Chapter 6: Battle of the Bridge 2

Kakashi and Anko stared at Itachi, all three parties unmoving. Then, a kunai sailed towards the Uchiha, who titled his head to dodge it. Kakashi burst into action, trying to strike the nukenin with a kunai. The Uchiha replied in kind, countering the attack with one of his own. They fought for dominance, until Itachi broke away from their engagement to evade Anko’s Sen’eijashu. He swiftly cut the snakes’ heads off, while throwing a shuriken at Kakashi. One became fifty, forcing the Jōnin to jump out of the way. A water dragon rose from the water, as Kakashi quickly completed the many hand seals. The dragon dived for Itachi, who didn’t move away. The jutsu hit the Uchiha head on, turning the man into a plume of smoke.

Kage Bunshin! Kakashi thought, as he ducked under a swipe from a kunai. He rolled out of the way of several fireballs Anko fired at the Sharingan user, and contributed with his own large fiery ball. The techniques were neutralised by a wall of water rising and surrounding Itachi. The fire hit the water, making loud hissing noises. When the steam cleared, Itachi was nowhere to be seen. Anko’s reflexes saved her, as she leapt away from a barrage of small fireballs. The woman swore as a large water shark erupted from the water and was shot straight at her. Unable to avoid it, Anko put her arms in front of her, attempting to block most of the damage. The attack sent her careening across the bridge, and almost flying into Kakashi.

Catching and righting the drenched woman, the silver-haired Jōnin tried to find a way out of their predicament. This is not good. Itachi is too strong, and both Anko and I are injured, not to mention tired. We can’t win this fight. Running is also not an option. I can only hope we hold Itachi off until Naruto heavily injures Kisame, forcing them to retreat. Kakashi sorely wished he had been training regularly after he got out of ANBU, but it was not the time to lament. He rushed in, starting a taijutsu fight with the Uchiha. Both were rather evenly matched in that area, with fully matured Sharingan a great boon. However, Itachi’s speed was greater, and he was less weary than his previous superior in the ANBU.

A punch to the stomach knocked all air out of Kakashi’s lungs, and aggravated his injury from earlier. A kick to the chest almost broke ribs, and the man was sent across the bridge. Anko hopped into the fight, looking at Itachi’s feet as she fought unpredictably, doing unorthodox moves that almost caught Itachi flat-footed a few times. She ducked under a punch, and her fist shot out, almost catching Itachi in the side. Instead, the genius caught the punch and reeled her in for a kick. What he didn’t expect to happen was the female spinning into his arms literally, before nailing him in the groin with a painful kick backwards. Itachi staggered back, feeling undignified. Anko smirked, and attacked with renewed vigour. She grabbed his fist, and swung her body up using the momentum from a run. Latching herself on the man’s arm, she snapped her leg towards Itachi’s face. The nukenin bent his head backwards, but it led him to be more exposed to Anko’s other leg swinging down and nailing him in the groin again.

Kakashi, crouched and trying to regain his breath, winced.

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Kisame swung his sword almost lazily, shaving off some of Rikka’s hair as the female tried to hit the bulky man with her claws. A Kage Bunshin jumped towards the blue-skinned man, attempting to hit him with a kunai. Kisame grabbed Rikka’s wrist with a steely hand, and smacked the clone away, turning it into smoke. Rikka slashed at Kisame’s hand, forcing him to let go lest getting injured. Free, the white-haired girl proceeded to spin wildly, releasing chakra through her claws. A whirlwind was born with the kunoichi in the eye of the storm. Kisame back-pedalled quickly to avoid being cut by the fierce winds or hit by the sharp icicles that were forming within the tornado.

Naruto emerged behind Kisame, throwing ten shuriken at point blank range. The man knocked the projectiles away, only to find clones covering his sword. Given little time to react, the man was punched in the face, the force of the blow great enough to break his nose. He stumbled back, pain momentarily blinding him. It was enough for the clones to kick him in the chest hard, knocking the wind out of him. Several clones latched on, exploding spectacularly. The exploding clones forced Kisame further back, straight into the whirlwind that was Rikka. Slashed, freezing and blinded, Kisame swung his sword wildly, hoping to hit the kunoichi and end the storm. Luckily for him, the tornado was small scale, and with Rikka right in the eye, spinning so rapidly not even she could see, it was a simple matter of time.

The tip of the large sword crashed against Rikka’s claw with a loud grating noise, and in spite of Samehada‘s inherent strength and excellent workmanship, it was no match for Rikka’s natural metallic claws that were almost as hard as diamond. Close to half a foot of Samehada was sliced off, but Kisame’s purpose had been met. Unbalanced, Rikka staggered to a stop. Kisame, despite his various injuries, looked unfazed as he raised his shortened blade. He was stopped by a spiralling blast of wind aimed at his back. Too focused on killing Rikka, he forgot about Naruto who was pointing his palms at the shark-like man.

The nukenin growled as he felt the warm liquid of life trickle down his shredded back. His constitution was like a whale, so he wasn’t that injured. But everyone had limits, and blood loss was not something Kisame enjoyed. He was quickly made to run as more blasts of wind were fired from Naruto’s palms. He tried using Samehada to absorb the chakra in the attack and nullify it, but all he accomplished was the tearing of the bandages wrapped around his precious sword.

Also, with the sword’s length adjusted, Kisame was finding it hard to fight without overestimating his range of attack. The lighter weight was causing him to use too much force and leaving him open for Rikka to dance within his guard. Only his years of battle experience saved him from being torn to pieces by Rikka’s claws. Even so, his cloak was becoming any tailor’s worst nightmare. It didn’t help when Naruto sent his clones to hammer him with very painful strikes that threatened to fracture his bones. It was as if Rikka could read the blond’s mind, as she retreated quickly whenever the jinchūriki fired a ninjutsu or blow up a clone or two. It was a very frustrating fight for Kisame, who hadn’t had so many problems since he was still in Kiri.

Once more, his shortened Samehada was the cause of his troubles, as he swiped at Rikka too early, body too used to the full length. Missing Rikka completely meant the girl managed to bat away his other hand, and attempt a potentially fatal stab to the heart. Kisame was not S-rank nukenin for nothing, as he twisted his body to the side, but the kunoichi’s claws managed to cut three deep gashes on Kisame’s left arm, rendering them almost useless with just the cut. The freezing agent entered Kisame’s bloodstream, and the man’s upper left arm and shoulder soon became numb and impossible to use. The man cursed his luck, and ducked under an airborne Naruto. He batted away another dive bomber, and kicked Rikka in the chest. Forming three Mizu Bunshin, he sent them to distract Naruto and Rikka while he prepared ninjutsu.

Naruto quickly dispatched the two clones that attacked him, but barely managed to dodge the spiralling blast of water sent by Kisame. Forming clones of his own, he sent them towards Kisame, who destroyed the doppelgangers with little problem. Naruto dashed in after the distraction, sidestepping Kisame’s oversized blade and kneeing him in the gut. The nukenin was barely deterred and batted Naruto with Samehada, sending the blond flying. Rushing in to sever Naruto into two, his charge was blocked by an ice mirror. Smashing the mirror to bits, he suddenly felt his right arm pricked, and movement was hindered considerably. Haku stood to the side, wielding three more senbon between her fingers, ready to neutralise Kisame.

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The mist thickened once more, to the point of practically zero visibility. Kakashi wondered if Zabuza was going to help him or kill him. The swordsman chuckled. “Kakashi, stop looking like a nervous rabbit. Haku somehow convinced me to join Konoha, and a Konoha-nin should eliminate traitors.”

The man sighed in relief. If his Sharingan couldn’t pierce through the mist, then he doubted Itachi’s could. Zabuza could track Itachi down, which gave them an enormous advantage. The best case scenario would be to kill Itachi, but he doubted the Uchiha was so easy to kill. Most likely, he would be injured, hopefully gravely, and they would retreat.

Zabuza was a master of silent killing, and he proved it when he drew blood with the first hit. The Kubikiri cut Itachi’s right forearm, drawing blood. The swordsman quickly retreated, and Itachi got more wary. He was rather reliant on his eye’s abilities, and being denied the use of his blood gift was rather disconcerting.

“Let me tell you a secret, Uchiha Itachi,” Zabuza said, as his voice was heard from all around. “My blade, Kubikiri Houcho, is much like your partner’s Samehada, in that it has special powers. My sword, when it tastes blood of the enemy, will be delighted. Once it tastes the same blood three consecutive times, it will grant me power. Do you wish to know what power it is?”

Itachi barely had time to parry an overhead chop, and without his eyes, he was unable to block or avoid the steel that sliced through leg muscles. Destroying the Mizu Bunshin in front, Itachi clutched the side of his left leg. It was bleeding profusely, and the nukenin wished he copied some medical ninjutsu.

“Kakashi was lucky when Kubikiri only tasted his blood once. You have been cut twice. Can you risk a third?” Zabuza taunted.

Zabuza is a tricky opponent. If he had not toyed around with me, I could have died, Kakashi mused, as he heard the ex Kiri-nin’s words. He even cut Uchiha Itachi twice! Removing Itachi’s use of the Sharingan is like breaking his arms and a leg and not giving him a crutch. He may be a genius, but he is not a tracker like me.

Itachi, for all the lack of emotions, was feeling particularly anxious and frustrated. He had anticipated a simple snatch and grab mission, not a full blown fight where he couldn’t use his Sharingan, faced off against the famous Kopynin and Kiri no Kijin (Demon of the Mist), plus Orochimaru’s former student. His backup was fighting against their target who wasn’t as weak as they hoped he’ll be, not to mention there was a girl with unknown abilities and another who can use ice, effectively countering all of Kisame’s most powerful ninjutsu. This situation is getting dangerous. A retreat is the best option for now, Itachi analysed, and was prepared to get his partner when his back was nicked by the tip of Kubikiri. The nukenin almost swore, but controlled himself. He did not like the way the mist was clearing, giving him a good view of Momochi Zabuza. He did not like the way Kubikiri was glowing blood red.

He hated when he was right when it came to sticky situations.

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Haku was becoming a large pain for Kisame as the man’s Suikōdan was once again turned into ice, shattering into shards on the bridge. The swordsman gritted his shark-like teeth in obvious annoyance as he swung his blade in a circle, defending against the barrage of senbon sent by Haku. He ducked under a Konoha Daisenpū, dodging both kicks to the head, and smacked Naruto away. Concentrating his efforts on Haku, he quickly knocked away the needles sent his way, and with surprising speed, caught up with Haku. Forgoing his sword, he decked the kunoichi, did a roundhouse kick, and ended the brutal three-hit combo with a heavy punch to the stomach. Haku’s eyes widened before fluttering shut, the ice user falling into unconsciousness.

Rikka popped up behind the swordsman, having dispatched the clone Kisame sent. Having adapted to his shorter sword quickly, the nukenin was having an easier time parrying the girl’s blows. He wasn’t about to block any claws, fearing for his sword. Creating two Mizu Bunshin, he left them to handle the kunoichi while he faced Naruto. The blond was surrounded by a rock dragon, and Kisame cursed. He had fought an Iwa-nin with that move before, and it was extremely bothersome. He remembered coming out of the battle injured rather badly. Damn it! Why, of all people, must I end up fighting against three kids? Why must the kids be so strong, with one being able to cut my sword, another freezing all my water jutsu, and the last with some powerful ninjutsu and taijutsu? Why can’t I have an easy life? Is this all because I killed the Mizu no Kuni (Land of Water) daimyo?

The dragon opened its mouth, firing several shards of compressed earth (or bridge, if you want to be technical) at the nukenin, who jumped out of the way. He dashed in, hoping to suck the chakra out of the rock, when a water dragon tried to hit him from the flank. The distraction was enough for the rock dragon to smack Kisame with its tail, sending the blue-haired man careening across the bridge.

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Itachi was praised as the genius of his clan. He did not play down his achievements, for there was no point. Graduating at seven, activating the Sharingan at eight, becoming Chūnin at ten, an ANBU captain at thirteen were all great achievements, and being humble about it was only going to garner more fan girls. Just like Sasuke and Naruto who were all proclaimed prodigies, Itachi was a powerful person. He destroyed his whole shinobi dominated clan without getting a scratch on his pale, unmarred skin. He was stronger than even Orochimaru, who was hailed a genius in his time, and had the power to take down a whole country.

However, there is always once in a prodigy’s life where he or she gets thrashed badly, and Itachi wondered if Zabuza would be the one to beat him. Judging by the way Zabuza seemed to have quintupled his strength, speed, agility, reflexes, and chakra; it could very well be the case. Kakashi and Anko watched in barely veiled amazement as Zabuza kept Itachi on the defensive, even scoring several wounds, albeit small ones. Kakashi was immensely grateful for Naruto, who managed to convince Haku to convince Zabuza to join their side. It was no wonder Kumo was so desperate for a treaty with Kiri during the Third Shinobi War. The Kiri no Shinobigatana Shichinin Shū (Seven Swordsmen of the Mist) must have been formidable in their heyday, possibly comparable to our Sannin. Zabuza underestimated me, and I thank Kami for that.

Itachi barely managed to duck under a head-cleaving chop, and cupped his hands to catch the kick. It left him open for a painful punch to the face, breaking his nose with a loud crunch. Itachi rolled with the blow, stopping in a crouch. With a wet snap, he twisted his nose back in place. His blows are weaker than earlier. This powered up state has a time limit, it seems. I have to last until Kisame and I regroup, Itachi thought, as his Sharingan predicted the way Zabuza would swing the sword, but his body was just a bit too slow to react, earning him a wide but shallow cut across his panted heavily, cursing inwardly for his slacking off. Normally, I can hold this state for a whole hour, but I can’t even hold it for twenty minutes now! The Uchiha is good too; I couldn’t land a decent hit. The best I can wish for is for blood loss to get him. He hefted his sword on his shoulder, adopting a casual pose.

“Let’s finish this in one move,” Zabuza declared.

Itachi nodded, and prepared himself.

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Sending the dragon after Kisame as a distraction, Naruto created several clones to try and find Haku and Rikka. Two clones found Haku, and carried her to safety, while Rikka was nowhere to be found. The dragon, meanwhile, had attacked Kisame with all its rocky might, but it was destroyed quickly by the shark-like man. Naruto quickly leapt into action, attacking Kisame. The nukenin fought off the blond admirably with just his shortened sword, wearing a smug grin on his face all the while. Naruto did not like the way the bleeding man was grinning. It was unsettling, and provided the demon vessel with a nice sinking feeling in his stomach. The mist was fading, revealing another Kisame was holding Rikka prisoner using Suirō no Jutsu. Naruto tensed, ready to save the girl, when Kisame spoke. “Now, don’t be so hasty. I can kill her right now, and you won’t be fast enough to stop me.”

The white-haired kunoichi looked apologetic and helpless as she floated in the bubble of water, unable to do a thing. Naruto took a deep breath. “You want me.”

“You seem capable of thinking, gaki,” Kisame taunted.

Naruto ignored the jibe. “Then let us fight, with no one to interfere, no holding back. If I win, she will be released. If I lose, I will follow you, and you can release her. Is that satisfactory?”

Kisame grinned widely. “Deal.”

He wished he didn’t say a thing, as he just barely caught a fist. Naruto wanted Kisame to catch that fist however, as he had expelled large amounts of chakra through his tenketsu, converting the chakra to wind chakra as well. The swordsman’s hand was turned into a bloody mess, all the tendons and muscles cut. Bone was showing, and it honestly looked like it was stomped on by an elephant, and placed in a shredder. Naruto followed up with a high kick to Kisame’s temple, which the man bent backwards in order to avoid. Manoeuvring his fist out of Kisame’s useless hand, he slammed his fist into Kisame’s gut, firing another lance of wind chakra, half-eviscerating the shark-like man. If he were any less sturdy, he would have a nice hole through his stomach.

Kisame lurched backwards, cradling his injured stomach. His left hand was practically useless, with the upper arm numb and hand turned into minced meat. His intestines were threatening to slither out of his abdomen, and the blood loss was making him light-headed. Hoping to end the fight quickly, Kisame threw his sword. The man would end up making the gravest mistake of his life. Naruto had not expected the thrown sword, and only managed to twist to the side, causing the sword to scrape against his stomach painfully. It tore through his skin, drawing blood without truly injuring Naruto. The chakra eating properties of the sword, combined with Naruto’s blood and chakra, managed to tear a chunk off Naruto’s Shishō Fūin. The result was explosive. A huge column of red chakra rose from Naruto and into the sky, engulfing the blond boy totally.

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Hisana was happily shopping when she felt the intense burst of her chakra in the direction of Nami. Startled, she whipped her head in the direction, and could feel her body relaxing as the chakra washed over her. Hisana knew no one else but she could feel it in Konoha, as it was too far away for anyone but her to sense it. It was her chakra after all.

So much of my chakra is being released…Naruto-kun wouldn’t do such a thing unless desperate, and he would ask me for permission. This is unlike him…unless something made the seal broke! Kuso! Even if that is only my yang chakra, it is still too demonic in nature for Naruto-kun’s body to handle!

Hisana dashed out of the shop, dropping the bundle of clothes she held in her arms. Leaping at full speed towards the blast of chakra, Hisana was but a red blur to most. She bit her lip as the vixen increased her speed even further. Don’t die, Naruto-kun! You are strong…you can overcome this!

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Naruto’s bones were melting, muscles were tearing, and body was being slowly torn apart from inside out by the demonic chakra. The healing properties of the chakra was busy repairing the damage, but it was only as fast as the destruction, ensuring Naruto would feel the pain for as long as the chakra was flooding out of the seal. Heads all snapped towards the source of the chakra, and overwhelming fear filled Nami‘s civilians. Sakura almost collapsed from the terrifying killing intent that leaked, and only the few at the bridge were standing, despite being closest to the chakra. Kakashi was extremely worried, both for everyone’s health (though not the nukenins) and Naruto’s own health.

What if the Kyūbi breaks out? Naruto, you have to hang in there! Kakashi thought, as he tried to assess the situation. Anko was sweating, many cuts adorning her body. Itachi looked shocked and slightly fearful, both emotions foreign on the man’s features. The Mizu Bunshin holding Rikka was back to water from the sheer pressure the chakra exuded, and Rikka was crouched, panting heavily. Kisame looked like a mess, and similarly shocked at the turn of events. Once the chakra column faded, many couldn’t hold in their fear. Where Naruto once stood, was a humanoid monster. It looked like the anthropomorphic Kyūbi, with long ears and five tails swishing behind. The coat, a mix between skin and fur, covered the being’s entire body. A short muzzle held rows of sharp teeth. Claws adorned the hands and feet.

The being growled, confused about the changes. Naruto, or what Naruto turned into, stared at his clawed hands in wonder. Red, feral eyes swept across the bridge, studying everyone upon the uncompleted structure. His eyes locked on Kisame. A slow, faltering walk quickly picked up speed, and before anyone knew it, the shark-like swordsman was killed, a hand stabbed straight through his heart. Naruto pulled out the hand with a sickening squelch. Kisame’s lifeless body collapsed on the bridge, blood pooling around the corpse. Zabuza shook his head sadly. What a tragic end to a powerful shinobi. The Kiri no Shinobigatana Shichinin Shū just lost one of its members.

Itachi decided whoever could injure his partner so badly, and then kill him with barely any effort, was too dangerous to deal with at that point. He beat a hasty retreat, something no one bothered about. They were too concerned about the blond animorph anyway. Naruto looked rather bloodthirsty as he observed the gathered. It was a great relief for all those present when the fur-like skin started to flake off. The ears crumbled and fell to the ground, just as Naruto lost his claws. The blond, caked in his own blood, collapsed, practically naked except for his tattered boxers. Kakashi would have found the situation amusing if lives weren’t at stake. Everyone tried their best to rush over to the demon vessel, those not in the know rather confused about the whole situation.

The sound of a cane tapping the ground attracted everyone’s attention. Various heads whipped around, to see a smirking, short man with an afro. His arm was in a cast, obviously still not healed from when Haku broke his wrist. Behind him, was a whole army of mercenaries, all eager for some blood.

“Looks like the demon isn’t much,” Gato sneered. “Are you planning to break our contract? It’s a good thing I planned not to pay you.”

“Gato,” Zabuza hissed. “Consider our contract null and void.”

“I don’t really care. You’re going to die anyway,” Gato shrugged. “And where’s that bitch you keep around you? I have to pay her back for breaking my wrist. My men are rather needy too…”

Kakashi swore under his breath. They had four Jōnin-level shinobi, but two unconscious people, and all four were injured or tired out. If Gato was a minute earlier, Kyūbi Naruto would tear the men to pieces, but currently, the blond was out cold. Things were not looking good.

“Zabuza, Anko, we are four conscious people here. With numbers, we can scare them off,” Kakashi whispered. “Just create as many Bunshin as you can.”

Anko grinned. Four snakes slithered out of both of her sleeves, before she formed a line of smirking, snake-wielding Ankos across the entire span of the bridge. Taken aback, the mercenaries moved back a step. Zabuza, splattered with blood, formed two lines, all swinging their swords experimentally. Kakashi was intimidating, his Sharingan eye scaring the wits out of the simpler-minded men. All three released their full killing intent, forcing some of the mercenaries on their knees, gasping for air. Then, a crossbow bolt arced through the air, stabbing Gato in the heart. The man gurgled, before falling backwards. Turning back, the ninjas saw practically the whole of Nami‘s population standing at the end of the bridge, holding makeshift weapons. Inari wore a helmet, and had a crossbow in his small hands.

It was the last straw. The mercenaries fled, jumping into the sea and clambering into their boats. Once the last of them left, Nami‘s people cheered. The ninjas breathed a sigh of relief; that is until a red glow surrounded Naruto’s immobile body. Kakashi groaned in despondency.

This has got to be the most troublesome mission I’ve had in my entire life!

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Hisana burst through the door to Tazuna’s home, rushing pass a startled Zabuza. Busting into the room Naruto was sleeping in, she spotted Haku and Rikka sitting by his bed, both obviously very worried for the blond. The redhead rushed over, frowning at the erratic pulse and fever. Lifting the boy’s shirt, she could see the seal partially broken.

“He’s been like that for the past few hours,” Kakashi said from the doorway. “Even Sasuke is getting worried about his rival.”

The woman collapsed in her knees, sniffling. “Naruto-kun, it’s all my fault…”

The words were soft, but Kakashi’s sharp hearing caught them. Narrowing his eyes, he quickly tried to piece together the clues. Why would it be Hisana’s fault? It’s the Kyūbi’s chakra that’s making Naruto comatose…unless she’s…it’s possible, she appeared out of nowhere when Naruto was six.

“Hisana, we need to talk,” Kakashi practically ordered. Blinking in confusion, Hisana reluctantly left the blond’s side. The two walked into the forest, and stopped a fair distance from the house and any prying ears. Kakashi swirled around, glaring hard at Hisana, who was rather taken aback by the man’s sudden strange behaviour. “What is it that you want to talk about?” Hisana asked.

“Are you the Kyūbi?”

The question was totally unexpected, but seeing no harm, the vixen nodded. Kakashi dropped into the fighting stance. “What do you want of Naruto?”

The red-haired female sighed. “Stand down, Kakashi, and I’ll explain.”

Hesitantly dropping his stance, he stood at attention, ready to react if need be. Hisana sat on the ground gracefully, gesturing for the Jōnin to do the same. He did so, but sat a bit further away. “So, what’s the story?”

“It’s like this. I was a rather peaceful, if powerful, demon. A person whom I can’t remember managed to force my yin chakra to surface, burying my yang chakra. This caused me to become berserk, and in my blind rage, I stumbled upon Konoha. Your ninjas attacked, and I retaliated. Your Yondaime Hokage used Shiki Fūjin, but he only sealed my yin chakra into himself, thus removing the berserker state. The yang chakra was sealed into Naruto-kun, for his use when older. The yin chakra would be too potent for Naruto-kun to use anyway,” Hisana explained briefly. Only the Sharingan had the ability to do such a thing, and Uchiha Madara was the one who summoned me to fight against Senju Hashirama…but I’m not going to tell Kakashi all this.

“So you’re not going to harm Konoha?” Kakashi questioned.

Hisana laughed lightly. “Iie. I am grateful for your Yondaime for removing the berserker state, and I have made a deal with Naruto-kun not to harm anyone linked to Konoha, or Konoha. In exchange, I get to be released partially from the seal.”

“But how? Sensei’s seal should be flawless.”

“Ah, it is strong, but Naruto managed to use the principles of summoning to bring me out. If summoning can bring animals from other dimensions into our own, why can’t it draw my consciousness from a measly cage?”

Kakashi sighed. “I don’t trust you that much, but I can live with it. Since it is your chakra, what solutions do you have for Naruto?”

“There are currently three options. The first option is to get Naruto-kun back to Konoha, and have the Sandaime or hopefully Jiraiya look over the seal. A second option is for Naruto to wake up and fix the seal himself,” Hisana said.

“What’s the last option?” Kakashi inquired.

“We rip off the seal.”

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“Rip off the seal?” Kakashi echoed.

“Hai. Ripping off the seal while I’m in Naruto-kun’s body will allow me to take control of my chakra, holding it back. That way, Naruto-kun can wake up, and he can design a new seal to hold my chakra. I know he has an experimental design he was making from two years ago, but I’m not sure if he completed it,” Hisana replied.

“Isn’t this much riskier than transferring him to Konoha?”

“It is, but bringing Naruto-kun back to Konoha may take another day, something I doubt he can afford. I felt the chakra back in Konoha, Kakashi. That’s a lot of chakra, and Naruto-kun’s body cannot take it, no matter how resilient it is or how my chakra will heal him. I will return to the seal and talk to him. Perhaps we can even salvage the situation from within,” Hisana sighed.

With that, the woman disappeared in a puff of smoke, prompting Kakashi to go back to the house. You better come out of this alive, Naruto.

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Naruto almost cringed when he saw the cage. It was bent at some places, and one bar was broken. Red, demonic chakra flooded out from the cage steadily, with no signs of stopping. Red eyes glowed within the cage, and Naruto felt a bit of relief. The flow seemed to have been stymied slightly, but it was not enough.

“What are my chances, Hisana?” Naruto asked calmly. “Of surviving this.”

The great eyes seemed sad as the vixen addressed her vessel. “If we don’t get this fixed within the next twelve hours, you may face chakra poisoning and chakra coils breaking down to irreparable conditions.

“And what are the options?”

Take you to Konoha, have you wake up and fix the seal, or remove it completely.

Naruto tilted his head. “Removal of the seal? You will have to hold back the chakra until I manage to fit another seal on.”

Hisana nodded. “I know you have a new seal in the works. You can try that one.

“That one channels your chakra through two ‘tunnels’, sending half to various chakra filters and then dispersing the chakra into my body. The second ‘tunnel’ will lead to a storage seal, where your chakra is sealed. I have not perfected the storage seal due to the potency of your chakra, and I planned on it being somewhere else instead of being on my body. The filtering system is also not fully able to convert your chakra to human chakra yet. And if I do this, we cannot mentally communicate anymore,” Naruto said, frowning.

It doesn’t matter. Work on it here. Time is slowed by ten times here, so you have at most 120 hours to work on it, or five days,” Hisana suggested.

The blond nodded, and imagined a large scroll, a brush and ink. The items appeared in his mindscape, and the blond started to draw his design upon the scroll. Deciding that the storage seal was more important, he turned his attention to that particular section. Etching more and more black writings to the scroll, Naruto continued thinking of solutions for a seal he planned on using only when he was much older. It was a side project, one he worked on when he was free, which was basically once every few months, and that was limited too. Naruto murmured all sorts of mumbo jumbo as he worked quickly and efficiently, adding more and more seals to the already complicated seal array. Hisana watched from her cage anxiously as the blond’s brush waved across the scroll with the ease of a master. It was rather unnerving to see the cerulean-eyed boy so calm even when he had a time limit of five days to save his own life.

Why can’t life be simpler?Hisana thought.

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Are you ready?” Hisana asked worriedly.

The blond nodded tersely. He stood on the gate itself, one hand on the seal. With an almighty rip, he tore off the paper. Jumping off and landing lightly on his feet, he watched as the gates swung open majestically. Chakra, red and frothing, rose from behind the gates, forming a literal tsunami. Naruto faced the wave without fear, and before it could rush over and engulf him, it was held back. Hisana sounded strained as she tried her best to keep chakra in the remnants of the seal. “Wake up, and draw the seals! Hurry!

The boy’s world turned black, and in another instant, he was awake, lying on a bed. Haku and Rikka were beside him, looking at his prone body fretfully, while Kakashi and Anko leaned against the far wall, watching the demon vessel. Brushing concerned questions off, Naruto created ten clones wordlessly, and stripped off, leaving only his boxers. Seeing the toned muscles on Naruto made the girls blush (well, Rikka drooled a bit as well), but the shinobi paid no heed. Instead, he lied back down, allowing the clones to start drawing a complicated complex of seals, starting from the shattered seal on his stomach. All that was left of that seal was a ‘room’, where Naruto would start directing demonic chakra away to. It took the better part of an hour to complete, and the blond was covered head to toe with black writings. Kakashi, despite having meddled with fūinjutsu, couldn’t figure out what the whole thing was about. The clones imparted their chakra into the seal, making it permanent. Jobs done, they disappeared in a pop, just as the seals sunk into Naruto’s skin, leaving it flawless.

“Did it work?” Kakashi asked.

It did, Hisana replied, obviously relieved. Naruto relayed the information, and the Jōnin’s shoulders lost all tension. Naruto tugged on his pants and shirt, causing Rikka to pout. The kunoichi pounced on the blond, hugging him tightly. Haku looked startled and slightly green with jealousy.

“Naruto-kun! You made us so worried!” the girl cooed.

“I apologise deeply, and thank you for the concern. However, I am fine now,” Naruto drawled. “Excuse me, but I have some work to do.”

With that, he disengaged, grabbed all his equipment, and left the room. Kakashi chuckled at the facial expressions of the younger kunoichi in the room, and Anko opted for grinning widely. “I swear, that kid can get away with anything when it comes to girls. He doesn’t even have to smile, for Kami’s sake!”

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Finishing the last stroke of the brush, Naruto stepped back to observe his work. It was probably one of his better ones, but the previous one he did took the cake. Not everyone could design a seal that complicated, besides his own father and Jiraiya. The Shiki Fūjin was a testament to the skill of the Yondaime, and it obviously got passed down. It helped when Naruto kept at least twenty clones studying his father’s notes everyday.

Pressing his palm to a hand-sized circle, Naruto triggered the release of Hisana’s chakra through his hand using some of his own chakra. The blond kept the flow steady, sending chakra from the original seal straight into the scroll. One by one, tail-like depictions surrounding the circle turned from black to red, until four were red. Naruto stopped the flow, letting the dizzy spell fade. Naruto bit his thumb, before swiping blood across all four ‘tails’. In a plume of smoke, Hisana appeared, as the red ‘tails’ turned black once more. She looked curious as she stared at the scroll. “How the heck did you do that, Naruto-kun?”

“I created a gate that corresponds with a seal on my hand, and eight storage sections, each with enough space for just one tail of chakra. I’ve made seals that would allow me to do Kuchiyose no Jutsu, by directing chakra in the same way it is done with hand seals. All I need is the blood donation, and to decide how many tails of chakra you have, I made the scroll such that the storage sections that have blood across them will have the chakra used,” Naruto explained.

Hisana felt like her head hurt with the information Naruto gave, and decided not to dwell on them. Instead, she asked another question. “What about the rest of my chakra?”

“About four tails worth of chakra is left within the original seal, since your last tail grants a never-ending supply of chakra only. The chakra is slowly being changed into human chakra for my use, and some is going into storage somewhere else. Both are slow processes, thus keeping some chakra in the original seal. By keeping some of your chakra in the original seal, it will continue to refill, thus providing even more chakra.”

“One day, you and I are going to sit down somewhere, and talk about you giving me some lessons on fūinjutsu,” Hisana declared seriously.

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“I guess this is goodbye, Inari,” Naruto said, ruffling the brunette’s hair. “Don’t ever give up, alright?”

“I will, Naruto-niisan!” Inari exclaimed, before sniffing. “But do you have to go?”

“I will visit,” the blond comforted.

Many Nami citizens watched as the group of ninjas left, the first to walk across the completed bridge. It was fitting for the Konoha ninjas, who fought tooth and nail for the structure to be built. It was ironic for the non-Konoha shinobi, who fought against the building of the bridge until later.

“We still haven’t named the bridge,” Tsunami gently reminded her father.

“That’s right! Well, I want to call it the Super Tazuna’s Awesome Bridge, but I think I have a better name,” Tazuna said exuberantly. “How about the Great Naruto Bridge, named after the boy who instilled hope in Inari, and brought courage to our nation?”

“That’s a nice name,” Tsunami commented.

“Then this bridge shall be named as such!”

<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>

Chapter 7

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