Categories > Anime/Manga > Naruto > The Youma Hunter

Chapter 27

by Spyash2 0 reviews

Lost in a strange world riddled with demons and with no way to get back home, a mighty warrior catches the eye of the Organization. Co-Written with Drunkmansquawkin.

Category: Naruto - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Crossover - Characters: Naruto - Warnings: [!!] [V] [?] - Published: 2018-12-21 - 8609 words

Miata was not in good shape. The girl cut in many places and missing chunks of her body. The rain was washing the blood from her, but the little girl was a trooper.

“It hurts… it hurts mama…”

Despite being in a large amount of pain she wasn’t crying out. She just maintained her tiny, childlike tone as she kept her gaze on Galatea.

As for Clarice, she was still looking at Miata with her eyes wide in disbelief. There was no way. There was just no way Miata can get hurt like that! How can someone, who is so much stronger than herself, get hurt to that degree?! How could she not notice!?

“Tch…” A bloodied, and single-armed Galatea narrowed her eyes at Agatha with disgust and contempt. This situation was… less than ideal. If this kept up, then no one was getting out of here alive! If only that little girl who was so determined to take her head wasn’t ignoring the much bigger threat!

Agatha put a hand on her hip and let out a bored sigh. “I did tell myself I would defeat you without using that… but I just hate wasting effort in a fight.” her malicious smile grew a bit more, “So, it’s time to end it all.” she declared with sadism and bloodlust in her voice.

Many tendrils made from her ‘hair’ shot out of the platform Agatha’s fake body was standing on, and curved around and made their way to Miata, Galatea, and the guards below. Miata and Galatea sensed the danger and were quick to leap off of the roofs they were standing atop of.

As for the guards below…

“DEFENSE TEAM, GO!” Galk barked.

The guards quickly formed a shield wall to protect themselves against the tendrils heading their way… only for some of them to rip right through the metal, round shields and through the armoured the men behind them like wet toilet paper.

Clarice looked in their direction with horrified eyes, “That isn’t going to work! Everyone, please run!” she yelled desperately at them. She looked up, gasped and jumped out of the path of other hair-like tentacles with a very terrified scream. The ground where she was once standing on shattered when they impacted.

“Mama…?” Hearing Clarice scream Miata finally looked away from Galatea and saw her mama in trouble. She quickly followed the tendrils to Agatha, the Awakened Being, and bared her teeth angrily. No one hurts her mama!

The little girl broke away from her pursuit of Galatea and headed straight towards Agatha with the intent on murdering her for hurting Clarice. No one hurts mama! No one! No one, no one, no one!!

“Oh-ho-ho?” Agatha had an amused smirk on her face as she watched the Number 4 hopping towards her from rooftop to rooftop with murderous intent, “Finally noticed me, have you? And, here, I thought you can’t see me… but it seems you’re a little too late.”

The Awakened One sent more of her ‘hair-tentacles’ Miata’s way. Many of them dented the little girl’s Spaulders, protecting her shoulders from getting damaged; her cape was unlucky, many a hair-tentacle pierced through it like paper. Her skirt-like fauld armour was dented when the tendrils collided against the metal plates.

The girl let out a vicious growl, and with her teeth gritted, she grabbed many of the hair-like extensions with one hand, and after dropping her claymore to the ground of the tower she landed on, she used her free hand to gain a better hold on them, and braced herself on the wall on the opposite end of the tower and pulled.

“HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!” Miata screamed with all her might, pain and determination as she pulled on the hair-like tendrils.

“Oh-ho… for real?” Agatha didn't know if she should be impressed or exasperated at the girl’s attempt to pull her real body. Her arms, particularly her wrists, were missing large chunks of skin. The Awakened One knew if the girl were to exert a significant amount of effort into her badly damaged arms like she was doing now, then they would get strained and eventually sever.

And from the looks of it, this girl was dumb enough to go that far. Agatha’s fake body stumbled forward when the girl actually knocked her awakened body off balance.

“Oh… she actually…?” Agatha cut herself off to chuckle. Well, that was a surprise; the little girl had enough strength in her damaged arms to pull her real body off balance. But the woman could see more blood streaming from the gaping holes in them; the naked brunette could clearly see there was a lot of strain being put on them and that the little girl was close to losing them, “This child, who exactly do you think you are?”

Agatha sent more of her sharp tentacles Miata’s way. Because the girl was busy pulling at the offensive objects in her hands, she was unable to avoid the others. As a result, she was stabbed in the upper arms and on her side.

“Gh… Ngh… Gh…!” The little girl whimpered from the sharp pain in her sides but soldiered through it.

“MIATA!” She heard Mama cry out with distraught. Clarice was looking up at her, horrified and utterly afraid.

The young girl bared her teeth and with a growl, she tightened her grip on the hair-tendrils and pulled again. Miata let out a loud, strenuous scream as she pulled at Agatha’s extensions with all of her might, “HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!”

Unfortunately, the amount of effort was too much for Miata’s already wounded arms to handle. The girl was stunned when she felt a sharp pain in her forearms… before they were torn off with a gush of blood.

An open, eyed, open-mouthed Clarice gasped with horror!

“Eh…?” Miata looked at her bloody stumps for arms with confusion, “...Mama… my hands got cut off…”

Then she was stabbed in the back many times by Agatha’s extra appendages when they curved around. Miata was then pushed through the wall, and pinned to the ground of the tower.

“Hn. Made me sweat a little,” a smiling Agatha said in a nonchalant manner. “Luckily I harmed that child a little beforehand; fighting two opponents at once is definitely a pain.” Then the brunette’s eyes darted to the left, “Speaking of…”

More of her hair that made of her platform shot out and ran Galatea through when she tried to attack her from behind. The blind woman coughed up blood as she was slammed, and pinned into a wall. Galatea was close-eyed; motionless; bloodied; but nonetheless alive.

“What a pity… if only it went the way you planned then everyone would be fine.” The woman’s tone was mocking, soft, and whimsical as she stared at the motionless, one-armed form of Galatea she had pinned to the wall.

Clarice could only watch on in both disbelief and terror as her charge and Galatea were both defeated. Agatha did it so seamlessly, so effortlessly, that Clarice was utterly terrified and baffled.

Clarice took a step back, her hand clutching the grip of her claymore until her knuckles hurt. “How… how did it become like this? Miata, and even Galatea, both of them were defeated…” The brunette was shaking, her tears mixed with the rain as her eyes darted from the tower Miata was on, to the wall Galatea was pinned to. “How can I alone take on a former Number 2?” She whimpered pitifully, with wide fearful eyes and clattering teeth.

She wouldn’t be able to. There was no way on absolute hell she would be able to! Miata and Galatea are so much stronger than her. The latter had more experience! And yet, despite that, they were defeated… So what chance did she have?! There was no hope for her! No hope! No hope! No hope!

Agatha perked up and looked down to see a heavily distraught Clarice. “Oh! My bad, I forgot about you!”

The woman in question flinched.

“Don’t worry,” Agatha continued. “I’ll give you the same treatment I gave those two.” Then, her tone and expression became more menacing. “You will die like those two, with your body full of holes.”

She blinked when the sound of projectiles cutting through air reached her, and Agatha donned a bored look when she sent more of her hair-tendrils out to intercept them. All of them were stopped.

“Ara? And just who is responsible, for that?” The naked brunette sounded almost amused if grossly exaggerated at having been interrupted, yet again. Even Clarice, despite having terror welling up within her, was surprised by the interruption.

“Take a look to your left!” Clarice felt her eyes grow wide when a familiar voice reached her ears, and for the first time since Agatha revealed herself, the brunette felt hope rising in her chest.

Agatha did just that and had she had an eyebrow, it would have been raised with interest, “Oh? And who are you?”

The person she was looking at was garbed in a hooded cloak that was partially covering his face. But the front was parted enough to show the dark orange, breastplate underneath. Clarice recognised him. He was the one who saved her, Nina, Elise, and Camilla after all.

The young man looked from the motionless Galatea the Awakened Being was pinning to the wall, to the little girl who was pinned to the floor of the tower she was on. Her arms were regrowing too.

Then he brought his gaze back to Agatha. “My real name isn’t important, but if you want to call me something I suppose my moniker will do: I am The Youma Hunter.”

“Oh, ho, ho~! Really, now?” That was either a ballsy bluff or this was a one in a million chance encounter. Either way, Agatha was very interested. “I’ve heard many things about someone by that name… most notably that he died in Alphonse.” Agatha giggled, plopping down onto her platform, and lacing her fingers under her chin enticingly. “Sooo… What brings you here, I wonder?”

“I sensed trouble brewing here, and I came to investigate.” Naruto answered, “And as for me dying in Alphonse? When you’ve been hiding away for seven years, with no outside activity, people do tend to think you’re dead.”

On the ground, a still shaking Clarice was staring up at them with confusion showing on her pretty face. Why wasn’t he engaging her in battle? Suddenly, she stiffened in surprise when a gloved hand covered her mouth and almost immediately she started struggling frantically.

“Easy there, cutie, I don’t wanna accidentally hurt you.” Clarice inhaled sharply when she heard Naruto’s voice whispering into her ear. She stopped her struggling and slowly turned to look at him.

How was he… Was the Youma Hunter actually a pair of twins…?

The hooded blond seemed to know what she was thinking and thus he explained, “I’m a physical copy. A clone. The one distracting that Awakened One is the real one.” then he uncovered her mouth and really looked at her. “You’re scared.”

It wasn’t a question, it was a statement. Her body language was as clear as day. She was terrified.

And just like that, the floodgates had been opened. Clarice frantically reached into the cloak and grabbed Naruto’s forearms. “I… I can’t fight her… there’s no way I can fight her…” she whimpered, the poor woman looked as if she was ready to bolt on out of there as fast as she can.

She would have done so had he not shown up at that exact moment.

“M-Miata… even Galatea… they weren’t able to beat her and they’re so much stronger than I am! How can I alone defeat a former Number 2?!”

“You don’t have to,” the clone replied, reassuringly holding onto Clarice’s hands. “Let the Boss deal with her.” Then, he looked to the tower Miata was pinned on and frowned, “What you can do however is get Miata free.”

“Wha-what?! You can’t be serious! Agatha will kill me the moment I try!”

“You’re stronger than you think,” the clone told Clarice with so much belief it legitimately took her off guard. “You’re still a warrior, and while you might not be as strong as the others, you’re way stronger and faster than normal humans, that’s for damn sure. Besides, I’m not telling you to fight Agatha - I’m telling you to cut Miata free.”

Clarice took a deep, calming breath, reigning in her emotions as best she could. “R-right… sorry.” She looked up at her ‘daughter’ and frowned. She knew Miata needed help. It wasn’t going to be easy, but it was her duty, both as her caretaker and… as her mama.

“You have nothing to apologise for.” the clone looked between the brunette and the tower, “If you want, I can go with you? As a clone, I’m more expendable, and I know the Boss isn’t going to underestimate her.”

He learned his lesson from Rigardo the Silver-Eyed Lion King. This time the Boss made a few clones to gather Sage Chakra for him to use in case things go sideways. The other 17 are coming in as reinforcements and thanks to them not using their yoki for the past 7 years, they were practically invisible to any sensors.

As for Elda, Riful, and Luciela they were staying well away from Rabona. Being Awakened Beings, Creatures of the Abyss in the cases of Riful and Luciela, Naruto was worried they wouldn’t be able to help themselves when being surrounded by hundreds of potential meals. So, a few clones brought them to a nearby bandit camp to keep the women occupied.

“That… would be preferable.” Yes, for her that would be very, very nice. Clarice wasn’t all that confident in her own abilities being pitted against Agatha. But if she had the clone with her then… yeah… she can most certainly try. Steeling herself, Clarice prepared to do just that as she gave the clone a nod. “Alright,” she said, “let’s go!”

The clone nodded back and gave his reply. “Lead the way, cutie,” he urged, gesturing for Clarice to take the lead. As he followed the brunette, the clone added, “Also, there’s another clone that’s going to check on Galatea. So we’re going to have to be very careful when we’re freeing Miata.”

“G-Got it,” Clarice replied with a shaky nod.

Meanwhile, with the clone in question, he was sneaking his way to the pinned, one-armed woman herself via-la-wall walking. He was putting his sneaking skills to good use while he was at it. Then he started checking over Galatea herself when he got to her. One tentacle pinning her shoulder, pinning her upper and lower arms, one on her abdomen, two on her thighs and a final one on her knee.

Luckily, Galatea was still alive as she slowly opened her eyes upon feeling his presence.

“You’ve blinded yourself, huh,” the clone said, and he would have chuckled at the surprised look she sent him.

“You’re... really here?” The woman asked, genuinely surprised at hearing the distinctly familiar voice. The pitch of his voice was… different from what she remembers, but she still recognised him. “I thought you perished in Alphonse?”

“Obviously not,” he joked, “There are other survivors. 15 of them in fact. Eva and Lucia, the former Numbers 7 and 12, are alive too. All 17 of them are lying in wait.”

“Really?” Galatea furrowed her pale blonde eyebrows, “I can’t sense them.”

“Seven years of suppressing their yoki makes it very difficult for sensors to locate them.” the clone told her in reassurance, “They’re practically invisible, now. But they’re here.”

“Then… what are you waiting for?” Why isn’t he doing something right now?

The clone looked to the tower where Miata was, “Waiting for the pretty colorhead to get to that little girl and cut her loose.” he answered, before looking back to the blind woman, “That way, I can cut you free at the same time. Luckily, the Boss is distracting that other brunette pinning you down. She won’t realize what’s happening until it’s too late.”

“I see… you’re, ack…” Galatea tightly closed her eyes and took a deep breath to try and ease the pain flaring all over her body, “you’re using Agatha’s distraction to your advantage- wait… ‘Boss’?” she questioned him, upon having that word finally register in her head.

“Oh, right, you don’t know. I’m a clone. A physical copy of the original Naruto. Just trust in me and the Boss and we’ll get you out of this in no time.” the clone carefully placed his hand on Galatea’s shoulder and squeezed it reassuringly, “We’ll get your arm regrown and your other injuries healed. Just keep quiet for a bit and let the Boss work his magic, okay?”

Galatea exhaled and slowly nodded with acceptance, “Alright.” she replied; just, keep quiet, huh? Yeah. She can do that. Not that she can do much else.

Clarice, meanwhile, jumped from wall to wall up to Miata with the clone running up along it. Her heart broke at the desperation in the Number 4’s eyes when said girl saw her.

“Mama!” Miata cried out, reaching out to Clarice with her broken, but regenerating hand. The girl’s tears were mixing with the rain. “It hurts so much! Please, help me, mama!”

“SHIT!” The clone quickly wrapped an arm around Clarice, and pulled a startled cry out of the brunette when he dashed forward. He quickly pulled out one of his trench knives and sliced the tendrils pinning Miata down apart, then went to grab Miata and hopped off the tower with both passengers. Not a moment later, the tower was assaulted with even more tendrils curtsy of Agatha.

The woman heard Miata crying out and tried to silence the little girl.

At the same time, the clone who was with Galatea quickly cut her loose and leapt away with the one-armed woman in his arms before the Awakened One could try and kill her. Just in time too, as more tendrils were sent her way, piercing and shattering the brick wall she was once pinned to.

“Oh?” Agatha didn't look too alarmed upon seeing Galatea and Miata being taken away. She looked more amused than anything, “You used a distraction to get them out of danger? A fair attempt, but ultimately useless.”

“Maybe so,” The original replied, then he brought his fist into his palm, “I’ll give you one chance here, pretty lady: leave this city, or else,” he told her firmly, and clearly.

Agatha giggled at that. She was thoroughly amused by him. “I must say, I like a man with a good pair of balls on him,” she cooed. “It would be such a shame to end a man like you, so how about this: you evade my tentacles for an hour and I will not only leave but give you a good time before I do.”

Further back a shadow clone who had been gathering Sage Chakra dispelled himself. The real Naruto remained completely still as he evenly mixed the nature chakra with his own. Once the pigmentation was around his eyes, the hooded blond allowed himself to move again.

“I have a much better idea,” he countered, walking to the edge of the rooftop he was standing on… before leaning down and grabbing onto the crab-like leg that was embedded onto the building, and surprised Agatha immensely by disconnecting the other crab-like legs though lifting her entire platform up into the air spun around and tossed her clear out of the city limits.

“WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!” Agatha’s screams as she sailed through the air, away from the Holy City of Rabona was a sight to behold.

Naruto allowed the Sage Chakra in his body be reclaimed by nature before making a single shadow clone. The hooded blond turned to look at him, “You know what to do.”

The clone wordlessly nodded and followed after Agatha. As the clone leapt off after the former Number 2, who was still sailing through the air and is way past the city walls, the original went to check on Miata, Clarice, and Galatea who have converged together. The other 17 are probably coming out of the metaphorical woodworks to join up as well, now that Agatha is no longer a problem.

“How are they?” Naruto asked once he got up to them. Miata and Clarice were hugging each other, and both were crying. The former had the tentacles yanked out of her. Galatea looked worse for wear, with her missing arm and holes in her body and was sitting on the ground with an arm around the clone that was beside her.

“Galatea’s messed up, but she’ll live.” the clone beside the woman in question answered.

As for the clone beside Miata and Clarice, he ruffled the little girl’s head and said, “The pretty brunette and Miata are fine. Though the little one is still regenerating her hands. She’s taken quite a beating but is still moving.”

“Really, now?” the original looked at Miata with a smile, “She’s pretty strong for a little kid,”

“Wha… what happened to the former Number 2?” Clarice shakenly asked.

“Threw her naked ass out of the city… literally at that.” The original replied, “the others should be here any minute now.”

“O-others?” Clarice asked, looking up at Naruto with both confusion and curiosity. There were others?

“I lied when I said there were no other survivors from Pieta,” Naruto admitted, much to Clarice’s shock, “In truth, there’s well over 10 of them. There are some good healers. They’ll fix you right up.”

“O-okay,” The brunette replied with uncertainty. She could understand where he was coming from since the survivors didn't rejoin the ranks of the Organization they would have been hunted down… like Galatea. Yeah, she definitely understood.

“Over 10?” Galatea let out a pained chuckle at that, “Well, Phantom Miria was well known for having contingencies and planning ahead. I suppose she had a plan to get as many people through that suicide mission, then?”

“You supposed correct,” Naruto confirmed, “Though they had some help. My mentor was there and while I did cripple Isley of the North’s second in command, he was the one that dealt the killing blow. He hasn’t been seen since.”

“How many of them are there in total?”

“Why don’t you look for yourself?” Miria announced, prompting Galatea, Miata, and Clarice to look in the direction they heard her. There, standing upon the rooftops were no less than 17 warriors, dressed in black with brown, hooded cloaks.

“Seventeen… out of the 24 claymore’s that took part in the Northern War, there’s 17 remaining.” Clarice said with wide eyes.

“...They’re strong.” Miata muttered, causing Clarice to look between the large group of women above them and the little girl in her arms.

“Actually, there are 15 survivors of the so-called ‘Northern Campaign’,” Naruto, the original one, corrected Clarice, “the other two are Eva and Lucia - the ones who were said to have been killed prior to that.” Then he looked towards the girls and called out, “Cynthia! Think you can come down here and heal Galatea and the little girl? They could use some first aid here!”

“On it!” The woman hopped on down and scampered up towards him without a second thought, before checking the girls out. Yeah, she could definitely pull this off! “I’ll have them patched right up in no time!”

“Good,” Naruto beckoned the other women to come on down and they did so. “I’m going to check if anyone else is hurt. That Awakened One’s done a lot of damage, here.”

“That won’t be necessary.” Everyone turned to look at the man who addressed them to see Sid and Galk approaching them. Walking behind them were a couple of guards that aren’t injured, and despite Sid and Galk approaching them calmly, they were more cautious and wary-looking towards the newcomers.

Sid was the one who talked, “We lost quite a few good men to that thing and many more are injured, but they have a good chance at living with the right care.”

“Sid, Galk,” Clare said, lowering her hood as she looking at them with recognition.

In response Sid smirked at her, he was obviously happy to see the woman who saved his life is alive and well, and Galk merely gave the woman a respectful nod and a smile of his own.

“Well, I’ll be damned! You’re still alive. And you haven’t changed at all. You look as you did 7 years ago!”

“It’s good to see you again, as well, Sid. Despite the circumstances.” Clare said, returning their smile with one of her own albeit smaller.

“Naruto, how far is she?” Miria asked.

Naruto didn't say anything for a moment. “She’s too far for me to locate, I’ll have to go into Sage Mode again if I want to find her. Do you want me to?”

“Please do,” the woman replied with a nod.

“Alright. Gimme a moment.” Naruto went completely still to the point he seemed like a statue. It honestly surprised the guards at how he went from looking alive to looking like he’s dead. After a moment though, Naruto started moving again, “...The Awakened One is several miles to the West and is still going. My clone is still in pursuit.”

And that is also in the direction of Elda, Riful, and Luciela.

“After seeing that, I still find it hard to believe you lost to The Silver Eyed Lion King,” Helen muttered.

“Underestimation is what makes people lose a fight, Helen.” Naruto reminded her. Then he looked towards the sky, “Oh, it stopped raining. Huh. Good timing I think.” Naruto blinked and looked to Clarice, “So, what are you doing here anyway…?”

“Ah… well… I…” Clarice swallowed the lump that formed in her throat at being put on the spot like that. She looked like a deer caught in the headlights.

“She’s here to kill me,” Galatea calmly answered. She sounded completely at peace with herself.

“What? Seriously?” Helen cried out in astonished disbelief. Everyone who wasn’t in the know was looking at Clarice, and the girl in her arms in turn, with some measure of surprise and bewilderment. “She’s a colour head! There’s no way!”

“Just because she’s a ‘colour head’ doesn’t mean she’s weak,” Naruto told the woman. But then he looked to Clarice with the corners of his lips twitching downwards, “What are you going to do?” The clones that got them to safety dispelled themselves by this point.

“If she wants to take my head, then let her,” Galatea said.

“What?!” Helen voiced her surprise at that.

But the blind woman merely smiled and looked to Clarice as she said, “I’m really sorry about before. Dragging you and the little girl into this mess. But now that I’ve done everything that I had set up to do to save this city, my life is now in your hands. Take my head if you wish.”

Clarice trembled, conflicted beyond words. On one hand, this was her job, her duty. But on the other… There was a loud crash as the brunette’s fist met with the remains of a stone wall. The damage she did was actually quite impressive, despite her being the weakest claymore, the punch she delivered was enough to make a spider crack… and a fist-sized dent on the surface.

“Why would you say that? Why can’t you… why can’t you be a little terrible and make this easy for me, damn it?!” she complained, her tears running freely down her cheeks once more, “Orders from the Organization should be followed. And the one I’m supposed to kill is in front of me… tell me, please, what should I do?” She pleaded for them to guide her. To instruct her. To tell her to do something that should be right.

“Just don’t go back,” Naruto replied bluntly with a shrug. “If you don’t like your orders, then don’t carry them out.”

“Of course, if you don’t kill Galatea and return to the Organization, that’s disobeying the Organization’s orders. That would be seen as treason and both you and her will probably be killed on the spot. If you said you couldn’t find Galatea or that she got away, the Organization would never believe those words. Taking that into consideration, there is only one path for you to take and that’s not to return to the Organization.” Miria added.

“B-but… if we do that we’ll…” Clarice started.

Miria nodded solemnly, “Yes. At that moment you’ll become traitors and they'll come after you. If we stay here, the Organization won’t come after us. When it’s all said and done, this is still the Saint’s capital. It’s widely known this city discriminates us claymores…”

“That’s a temporary solution,” Galatea said, “If the Organization wishes to kill us they’ll have to completely destroy this town.”

“What do you mean by that?” Sid questioned them, legitimately startling everyone since they had forgotten he was there.

Naruto let out a sigh and rubbed the back of his head through his cloak, “To make a long story short: if the Organization finds out your housing deserted claymores they’re not going to take that lying down. It’ll be safer if no one knows they’re here. And since no one else knows that they’re alive,” Naruto gestured to the women behind him.

“I did tell the Elder I had met you in Alphonse,” Clarice pipped in, hoping that would help.

“Then it’ll be easy to pin everything that’s happened here on me.”

“Even still, it’s only a temporary solution.”

“I think so too,” Miria agreed full heartedly with Galatea, “But even if it’s just temporary, we have to stay.”

Galatea furrowed her brow at that. “What?” Why did they all have to stay? What were they- was she planning?

“Everyone in this group is planning on toppling the Organization,” Naruto informed Galatea, Miata, and Clarice. “Miria has a pretty good reason for doing so, and everyone is behind her.”

“What?! But… the Organization is the one stopping the youma from running rampant! If you try and get rid of the Organization, then who’ll stop the youma??” Clarice protested, with a clueless Miata looking between them.

“I have to agree with Clarice,” Sid said, who was remarkably calm despite having heard what he had heard. “If you’re actually planning on stopping the Organization, then who’ll stop the youma?”

“Everyone in our group already knows of this, but, to make another long story short: Miria believes the Organization themselves are making the youma and has been looking for evidence on this.” Naruto then looked to the woman in question, “Since you have the most knowledge on this subject Miria, I’ll let you do the explanation.”

“Very well,” The woman cleared her throat, “As Naruto said before, I’ve been looking for evidence between my missions and I have found a couple of promising sources. One, I found a settlement in the East that is fairly close to the Organization’s headquarters. When they saw me for the first time they were shocked. It was as if they had never seen a claymore before. Another thing I found was something we warriors carry: our claymores.” she gestured to the one Clarice was holding onto still, “Our swords are a little too sturdy for fighting against youma, don’t you think?”

“Hmm…” Galatea frowned thoughtfully at that. “Now that you mention it, our swords are a bit too sturdy for them.”

“A broadsword or a longsword can kill them just as effectively,” Sid said, unknowingly saying a similar sentence to Zelda when she heard Miria’s explanation. Not to mention he saw how easily Claire had killed the youma in the Cathedral 7-years-ago with her very own claymore.

Miria nodded, even though Galatea was unable to see her. “Yes. Our swords are very durable and in all my years as a warrior, not once has my sword gotten damaged or chipped in battle even against Awakened Beings, like the one Naruto had thrown out of Rabona,” it took the sandy-brunette everything to not snort in amusement at that. “Not even the edges have been damaged in the slightest. Even when they’re used as grave markers for the fallen warriors, they never lost their cutting power. I’ve searched this land high and low for the material that was used to create our swords and neither of the ones I’ve found was as strong as the one that made them. The Organization has been making them since the very beginning, during the time of the Lost Generation when there hadn’t been Awakened Beings to worry about. It’s like they were made for fighting them. Or others...”

“Hm? Others?” That’s new… Naruto wasn’t completely sure, but he could’ve sworn those last two words weren’t there before.

“Yes, Naruto, others. I came to the conclusion that our claymores isn’t made on this island. It might not even be made from here.”

“Woah, what! Miria what are you saying? That our swords aren’t made from This World?” Zelda asked in puzzlement.

“Yeah! What the flying hell big sis?!” Helen said, throwing her arms up and down, and knocking her hood down from covering her head. “Are you telling us there’s land beyond This World?!” If that was true then how come she didn't tell them back when Riful and Luciela joined them?!

“Yes. And if you think about it that is also how the Organization handles their intel.” the sandy-brunette replied, “They make us believe that This World consists of only this island. For many, many years, decades even - maybe longer than that, there had been numerous ships that had left port in search of new lands but they would always come back empty handed. That’s how we’ve come to the conclusion that no other lands exist outside of this one on This World.”

“Isolation,” Naruto chimed in, “If the Organization is in control of all the shipyards and what gets in and out… that can easily translate to information. And there aren’t a lot of shipyards around, are there?”

“No.” Miria shook her head. “There aren’t. And the Organization is in control of the biggest one and a small, but heavily armoured navy. That gives them total control over the ocean around the island. However, this island being the only one in This World is not the case. There is an even greater island beyond this one on This World.”

That got Naruto’s, hell, everyone’s attention.

“But those lands… are definitely not in a state of peace. There are never-ending battles going on between different countries and people, all for territorial reasons. About a hundred years ago, the war split into two sides and began the battle for supremacy.” Miria took a deep breath to prepare herself for the bomb she was about to drop on her friends, “On one side can be considered as the Dragon’s Kin. They’re said to have non-human comrades with extremely tough skin and they quickly took control of the battle. The other side quickly tried to invent new weapons to fight against their enemies. Soon after, their research gave birth to a new weapon, and that weapon is… a weapon that allows a human to turn into a monster.”

“Wha…” Sid and Galk were quickly able to connect the dots. The claymores were weapons that allowed humans to turn into monsters. That wasn’t as surprising as they thought it would be.

They already knew they were made with the flesh of youma, and would eventually turn into one if they used yoki too much. But what was surprising was that they were weapons to be used in a war… and from the sounds of it the very island they’re on is used as one huge experiment for their weapons.

The other women were shocked as well; the ones who still had their cloaks on were seen with their mouths partially open. Helen and Clare were both staring at Miria with wide eyes, and had their mouths partially open as well.

“But because these weapons are too powerful they often wiped out their own army. So the research has been left on a small island away from the greater land.” Miria continued.

“You’re kidding! You’re saying that this island is…” Helen trailed off with pure, genuine disbelief and shock on her face.

“That’s right. This island is a laboratory for Awakened Beings.” Miria confirmed.

When Miria dropped that bombshell on everyone it got Naruto thinking. And it got him comparing claymores to… “Jinchuuriki…” the hooded blond muttered aloud, with a lot of disgust and loathing in his voice. Not for the women but for the people that made them the way they are. In this case, the Organization.

“Naruto…?” Flora looked at her boyfriend with concern. She knew what that word meant, what it symbolised… and after what she heard Miria say it wasn’t hard to draw comparisons between them. The others, on the other hand, have never heard of that word before.

“Jinchuri-what-now?” Helen tactlessly asked with an utterly clueless look on her face.

“Jinchuuriki… the ‘Power of Human Sacrifice’. Basically, humans that have the ability to turn into a ‘monster’ or ‘demon’. Best case for a Jinchuuriki is they’re treated as protectors and guardians. The worse case: they have people trying to kill them or to turn them into mindless weapons to use on their enemies.”

“They are used as weapons of war?” Miria asked. It sounded very much like it in her mind.

“Oh, yeah.” Naruto growled out, he was clearly upset though the blond was doing a good job holding it in, “They’re also used as war deterrents. Since one of them is strong enough to flatten an entire mountain and then some. There’s always nine of us too. No more, no less. Though there are some exceptions to the rule.”

Flora hurried to her man’s side, rubbing his back comfortingly.

“...’Us’...? You’re one of them?” One of the hooded women asked, having picked up on that little slip. The hooded blond winced and mentally cursed himself for that.

“...‘Was’ I was one of them.” Naruto made sure to emphasise that one word, lest any of them get any wrong ideas, like ‘why he didn't use any of his awesome power back in Pieta’, “I’m not one anymore. As I said: there are some exceptions to the rule.”

“What kind of exceptions?” Miria asked.

“...In order to become a jinchuuriki, you need to have a Tailed Beast - as they’re known back home - sealed into you.” Naruto started, and leaned against Flora’s touch. “It’s a similar, but very different process to how claymores are made, excluding the whole ‘cutting open and surgically implanting youma flesh inside of you’. Some people have a Tailed Beast put inside of them when they babies, just out of the womb, others wait until they’re around their 7th or 8th cycle before they have one put inside of them. Unfortunately…extracting a Tailed Beast from a Jinchuuriki is deadly and will ultimately kill them. But a former host can live through the extraction if there’s enough energy left inside of them.”

“You’re a former host I take it, then?” Natalie questioned him.

“Yes. And I have the remnant energy of the tailed beast inside of me, locked away tight. It’s usable, but it’s also the only thing that is keeping me alive right now. It’s non-replenishable. Once it’s used up, that it. I’m dead.”

“What… differences are there between a warrior and a Jin-chr-riki?” Miria slowly asked and she was pretty sure that last word was butchered by her.

“Jin-chuu-riki.” Naruto patently corrected, “The differences are this: a Jinchuuriki are not cut open. The Tailed Beasts are alive when they’re put inside of us. We can bring out their energy to use, and very similar to you, the more we bring out the more… ‘monstrous’ we become.” he sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose, with tired exasperation, “The Tailed Beast is working against you pretty much every step of the way. The more power that is brought out the more aggressive the Jinchuuriki becomes right until they go berserk and attack anything in sight, friend or foe. It’s kinda similar to awakening you ladies go through, only we’re able to return to normal. And until you’re able to beat the Tailed Beast in battle for the right to use their energy, if you go full on Tailed Beast they’ll try and break free. Which ends up in the death of the Jinchuuriki.”

“Just curious… were you ever trained to hone this power?” a deeply curious Galatea asked.

“At first… no. I didn't even know I was one until I was 13-years-old. It was kept secret from me. I didn't even know how to draw upon it or anything until my very first mission. I tried to learn to use my tenant's power during a training trip with my mentor… and it was going well. I remember him loosening the seal that my tailed beast was stuck behind so that I could use more of its power… everything went black after that. I later learned I went utterly berserk when I brought more of its power out and attacked everything in sight. But Jiraiya somehow forced the power back down. I don’t know the details exactly, it was kept very… hush hush. And I didn't question it. I later learned whenever I bring out too much of its power, I go utterly berserk and attacked anyone in sight. Friend or foe.” he let out a bitter chuckle at that and crossed his arms.

“It doesn’t help the power of a Tailed Beast is powered by the emotions of the host. So if you’re pissed off, you can bet your arm the energy will come up in response and make you more aggressive. That first mission I mentioned was also the very first time I tapped into that power.” He explained; Naruto was utterly disturbed by it still; disturbed that whenever he brought out too much of Kurama’s power he lost control of himself.

“Despite that,” Naruto continued, “a Jinchuuriki is still a very valuable military asset. Even one just stepping onto the battlefield can turn the tide of a losing battle. They - we are weapons of war, the deterrents of war. Any nine, is capable of turning this whole city into a hole in the ground. They’re that powerful. And because there’s nine… there is a Number system between us. Similar to how you ladies are ranked.”

“Numbers 1 to 9,” Miria chimed in, frowning with a pondering look to her face. “I take it that Number 1 is the strongest and 9 is the weakest?” That made the most sense to her.

“No. In the case of us Jinchuuriki, a Tailed Beast is ranked with how many tails they have. With the One-Tails 1 being the weakest. The Nine-Tails being the strongest. I… was the 9th one. The host to the strongest.”

“It’s easy to see the comparisons between us.” Jean said; now she understood and quite frankly, it disturbed her there are ‘weapons’ out there that are even more deadly - more refined, than claymores.

“Indeed. To know there are other people like us out there in This World is… disheartening.”

“I’m going to need a moment,” Naruto informed them, and he made a single shadow clone, “I’ll leave him here with you as you keep explaining, Miria. I’ll be nearby.”

“Alright,” Miria was obviously worried for him, as was everyone else. They could tell that bringing up his past was painful for him, yet he did so anyway to clear up any misconceptions that they were sure to have.

When Naruto, the original one, walked off to the side to be by himself, the woman continued with her explanation, “At first, these weapons were dispatched into battle as special soldiers. A group of warriors possessing capabilities that are beyond human. However, these men were only allowed to use their true power if they were to encounter the Dragon’s Kin deep behind enemy lines. That power was what we call the release of yoki, and unlike us women, it’s next to impossible for a man to control. The majority of them went berserk right then and there. An age-old conflict that is beyond human comprehension.”

Everyone was listening to Miria intently once more. Some with interest. Others, with intrigue. Some, with wide eyes.

“Thanks to those Awakeneds’ battle performance, that marked the birth of a new kind of monster, capable of battling the dragons’ descendants on equal terms. Needless to say, those men were unable to return to being human. Since Awakening caused them to lose their minds, they couldn’t continue being soldiers anymore. In fact, they didn't even have the option to return to their army, they were to continue fighting the dragons until their last breath. Obviously, had they made it back, it would have been terrible for that military since the Awakened were weapons designed to destroy.”

“Like how most Jinchuuriki are used… pricks.” the clone of Naruto muttered under his breath.

And many of the women among the group looked utterly distraught, and or utterly pissed off at that. Since they meant they too are experiments of the Organization - one’s they wanted to control. Now they wanted to wipe them out even more!

“And that isn’t to say that this wasn’t without risks.” Miria continued after her words settled in, “For example, the soldiers could potentially awaken prematurely, or they might return wounded from battle and turn on their own troops. That is why research was needed, the Organization continued the research here to discover a way to produce Awakened soldiers that can remain under their control.”

“Experiments… to remain under control?” Cynthia muttered aloud with an inquisitive, but equally disturbed look on her face. Many of the other women - who had taken off their hoods by now - were looking the same. That sounded very familiar, but for the life of them, neither of them seemed to remember why. Not even the clone of Naruto seemed to know why that was familiar.

“Why does that sound familiar…?” Queenie muttered to herself. It was gnawing at her. It was even on the tip of her tongue! But she just can’t remember where she heard it!

Galatea, on the other hand, knew what Miria was talking about, and she stood up with a grunt, “Alicia and Beth… they fully Awakened and reverted back to human form.”

That was it!

“We’ve heard of them.” Naruto’s clone said, “And that’s where that sounded familiar.”

“Yes, but they were twins, which means this only works in a very special case.” Miria said as she crossed her arms with a sigh, “And should the enemy learn that only one of them is required to Awaken, that would be an easy weakness to exploit. Certainly, this was a big step in their research but they are still far from developing a complete deployable soldier.”

The other women already knew of Alicia and Beth thanks to Riful informing them and weren’t as surprised as they should have been.

Galatea furrowed her brow in surprise. “You’re very well informed, how ever did you manage to acquire such information on your own?” she asked the former Number 6; dare she say it this legitimately made her curious.

“I wasn’t alone. I had help.”

At that, quite a few people looked at Naruto’s clone. He blinked in bewilderment under his hood at seeing quite a few eyes on him and he said, “Hey, don’t look at me! The Boss had nothing to do with that. He never even knew Miria at that point.”

The woman in question chuckled at that. “He’s right. Naruto had nothing to do with it. I can’t tell you the specifics, but I can assure you that my information is true. I compared everything to what I discovered myself and I found no inconsistencies. And now, you all know everything that I’ve found out up until now.”

And with that the clone Naruto made dispelled himself, prompting the Original to perk up when he received the memories, and make his way back to them before coming to a stop beside Flora, Miata, and Clarice.

The most latter looked incredibly nervous and emotional again, and it made Naruto frown with concern. “Hey, what’s the matter?” he asked getting Clarice’s attention.

“I-I-I think I just heard something I shouldn’t! I don’t know what I should do…” the brunette answered with a shaking lip. The poor thing was shaking so bad it looked like she was about to cry again.

Miata innocently held Clarice’s hand in an attempt to comfort her. It worked, to a degree.

“Is there really anything that a blind person like myself can do?” Galatea asked after a moment of contemplation. After everything she’s heard, the woman was pretty much willing to throw her lot with Miria’s group. But she wasn’t sure how useful she would be when it came to actually helping.

“I want you to look after the brunette and the child for us. It’s doubtful that the Organization will take action against them right away, but on the off chance that they do, I want you to use your superior sense of yoki to deal with whatever comes.” Miria politely instructed, and went on to add her reasoning, “No matter how much the times may change, I don’t think there are many who ever reach the level of senses that you have. You should have the upper hand regardless of the situation.”

Galatea chuckled as she closed her eyes, “I certainly hope so. Well, I’ll take it as a compliment.”

Miria smiled at that before letting out a tired sigh, “And now, comes the hard part… Let’s go negotiate with the city.”

“Galk and I will vouch for you,” Sid said with a smile. “It’s the least we can do for getting that thing out of here.” beside him the scarred man nodded in wholehearted agreement. It was the least they could do for saving the Holy City. And what they just learned won’t change how they see these women.

That...was relieving to hear, actually.
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