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 cynaga, lonelylulaby, Prism0467, eau_vie, liby318, the_boyfriend, unneeded, the horseman of death and disembodiedvoiceofthedying who reviewed chapter 27. I truly appreciate every review and always want to hear from readers.

Chapter twenty-eight: Mistaken

Sickler watched Naruto-san arrive from just behind the security cordon. He had arrived long after most others in the crowd but had managed to wriggle his way to the front.

Naruto-san was even more amazing in real life. His hair really was yellow and his eyes bright blue. He shone in a way Sickler had never imagined possible.

He had whiskers, like Sickler.

Naruto-san left with Akatsuchi-san and the other purebreds. The rest of the crowd looked like it was going to stay to see if Naruto-san made another appearance but Sickler had to get back to Ebisu; he was late.

Ebisu wasn’t in their tiny room. Instead there was a note, “Gone to apartment. Back soon.”

Sickler froze. He hadn’t told Ebisu about the four men, or the bodies, or the fact that the dead men had orders to confiscate him. He couldn’t tell Ebisu because that would mean admitting he had broken his promise and gone into the residential sector. Instead Sickler had pretended that it was an ordinary day and they had done ordinary things until Ebisu had given him permission to go and see Naruto-san arriving.

What should he do?

What would Ebisu do when he saw the broken door? Would he have the sense to walk away or would he open the door and see the bodies in the entrance hall? Worse, would he call a security squad so that they opened the door and saw the bodies?

He could imagine Ebisu calling a security squad.

Within seconds he was scuttling along the now familiar route of ventilation ducts, service tunnels and access shafts towards the apartment.

He was too late. He could not see them from behind the ventilation grill but he could hear them. There was the sound of a fist hitting and the whoosh of someone having the breath knocked out of him.

“Tell us where the hybrid is,” an unfamiliar voice demanded.

“I don’t know,” Ebisu gasped. “And I don’t know who killed your colleagues. Perhaps they took Sickler.”

Sickler whimpered. Ebisu was being beaten up and it was his fault because Sickler hadn’t told him the apartment was no longer safe.

“More likely he did it,” the stranger suggested.

“Sickler? He a slip of lad, he could never overpower three men,” Ebisu insisted.

Sickler listened to Ebisu receiving more blows for standing up for him.

“Hybrids are always stronger than they look,” the stranger suggested. “Or maybe you did it.”

Ebisu was breathing in short, pained pants. “As if I would walk into you cleaning up if I had,” he pointed out and received more blows for his observation.

“Stop,” another, more refined, voice ordered. “We need him alive and preferably conscious so you don’t have to carry him. Ebisu, resident of the Warren, you are under arrest for the crime of not knowing the whereabouts of the hybrid you own and under suspicion of being involved in the death of three members of the security forces. Take him.”

Sickler did not move away from the grill. He watched them frog march Ebisu from the kitchen, along the corridor and out the door. He was bleeding. His breathing was wrong. Every so often he would cry out in pain.

“Put a watch on the apartment for the hybrid,” the owner of the refined voice said to the one who had been hitting Ebisu. “Onoki-sama is going to be cross that he’s slipped through our fingers. He’s one of the most valuable ones.”

“What about his owner?” the hitter asked.

“He’s irrelevant,” the posh one answered. “He isn’t one of the killers, we know that from the recording. We’ll find out what he knows and then put him on ice. If we can’t find the killers, we’ll destroy the tape and charge him for the murders. It will help our clean up rate.”

Sickler had forgotten that when you turned on the door camera you activated the recorder.

He stayed very still and very quiet until they had gone, tears running silently down his cheeks. What was he going to do? Who could he tell that the posh man was going to frame Ebisu for the murders?

The only person he could think of was Akatsuchi-san. Akatsuchi-san was the harbour master; he was important. Akatsuchi-san had been kind to them.

He dashed back along the vents and tunnels towards the spacer quarter. Once he emerged from the ventilation duct in the hostel he was out through the door and running towards the harbour master’s office.

He was running so fast that he was on a collision course with the blue man before even realising that there was someone standing in front of the door to Akatsuchi-san’s office.

Next thing he was flying though the air, launched by the sweep of the blue man’s arm.

Sickler knew how to fall. You stayed absolutely relaxed. If you had the choice you did not land on your head or neck.

Normally he would have rolled and come up onto his feet but the blue man’s blow had knocked all the breath out of him and the impact on the floor stunned him.

“Damn it, Kisame, you just killed Kamatari,” a voice said.

A woman hung over him. Normally Sickler would have stared, he shut his eyes and decided to play dead instead, at least until he could work out what was going on. Who was Kamatari?

“He ran straight at me,” the blue man complained. “He was so fast, I only had time for a reflex response. What is he doing off the ship?”

“Lady knows,” the woman replied. Cool fingers found his neck. She smelt lovely. “He’s alive,” she said. “I think he is unconscious.”

Behind his closed eyelids Sickler’s mind was beginning to work. He had seen enough to know that the woman’s suit bore an Uchiha crest. The blue man had been among those guarding Sasuke Uchiha; he had just run into Kisame, the legendary sharkman. Naruto-san and Uchiha-sama must be inside Akatsuchi-san’s office.

Uchiha-sama was even more important than Akatsuchi-san. Perhaps Uchiha-sama could save Ebisu. Maybe if he pretended to be unconscious they would feel obliged to look after him and he would get a chance to speak with Naruto-san about Ebisu. Naruto-san would understand.

But who was Kamatari?

Sasuke was feeling unexpectedly positive and he could see the hope growing in Naruto’s eyes. They had not anticipated this level of cooperation. Sumashi-san, the major’s representative, seemed to be willing to consider everything on their list. Shibito-san had connections to the hybrids on the lower levels; apparently some of the hybrids were setting up an assembly point. They even had a strategy for collecting the feral children.

“Will you only be offering transport to hybrids, Uchiha-sama?” Shibito asked.

Sasuke immediately imagined someone offering to take Kazuki but not Haru. “We would not want to break up any family units or close friendships,” he answered. “Being a family of purebred and hybrids together, we know how painful that would be.”

Shibito looked greatly relieved. He smiled. He seemed on the edge of saying something when there was a tap on the door.

It was Itachi. Naruto moved to the door, took the folded piece of paper from him and passed it to Sasuke. Apparently Inari, Konohamaru and Tayuya needed to return to the ship; Gai and Tatsuji would escort them and return. Sasuke nodded his assent.

“Is there a problem, Uchiha-sama?” Sumashi asked.

“Not at all,” Sasuke assured him. “Merely keeping abreast of things.” He gestured towards the map that was spread across the table. “So we think we can establish and secure a route between the spacer quarter and the assembly point on the second to lowest level?”

“Yes,” Sumashi replied. “We will explain to residents that some corridors will be temporarily sealed off. We will have four manned entrances, two from the upper and two from the lower levels. I thought that we could have one of our people and one of your people on each, so that we would know who was leaving and you would know who you had agreed to transport.”

“We should ensure there is a local hybrid on each gate also,” Naruto added. “Perhaps you could suggest people, Shibito-san.”

Shibito considered and then nodded. “It is a good idea. I shall think on it and contact you with names.”

“I believe we can start tomorrow,” Sumashi told them. “That will give us time to warn the residents, make the final arrangements and spread the word. Akatsuchi-san, are you comfortable with the plan to open spurs and allow Uchiha to use them as temporary accommodation?”

Akatsuchi-san nodded. “Uchiha is paying rental and the spacers will be happier with the emigrants confined to specific spurs. Some of the freighters carrying the necessary supplies have already docked at the designated moorings.”

Sasuke glanced at Naruto, who nodded. “Perhaps we should go through the timetable once more,” he suggested. “Would you mind if we established a link with our command centre?”

He waited for their permission, even though it was highly unlikely that they would withhold it. Naruto set up the camera and microphone that Shino had linked to a miniature transmitter; the Oak would relay the signal to the Sakura. They both activated their earpieces.

“Receiving visual and audio loud and clear, Boss,” Shino’s voice confirmed, followed by Shikamaru, Neji and Kakashi confirming that they were in the loop.

“Let us begin the review with what we intend to do when we leave this meeting, gentlemen,” Sasuke suggested.

Kamatari stared at Tayuya. She was angry and he had no idea why. He reviewed everything wrong he had done over the last few days. None of it explained Tayuya’s fury.

“Sit there,” she ordered, pointing at a seat in the crew room. “How dare you behave so badly as soon as Iruka-sensei is not on board.”

“You shouldn’t have left the ship, Kama-kun,” Inari added. “You are our cat. We are responsible for you. If another crew had taken you we would have had a challenge or a raid on our hands. We never get involved in that type of stuff unless it’s unavoidable and certainly not when we are involved with a high risk venture like this.”

Kamatari blinked at him. He had not left the ship. He had spent the morning helping Ibiki-san set up the dormitories for the rescued hybrids.

“I haven’t been off the ship,” he complained.

Tayuya’s eyes flashed. “Don’t lie to us, Kamatari. We brought you back.”

“Maybe he doesn’t remember,” Konohamaru suggested. “He hit his head pretty hard. I am surprised Rin-san has let him out of the infirmary.”

Kamatari checked the chronometer, just in case there was some time missing. “No,” he insisted. “I was with Ibiki-san all morning. You can ask him.”

“Don’t lie!” Tayuya yelled at him.

Inari placed a hand on her arm. “Hang on. You spent the morning with Ibiki-san? Are you sure?”

Kamatari scowled at them. “Go ask him,” he replied.

Konohamaru went pale. “Then who did we bring back to the ship?”

And the three of them were gone.

Kamatari thought about running after them immediately but decided against it. Instead he thought about what they had said. They had found someone outside the ship who looked exactly like him. Thinking it was him, they brought this person back to the ship and left him in the infirmary with Rin-san.

Unlike a purebred, Kamatari was not disturbed by the idea of other people exactly like him. He was a standard model. Although genetically identical hybrids were inclined to develop slightly differently, this was not always the case.

He decided to follow them down to the infirmary. If he ran he could catch them up.

“He was fine,” Rin-san was saying. She was pointing at him. “There he is now.”

“That’s Kamatari,” Inari explained. “The one you had in the infirmary wasn’t.”

Rin’s eyebrows shot up. “An outsider wandering around the ship? You had better find him and quickly. Preferably before Sasuke-sama returns. Have you told Asuma-san?” She shrugged. “I thought he was quiet but he never took his eyes off my breasts so it never occurred to me that it wasn’t the little pervert.”

Kamatari had the grace to blush. He had not thought Rin-san had noticed. He knew that Tayuya-san noticed because she scowled at him every time he did it. He knew Moegi noticed because she would hit him.

“I can probably track him,” he suggested, hoping to change the subject.

Only he couldn’t, because the outsider smelt exactly like him and he had never tried to track himself before.

“I’ll report to Asuma-san,” Inari told them. “Hopefully we can use the scanners to find him.”

Sickler told the medico with the pretty breasts what she wanted to hear in as few words as possible. When she told him to go back to the crew room, whatever that was, he walked out the door she had indicated with her gaze.

The ship was huge. It was like being on the station only it was much, much nicer and there were lots and lots of doors.

He had no idea where to find Naruto-san, or even if Naruto-san was back on the ship yet. He felt odd; lightheaded.

Perhaps he should have admitted to the medico that he was not Kamatari but she might have had him thrown off the ship and he really wanted to speak with Naruto-san about Ebisu.

Then he crossed a scent trail that seemed familiar. He did not know what it was, but it made him feel better. He could not shake off the feeling that everything would be fine if only he could find the person who had left the trail.

He wandered about. He found a large room with toys in it. It was nice. If he had been a child he would have liked it there. Then he found a room with lots of doors. The scent trail led to one of the rooms. He knocked on the door but no one answered, so he opened it.

It was empty, which was disappointing.

He was so tired and the room smelt very, very good. He crept onto the bed, where the smell was strongest. He curled up. He felt safe.

He would sleep for a little while. Then he would find Naruto-san.

“You brought a stranger onto the ship,” Asuma summarised. “A stranger that looks so like Kamatari that none of us can tell the difference. A stranger who could be a spy or an assassin or a bomber or a hacker.”

Inari wondered if he should point out that he had only done what he had been told to do by Itachi, but decided that would be unwise.

Asuma sighed. “Get everyone into the crew room or the control room without using the intercom.” He scowled. “I shall want you here, Inari, with me. I’ll show you how to use the scanners to find intruders.”

They could not find him. Asuma-san put together a squad and sent them out to search everywhere where the background infrared might mask the radiation given out by a body.

There was still no sign of him.

“Maybe he is wearing a cool suit,” Asuma suggested with a sigh.

Kamatari sat in his room. The intruder was like him. He tried to imagine being on the ship, alone. Perhaps he would be a bit woozy from hitting his head and being unconscious. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath, scenting the air.

Kiba; he would smell Kiba. If the intruder was the same model as him and about the same age, then Kiba would have raised him. Kiba would smell as good to him as he did to Kamatari.

Given that Kiba was not on board, the strongest sources of Kiba’s scent would be the playroom, Choza’s room and Kiba’s bedroom.

He slid open the door to Kiba’s room. There, on the bed, was a person. He was curled up, asleep, like Kamatari curled up when he slept.

Kamatari had the strangest urge to curl up beside him. Now that they were close together he could tell that the stranger smelt like him but slightly different and oddly familiar. Perhaps they were actually from the same litter; true, genetically identical littermates like Naruto’s kits.

He sat on the bed. The stranger did not stir. Of course he did not stir because a littermate in the den was comforting, not dangerous.

Kamatari put a hand on the stranger’s calf.

His nose twitched and hazel eyes opened.

It was like and unlike looking into a mirror; no, it was more like looking at a picture of himself because the image was not flipped left to right.

“I am Kamatari,” Kamatari told him.

“I am Sickler,” the stranger who was not a stranger replied. “I need to speak with Naruto-san.”

Kamatari knew he should fetch someone but perhaps a few extra minutes would not matter. “Why do you need to speak to Naruto-san?”

And Sickler explained about Ebisu and how he had tried to protect Sickler and how Sickler had let Ebisu down.

“They beat him up and they are going to torture him to find out what he knows and then they will pin the murders on him and execute him,” Sickler finished.

It was a big mess. Kamatari could see that Sickler might think he needed Sasuke-sama to sort it out. Asking Naruto-san for help wasn’t a bad plan.

He thought through what Sickler had told him.

“You need a copy of the recording,” he suggested.

Sickler shook his head. “They took the tape.”

Kamatari thought about what Shino-san had taught him about recording equipment. “They’ll probably be a copy in the buffer memory of the machine. Even if they deleted it, you can get it back if you know what you are doing.”

Sickler’s nose twitched and his whiskers jumped. “Good,” he replied.

“I have to tell the others you are here,” Kamatari admitted. “They’ve worked out there are two of us.”

Sickler nodded.

Inari looked at Asuma, who was becoming more and more frustrated at their inability to locate the intruder. He decided to voice the thought that had been gestating for some time but was now beginning to grow.

“Maybe he’s in the crew room,” he suggested.

Asuma’s eyes widened. “Get down there,” he ordered.

He arrived just as Kamatari was telling Tayuya that he had found the intruder, apparently his name was Sickler and he had been sleeping on Kiba’s bed.

“Go to your room, Kama-kun,” Inari ordered, defusing the situation before Tayuya could become distracted by interrogating Kamatari.

Tayuya scowled at him but he ignored it. Kamatari moved away.

Inari did not hesitate. “Cover me,” he said as he slid open the door and slipped inside.

“Inari!” Tayuya hissed but he ignored her. He heard her entering behind him.

The youngster blinked at him. He looked younger than Kamatari but, on reflection, there were times when Kamatari looked equally young.

“I was looking for Naruto-san,” he said. “Can I speak with Naruto-san?”

“Why do you need to speak with Naruto-san?” Inari asked him.

The youngster’s eyes filled with tears and his whiskers drooped. “I didn’t tell Ebisu that the apartment wasn’t safe. He went back there and they arrested him. They are going to frame him for the murders, even though they know it wasn’t him. I was on my way to ask Akatsuchi-san to help, because he was the most important person I know, but I ran into the big blue man and then I thought that I could ask Naruto-san to ask Uchiha-sama to help. Uchiha-sama is way more important than Akatsuchi-san.”

“And Naruto-san would help you because...?” Tayuya queried from behind Inari.

The youngster scowled at her. “Because he is Naruto-san and Naruto-san understands.”

Which was, Inari decided, exactly it. They were here, in the Warren, because Naruto was Naruto and Naruto understood.

You need to be logged in to leave a review for this story.
Report Story