"You didn't mention anything about that chubby one being able to grow like that." Wonder Woman stated accusingly as she floated back to ground level, a limp Chouji dangling from one hand. "Or breathe fire."
"Last time we met, he couldn't. Or at least didn't." Batman clicked handcuffs around an equally comatose Sai. "Must not have had the stamina for it. Anyway, doesn't seem to have slowed you down any."
Diana shrugged. "People who grow bigger are just easier to hit. The flame-throwing was a little unsettling, but not bad. You?"
"A competent fighter, very unique style." Batman straightened up. "Still, no problem. They were intended to delay us, nothing more."
"They did that well enough. I didn't exactly see where that jet went."
"No need." Batman fished out a small datapad and tapped the screen a few times. "Radar shows they're hovering over the Narrows." He tossed the pad to Diana. "Get down there, I'll follow on the Batmobile."
Diana needed no further urging and shot off into the sky.
The power was warm, fulfilling. It surged through her veins and pulsed through her flesh, pushing through her ears, eyes, mouth. She felt a slight tingling sensation across her teeth as the whiteness roared about her and Naruto. In her mind, she instantly felt the church, the city, the warehouse where Ino lay and all the intervening space between, and just as instantly felt exactly where they ought to go. She focused on that point
and there they were.
There was no stumbling, no sudden rushing sensation
if anything, the world felt as though it moved around them and adjusted to fit them in. In fact, as Hinata only noticed a little while later, they materialized in a spot of rubble made perfectly even to accommodate them.
At the time, though, there was too much new information to handle already. Hinata felt the strange awareness fading from her, along with the warmth of the power, and realized with a shock that they were no longer in Jump City, but in Gotham. More particularly, she realized they were in a warehouseor what used to be onestanding right next to the fallen Ino, looking out over a debris-strewn battlefield, dotted with the fallen forms of their teammates.
?" Naruto gaped about at their surroundings, more lost than her. "What did you
think I just teleported us to Ino's signal." Hinata admitted hesitantly. Suddenly realizing that Ino was leaking blood over the ground, she fell to her knees, letting out a little scream. "Ino!"
Apparently she screamed too loud, for on the other side of the field, a head whipped around and red eyes smouldered. "Naruto? You again?"
"Sasuke?" Now Naruto was completely lost. "What are
Whatever Naruto had been about to say, Sasuke did not let him finish. In his eye flashed in the Mangekyo Sharingan, releasing the deadly black flames of Amaterasu.
Neither Hinata nor Naruto saw the attack coming. But unbidden, Hinata felt the warmth flood through her temples and push out. The flames crashed against a globe of whitish-gold light, before being blown away like so many shreds of cloud. It was over before either Naruto or Hinata realized what was happening.
Of course, once Naruto DID realize it, his eyes flashed and he whipped out a kunai, moving forward in front of Hinata. "You bastard." He hissed. "You did this again?"
From across the destroyed warehouse, Sasuke shrugged and pulled Kusanagi free of Cyborg's remains. "Wasn't my idea. They came hunting me, not me them. I didn't even know that the rest of you were even ON this world. Still." He glanced around at the huddled bodies. "It's just as well, I suppose. I was getting bored."
"Bastard," hissed Naruto again. His eyes were slowly turning an odd shade of yellow, and touches of orange could be seen on his eyelids. From her position on the ground, Hinata could do little but stare, apparently Naruto had been practicing his sage mode. "If you've harmed them I'll
"I already did." Sasuke interrupted him. "In fact I should be surprised if several of them weren't dead by now. Lee did quite impressively, I must
The conversation was broken off at this point as a blue and white blur shot from the sky. Sasuke tried to dodge, but a woman who could block bullets with her hands was not easily avoided. Wonder Woman crashed into Sasuke full-on, barreling him out of the warehouse and off back again into the sky.
For a second, Naruto just gaped. Then he leapt after them. "I have NO idea what is going on here." He growled. "Hinata! Stay here and take care of the others!"
" Naruto was already gone. For some reason she couldn't quite define, Hinata felt a trifle deflated. That made no sense, of course. It wasn't like she could have actually helped him against Sasuke, and obviously someone needed to stay here to look after the others.
Hinata let out a little gasp as she remembered the bleeding Ino at her feet. Quickly she rolled the girl over and examined the wounds. Very odd ones
tiny holes that bled with surprising strength. She needed to stop it, bind it up somehow. Quickly she placed her hands over the wound, pressing down
This time the warmth bubbled up from her heart, shot out her hands. She was getting a better feel for it now. It was almost tangible as it flooded into Ino, clogging her blood and reknitting the muscle. Hinata felt the heart pump with new strength, saw the lungs rise and fall.
Ino opened her eyes. "Hi-na-ta?" she croaked. "Wha
how did you
"We came as quickly as we could once we got your message." Hinata answered. The bleeding seemed to have stopped, so she stood up. "Just lay and rest for a while, I need to see to the others
hang on a
I think, I think
" Ino slowly clambered to her feet. "
I think I'm fine, actually."
Hinata blinked at her. "R-really?"
"Yeah." Ino frowned at her belly and the three white scars there. "Winded like hell, and exhausted but
I'm actually okay. Let me help you."
Every thing in Hinata's medical training screamed against it. Ino used medical jutsu, which used chakra, and clearly Ino didn't have much of that left. But she DID look okay, and Hinata DID need help. "Take care of Neji, and see how you feel then." Hinata pointed at her cousin, lying in a crumpled heap next to Ino. "Try not to move too much."
Receiving a short nod, Hinata leapt over to the others.
This kid is fast! Diana thought as the wind whipped past her. He nearly dodged me!
She'd seen the confrontation from about a mile away. Superman's opponent Naruto, and someone who she could only assume was Uchiha Sasuke. A girl too, but that meant little just at the moment, because it didn't take Athena's wisdom to see a clash between two opponents like THAT would cause citywide devastation.
Despite her private yearning to go in swinging, Diana had to prioritize. Save the city. Prevent destruction. Keep insurance rates down. (It still puzzled her sometimes how important Bruce thought that was). And, in this case, get one of the two teenagers OUT of the city before they blew it up. If the other followed, good, if not, Bruce could probably get him.
It was just as well that she'd been aiming to grab and not to punch. With dodging like that, her punch would never have fully connected. A simple grapple hold, on the other hand, didn't need to be exact to be effective. They were nearly out of the city already.
That didn't change the fact that the kid was fast, though. Flying through the air HAD to be new for him, and yet he was fighting like
Electricity tore through her system, convulsing her body. She jerked, swerved, nearly fell from the sky but recovered herself just in time. She had to get him out of the city. Looking down at the teens cold eyes, she shouted, "If I fall, you do too!"
The kid sneered back. "Omae koso, mesuinu."
Another burst of electricity shot through her, dazzling her eyes for a moment with pain. Again she wavered, swerved, lost altitude. She couldn't tell whether the kid was insane or suicidal. It would be so simple to smash him against the ground
but no. That was not the League way. That was not Batman's way. Besides, the way the kid was acting, perhaps he COULD fly. They were nearly out of the city now
A third jolt shot through her, the strongest by far. Involuntarily, she cried out and tumbled toward the ground. Eyes sparkling with pain, she gathered all her strength and threw the offending teenager clear of the city.
Before she blacked out completely, she saw two things. One was her fugitive landing with surprising agility on one of the taller buildings, ducking into a roll to absorb momentum, and continue leaping toward the city limits.
The other was a blur of orange as a familiar blonde shot past her.
A short once-over made her gasp. Lee was on fire! Dropping to the ground, she dashed over, readying a Suiton jutsu. It was only AFTER she sprayed water all over the writhing shinobi that she realized the flames were black.
Drat. What now? Hovering helplessly about, she studied the situation. Amaterasu flames could eat at the victim slowly or quickly, depending on the users preference. Sasuke seemed to have opted for the slow death, only Lee's skin had been burnt so far. But what good did that do if she couldn't put the flames out? Biting her lip, she reached into her pouch and withdrew a special senbon. The poison would work quickly, with little pain
Suddenly an idea flashed on her. The globe of light had blocked the flames Sasuke had shot at them. AND extinguished them. Could she perhaps do that again?
Hopefully, she reached out a hand, waiting for the familiar warmth. Nothing. She reached further, inching closer to the black tongues of flame. Still nothing. Swallowing and gritting her teeth, she plunged her hand into the flames and began to beat down.
It hurt. Horribly. She couldn't tell whether the warmth she felt in her palms was the power or the fire. But the flames caught neither on her skin or clothes, and it actually seemed to be working. A minute or so of frenzied fire-beating, and the black flames had all but disappeared from Lee's moaning body. Hinata, panting a little, sat back and glanced at her hands. They had not a mark on them.
"H-how d-did-d you d-do that?"
Hinata turned to face a bedraggled Sakura, already struggling to her feet. "I
I don't know." She admitted, staring at her hands again. "It just
happened." Suddenly realizing something, she turned on Sakura. "Sakura-san, you are hurt!"
"I'm fine." Sakura closed her eyes wearily. "Unfortunately." She felt about in her pouch and, finding a soldier pill, popped it into her mouth. "Not nearly enough, but it'll have to do. My chakra's nearly all used up after sensei's regeneration technique." She struggled over to Kiba and her hands lit up. "Take care of Robin." She called back. "He got hit with Amaterasu too." Hinata obediently scrambled over to the crime-fighter's red form. "Is Naruto here?"
"He was. He's off chasing Sasuke and the flying lady right now."
"Agh." Sakura gave a little hiss of pain. "He's probably mad at us, isn't he."
I don't really know. We came as soon as we got Ino's message, we didn't
really have time."
"Ino contacted you?" Sakura's voice took on a note of interest. "That was smart of her. We tried to find you guys with the Titan's monitor system, you know. But you didn't show up anywhere."
"R-really?" Hinata frowned. "That's weird."
"Izzat Hinata?" Kiba's slurred voice broke in. "Whaz she doin' here?"
"Helping." Sakura responded. "Done with you for now. Stay, Kiba." She moved away from the Inuzuka and struggled toward the green shapeshifter next to him. "Where were you guys?"
" Hinata bit her lip. "N-nowhere
sp-special. Th-the tr-tr-trackers must not have been working correctly." A groan from Robin alerted her that she was nearly done. "S-sorry. W-we c-came as quickly as we could."
A quick glance in Sakura's direction showed her that the girl was shaking her head, and even seemed to be crying. "We should have waited for you," came the answer, slightly muffled. "We should have tried harder to
we should have waited."
Hinata blinked, not sure she completely understood. After ensuring that Robin was recovered, she stood up. "I'll go help Starfire." She volunteered.
"I can take care of this. You should go help Naruto."
Once again biting back the strange impulse, Hinata shook her head. "I'd be in the way. You're still too wounded to take care of everyone here by yourself."
"She's not by herself."
Both girls whipped around at the gravelly voice. A grim-looking Batman picked himself up from an apparent diagnosis of Robin. "I assume there's an explanation for this?"
Sasuke skidded to a halt as an orange blur landed in front of him. "You've gotten faster, dobe." He smirked.
"I run faster when I'm mad." Naruto replied through gritted teeth. They stood in an abandoned lot, surrounded on all sides by the crushed debris from whatever had once stood there. Directly behind Sasuke loomed the Gotham skyline, behind Naruto stretched the open sky. "That's the last time I let you slice up any of my friends."
"One or two of them, definitely, unless Sakura's learned some new tricks. You could just tell them to stop chasing me."
"They wouldn't listen. And don't even bother pretending that you wouldn't come after them anyway, Sasuke." Naruto's eyes narrowed. "Last we met, you were dead-set on destroying Konoha. You pretending that's changed somehow?"
Sasuke's own eyes narrowed. "Konoha
" his hand slipped into his cloak and whipped out his sword, "
will PAY for what they have done to the Uchihas! To Itachi!"
Naruto leapt back, dodging around the sword, shooting kunai in at the raging Uchiha. "Dude, YOU were the guy who killed Itachi. Against the advice of Kakashi-sama and practically everyone IN Konoha."
Electricity formed a Chidori around Sasuke's hand. "Do not DARE to speak to me of Itachi! You do not DESERVE to speak his name!"
"What, as opposed to you? The guy who killed him?" Naruto snorted, forming a Rasengan in his hand. "I'll talk of whoever I like, teme."
The two shot at each other, attacks readied. They collided perfectly, the two jutsus creating an enormous shockwave blowing both backward, away from each other. Sasuke whipped himself to his feet and readied another Chidori.
" said Naruto, staring thoughtfully at Sasuke. "Remember that one thing you said once about how a true warrior can know everything about his opponent by exchanging a single blow?"
"Well, we've done that now. I think I understand you."
Sasuke rolled his eyes. "And?"
"You're a jerk." Naruto shot forward again, another Rasengan in his hand.
Sasuke easily dodged Naruto's Rasengan and thrust his chidori into Naruto
who disappeared with a poof and became a log. Whipping around on pure instinct, Sasuke just barely managed to catch the REAL Naruto in mid-attack by the arm and whip him into the ground. The pavement erupted under the Rasengan's impact, churning tons of dust and debris. Leaping into the fog, Sasuke sought out Naruto's chakra signature and sliced down at it, but Naruto practically blurred away from him.
"You HAVE gotten faster." Sasuke grinned. "At least you've finally realized I'm not coming back to Konoha. What happened to that slow knucklehead who always gave the pep talks before fights?"
"He's still in here somewhere. The part of me that just saw all my friends bleeding over the pavement told him to shut up for a second or two."
"That reminds me." Sasuke reached into his coat and pulled out the Uzi. "This thing is turning out to be even more useful than I expected."
A stream of bullets, aimed with pinpoint accuracy, whizzed toward Naruto, ripping through his coat.
Sasuke watched with a twinge of disappointment as they ricocheted harmlessly off Naruto's skin. Cocking his head, the blonde remarked. "You do realize I'm in Sage mode, right? Invincibility and all that?"
Grunting, Sasuke tossed the gun aside. "That thing's no fun anyway. Shakes all over the place, impossible to aim."
"What makes you think it's the gun?" Naruto smirked. "How's your eyesight these days, Sasuke?"
Sasuke froze. Slowly his head came around to stare at Naruto. "And why would you ask me something like that?"
To his credit, Naruto tried to keep his shrug nonchalant. "I just remember your brother had bad eyesight, that's all. Was wondering how you were doing."
Sasuke drew a deep breath as his eyes spiraled wildly. "I thought I told you
" Black flame began to gather about him, drawing up into a ribcage, arms, legs, muscles, "
that you were NEVER to speak of Itachi!"
Roaring, the black, flaming form of Susanoo filled the sky, Sasuke's form invisible within its impenetrable body. Naruto just barely dodged the enormous flaming blade as it plunged into the pavement.
"My eyesight is fine, dobe," roared Susanoo. "Now let's see how your running is."
"The situation is controlled, there's no reason to inform Mr. Luthor about it yet," reasoned the analyst. "He left in a great hurry, I don't think he would appreciate being interrupted for something trivial like this."
His associate bit his lip nervously. "I
suppose so. But are you sure it's safe for her to be firing that gun like that?"
The observation booth the two stood in was thoroughly blast-shielded and sound-proofed. Even so, the dull roar of explosive rounds trembled the floor just ever so slightly. They stood overlooking Tenten's weapon-testing session, where Luthor had abruptly left her a few minutes ago. Without pause, the girl was pouring one shot after another onto the concrete target before her.
The first analyst considered a moment. "There's nothing behind that wall she's firing at, except more concrete and solid bedrock. And even without that, the target can easily stand up against that kind of barrage for some time. This IS the weapons range, after all."
"But she's been firing explosive rounds for a solid five minutes now. I mean, rapidly."
"Yes. Tell me, does that gun usually fire that fast?"
yes, it does. Generally it stops every twenty rounds or so to adjust the aiming, but I think we took that away to mess up her accuracy. Mr. Luthor doesn't want her getting too good with these, remember."
"Hm." There was a short pause, broken only by the series of explosions still reverberating from the chamber. "It's a rather impressive rate of fire."
"Oh it is. They have to chain-feed the rounds, which, for fragmentation shells like these, can be rather expensive." The other frowned momentarily. "She's wasting a fortune down there."
The analyst shrugged. "So far as I know, Mr. Luthor has no interest in fortunes. He IS interested in keeping this prisoner happy. Just let her keep firing, I suppose, she should tire of it eventually. How much longer does she have with that gun."
"About fifteen minutes." The other checked his watch. "Thirteen I suppose, if you want to get picky."
"Well, just leave her alone. She's not doing any harm, and if it amuses her, so much the better."
"This gambit ceases to amuse me, dobe." Susanoo rumbled. "I can destroy clones of you all day. Why doesn't the real you just come out and face me?"
"Here I am!" A poof transformed a rock into an orange blonde, who leapt at the flaming giant. "Eat this, teme!"
"Tch." Susanoo flicked a finger and the blonde disappeared in another wiff of smoke. "Give me some credit. That's not you. Not annoying enough. Start appearing already, or I'm going to head back to the city and smash down a few buildings."
"Batman'd stop you." Another blonde claimed, rising from a pile of ash.
"Is he here too? No matter. Impenetrable defense is impenetrable." Susanoo destroyed the new blonde with a flick of his finger. "Honestly, Naruto, you were never one to hide from a fight, least of all with me. What on earth is taking you so long this time?"
"Nothing much." Susanoo turned with an almost bored air toward the new voice. "Just this."
An orange streak tore across the pavement, a whirling disk of pure chakra in his hand. It left his hand, went shooting at the black flaming giant with breathtaking speed. Roaring, the black flames leapt to meet it and then
There was a sickening crack.
Susanoo stumbled back a step or two and glanced down. A wide gash had been torn in its side, white blood seeping from the wound as the flames wavered weakly around it. He looked back at Naruto with something between wonder and rage. "You
For his part, Naruto simply stood there, panting, looking slightly disappointed. "Aw
"YOU HURT ME!" Susanoo roared, swinging his sword in a flaming arc. "YOU SHALL PAY!"
Again the orange streak raced across the lot, one step ahead of the raging destruction in his wake. Time after time the sword crashed behind him, time and time again the great flaming arrows dove into the ground about him.
" Naruto panted as he raced along, "being ungodly huge doesn't really help if your aiming stinks. And if you're as slow as molasses. That Susanoo thing really doesn't seem to be helping you any, Sasuke."
"Says the man fleeing for his life." Susanoo snorted. "It may not make attacking you easier, but it allows me to fully decide the proper way to kill you. And I note that you're not looking so terribly well yourself."
He was right, Naruto knew. A terrible hitch was developing in his side, and several hits were getting dangerously close. Privately, he wondered why Sasuke hadn't just pulled an Ameratsu and killed him already.
Quickly he made his decision, and, bringing his fingers up in a familiar seal, bought himself some time.
"MORE Kage Bunshins? Come, Naruto, you're not even trying." Susanoo began to lay right and left into the crowd of Narutos, engulfing the battlefield in smoke. Some of Naruto's clones seemed to be trying to stay alive for once, they leapt away from the blade and shunshined around the battlefield. "This is REALLY getting annoying."
"Then let's liven it up some!" chorused the clones. "Rasengan barrage!"
Susanoo didn't even bother moving as the army of clones leapt at him, a Rasengan in each hand. He just watched disinterestedly as they hit the armor of flame and poofed out of existence. "What, exactly, was that supposed to accomplish?"
"Distraction!" Before Sasuke could blink, another whirling Rasenshuriken flew out of the rubble and buried itself in Susanoo's midsection. Close on its heels, into the gap of flame, leapt two Narutos, rasengans in hand. "Rasengan barrage, Part II!"
Two rasengans hit, but unfortunately, hit the shield that Sasuke whipped in front of them, rather than the gaping slash they had been aiming for. They disappeared from existence with a dismal poof.
"Well, that was a better try, but still ultimately doomed." Susanoo turned to the remaining Naruto with a malicious grin. "Looks like you're out of Sage chakra now
this should be interesting."
" J'onn, it's interesting and all that the one Yamanaka girl has developed telepathic powers, but you're kinda getting off topic. Do you have anything more about the Life Equation?"
Blinking at the irate Green Lantern, J'onn answered. "But
you see, that's exactly it. I've been training the girl how to harness her powers
seal her mind from the world, only enter those she wishes too, read surface thoughts, drive deeper to find out necessary information
"J'onn." Superman massaged his forehead. "The Life Equation?"
"Ah. Yes. You see, in the course of training her, I remembered something. The Life Equation is closely tied with Martian physiology. Indeed, I'm inclined to think it may have given the Martians their unique capabilities."
"Do you mean that the equation explained enough for the old Martians to genetically engineer shapeshifting Martians?" Mr. Terrific was also present.
precisely. More that knowledge of the equation, or partial knowledge, enabled them to gain a new control over their bodies."
"Oh, for the love of
" Mr. Terrific threw up his hands. "How many times do we need to reiterate this? Math is math. What you're doing here is ABSTRACT math. Pure ideas, no application as yet. By their nature, they have no influence on reality until they are applied!"
The corner of the Martian's mouth twitched. "You will forgive me, but for me the line between reality and idea is significantly blurred. For me, ideas shape who I am
whether I am in this form, my Martian form, or an intangible form. I am, in many ways, a thought embodied in the physical realm."
"Except for fire."
"Except for fire." J'onn agreed. "Also, the child Ace, whom we dealt with in the past, could shape the fabric of reality with her thought. Ideas and reality are very close for her and I."
"But that's because of your powers." Green Lantern frowned. "The ideas themselves would mean nothing without your abilities."
J'onn shrugged. "Possibly. Unfortunately, I am unable to appreciate the difference as fully as you are, as, I imagine, would Ace."
"All right, all right." Superman waved. "Just
continue with what you were saying earlier."
"Well," said J'onn with a cough. "Summed up simply, it is this. The Anti-Life equation allows you control of the world around youpeople, terrain, circumstances. The LIFE equation, I believe, allows one complete control over one's self."
"As in, one's body and one's thoughts." Terrific was once again listening. "Assuming that the Anti-Life equation actually DOES do what it's reputed to do, I suppose I can see the resemblance. But how do you mean it's in your physiology? Buried in your subconscious, do you mean?"
"Possibly." Once again J'onn looked a trifle sheepish. "I am afraid I was more thinking of the equation was buried in my bodymy genetic code, perhaps."
Mr. Terrific closed his eyes and counted to ten. "Genetic code isn't that kind of code, trust me. How is an EQUATION supposed to be buried in your body? It's an idea, it's intangible. Your body isn't."
"Only when I want it to be."
Before Terrific could comment on that, an intense beeping filled the room. "Excuse me, Superman?" Steel's anxious voice filled the room. "I know you said you didn't want to be disturbed, but you ought to come out. We have a situation in Gotham City."
Since the Ino incident (as he privately referred to it), things had been a little
different in Naruto's head.
Contrary to some villagers' opinion, Kyuubi was not in constant communication with Naruto. Naruto hadn't even known Kyuubi was there until Mizuki told him, and until he'd accessed the energy himself, a part of him had always doubted it. Normally, Kyuubi could not talk unless Naruto went, in person, to the cage and spoke with him. Such incidents were usually dependent on Naruto.
Since Kyuubi had gotten out during Ino's little
disruption, however, that had changed. Kyuubi had started popping up in his dreams a bit more and the Kyuubi had been a trifle more vocal. So far as Naruto could tell, the seal itself was undamaged, but the mind
well, the mind was a little more open.
For obvious reasons, Naruto had not told anyone about the extra voice in his head. He was pretty good at tuning people out anyway.
Well, he had since discovered something. An extra voice in your head, particularly one urging you to kill and burn the opponent in front of you, particularly when that WAS something you were tempted to do, was incredibly distracting.
He killed your friends. The voice whispered as Naruto, no longer a sage, whipped away from the black flaming blade.
He HURT my friends. None of them were dead yet, I could feel it. Naruto thought back. Even just before I threw that last Rasenshuriken, I could feel it.
Regardless, he meant to kill your friends. What do you think he'll do once he finishes with you? Leave them alone forever? Go and live his life in piece?
He's not going to beat me. Defiance flared up in Naruto as he threw an explosive tag and cloned it a few thousand times.
There was something like a snort in his mind. No? He certainly will if you keep on like this. You've got nothing left, kit. No tricks, no techniques, nothing. Summoning your toads won't work here, you know that. And then, in a whisper, it added, but there is one way
Your friends are miles away, we're outside the city, the only one nearby is the one you want to kill. What is the harm?
I don't want to kill him. And how stupid do you think I am? As soon as you're done with him, you're going to smash the city.
Now, now. What makes you think I'd do a thing like that? I'd only have the power, or even the control, to do something like that if I was ALL the way out. At the lower levels, you always have some control, you know that.
I know nothing of the sort. Last time you were out, you tried to kill Hinata. Before that, Sakura. And before that, Jiraiya-sensei.
But I didn't. You wouldn't let me. I could have killed any of them, but I couldn't, because you didn't want me to.
The point was so startling that Naruto nearly stopped to consider it, before the sword crashed to the pavement an inch behind him and he leapt into running again. You'll still destroy the city.
Haven't you been listening? I can't do anything you don't, secretly or otherwise, want me to do. Besides, I have no interest in that city. I'd much rather put as much difference between it and me as possible.
You're lying. Naruto thought desperately.
Why would I lie?
At that, Naruto snorted. You're a demon, maybe? Honestly, if you're limited as much as you say, why would you even want out?
There was a little snigger. Let us say I want to stretch my legs.
"I'm growing bored with this, Naruto." Susanoo's voice broke in on his thoughts. "It's been fun and all, but I'm afraid it's time for you to die."
Naruto knew a danger sign when he heard it. Immediately he leapt behind a rock, moments before the whole field burst into black flames.
"Clever, but again, tiresome." Naruto leapt away from his hiding spot moments before it was destroyed by a vast black sword.
He'll keep it up until he kills you. And after you, your friends.
Shut up. Naruto leapt around desperately. He formed the necessary chakra and filled the field with clones.
"Not this AGAIN." Susanoo sighed. "I'm tired of this game. Let's play something different." Turning, he faced Gotham. "I wonder how these buildings will stand up to Amaterasu."
These people don't know how to combat Amaterasu. The fox's voice was almost gleeful now. The fire will spread through their city and burn it all to ash and they'll have no way of stopping it. But YOU can.
"Come out and face me, NAruto, or I burn down the city."
It's either him or me. He WILL burn down the whole city, and kill your friends. You know I won't.
I know nothing of the sort.
Can you risk it?
"I'm getting bored, Naruto. One
I will not harm the city. You have my word.
The word of a demon?
A mental shrug. It's all I have to give.
Well? Him or me? Your friends' lives, or his?
"Three. Well, this is tiresome, but there's nothing for it
Naruto's eyes snapped open, red and slitted.
Sakura gave Batman the first clue. She was working quickly along on Shino, hands moving quickly and efficiently over his damaged midsection when her eyes widened and her hands dropped from there task. " Yada <Oh no>." She whispered.
"What?" snapped Batman. "What is it?"
The next second they all knew. Like a cutting wind, a soundless ripple, a swelling wave that rips through everything and yet leaves it standing, an oppressive sense of utter rage washed through them all. Horror, pain, fear... all these came crushing down upon their senses.
Then there was the explosion. A great, ripping BOOM that cracked the silent city apart, resounding through the steel and concrete canyons. No light, just sound.
"What was that?" yelled Cyborg, still prone on the ground. "A bomb?"
All too obviously not. And given the grim looks on the faces of the ninja, and the haunted look in Raven's, Batman had a pretty good feeling of what it had been.
"Saki to onaji <Just like before>." Sakura whispered, hugging herself. "Saki to onaji."
"That," stated Shino, staring implacably at the horizon. "Was the Kyuubi, and unless he is diverted in the next five minutes Gotham will no longer be standing."
"Less, I'd say." Neji muttered.
"I assume he can't be reasoned with in this state." Batman grunted, standing to his feet.
"No." Sakura shook her head. "He'll attack anybody. You, me
his best friend."
Robin offered his mentor a wry-faced grin. "Got a plan for this one, Bats? Runes around the city? Anti-demonic weaponry in the belt?"
"A few holy relics, but nothing from HIS world." Batman frowned. "Besides, a chakra demon doesn't seem likely to be effected by conventional techniques. Perhaps
"Hey!" Kiba's shout broke them all out of it. "Hinata? What are you doing?"
Batman turned just in time to see the girl vanish in a flash of light.
Though he knew exactly what was happening, Sasuke wasn't TOO worried when Naruto exploded. He'd fought the Kyuubi beforeif not at four tails, which was what it'd grown to nowand he'd gained a great deal since then. He was reasonably certain he could deal with the roaring beast in front of him.
And then the roaring beastalong with everything else in front of himstarted to get blurry, and THEN Sasuke started to worry.
Susanoo, as Naruto had observed earlier, was big and strong, but not fast. Kyuubi, at four tails, might not be big, but it was strong. And fast. Sasuke barely had time to bring up the shield before it ripped into him, breaking through the invincible skin, the impenetrable flesh, the unbreakable bones. The black flames didn't even seem to touch it.
Perhaps Kyuubi was breaking through, perhaps Susanoo was simply breaking up. Sasuke knew only that it was getting harder and harder to concentrate, and the pain, oh the pain
And then the last of his defenses gave as Kyuubi came roaring into his inner sanctum. Sasuke managed to just barely dodge the worst of his attack, but it was still more than enough to send him crashing through what was left of Susanoo and onto the pavement outside. Stars exploded across his brain as his head met the pavement, and his vision swam more than ever.
A vicious, grinning face glowed into focus above his head. It was hard to look at that bright burning face with its blank white eyes and jagged smile. The creature seemed to regard him with sort of sadistic pleasure for a moment before shooting out a hand. The chakra burned against his skin as it gripped his head, like a child with a small egg. He felt as though he could not move, as if all time were still. As if this were a dream.
And then the creature's other hand buried itself in his face, and he knew this was real. He FELT his left eye ripping from his head, the sensation more real than even Itachi's illusion had been. His vision danced with pain and things became more blurry than ever.
The pain spurred him to action. With his remaining eye he cast Ameratsu, and as the Kyuubi reeled back, yowling, clawing at the black flames on its face, he scrambled to his feet and ran. Half stumbling, half-reeling, always clutching at his gaping eye socket, he ran, paying no heed to the howls behind him.
He was nearly in the city when the creature's anguished howls became low, rumbling, growls. Somehow the Amaterasu had been extinguished. Somehow it was again on his tail. Sasuke risked a single, blurry look back.
The four-tailed Kyuubi stood fully planted in the pavement where he had left it, gathering up a vast bubble of chakra, preparing for a blast. Even as Sasuke watched, it swallowed the mass and turned toward him.
And as Sasuke watched the fox's glowing maw open to unleash its enormous blast upon him, he just barely had time to recognize the dim figure that flickered into existence between the two of them.
"So we got a black flaming giant battling a flaming fox outside of Gotham city."
"Yes." Superman chewed his lip nervously, studying the readout. "Gotham is Batman's city
" he muttered. "
but giant demonic things seem a little
out of his league?"
Turning, Superman leveled a glare at Flash. "I was going to say extreme. Not the sort of stuff Batman usually handles." He turned back to the screen. "Not that he'd ever admit it
"Sir." The technician's voice was suddenly tense. "We have an update. The fox just broke the giant apart. Now it's charging up a
blast of some kind."
The technician fumbled for a moment. "Well
it's pretty damn big, sir."
An image flickered into life on the screen. Superman's eyes widened.
"That does it." Standing with a jerk, he pressed his hand to his earpiece. "Gotham or not, we're going in. All available S-class League members, report to Gotham City at the following coordinates! Details to follow. Support and relief teams ready for
Superman turned to glance at the technician, who now looked a trifle confused. "There's a
giant pale woman
in a green cloak."
The Kyuubi's blast withered away into nothing, and revealed the Spectre.
The Spectre was now a great, pale woman, glowing white eyes beneath a hood and coat of sable green. Dark hair whipped about her head in an invisible wind.
"Kyuubi." Said the woman. "Thousands of innocents have perished by your hands, and but for my intervention, thousands more would have today."
The four-tailed Kyuubi backed up, hissing, ears flattened back in something akin to fear.
"Vengeance must be had," stated the woman dispassionately, and in a flicker she was beside the fox. Before it could even move, her hand was clamped on his shoulder.
And the Kyuubi screamed! Loud and long it screamed, and its scream echoed through the streets of Gotham. Windows shattered, dogs howled, and people everywhere stopped their ears against the assault.
Batman and the others, already en-route to the site, heard the scream, and it stopped them in their tracks.
"Okay, now what was THAT?" Beast Boy gaped.
"I have no idea." Neji answered. "It sounded like the Kyuubi. Let me see
" The veins around his head pulsed a moment. "AH!" He fell to the ground clutching his eyes. "AAAAHHH!"
"Neji?" Sakura moved over to the Hyuuga. "What is it?"
"What on earth is going on here?"
"He's here." Raven answered, her voice curiously vacant. "He's here. But
"Fear not, Naruto," smiled the woman as the Kyuubi shrank from four tails to three, and then to two. Naruto's glazed expression stared up at her. "I am merely binding him. Once that has been accomplished, I shall draw his soul from your body. You shall not be harmed."
!" Naruto managed. "I need
I need him
"It shall not hurt. Not you, anyway. Then you shall be rid of the trouble that has plagued you your whole life long." Kyuubi was now down to one tail.
Something cleared in Naruto's gaze. "Hi
ta? Is that
I need him
Please, Hinata, stop
"Stop? But he has been a blight upon you. His soul is that of evil. He is a demon, and I am the hand of vengeance. The guilty must be punished for their crimes." The chakra cloak disappeared entirely. "He has now been bound. Now his soul shall be drawn into the lake of fire, where there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
"NO!" Naruto nearly screamed as a ghostly form of Kyuubi began to detach itself from his body. "Hinata, STOP!"
It was warm and comfortable in Hinata's mind. All things happened accordingly, everything progressed as it should. Her consciousness lay in an enveloping sense of rightness, of being in exactly the place she needed to be in that particular point in time.
With almost warm laziness she watched the blast dissipate in the Spectre's hand. Foggily she saw the Kyuubi being bound, it's influence over Naruto being diminished. A sort of hazy happiness flooded her senses as she watched the Spectre begin to draw the Kyuubi from Naruto's body
And then it suddenly struck her that Naruto was pained, that he was screaming, that he was screaming to her, to make her stop
With a sudden coldness, Hinata wrenched herself from the warming presence of the Spectre Stop! She cried voiceless to the mind. Enough!
The woman's eyes widened suddenly. The glowing whiteness of her skin faded to pink flush again, the green cloak shortened and faded to become a purple hoodie. The ghost form of the Kyuubi slowly retreated back into Naruto's body.
And Hinata slumped to her knees before Naruto. "I'm
I'm sorry Naruto." She whispered. " I'm so, so sorry
" And then she completely passed out and collapsed on the ground.
"Mr. Luthor isn't available, so we thought we'd ask you." The two analysts gestured to Tenten, still firing away at the target below. "Is there any danger to her doing that?"
The new member of the group, a somewhat grubby-looking weapons tech, pushed back his cap and frowned at the spectacle. "How long she been at that?"
fifteen minutes now. She still has five minutes to go, but she's kept firing that whole fifteen minutes. We were wondering if the firing mechanism might have gotten jammed."
The mechanic shook his head. "Tha's unlikely. Them X-49-T's are pretty smoothdon't jam much. As for her firing, I don't think it's partic'lary dangerous. Might heat up the gun a little, but not much." Gazing at the spectacle, he frowned a moment. "It's behavin' kinda funny though. Looks sorta funny too."
"Oh, that would be the alterations we made." The first analyst nodded. "You see, Mr. Luthor doesn't want the prisoner getting too familiar with the weaponry, so we changed it around some to throw off the aim, balance, and so forth."
"What kinda changes?"
The analyst frowned. "I don't particularly remember
oh, we removed one of the side air circulators, to make it shake more to that side. And we did something to the barrel
made it so the bullets would spread out more."
The mechanic's gaze had suddenly gotten a tad wider. "Ya didn't increase the friction, did you?"
"I'm not sure." The analyst looked to his colleague, who shrugged. "Perhaps. Why?"
For answer, the mechanic made for the door. "Get that girl out of there, and cut off her ammo supply, NOW!"
"But she still has five minutes
"Listen, you." The mechanic whirled on the analyst. "You know what adding friction does? It generates heat. You know what removing an air circulator does? It makes that heat harder to dissipate. You know what firing a gun like that for fifteen straight minutes does?"
"Darn right it does!" The mechanic shouted. "A whole stinkin' lot of heat with all the alterations you boys made! That gun's gotta be glowing hot right now, practically burning her hand off!"
"Then why is she still firing it?" The second analyst blinked.
"Haven't you noticed that gun is firing explosive rounds? IF she keeps firing that thing, she might generate enough heat to
And then there was an enormous explosion.