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 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.

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 those who have left a review, particularly SidonieStarr, telynaayuri, meow-ku, lonelylulaby, Midnight Essence, sadie237, Prism0467, disembodiedvoiceofthedying, unneeded and v who reviewed chapter 27. I truly appreciate every review and they inspire me to continue writing this story.

Chapter twenty-seven: Arrival

Sasuke and Naruto waited, suited, outside the playroom. Once the alarm sounded they waited a full two minutes before opening the door.

Kiba was already suited and had opened the first of the panels, exposing the first four pods. Nine naked children were sitting on the floor in two rows. Haru was still taking off his clothes.

Sasuke caught the sceptical look Haru threw him. He could imagine him thinking that Naruto might arrive, suited, in such a short time but Sasuke could not.

Naruto sprang the second panel and Sasuke the third.

Kiba podded Kazuki, Keizo, Kuuya and Ryuu. Naruto looked after Yuki, Yoshimi and Yasushi. Sasuke coped with Hikaru, Hoshi, Haru and Haru’s questions.

Sasuke was soon wishing he had changed the order and podded Haru first.

“It’s a drill, Ha-chan,” he said firmly. “You are meant to be quiet, not asking questions.”

“Yes, Papa,” Haru answered. There was a respite of a few seconds as Sasuke kissed Hikaru’s forehead and shut the lid. There was a faint whirring as the pod began functioning. “Is it really a drill?” he asked.

Hoshi looked at her brother in alarm and then turned worried eyes to Sasuke.

“There is no emergency,” Sasuke assured them. “It is important to practice these things in case there is an emergency.” He smiled reassuringly at Hoshi and gave her a hug as he lifted her in.

She hugged him back. “I love you, Papa,” she whispered.

“I love you too, Ho-chan,” he replied. “Now lie down.” He kissed her forehead and closed the pod.

“So it isn’t a drill,” Haru said as soon as Hoshi’s pod started. “Why do you need us to be podded?”

Sasuke glanced about. Haru was last in, so at least none of the other children had heard his last question. Sasuke went back to his original strategy of not answering. He lifted Haru in but Haru clung to him.

“I am sorry,” he whispered. “I won’t ask any more questions. Please hug me like you did Hi-chan and Ho-chan.”

Sasuke hugged him tightly. “I love you, Ha-chan, every bit of you, even the questions,” he assured him.

Haru allowed Sasuke to put him into the pod. “I love you too, Papa. Look after To-chan and Shi-chan.” He lay down.

“I will,” Sasuke answered and kissed his forehead. Then, thankfully, the lid was closed.

Naruto and Kiba were standing watching him.

“I will rewrite the procedure to put Haru first,” Kiba observed as he started to pick up the children’s discarded clothes. “I had him last because I knew he would be the slowest to undress.”

“That would be for the best,” Sasuke agreed. He looked at Naruto, whose eyes were fixed on the ten white shapes. He placed a hand on his dobe’s arm. “They will be fine,” he assured him.

Naruto shook himself. “I know,” he acknowledged.

Kabuto’s mouth was suddenly dry. He stared at Suigetsu. “Uchiha,” he echoed.

Suigetsu looked ridiculously excited, like a child. “That’s what they are saying. An Uchiha mother ship will dock tomorrow. They are opening up a spur that can take a ship of that size. Half their fleet has already jumped into the system. It’s all over the lower levels of the residential sector. Naruto-san is coming to save the hybrids.”

He and Orochimaru would have to leave; now. “Get Kidomaru and try to find Kimimaro. Be back here in two hundred minutes for a briefing,” Kabuto ordered. He registered Suigetsu’s hesitation. “What?”

“Nothing,” Suigetsu lied. “I return within two hundred minutes, with or without Kimimaro?” he checked.

Kabuto nodded and Suigetsu was gone.

He would have to wake Orochimaru but Kabuto decided to give the orders to move the evacuation into its final phase before doing so.

It was then that he discovered that the hybrids had gone. Over half the containers they had packed had gone. Kotohime was also missing.

He pounded on Kagero’s door. She opened it, dressed only in a robe, blinking owlishly.

“Where’s your sister?” he demanded.

She just stared at him.

“Get your people up. You have one hundred and eighty minutes to find her. Orochimaru-sama will not be happy,” he warned.

Orochimaru-sama was, indeed, not happy. Kabuto thought himself lucky that his master’s survival instincts overcame his desire to beat the nearest target, Kabuto himself, unconscious. He escaped with only some token blows and Orochimaru did not fly into a fury when he protected his head.

“She’s definitely gone?” Orochimaru checked.

“Yes. She’s gone. All her personal belongings have gone. Denka, Hina and Tonton have gone too.” Kabuto decided to get it over with on one go. “They have taken the remaining stock, the experimental hybrids, all the laboratory equipment, the tissue bank, some of the general supplies and all the shuttles.”

Orochimaru stared at him. “How dare she?” he hissed.

“Half the Uchiha fleet has jumped into the system,” Kabuto informed him. “They have a docking spur prepared for their mother ship.” He took a deep breath. “Apparently they are here to save the hybrids.”

Orochimaru did not reply. He began dressing. “Clever girl,” he admitted finally. “I did not think she had it in her.”

“Orochimaru-sama, we are not in a position of strength,” Kabuto reminded him. “If Uchiha find out we are here...” he stopped, warned by the look on Orochimaru’s face.

“We use your ship,” Orochimaru decided. “Kimimaro and the others can catch up with us later. Also, we must get a message to Pein.”

“The Stellar Exchange is refusing to take messages,” Kabuto admitted. “They are pleading technical difficulties but the coincidence with Uchiha’s arrival is too great to be ignored.”

Orochimaru’s glare made his legs weak; Kabuto willed his knees to lock.

“Plot a course from the ungated hole to the nearest gate with a light speed communications relay,” Orochimaru ordered. “And get out of my sight before I do something I will regret.”

Sasuke was in awe of Shikamaru’s creativity. He had hired or bought every available ship within range and instructed them to head for the Warren. As the Oak approached the Warren he instructed them to display blue, red and white; the colours used by allies of Uchiha.

As the Oak was accompanied by the Sakura, the Spear, the Snow Willow, the Lancet, the Dart and the Silver Leaf, all in full Uchiha livery, this made quite a show.

“Boss?” Shino’s voice came over the intercom.

“Yes, Shino-san?” he replied.

“I am on my way to your office. Are you there?” he asked.

That meant there was news Shino did not want to announce over the intercom. “Yes, I am in the office,” Sasuke confirmed.

Shino walked through the door a few minutes later, “Kabuto is here,” he informed him. “In a ship. Heading for the ungated hole that does not need an improver. I did not pick up the transponder signal earlier because of the amount of traffic.”

Sasuke considered. Only the Dart could follow him through the hole and he had no intention of splitting the crew at this time. Also, Haku was alone on the Dart; each ship had only a skeleton crew.

“I think I can use a drone to put some of Kotetsu’s new untraceable tags on his ship before it gets to the hole,” Shino told him. “I’ve got Konohamaru and Inari working on it in case you gave the go ahead. Lee’s agreed to use the Gourd to take the drone halfway. That should be enough.”

Sasuke was impressed by the speed and quality of Shino’s response. “Do it,” he agreed. “And thank you for not announcing Kabuto’s presence over the intercom.”

Shino gave a tiny nod. “Anytime, Boss.” He turned to leave. “Things to do,” he admitted.

Sasuke gestured that he should go; they could chase Kabuto once this operation was completed.

Han ejected the tape from the viewer but managed to resist the urge to crush it.

If the hybrids in the lower levels of the residential levels were to be saved it should be by him, not by some foreign purebred doing it for his pet hybrid. Worse, if the hybrids left, they would lose their claim to the residential section and therefore to the Warren.

Then there was Kotohime. For every one hybrid who loathed her there were two who loved her. Now she and the hybrids who served her were setting up in a corner of the middle of the three lower levels, intending to resist the purge and support the evacuation. The hybrids were as likely to listen to her and Denka as they were to him.

Han knew better than to underestimate Denka. He had a suspicion that it was Denka who had told Uchiha about the purge. Bara knew how he had managed it or how Uchiha had responded so quickly.

And this tape had been made by Denka rather than Kotohime; Denka was moving into a more overt leadership role.

Naruto and now Denka; rivals for the position that belonged to him.

Han, who was destined to lead his fellow hybrids out of servitude.

Sumaru waited for Sasuke outside his office. It was possible that Sasuke had things to do other than in his office. It did not matter. Sumaru would be patient. He would wait.

Sasuke sped up when he saw him. “Suma-kun?” he queried.

“I need to speak with you, Sasuke-sama,” Sumaru replied.

Sasuke opened the door and gestured him in.

“Take a seat,” he said, indicating the comfortable chairs.

Sumaru shook his head. “I have a formal request.”

Sasuke considered for a moment and then sat down at his desk.

“I wish to be with you on the station,” Sumaru began. “If a combat situation arises Naruto-san will have to decide whether he has his controller on, whereupon there is a danger it will send him unconscious, or off, whereupon there is a danger he will go berserk. If I am there, it will relieve some of the pressure on Naruto-san. He knows that I can be your second line of defence. He usually relies on Kakashi-san to fulfil this role, but Kakashi-san will be on the Sakura.”

“I will have the other Uchiha fighters, Sumaru-kun,” Sasuke reminded him.

“You will not have Asuma-san, he will be captaining the Oak. You will not have Hamaki-san or Terai-san or Fu-san, because they will be on the Sakura in case the Blossom is needed.” He stood straighter and looked Sasuke directly in the eye. “Please, Sasuke-sama.”

Sasuke sighed. “Sumaru-kun, you are a fabulous fighter but you are only sixteen. That means your judgement is underdeveloped. I promise that I will speak with Gai-san and Kakashi-san. If they are positive about the idea I shall talk to Naruto about it.” He stood up, came around the desk and rested his hand on Sumaru’s shoulder. “I know that the time will come when I rely on you in exactly the way you are suggesting, Sumaru-kun. The question is whether this time is that time.”

Sumaru quashed the urge to argue. He had made his case. If he pleaded it would only confirm that his judgement was suspect. “I understand, Sasuke-sama,” he replied.

Sickler lay in his bunk. He was too excited to sleep.

Uchiha was coming. Naruto-san was going to rescue the hybrids. Sickler did not know if that included them, or if he and Ebisu would still need Ebisu’s father’s credit to buy two pod-places on a passenger ship. Perhaps Naruto-san would refuse to rescue Ebisu because he was purebred.

Ebisu had made many trips to the apartment. Most of their belongings were piled in the corner or crammed under Ebisu’s bunk.

But Sickler had not told Ebisu about the stuff under the floor of his room. He did not want Ebisu to know what was there. Ebisu would be cross if he found out that Sickler had crept out to attend Kaiju meetings and that he fucked whenever he had the chance. There were even some cans of spray paint.

There were also things under the floor that Sickler wanted; his treasures and his small cache of gold credits.

He knew he had promised. Ebisu had needed him to promise. Sickler had crossed his fingers behind his back when he did so.

Ebisu would never know. He was sound asleep, snoring. Sickler would be back before he woke up.

Hunting vermin meant that he did not have to use the corridors; Sickler knew every service tunnel, ventilation duct and access shaft. It was almost as if he wasn’t breaking his promise at all; he wasn’t going into the parts of the residential sector that other people used. He would avoid everyone except the feral children, but they were used to him.

It took longer than he expected, but he finally pushed open the ventilation grill and dropped into the corridor outside his former room.

He had just finished sorting through his stash when the thumping started.

“Open up!” someone yelled. “In the name of the mayor’s office!”

Sickler stuffed his treasures into his satchel and headed towards the duct.

But the viewer for the front door was only a few steps away.

He could not resist. He dashed forward and switched it on. The screen sprang into life.

It was a squad.

“Open up!” the leader yelled. “In the name of the mayor! We have orders to confiscate the weasel-human hybrid.”

Sickler’s heart suddenly beat faster.

“Break down the door!” the leader ordered.

Sickler began turning, intending to run for the open ventilation duct, when there were yells, screams, thumps and the sound of bodies hitting the floor.

His eyes went back to the screen. The three man squad was unconscious, or possibly dead; there was a spreading pool of blood. Four large purebreds stood over them.

“Get the door open,” one of the newcomers said. “Hide the bodies inside and find the hybrid.”

Sickler was off. He sprinted down the corridor and leapt into the open mouth of the duct. He made himself spend time pulling the grill into place behind him before scuttling a short distance. There he crouched, trying to control his breathing so he was as noiseless as possible.

He heard the door give way, the heavy sounds of the bodies being dragged inside and them arguing whether the apartment was occupied; the viewer was on but there were no other signs.

“We tell Deidara that it was unoccupied,” the man giving the orders decided.

Sickler listened to the door shutting. Then he was off, along the ducts and the shafts and the tunnels towards the safety of the spacer quarter.

Kotohime was tired but she felt good. After some reflection she wondered if she were happy.

She had poured over the plans of the residential section before choosing this particular location. It was on the obvious route between the two lower levels and the spacer quarter. It could be sealed from the rest of the station if necessary and sets of the emergency doors could be used as airlocks.

She had worked out places to attach four of the five shuttles. If they had to cut themselves off then the shuttles’ carbon dioxide scrubbers would give them breathing space; literally.

She, Denka and Hina had worked out their plan of action. As soon as they had arrived, Denka had recruited the workforce they needed and made contact with the people speaking with Uchiha. Hina negotiated with the locals and assigned the incoming workers to jobs. Kotohime had checked that the people who were doing each job, particularly those overriding the control systems and attaching the shuttles, had the necessary expertise and skills before explaining to them what must be done.

Tonton had set up a nursery for the babies they had brought with them and then began preparing for the incoming children and youngsters.

As soon as they were far enough along, they sent out word that they were the collection point for hybrid children and youngsters who would be evacuated by Uchiha.

The challenge was to collect the ferals. Kotohime was relying on the fact that Tonton had raised them. She had Tonton make a tape that said where she was and asking them to come and see her. They paid hybrids to walk the corridors with a player and a piece of Tonton’s clothing to help convince the children that the message was real.

Kotohime had even found a route in from the access tunnels and made sure it was left open. She had persuaded Tonton that she should crawl through it while Hina looked after the babies. That was where she was now, trying to stay awake, waiting to help Tonton down from the access hatch when she returned.

She heard Denka’s voice. “Your father would be proud of you,” he said.

Kotohime startled, partly because she had not known that Denka had returned but mostly because she had been on of the edge of falling asleep.

“Betraying Orochimaru-sama, treating hybrids as if they are purebreds and stealing? I doubt it,” Kotohime replied.

“Finally deciding what you want to do and doing it,” Denka insisted.

“Maybe,” Kotohime admitted. “I am probably going to get us all killed.”

Denka shrugged. “We’ll have died well.”

That was it exactly; if Kotohime was going to die, she wanted to die well. It would go some way to make up for the life she had lived.

Deidara was at his happiest when on the edge of an explosion, in the narrow zone between probable survival and certain death.

That was what his whole life had felt like lately. Orochimaru on one side and Han on the other; Deidara had been suspended between two powerful megalomaniacs who killed without thought.

He was almost disappointed Orochimaru had gone. On the other hand, Deidara’s personal situation was deteriorating. Han was losing his sway on the Warren’s hybrids. Uchiha’s reasonable alternative was too attractive. It made Han even more dangerous; being in his presence was like handling nitro-glycerine.

Would the news that squads were still confiscating the valuable hybrids be considered good or bad news? Deidara had no idea.

Should he run? He was certain he could persuade Suigetsu. Possibly Kidomaru would come with them, possibly not; Deidara really did not care. Between them, he and Suigetsu could persuade Kabuto that there had been no reasonable alternative; Kabuto was a sucker for a pretty face.

It was not worth even considering Kimimaro. Deidara suspected that Kimimaro had found some way of stealing a sample of the drug he needed to activate his symbiote and bullied someone with a synthesiser to make it for him. Now he was indulging in an orgy of hybrid slaughter.

So much for them having a spy in the AHB.

But Han might use the bombs. Deidara wanted to be there if he used the bombs.

His feet had brought him to Han’s door.

Apparently it was good news that they were confiscating the hybrids. Han had decided that it meant that Onoki was not going to keep his agreement with Uchiha; that the evacuation was a ruse.

Deidara walked swiftly away before Han could give him an order. He would find Suigetsu. They would undock the ship and watch the explosions from what was, probably, a safe distance.

It would be beautiful.

Sasuke waited until the evemeal before the day the Oak was due to dock. Everyone who was on the Oak was there. It was particularly appropriate that Asuma, Naruto, Gai and Lee were present. Even Gaara had managed to attend.

He looked towards Naruto, who smiled in return. Sasuke had been worried that Naruto would be offended or upset, but he had agreed with Sumaru that it was for the best.

“We have something for Sumaru-san,” Sasuke announced.

Naruto smiled and produced a box from his lap. He pushed it towards Sumaru.

Sumaru pulled it towards him and, slowly, opened the lid. Inside there was a set of bodyguard tags. They were simple and functional but beautifully made; blue enamel on silver with each piece bearing the Uchiha crest. Sasuke opened the small box he had kept back. Inside was a pair of crested, blue enamel ear clips that he would be able to wear on the edge of his ear above the earrings that matched Naruto’s tags.

“I picked this set out once you mastered using your symbiote,” he admitted. “I did not intend to give them to you yet, but we have decided that you are ready. You are also promoted to crew. Congratulations, Sumaru-san.”

Sumaru smiled at him. “I thank you, Sasuke-sama.” Then his gaze turned to Naruto. “Naruto-san...” His voice trailed off. Sasuke could see tears in his eyes.

“I am very proud of you, Sumaru-kun,” Naruto insisted. “We all are.”

They rarely had a freighter large enough to justify opening the largest spur and Akatsuchi doubted that a mother ship had ever even jumped into the system, never mind docked. They had spent the whole of the previous day checking the systems and pressurising the spur. Asuma-san, the captain of the Oak, had assured him that there would be no problem linking with the airlocks and the process appeared to have gone well.

With Akatsuchi were Sumashi, the mayor’s representative, and Shibito, whose presence had been requested by Uchiha-sama. A bevy of journalists stood behind a barrier to one side, their cameras and recorders ready. On the other side was a crowd of spacers, dockers and other workers. Akatsuchi studied the line of security men who marked the limit of the crowd; most of them had been hired the day before and he was trusting in the Lady that they would prove trustworthy.

The doors to the docking bay swung open and six men in Uchiha blue emerged and fanned out. Each one had a single eye and Akatsuchi’s gut clenched as he realised that he was looking at Uchiha’s elite fighters, some of the deadliest men in known space. He had a suspicion that the largest was Kisame, the legendary sharkman. Next there came three young men, a young woman and a man who, for a moment, Akatsuchi thought might be Uchiha-sama.

But only for a moment because then the two of them were framed in the open airlock; Sasuke Uchiha and his Naruto. The first thought in Akatsuchi’s mind was that seeing them in the flesh was nothing like viewing the holos. There was a communal sigh from the crowd that swiftly gave way to stamping and cheering.

They moved smoothly down the ramp. Then Uchiha-sama was in front of him, inclining his head slightly.

“We are so grateful for your cooperation, Akatsuchi-san,” he said in a voice that stirred Akatsuchi’s spirit in a way that had not happened for decades.

He managed a bow before Naruto-san was in front of him.

“Yes, thank you, Akatsuchi-san,” Naruto-san added and smiled.

Akatsuchi blinked, stunned by the brightness. “It is a honour, Naruto-san,” he managed and vowed to find a woman, so that he would one day have grandchildren to tell about this day.

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