The Next Ace of Aces

Chapter 10

Well things did look a little down at the end of the last chapter, so this one will be the first of the many pickups to recovery. It is a little short, but it got things across. Hope you all enjoy and you know who own who!

Chapter 10

After the fallout of the failed mission to retrieve Sasuke, Tsunade immediately had to go on damage control over the next few days. As such, she assigned Gai and the newly healed Lee to join up with Shino, Kiba, and Kakashi to do an intermediate team. When questioned about Sasuke, Sakura, and Neji being missing, she had to keep the information confidential, as to not cause too many problems. Her next problem came from the information she got about Hinata and her planned exile from her clan. Hiashi was right in his assessment that the clan elders would blame Hinata for Neji's betrayal. Needless to say the elders were more than ready to demand Hinata's execution however using the clan law and loophole, Hinata was able to gain her freedom from the clan. She did understand the difficulty ahead as contact with her father and sister would be very limited but Hiashi was going to make sure she was taken care of. When she told Tenten the plan, her best friend gladly opened her home to the exiled Hyuuga. The only problems came from other Hyuuga who didn't believe exile was good enough and would ask Tsunade to formally excommunicate Hinata from the ranks of Konoha Shinobi. Though if it ever came to that, Hinata would simply lose her title as a shinobi in the eyes of those against her, just as a way to please those people, but she would still keep her TSAB rank and shinobi rank to those who knew the truth of the matter.

Finally there were two remaining problems Tsunade was stuck dealing with. The first concerned Naruto. After the night in the hospital, he was able to return home and had been put on reserve for a few days to recover. The problem came from the fact that his entire personality completely changed. It was shocking to Tsunade when she checked on him, that he answered her with utmost respect and never called her anything but her title of 'Lady Hokage'. He even changed his clothes to a simple black shirt and dark pants, not even wearing an ounce of orange. Even his eyes lost the bright blue luster he had every single day. But what hit the nail on the head was the fact that when Tenten took him to Ichiraku's, he ordered just one bowl of ramen…and didn't even finish it! Sakura set out to do exactly what she wanted…she broke Naruto's heart and utterly crushed his spirit. Needless to say, things were very quiet at his and Tenten's apartment, and it made things very uneasy.

Then there was the issue with Bardiche and Mach Caliber. Due to the massive amounts of damage taken, the two Devices needed to undergo serious repairs. However no one knew just what could be done to repair the two devices. She spent a good hour trying to use Klarwind to do the repairs, but it was no use. She even asked Kyu what could possibly be done to restore the devices.

"I'm sorry Lady Tsunade, but I really don't know what else to do." Kyu apologized as she ended an interface with the two damaged devices. "For now both are in a stasis lock mode to slow down the eventual termination process, but I really have no clue how long it will be."

"You did your best Kyu." Tsunade sighed in defeat once again. "I wish there was something that could be done. We should think things over and then see what can be done."

"Ok. Did you need me for anything else?" asked the small Device.

"Actually yes. I've decided to do something for you." She took a small scroll from her desk and gave it to Kyu. "Since I had time to thoroughly evaluate your abilities and the fact that you can physically function in combat on your own without Naruto, I've decided to give you an official rank."

Kyu opened the scroll and read over it, "I've been assigned Corporal rank?"

"Actually I wanted to rank you much higher. You really should be Lieutenant rank due to your S+ to SS mage ranking. But since you're still adjusting as a Unison Device, and the fact that Naruto would never live it down, I lowered your rank for the time being." Tsunade explained. "You really pushed yourself keeping Naruto alive last mission. I honestly believe that without you healing him, not even his Uzumaki blood would have helped him survive a direct Chidori like that."

"Well um, thanks I guess." Kyu slowly rubbed her head. "Lady Tsunade, I know this sounds like a long shot, and if this happens it may mean that one of my brethren will have to be destroyed, but what if we used the DCS system on Bardiche and Mach Caliber?"

Tsunade remembered some about the DCS and how it created Kyu, and that it was to be used to convert the Lost Logia Bijuu into reprogrammed Unison Devices. "Are you sure? Don't you only have nine uses left?"

"It does, but it just means we have to be really careful about what we do afterwards. We may be losing our only cushion of error, but it's the only technology we have that may do the job." Kyu explained, knowing what will happen if things work.

"Very well. I'll call the team in and we'll see what happens." Tsunade immediately sent a memo to have Hinata, Tenten, Naruto, and Hanabi brought in. Within the hour the group assembled.

"How's your back Hina-chan?" Hanabi asked. It had only been a few days since Hinata left the compound in exile and Hanabi already missed her.

"I'm healing OK. I should be fine in about three days." Hinata replied with a soft smile.

"I'm glad to hear that. But we have more pressing matters." Tsunade laid the two damaged devices out. "I'm sorry to say that I have no way of doing any repairs on these two. Nothing Klarwind and I tried worked."

"So, what can we do? Bardiche doesn't deserve to die." Tenten hoped there was still an option to save Bardiche.

"There is one option. The DCS system." Kyu brought the idea to the table. "It's possible we can upgrade them to Unison Devices, but I can't guarantee it will work."

"Don't we only have one free use of the system? What about the other Lost Logia Bijuu?" Tenten asked.

"I thought about that. And …we'll just have to destroy one of the Bijuu when the time comes. I know that I'd want us to try and save it like me, but we have no other choice. Bardiche didn't deserve the cruelty he went through and Mach Caliber gave everything she had for Hinata." Kyu sighed at the fact that such a decision had to be made for the team.

"Well, if it's our only option…" Tenten looked around at everyone else. "Are you guys up to it?"

Everyone nodded in agreement and even Naruto gave a subtle nod. Tenten took out a small gem from her storage seal. "Alright. Cross Mirage, activate the DCS in portable mode."

"Yes my Mistress." Cross Mirage transmitted the codes which activated the device. A small handheld control panel, large power box, and a hand laser appeared. Kyu went over and started up the programs for the machine.

"Ok Tenten, it's set to scan mode now. Go ahead and scan Bardiche and Mach Caliber." Kyu kept an eye on the screen as Tenten did the scan. Information began to appear, however a problem soon came up. "Ok this isn't good."

"What is it?" Hinata hoped things weren't too bad.

"It's the DCS. It's rejecting Mach Caliber for upgrade. Apparently she doesn't have a proper upgrade code unlike Bardiche." Kyu replied. "But we have no clue where to find an upgrade code."

"Can you copy Bardiche's code?" Tsunade asked.

"Maybe." Kyu went to work trying to copy the code over but it was no luck. "It won't work. Bardiche's code was set to only work with three other Devices if needed."

"Which ones?" Tenten was trying to follow along as well.

"It says his code was designed only to work with the Lightning Team. The only ones that could get his code are Laevatein, Strada, and Kerykeion." Kyu explained. "Mach Caliber is from the Stars Team. But who has the upgrade code for the Stars Team?"

"Why me of course." Raising Heart flashed from around Hinata's neck.

Everyone looked stunned at Raising Heart's words. "Wait, why do you have an upgrade code?" Kyu wanted to know just why she and Bardiche had codes.

"Well you see, during the Great Mage War, Bardiche and I were outfitted to be the first test devices for the DCS. It was going to allow us to give Nanoha and Fate more power if they needed it and the ability to control and sync with a second device at the same time." Raising Heart explained as Hinata took her from around her neck. "However it was never enacted due to Fate and Nanoha's deaths in the war. Plus, there's another reason I can give her my code. I am codename Stars 1 after all."

"Raising Heart, are you sure you want to do this? What if we find a way to upgrade you to a Unison Device?" asked Hinata of her new Device.

"I am fine Hinata. I don't need to upgrade to help you." Raising Heart replied confidently. "Please let me give Mach Caliber the upgrade code."

Hinata could feel her Device's intention and placed Raising Heart beside Mach Caliber. The spherical device began to glow bright red as the proper codes were transferred. "It is finished. Mach Caliber can now be upgraded."

"Ok here goes." The screen now changed to give Mach Caliber approval for upgrade. Kyu pressed some buttons on the console and the hand device began to charge up. "Alright Tenten, just hold the hand unit steady. The DCS will do the rest."

"If you say so." Tenten and everyone else watched as a purple ripple beam began to flow over the two damaged devices. Everyone looked on as the devices changed from small trinkets to a blue and yellow mass of energy respectively. The energy slowly began to take form into two human shaped devices. The yellow energy mass formed a male looking figure, now dressed in a black uniform with a white cloak around his neck. He had a metal gauntlet on his left hand with a yellow triangle on top. His blonde hair now flowed and was tied into a pony tail with a black hair tie. The blue mass formed a small female, with short blue hair that was dressed in Hinata's Exceed Form Barrier Jacket. As the energy dissipated, the DCS began to shut down.

"Device conversion complete. Seven conversions remain." The DCS then shut off and went back into standby mode.

Tenten and Hinata looked on at the new upgraded forms of the two devices. "Mach Caliber, how do you feel?" Hinata hoped her partner was ok.

Mach Caliber opened her eyes and surprised everyone. Her eyes were exactly like Hinata's, pale lavender with no iris. "Hinata? What happened to me?" Hinata picked her up and let her sit in her palm. "All I remember is shorting out and hearing a command system override."

"Well, you took a lot of damage helping me defend against Sasuke, Sakura, and Neji's attack." Hinata explained carefully. "Unfortunately there was no way to repair your damage so we had to use the DCS System on you. But there was another problem. You weren't equipped with the proper upgrade codes."

"So I just gave them to you. How are you Mach Caliber?" Raising Heart lit up as she and her former subordinate device finally conversed.

"No way! Miss Raising Heart? You're online?" Mach Caliber looked into Hinata's other hand and saw the online device. "Who activated you?"

"It was you and Hinata. I felt your struggle to save those close to you and initiated the command override." Raising Heart replied, putting a smile on Mach Caliber's face.

As for Bardiche, he was trying to get a look at his surroundings when he felt himself placed in someone's hands. "So Bardiche, do you feel better now?" Tenten smiled knowing he was now ok.

"Yes. I thank you for your support Lady Tenten." Bardiche nodded respectfully. "I am indebted to you for your assistance. You only need ask and I will follow your orders. You may use me as you see fit."

Tenten rubbed his head and laughed, "It doesn't work like that silly. You aren't my tool or my weapon, and you don't serve me. You are my partner and my friend." She straightened his cloak and let him stand. "Plus you are kinda cute."

"Isn't he! Oh Bardiche! Did you miss me?" Raising Heart called out like she was a school girl.

Bardiche slowly froze before realizing who was calling him. Next thing everyone knew, he was blushing. "Oh…hi Raising Heart. It's good to see you again." Bardiche had to swallow a lump in his throat and pulled his collar loose.

Tenten knew exactly what this was, "Looks like someone has a crush!" She whispered in Bardiche's ear. "Make sure you're nice to her OK."

"Uh…well, um…you see…" Bardiche was stuttering badly…worse than Hinata ever did.

"Bardiche will be fine. He's a perfect gentleman." Raising Heart chimed in. "You'll really like working with him."

"Hey I just noticed something. Look at Mach Caliber. Doesn't she look just like a mini version of Hinata…except for the hair?" Hanabi stared carefully at the new Unison Device's new features. "She even has our eyes."

"It's a side effect of the DCS. The same thing happened to me." Kyu didn't know that Hanabi wasn't informed of the full effect of the DCS. "When I was extracted from Naruto, the DCS used the last of his mother's chakra and memories, and created me from that image. That's why I look exactly like Lady Kushina. As for Mach Caliber, my guess is the DCS used the memories of her former master and some of her memories of Hinata to create her new form."

"So…I look like Subaru, but with Hinata's eyes?" Mach Caliber had a chance to look at herself thanks to a hand mirror on Tsunade's desk.

"I think you look cute. You know Hinata, you should do something like that with your hair. That way you two can match." Tenten giggled while touching a strand of Hinata's hair.

"I l-l-like my hair like this." Hinata slightly blushed as she brushed off Tenten's hand.

"As for Bardiche, even though Tenten created a link with him, he most likely didn't have enough time to really create memories of her, so only his memories of Fate were used." Kyu continued her explanation.

"Well it doesn't matter. Bardiche looks wonderful and he's in good hands now." Tenten moved Bardiche over and let him sit on her shoulder.

"Ok, now that all that's over, we need to get back to business." Tsunade got the group back into focus about the coming plans. "Right now we have a major problem with Sasuke, Sakura, and Neji going rogue. That only adds on to the complication of trying to reinstate the TSAB, plus trying to locate the extra bunkers of Mid-Childan technology, and to cap it off, trying to find the remaining Lost Logia Bijuu."

"Well, concerning the Bijuu isn't that kid Gaara a container?" asked Tenten. "You know the one from Suna?"

"You're right; He does have one of the Bijuu. Alright, I'll plan a mission for you to go to Suna and speak with him. Apparently from what I heard Naruto has the best relationship with him due to his previous Jinchuuriki status." Tsunade looked over and saw Naruto as quiet as ever. "Naruto, wake up!"

"Forgive me Lady Hokage." Naruto's voice was lifeless and dull. "I'll be more attentive."

Tsunade shook her head in defeat. She couldn't stand dealing with Naruto like this. "Naruto, I'm not trying to be mean to you, but quit acting like a damn downer! Ugh, you're making all of us sick with that depressed act." She walked over to him and shook him a bit. "Listen we all have down days and yes we all get broken hearted. But you have to learn to move on. Besides, from what I heard, Sakura wasn't worth your time anyway. What did you even see in her anyway?"

"Whatever." He turned his head and sulked once again.

"Seriously Naruto, you are way too good for Sakura. She never loved you in the first place." Tenten added in. "Can you honestly remember one time she treated you like a person and was nice to you?"

"Well…" He tried to slowly think of a time, but nothing came to mind. "There was…wait…"

"Naruto, there wasn't a time. She's never liked you. She only thought you were good for making Sasuke look like he was better than sliced bread." Tenten commented back. "Lady Tsunade's right. Move on from her. She was holding you back."

"Whatever." Naruto didn't care. To him, nothing mattered right now. Everyone knew they couldn't force him to get over it and he had to do so on his own time. So Tsunade changed the subject and got back to the task at hand.

"That aside, the best thing to do now is to set you three up to head to Suna. I'd send you Hanabi, but right now with the way your clan is, they may get suspicious putting you on a mission with your recently 'exiled' sister." Tsunade knew things weren't going to be easy. "So I'm going to keep you here for now. Also Kyu, I'm going to need you to scan Bardiche and Mach Caliber for any potential new upgrades and catalog them for me. I got this to help you." She showed a small computer on the table beside her desk. "I had this brought from the intelligence division. If you could also upload the data from the bunker you got, that will help."

"Of course Lady Tsunade." Tsunade turned the computer on and Kyu began to interface with it. Being ages below the technology that was used in the Mid-Childan era, it was just enough to store and catalog information. There was even a map of the elemental lands to use in trying to locate the bunkers. Kyu uploaded all of the information she had so far, and gave everyone a shocking revelation after her information was paired with a map of the Elemental Lands.

"What are those blinking lights on the map?" asked Hinata.

"These are bunker locations that I took from the console where I was created. The flashing ones are bunkers that are still closed off, while this one here in green is the one we accessed." Kyu said as she explained the markers.

"So, this one would be closest to us in Fire Country." Hinata pointed to one specific light.

"Not Fire Country…that bunker is hidden here in Konoha!" Tsunade realized the location. "But why is there a bunker here?"

"It's because Kyu's information was based before Konoha was found. Probably after 10,000 years the bunker ended up buried so no one knew it was here." Tenten commented. "Now we just gotta find out where to look."

"Kyu, zoom in on the map please." Tsunade asked. Kyu followed and zoomed in, giving more detail around the blinking location. "There, the bunker is somewhere on the east side of town, near Training Ground 44."

"It's in the Forest of Death? Ugh! Just what we needed." Tenten sighed in grief. "The first time in that stupid forest was bad enough!"

"Well it's all we have to go with. Kyu, can you get coordinates for the bunker?" asked Tsunade.

"Not exact ones, but I can try to pinpoint it as close as I can." Kyu zoomed in more and tried to get an approximate location. "Does this work?"

The screen zoomed in to show the lower right corner of the forest, "That's near gate 18. Alright, let's get over there and check things out. You three go first and Hanabi and I will join you a few minutes later. This will ease suspicion and if any Hyuuga question it, I can tell them she's on business with the Hokage." Tsunade was already on her way to the door when she looked back at the rest of the kids, "Well, come on. We don't have all day you know."

Everyone quickly followed behind and made their way over to the Forest of Death and Gate 18 following Tsunade's plan. There were no problems with Naruto, Hinata, and Tenten, but as Tsunade and Hanabi were leaving, Hanabi's escort guard questioned where she was going. Tsunade explained that she was on business with the Hokage, and the guard tried to come with, but Tsunade stated that he will not be needed as Hanabi was under better protection with her and that if there were problems, then he should have Hiashi speak with her. The two got to the forest and met up with the other three. The forest still looked ominous and fearful just like the last time.

"Is it supposed to be this creepy?" Hanabi was rubbing her arms from the chills she was getting.

"No the worst is inside. Come on let's just get in there and get out." Tenten went over and opened the gate. "I'm still creeped out myself. The stuff I saw in there a few months ago…ugh!"

"Hinata, can you give us a scan to see if you notice anything different. Naruto, please have Kerykeion do the same." Tsunade wanted to get as much information as provided. "Hanabi use your Byakugan as well to help Hinata."

Naruto just nodded and set Kerykeion into scan mode while Hinata and Hanabi immediately scanned the area. "I can't see anything Lady Tsunade." Hinata kept up her scan of the area. "It might still be shielded like the last bunker."

"Nothing." Naruto kept it short and sweet.

"Ok then we'll need to spread out and…" Tsunade was soon interrupted with a good idea.

"Lady Tsunade, I may be able to find the bunker here. For some reason, my personal scanner is picking up traces of mana." Raising Heart said.

"Alright then, we follow Raising Heart." Tsunade commanded. "If you will lead the way please?"

For about 20 minutes Hinata and Raising Heart took point through the foliage. They soon came to a stop when Raising Heart said she was picking up more traces of mana and it was stronger than before. "The mana signature is stronger here."

"There's nothing here. Shouldn't there be something to resemble a bunker entrance?" Tenten continued to look around the area. "Hinata are you sure you and Hanabi don't see anything? Isn't the Byakugan supposed to give you 360 degree sight?"

"That's a misconception of the Byakugan. Our sight isn't spherical as people may think, but it spreads in a dome shape." Hanabi replied as she released her Byakugan. "Trying to look through solid ground is even more difficult due to the density of the soil."

"Hmm," Tsunade ran through some ideas until she came to a conclusion. "Well then if we can't look through the ground, we might as well just dig through it." She took a short breath then slammed her foot into the ground. With her precise control of chakra, she blew a large chunk of the ground out of the way. "Well what do you know, we've hit buried treasure."

Everyone looked down in the crater formed to see a large steel door covered by leftover debris. They went down and removed what leftover debris there was to fully uncover the door. "So how do we get in?" asked Tenten.

"How did you get into the first bunker?" Tsunade questioned back.

"That was it, I'm not sure. Naruto found the entrance tunnel and when we got to the door, it opened for us. Though it said something about a 'Stars 3' and 'Stars 4'" Tenten remembered hearing that from the other bunker but she wasn't sure what it was.

"That means we're needed to get in." Raising Heart answered. "See if there's a console or a scanner nearby."

"Why would you be needed to get in Raising Heart?" asked Hinata.

"Stars 3 and Stars 4 are the codenames for Mach Caliber, Cross Mirage, and their partners when they were in Riot Force 6. Bardiche was Lightning 1, and Kerykeion was Lightning 4. The doors should be programmed to respond to one of us in the area." Raising Heart explained. Just as she finished, the large door slowly opened. "See. Looks like there was a hidden scanner verifying our identities."

"Then let's go." Tsunade entered the bunker first with the others following behind. After walking through a corridor, there was another security door that opened due to their devices. Inside looked to be another lab with more strange equipment and a large computer console. There was also a large cylinder that had a control panel that seemed to still be online after 10,000 years. "Ok, start looking around for anything that may give us information. Any computer consoles, databanks, whatever. Bardiche, if you and Mach Caliber are able, please help Kyu compile as much information as you can. Also try to locate any type of equipment that could be used to repair Devices as well."

The other two devices nodded and went off with their new masters to look around. After a few minutes it seemed that there was nothing of use that was still functional. Tsunade was with Kyu trying to see if the console was up and running.

"Any luck? This looks like it would have some kind of information." Tsunade watched as Kyu was pressing all kinds of buttons.

"None. I tried to interface with the system, but I got no response. Even trying to start the system manually isn't working." Kyu sighed in defeat. "I'll keep trying though."

While she kept trying to access the main console, Hinata was examining the console by the large cylinder.

"What do you think this is? It still seems like it's on for some reason." Hinata tried looking through the cylinder but saw nothing as well. "Whatever this material is, it's blocking my Byakugan. Raising Heart, Mach Caliber, do you have any ideas?"

Mach Caliber hovered over the panel and looked at the buttons. "Maybe pressing a button will do something. What other option do we have?" She pressed a random button thinking nothing would happen. However she didn't expect for something to activate.

"Lowering blast shield protection." A voice spoke from the console as steam shot out of the vents on the cylinder. It began to sink into the floor revealing a large glass capsule.

"Hey guys, look at this!" Hinata got everyone's attention. They all turned to look at the capsule which was filled with a thick green liquid, with a strange looking dark mass inside. "There's something in here."

"Hmm, it looks like some kind of preservation capsule. But what is it preserving?" Tsunade began to examine things when the same voice spoke up again.

"Regeneration complete. Begin Reanimation process." The voice said as the green liquid slowly started to drain. As the liquid drained, it revealed the mass as a person…a female to be precise. "Who is that?"

"More importantly, what did that system mean when it began a reanimation process?" Tenten started questioning. "You don't think this person's still alive, do you?"

"No, that's not possible! I…I saw her die!" Raising Heart was frantic. Even after being reactivated, she still retained memories and images from her time online 10,000 years ago. "There's no way she can still be alive!"

"You know who she is Raising Heart?" Hinata figured seeing the woman in the capsule triggered some sort of memory in Raising Heart. "Who is it?"

"Actually, we all know who she is Lady Hinata." Bardiche replied. Everyone turned to see what he was going to say. "I remember the first time I met her. It wasn't a meeting most would expect, but in the end it turned out for the best."

"Ok, but we still need to know who she is." Tenten and everyone else were on edge wanting to know the identity of the woman before them.

"That woman is none other…" Bardiche said before Raising Heart interrupted him.

"It's my former master Nanoha Takamachi!" If anyone knew who she was, Raising Heart was the first one to know.

So Mach Caliber and Bardiche are now back up and running with new upgrades, and now after finding the second bunker in Konoha, they find out that Nanoha Takamachi, the original Ace of Aces is somehow alive after 10,000 years! Just how is she still alive after all this time? Only time will tell.

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