing a shudder, he turned his attention to Yamato.
Whatever the flower’s stem was made of, it was a soft and malleable material. It glowed faintly, and seemed to be thrumming with energy. Where it touched the unconscious ninja, the stuff stretched to stick firmly to his skin and bind Yamato in place. Even more appalling, a glance from his Sharingan revealed the matter to be parasitic in nature: it was steadily drawing chakra away from the other Jounin’s body. “No one touch it,” he warned lowly. “It absorbs chakra.”
“How do we get him out?” The blond started to take out a kunai.
“Wait, I have an idea.” Shikamaru stepped next to Kakashi, pointing upwards. “It looks like Madara manipulated plant cells and Shodaime-sama’s DNA to make this, but that means it has earth attributes.” He peered closer at the matter clinging to Yamato. “Lightning should weaken it enough for us to get him out. I can use my shadow bind to move Yamato-sensei, and none of us will have to risk touching it.”
Kakashi leaned over, holding his hands a few inches away from the pulsing white plant and making a single seal. With a quiet crackle, his fingertips pulsed with a small amount of electricity. Slowly, he let the energy brush outwards, wary of any hidden traps. After a minute, the substance quivered, shying away from the lightning chakra. Steam rose as some of it was scorched, the smell of burnt vegetation filling the air. “Get ready, Shikamaru.”
Naruto stood behind the two shinobi, watching tensely. Though blue electricity pricked at his skin, Yamato was still out cold and unresponsive. He needed to be examined by Sakura as soon as-
A sudden ominous feeling prodded at his senses, and the jinchuuriki stiffened. The fox within him seethed, feeling the same sensation like a chill wind cutting into skin. Him.
“Get down!” Naruto instinctively dove forward, knocking Shikamaru and Kakashi off their feet. The three of them landed in a heap to the right as a sharp crack sounded. Two shuriken quivered in the spot where the two shinobi had been standing milliseconds before, points embedded deep into the hard ground. Pushing himself immediately to his feet, Naruto lifted his blue eyes to meet the stormy gaze of the ninja advancing upon them.