BY : Mannah_Pierce
Category: Naruto > Yaoi - Male/Male > Naruto/Sasuke
Dragon prints: 1191
Disclaimer: This story has some of Masashi Kishimoto's characters from Naruto in a universe of my own devising. I do not own Naruto. I do not make any money from these writings.

Iteration’ is part of the space saga that began with ‘In the cold of space you find the heat of suns’ and continues in ‘Tales in Tarrasade’.

Thanks to Small Fox for being my beta. For this story he has also been my muse, suggesting a number of the ideas that have evolved to create this arc.

Apologies if the characters have grown differently in their new environment.

Thank you to those who have left a review including nivell, telynaayuri, meow-ku, lonelylulaby, silverblaise, disembodiedvoiceofthedying, Jenova625, unneeded, Prism0467, kanazerosukenaru , cynaga, Icenight009, v, sadie237, richon, Moonmore, blugirlami21, jalana, Midnight Essence, Mulle, the_boyfriend and ahmenet. I truly appreciate every one and more are always welcome.

This is posted in the Naruto/Sasuke section because it is part of a Naru/Sasu/Naru space saga. However, it does feature many other pairings (and a few threesomes). Apologies to those who are expecting Naruto/Sasuke or Sasuke/Naruto every chapter.

This chapter includes a sex scene between adults in an abusive relationship (Orochimaru/Kotohime).

Chapter twenty-three: Powder keg

Kabuto gave up trying to will the headache away and pressed a hypospray to his neck. Relief was immediate.

“Kabuto-san?” a small, hesitant voice queried.

He sighed. He could not even self-medicate without someone interrupting. At least it was Kagero and not her infinitely more irritating sister. Not that it would be Kotohime. She was, at that moment, squealing with apparent passion as Orochimaru fucked her. Meanwhile, he was stuck with trying to clean up the mess she had made of what had been a thriving hybrid engineering business.

“What do you want, Kagero?” he asked.

“I am sorry to bother you, Kabuto-san, but Onoki-sama’s office is demanding that a senior representative attend an emergency meeting.

Kabuto listened to the rhythmical thump, squeak and squeal.

“That had better be me then,” he acknowledged. “Round up enough of your relatives for a purebred escort.”

Kabuto suspected that one of his escort was Kagero in one of her disguises. That was fine by him because the women, despite her unassuming demeanour, was surprisingly lethal.

The mayor’s offices were little changed. He had last been there during the two standards when he had been assigned to Fuma-sama’s laboratory in order to develop an understanding of his techniques.

Had it really been a whole decade before?

There had been him and there had been Kotohime; his thoroughness and attention to detail against her brilliance and creativity. At the time, despite their constant bickering, Kabuto had believed that they had made a good team. Certainly Fuma-sama had thought so. The old man had hinted that they should form a partnership, perhaps even be a couple.

But Kotohime had considered him too boring. She had made it clear that she considered him a technician rather than a scientist and that he was too uninteresting to bed.

She, like him, had aspired to catch Orochimaru’s eye.

Yet when Amachi had died Orochimaru had chosen him over her. Orochimaru might prefer Kotohime in his bed but he had chosen Kabuto to replace his senior scientist.

Kabuto had expected a one-to-one meeting in Onoki’s private office. Instead they were in a meeting room and the major was flanked by the people he referred to as his advisors but, in truth, were younger politicians after slices of his power. On his left were the moderates. On his right were those who wanted change, clustered about a calm women with short black hair and pink eyes.

“Kabuto-san,” Onoki greeted him. “What a pleasant and unexpected surprise.”

“Kotohime-san was unavailable at such short notice, Onoki-sama,” Kabuto replied. “As you know, Orochimaru-sama and I are visiting in order to review operations.”

“Quite so,” Onoki acknowledged. “We appreciate the new code of practice that Orochimaru-san has established. Unfortunately, it does not help us tackle the problem of hybrid overpopulation of the residential sector.”

So that was the new name for it; hybrid overpopulation.

Like all such meetings there was what was said and the additional messages behind the spoken words. Kabuto listened carefully to what Onoki had to say while watching the advisors’ reactions. The essence proved to be ‘I am going to have to make the residential section a hybrid-free zone or I am going to lose my grip on power’.

“I understand, Onoki-sama,” Kabuto assured him. “Will it still be possible to conduct our business from its current location in the industrial section, or will you wish us to move away from the system?”

The advisors to the left were horrified that they might leave; the ones to the right wanted them gone.

Kabuto could see the old man’s mind reviewing the consequences of having to import all the hybrids they needed as labour in the asteroid mines, the hydroponic farms and the other factories.

“It will be possible to continue your business from the industrial section,” he insisted.

Kabuto wondered. It depended on the strength of the anti-hybrid feeling. He decided to punish Onoki a little.

“Will you be importing purebred slaves to do the menial labour in the residential sections?” he asked.

The old man’s advisors gasped.

“Of course not,” Onoki retorted. “Slavery is, of course, utterly unacceptable. We will have to pay minimum wage.”

Kabuto did not comment. The thought was planted and it would grow. He gave them, at most, half a standard before the problem became so acute that they had to find a source of unpaid labour.

“You will kill all the hybrids?” he asked. “There would be a good market for the functional ones in other systems,” he suggested. “If you confiscated them and sold them it might cover some of the costs associated with the operation.”

“The plan is to exterminate them,” the woman with black hair and pink eyes stated.

Kabuto resolved to find out her name. She was obviously highly sympathetic to the anti-hybrid movement and was probably active within it.

“Let us not be hasty, Kurotsuchi-san,” Onoki replied. “Cost is always a factor. We do not want to have to raise taxes. The hybrids would still be gone from the residential section, which is what we agreed.”

At least he had the woman’s name. “You could confiscate the valuable hybrids in advance of the extermination,” Kabuto suggested. “You have the information you need in the permit applications.”

Onoki’s bulbous nose twitched, as if he was smelling the potential credit. “We will think on it,” he answered, keeping his tone neutral. He stood up. Kabuto and the advisors had no option but to do likewise. “It was good to see you again, Kabuto-san,” he said, terminating the meeting.

As soon as he was back at the base, Kabuto sent for Suigetsu.

“Find Kimimaro and bring him here,” he ordered, barely looking at him.

Suigetsu hesitated.

“You bring him to me before this evening, whatever that takes, or I will introduce you to Orochimaru-sama,” Kabuto threatened.

Suigetsu paled and fled. It was a standing joke among Kabuto’s men that the only reason Suigetsu could walk straight was that Orochimaru had never set eyes on him; being that pretty was a distinct disadvantage.

Not that Kabuto had any intention of letting Suigetsu anywhere near his beloved leader.

Kabuto composed and sent a few messages before listening at Orochimaru’s door. Again there were the sounds of fucking, but this time the enjoyment sounded distinctly one-sided. Kabuto smiled and knocked.

“Come in, Kabuto,” Orochimaru called.

Kabuto could hear Kotohime’s muffled objections as he opened the door. She was tied along a bench, gagged, arse in the air with Orochimaru pulling back on her long hair while thrusting into her.

He slapped her hard on one buttock and pulled out. “Don’t worry, little pony, I will be back for another ride,” he told her.

Kabuto held a robe for him and made sure he was not smirking when Orochimaru turned to face him.

“Well?” he asked.

Kabuto filled him in. The more detail he included, the angrier Orochimaru became. It was obvious to both of them that, whatever Onoki was saying now, the situation was likely to escalate out of his control.

Losing their base in the Warren would be a telling blow so soon after losing the one on Jewel.

“Plan for a complete evacuation,” Orochimaru told him. “Hopefully it will not be necessary. Good work suggesting the idea of repossessing the more valuable hybrids.”

“I am going to plant Kimimaro in the militant anti-hybrid camp,” Kabuto informed him.

Orochimaru actually smiled. “He will certainly look like he belongs there,” he acknowledged. “Are you sure you can keep control of him?”

Kabuto nodded. “He needs me to activate his symbiote.”

“Any word from Deidara?” Orochimaru asked.

“He is due to report in this evening,” Kabuto replied.

“Good,” Orochimaru replied. He walked to the side of the room and picked up a riding crop before approaching Kotohime. “This mess,” he told her, “is entirely of your making.” He turned back to Kabuto. “That will be all, Kabuto-san. We will dine together later.”

Kabuto walked slowly from the room. He heard the swish of the crop through the air and the sound of it hitting Kotohime’s flesh.

Her muffled scream was remarkably satisfying.

Kotohime managed to walk from Orochimaru’s rooms to her own. Pure pride drove her; the pain was excruciating and she could feel the blood, along with other fluids, running down her legs.

Hina rushed to her, calling for Denka.

“Denka! Denka! Come quickly. The mistress is hurt. That monster has hurt her.” She swept Kotohime up into her arms, for once not caring about her image as the delicate, fragile, harmless catlady.

Before Kotohime could stop them they had her face down on her bed and Hina was treating her injuries. Denka was despatched, returned with the necessary supplies and been told to wait outside. The pain was gone. Regenerators had been applied. A feather light silk bedcover was across her back and legs. Hina was brushing her hair and singing to her softly.

She knew they loved her; unlike her family, unlike Orochimaru-sama. How could anyone hate hybrids? They were so much more reliable and caring than purebreds.

Her eyes felt heavy. That would not do. She needed to tell Han what was happening.

She insisted that Hina give her a stim, recorded the tape and then called Denka. Yes, he would get the message to Han. No, he promised that he would not take it himself. She made him and Hina promise that they would not, no matter the circumstances, go into the residential section.

Life would be unbearable if she lost them.

Han ejected the tape from the player and crushed it within his fist. He hated all purebreds but some, like Kotohime and Deidara, were useful.

The Day of Reckoning was coming sooner than he had anticipated. Kotohime did not know the date; perhaps it was not yet decided. However, Onoki was renowned for his greed; he would confiscate the valuable hybrids before attempting the purge.

He thought of the small weasel-human hybrid; an Amachi hybrid was far too valuable to miss. He summoned Deidara.

“The weasel-human hybrid,” he began.

“Sickler,” Deidara supplied.

Han did not care about his name. “Stop trying to recruit him for now. Put a watch on him. Use purebreds. Not you. I will need you. There is a rumour that Onoki is going to confiscate all the valuable functional hybrids and sell them. Amachi hybrids will be top of the list. I need to know as soon as it happens.”

“Do we stop him from being taken?” Deidara asked.

Han considered. Fully functional hybrids were rare. “Yes. But make sure one of them sends word to me before attempting the interception.”

Denka had listened to and copied the tape. If Kotohime had known she would not have approved. Occasionally Denka did things of which Kotohime would disapprove.

These things were usually for her own good, or sometimes for other people’s good. Looking back, he wished he had done more of them.

He should have persuaded the hybrids who worked as technicians in the laboratory to terminate more of the malformed embryos. Maybe he should have ensured that Kabuto-san or Orochimaru-sama knew that Kotohime had changed the rules; that they were waiting until a hybrid was one and a half standards before declaring it non-functional.

Kotohime insisted that it was giving each hybrid a chance; that even those with physical abnormalities might have unexpected potential.

In truth it put unbearable pressure on the hybrids working in the nurseries. They could accept the mercy killings; some of the children were in so much pain or had no prospects of any quality of life.

But the others, the ones that could cope with their disabilities or who were merely too ugly to sell, they could not bear to kill them.

Denka had known that they were falsifying the records and smuggling them out to the lower levels of the residential sector. The idea was that older hybrids would adopt and raise them. To a certain extent it had been successful but the life of a hybrid was too unpredictable. Some of the parents had died. Others had been sold or reassigned. Many of the hybrid children had been orphaned. They turned feral.

And, after a steady stream over six standards, there had been too many of them, feral or not, for the authorities to miss.

Copying the tape was in the best interests of both Kotohime and his fellow hybrids. Han was a dangerous fanatic. Relying on him to save the thousands of hybrids living in the residential section was madness. He would not hesitate for a moment before sacrificing them to his cause. In Han’s mind, an outcome that had him alive and all other hybrids dead alongside all purebreds would be a victory.

There was only one organisation that would care; the HDL. While the HDL was not permitted a formal presence in the Warren, there were those who were known to be connected.

Denka had lived all his life in the Warren; he had ways and means.

Shibito examined the glass he had just polished, placed it on the shelf and picked up the next. It was early. The bar had yet to open. He looked though the window to open area beyond, where market traders were assembling their stalls. There were less of them now and they arrived earlier in the vain hope of managing to make ends meet.

He yearned for the past, before the balance of life in the Warren had been destroyed and the extremists on both sides began making it miserable for anyone who did not share their views.

He missed Ume. The little girl had brought so much joy into his empty life. Even so, she was better off where she was, away from the residential section that had become so dangerous for hybrids. He hoped she was safe. The owners of the hydroponics farm were HDL sympathisers; they were willing to pretend she was a worker provided she occasionally helped one of the adult hybrids pinch out seedlings or pollinate flowers.

A figure flashed by the window and there was a thud against the door; today’s mail thrown by a courier. Shibito opened the door and retrieved the delivery.

Buried deep within was one small packet with no markings; no delivery or return address.

It was a tape. What the recorded voice described made his blood run cold.

He did not open the bar. Instead he put up the closed sign, fastened the shutters and pulled down the blinds. He took his lockbox from its hiding place. Inside were his life savings and the deed to the bar.

He left by the back entrance and made his way up two levels. Gantetsu owned almost all the bars on Shibito’s level, the one above and the one below. He had coveted Shibito’s bar for standards because of its position adjacent to the market.

Shibito managed to hold out for half the market value. He had to get half. One third was not enough. Three-eighths was not enough. It had to be half.

Gantetsu had the gall to ask him to stay on as manager; Shibito agreed because it meant he would have somewhere to live.

Then he went to the spacer quarter. He walked into the headquarters of Stellar Exchange, the company that held the contract to control traffic through the gate.

The woman at the counter was surprised to see a resident rather than a spacer.

“I need to send a light speed message to Naruto-san, at the Uchiha compound, in Tarrasade,” he told her.

The woman blinked at him. Shibito could tell she was wondering if he was insane. However her fingers flew over the tablet built into the counter. She smiled at him, her face set into a mask of professionalism. His heart was thumping in his chest. He had to have enough. He had to have enough. He had to have enough.

“That will be 0.43 megacredits,” she told him.

The relief was dizzying. He emptied the assortment of bank bond chips from his satchel into the chute. She processed them one by one. At the end she pushed one back towards him.

“Your change, sir,” she told him. She signalled to a young man that he should take her place. “I shall come around myself, sir, and show you where you can record your message.”

She showed him a small room loaded with more technology than Shibito had ever seen.

“You press this button when you want to record,” she explained. “You press it again to stop and you can use this second button to play back your message. Feel free to have as many attempts as you wish. Once you are satisfied with your message, press the large green button. Your message will be compressed and sent immediately.”

She smiled at him again and left, closing the door behind her.

Shibito sat on the stool in the middle of the room. To the side was a small console with the three buttons she had pointed out.

He thought about what to say and then pressed the first button.

“My name is Shibito. I am a barkeeper in the Warren. I sent you a message before, with an Uchiha crew. The captain was very young and the crew included a hybrid and a woman. My daughter Ume, she’s a hybrid, gave them her doll to give to you.

“Onoki, he’s the mayor, is going to give the order to purge the residential section of the Warren of hybrids.” He blinked back tears. “There are thousands of hybrids living in the residential section, mostly in the lower levels but some in the middle and upper levels. I don’t know how they are going to kill them. I assume they will use gas to knock out everyone in the lower levels and then send squads in to remove the hybrids.”

“I don’t know the date. Soon. They are thinking about confiscating the more valuable hybrids first and they haven’t done that yet. I would have heard. I won’t be able to send another message. This cost me everything.

“I know this because someone sent me a tape. I will play it for you at the end.

“I don’t know what you can do, Naruto-san, but please try. They do not deserve to die. They are people, like you and me and Ume.”

He played the tape, stopped the recording and reviewed the message. He had not expected it to be a holovideo. Did he really look and sound like that?

He could not see how he could make the message better.

Shibito pressed the large green button.

At least he had tried.

Shikamaru hoped he would not have missed the message if it had not been flagged for his attention. He was horrified by the thought that it might have continued its journey to Tarrasade and then been relayed to Kaze; days of delay.

Two things would not wait. He checked the newest best route for the Oak to the Warren and, based on that, he adopted one of his many personas and sent a series of commands.

Then he went to find Sasuke and Naruto. Sasuke was in his office. They played the holovideo as soon as Naruto arrived.

He watched the colour drain from their faces as they viewed Shibito’s message.

“We have to stop it,” Naruto insisted.

“When was the message sent?” Sasuke asked.

Shikamaru watched the horror dawn in Naruto’s eyes as he realised the implication of Sasuke’s question; the massacre might have already happened.

“Less than a day ago,” Shikamaru told them. “I have a route for the Oak, Sasuke-sama, and I can establish a light speed relay pathway between us and the Warren.”

Sasuke frowned. Shikamaru shivered. He anticipated some very difficult conversations in the near future. Luckily Sasuke was more interested in prioritising. He went to his desk and depressed the intercom.

“This is Sasuke-sama. This is a priority one command. Get us moving at maximum velocity towards the gate. This overrides all other commands. Arrange a jump slot for as soon as we arrive. If there is a problem doing so, come back to me.”

He turned to Naruto. “Naruto, please can you check whether everyone is on board? If not, see to it. After that, I imagine you will want to contact the sanctuary and give them our apologies for leaving so suddenly. You will also need to speak with Lee about whether he and Gaara should travel with us or take the Gourd down to the surface. Also, please ask Inari to confirm that the man in the message is the one he spoke with in the Warren.”

Naruto nodded, stood up and left. Shikamaru could see that he was grateful to have things to do.

Shikamaru started to stand. “I need to investigate options,” he suggested.

“Sit down,” Sasuke ordered.

Shikamaru sank back into the chair. He could see that Sasuke was angry. He had not anticipated Sasuke being angry but now, thinking about it, he could see why.

A few more seconds’ thought and it dawned on Shikamaru just how furious Sasuke was going to be. While he had convinced himself that each step had been too small to mention, Shikamaru had gone a long, long way without Sasuke’s knowledge or permission.

“Shikamaru-san,” Sasuke began, his tone low and dangerous. “Please explain how it is possible for you to have intercepted this message less than a day after it was sent and also how you intend setting up a light speed relay pathway between us and the Warren.”

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