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’.

This is posted in the Naruto/Sasuke section because it is part of a Nauru/Sash/Naru space saga. However, it does feature many other pairings (and a few threesomes). There is a little taste of Naruto/Sasuke in this chapter.

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

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.

Thank you to meow-ku, unneeded, Prism0467 and sadie237 who reviewed the last chapter and to all those who have left reviews. It would be great to hear from more of you. Remember, I send an email out each time I update, so if you want to be on the list, send me an email. My email is in my profile.

Chapter twenty-six: Preparations

A ripple of surprise travelled around the room when Sasuke appeared among the fighters being fitted with an all-environment survival suit. All eyes went to Kakashi, who said nothing.

Inoichi checked the fit of Sasuke’s suit before going through the standard checks. He then helped Sasuke don two layers of flexible armour; the inner would absorb the energy of projectiles and the outer reflect lasers.

Sasuke ignored Naruto’s gaze boring into his back and then watched Naruto out of the corner of his eye as he re-accustomed himself to how the suit affected his movement. Naruto was talking to Kakashi, who flinched a number of times and then shook his head; Sasuke could not hear what they were saying.

So he was not surprised when Naruto blocked his way from their bedroom into their bathroom when they returned to the crew room to freshen up before the midmeal.

“You should stay on the Sakura,” he stated. “Kakashi can be the leader on the ground.”

Sasuke braced himself. “No,” he replied. “There are two choices. You and I both stay in the control centre in the Sakura, or you and I are both in the station, actively involved. Of these two alternatives, the one with both of us in the station is more likely to succeed because it will be better to have you and I where hybrid and purebred can see us.”

Naruto’s whiskers twitched. “There is a third choice,” he insisted. “Me in the station, where the hybrids can see me, and you on the Sakura, where you will be safe.”

Sasuke held his gaze. “No, Naruto. I belong at your side as you belong at mine. Either we are both on the Sakura or we are both in the station. I believe we should be in the station. However, if you decide we should both be on the Sakura, I shall acquiesce.”

He took a step towards the bathroom and was slightly relieved that Naruto chose to step aside. A few moments later a naked Naruto joined him in the shower.

“I shall think about it,” he admitted.

Sasuke was surprised. He had not thought that Naruto would consider staying on the Sakura.

Ebisu and Sickler waited outside the harbour master’s office; Akatsuchi-san had responded to Ebisu’s communication by insisting on seeing both of them.

Finally they were called in. Akatsuchi was a large, round faced man with a rather formless nose that suggested a history of hand-to-hand combat. He frowned at them.

“You have good references. Why are you giving up your business and asking for a job that pays nothing but food and somewhere to sleep?” His gaze settled on Sickler. “Is it that bad? Are even hardworking hybrids earning a living affected?”

“Yes,” Ebisu answered bluntly. “We want to leave the Warren. I am waiting for a credit advance from my family. Until it comes, I want Sickler somewhere safe.”

Sickler had not expected Ebisu to speak so ardently; usually he was so formal and reserved.

“And you?” Akatsuchi asked. “Are you the good lad you appear to be? You aren’t one of those radicals into graffiti and other vandalism?”

Sickler hoped his blush was interpreted as shyness and not guilt at having attended those meetings. “I want to live the life we lived before, Akatsuchi-san,” he answered. “We would work hard. Even the spacer quarter must have vermin.”

Akatsuchi smiled. “We have lots of vermin,” he admitted, “and enough of it is non-human for you two to earn your keep, at least for a div.” He looked back to Ebisu. “I’ll arrange a place for you in one of the hostels. It won’t be much. You will have to share a room. You can start today.”

Sickler was glad that Ebisu had insisted they bring their equipment.

When they had finished for the day they discovered that they had been assigned a tiny room and felt lucky; the hostel was little more than a bunkhouse with canteen. Sickler jumped up onto the top bunk.

“I’ll move our stuff here bit by bit,” Ebisu told him. “We don’t want the authorities asking why you are no longer living at the address given on your permit application.” He patted Sickler’s arm. “No going back into the residential sector. You must promise me.”

“I won’t, I promise,” Sickler agreed.

“So we are agreed,” Sasuke checked. “Our initial position is to offer any hybrid free transport away from the Warren and to a place of safety.”

There were nods around the table.

“Good,” Sasuke acknowledged. “Naruto, I want you to round up anyone who has lived in a place like the lower levels of the Warren and have a discussion about how you think the hybrids and the purebreds will react to the announcement. Perhaps you should include Kisame, Kiba and Kamatari in case they can give you any insights into how different hybrids might react.

“Shikamaru, I want you to work on how we could make good on that offer given that we don’t have enough ships nor anywhere to transport them to.” He held up a hand as he registered Shikamaru’s consternation. “I know you are trying to keep abreast of developments but please spend a short time on this. You will need a team who will continue working on the problem once you have done the initial analysis. Who would you like?”

“Iruka-sensei and Biwako-san please,” Shikamaru said immediately. “And Suzume-san,” he added.

“Neji, we need profiles on the major protagonists based on the information that Shikamaru has managed to collect so far. Shikamaru, make sure Neji has all the latest information. Neji, perhaps we could have an initial briefing this afternoon.

“Itachi, I need you to get your head around the station itself; its structure, the defences, the safety systems and what we know about the security systems. I recommend you work with Ibiki. Is there anyone else you would like?”

“Gai-san,” Itachi requested.

Sasuke looked to Kakashi, who nodded.

“Shino,” Sasuke continued, “begin thinking about how we can keep in contact with each other if we are spread across ships and the station.”

“Yes, Boss,” Shino agreed.

“Finally, Kakashi, please put together a team to consider the combat situations that are most likely to arise.”

Kakashi nodded.

“I shall be constructing the message that we intend to send to the mayor of the Warren. We have a lot to do,” Sasuke reminded them. “Report back here at the end of the morning.”

There were many messages waiting for ‘Tennyo-san’ when she woke. She was relieved to discover that Chaaruzu-san was praising her decision to investigate the origin and contents of Shibito’s communication. Chaaruzu-san had also made a series of suggestions, most of which she had already implemented and taken further than indicated.

The exception was for her to contact Shibito; included was a phrase for her to use so that he would trust her.

Obviously ‘Tennyo-san’ would not seek out a bartender.

She injected another packet of information into the data stream and adjusted to her nanobots. Soon after, ‘Angela’, a dark haired spacer with brown eyes, crossed the boundary of the spacer quarter and made her way to the bar that Shibito had owned.

It was early, the bar was open but empty. He was there polishing glasses; she recognised him from the holovid.

“Share a drink with me,” she suggested when he brought the pitcher she had ordered. “It is unlucky to drink alone,” she added.

He sat down at her table.

“Your message has reached Naruto-san,” she told him. “I have been told to say ‘the doll was once a spoon’ so that you know that I am what I say I am. A response to the information you sent is being planned. We need to know if you can put us in contact with leaders or people of influence in the lower levels.”

“The Kaiju?” he asked.

She was sure Chaaruzu-san would not want to work with an extremist group. “Not necessarily. People whom the hybrids trust. Are there any such people with more moderate views than the Kaiju?”

“Perhaps,” Shibito admitted. “It is not safe for such people to come to the upper levels of the residential section.”

She considered. “Our official reason for being in the Warren is as representatives of a company investigating opening a factory. It would be in character to wish to tour one of the industrial sections,” she suggested. “We could tell the mayor’s office that we are seeking such an opportunity.”

He was silent for a short time and then nodded. “That could work,” he agreed.

Naruto went to find Shikamaru and found him, as expected, in the laboratory. He sat on the floor and waited patiently for Shi-chan to emerge from the data stream.

“I wish to speak with you in your role as my best friend,” he stated as Shikamaru removed his goggles and earpieces.

“Na-chan,” Shikamaru acknowledged.

“Why does Sasuke want to be the leader on the ground?” he asked.

Shikamaru’s gaze went distant.

“Shi-chan?” Naruto queried.

“There are many possible answers to that question,” Shikamaru admitted. “The simplest is that the operation is most likely to succeed with him and you together where people can see you. The hybrids will be more likely to trust us and the purebreds will be less likely to be resentful or angry.”

“You told him this?” Naruto checked.

Shikamaru frowned slightly. “No. He worked it out for himself.”

Naruto accepted that. “What if neither of us were actually in the station?” he asked.

Shi-chan paled.

Onoki’s office had contacted Tennyo-san suggesting that one of her people toured a hydroponics factory.

She chose ‘Sera’, who had hazel eyes, honey hair, eyeglasses and an ever-present tablet. Sera introduced herself as Tennyo-san’s assistant and information collector.

The factory was well-run and pleasant. Working conditions were excellent. Almost all the workers were hybrids and there were many of them, far more than she thought an efficient factory required. There was little doubt in her mind that the factory existed to provide a safe haven for hybrids rather than to make a profit.

Halfway through the tour a door behind her shut with her guide on the other side and she found herself in a small room with two hybrids who were studying her with suspicion.

Then she recognised the third person as Shibito and relaxed slightly. There was silence. All three looked at her expectantly.

“I have a message from Naruto-san,” she began; that morning’s messages had clarified the proposed course of action. “Allies of the HDL will offer any hybrid in the Warren free passage to a place of safety. The authorities will be offered sweeteners to pursue this course rather than the more radical actions they are considering.”

There was a silence.

“They are planning to kill all the hybrids in the residential section,” the elegant male hybrid stated; she thought he might be cat-human.

“That is what Naruto-san has been told,” she confirmed. “We have to ensure that the hybrids in the lower residential levels believe that Naruto-san’s offer is genuine. It may be necessary to think of ways of getting hybrids to the ships if the route through the upper residential levels and spacer quarter is not available.”

“How do we know that this is not some ruse to get us to walk to our deaths rather than being dragged?” the woman with a pig’s snout asked.

“Naruto-san himself is coming,” she assured them.

“Why should I believe that?” the pig woman complained.

“I asked him to do something,” Shibito admitted. “I sold my bar and sent him a light speed message. This is his response.”

There was a hushed silence. “Thank you, Shibi-san,” the catman whispered. There was a small, soft snort from the pig woman.

“You are my friends,” he replied, flushing. “You gave me the greatest of gifts.”

When the meeting was over a little girl ran past Sera as she was leaving the room to rejoin her guide.

“Papa! Papa!” she called in delight.

Shibito caught her up and hugged her. “Ume-chan,” he acknowledged.

Sera saw the whiskers growing from the little girl’s cheeks; suddenly she understood why Shibito-san was willing to sell his bar.

Shikamaru rubbed his hand across his face. Despite everyone’s hard work, despite numerous simulations, despite Tennyo Three proving to be twenty times the operative he had thought her to be, the situation in the Warren remained fluid, unpredictable and dangerous.

They would be there soon and he still did not know the answers to a thousand questions; information he required to pin down the situation and control it.

A hand on his arm; Sasuke.

“This is not going to be like the slavers in Kaze,” Sasuke told him, his voice gentle as if he was talking to Naruto or one of the children. “This is going to be messy. I need you on top form, so that the best decisions can be made from moment to moment. That means you need to sleep and eat and relax so that your mind is working at its peak.”

He grasped Shikamaru’s upper arms and moved him so that they were facing each other. “You have only one responsibility, Shikamaru. That is to be the voice in my ear.”

Shikamaru was rigid; there were a hundred tasks waiting for his attention.

Sasuke sighed. He enfolded Shikamaru in a hug. “Give the responsibility to me, Shika,” he whispered. “I am ready to take it. I am Uchiha-sama, you are the voice in my ear.”

“You are Uchiha-sama, I am the voice in your ear,” Shikamaru echoed. It helped. He felt steadier. Instead of his mind trying to analyse each possibility to its limit, he found himself concentrating on the current situation. Everything became clearer. Priorities asserted themselves. “Thank you,” he admitted.

Sasuke slowly released him. “Less coffee, more sleep,” he ordered.

Shikamaru found himself missing the embrace; it had been a physical representation of the support Sasuke was giving him. He looked at his ring; it hugged his finger, a constant reminder of Sasuke’s regard for him. “You are Uchiha-sama, I am the voice in your ear,” he repeated. He smiled. “Less coffee. More sleep,” he agreed.

Onoki stared at the place where the holovideo had been projected. Slowly his brain started to function.

Uchiha-sama’s message could be read at several levels.

It could be taken at face value; Uchiha, on behalf of the Hybrid Defence League, would transport all the unwanted hybrids away from the Warren.

It could be taken as a bribe; Uchiha was offering him a hundred credits per live hybrid loaded, ostensively as compensation for any inconvenience.

It could be taken as a threat; the station would be surrounded by Uchiha ships. The chances that the spacers manning the station’s defences being willing to fire on an Uchiha fleet was low; Uchiha’s reputation went before them.

Deactivating the gate would not help. Uchiha-sama had informed him that they were bringing a mother ship; they did not need a gate. Also, there had been an unusually high influx of ships through the gate over the last day; Onoki suspected that a substantial fraction of the Uchiha fleet was already in the system.

He licked his lips, which were surprisingly dry.

If he emphasised the threat, Kurotsuchi would have no sensible choice other than to agree. He summoned the council.

“No!” Kurotsuchi declared, her fist striking the table for emphasis.

Onoki’s heart fell and his gut clenched.

“Yes,” a voice said unexpectedly from his left.

It was Sumashi. Onoki blinked. Some men grew backbones at the most surprising times.

“We vote,” Sumashi added.

Onoki managed not to smile. Mahiru was missing. The moderates were in the majority.

They watched Kurotsuchi and her entourage stalk away. The door shut behind them.

“I would be honoured if you would allow me to liaise with Uchiha, Onoki-sama,” Sumashi suggested.

Onoki gestured his assent. Sumashi left, followed by his slightly stunned fellow moderates, who had promptly coalesced around their new leader.

Onoki stayed at the head of the council table. He doodled. The scribbles became figures. No one knew how many hybrids there were in the lower levels. A conservative estimate was five thousand. That was five hundred thousand credits.

Confiscating and selling the valuable hybrids would have earned him another quarter million. He sighed.

The idea germinated and grew. He could still confiscate the valuable hybrids. The arrangements were made, the squads had their instructions. Uchiha could not begin the evacuation until, at the very earliest, the day after tomorrow. The valuable hybrids could be confiscated as planned, during the very early hours of that same day.

He smiled. Three quarters of a million was a goodly sum to add to his nest egg.

Naruto knew that Sasuke would be in his office. If he was not with Naruto he was in his office or the room where they met to discuss the Warren.

The door was slightly open, confirming that Sasuke was alone. Naruto slipped soundlessly inside.

Sasuke was working at his desk. On the wall was the picture of Naruto walking away, the one that Sasuke liked so much.

Three steps and Sasuke realised Naruto was there. He looked up and gave that smile that was more about his eyes than his mouth.

Then Naruto was next to him, leaning down for a kiss.

“We will be together on the station,” he said as soon as their lips parted.

Sasuke looked relieved and Naruto knew it was the right decision. It did not feel right, because Sasuke would be exposed, but it was right.

“Thank you,” Sasuke whispered.

Naruto sat on the edge of the desk. “I have been discussing the children with Kiba. We thought about managing the transfer to the Sakura as an adventure, but we have decided they are too young. We think they should be podded. We will tell them that it is a drill. We’ll do it tomorrow morning, before we jump into the system with the Warren.”

Sasuke nodded. “I’ll make sure I am there for bedtime tonight. I’ll drag Shikamaru out of the data stream and bring him too.”

Akatsuchi deactivated the viewer and looked at the young woman opposite him who had delivered Uchiha-sama’s message.

“Uchiha wants to load in excess of five thousand hybrids via my docks?” he queried.

‘Angela’ nodded. “You will be paid,” she assured him. “Docking fees for each ship. A loading fee for each hybrid.” She frowned at him. “You haven’t asked why,” she observed.

“I don’t have to,” he admitted, thinking about the weasel-human lad and what his purebred partner had given up to protect him. “I can see how things are going.” He took one of the double sided medallions out of his pocket. “They are coming here?”

“They are coming here,” she confirmed. “To rescue the hybrids. But they need people like you to help them.”

Once the children were tucked into their bunks, Kiba went to find Choza and Shikamaru Neji while Naruto followed Sasuke into their room, sliding the door to the nursery shut behind him. He wrapped his arms around Sasuke from behind and nuzzled his neck. He smelled delicious.

He felt a growl beginning somewhere deep. It swelled until it reached his throat and became sound.

Sasuke tried to pull away but Naruto tightened his hold.

“I need the head, dobe,” Sasuke insisted.

Naruto reluctantly let him go. He watched Sasuke disappear as the door of the head closed. There was the usual noise of the head cycling and then the fainter hums, whooshes and clicks of the e-machine.

Sasuke was being unusually thorough. That meant only one thing; he was expecting Naruto to fuck him.

Naruto prowled the room, alert for the sounds that would mean that Sasuke was almost finished. Finally the e-machine was switched off and there was the whisper of fabric against skin.

His eyes were fixed on the door. As it slid open, as soon as he caught sight of his mate, Naruto found himself in the place that was growling-possessive-Naruto.

He howled. He howled as he had not done since they were on the island. He howled his frustration that the other Naruto had agreed that his mate would be exposed to danger. He howled his pride in his children. He howled his determination to save the hybrids in the Warren.

His mate was looking at him with absolute trust; his dark eyes full of unconditional love.

Naruto howled his desire.

Kiba had been at the table in the galley, watching Choza put the finishing touches to the evening meal, when Naruto started to howl.

“Two fewer places for the meal, Kamatari-kun,” Choza instructed cheerily.

Kamatari was frozen, mouth open.

“You’ll get used to it,” Moegi told him.

There was more and louder howling.

“I had better check on the children,” Kiba admitted.

He used the door from his room so that the children would know it was him. Haru, Hoshi, Yuki and Keizo were sleeping but, even with the nursery being so thoroughly soundproofed, the howling had either woken the others up or prevented them falling asleep.

Kiba started with Hikaru and Ryuu, crouching down where they both could see him.

“To-chan loves Papa lots,” Hikaru whispered.

Kiba smiled. “Yes, your To-chan loves your Papa lots,” he agreed.

He checked the others one by one but they all appeared to share Hikaru’s interpretation of the howling. Kiba settled down into the rocking chair; given the intensity of the howling, he guess it would be over well before the evening meal was served.

Sasuke’s scream cut though even Naruto’s loudest howl.

“Papa loves To-chan too,” Ryuu observed into the silence that followed.

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