The Next Ace of Aces

Chapter 9

Alright, another chapter and this one should make some people very happy at one certain part. So hope you enjoy, you know who owns who!

Chapter 9

The pursuit for Sasuke kept up in full force. The fact that Sasuke had just as much power as the others made his retrieval more critical. However one question still loomed, why did Sakura go with him?

"Any luck Naruto?" Tenten hoped Kerykeion would have picked up anything by now.

"Still nothing. Whatever that idiot is doing, it's working." Naruto sighed as Kerykeion returned a blank result.

"Your jutsu fails because you are not skilled to wield it." Neji said coldly. "As I said this mission will fail due to your involvement."

Naruto had just about enough. The entire time he had to put up listening to Neji put him and Hinata down. Right now he was ready to forget Sasuke and give Neji a piece of his mind. "Look Neji, why don't you keep your mouth shut. No one wants to hear your put downs and I'm getting sick of it! Either zip your trap or I'll zip it for you!"

"Useless threat from a useless person. Your taunts are meaningless Naruto." Neji was unfazed from Naruto's reply. "I feel it only right to continue to remind you to…"

"Neji SHUT UP NOW!" Everyone saw Hanabi outburst out of nowhere. "You put down my sister, you disrespect your teammate, and now you insult someone who obviously does all he can to help people, and I have had enough! You may feel Hina-chan's not worthy to be clan heir, but that doesn't leave me out of the picture. Now shut your mouth before I shut it for you!"

Neji didn't care. Hanabi was just a small side threat to his real target. "As you wish Lady Hanabi." Neji went back to his own business while the pursuit kept up.

"I swear I am going to kill him!" Naruto was doing all he could from unleashing his rage. "How do you two put up living with that stuck up asshole?"

"I don't really know anymore Naruto-kun." Hanabi sighed in grief. "Right now I'm ready to shove a Knuckle Bunker right down his arrogant throat!"

"Save me a piece of him will you?" Tenten wanted in on the action if it meant hurting Neji. "Hinata, you gotta quit defending him. All he's doing is making things worse for all of us.

"I know. But I can't be that way. I want him to see I'm not like everyone else in the Main House. I want him to see that I want to help him and the Branch House." Hinata became more distraught with the current situation. "If it comes down to it, I'll try to talk to him and hopefully he'll listen."

"Just be ready to activate his seal if he doesn't. The jerk deserves it." Hanabi hoped Hinata would put her cousin in his place, but Hinata had bad news.

"Uh…Hanabi-chan, I don't know how to activate the seal. I've only seen how father holds his hand, but I don't officially know the proper way to use it. Father never taught me because he said I was too weak to use it against any of the Branch House." Hinata admitted she never intended to use the seal at all

"Well I sure don't know it. What do we do now?" Hanabi asked.

"I'll just beat him down if I…" Naruto's thoughts were interrupted as Kerykeion picked up something on her scanner. "Kerykeion, did you find something?"

"I did Naruto. It's Vulnificus. He's not far away. And…" Kerykeion's voice started shaking. "There's another one…and it's worse than ever!"

"Worse than…oh no. She's the worst one to show up now." Mach Caliber knew exactly who it was that Kerykeion picked up.

"Mach Caliber, you know who it is?" asked Hinata.

"Yeah. It's Yersinia Kreuz. The third one of the group…and the worst possible choice." Mach Caliber knew things went from bad to worse. "She belonged to Lady Hayate's dark copy named Load de Arche. She was so arrogant that she referred to herself as royalty."

"She was worse than Luciferon and Vulnificus?" Tenten thought nothing could be worse than those two.

"Worse doesn't explain it." Mach Caliber knew this was going to make things worse. "See when the three Dark Devices were created, at the time Lady Hayate was the most powerful mage between her, Lady Nanoha, and Lady Fate. So of course, Load de Arche was more powerful than Stern or Levi."

"Ok, so now we have one more Dark Device to deal with, a stuck up Hyuuga prick, a rogue Uchiha, and a fangirl all in one." Tenten sighed at the problem at hand. "Well it can't get any worse."

Sasuke and Sakura had stopped for a small break by a stream. It was strange that Sakura had suddenly changed her attitude and wasn't fawning all over him.

"Sakura, what's the matter with you?" She looked over at him while he was by the stream. "Just yesterday you were fawning all over me and had fangirl written all over your face?"

Sakura looked at him with a seductive smile, "Do you not like what you see Sasuke? You were always annoyed by incessant fangirls who were weaklings." She twirled Yersinia Kreuz around her finger. "Last night I was one of those incessant fangirls you hate so much. However thanks to Yersinia, I understand more than I ever have. I understand now that you need a strong woman to stand at your side while you crush your enemies."

Whatever happened to Sakura, Sasuke liked it. "I always hated that annoying fawning you did, but now you carry an aura of dark seduction, like you could crush any woman in your way." He walked over and circled her, carefully eyeing her. "I want a strong woman like that to help me rebuild my clan after I kill my brother." Without hesitation he grabbed Sakura by the collar and pulled her close, forcefully kissing her. "You wanted to be at my side, you'll stay at my side as long as you continue down the path you follow."

Sakura touched her lips, aroused by the forcefulness he used with her. She felt herself become flustered and hot at the slight moment of passion. "Yes my Lord Sasuke, anything you desire will be yours."

"Lord Sasuke. I like that." Sasuke licked his lips in delight. "I'll like it even more when Itachi is crying that name out, begging for his life." He quickly took a drink from the spring to refresh himself. "Come Sakura, we need to keep moving."

"As you wish my Lord." Sakura joined him at his side and the two continued on into the forest. Unknown to Sakura however, Yersinia Kreuz was having her own fun within the mind of her new hostess.

Inside the mindscape of Sakura, a black and white copy of herself had been bound by numerous rings of energy. As she struggled for her freedom, a girl with short hair and blue eyes stared hard with a cold glare.

"Let go of me you stupid bitch! Release me and leave Sakura alone!" Inner Sakura screamed as she struggled to be free.

"Why should I do something like that?" Yersinia assumed the form of her previous wielder, Load de Arche, otherwise known as Dark Hayate Yagami. She ran a finger over Inner Sakura's face…before forcefully slapping it. "I enjoy controlling this pathetic girl. The moment I was placed in her hands, I could feel it. She's mine and I'm never letting her go!"

"She doesn't deserve this! You're using her love for Sasuke against her!" Inner Sakura cried back.

"Her love is nothing but a delusion. Before I came along that boy wouldn't give her the time of day. She was nothing but dirt to him." Yersinia snapped back. "You should be happy. I've given her what she's always wanted. To be at her precious Sasuke's side."

"This isn't how it was supposed to happen. Sasuke was supposed to fall in love with Sakura, the real Sakura." Inner Sakura was at a loss.

"Like how that blonde idiot kept hoping Sakura would fall in love with him?" Yersinia hinted to Naruto's crush on Sakura. "He makes me sick. I hope I can see him so I can smack that lovesick look off his face…then blast him into oblivion!"

Inner Sakura froze at those words. She knew full well of Naruto's crush on Sakura, and deep down knew that Sakura had some respect for Naruto, even if it was just a little. She knew that Sakura would never be so extreme. "You can't do that to him!"

Yersinia looked back at Inner Sakura, "Oh really? You know, I just had an idea. I think that what I'll do is make Sakura play on Naruto's crush. Make him feel truly special and think that Sakura really wants to return his affection. Then I'll crush those feelings and laugh as his heart is utterly shattered. Oh and you know what else I'll do?" She ran her finger across her lips. "I'll rip his beating heart out and crush it right in front of his face before he dies at Sakura's feet!"

Yersinia cackled a sick laugh as she disappeared, leaving her laugh to echo in Sakura's mind. Inner Sakura was still bound and could only think that not even the real Sakura would do something so horrible. "Sakura may not like Naruto, but she'd never crush him like that. I hate to say it, but he's the only hope Sakura has right now."

Sasuke and Sakura continued on until they reached the border known as the Valley of the End. They stood in awe of the two massive statues parted by a river. Awaiting them was Kabuto, who somehow knew they would arrive.

"Ah so I see you found someone worthy of the other gift." Kabuto saw Sakura and Yersinia Kreuz together. "She will make a fine ally to you Sasuke."

"Whatever. Let's just get going and meet Orochimaru so he can give me more power like you said." Sasuke was ready to go when Kabuto stopped him.

"Patience my friend, patience. We have one more joining us soon. I'm sure that person would like to meet their partner, wouldn't you say so Luciferon?" Kabuto held up the small purple pearl in his hands. "Plus, wouldn't you like a chance to have some fun with Vulnificus? I'm sure our lady friend would also like time to become acquainted to miss Yersinia Kreuz as well."

Sasuke decided that even though Kabuto was just as bad a snake as his master, he would bide his time. "Sakura, we will wait here for now."

"Of course my Lord Sasuke. At least let me prepare a small meal for you so you'll be at full strength." Sakura was more than happy to serve her new 'Lord'.

Kabuto looked in awe, "Sasuke, you lucky dog. You have power and a woman that will cook for you? I'm jealous."

"You'll watch your tongue if you want to stay around Lord Sasuke." Sakura was fierce to bite back as she went on her preparation. "If it's ok with you Lord Sasuke, can I kill him?"

Sasuke raised an eyebrow when he heard that one. This solidified that she was not the same Sakura as before. "Not yet. You'll make too much of a mess."

"Ok as sadistic as that girl is, maybe Lord Orochimaru is getting in over his head. Considering that neither of us could fully control those two devices, who knows what power these two and Luciferon's owner can unleash." Kabuto started having second thoughts about the whole thing and thought that a change of allegiance may be in order.

"Ok I think we have something. About two miles east of here." Naruto got the latest scan reading from Kerykeion. "It's a pretty big energy signature so it has to be Sasuke showing off."

"You mean he's setting a trap for us? That doesn't make any sense. How would he know we were coming?" Tenten thought things were suspicious. "This really doesn't feel right."

"She's right Naruto-kun, we don't know what Sasuke's planning. What if Orochimaru is waiting there as well? You know what he has to use." Hinata remembered the first encounter with the Snake Sannin and the fact that he had an AMF that put all of them at a disadvantage.

"There's really nothing else we can go with. We just have to get in, get Sasuke and Sakura-chan out, and get away if we have to." Naruto replied.

"Hmph spoken like a true coward." Neji interjected. "What about this so called power you and Lady Hinata possess? The same power that defeated me? Are you afraid to wield it against Sasuke and what other dangers we may face?"

Naruto was at his limit. He heard enough out of Neji's mouth. Quickly turning he grabbed Neji by the collar, "Ok buddy. I've had it with you. If it wasn't for the fact that Hinata and her sister were standing here with us, I would beat your sorry ass to a bloody pulp!"

Neji was unmoved as he struck Naruto's arm, closing off some chakra points. It caused the blonde to jerk back where Hinata immediately went to release the points. "I'll say this one time Uzumaki, touch me again and I will do more than seal your chakra points."

"Neji that's enough! Father will hear about this and he won't be happy." Hanabi was at her end with Neji as well. "The only reason you're here is because the elders were too damn scared to let me go on my own and they don't know the true power Hina-chan has. So this is my final warning. You won't listen to Hina-chan, so you better listen to me, got it!"

"Forgive me Lady Hanabi, I shall do as you wish." Neji backed down with little sincerity. "I was going to spare your life you little brat, but since you love your sister so much, you can stay with her and both of you can burn in hell."

"Ok enough of this. Neji you forget I'm team leader here. This disrespect ends now." Tenten got her words in as well.

"Fine, we'll go with our leader's…" Neji never had a chance to finish as Tenten had one of her handguns inches within his face, and her finger on the trigger.

"Make me pull this trigger Neji, just make me. I've got three people here who will back me up and I know damn well Lady Tsunade would do the same. So push me the wrong way one more time." Tenten was itching to pull the trigger and shoot Neji's head clean off. The whole mission he had done nothing but berate everyone and lower morale.

Neji said nothing as he backed off. Tenten wasn't one to let him off easy so she kept her gun at the ready. "Naruto you said we have less than two miles right?" He nodded in agreement. "Fine. Best thing we can do is go in full speed. Naruto and I will take Sasuke. I have some anger to vent at him. Hinata, Hanabi, and Neji will deal with any reinforcement they have. One Hyuuga is bad but three will be a nightmare for anyone opposing us. We good to go?" Everyone nodded, including Neji. "Alright, time to take care of business."

"They're here…they're here! Finally time to shed some blood!" Vulnificus was twitching in delight as he could sense the other Device users closing in.

"I agree Vulnificus. This water will glow red when we are finished." Sasuke gripped Vulnificus and activated the first mode without summoning a Barrier Jacket.

"What about me Lord Sasuke? Will I get to have fun too?" Sakura twirled a strand of her hair while she coyly asked her question.

The more she talked of destruction, vengeance, and retribution, the more Sasuke became attracted to her. "Of course my dear. You will fight by my side as the bloodshed of my enemies happens." He grabbed her forcefully and pulled her close.

"My lord…you spoil me so." Sasuke could feel the heat radiating from Sakura. He could tell she was becoming more aroused by the minute.

"And you will serve me well in rebuilding the Uchiha." Sasuke kissed her once more as Vulnificus informed him of the arrival. He looked down the cliffs to see who had pursued him. "What do you know, the losers decided to come after me."

The group looked up to see Sasuke and Sakura. "Give it up Sasuke! You're coming back to Konoha now!" Naruto demanded of his former teammate.

"Not this time Naruto. That place doesn't suit my needs anymore. I know how to get the power I need to kill Itachi." Sasuke yelled back. "But if you really want to try and take me back, then come get me!" He stuck out his hand and motioned for Naruto to make the first move.

"Come on sis, let's take him down." Naruto took off first up the cliffs.

"Right with you bro. Wow I really like saying that." Tenten was right behind at full speed.

"Hina-chan, do you see anything right now?" Hanabi was scanning the area for any other ninja.

"None. I don't think Sasuke had reinforcements." Hinata was checking as well but she had no luck. "I guess we'll need to be Naruto-kun and Tenten's backup for now."

"I'm afraid that's not going to happen." Hinata turned to look back, but before she could she took a vicious strike to the back, sending her to the ground.

"Neji, what are you doing?" Hanabi couldn't believe that Neji just attacked her sister with no provocation.

"I'm finishing what I started at the Chuunin Exams!" He started walking toward Hinata but Hanabi grabbed hold of him. Neji reached around and grabbed Hanabi in a choke, "Since you care so much about your piece of trash sister, you can suffer her fate as well when I'm done with her!" He threw Hanabi into the cliffs as hard as he could, causing her to crash with force. "Now Hinata, it's time we spend some family time together."

Hinata got to her feet. She shook her head to clear the cobwebs and tried to get her bearings back. "Neji, why are you doing this? We're family, we shouldn't be fighting each other."

"Save me the sincere crap." The veins in Neji's eyes were searing with rage and hate. "You're going to pay for causing the death of my father." Neji didn't hesitate as he rushed in and attacked Hinata full speed. His strikes were full of aggression, anger, and retribution.

"Neji, please, I'm sorry! I had no idea Uncle Hizashi would sacrifice himself like that." Hinata was on full defensive as Neji continued his relentless attack. "It was supposed to be my father that was supposed to die, remember?"

"I don't care! The blood of the Main House will flow today, like it should have those years ago!" Neji continued his onslaught, striking more and more. Hinata had been concerned on why he was attacking her that she hadn't thought of using a Protection Barrier to help. However she did have to try and stop his blind rage. Doing what she could, she immediately went on a counter attack.

With Naruto and Tenten, Naruto noticed Tenten took the initiative and went after Sasuke first. He figured that she had a bone to pick with Sasuke for what he did to Bardiche so he figured it was best to let her vent her anger. That gave him enough time to check on Sakura.

"Sakura-chan, you ok?" He saw her slightly trembling at the battle.

"Na-na-naruto?" Sakura got herself back to reality before immediately grabbing Naruto in a hug. "Naruto, thank you so much for coming! You have to stop Sasuke-kun before he gets hurt."

"Sakura, why are you here? You're really risking your own life being here. Sasuke's not the same person we knew." Naruto said. "Look, head back to the village and I'll make sure he gets brought back ok."

Sakura released Naruto and stared at him. "Naruto…I…there's something I have to tell you Naruto." He saw her eyes beginning to tear up. "Going after Sasuke like this and seeing him like this made me realize something. Naruto…I…I love you Naruto!"

Naruto almost did a double take, "Wait say what?"

"Yes Naruto, I've been a fool. Sasuke-kun doesn't appreciate me like you do. He doesn't care for my well being like you do. He doesn't love me like you do.' Sakura was in full tears now. "It was only chasing after him and finding him like this that made me realize you should have been the one I should have gone after."

Naruto didn't know what to think. Here he was with the girl he had a crush on, and she just confessed her love to him! "Sakura-chan, I…this is…wow! I don't know what to think?"

"Say you'll be mine forever Naruto, say you'll let me become your bride and be known to all as Sakura Uzumaki, say that we'll never be apart for all time." She buried her head in his chest with tear filled eyes. She poured all her emotion out to Naruto, hoping he would accept her question.

"Sakura-chan…I will. I'll never leave your side Sakura-chan. I'll always be there for you." Naruto wrapped his arms around her and kept her close.

Tenten meanwhile had her own hands full with Sasuke. She was in a duel as she had Cross Mirage in dagger mode while trying to block against Sasuke's strikes with Vulnificus.

"You creep! How dare you treat Bardiche the way you did. He gave everything to help you and that's how you repay him?" Tenten parried another strike and tried slashing with one hand but Sasuke was still too fast. "You don't deserve any Device!"

"What do I care? He was weak. I have no room to align myself with weakness." Sasuke used his new speed to dash around and try to strike from the rear. He summoned several blue lightning darts, "Lightning Blade Pierce!"

"So you're going into spells now?" Tenten jumped out of the way as the darts sped past her. She shifted Cross Mirage back into gun mode and started firing shots of her own. "I'm not letting you get away with this Sasuke

Sasuke kept up his attack, almost as if he was doing it for fun and not taking Tenten seriously. "I'd like to see you try. Prove you're not a weakling." He upped the number of darts flying at Tenten and started putting more pressure on her.

"Alright, he's making it touch. Come on Cross Mirage, let's show him some real fire power!" She lightly clicked the triggers on her guns to load a cartridge.

"Yes my mistress!" Cross Mirage was in full agreement and ready to do whatever she needed.

"Alright Sasuke, dance! Crossfire Shoot!" About15-20 energy spheres appeared and shot toward Sasuke at amazing speed. Sasuke dodged a few, but had to actually block some shots. However Tenten wasn't about to quit. She unleashed another salvo before quickly loading a new cartridge. "You're pretty good with dodging and blocking, but I was going easy on you. Now it won't be so easy! Cross Mirage, Double Cartridge load!"

"Double Cartridge ready!" Cross Mirage was already on task.

"Crossfire Full Burst!" After loading four cartridges, Tenten unleashed the strongest form of her Crossfire Shoot spell, the Crossfire Full Burst. Instead of 15-20 spheres, she summoned nearly 200 energy shots at once, sending them all at Sasuke.

"She's really annoying!" Sasuke did his best to dodge, but this was too much. He quickly put up a barrier in the hopes of blocking, but even as that happened, he saw the barrier starting to crack from all the shots. "Ok you worthless prick. You wanted to get serious…well I'm about to do the same." He even shot a quick glance back at Sakura and knew things were going the way it should. "Good…good. You will definitely serve me well Sakura. This will break them for good!"

Hinata did her best to keep up with Neji, but it seemed like his rage made him faster. She barely had enough time to get a Protection shield up and was doing all she could to hold him off. Hanabi had even come to her senses but was paralyzed in shock over Neji's actions.

"Fight me you weak piece of crap! Fight me NOW!" Neji never stopped his attack. He continued to pound away at her barrier, barely giving Hinata a chance to attack, or even talk to him.

"Neji, you have to stop this. We can settle this without hurting each other!" Hinata was down on one knee because of the amount of chakra she was using for her barrier.

"I'll stop when your blood coats the ground!" He struck harder and harder, adding more chakra to his strikes. Since her Protection shield was chakra based, each hit was causing her shield to be disrupted. "DIE!"

Neji would have hit another strike but Hanabi came to her senses long enough to get another strike in. "Storm Tooth!" She moved quickly enough to hit Neji with an accelerated upwards strike, then followed with a straight strike to Neji's face, knocking him back a good distance away from Hinata. "Hina-chan, you ok?"

"Thanks Hanabi-chan. I guess talking to him isn't going to change his mind." Hinata slowly got back to her feet.

"Now I don't know why you'd want to change his mind." Kabuto showed up out of nowhere and made his way over to Neji. "Besides, I don't think it fair that you've had a toy to play with while he hasn't. I think we need to even the playing field, don't you?" He took out a purple gemstone from his pouch. "So Neji, wouldn't you like to be on even terms with your dear cousins?"

"I don't need any toys to kill those two." Neji got to his feet however Kabuto still put the gem in his hand. "What is…" The gem reacted in his hands creating a blinding light. Hinata and Hanabi turned away until after the light died down. What stood before them was Neji now in a black sleeveless gi with black gloves. He now held a long staff with a purple orb in the center.

"Time to get rid of this stupid seal! These basic Mid-childan seals are ridiculous!" The girls heard a voice coming from the staff and saw Neji's forehead glowing. His headband fell off only to reveal that the Caged Bird seal had dissolved and no longer bound Neji. "Excellent. Now my master, how shall we smite these worms?"

"Luciferon, change to melee form." Neji showed no emotion in his voice as the staff began to glow and wrap around his right arm. It bound itself in the form of an armored gauntlet with the stone in the center of the glove.

"Luciferon!" Hinata and Hanabi immediately knew it was trouble. However how much trouble was just the start. Neji disappeared and moved at unbelievable speed to slam Hinata with unreal force.

He quickly turned to Hanabi and nailed her with a forceful kick, knocking her back into her downed sister. Holding up his hand, a purple circle appeared and gathered energy. "Burn in hell you pathetic worms! Blast Fire!" A massive ball of flame shot towards the girls. Both were defenseless to try and block and could only take the shot head on. Hinata quickly moved over Hanabi in order to shield her sister.

"Hina-chan, don't!" Hanabi felt the force of the first strike but suffered no ill damage. She saw Hinata wince in pain because she didn't get a shield up in time.

"It's ok." Hinata grimaced as another flame ball hit her in the back, wearing away her outer barrier jacket. "I'll protect…you Hanabi-chan." Hinata could do nothing as Neji continued to pummel her with blasts of flame, planning to burn her alive.

Sasuke barely managed to survive Tenten's assault and managed to shoot Sakura a quick glance. He was about to make a big move.

"Well, it seems I have other things to take care of." He started focusing his chakra in his hand, forming his Chidori. "Guess it's time to get things moving." With that he ran full speed at Tenten. "You know, I have a different target in mind."

"What?" Tenten was caught off guard as Sasuke quickly used a bind spell to lock her in place. He then shifted his direction to another target. Tenten looked and saw exactly who he was going for. "Naruto, Sakura, look out!

Sakura heard the chirp of the Chidori and knew it was time. She completely ignored Tenten's words as she had other things in mind. "Naruto, thank you for giving me your heart. I promise that I'll always cherish it."

"Sakura-chan, I…you don't know how happy this makes me." Naruto held her close, completely oblivious to Sasuke's Chidori. His mind was lost to the world as the only thing he could think of was Sakura.

"It makes me happy too. It makes me happy to know my true love will give me your heart…so I can shove it down your throat!" Sakura pushed Naruto away only to push him right in the path…of Sasuke!

"Sakura what…" Naruto never finished as Sasuke slammed his arm through his back, ripping right through his lung.

"My Lord Sasuke, you missed his heart?" Sakura whined.

"I know. I want him to bleed slowly and relish this pain before I finish him." Sasuke removed his arm covered with Naruto's blood. Naruto immediately fell to his knees in extreme pain, clutching the hole in his chest.

"Sakura-chan…how…how could you?" Naruto coughed up blood that had slowly filled his lung. "You said…you loved me?"

"Oh that, well…I lied." Sakura had an evil grin on her face as she kicked Naruto in the head, knocking him down to the ground. "Now Yersinia Kreuz, bestow upon me my armor and staff."

"Of course my lady." Yersinia Kreuz went online, adorning Sakura in the same purple Barrier Jacket as her former master. Four black wings hovered outside her back and a long cross staff appeared in Sakura's hands.

"So, this is your Barrier Jacket? You never cease to amaze me Sakura." Sasuke was quite pleased at what he saw.

"Only for you my lord." Sakura's tone was quite seductive as she was happy to impress the man she loved.

"Well, I say we greet our new ally." Sasuke turned and saw Neji still continuing his onslaught. He and Sakura jumped down to his level and casually approached him. "So Neji, I see you're taking much pleasure in the new power you control."

"This power was made for me." Neji's bloodlust was overflowing. He looked over at Naruto struggling and grasping his chest. He let up on his barrage just enough for her to look upon him, "How does it feel Hinata? Look…look upon the worthless boy you so love."

Hinata, beaten and battered slowly turned her head. Her eyes went wide as she saw the hole in Naruto's chest. "Naruto-kun, are you ok!" He said nothing, only coughing up more blood.

Hanabi got a look at him and saw just how horrific the scene was. "Why are you doing this Neji! You're like our big brother! Why do you want to kill us?"

Neji looked at her with icy eyes. "You are part of the cruelty that opened my eyes to the darkness of the world. I am a true prodigy of the Hyuuga, yet I have to serve weaklings? Never again will this happen!"

"Spoken like a true ally." Sasuke had swiftly moved back to where he put Tenten in the bind and retrieved her, slinging her at her friends like a ragdoll. "So this is the bunch that came to get me?"

"Sasuke, what did you do?" Tenten shook her head clean of the cobwebs. She got a quick look and saw just how beaten Hinata was, and even saw her new adopted brother choking on his own blood. "How…why!"

"It's because you are nothing but weak maggots." Sasuke gripped Vulnificus tightly. "I said Konoha could give me nothing…and I proved it. Now prepare to die."

Tenten watched as Sasuke, Neji, and Sakura all rose in the air…like they were flying. She quickly got Naruto and brought him over to Hinata and Hanabi. "Come on bro, don't give up on me now."

"Sakura-chan…why?" Naruto was coughing more blood but his wound was slowly healing. Kyu had been pouring everything she had into his wound to try and speed the healing.

"Not dead Naruto? Well you will be." Sasuke said as Vulnificus changed from the scythe into its Full Drive Zanber form. "Oh you all look surprised at why we're levitating. Seems our Devices have a flight spell as well."

"They need not know of such trivial things Sasuke." Neji's voice was cold and dark. "Now Luciferon, engage Blaster Head, Melee form!"

"Blaster Head, ignition!" Luciferon's gem began to glow as it shifted to its Blaster Head. Two prongs curved out as a focal emitter for his spells.

"This is going to be delightful! I hope they scream in the agony of a slow death!" Sakura had Yersinia Kreuz pointed at the group as a triangle shaped spell field appeared.

"Goodbye weaklings!" Sasuke pulled his Zanber behind him as lightning arced around the blade. Energy began to gather in Neji's fist and at the ends of Sakura's spell triangle.

Tenten was shaking in fear. Her best friend was at her limit, her brother was struggling, and Hanabi was just paralyzed from the situation. "I gotta do something fast!"

"You do nothing but die!" Sasuke slashed his blade forward, unleashing a massive burst of lightning, "Thunder Blade Annihilation Slash!"

Neji drew his fist back and thrust it forward, shooting a massive beam like Sasuke's, "Luciferon Breaker!"

"Sword of unbreakable steel, cast down your divine judgment and smite those before me!" The three orbs concentrated in the center of Sakura's spell triangle, firing a white beam of energy, "Excalibur!"

The only thing Tenten could do was cover her head. She had nothing she could block with and knew this was it. Until she saw Hinata make one last move.

"Mach Caliber: Gear Excelion!" Hinata immediately activated her Full Drive and stared head on into the combined attack. "Wide Area Protection!" She put her hands forward, creating a barrier with the very last of her energy. As the attack hit, she was doing everything she could to hold off the attack. "Mach Caliber, please lend me what strength you can!"

Her device was working in overdrive. Cracks were all over her skates and her Revolver Knuckle due to the sheer amount of force she was holding back. Hinata's whole body was shaking due to the stress. "I'll…do what I can…Hinata!"

"Hinata, what are you…" Tenten was in sheer awe at her friend.

"Tenten, please help Naruto-kun…and Hanabi-chan…get out of here! You're the…only one that can!" Hinata was struggling to stay on her feet while keeping up the barrier shield. "I…can't keep this up!"

"NO! I will not lose you! You're my best friend Hinata! Look, I'll get Naruto and Hanabi away, but when I do, I'll try and give you cover to escape." She looked down at her guns and knew what she had to do. "Alright Cross Mirage, Blazer Mode!"

"You're not going anywhere!" Sasuke poured on more power, just enough to force Hinata to her knees. It distracted Tenten enough that her Full Drive didn't engage. "That's right, watch and die!"

Tenten quickly tried to move and get Naruto and Hanabi out of the way but Hinata had reached her absolute limit. Mach Caliber was at the point of shattering. "Hinata…I'm…sorry!" That was the Device's limit. Mach Caliber immediately started shorting out from the stress. Time slowed down as Hinata's barrier dropped. Death was inevitable for the group…until…

"Stars 1 command override! DNA Synchronization activate! Recalibrate defensive perimeters! Activate Barrier Jacket: Aggressor Mode!" A new shield appeared around the team as a light shot out from Hinata's pocket. It was the red gemstone she found in the bunker. Hinata's entire body was glowing as a new energy source was flowing through her.

"What's going on?" Naruto saw what was happening as he struggled to breathe.

"I don't believe it. It's her…Stars 1!" Cross Mirage responded to his question. "How did Lady Hinata activate her?"

"Cross Mirage, who are you talking about? Who did Hinata activate?" Tenten wanted to know just what was happening.

"Stars 1…also known as the Ace of Aces Nanoha Takamachi and Raising Heart! Lady Hinata has activated Raising Heart!" Cross Mirage knew the device signature perfectly. As it was the energy signature of his own commanding officer, he knew there was now a chance of survival.

"What…what's going on?" Hinata was trying to stay conscious. "Who…are you?"

"Do not worry my Master. I shall help you from now on. Excelion Mode, Drive Engage!" The newly revealed Raising Heart went online, cloaking Hinata in a completely new barrier jacket. It was a solid white long-sleeved top with blue cuffs, a white short skirt, long white stockings and boots, and a white waist cape. A staff appeared with a red gem in the center that began to shift to a triangular head. "I can tell you are not used to long range styles and are more suited for melee. We will configure that setup another time. Do not worry anymore. I shall lend you my strength. Now preparing Starlight Breaker."

Sasuke saw what was going on and felt his Device become enraged. "Vulnificus, what is going on!"

"Her! That incessant nuisance!" Luciferon was the one to reply. "How dare Raising Heart show herself here! I will DESTROY HER!"

"So, another enemy. That's fine. Break her!" Sasuke yelled in rage. However before the trio of Dark Device wielders could make their move, Hinata and her new Device was one step ahead as all of the energy released began to gather at the tip of Hinata's staff.

"Starlight Breaker!" Hinata used what strength she had, combined with Raising Heart to unleash her ultimate spell, large enough to engulf all three Dark Device users at once. She pushed out every ounce of energy she had and it was enough to force a retreat.

"Sasuke, it's best we do retreat. For now. Let us take time to prepare to take on this new hindrance." Neji pulled back and Sasuke nodded.

"I agree friend. We will kill them another day. Come Sakura." Sasuke turned the other way as the beam began to die down.

"Yes my lord Sasuke." Sakura was right behind as the three flew off with Sasuke in the lead. He still planned to go to Orochimaru, however he had two allies at his side.

The Starlight Breaker finally died down and Hinata collapsed to the ground, breathing heavily. Her new Barrier Jacket dispelled, leaving a red gem in one hand, and a cracked blue gem in the other hand. Tenten was immediately over to her checking on her.

"Hinata, are you ok? Come on stay with me now." She tapped Hinata's face a bit to make sure she was awake.

"I'm ok Tenten. How are Naruto-kun…and Hanabi-chan?" She was slowly catching her breath as Hanabi fell on top of her in a hug.

"Don't scare me like that again!" Hanabi grabbed hold of her and squeezed her tight, though Hinata's reaction made her jump off.

"Aaugh…" Hinata's back arched as she immediately rolled over. The pain she felt was searing.

"What's the matter Hina-chan?" Hanabi started looking over her sister when she saw the problem with her Byakugan. Hinata's back was severely burned from the constant barrage that Neji unleashed. It penetrated her Barrier Jacket and had damaged her directly. "Oh man, those burns are really bad. We gotta get you back to the hospital."

"I'll…I'll be…" Hinata was using what will she had left to fight off the intense pain in her back. "This really hurts!"

"Come on Hina-chan, try to lean on me." Hanabi struggled to get Hinata to her feet and did what she could to hold her up. "Geez, you gotta lay off the cinnamon rolls! No wonder your freakin' boobs got so big."

"Hanabi-chan!" Hinata had a burst of embarrassment, followed by a pain in her back.

"Sorry, I was trying to lighten the mood." Hanabi chuckled slightly. "Hey Tenten, how's Naruto?"

"He's really quiet for some reason. Naruto, are you ok? Come on, say something?" Tenten was really worried now. Naruto had NEVER been this quiet. However when she looked in his eyes, it was if he'd lost all life.

"Sakura-chan…why?" That was all Naruto mumbled as Tenten draped his arm around her shoulder so he could lean on her. She saw the hole in his chest getting smaller by the minute. Kyu was probably working overtime to do what she could to heal the wound he took. If it wasn't for his Uzumaki blood, he would have died from Sasuke's Chidori.

"What happened to you Naruto?" She hoped her brother would respond but his only words were "Sakura-chan…why?"

This is going to be a long walk home." Hanabi sighed as she heard a boom of thunder. "That's not helping you know!" Her words went unheeded as the rain started coming down.

The entire walk was quiet as the group slowly trudged back to Konoha. When they got the gates of the village, Tenten sent a telepathic message to Tsunade that Naruto and Hinata were seriously hurt. She rushed to the hospital and had two special rooms prepared. Kyu split off from Naruto and collapsed while Shizune went straight to work healing him, while Tsunade was taking care of Hinata.

"Neji did this to you Hinata? How?" Tsunade had her lying face down on the bed and helped her out of her shirt, looking at the damage done.

"Kabuto…gave him Luciferon." Hinata was still wincing from the pain. "I had to keep Hanabi-chan safe so I took the full force of his spell."

"Well, don't worry. I'll have this taken care of." Tsunade walked over and pulled the screen closed for privacy. "What I'm going to do is a skin graft. This will cut away all of the destroyed skin down to the dermis layer. I'll then use undamaged skin to cover your back and help it regenerate. Since it would probably be too painful for you to lie on your back, I can't use the skin on your chest."

"So what are you going to…eep!" Hinata felt a rush of air as she soon realized Tsunade stripped her of her pants and panties as well.

"Well only your back took damage. Looks like Neji missed your legs and butt. You know for a girl your age, you're really developing. Keep it up and maybe that idiot beside you will take notice." Tsunade's hand went green as she went to work cutting away the skin on Hinata's back.

"I just hope he's ok." She felt pieces of skin being cut away until Tsunade was finished, leaving her back completely red from the exposed dermis layer.

"Alright now this is a technique I learned from a specialist in burn injury. Let me first…" Tsunade saw the small jar of ointment Hinata keeps with her by the side of her pouch. "Hmm, Hinata, did you make this ointment?"

"I did. I hope to make stronger healing ointments as I get older." Hinata replied with a shiver.

"Well let's put it to good use. I can tell you used very good ingredients." Tsunade took a large dollop and spread it all over Hinata's injured back. After that her hand changed from a green glow to a light blue glow. With a careful sweep, she moved her hand over Hinata's legs and butt, slicing away a near transparent layer of skin. "You should notice your skin will feel a little smoother after this. The technique is similar to an exfoliating treatment, except it doesn't remove dead cells, but live ones."

Hinata only felt a tingling sensation as the ointment went to work. "Will I feel anything when you remove the skin layer?"

Tsunade had already set the first layer and began a second. "Not at all. In fact I already have the first skin layer set. Four more and I'll seal the graft, and then get you bandaged up. I'll send Tenten to your home to get you some clothes since Hanabi needs to be checked out."

"Ok." Hinata just let go and only had one thing on her mind…Naruto. The whole trip home he kept mumbling about Sakura and his eyes never seemed to get any life back into them. In about 15 minutes Tsunade finished and had wrapped her up in a bandage and gave her a robe to wear until Tenten returned. After checking over Hanabi to find out she had a cracked rib and suffered a mild concussion, she did some mild healing to set the rib and gave her some pain reducer for any headaches. Now came the big problem.

"Shizune how is he?" Tsunade overlooked Naruto and saw that the hole in his chest was almost closed.

"How did he survive this?" Shizune wiped the sweat from her brow as Tsunade placed her hand on his chest.

"He's Kushina's son. It's in his blood." Due to Tsunade's stronger healing and Klarwind's assistance, the hole finished closing. "His lung will be weak for a while but what I want to know is how he ended up with the hole in the first place."

"It…was Sasuke." Kyu slowly crawled up from the bed and plopped onto the pillow beside Naruto. "He and Sakura…set him up."

"Sakura was in on this?" Tsunade's eye twitched when she heard about his number one fangirl.

"She…made him think that she loved him…and wanted to be with him forever." Kyu was still breathing hard until Shizune brought her a small glass of water to help her. "Naruto really thought she was serious right until she pushed him in Sasuke's path."

Tsunade knew exactly what she did. Even though Hinata's injuries looked bad, Naruto took the worst damage of all…his heart was utterly destroyed by a girl he was in love with. "I may be the best medical ninja in these lands, but he had to get the one injury I can't heal." She ran her fingers through his hair and stared into his lifeless eyes. Even though she sometimes thought of Naruto as a brat, she always saw so much fire and life in his eyes. Now it was nothing but emptiness. "Kyu, if you were unisoned with him, how come you couldn't warn him?"

"When I'm unisoned, I feel all of his emotions. He was so infatuated with Sakura, I couldn't overcome his strong love for her. To be honest, I kinda felt the same way he did." Kyu didn't like admitting that as Sakura was the last person she was fond of now. "Even on the way home, I felt all of his despair and heartbreak and it kept me in tears while I was trying to heal him."

"His life has been bad enough as it is." Tsunade sighed as she watched him slowly fall asleep. "Hinata, if you truly love him with all your heart, you may be the only who can heal his heart."

Tenten got back quickly only to have Hiashi with her. He questioned her when she came back to get some things for Hinata. Tenten hoped to avoid an explanation but there was no explaining it. "I'm back. And…I have company."

"Father, what are you doing here?" Hanabi knew it was going to be bad explaining about Neji, but she had no idea how he was going to react about Hinata.

"Tenten informed me of your injuries." He saw that Tsunade had finished up with Naruto and had a sedation IV hooked up to him so he would stay sleep. "I take it Lady Hokage handled your injuries?"

"Hanabi is fine. Just a cracked rib and minor concussion. Hinata will need extra time to heal from third degree burns." Tsunade could see he was in the mood for an explanation and knew it was a clan matter. "Shizune, Tenten, come with me." She had Kyu in her jacket so Hiashi wouldn't notice her. "Naruto is sedated so anything you say, he will not hear. I'll leave you be."

The three took their leave with only the Hyuuga in the room. With a deep breath, he did one thing…embraced both of his daughters. "Thank Kami you're both alive. What happened out there?"

"Father…it was Neji. He's gone rogue." Hanabi explained how Neji initiated the attack after meeting up with Sasuke. She then got to the part where his seal was dissolved by coming in contact with an ancient artifact but Hinata stopped her. He needed to know the truth. She explained everything about their devices, how she beat Neji, went toe to toe with Naruto, everything. She even had Hanabi demonstrate just to prove she wasn't lying.

Hiashi was completely stunned at everything he heard. "I see why you two have been so secretive. This is not a good situation at all. It's going to be much worse for you Hinata. Knowing the elders, they're going to want some form of retribution for Neji's betrayal and they'll want to place the blame on you."

"Papa that's not fair!" Since everything was in the open, Hanabi felt more at ease and could talk to Hiashi with her true feelings and not that of the clan. "Hina-chan was the one that kept me from getting hurt worse than I already am. None of this was her fault!"

"I know that Hanabi. But the elders are so fixated on the old ways. They're blind to how things should be. The fact that Neji is so skilled in our art makes him dangerous, and now that he is free of the seal, our options are limited." Hiashi knew it was going to be a grim day for his clan. "They're going to want to place the seal on you Hinata because of this."

"You wouldn't let them do that to Hina-chan would you?" Hanabi cried out.

"I would rather die than let them place that accursed seal on either of your heads." He got Hanabi to calm down slightly. "But we need to be prepared for anything."

"Is there any way I could separate myself for the clan for some time?" Hinata figured an exile might be better to give her a chance to train and go after Neji.

"Actually, there is a very old clan law. It was only enacted if the guardian of the clan heir escaped and tried to leave the clan. The clan heir would be required to track down the branch member and kill said person within three years unless they wanted to be stripped of their status, branded, and permanently exiled." Hiashi remembered all clan law to the letter. "However there was a loophole that no heir ever used."

"What's the loophole daddy?" Hiashi felt more joy hearing that word from Hinata's mouth.

"The loophole is that the clan heir willingly resigns and goes into self exile. Because Hyuuga are supposed to be proud of their status, no clan heir ever considered a willing resignation." Hiashi stated. "The elders may look at Hanabi as the heir, but it's not official since you still hold the title Hinata."

"So I could officially give the title to Hanabi-chan and it would give me freedom from the clan?" Hinata thought that she could use the chance to train hard enough to get Neji back and bring him back to the clan.

"Yes. And there's one more thing. See, you and Hanabi are a very special case. What should have happened is that Hanabi should have been branded with the seal, but any female member of the Main house cannot be branded as they cannot officially start a Branch family in the eyes of the clan. Had she been male, she would have been branded and cast into the Branch house." Hiashi explained more of the clan laws. "Once Hanabi becomes clan heir, you can officially challenge her for the right to retake your title after a period of 10 years."

Hinata thought hard about everything and came to a conclusion, "So with this loophole, I can leave the clan and train hard to stop Neji."

"Plus in 10 years, I give you back the title of heir and you can still reach your dream of uniting the clan. There's no way the elders could stop you if you train that long." Hanabi added in.

"By doing this Hinata, you would have to retain your relationship with Hanabi in secret. She would be forbidden to be in contact with you unless it was on official missions by Lady Hokage and even then in the presence of any Hyuuga, she has to treat you as an outcast." Hiashi explained the difficulty of what would happen. "In addition you would be cut off from any type of help from the clan. What I can do is give you access to my secondary personal account. I keep one out of the presence of the elders in the event either of you needed anything important. This way you will have an extra source of financial support in addition to your normal shinobi salary." He looked at Hinata to make sure this was what she wanted. "Are you absolutely sure you want to do this? If any of the elders found out about this, no doubt they would threaten Hanabi's life for your servitude or execution."

Hinata knew it was a difficult decision, but she and Hanabi had their ways of keeping secrets. "I'll find a way to bring him home and make him see the light of his error. Besides, you can never keep sisters apart, right Hanabi-chan?"

Hanabi agreed, "Right Hina-chan!"

"Very well. I'll return home and prepare for the elders. Are you both able to come home?" He asked of his daughters.

"I think Lady Tsunade wants me to stay at least for the night. Just to make sure the skin grafts are healing correctly." Hinata replied.

"I'm gonna stay with Hina-chan tonight." Hanabi had gotten comfortable sitting on Hinata's bed and figured it was better not going anywhere.

"So be it then." Hiashi embraced both of his daughters again and took his leave. "Your mother would be so proud of both of you. Rest well my daughters."

The girls knew things were not going to be easy from here on out. When it came to raw talent, Neji far exceeded Hinata in every form. She knew that she had to push herself and break her limits in order to become strong enough to either defeat him and make him realize his errors, or kill him if that was her last resort. She reached over to her pouch and took out Raising Heart, her new Device. "I wonder if I could really do it Hanabi-chan."

"Do what Hina-chan?" Hanabi saw her sister staring at her Device.

"Can I really kill Neji? What if I can never convince him to come home to the clan? Had I never been captured when I was little, Uncle Hizashi might still be alive." Hinata sighed as she thought back to when Neji wasn't so cold.

"I know it's hard to think about. Even I'm worried of something like that happening. But we can't let him keep going down this dark path." Hanabi replied. "All we can do is trust in our abilities, our friends, and our Devices."

"I hope you're right Hanabi-chan. And I hope Mach Caliber is ok as well. She looked really damaged after that battle." Tsunade had taken Mach Caliber from Hinata to see if Klarwind could do any type of repair due to the amount of battle damage. "But for now I think we should get some sleep."

"Yep. We should. Nite Hina-chan." Hanabi already jumped in the bed under the blankets but Hinata had one last thing to do. "What are you doing?"

"Just one more thing." Hinata slowly made her way over to Naruto's bed. He was out cold due to the sedation medicine in his IV. To some it would look as if he was sleeping peacefully, but Hinata knew he was in the worst pain of his life.

"Naruto-kun, I'm so sorry." She ran her fingers through his blonde locks. "She had no right to do that to you. Look I know you can't hear me right now but seeing you hurt like this…I don't know how long I can take this. Seeing your eyes so lifeless and dark…it scares me Naruto-kun. I hope you come back soon. We…I need you Naruto-kun." Tears started flowing from her own lavender eyes as the love of her life stayed sleep. "I love you so much and I wish I could tell you! I wish I wasn't such a coward around you. You always tell me I'm strong and I'm a good kunoichi and a good person, but I'm weak Naruto-kun. When it comes to you I feel so weak and helpless." She wiped some tears from her face, but a few had fallen from her cheek onto Naruto's face. "Naruto-kun, I'm so scared right now. You suffered the worst wound a person can get, and I don't know if I have the courage to help heal it for you."

Hanabi sat in silence as she heard her sister pouring out her emotions to the boy she loved. "He really means that much to you Hina-chan?" She clenched her fist tight and her eyes started to fill with rage. "Sakura Haruno…what you did was unforgivable. I swear this…I will make you pay for what you did. You crossed the line hurting my sister."

Hinata looked at Naruto with tear filled eyes, "Naruto-kun…I know you can't hear me, but I hope small gift will do something to help you. Please come back to me. I need you more than you will ever know. I love you Naruto Uzumaki." She leaned down and kissed him on his lips, knowing full well that he wouldn't feel it or know that it happened. She grabbed her chest as her own heart was in pain as a source of her own strength lie in despair. Slowly making her way back to the bed, she climbed in beside Hanabi, who was faking sleep after hearing her sister's confession. Hinata pulled the blanket up and slowly fell asleep, tears still in her eyes.

Things are definitely going to change now. Hinata may have activated the legendary device Raising Heart, but at what cost? She now has to face the truth that she may have to kill Neji, and that Naruto may never be the same after the betrayal he suffered from Sakura and Sasuke. Plus what will be the fates of Bardiche and now Mach Caliber? Will Tsunade and Klarwind be able to save the two device? Only time will tell of what happens now.

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