Title: Inheritance of Hatred: Chapter 13
Pairing: Eventual SasuNaru
Summary: In the midst of war, Naruto has only one goal: to bring Uchiha Sasuke home. And to that end, he will risk it all to retrieve the one person closest to his heart.
A/N: Extra special thanks to my beta operagirl76! She catches all those goofs I make and straightens out the story. Much love!
Madara stood safely behind Yugito, quiet anger seeping into his mind. The bodies of Utakata and Yagura lay immobile to the side, gruesomely dismembered. A congealed, brackish liquid seeped out from their severed limbs, pooling darkly on the ground. Black fire still licked at their skin, quickly reducing the defeated Paths into sparse piles of ash. Though the effects of the Edo Tensei kept regenerating the damaged body parts, Amaterasu‘s undying flames continuously burned them through. For now, they were useless to him. Sasuke remained standing, visibly drained but determination evident in both his eyes and his stance. In hindsight, it had been an error on his part to imprison Kakashi and Sasuke together: the Jounin had obviously somehow persuaded the younger Uchiha to switch sides. He’d thought the teen was firmly entrenched on the path of vengeance…but no matter. This was merely a setback. One that Madara fully intended to eliminate.
The wound in his chest had closed up, though the skin was still noticeably uneven and scarred. It would take several additional days of rest for his body and chakra to recover to an optimum level, but that could wait until afterward.
Sweat soaked Sasuke’s hitai-ate, dripping onto his flushed face and eyes. Air pumped harshly in and out of his lungs, struggling to fulfill his body’s need for oxygen. Every fiber of his being ached to the bone, pain emanating from each individual pore. Susano’o drew energy from his limbs with insatiable thirst, stressing his body to its limits and then some. Its purple-hued form stood at the ready around him, chakra sword scraping along the stone floor.
The Nibi limped before him, its left hind leg severed at the paw by Susano’o’s chakra blade. Nonetheless, it was still a formidable foe. It was amazingly swift in spite of its great size, easily keeping pace, much to Sasuke’s frustration. Susano’o flickered and flared corresponding to his emotions, shadowing his every movement. With a flick of a hand, he reformed its energy sword into an enormous bow and arrow.
Madara frowned at the change in strategy. Sasuke had relied solely on the sword since the start of their fight. Why was he suddenly switching to a longer range weapon?
Ignoring the stabbing pain in his temples, the younger Uchiha pumped another pulse of chakra into his left eye. “Amaterasu.” Black flames leapt up in front of him, crackling dryly as they formed a wall. Simultaneously, Susano’o drew back its ethereal bow, notching six glowing arrows to it. His chakra vessels felt raw, overtaxed by the strain from maintaining multiple Mangekyō techniques. For a fleeting second, he chanced a quick look behind Madara, to where Kakashi was preparing whatever plan he’d come up with. Instinctively, his eyes sought out the familiar head of blond hair…but he wrenched his gaze away. This was no time for distractions.
He switched his focus to his right eye as soon as Amaterasu was fully formed, finely tuned chakra threads seeping out to mold the inextinguishable fire. “Enton: Kagutsuchi.” Erratically shifting fire snapped crisply, solidifying and extending into a forest of sharp points. A shudder ran through him, nails digging into his palm as Sasuke struggled against the exhaustion in his body. Every muscle was coiled tight, quivering with the burning effort of staying upright. Kakashi better hurry.
He exhaled sharply as Susano’o launched arrows out of its bow in the blink of an eye, screeching through the air like deadly swooping birds of prey. Each one grazed the concentrated inferno held in front of him like a shield, black chakra adhering to every shaft as they sped past.
Gritting his teeth, Madara moved fluidly to the right, reaching out with his chakra and moving the Nibi alongside him. Sasuke had aimed at him rather than Yugito as he’d expected, forcing the older man to go on the defensive. He realized now that the other shinobi had chosen to use the bow for its greater attack speed: Madara barely had time to react. Instinctively, he maneuvered the Two Tailed Cat in front of him as arrows laced with black fire rained down, quicker than the eye could follow.
The barest trace of a smirk moved Sasuke’s lips as he watched the arrows strike the final jinchūriki mid -torso, easily piercing through skin. Immediately, black flames flared and licked over the Nibi’s body, like a lit match meeting dry tinder. The acrid odor of charred flesh blossomed into the air, sickeningly sweet and noxious. Ashes fluttered all around as the demon cat stumbled, limbs failing under the merciless onslaught of fire. Heavily, it fell to the ground in a crash of dead weight and crackling fire, movements slowing to a complete halt.
Disgusted, Madara jerked his right hand, sweeping the burning corpse away from him. Grudgingly, he had to admit he’d underestimated Sasuke: the teen was putting up a fiercer fight than he’d anticipated.
Susano’o leveled its bow, the light it gave off casting an eerie glow over Sasuke’s features.
The older Uchiha could see the budding sureness plain in Sasuke’s gaze: his triumph over the remaining Paths had invigorated him mentally, breathing life to a small hope for victory. Perhaps he thought the worst was over… but Madara knew better, knew different. “You’re a foolish child, Sasuke.” He straightened, robes fanning out as he moved. “You have no idea what you’re up against.” And with that, he vanished.
Shit. The dark-haired shinobi whirled around, extending his awareness outwards, feeling for a trace of his opponent’s chakra. After a moment’s hesitation, he dispelled Susano’o with a brief flux of energy, body immediately sagging in relief. It felt as though he’d run a thousand miles, muscles stretched too far and worn too thin. His pale skin was flushed and slick with sweat as Sasuke shifted himself stiffly into a defensive stance.
From what he’d seen thus far, the older Uchiha’s Space-Time Migration permitted him to teleport himself swiftly from point to point without a trace: he could easily reappear at any location before Sasuke realized it. If he maintained Susano’o, he would be able to immediately fend off such surreptitious attacks. However, he doubted if his body could sustain the technique for much longer: his energy reserves were approaching dangerously low levels. It would conserve more power to focus on detecting his enemy first and then reacting, if possible. As far as he could discern, Madara had disappeared completely, leaving behind only quickly fading traces of chakra. The only remaining energy signatures in the area were from Kakashi and Naruto-
What the… His Sharingan spun rapidly, detecting an anomaly. The chakra concentrated around Naruto was burning uncommonly bright and seemed to be increasing in intensity with each passing second. He’d never seen such a dense energy collection, glowing like a molten star in his vision. Moreover, Kakashi appeared to be channeling his own energy into whatever technique the blond jinchūriki was using: Sasuke could see the flare of the Jounin’s chakra gradually dim as it was funneled outwards and away from his body. The accumulating power was almost breathtaking, coalescing in Naruto’s body in levels he’d never thought possible-
Some sixth sense shivered through his body without warning, pulling him back from his distraction. But before he could even fully register the presence that materialized before him, cold fingers were wrapping themselves tightly around his exposed neck, cutting off shocked breath. Nails as sharp as talons dug cruelly into his skin, painfully compressing his windpipe and tendons. Sasuke stifled a surprised yell, his hands instinctively shooting up to pull desperately at the choke-hold Madara had on him. Belatedly, he felt a disturbing, oppressive fatigue settle over him like a thick blanket, muffling his awareness and reactions. The cause seemed to be the other shinobi’s hand, channeling malicious chakra through his digits and into his victim.
Madara could feel Sasuke’s pulse beat erratically under his fingertips, frenetic and alarmed. The teen’s breath was ragged and shallow, obstructed by the iron grip around his throat. The older man only tightened his grip further, mercilessly squeezing as he made a quick seal with his other hand. Already, his jutsu had ensnared the boy’s chakra points, effectively preventing their use.
Sheer panic flooded his brain, warring with instinct that screamed at Sasuke to fight back in any way possible. But even as he fumbled and strained to form hand signs, the younger Uchiha felt foreign energy seep further into his system, wafting over every inch of his skin. It burned like liquid fire through his veins, but the scream rising in his throat couldn’t push past the steely hand slowly choking him. His vision blurred dangerously, barely perceiving Madara’s blood-red Mangekyō focused intently on him. Faintly, his oxygen-deprived brain registered the copious amount of chakra pouring out from his opponent’s eye, curling like sentient smoke around Sasuke’s body. “W-Wha-” A strange, disturbing sensation was making itself evident: it began in his toes, feeling like he’d stepped in icy water. Steadily, the sensation crept up his shins and to his knees, as if he were slowly being lowered into a glacial pool. Horribly, the dark-haired boy felt his lower extremities grow numb with a permanent chill: Madara was stripping the very life out of him.
The older man chuckled, a mirthless and cold sound. “In time, Sasuke, perhaps you might have overcome me. But today, you’re just a pathetic little boy. You can’t even begin to imagine the power I wield.” He lowered Sasuke slightly, so that their eyes were level with each other. The younger shinobi’s Sharingan had faded back into their regular black, too drained of chakra to remain. He smiled savagely behind his mask as Sasuke’s kicking feet abruptly stilled, hanging limply in place. “Painful, isn’t it? Like being lowered into your grave. But…you at least deserve to understand this final legacy of the Uchiha: Izanami.” Madara noted the flash of recognition in his dying kinsman’s eyes. “Yes, that’s right. For every power existing, there is an equal and opposite force. And thus it is with Izanagi. The Sage used Izanagi to create, but he also possessed the ability to destroy: with Izanami.”
It was with a macabre satisfaction that Madara watched his handiwork: the Sharingan revealed all of its effects clearly. While Izanagi could be used to conceive and alter reality, Izanami functioned to erase it. At full strength as the Sage of the Six Paths used it, it simply eliminated a target instantly from existence, like spring sunshine melting away the last traces of winter. However, Madara was not the Sage, and Izanami at a weaker level would just forcibly tear the life out of a victim. But like Izanagi, use of such power was paid for with permanent blindness: his eye would close forevermore. Nonetheless, Madara reasoned it was a small price to pay to eliminate such an obstacle. After all, he could use Sasuke’s eye as a replacement once he was through.
The dark-haired teen could never have imagined such agony: every fiber and pore of his being overflowed with violent, excruciating pain. He felt as though he was dying by inches, a lifeless feeling washing steadily closer and closer towards his frantically beating heart. Whatever energy remained in his failing limbs was quickly leaving him, wrung out of Sasuke like water out of a sponge. Already his vision was clouding over, the noise in his ears muffled and distorted. Was someone calling his name? Dimly, he looked up one last time, shivering as Death’s icy touches drew him close for an eternal embrace-
“Sasuke!” Naruto appeared suddenly behind him, hands immediately latching onto his limp shoulders and pulling.
Madara’s eyes lit up with a feral glow, reaching out with his free hand. “Reckless of you, Naruto. This-” His words were cut off abruptly, the breath knocked out of his lungs as something struck him from behind. Reflexively, the hand encircling Sasuke’s neck released its grip, flying up to touch the viscous liquid dribbling out of the wound in his chest. Fingers, tinged with sharp chakra, wriggled wetly where his heart formerly beat. In front of him, the kage bunshin of Naruto pulled Sasuke away from his reach.
Grunting, the real Naruto drove his other hand into the gaping hole his Rasengan had created, trying to maintain as much contact as possible. It was absolutely sickening to feel muscles flex around his hand, warm fluids seeping out generously, but he forced himself to concentrate. The older Uchiha tensed, starting to move. In a flash, two more clones appeared on both sides of them, each grabbing one of Madara’s arms. The jinchūriki barked a terse command to both bunshin.”Go!”
Madara’s eyes widened as a white-hot force surged like electricity through his body, paralyzing and inflaming his flesh. A heavy stiffness locked up his joints and tendons, preventing them from moving. The chakra he attempted to draw out felt leaden, unresponsive and useless. Even his bones seemed to weigh him down like stones, holding him in place. What technique was this- His Sharingan could see the energy bursting forth from all three Narutos. But rather than being used to form an attack, they seemed to be pumping all of it into his wounded body. With effort, Madara managed to lift his hands several inches, the sight of his fingers bringing a real jolt of fear to his normally calm mind….
The pale skin had lost its luster, quickly becoming dull and acquiring a bark-like texture. Even as he watched, the man could see the grain of the wood grow defined and split into smaller, jutting twigs. Within a second, his hands became completely unresponsive, mere tree limbs attached to his arms. Impossible. He realized with a blaze of anger what was happening: Naruto was forcing all his Yang chakra into his body. The cells of Hashirama that made him immortal were now reacting strongly to such raw, pure energy, shifting into a more natural state: as trees.
Madara turned his neck, which was rapidly stiffening, crackling with dry snaps as he moved. He focused his right eye on the shadow clones holding him in place. But even as he pumped chakra to it, the vision in his Sharingan blurred, refusing to respond. It rolled feebly in its socket for a moment before stilling completely, darkened and lifeless. As the eyelid slid over the dead orb, the elder Uchiha felt panic finally pierce his calm demeanor: Izanami had taken its price.
Kakashi’s breath came in harsh pants, hot and ragged as he concentrated. The Jounin sat cross-legged on the floor, the hastily drawn scrolls arranged in a circle around him. Each scrawled character glowed with an ethereal light, pulsing with barely-contained energy. His palms, sweaty and rubbed raw from forming hand seal after seal, were pressed flush on the gritty ground. Steadily, the chakra contained in his lithe body was gathered to his hands before being drawn out by the active scrolls. The silver-haired man likened the sensation to bleeding out: he could feel the vitality drain out of him like water out of a funnel. Every wave of energy he forced out made the markings burn brighter, until they bathed the area in a soft warm light.
Normally, this was a technique employed by medical nin to perform energy transfusions in the field: it was designed to help patients who’d depleted their own chakra levels too far. He pumped power from his own reserves through the circle of seals, which converted the energy into Yang chakra. This type of chakra was readily accepted by living tissue, promoting healing and temporarily boosting energy levels. For this scenario, he’d modified it by making Naruto’s hands to be the focal points for the chakra: this way, it would augment the effects of his Nine Tails chakra.
From such a close range, his senses easily detected the erratic flow of Madara’s energies. The man was losing control over his Mokuton-modified body, rough bark bursting through skin and gaining rigidity. It was almost gruesome to behold, the flailing mixture of man and tree taking root in barren rock: half-human yet half-plant, it was a horrible sight that chilled him to the very marrow of his bones.
But even as these thoughts flashed across his mind, Kakashi could feel his strength drain away alarmingly fast. He realized with a distant despair that he’d miscalculated the energy he had remaining: the Jounin didn’t have enough chakra left to keep the transfer up any longer.
No. His body shuddered involuntarily, and he put down a hand to brace himself. They were so close, he could feel it. But the silver-haired man’s system refused to release any more power, fighting to retain the tiniest bit necessary to survive. And yet, we cannot fail-
“Senpai!” A hand grabbed his shoulder, steadying the Copy Ninja just as he began to slump over.
Kakashi blinked in surprise, forcing his neck to turn despite his exhaustion. “Tenzō.”
Yamato pulled him upright as Sai landed beside them, his scroll and brush at the ready. “I’m going to help Naruto.”
The silver-haired man breathed a sigh of relief, sagging visibly. Help had finally arrived.
The other Jounin looked over the arrangement of scrolls swiftly, confusion in his features. “A transfusion? To Naruto?”
“There’s no time to explain,” Kakashi struggled to his feet, ignoring the pain lancing up his legs. “Finish the jutsu.” He was thankful when the brown-haired man obeyed without another question, automatically moving to take Kakashi’s place in the circle.
The energy flowing relentlessly into his body was like liquid light: it seeped into every pore and vein and cell. It pushed aside the safeguards Madara had carefully implemented, surged past his own chakra effortlessly until it felt as though he was replete with solar energy. Layers of skin flaked and roughened into shards of bark, leaves unfurling themselves into the open air. His left hand didn’t respond at all to any of his efforts, stretching upwards like a bough towards the sun. The same went for his feet and legs: they were entrenched unmoving to the ground, thick roots burrowing down. It isn’t over yet. I’ve come too far to have it end here-
Desperately, Madara’s remaining eye whirled in his head, seeking out his target. Whatever chakra remained untainted by Naruto’s technique he summoned to the Rinnegan and reached out with his right hand, the only remaining limb still feebly functioning. With a burst of effort he broke out of the shadow clones’ hold, fingers reaching instinctively for the Naruto that stood at his back, eye spinning as he activated the Ningendō. The two kage bunshin grabbed him again, but he ignored them. Killing the real one would eliminate them as well.
The jinchūriki gasped as cold fingers clawed at his skin, a strange feeling rushing through him. It was as though tiny hooks suddenly were attached to every inch of his skin, pulling at him and through him…seeking his very soul.
Madara tightened his grip, letting the power of the Human Path suck voraciously at his victim’s vitality-
With a sharp pop, Naruto disappeared. Another clone. All that was left behind was a cloud of white smoke dispersing rapidly into nothingness. No! That should have been the real body! Madara tried to scream out in frustration, but wood was already circling his neck, wresting his consciousness away. Hashirama’s cells had almost completed their transformation.
As the world dimmed in his remaining eye, Madara looked forward one last time. Several yards ahead, the real Naruto stared impassively back, cradling Sasuke’s unmoving form in his arms.
1. Enton: Kagutsuchi- Blaze Release: Added Tool Earth Lord/ Inferno Style: Flame Control.
2. Izanagi and Izanami: In Shinto mythology, Izanami was the former wife and sister of the god Izanagi and goddess of creation and death. Long story short: Izanami vowed to kill 1000 people a day, while Izanagi replied he would create 1500 people a day.
3. Ningendō: Human Path. Ability to remove the soul of any target touched as well as read their mind.