Title: Time-travel Minato
Author: Saydria Wolfe
Characters: Minato, OCs
Warnings: No beta, Minato is a little shit, Canon? What Canon?
Summary: While fucking around with Hiraishin Minato sends himself 14 years in the past.
“If I were going fishing, what would you say I should take with me?”
Minato frowns, the last vestiges of sleep burning away from his mind. It’s a stupid question. Shinobi don’t fish, they rarely have the time or the skill, but that’s why it’s code. A code between allies. A question that’s vaguely ridiculous and cannot possibly come up by accident. Just like the answer.
“A cat,” Minato answers. “The red one in the southern square. She always knows where the fish are biting.”
The first voice laughs a belly laugh, full of life and completely foreign to anything Minato has ever heard before.
He opens his eyes to see two red haired people. A woman whose hair is almost more black than red and eyes a clear crystal purple. The man, the laugher, has red hair that’s gone to pink with age and very familiar blue eyes.
“Are you related to Namikaze Kushina?” He asks half a heartbeat before he realizes he really, really shouldn’t.
The man blinks at him. “Uzumaki Kushina is my great niece. She has gone to Konoha just last week to live with my sister.”
That makes this man Uzumaki Tsuyo, Mito-sama’s only living sibling and Head of both the Uzumaki Clan and Uzushiogakure, but-
Minato sits up. He’s in plain hospital garb on a small bed in a plain room, both of which reinforce the hospital impression. He can smell and hear the ocean outside. Uzushio is the only place he can think of that would have a hospital but the sea but-
But it’s impossible!
“How far in the past are you?” The woman asks.
Minato blinks at her and she raises a single expectant eyebrow.
“Your chakra resonates enough like my daughter’s that you can only be her son and yet you are hardly younger than she would be, were she was alive.”
“You knew the Ally Code and we found you in the clothing of a Hokage.” The man adds, glancing pointedly to where his clothes look to have been laundered and are folded with his fancy hat sitting on top looking damaged. “But you are not the current Hokage, I just saw him last week, and you are neither of the previous two, which means you can only be a future Hokage.”
If Kushina just left for Konoha then he’s- “Fourteen years in the past,” Minato answers with a sigh.
“And your name?”
“Namikaze Minato.” Fuck! Minato runs his hand over his face. “I have to get back.”
“No,” the man, the clan head, says firmly. “It cannot be done. The last time someone tried to go forward in time half the island was sunk, hundreds of people died, and a clan war was started. So, no. It is forbidden.”
The woman nods. “You cannot go to somewhere that doesn’t exist yet. Perhaps to something like a tailed beast the future already exists but from our mortal perspective,” she shakes her head.
Minato lets his head thump back against the wall. Kushina, his wife, is 6 months pregnant. The just let the medic tell them their child’s gender and picked his name. Naruto isn’t even born yet and he’s lost his father and it’s all Minato’s fault.
Kushina had gotten tired of him during the time in his schedule that he reserves everyday for family and he’d gone out to his ‘private’ training grounds on the coast, but. But! He’s the one that decided to tweak Hiraishin and ended up fourteen years in the past!
There has got to be something he can do.
Kushina is here, in the past, but she’s 10. It’s not like he could apologize to a 10 year old for abandoning her while she was pregnant. It would do nothing but confuse her, probably get his head beaten in.
From there he would likely end up strung up by his intestines by Sarutobi-sama himself.
So, no, approaching Kushina is out of the question but he is in the past too. He’s 10 years old, likely just learning the existence of seals. He could prevent his other self from learning Hiraishin… but his abilities saved the Village Hidden in the Leaves numerous times. He can’t take that from them or he might as well destroy Konoha.
Unless they have other allies. Allies they didn’t have last time. Like Uzushio.
But he doesn’t know exactly when Kiri attacked the first time -this time- just that it was within the week of Kushina being sacrificed to the Kyuubi. Though even that knowledge is calculated backwards from the time Konoha found out and had the memorial, so it’s not exactly accurate.
“Will you know when Kushina-hime accepts the Kyuubi?”
Tsuyo raises an eyebrow. “I will know when my sister dies and that will be the same thing.”
“And if I told you Kiri will attack and destroy Uzushio within the week of Kushina becoming a jinchuuriki?”
Tsuyo waves him off. “They have tried before. Their Dayamo wants our land and hates we won’t give it up to him. He’s offended that Uzushio is a free Village.”
“This time the Kage himself and all Seven Swordsman are coming. Uzushio will not stand. It, in fact, did not stand.”
The older man’s eyes narrow and he tilts his head in a calculating manner. “Then I would say it’s a good thing I called for the Hokage to deal with you but didn’t specify to them the reason.”
Minato breathes a sigh of relief. Sarutobi Hiruzen, the God of Shinobi is coming. Likely with the Sanin in tow if he is remembering the stories Jiraiya-sensei told him correctly. And the White Fang should still be alive. The Clans should be as strong as they should be without two World Wars having worn them down.
The woman looks between the two of them, nods, and stands. “We will claim him as clan?”
Tsuyo blinks. “You don’t want to claim him yourself, Yūga?”
“If I do that, I cannot claim his younger self as my grandson. I think the 10 year old needs me more, don’t you?”
At 10 years old Minato would have possibly killed to have family in his life so he nods his agreement, even if that means he can’t claim her as family now.
“Very well,” Uzumaki Tsuyo stands and holds out his gently glowing hands. “I will bring you into the Clan Uzumaki as long as you swear on your chakra to keep all clan secrets from outsiders and swear to protect and preserve the Clan in the way you are most able for as long as you live.”
That’s an easy promise to make. Protecting the Uzumaki protects Konoha, and protecting Konoha has been his sworn duty his entire life so Minato stands, calls his chakra and lays his hands over his clan head’s. “I swear.”
The man grips his hands and says, “Then be welcome in our clan, Uzumaki Ryokosha. You are the fourth of this name. Your first clan secret is that every Ryokosha is a man of clan blood that has journeyed into the past. Next, we’ll teach you fuinjutsu properly but for now we need to do something about that hair.”
Minato can’t really think of that. He’s too busy staggering back and sitting on the bed. When his clan head gives him a look, obviously expecting a response, he gives in to the overwhelming crush of Clan voices and chakra in his head and passes out.
Minato, now Ryo, does his best not to smirk at his new clan head as the man -this time, personally- cuts Ryo’s hair.
To protect young Minato from any enemies Ryo makes for himself and to preserve the secret of Ryo’s own identity he’d agreed to dye his hair. Not with a henge, of course, that could be detected and shattered too easily. Same with a wig which could just be pulled off. And dye itself would be too hard to keep consistent. With the way his hair grows he’d have to dye it just about every week and the chemical smell become a problem, especially around tracker-hunter clans like the Hatake or the Inuzuka or the Hōzuki.
So they changed his hair color with a seal, tattooed to the bottom of his foot and the tattoo healed immediately by a medic.
Now, his hair should be a bright, bloody, Uzumaki red.
But it’s not.
Some combination of genetics or stubbornness or a chakra-induced accident, his natural blonde keeps coming though but just at the ends of his hair, making his hair look like flame when he moves.
At the length he normally keeps it, he’d looked the head of a burning match.
Needless to say, Clan Head Tsuyo is not pleased.
They’d cut and cut and cut his hair trying to lose the gold so much that he’d ended up shorn. Now they’ve used a medic to grow it out -Ryo didn’t even know you could do such a thing- and are in the process of cutting it down. Again.
“Fine.” Tsuyo growls, taking one last snip and throwing the shears to that they stand, vibrating a little at the force, on the counter. “You’re good for mid-level fuinjutsu. Now, advanced-”
The man is thorough, fitting for a Clan Head running an entire Village. To be an Uzumaki he needs red hair, knowledge of fuinjutsu, ridiculous chakra reserves and a love for ramen. ‘Everyone knows’ these are what makes an Uzumaki an Uzumaki.
Chakra reserves he’s got. Not quite what most would consider Uzumaki levels, but more than your average shinobi.
Ramen is.. Tolerable. Sometimes even good.
Red Hair? Has been.. Somewhat forcibly applied.
Now they are settling his skill with seals.
Thankfully Jiraiya-sensei had been almost as thorough as Tsuyo-sama. He’d given Ryo access to every resource available -including a number of scrolls an 11 year old really shouldn’t have gotten ahold of. Jiraiya-sensei told him he would have taken him to Uzushio itself for lessons, if such a thing had been possible.
At least, now his obsession with fuinjutsu makes sense. Now, that he knows he’s an Uzumaki it’s obvious that sealing is in his blood. He was born for it.
What’s almost more interesting -than learning fuinjutsu from the head of a clan of fuinjutsu specialists- is the snarky voice in the back of his head offering its opinions on what he’s reviewing and offering expanded details. A voice Ryo has never heard before that calls itself Arashi. Apparently, he’s a clan member, though Ryo hasn’t met him yet. They are talking anyway, though, because all of the Uzumaki are all connected via chakra through their clan head thanks to the oath even born Uzumaki take.
These connections form a well of mental and emotional support, which really goes a long way to explain how a group of such elite shinobi can also be total den mothers.
That’s right, den mothers.
The entire reason Uzushio is a Village rather than a simple clan home because they keep bringing home strays. Orphans, misfits, devastated clan war survivors. Including but not limited to Kiri’s White Oni clan -the Hozuki, the Kisoku Clan formerly of Iwa, the Kōgeki from Kumo, and the Sasayaki from Suna. Four bloodlines said to be lost to time in Ryo’s future, two days in the past and Ryo has learned that they were really lost to Kiri during the fall of Uzushio.
Of course, it makes him wonder if that’s why Kiri attacked in the first place?
Not as a preemptive move in a war as Konoha assumed but as a way to ensure the death of Kiri’s many feared and hated bloodlines. After all, if the Uzumaki already saved the Hozuki what’s to stop them from saving the others that Ryo knows Kiri will spend the next 14 years trying to erase?
It makes more sense than anything else, really.
Because killing enemy on the battlefield is one thing. But an entire village? To leave not even one stone standing on the one beneath it? To leave not a single citizen of Uzushio breathing Uzushio air?
That’s something completely different.
They are sitting down for lunch on Ryo’s third day in the past -it’s a family lunch so he’s expecting to finally get to see this Arashi that he keeps conversing with in his head- when a bird that looks like an overly large, red osprey swoops in, calls once and disappears in a poof of smoke.
All Uzumaki present in the room stand and if they aren’t already wearing one they start pulling double sword harnesses out of tattooed or scrolled seals and pulling them on.
Ryo just sort of stands there, uselessly watching until his- well, his grandmother, notices and thumps their clan head on the shoulder. The older man looks at him gobsmacked for just a moment before huffing and calling out commands. In quick order he has another clan man’s spare harness and one back up sword from each of two different clan kunoichi.
A third offers him a kunai pouch but thankfully his own came back in time with him so he’s not completely unprepared.
“So that signal was?” Ryo asks, falling into step with his clan head because he hasn’t been told to do otherwise.
“That my jounin commander, Sayuri, is within the third ring of defenses and about 10 minutes out with the Hokage and his party.”
Ryo nods once and falls back a step. They’ve discussed this, he knows his part.
They make it down to the harbor to see a ship with three white sails, the center one marked with a bright blue Uzushio spiral, pulling into a berth on the largest of the docks.
Standing at the prow is the Sandaime Hokage standing taller and stronger and younger than Ryo can ever remember seeing him. Standing united, shoulder to shoulder behind him are the three Sannin, Jiraiya-sensei in the middle, Tsunade-hime on his left, Orochimaru on his right. They look so young. It’s strange. And beautiful. And.. Sad. It’s sad for Ryo to see what they were, to see what they can be, to see what they lost. Makes him wonder why they lost it. Makes him wonder who all exactly fucked this up because there is no way all of the blame could lay on just one set of shoulders. Not with bonds this strong between team and sensei and among the team members themselves.
Arrayed beyond them, between and around the crew of Uzushio nin that are making the boat function are three Senju and an Uchiha, a female Nara, two Hyuuga and an Inuzuka with their nin dog.
All elite jounin or tokujo.
All armored up and dressed for war.
All lost in the war that is currently brewing because not one of them is a ninja Ryo has ever met.
The first one off the boat is a kunoichi is bright orange hair, purple eyes, and an Uzushio hitai-ate peaking through her bangs. She’s tiny but the deferential way the ANBU handling the ship jump off after her to tie up the ship leaves him with no doubt that this is Uzushio’s Jounin Commander.
Tsuyo’s warm greeting of “Sayuri!” is also another big clue.
The woman grins up at her clan head before giving him an appropriate bow. “Uzukage-sama. Our assigned mission is complete with no unexpected difficulties or damages.”
“Very well,” Tsuyo nods to his Jounin Commander and waves her to her customary spot on his right.
When Tsuyo looks up at the ship she left behind the Sandaime Hokage, his friend, is standing at the rail, one foot on it, waiting for permission to enter Uzushio. He wants to smile for the man, greet him cheerfully like he usually does. Because they are friends. But he can’t. Not with the future he knows looms large for his village.
“Sarutobi,” he growls causing his friend to pull up sharply.
“Uzumaki-sama,” Hiruzen says, nodding respectfully.
“My clansman came to me with word that Kiri is preparing to invade.” The slightly younger Kage nods once, this is not news. Kiri attacks Uzushio at least twice a year to make sure Uzushio doesn’t forget how to kick their asses. “They expect to make it through our defense and wipe out the village. They are so confident that the Mizukage and his Seven Swordsmen will lead the attack.”
Many things flicker over his friends fast, soft as shadows and quick as the wind. “A traitor?”
“A traitor in Konoha.”
“Do you know who it is?”
Tsuyo nods, “Two men from Konoha worked with my predecessor on the Village’s defences. One is dead.”
Sarutobi opens his mouth to respond but not far beyond his ship a whale breaches, spins in the air, and splashes down dramatically.
That’s the signal.
Tsuyo glances over his shoulder to Ryo. The time traveller nods and makes a handsign.
“Why aren’t we moving?” He growls at the captain of his personal ship as he exits his cabin. He glances around, surprised by the sight that greets him.”You said we left the Mist.”
“We have Mizukage-sama.” Captain Haan says, snapping to rigid attention. “This isn’t our mist, sir.”
That explains why they aren’t moving. No captain worth their salt would take a ship into hostile waters when they can’t fucking see.
The sound of bone dragging against wood echoing up from the water has him and at least half of the crew leaning over the port side rail in time to see the distinctive dorsal fin of an orca sink beneath the eerily still water.
Splashes sound around them but they can’t see the source. Almost like they are calling attention to the fact that the source can’t be found. Calling attention to how thick the fog has grown.
Bones on wood again but this time he doesn’t bother to look. It’s just a distraction. Someone wants then thrown, wants them flustered. The real attack hasn’t shown itself yet.
And there’s really only one possible source for the attack. Uzushio.
So much for their surprise.
“Yamamoto Takahiro,” a voice calls out, forward to port.
“Yamamoto Takahiro,” the same voice repeats, midside to starboard.
“Yamamoto Takahiro,” the voice again, astern to port.
The fog clears enough for them to see a man standing on the water, forward to port, approximately where his name was first called. He’s a shinobi wearing a spiral hitai-ate and the twin swords of an Uzushio jounin. His hair is short and spiky, standing on his head almost like the flame on the head of a match.
“Sandaime Mizukage Yamamoto Takahiro.”
The man is smiling ever so gently, laughingly, and that’s just too fucking much. Takahiro takes on of the war harpoons tied to the boat and hurls it at the unwelcome pest.
The man doesn’t dodge.
Can’t, Takahiro smirks to himself. He is Mizukage for a reason.
The harpoon hits and the man dissolves into water. A clone. A water clone.
“That wasn’t very nice.” The same voice says from behind him. The stranger is behind them, standing on the starboard railing, one hand casually gripping the railing.
“I am Uzumaki Ryokosha and I challenge you, Sandaime Mizukage Yamamoto Takahiro.”
He forces himself to snort disbelievingly. “The stakes?”
“To the death. For your fancy hat.”
“No.” He says, throwing a kunai and dispersing a second clone. A wind clone.
Immediately his instincts scream and he jumps to the side. He rolls and when he comes up there’s a kunai vibrating point down in the wood of the deck. A three bladed kunai and definitely not the one he just threw.
“Your Village’s honor means so little to you, Mizukage, that you would refuse a challenge?” The voice comes from up in the rigging. The speaker almost hidden in sails and ropes. “My Village means more to me than that. You will take this challenge or I will kill everyone one this boat where they stand.” The man -no doubt another clone- moves out of his concealment. He’s glaring down at them now, his arms crossed over his chest. “The orca will take you in. Harm them and we will consider it an act of war.”
This clone dismisses itself in a gout of flame, sending the crew scrambling to save the sails.
The Seven Swordsmen are all looking at him, pockets of deadly stillness in the chaos.
“He is not of Kiri. His opinion of our honor is of no import.”
The oldest of the Swordsmen, his old mentor, Kiba-sensei nods. “His opinion does not matter, true, but what of ours? What of Kiri shinobi if they found out you refused an honorable challenge?”
“Or if they found out you tried to murder the challenger twice rather than face him honorably?” The youngest swordsman, a rebellious little fucker, asks sharply.
“They were obviously clones.” He scoffs.
“Obvious before or after you tried to kill the first one?”
The Mizukage doesn’t answer. He doesn’t have to, he’s the Mizukage.
Kiba-sensei moves closer to him and speaks softly. “Your source has obviously betrayed us, possibly fed us wrong information to begin with, to lure us out. Our only chance of success, our only chance to survive is for you to take the challenge. This Ryokosha will bring us within Uzushio’s defenses. Then you will destroy what must be their foremost defender after the Uzukage and we will sweep in behind you, taking the village and killing everyone that stands in our way.”
Takahiro runs the proposal over and over in his head and he can’t find fault in it. Other than him having to face down a nin he has no information on that has enough chakra control to make clones from three separate, opposing elements.
It’ll be fun.
He holds out his hand and one of the deckhands places the enemy’s three-bladed kunai in it reverently. There’s some strange writing on the grip. Obviously some of Uzushio’s stupid seal scribbles.
“I accept the challenge,” He says to the seal, loud enough for the entire crew and every nin on deck to hear him.
Bone on wood sounds again, this time from both sides.
The boat rises slightly in the water and they start to move forward.
The crew cheers and Takahiro pockets the kunai so that he can hold his hands up, heralding in his imminent victory.
When they get where ever the whales want them, the ship abruptly stops and settles in the water.
The fog around them lifts somewhat. Just enough to allow them to see the area immediately around the ship as well as a path straight up the bow to the shore where Takahiro can just make out the form of his challenger.
The actual man, not a clone.
His ship’s captain orders the landing gigs lowered and.. a strange thing happens. The first one hits the water and before they can secure it the boat starts moving away. Not floating away but moving with enough purpose that the rope burns crew hands and yanks one of the pulleys off its rigging.
Once the gig is a decent distance away a killer fucking whale shoots up out of the water between the ship and the gig and falls back into the water away from them, breaking the gig in half on its way down.
The screech of pulleys, a whoosh of water and a crash and the process is repeated on the other side.
Fine. They’ll go on foot then.
Takahiro throws himself over the side, landing on the surface of the ocean with just a bare whisper of a splash. His Swordsmen are just second behind. They run forward as one and he can hear the other shinobi on board all come pouring off.
Only about 20 of his most elite jounin and not even a handful of chunin serving their personal needs.
He leads his people onto dry land several paces away from his challenge.
“Sandaime Mizukage Yamamoto Takahiro accepts your challenge Uzumaki Ryokosha.”
“Uzushio stands witness!” The fog clears with a dramatic whoosh behind and to the left of Ryo to reveal Uzumaki Tsuyo and another dozen Uzushio jounin.
“Konoha stands witness!” Sarutobi fucking Hiruzen says as the mist clears to reveal him, the Sannin, and almost another dozen leaf jounin.
“Are you prepared?” Uzumaki the younger and he’s got that serene, smile/laugh thing going on with his face again.
Takahiro takes three steps forward and pulls the assholes’s nancy ass kunai from his pouch. “Yes!” He spits as venomously as he can. “I am fucking prepared.”
Ryo smiles at his opponent. Casually he calls up a Rasengan in his left hand, like it’s not the highest form of shape transformation achieved in the future, and mentally reaches for the seal on the dagger his opponent is waving around like an idiot. A mental pull and a twist of chakra and he’s holding his kunai in his right hand. Before the Mizukage can do more to react than open his mouth, Ryo shoves the Rasengan through his neck.
His little chakra ball actually eats everything from the man’s collar bones to his upper jaw but.. Whatever.
He catches the fancy hat as the body and head tumble off in different directions. Seeing no blood got on it -because the rasengan literally eats everything in its path- he slaps the damn thing on his head. “Any questions?” He asks the Kiri, uh, his nin. He focuses mainly on the Swordsmen because if he can get them-
One of them, and older grizzled looking veteran missing one of his eyes takes a step forward, plants his sword -a massive thing with an even more massive scroll of what Ryo’s pretty sure are exploding tags- in the ground and kneels behind it, his hand on the hilt.
The other six Swordsmen stare at their compatriot, confused. One of the younger ones even looks ready to cut the man down.
If he is remembering the rumors he’s heard correctly, the swords are supposed to be linked to the Mizukage. The Seven Swordsman are the Mizukage’s strong right hand to help in leadership and left hands to help in defense. On a whim and not exactly sure what to expect, Ryo pokes at the six remaining swords with just a bit of chakra.
He can feel a bit of shock from the swords, which is a shock because that implies some sort of, of sentience… All seven swords briefly glow the same blue as his fancy hat. The kneeler’s stays where it’s at but the other six fly out of the hands of their bearers and plant themselves in the ground in a ‘v’ formation around the kneeler leaving him in the position just head and to the left of the sword at the point.
When the swords current, or perhaps more accurately former bearers reach for the swords spikes pop out in the hilts, forcing the men to either release them or just not take hold. The men step back slightly but not as much as they really should after being so obviously rejected and a murmur goes up in the gathered crowd of Kiri nin.
The hubbub gets louder when a woman pushes through the men to stand directly behind Samehada.
She looks like… a sea witch, is really the only way Ryo can describe her. Her hair is like dried, gray seaweed, her eyes are dead and fish-like, and she’s gaunt almost like she’s already started to decompose. Ryo is half surprised he can’t smell her.
She holds her hand out to Samehada, like the sword is a dog that might bite, and moves in slowly. Just heartbeats before her hand closes on the hilt the spikes retract with a loud shink. Her hand touches the hilt and-
The young one that almost attacked the kneeler pushes the woman out of the way.
Well, he tries to.
He gets a hand on her shoulder and before anyone can say or do anything Ryo can feel a surge in the woman’s chakra and closes the fist not now holding the sword tightly.
Out of nowhere, water encases the young asshole completely and the woman cackles.
The asshole flails uselessly in the water and Ryo briefly wonders if he should interfere but none of the Kiri nin seem surprised or bothered by what’s going on. Well, they are confused by the sword thing but not the idiot’s impending drowning.
Of course, this is Kiri.
The crash of a wave on the shore and the slide of a body against rocks has them all looking at the shore. A woman, a Hozuki with silver-white hair and deep purple eyes is sitting on her nin-orca on the shore just a few feet away from them. Several of the Kiri nin tense because the Hozuki are feared but the woman, Getsuga, pays them no mind. Her focus is strictly on Ryo.
Ryo tips his head ever so slightly and makes a sweeping gesture toward the swords with an arm.
She hops off her orca, bows to him and gives him a salute.
The orca -her father’s orca because he died right at the age she would have accepted her first bond- pulls back enough so that he’s floating ever so slightly and dips his head under the water, returning the bow. Then he turns and swims away, disappearing under the tide.
Getsuga turns back to Ryo, bows once again, and then moves with purpose to her sword.
Her swords. She stops at the twin blades, kneels to reach and takes one in each hand. She stands at the head of her little v-leg and throws her shoulders back, head held high. A cheer breaks out among the gathered Uzushio nin because of course it does. One of their adopteds is taking her own back. Den mothers, seriously. Shinobi fucking den mothers.
Not quite sure why, Ryo turns back toward the ocean. There’s a kid, maybe 15, with moused up blue hair and an eyepatch over his left eye. He’s wearing the standard uniform of a Kiri jounin. At fifteen.
Really doesn’t know why he’s so surprised, every Village has their geniuses and he’s more than aware enough to recognize Nezumi Ao. He’s just.. Surprised. Ao wasn’t a Swordsman in his time, but then Ryo wasn’t Mizukage either. Further proof of the connection between the Swordsmen and their Mizukage is all this is.
He watches Ao take in the scene before him. The three groups of elite shinobi. The swords planted in the ground and glowing faintly. The brand new Mizukage.
They boy’s eyes flick to him and again Ryo nods, welcoming his fourth Swordsman.
The boy nods back to him and moves off the water and to on to the beach, taking up the skinny little sewing needle of a blade.
A fifth Swordsman, his third woman, steps out of the crowd of jonin on the beach. She doesn’t have to push through. It’s like none of the others are brave enough to touch her and he can see why. She’s beautiful, all pale unmarked skin and long coal black hair. She almost looks like an Uchiha but with a compelling chakra-aura and sea green eyes.
She pauses at the edge of the crowd, surveying the lot. Her eyes land last on the man loitering awkwardly behind Kubikiribocho. When the man catches her looking he puts his hands up and steps well back. She walks through the crowd like a shark through a school of fish and places one hand on the hilt, fearlessly. She hefts the sword, one handed, and slings over her shoulder and onto her back.
“Well, pup,” An aged voice says outside his head for once. “Looks like you’re stuck with me.”
A pink-haired man that looks like he walked right off a Konoha history scroll stops at Ryo’s right shoulder and shoots him a sideways look. “I’m glad to have you at my side, Arashi-san.”
Uzumaki Arashi bows from the neck. “We have a lot to teach these upstarts about what it means to be a Village, Mizukage.”
Ryo gives a little frown and shrug. He doesn’t want to steal their identity or anything but.. He can think of at least three practices he’s going to put a stop to before he even sets foot in the Village Hidden in the Mist, so it’s nice to have family at his back. Wordlessly, he waves the older man forward.
Arashi bows at the neck again and walks right up to the single sword with two hilts.
One sword left.
Ryo searches the crows of Kiri nin but none of them.. Feel right for the sword at the apex of the sword formation. The alpha sword of Kiri’s Seven Swordsmen. He glances at the Uzushio nin even though he knows that’s not right before he even turns to them. He keeps turning.
Facing the Konoha nin is.. Right. The seventh Swordsman is-
Oh. It’s Orochimaru.
The man is looking especially pale and Ryo can tell he’s shaking ever so slightly. Tsunade is leaning wordlessly into the man’s right side and Jiraiya is grasping his elbow, whispering to his team mate too lowly to be heard.
Ryo smiles at him. He can’t really help it. The feared Snake Sannin looks, well, he looks cute.
And if that isn’t enough after everything else to shake Ryo’s entire world view than he really doesn’t want to imagine what else it would take to do it.
“Orochimaru?” The Sandaime Hokage’s voice cuts across the wind, surprisingly gentle but with weight behind it.
“Sarutobi-sensei.” The dark haired man bows to his mentor.
“You must always do what you feel to be right. For those around you, that is true, but you must take care of yourself first. Find your best destiny, my boy.”
Orochimaru stands, regarding his mentor silently for several moments. Then he turns decisively and marches right up to the legendary Sword of Kusanagi.
Seven Swordsman from three different Villages. That.. feels right.
Orochimaru moves up to stand on Ryo’s right. The kneeler on his left. The other five Swordsman melt into the crowd of jounin. Since it’s their duty to watch his back in times like these.
Ryo turns to the kage’s of his old Villages.
Hiruzen and Tsuyo exchange speaking looks before Sarutobi-sama announces, “Konoha and Uzushio extend to Kiri the hand of friendship.”
Ryo nods. Not bows, nods. “Kiri accepts Konoha and Uzushio’s hand of friendship.”
It’s like a knife hand to the neck and a kick in the stomach simultaneously. Ryo staggers, nauseous, confused. It’s not an external blow. No one touched him. Of that, he’s sure.
His shinobi flow around him. They are not united, not yet. Not behind him, for sure, but the group maneuver is smooth enough to make is seem like they are. Smooth enough to make a Konoha nin weep with envy.
As his eyes clear, he comes aware of Orochimaru covering his forward-right half, Kiba his back-left. Hozuki and Arashi are a step outside them, forward and behind respectively. The other three Swordsmen are at three points of the triangle in the troops. He can feel them in his chakra, a special awareness. Like the now-roiling clan bonds but shallower. Not for communication, just awareness.
He’s not surprised when he looks up and sees the Uzumaki on their knees. All of them but Tsuyo though Saiyuri staggers back to her feet as he watches.
Another blow hits him in the stomach. Again he manages to keep his feet but Arashi standing in front of him doesn’t this time.
All he can feel is loss. A weeping, tearing, gaping loss with a name.
Now he understands. He understands why Uzushio fell to Kiri. With all the adoptions Uzushio and Kiri’s forces are roughly the same size but even the Seven Swordsmen shouldn’t have stood against a force of clever fuinjutsu masters, something Uzushio is overflowing with. But with the right timing. With them all taken out even for just a few minutes, first thanks to the transfer of the Kyuubi and then compounded with Mito-sama’s death. Yeah, no wonder Kiri won.
This time when he looks the non-Uzumaki nin of Uzushio that were hidden in the surrounds are tending their chosen brethren. Konoha nin stand with the Uzushio nin. Some of them are on guard, several including Tsunade are tending others with hands glowing a gentle green.
“Ao,” is all he says but the Swordsman knows what he wants. Several Kiri nin move forward, holding up gently glowing hands to indicate their status as medics.
“If you harm my clan,” Ryo tells his newly acquired shinobi. “And if your life wasn’t in danger first, you will wish you died with your Sandaime.”
Ryo touches Kiba’s shoulder and the man nods. He quietly signals several nin to come to him for orders. Ryo looks over the group one last time. “Let’s get them inside.”