The Next Ace of Aces

Chapter 18

Hello to all my readers! Just a few updates from me. First of all, I want to wish all of you a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season! Second to give you another update, as of the time of this post my wife is 9 days from delivering, so our son will be here Jan. 3, 2014. Honestly we're both nervous and excited to have him here but I want you to know that even though I'll be devoting a lot of time to taking care of him and my wife, I still won't forget about my stories...even if I have to pry myself away from Pokemon X in my downtime too! Well enough from me. I hope you enjoy the chapter and have a great Christmas!

Chapter 18

Naruto, Hinata, and Tenten were in full force against Sasuke, Sakura, and Neji. After hearing that the sole reason they were here was to take Asuna to Orochimaru, the three knew that they couldn't pull out any stops. It only got worse after getting Ino's communication that Asuna had been brutally attacked and nearly killed. That lit a fire in all three of the shinobi mages. They wanted to end this battle and end it immediately.

Hinata and Tenten both went on a stronger offensive, but Naruto took it to a new level. His anger was pushed further than anyone else and the one person he didn't care about taking his rage out on was right in front of him.

Naruto unleashed a fury of heavy slashes, lightning spells, and thunderous strikes upon Sasuke. Even Bardiche and Kerykeion could tell that he enraged and did their best to keep the energy going for Naruto.

"Sasuke, you think this is a game! I'm telling you right now, I'm bringing your sorry ass home and knocking some sense into your stupid head!" Naruto seemed to move faster in anger as he continued to attack Sasuke.

Sasuke was now on the defensive, trying his best to dodge Naruto. Even using his Sharingan, he still seemed slightly slower than Naruto. "You'll be dead before you bring me home!"

Naruto was ready to end this. He didn't want to deal with the Uchiha anymore and knew that he had to put everything into finishing the battle. "We'll see about that! Bardiche, let's go! Unleash your full power so we can take this idiot down! Kerykeion…"

"Yes Naruto?" Kerykeion wondered what her master was planning.

"Time to show the world that you aren't weak at all! Kerykeion, Full Drive Engage! Blaster 3!" Since this was Kerykeion's first time activating Blaster 3 mode, she had no idea what exactly was going to happen.

"Yes sir! Activate Riot Blade!" Bardiche shifted the Zanber into a dual set of blades for Naruto. What Naruto didn't notice was the faint green aura swirling around the blades.

"Full Drive engage! Blaster system level 3 online! All systems now operating at maximum level!" Kerykeion engaged Full Drive, speeding up her processing capability and optimizing her energy usage. The Blaster System only pushed it further, pushing her processing power to a level she'd never seen before. In a sense, she felt like she had exploded with a power she never had before. Though in Naruto's case it just caused his body to glow in a bright aura. "Naruto, the countdown has begun. Five minutes until the Blaster System starts to affect you negatively. But everything is now in sync! Feel free to use everything in your arsenal with no restraint!"

"You craved power Sasuke? We told you that we could help you achieve the power you needed to defeat Itachi and we would be at your side. But you threw away all of this! This is what you could have had!" Naruto slashed both of his blades at Sasuke, sending out a spiraling blast of lighting. "Holy crap what was that!"

"Master Naruto, that was a new technique called Storm Blade. Your natural chakra has wind based properties that merged with my lightning energy and created this technique." Bardiche stated as the spiraling lightning headed toward Sasuke.

"Bardiche, I knew you were awesome. Don't tell Kyu-chan, but I might start working with you a little more often." Naruto slashed again, sending more spiraling lightning at Sasuke.

"How did you learn such…" Sasuke tried blocking with Vulnificus, but felt Naruto's attack slowly starting to cut at his blade.

"Like I'll tell you!" Naruto kept up his attack, fully intent on taking Sasuke down. Sasuke always thought he was the elite but actually felt pressured from Naruto for the first time. "You're not going to beat me this time Sasuke!"

Sasuke grimaced as he tried to start pushing back against Naruto. "Vulnificus, what the hell is he doing? Where did he get that power from?"

"Bardiche! Where did you get this power?" Vulnificus screamed in anger.

"I've tapped into a new power that you could never have or understand! We're going to destroy you Vulnificus!" Bardiche's resolve grew as he continued to give everything he had for Naruto.

Sasuke began to grow angry as things only got worse for his team when he caught a glimpse of Sakura on the losing end of her battle with Tenten.

Sakura hadn't fared as well as she thought either. Tenten got the same burst of energy from out of nowhere and put her on the defensive. What she didn't know was that the battle was about to end with her.

"Alright pinky! This is payback for what you did to my brother!" Tenten dodged one of her Yersinia Dagger spells and countered with a bind spell of her own. "You think you can walk around like the queen bitch and do what you want to anyone, well not anymore!"

"Let me go you worthless animal!" Sakura struggled to break free of the bind when she saw a magic glyph appear behind Tenten. "Do you think you can defeat me?"

"You know something…I do! It ends!"Tenten summoned 12 light daggers from the glyph behind her and sent them flying at Sakura. "Here it comes! It's too late to cry Sakura! I won't hold back!" The daggers shot through her as Tenten controlled them gracefully. She sent the daggers flying through Sakura another two times before the magic glyph appeared over her head. Sakura looked woozy as the daggers flew back into Tenten's hand and glow with more intensity.

"You were never this strong when we fought you last time! Who gave you this power?" Sakura did her best to shake off the damage she just took.

"Let's just say I got it from a girl who was equally as pissed at you for what you did to Naruto!" Tenten focused more power into the light daggers in her hands. Her eyes glowed intensely as she focused hard on her target. "This is Kyu-chan's brand new spell! Feel the power of her light! Trillion Drive!" Sakura's eyes went wide as Tenten threw the daggers back at her, but this time instead of twelve daggers, Sakura was bombarded with millions of daggers at once. The assault left her completely stunned as Tenten went in to finish it. She took off full speed into the air where Cross Mirage's Blaster Bit had been gathering energy for the Starlight Breaker spell. "Hey Sakura, next time you want to break someone's heart, you better make sure they don't have a vindictive sibling!"

Sakura did her best to shake off the assault, but was still stunned. She turned and saw the massive ball of chakra above her being gathered and knew she was in trouble. She still couldn't move due to the binding so she was pretty much a sitting duck. "You…you wouldn't dare!"

"Yes I would! Eat this you stuck up pink bitch! Starlight Breaker!" Tenten unleashed her most powerful bombardment spell directly at Sakura. The only words that came from the pink haired girl's mouth before she was slammed with magical energy were "Lord Sasuke…help!"

Sasuke turned to see the pink beam slam into Sakura, sending her smashing into the ground. He saw Naruto about to strike again and took off toward Sakura before Naruto's next attack could hit. "Sakura!" He flew as fast as he could but got to Sakura's location after the spell had finished. When he got there he saw a battered Sakura on the ground, her Barrier Jacket heavily damaged.

"My…Lord Sasuke…I'm…sorry I failed…you." Sakura choked out as Sasuke picked her up off the ground.

"Say nothing. You need to rest and recover." He looked up at Tenten with a dark glare. "Mark my words I will rip your very head from your shoulders! All of you will die at my hands!" He took off to the skies to get Neji in a full retreat.

"That's right, run you cowards!" Tenten came off her adrenaline high as Naruto came over to her. "Whew, that's a first."

Naruto saw her breathing hard and figured she went all out. "Tenten, what in the world did you do to Sakura?"

"Decided to just cut loose and go all out. Plus Kyu-chan wanted to try out her new spell and I gotta say, it's pretty intense!" Tenten wiped her forehead as she disbanded the Unison with Kyu and took Cross Mirage out of Full Drive. "What about you? Why are you pulsing with a yellow glow?"

"Oh this? Figured I'd let Sasuke get a taste of Kerykeion's ultimate power. Blaster 3…yeah it's definitely all it's cracked up to be. Plus Bardiche and I were enjoying a good bro moment." Naruto powered down as well. "Hope Hinata-chan's ok."

"She's not the only one. Right now Asuna-chan's probably worse off. We gotta get her back to Lady Tsunade and fast." Tenten put Cross Mirage in her holsters. "Let's go help Hinata and get out of here."

She and Naruto took off full speed behind Sasuke. Meanwhile Hinata was holding her own against Neji, but he just kept attacking like no tomorrow. She had already engaged Raising Heart's Full Drive and did all she could not to activate the Blaster System or Fortress.

"Neji, give it up! It doesn't have to be like this. Everyone wants you home!" Hinata caught Neji's fist and kept a small barrier up to block his spells. "Please, you have to believe me!"

"Shut up! I refuse to hear any more of your lies! You caused the death of my father, and its Main Branch scum like you that continued to hold me back! I'll make an example of you by ripping your eyes from your skull!" Neji threw her back and prepared to launch a Blast Fire spell when Sasuke appeared with an injured Sakura.

"Neji, as much as you don't want to, we need to make a tactical retreat. These three are hiding firepower we can't take right now. Orochimaru's hiding information from us and we need to find out what it is." Sasuke's Sharingan stared hard at Hinata. "Just know this, your pathetic boyfriend and his sister will die by my blade."

Neji didn't want to retreat but he didn't want to see what Hinata had hidden. He knew she wasn't giving her all and knew the best thing was to back off for now. "We'll meet again." With that he took off back towards Oto with Sasuke and Sakura. Naruto and Tenten caught up with Hinata and was happy she was ok.

"You ok Hina-chan?" Tenten took the time to try and look over her friend. "I know how much of a pain Neji can be. Did you come close to getting through to him?"

Hinata shook her head in defeat. "He's still full of rage and anger towards me. But that's not important right now. We have to get to Ino. I'm really worried about Asuna-chan."

The three were all in agreement and decided to meet back up with Nanoha who was still in the village. They wanted to leave immediately, but Nanoha advised that Asuna was with both Ino and Fate, and that she should be ok for now. The three reluctantly waited to leave and focused their efforts on helping what villagers they could.

After things died down, the group met back up in Mei's office. The look on her face instantly showed she was completely upset over what happened and what she had to do. After explaining how she got Ino and Asuna out, the three shinobi mages could only imagine the pain she was feeling.

"Well, the best thing for now is that Asuna-chan is out of this hellhole." Mei looked out her window at the snow and sighed. "I just really hope that she didn't take me seriously. The look on her face was heartbreaking. She was in so much pain."

"Lady Mei, it wasn't your fault at all. You have done everything humanly possible for her." Hinata did her best to try and boost spirits. "If there's any consolation, I give you my word that I will look after her and do everything possible to help her heal. She needs an advocate to be there for her and I for one plan on being that person."

"Sorry Hina-chan, but you're not doing all the work." Naruto stepped forward as well. "I can't stand the fact that a girl like her was submitted to the hell I went through, and trust me on this, she won't ever suffer again. Believe it!"

"Guess that makes it unanimous. We're a team Hina-chan, and if taking care of her is our job, we'll do it and we'll succeed." Tenten chimed in. "Plus I know that Ino's gonna be right there as well, and Hanabi will definitely join in."

"It seems that Asuna-chan's recovery will be handled by the best in the world. Lady Tsunade will use every technique possible to heal her physically, and these three will give her the best emotional healing possible." Nanoha looked proud at her three students. "When you come to Konoha, you'll see a complete change in Asuna-chan."

Mei's heart felt light, knowing that this truly was the best thing for her niece. "All of you, I thank you. I know you will help her so much. I gave a scroll to Ino containing a large sum of money for anything Asuna-chan may need. If she needs more, please contact me." Mei then went over and took out a final scroll. "Please give this to her. It contains a smaller version of her mother's uniform and her father's cloak. I did my best to get it measured to her size. I think she might be happy to wear it if she decides to start training to be a kunoichi. If she ever needs to have a bigger size, send me the measurements and I'll have it done."

Hinata took the scroll gratefully and all four bowed in respect. Mei bowed back to show her thanks for what the Konoha team was doing for her niece. The group took their leave and headed out of the village to a rendezvous site that Fate and Ino had made. It took about two hours to get deeper into the forest, but the group arrived and reunited with everyone.

"Ino, you ok?" Naruto knew she had been through a pretty traumatic event after watching what happened to Asuna.

"I'm fine." Ino looked as if she had been toiling day and night. "Well, almost. Klarwind and I have been going non-stop trying to heal Asuna-chan." She pointed over to the tent where Asuna was asleep. "I don't know what's going on, but my Calming Heal spell isn't working. I've kept an eye on her back and it looks like nothing is happening."

Everyone went into the tent where Asuna lay asleep. Ino and Fate did their best to bandage up the small girl, and kept her off her back. She had to lie on her side due to having some broken ribs as well. Hinata walked over and crouched down, startling the girl awake slightly.

"Hinata-chan…is that you?" Asuna said slowly as she woke.

Hinata took hold of the girl's hands, suppressing her tears as best she could. "Yeah…it's me. I'm here."

"I missed you." Asuna said weakly.

"I know. Go on and get some more rest ok. We'll be taking you home soon." Hinata choked hard to keep from breaking out in tears. Asuna let out a small smile as she drifted back off to sleep. Hinata just stayed by her side the whole time. As Nanoha watched, she couldn't bear to see much more and ended up running out into the forest. Fate saw this and went after her, and Kyu decided to as well due to her curiosity.

"Nanoha-chan, what's the matter?" Fate caught up to Nanoha, who had been crying beside a tree. Neither noticed that Kyu had followed and was hidden from sight.

"It's just that seeing Hinata like that…well…I just miss Vivio so much!" Nanoha put her face in her hands and just cried over her lost daughter.

"Nanoha-chan, you never told me. How did she die?" Fate put her hands on Nanoha's shoulders to try and shake her out of her sadness.

"Vivio…Vivio died while we were fighting the last of the Lost Logia." Nanoha choked out. "I found out about it when I was revived."

"Last of the…oh no!" Fate put it together and realized that Vivio had been killed by Kyu before her conversion.

"I thought I had moved on, but seeing Asuna-chan like that…I…I…I just miss her so much!" Nanoha started crying even harder. Fate pulled her close to try and comfort her when she heard rustling behind her. Turning to look, she caught a glimpse of Kyu. The two didn't move until Kyu took off full speed deeper into the forest.

"Kyu, wait!" Fate probably realized that Kyu somehow had found out about Vivio and the memory had just come back to haunt her. Fate wanted to go after Kyu, but with Nanoha in the same bad shape, she didn't know what to do.

"Why? This isn't fair!" Kyu had been in the forest for a good hour trying to vent as she punched and kicked every tree she could find. "Why do people have to suffer?" She punched another tree again, actually damaging her hand. "How come so many people have been hurt because of me and my brethren?" Another strike caused her hand to become worse, but she didn't care. She kept up her self-inflicted punishment until both of her fists were bloody and destroyed, her legs were heavily damaged and she could barely stand. "It just isn't fair!" All she could do was start crying over the fact that so much pain was caused due to her very creation.

Fate finally got Nanoha to calm down and said the two should go find Kyu. Nanoha explained that Kyu had found out that she was the cause of Vivio's death and the memories started hitting her hard. She explained that Kyu had literally become frantic and was in utter fear that she would be destroyed by Nanoha. Fate couldn't believe that one little device had to shoulder so much pain, even after being given a new chance on life.

The two finally made some ground when they found Kyu lying curled up on the ground, whimpering and crying. Even though she was a Device, her body structure was more of a bionic human. With all of the damage inflicted, Kyu actually tried to let herself bleed out, but her self repair systems kept that from happening.

"Kyu-chan, what did you do to yourself?" Nanoha reached down and lifted her up. Kyu's eyes were red and puffy from all of her crying and she cringed in pain at the slightest touch to her hands.

"Nanoha…I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry for everything!" Kyu cried out.

"Kyu, listen to me. You have nothing to be sorry for." Nanoha tried to calm the device down, but her words weren't getting through.

"Don't tell me that! I killed your daughter. I killed some of your friends. I even took you from your own time period!" Kyu tried to push off Nanoha and grimaced as she did, but Nanoha kept her held. "I even made Naruto's life a living hell and I killed his parents! I'm a killer of the worst kind!" Kyu tried to push off again with more force and succeeded, but grimaced even more in pain as she did. "Just get away from me!"

"Kyu…" Fate could see the pain she was in. Not only was it physical pain but more emotional pain. However Nanoha knew only one thing would set her straight. As she approached Kyu, said device tried to back away, but due to her injuries, it was futile. As for Nanoha, she did the one thing that would work; she slapped Kyu in the face as hard as she could. Kyu hit the ground hard, and before she had a chance to get up, she was pulled into Nanoha's grip once again.

"Kyu, you listen and you listen well. I told you that it was the Kyuubi that killed Vivio, not you." Nanoha held tight as Kyu continued to struggle free. "Listen to me!"

"Why should I!" Kyu screamed out as she kept struggling to break free. "Why are you doing this?"

"Because I don't want to see someone I love hurt themselves like this!" Kyu paused when she heard that. Nanoha's words hit home pretty hard. "Yes, I said it. The same goes for Naruto, Hinata, Tenten, Ino, Maki, Bardiche, Asuna, all of you! Do you really believe I would hold a grudge against one of my family members?"

Kyu's body went slightly limp as she stopped trying to fight Nanoha. "How can you love me? Because of my initial creation, you lost everything the way you remember it."

Nanoha loosened her grip to get a good look at Kyu's face. "Yeah I might have, but to be honest, maybe it was my time back then. Maybe you were even sent to battle with me so that I could help you here." She wiped a few tears from Kyu's face, noticing just how hurt she really was. "Those bad memories…well maybe it's my mission in life to help you get rid of them for good."

"I just…I'm so sorry Nanoha." Kyu buried her face into Nanoha and just cried her eyes out. "I don't…I…I…"

"Just cry it all out ok." Nanoha just let Kyu cry as long as she wanted. She knew that Kyu needed to be healed and had Fate convert her back into device form. "Listen Kyu, when we get home, I promise I'll tell you all about the great memories Vivio and I had together. That will be the first new memory you and I create together and we'll put all of the bad ones behind."

Kyu said nothing as she just kept crying and eventually fell asleep on the way back to the camp. When they all got back, Hinata was the first one to check on everyone.

"Kyu-chan, what happened?" Hinata saw how damaged she was and wondered what she did to herself.

"Just some bad memories she was trying to get rid of. I was in the same boat." Nanoha handed over Kyu to Hinata. "Ino if you and Klarwind could help out a bit?"

"Well maybe Calming Heal will work this time." Ino placed her hands over Kyu and engulfed the device in a warm light. Kyu's damage started to fade as her repairs were soon complete. "Ok, there we go. It's not a full repair, but all of the major damage is gone."

"I think she'll be ok once we get her into the Repair Capsule back home." Fate commented. "For now, I think all of us need a bit of rest."

"I'm sorry but I can't rest right now. I really think I should get Asuna back to Konoha." Hinata said with concern. "I'm really worried about her."

"Hinata, are you sure that's what you want to do?" Fate knew that Asuna was in no condition for heavy travel, and flight might cause a problem.

"Yes it is. I'll take her back to Lady Tsunade and get her taken care of." Hinata stood and rubbed her eyes of the few tears that fell. "Maki, let's go. We don't have time to waste."

"You're not going alone Hina-chan." Naruto took hold of her hand. "Bardiche, you were a great help before pal. Since it looks like Kyu is out of it, I might need your help again."

"Of course Master Naruto. I'll be glad to do what I can to help." Bardiche returned to device form and prepared for unison while Naruto placed Kyu in his backpack to rest. "Lady Tenten, will you be ok without me here?"

"Bardiche we'll be fine." Tenten rubbed her device's head with a smile. "Don't worry about us."

"Ok you two. Before you go, you'll need this." Ino took out a small vial and a scroll. "Lady Mei left this with me. It's the blood sample from Asuna-chan's mother that has the poison in it. Also this scroll has my diagnosis of everything that happened to Asuna-chan."

Hinata took the two items as Naruto picked up Asuna, still wrapped in her sleeping bag. He made sure to be gentle and also made sure to keep a firm grip on her. "Alright guys, we'll see you in a few days. Be careful everyone." Bardiche and Maki unisoned with the two and the duo took off towards the sky at full speed.

"Be safe you two." Tenten wished her two friends the best as they headed home.

As the duo flew full speed back to Konoha, Hinata couldn't stop thinking about everything Ino explained. The only thing she could think of was to ask Naruto about how he handled things like this.

"Naruto-kun, tell me, how did you manage to survive the hatred? What did you do to get past this?" Hinata felt nothing but troubled as the duo flew through the air.

"To be honest I had to force myself to look past the hatred. I just wanted to be noticed so badly. That's why I turned to pranking everyone." Naruto sighed at remembering all of the times people would treat him badly, send glares of hatred and anger toward him, and just avoid him like he was the plague. "Some days it was just so hard to keep myself from wanting to stab a kunai into my chest over and over." He looked over at Hinata and saw her try as hard as possible from crying. "It was hard, but I got lucky you know. I mean yeah there were times people saw me as a nuisance, but I had all of you guys. Shikamaru, Choji, Kiba, and now Ino, Tenten, Shino, Bushy Brows, and most of all you." Naruto flashed a smile over at his teammate. "You guys helped me the most through my dark times and that meant more to me than you can ever imagine."

"You shouldn't be thanking me Naruto-kun. It took me too long to figure out why all of this happened. Had I known about Kyu earlier, I would have made more of an effort to be your friend and not hide from you. I just couldn't get over my shyness to approach you." Hinata started feeling emotional over explaining things. Naruto knew she had feelings for him and for now they had been taking things very slowly, with him starting to learn more about some of her favorite hobbies and pastimes. They hadn't really done a lot of things together, and this was really the first time the two of them were alone. Naruto knew he had to do something to try and help her feel better.

"Hey, we gotta be strong ya know. Asuna-chan needs us ok." Naruto flew over and placed a free hand on her shoulder. "You know, you've done a lot for everyone without taking care of yourself. After we get Asuna-chan settled in, do you maybe wanna go out for some dango or something? You know just you and me?"

Hinata was surprised. Did Naruto actually ask her out on a date? "Th-that would be nice."

Naruto just smiled as the duo sped on towards Konoha. After about 16 hours of straight flying, the two came within a mile of Konoha. Deciding not to rouse suspicion, the two landed and deactivated their Barrier Jackets while Maki and Bardiche shifted back into teen form. Kyu eventually woke up and changed form as well, but still felt sore from damaging herself. Hinata wasn't sure Tsunade would be able to receive telepathic transmission without Klarwind so she called Hanabi instead.

"Hey sis. It's been a while. How's the mission to Kiri?" Hanabi was in good spirits but didn't know that things were critical. She had actually been training with Tsunade since Nanoha was on mission.

"Hanabi-chan, I need you to get to Lady Tsunade. Tell her Naruto-kun and I have Asuna-chan and she's in critical condition. We need her as soon as possible. We're about a mile away from the village." Hinata made sure there was urgency in her voice.

Hanabi's demeanor instantly changed. "Lady Tsunade, Hina-chan and Naruto-kun have Asuna. They're about a mile away and closing. She said Asuna is in critical condition."

Tsunade wondered just what happened. "Hinata, I'm on my way to the hospital right now. I will have a room ready for Asuna. Did Ino give you a rundown of what's wrong?"

Hinata was surprised that Tsunade still had telepathy. "Yes. I have everything she wrote down, plus a blood sample that Lady Mei wanted you to analyze. We'll be at the village in about 5 minutes."

"Hanabi, I'm going to need some help. I need you to go find Shizune for me. She'll be back at my office. Have her meet me at the hospital as soon as possible and tell her to prepare for a critical situation." Hanabi shook her head in agreement and took off. "Oh one more thing, I know you might have to put up the elitist act, but if any Hyuuga sees you with Hinata today, tell them that you are under my orders to work with her or risk not becoming a Konoha ninja. That should get them off your back and give you time to spend with your sister."

"Thanks Lady Tsunade." Hanabi turned back to get Shizune while Tsunade made her way to the hospital. Within 5 minutes she was there and had already instructed that a high security patient would be arriving. She made it clear that the only ones allowed in were Naruto, Hinata, Hanabi and the rest of the team and gave explicit instructions that once they enter; they were not to be disturbed unless she left the room.

Naruto, Hinata, Kyu, Bardiche, and Maki made it back to the village in record time and immediately went to the hospital where Tsunade was waiting. She got them into the room and had it sealed off to prevent entry. Naruto took his time setting Asuna down as to prevent any pain while Hinata gave Tsunade the scroll from Ino.

"Amazing. All of this done to one little girl? Naruto, I need you to help remove the bandages covering her back. I need to see just how much damage was done." She pointed over to some scissors he could use. "Use these scissors and be careful."

While Naruto was taking care of that, Kyu had a question on her mind. "Lady Tsunade, when we met up with Ino, she said that she had been using Klarwind to do whatever she could to heal Asuna-chan, but nothing was happening. What do you think it could be?"

"I don't know. It's really strange. I'll have to see what I can do for now." Tsunade said as Naruto finished removing the bandages, exposing Asuna's scarred and wounded back. Tsunade was appalled at the words etched into her very skin. "This is horrible. This is the type of scarring you'd only wish on the worst criminals ever."

"Will you be able to heal her?" Hinata's voice was full of sadness.

"I'll use every last technique I have." Tsunade's eyes were full of determination. "I give you my word Hinata; I will rid her of every single scar, bruise, cut, and injury." She could see Hinata's faith getting stronger. "For now I'm going to need you to go get some rest. Kyu, I may need your help. It's possible the Three Tails might have something to do with why Asuna-chan's not healing."

"Come on Hinata-chan. Let's go get something to eat." Naruto tried to lead her out of the room but she didn't move.

"It's ok Naruto-kun. I think I'll stay here outside of Asuna-chan's room. I'd feel better staying as close to her as I can." Hinata rubbed her eyes carefully. "Just contact me if you need me. Maki-chan, you go with him ok."

Maki looked sad as she could tell just how stressed and tired Hinata was. She didn't say anything as she, Naruto, and Bardiche left. Hinata then went and sat on a bench right outside of Asuna's room to wait as long as she needed.

Hanabi quickly arrived with Shizune and couldn't believe the shape her sister was in. Even she tried to convince Hinata to go home and rest, but like with Naruto and Maki, it was a failure. Hanabi just resigned herself to head back home and let Hiashi know how Hinata was doing. Though before she left, she wondered just what kind of relationship Asuna had with Hinata. Her sister simply told her that Asuna needed a family and that she was going to do what she could to help her, but that wouldn't change things between her and Hanabi. All Hanabi did was hug her sister and let her know that people with hearts as gold as Hinata's were very rare and that she would work just as hard as Hinata.

Hours passed and Tsunade had yet to come out of the room. Hinata did her best to try and stay away but fatigue set in finally and she fell asleep. Naruto came back to check on her and noticed her out cold. He had thought about taking her back home, but knew she wanted to stay close to Asuna. He decided to sit beside her and let her use his lap as a more comfortable sleeping space.

"You know something Hinata-chan, I've learned a lot about different people. I've learned how cold and callous people can be, how trusting they can be, how they can be someone who would betray you in a heartbeat, and some who would stand with you till the end of time." Naruto thought to himself. "But you…you're just so…amazing. Even though you were never a Jinchuuriki like me, you fought through hardships and hatred as well. You try so hard to show people that you're not weak and that you can be strong. And I still don't know why you try so hard to impress me." He looked down at her sleeping form, seeing how peaceful she was as she slept. "Honestly, I was impressed when you stood up to Neji in the Chuunin Exams. I guess what I'm saying is that, I'm gonna stand by you, always. I know you probably feel the same way about me, and that's pretty cool. But I promise you, if you ever need me for anything Hinata-chan, I will be there for you. And as for you loving me…well…all I can say is thank you. It felt really nice to hear those words when they were spoken with truth and sincerity. I still don't know about truly being in love, but I can say this...I like you a whole lot more now that I know you better."

Naruto stayed with her through the night as she slept. Tsunade had taken a break and came out to notice the two asleep. "Well, looks like you're a little bit closer to getting just what you want Hinata. That idiot is finally taking notice of you. Kushina and your mother would be so proud of what you're becoming."

Morning dawned and Hinata finally woke up, surprised that she fell asleep. As she rubbed her eyes to get her bearings, she noticed the sound of someone else asleep. That's when she noticed Naruto was asleep beside her and that she had been asleep on his lap the whole time. "I…I was asleep on Naruto-kun's lap! She heard him mumbling while he was sleep, "Mmm, You're…really cool…Hinata. Uhhh…mmmhhh…like you more."

"He thinks I'm really cool? Is he saying he likes me more now?" Hinata was a little confused. "Wait…no it wouldn't be good to dwell on it. I'll let him tell me how he feels when he's ready." After she sat up and tried to make herself presentable, she went and knocked on the door to see how things were. "Lady Tsunade, are you in there?"

Tsunade opened the door, "Finally awake I see."

Hinata nodded as she rubbed her eyes. "Yeah. But it wasn't easy sleeping last night. Asuna-chan stayed on my mind the whole time. How is she by the way?"

"I would say fine, but I can't right now." Tsunade ushered in Hinata to where Shizune had been toiling away over some beakers and chemicals. Kyu had reverted back to device form and had been asleep on the chair beside Asuna's bed while said girl had been properly cleaned up and dressed and was now asleep. "I hate that I'm going to have to explain everything again, but here's what I've learned so far." Hinata went and picked up Kyu and placed her in her lap so the device could still sleep while she listened to Tsunade. "Right now the problem is that the Three Tails is blocking all attempts to heal Asuna. I don't know why and I don't know how, but it's getting a real kick out of making this poor little girl suffer."

"I thought that the Bijuu would try to keep their hosts alive? Won't they die if the host does?" asked Hinata.

"That I don't know. We might need to ask Kyu later. But as for how we found out, Kyu managed to create a unison link with Asuna and merged with her to see what was going on." Tsunade continued her explanation. "When she got inside, she found the Three Tails bound by the seal. She also found Asuna's mental manifestation there with the beast and the poor girl looked like she had been beaten 50 times over. The Three Tails had been doing nothing but tormenting the girl and somehow using its chakra to make sure she didn't receive any outside healing. Basically he was keeping her alive, but making sure she continued to stay in pain."

"That's just cruel! But it doesn't make any sense. Fuu-san said that she and Chomei actually have a good bond and that they communicate well with each other. So why wouldn't the same be for the Three Tails?" Hinata started to wonder just what was going on with the Bijuu.

"Remember what Nanoha said? She said it's possible that over the many millennia, the AI of the Bijuu may have deteriorated or changed. It could be that the AI have learned and evolved so to speak. Remember that Kyu made Naruto's life a living nightmare before her extraction." Tsunade reminded her of what was said before they left on the mission. "Unfortunately Asuna had to get one with an AI from hell. So basically any type of healing chakra we use is ineffective until we can get the Three Tails out."

"That means she's going to be like this for at least three days. We haven't perfected flight without our Unison Devices yet and Bardiche came with us since Kyu was out." Hinata replied.

Tsunade started to question that, "Speaking of Kyu, why did she look like she was in so much pain? She said that she had trouble staying on her feet and her hands were very sore."

"It might have something to do with what happened before we left. Nanoha said it was dealing with a bad memory, but I don't know what it could be." Hinata replied.

"We'll deal with that later. Right now the only thing we can do is wait for Tenten and the others to get back with the DCS system. I've done my best to set all of her broken bones, and I performed a temporary skin graft on her back to try and heal some of that acid damaged skin." Tsunade went back over to her podium where she was doing more research. "I'm going to start analyzing this blood sample, and the one I got from Asuna to see just what kind of poison was used. I should hopefully have an antidote by the time Tenten gets here."

Hinata looked at Asuna, wondering just how she was, "How are we going to get Asuna-chan better?"

"The only thing we can do is extract the Three Tails. Once that's done, I can administer the antidote to the poison in her system and we can start chakra healing." Tsunade took a drop from one of the blood samples and placed it on a glass slide. "The downside to that is poor Asuna is going to be as sick as a dog for the next few days due to poisoning, and she's gonna be hurting like hell. The Three Tails did a good job suppressing the major pain, but without it, all that pain is gonna come back and hit her like a ton of bricks."

"Too bad there's not a way to transfer pain from one person to another." Hinata gently took Asuna's hand and placed it in her own. "If I could, I would take all of her pain away and endure it myself."

"Hinata, what happened to you on this mission? It's like you stepped up in place of Naruto to do what it takes to help this child." Tsunade looked at Asuna and then at Hinata. "You know I now believe I made the best choice in having you retrieve this girl. It's like your heart is becoming stronger to endure pain, hatred, corruption, and evil, and yet it still remains pure and innocent, full of love and peace. Maybe Asuna-chan is the key to help bring you and Naruto together. I see it now. He does care for you. It took him a bit, but surely enough, you've worn off on him and I think the three of you together would do a lot of good in this world."

"Is it ok if I stay here today? I just really want to stay by her side." Hinata never let go of Asuna's hand the whole time.

"Tell you what. Go home, take a nice hot bath and rest in a bed for a few hours and at least get unpacked. I'll try to get you something set up here so you can sleep in here with Asuna. I'll also make sure there's extra room for the devices and Naruto as well, because I know they'll want to stay with you." Tsunade said with a calm smile. "Plus spend a little bit of time with Hanabi. You two are sisters after all. Even if you just talk, you still need to be in each other's presence and keep your bond strong."

"Ok Lady Tsunade." Hinata let go of Asuna's hand and placed it gently on her bed. She picked up Kyu and headed to the door. "Lady Tsunade, thank you for being who you are. Honestly if you weren't here, Asuna-chan would probably die."

Tsunade simply smiled back at the Hyuuga girl, "Doctors don't try to take care of people because they have to, they take care of people because they want to. It doesn't matter that I'm a Sannin, Hokage, whatever. If I'm able to heal, cure, protect, even save a life, then it's worth toiling and working myself to the grindstone."

Hinata felt Tsunade's powerful words and it gave her hope, "Lady Tsunade, I know you are busy a lot, but if it's ok, can I start learning some basic medic skills from you? I want to make sure I can help my family any way I can."

Tsunade saw Hinata's eyes and knew that they were eyes of compassion, love, and determination. "I'll let Ino know she has a partner in studies for the next few months."

Hinata bowed respectfully, taking her leave. Naruto had woken up and the two plus one device headed back home for a chance to finally rest. After a hot shower, Hinata put on her favorite pajamas and crawled into bed. She was lucky that her bed had enough room for two people, since Asuna would be her new roommate. She looked around for something that might be comforting to Asuna, when she saw it. In the corner, she had a small orange stuffed fox. She had gotten it for herself just before the Chuunin Exams to help give her a bit of confidence, as it reminded her of Naruto.

After some down time, the group went back to the hospital to check up on Asuna. Tsunade said the situation was the same, however she did manage to break ground on the antidote for her poison. She also informed the group that Asuna hadn't woken up either. Kyu figured that due to the Three Tails, Asuna had put her body in a state of stasis. She had been trying to fight off the pain in her body the whole time and it took everything she had. Hinata hated that she couldn't do much more for Asuna but continue waiting. Tsunade told her to take time to herself since all they could do was wait for Tenten. Hinata was reluctant, but decided to make the most of her time. Before she left though, she took the stuffed fox and placed it in Asuna's arms, noticing that the girl unconsciously took hold of it.

After another two days, Tenten, Nanoha, Fate, and Ino finally returned home. Before any of them had a chance to breathe, they were all rushed into the hospital where Tsunade was waiting. She managed to finish Asuna's antidote and knew the next bit of time would be critical. She also wanted Fuu there because she didn't want to waste any more time in getting the Bijuu extracted and converted.

"Alright the system is set up. Lady Tsunade, how much time will we have to work with once the Three Tails is extracted?" Tenten asked as Tsunade was preparing everything needed for Asuna's extraction.

"Not a lot of time. The poison was a fast acting poison. Because the Three Tails was hindering Asuna's healing, her body is still in critical condition." She prepped an IV into Asuna's arm and had the antidote ready to enter her bloodstream the moment the extraction finished. "Ino, I know you may be tired, but as soon as we get that beast out of her, you and Klarwind need to start healing her. I'll be right with you on healing."

Fuu wondered if it was going to be as bad for her, "Is it supposed to be this complicated?"

Nanoha shook her head negatively. "No, the extraction for you will be very easy. It's a good thing Chomei is willing to be extracted, otherwise it might be a bit more difficult."

"Alright, we're good to go. Hinata, it's only fitting that you wake her up. We'll need her awake so she can name her device." Tsunade moved over to let Hinata get close to Asuna. Hinata gently shook the girl in the hopes of getting her awake. It took a minute but Asuna woke up to see everyone around her.

"Hinata-chan? Where am I?" Asuna was trying to focus and get her bearings. She attempted to sit up but Hinata kept her down.

"You're in the hospital. Remember how we said we'd get you to the best doctor in the world?" Hinata pointed to Tsunade, "Well she's been working hard the last three days to take care of you. She has an antidote to the poison inside you and we're about ready to get the Three Tails out of you too."

"Will it hurt? I still don't feel good." Asuna was slightly worried but Hinata took her hand for comfort.

"I don't know, but all of us are here for you ok. We need you to try to be strong for a bit while we take the Three Tails out. When it's out, you'll have to name it, since it will be your brand new partner." Hinata rubbed Asuna's hand calmly, getting a slight smile out of the girl.

"Ok. I'm ready." Asuna took a deep breath to try and relax. Everyone gave a good look at each other, signaling it was time and Tenten activated the DCS.

"Beginning scan of host. Host shows critical signs of injury. Advanced medical treatment is required or host may not survive post extraction." The machine began the scan of Asuna, logging everything about her. "Host carries the Three Tails, codename Sanbi no Kyodaigame. Securing safety of host…beginning extraction." The DCS began to pull a strand of energy from the seal on Asuna's stomach. The strand began to expand into a thick green stream of energy until everything had been removed and formed a large ball of green energy. Tsunade saw this and immediately opened the valve on Asuna's IV so she would start getting the antidote. She and Ino then began to flood Asuna with healing magic and healing chakra as the DCS entered into its final phase. "Extraction complete. Reconfiguring device." The ball of energy began to mold itself and formed into what looked like a humanoid male. It was wearing black pants with a black short sleeve shirt, and a long black coat. His hair was black as well and looked somewhat messy and spiky. On his back were two swords, a black one and a blue one. Hidden beneath his coat were three gray scaly tails. "Device Conversion Complete. Please name the new device to finish registration."

The device opened his eyes as Fate took him from the air. "Welcome. I take it you feel a bit better?" She looked upon the newly converted Three Tails with a smile.

The device nodded. "Yes. But please tell me, how is Asuna?" He looked around to try and analyze his setting. When he saw Asuna he immediately flew next to her. "Tell me, is she ok?"

"She is fine. We are healing her as we speak." Tsunade said. "However she still has the task of naming you."

"I have to name him? He looks like my Papa." Asuna looked carefully at her new device. She remembered what her father Kazuto looked like and saw an exact replica in her device.

"Well it's probably because someone used your Papa in sealing the Three Tails into you. So when he was converted, that's how he got his form. Do you have an idea for a name?" Nanoha warmly asked.

Asuna slowly nodded. "I do. It will be Kirito. That was Papa's nickname from what I was told." The DCS picked up on this and completed the registration.

"Name 'Kirito' has been registered. Registration and Conversion complete. 5 Conversions remaining. Returning to standby for next extraction." With that, the DCS went into standby, ready for Fuu's extraction.

"So my name is Kirito. Very well, is there anything I can do to help your injuries or to assist you Lady Asuna?" Kirito was immediately at Asuna's side, concerned at her well-being.

"You're not going to be mean to me are you?" Asuna was a little worried, but felt slightly better when she saw Kirito shake his head.

"My lady, first of all I greatly ask your forgiveness for the pain, abuse, and torment I inflicted upon you. I know now that my actions were wrong. All I ask is forgiveness and I swear nothing but loyalty to you. I will fight to the bitter end for you my lady." Kirito kneeled before her with his head held down. "My life is now yours to command and control."

"Asuna-chan, when the Three Tails was removed, he was reprogrammed. That big mean turtle will never hurt you anymore. The machine that pulled him out and turned him into Kirito said that he could never hurt you or be mean to you, and that he had to always protect you." Kyu went over and greeted Kirito. "If you would like, I can link with Kirito for a bit and learn of his skills for you."

Asuna shook her head, "It's ok Kyu-chan. I'm just happy Kirito is here with me now. But I'm really tired. Can I go back to sleep?"

"Yes Asuna-chan, you can. Take all the time you need to rest." Tsunade smiled warmly at her patient. "In a few days we'll have you good as new."

"Ok. Will Kirito get to stay with me?" Asuna asked as she started to drift off.

Everyone looked around and decided it would be best, "Yes. For now he'll stay with you Asuna-chan. Once you're better, he can stay with us and we can learn more about him." Fate went over and slightly tapped Kirito's back, creating a slight link unknown to everyone else. She instantly downloaded all of his data and would get a jump on his abilities.

"That's…fine." With those last words, Asuna was asleep once again. Everyone took a sigh of relief knowing that a major crisis had been averted for now. The next major issue with Asuna's recovery would be making sure she didn't still think her aunt hated her.

"Well with that done, only one more thing to do." Kyu walked over and looked at Kirito. Said device wondered what she was doing until she made her move. She flicked the new device in the head. Of course one would think this would be very mild, but considering Kyu was in her pre-teen form and Kirito was still in device form…needless to say it didn't feel very nice.

"Holy crap Kyu, what was that for?" Tenten asked in shock.

"That was for making a sweet little girl absolutely miserable for the past seven years!" She clenched her hands tight and tried her hardest to keep from crying, but a few tears began to fall. "I'm sorry. I know it was the past you, but…"

Kirito shook his head to clear the cobwebs out. He looked at Kyu and simply bowed to her. "I understand and will accept any hatred and anger from you. I did a lot of harm to her in the past but I swear on my life that I will atone for everything I did to her. I will sacrifice everything in my being to ensure Lady Asuna stays safe. I can also sense that she has a lot of meaning to you as well."

"Of course. I mean why else would I create a link with her?" Kyu slowly rubbed her arm, trying not to draw attention to herself. "She means a lot to me, ya know. And I don't hate you. I just have a lot of mixed up feelings now, but hate isn't one of them Kirito."

Nanoha and Fate both took Kyu's actions into account. "Fate-chan, was this supposed to happen? I mean Kyu's acting as if she was truly human. I know she was programmed to love and protect Naruto, but it's like she's acquired feelings for everyone else all on her own. Did the DCS improve her AI that much, or do you think it's a self-upgrading process?"

"I'm not sure Nanoha-chan. There may be things we have yet to discover about the conversion process. But whatever it is, it seems to be a welcome result. I mean Unison Devices are designed to be as humanlike as possible, but trying to replicate human emotion perfectly has been nearly impossible. Maybe the TSAB finally made a breakthrough on this." Fate replied, getting a slight glance out of Nanoha.

"Ok, how in the world did you know that? You sound like a scientist?" Nanoha was curious at how her love sounded so intelligent.

"I'm a device remember. I had a lot of data downloaded into me after I underwent conversion. It was probably to help you understand a lot of things after you woke up." Fate simply smiled, causing Nanoha to sigh in grief.

Not wanting to delay things, Tsunade wanted to get the next extraction done with. "Well Fuu, you're next. Ready for your extraction?"

Fuu sighed and took a deep breath. "I guess now is as good a time as ever. And you're sure it won't be painful."

Naruto shook his head negatively. "Nope. When we used the device on Gaara, the only thing he said he felt was that he was tired. But he had just returned from a mission so that might be why. All it does is place a binding spell on you and then it'll scan you and your seal. After that, it uses the safest method of extraction to remove the Bijuu without harming you."

"By the way, I know this sounds kinda crazy, but where's your seal? Naruto's was on his stomach like Asuna's and Gaara's was on his forehead." Kyu asked curiously.

Fuu immediately turned red from the question. "Uhh…well…it's uhh…"

Without even saying anything else, every other female in the room had an idea of where it was, but decided not to try and pry any further. "Don't say anything else. I have an idea and trust me, I know how it feels." Kyu replied.

"One more thing, do you have an idea for a name after Chomei's converted?" Hinata asked.

"Well, yeah. I'm gonna keep his name the same. See, he didn't really have a name of his own and after we started getting to know each other, he asked me to give him a name. I always thought I was lucky to have him since he was really my only friend, so I called him Lucky Seven Chomei." Fuu said as she walked towards the DCS device. "He really liked having a name and not being called Seven Tails all the time." She stepped into the scan area of the DCS as it went active again. Four pink rings appeared around her wrists and ankles as she was bound in, ready to be scanned.

"Beginning scan of host. Initial scan shows no damage to host. Host contains the Seven Tails, codename Nanabi no Kabutomushi. Scan also shows Seven Tails AI has been adjusted. Only minor reprogramming and adjustment is needed." The DCS went into its routine and targeted Fuu's seal, preparing to extract Chomei.

"Well, ready to come back out to the real world?" Fuu asked of her sealed Bijuu.

"Yes. It will be good to get back to the world. Do you believe things will change for us Fuu?" asked Chomei.

"Maybe they will. But to be honest, it seems like things are changing for the better. You know, I think it was a good idea naming you Lucky Seven Chomei. You really are the luckiest thing to ever come into my life." Fuu replied happily. For once she was actually in a good mood since she had been away from all the negativity concerning Chomei.

The DCS engaged, beginning to draw out her Bijuu. "Host safety secured, beginning extraction." After a few minutes everyone now stood before another green ball of energy that started to reform. The ball began to shift into another humanoid shape. When it was done, there was now a small device, clad fully in blue and green armor. It had six insect like wings on his back and what looked to be a spear on his back as well. The helmet of the armor was sealed and had a large horn on the top of it, but seemingly there was a slit in the helm for sight. "Device extraction and conversion complete. Please name the device to finish registration."

Fuu was released from the bind, feeling only slightly winded. She saw her new partner hovering before her. "So this is how you look? I have to say, I like it. Oh before I forget, your name is Chomei."

"Name 'Chomei' has been registered. Registration and Conversion complete. 4 Conversions remaining. Returning to standby phase." The DCS went back into standby and Tenten shut the machine off, and then re-sealed it.

"It feels good to be out again. How do you feel Fuu?" Chomei asked as he flew over and sat on her shoulder.

"To be honest, I feel pretty good. Guess you guys were right about the extraction." Fuu stretched a bit and loosened herself up. "So now there shouldn't be any problem with Akatsuki?"

"Nope. I mean what are they going to try to take out of you?" Naruto chuckled for a bit. "So only 4 conversions left."

"Yeah. Now it gets difficult. There's 5 Bijuu out there left. We know two of them are in Kumo, two are with Akatsuki, and who knows where the last one is." Tenten sighed. "How can we decide which one of the Bijuu get destroyed?"

"Is there any other way to add one more conversion to the DCS? I mean do you know of anything Fate?" asked Kyu, hoping to find a way to save the one of her brethren that might be destroyed.

"I don't know. I can check any data banks we find for more info on the DCS. There's got to be more bunkers that may have extra information, but for now we have to find them first." Fate replied.

"That's good and all, but right now everyone has been through a lot and you all haven't even been debriefed. For now I want everyone to go home and get at least two good days of rest. Especially you Hinata. You've been so stressed over Asuna's condition that you might end up getting yourself sick!" Tsunade commanded, getting groans out of everyone. "Seriously, what part of 'take a break' is so bad?"

"It's nothing Lady Tsunade. I guess we're just all so focused on getting things done that we don't really want to stop." Hinata replied back. "But we can't defy orders so we have no choice."

"Good. After the break, I'll debrief you and we'll also get Cadet Terumi officially assigned into the ranks of the TSAB. Nanoha and Fate, I want you to get with Kirito and Chomei and analyze their skills and abilities during the downtime, then report it to Kyu. She'll get it logged in so we'll know what we're working with. In addition, make sure all of the devices get properly checked out for damage, especially Kyu." Tsunade began barking out orders for everyone.

"As for the rest of you girls…I expect you to make sure Asuna here has everything she'll need. Clothes, toys, basic training supplies, whatever. Naruto, Bardiche, you two will help move everything in. You are all responsible for that. Now as for Hinata, Ino, and Kyu…you three will be here. I want you immediately helping with Asuna's emotional recovery. I'll have Hanabi join you for this as well. I know it's a rush but I plan to have Asuna out of here within two days. She'll finish her recovery at home." Tsunade stated as she went over and opened the door to the hallway. "Now get to work people! You have a break to get started on!"

"Well who are we to argue. Time off is a good thing ya know." Naruto just put his hands in his pocket as he headed toward the door. "Come on Bardiche, I think we should do something Shikamaru would do in this situation."

Bardiche followed Naruto, wondering what he was planning. "What would that be Master Naruto?"

"We go stare at clouds for the rest of the day." He replied with a grin. Everyone else looked ok but Ino groaned.

"Great, that lazy bum is rubbing off on you now." Ino shook her head in defeat over Naruto's comment.

So Asuna's safely in Konoha with a new partner, two more devices have been extracted and are now part of the group. How will things change up now that Asuna's here.

Once again hope you enjoy the chapter and have a great Holidays!


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