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. I truly appreciate them and they help keep me writing. Particular thanks to Moonmoore, Jenova625, the horseman of death, disembodiedvoiceofthedying, blugirlami21, v, Ryu Earth, meow-ku, SidonieStarr, sadie237, lonelylulaby, unneeded and jalana who reviewed chapter 29.

If you want to be emailed every time I update, send me an email to the email address shown on my profile page.

Chapter thirty: Uninvited

The assembly room was emptied of its tables and chairs, which were carried away to build the barricades, along with anything else they could lay their hands on.

Shikamaru had identified the main throughway as the most likely avenue of attack. It was wide enough for the transport of large loads, with only the occasional, gradual bend. Sasuke compared its width, twelve paces, with the time they had to collect suitable materials to build their defences. It was not a comfortable thought.

He knew that Itachi was correct; they could not close the emergency doors in case someone was stupid enough to use explosives. Shikamaru was also right; if they allowed the attackers passed this point they would spread out across the spacer quarter and become impossible to catch before they found their prey.

It did not make the position any more defendable. The metal tables from the assembly room were less than a man’s height wide. At least there were enough of them to span the corridor twice. Sasuke watched Itachi calmly giving instructions on how to jam some of the chairs behind the upended tables to stabilise them and then tie the others along the top edge so that they would tip when the attackers tried to climb them.

They worked hard and were in a better situation than Sasuke had anticipated when the warning came through from Shikamaru. He hoped that Ibiki, Gai and Choza had been as successful establishing defences in the three side corridors.

Shikamaru’s voice in his ear, “Sakura-san says that they have worked themselves up into a frenzy and are leaving the market. I estimate that they will reach you in between four and six minutes' time.”

“Thank you, Shika-san,” Sasuke acknowledged. He switched his transmitter to broadcast. “We may have less than four minutes,” he told those with radios. “Get everyone into position.”

He signalled those fighting with him in the first rank to ready themselves. He could see Itachi doing the same in the second. He crouched down next to Sumaru, wishing Naruto was beside him.

“Kisame, Inoichi, Tatsuji, Kunugi and Naruto, anyone who gets past our two lines must be stopped,” he reminded them. “The evacuees in transit and at the spurs are totally defenceless.”

“Understood, Sasuke-sama,” four of them responded. Then he heard Naruto’s voice. “We will stop them, Sasuke, you can be sure of it.”

Sasuke looked back and across the corridor to where he knew Itachi was crouched behind the second barricade. “Itachi, I need you to keep me informed of tactical developments,” Sasuke reminded him. “Even if it means not becoming fully involved in the fighting.”

“You can rely on me, Sasuke-sama,” his brother replied.

They waited. Sasuke concentrated on not looking in the least nervous. One of the first things an Uchiha was taught was that inexperienced fighters held firm only if their commander believed in himself and in them. That was why he was in the first rank and Itachi was in the second.

They felt them before they heard them; the floor vibrating from their footfalls. Then they heard them; the sound of running feet and shouting steadily increasing in volume.

He begged the Lady that those with rifles would not shoot until the signal was given.

The front of the mob rounded the bend. Sasuke’s mouth dried. Shikamaru had said no more than two hundred. Suddenly all the theory that had assured him that a four-to-one ratio was fine seemed very far away and irrelevant.

He had hoped that those at the front would slow when they saw the barricade and the momentum of the charge would be broken. It did not happen. Instead they yelled their defiance and accelerated.

Sasuke stood firm and his men stayed with him.

Once the first of the attackers passed the mark Sumaru blew the whistle and the laser rifles started firing.

After it was chaos: the sizzle of laser piercing flesh; the smell of burning meat; the sounds of blades slicing muscle and grinding against bone; the screams of the injured and dying.

The scent of fresh blood as it sprayed across this face and body; the memory of his mother’s sightless eyes.

Sasuke refused to go there. These men were relying on him. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of hybrids were relying on him. His family was relying on him. Naruto was relying on him. He anchored himself to the present.

The attackers who made it over the first barricade did not stop and fight. Instead they ran at the second; focused on their objective of hunting the hybrids beyond. Sasuke wished he had enough people to patrol the gap but he did not. If the attackers punched a hole through the first barricade it would degenerate into the type of battle where a four-to-one ratio meant certain defeat.

A blur ran towards him and leapt. Sasuke saw the bizarrely familiar figure of Kimimaro sail over his head. Beside him he heard Sumaru’s sharp intake of breath. For a split moment Sasuke wondered if Sumaru would forget his duty but the youngster did not move from his position at Sasuke’s side.

Sasuke watched Kimimaro land, run and leap over the second rank.

“Gaara here. Lee and I will deal with Kimimaro.” Gaara’s monotonous voice was grim.

Sasuke wondered for a moment about sending someone else with them but then the news came that made that impossible.

“Choza here. They just drove through us riding a high-power wheeled vehicle. We couldn’t stop it. We got some of them but by no means all. I estimate six to eight made it through uninjured. I have activated my implant and am following. They are driving towards the spurs we have hired.”

There was no time to consider how they knew where to go. “Sasuke here. Inoichi, Kunugi and Tatsuji join up with Choza and eliminate the attackers on the vehicle.” He took a deep breath. He had no choice. There was no one else. “Konohamaru, take command of squad C and rebuild their defences.”

Inoichi, Kunugi and Tatsuji acknowledged with voices that suggested that they were already running, leaving Kisame and Naruto to deal with anyone who broke through the second rank.

“Konohamaru here. On my way to squad C’s location.” Kono-kun sounded proud and Sasuke’s gut clenched. Then he was dragged back to the present as an attacker tried to leap the barricade and found his end on Sumaru’s sword.

Naruto was aware of Inoichi, Kunugi and Tatsuji leaving but his attention remained forward, watching for his next target. Only Kimimaro had got past them; he had used his phenomenal speed to evade Kisame. Naruto hoped that Gaara and Lee could catch him.

Another attacker managed to clear the second barricade. He veered towards Naruto in an attempt to avoid Kisame.

The man’s eyes widened in surprise to see Naruto within striking range just before Naruto’s knife slit his throat.

Naruto danced back into position, only to dodge a missile. It broke on the floor behind him, spewing a sticky liquid that burst into flames.

“Napalm,” Kisame informed him. “Kisame reporting. At least one of them has napalm missiles.”

“Sasuke here. Received and understood. Be aware, everyone.”

Naruto imagined the grenade hitting him. Worse, he imagined it hitting Sasuke. Anywhere on the suit would be fine but they had their helmets down. Wearing full protection when those you were leading had only the odd armguard or breastplate would not inspire confidence.

Kisame was signalling him. He was pointing at his throat.

Ice ran down Naruto’s spine. Kisame was advising him to switch his controller away from automatic. He understood the logic. There were only the two of them to cover the whole corridor; if Naruto went down some of the attackers would get through while Kisame was fighting others.

A missile hit might flip him, like when he was struck by the laser on Chanx. Set on automatic, his collar would knock him unconscious.

Kisame pointed again.

Naruto had trained for this. Kisame had suggested it and Naruto had concurred, remembering the promise he had made himself whilst in orbit around Chanx. However, training with Kisame, who was best able to defend against him and was armed with an activator, was different than endangering his crewmates, including Sasuke, and the people fighting with them.

“Naruto!” Kisame yelled.

He did it. He switched his collar over.

“Naruto reporting,” he announced over the radio. “My controller is no longer automatic. I repeat. My controller is no longer automatic.”

Kisame grabbed an attacker and threw him into the wall. He then turned to Naruto and gave a nod of approval.

Then there was Sasuke’s voice in his ear. “Sasuke here. Understood. You can do it, dobe.”

“Teme,” Naruto whispered.

Gaara watched Lee accelerate away from him. He stopped himself running faster; he knew he must pace himself. He told himself it would be fine; that he could follow Lee by scent even if he lost sight of him. Lee had to overtake Kimimaro before Kimimaro found any of the hybrids. Gaara imagined Kimimaro rampaging through the sanctuary on Kaze V and felt sick.

Was this what it meant to care for people?

So Kimimaro was in the Anti Hybrid Brigade. He was one of those who hunted defenceless hybrids; who slaughtered children. That beautiful face, that gorgeous body, housed a monster.

Gaara remembered Kiba trying to tell him that it was the way people behaved that made them attractive, not how they looked.

Kimimaro was ugly. Lee was beautiful. Gaara finally understood.

Even with his implant activated, Choza was slower than the vehicle. Luckily the wheels left marks on the floor. He hoped that Kakashi was in contact with the spurs. He tried to remember which of his crewmates had ended up supervising them. Dan, he thought, and Tenten. He could not imagine Tenten coping with a vehicle full of crazies. There again, she might have the sense to back down, while Dan would not. Dan’s common sense vanished when he was protecting someone weaker than himself.

A high pitched scream cut through him. A small figure appeared from around the next bend and came towards him. Its eyes and mouth were round with shock. Its legs were pumping as it ran. As it, she, came closer Choza could see that the girl was splattered with blood.

She tried to stop when she saw him and ended up in a heap on the floor. He pressed his finger to his lips and glided past her to wait on the curve of the bend for her pursuer. He drew his longest knife.

The man was hugging the inside of the bend, intent on following the shortest path. He impaled himself on Choza’s knife. Choza then thrust the knife’s point into his heart.

He thought it was one of the men from the vehicle.

A tug on his sleeve. Choza almost swung but managed to stop himself. It was the girl.

“Mama hurt,” she told him, pointing back around the bend.

Choza’s heart sank. He would have to ignore her. She was just one child and there were so many other lives at risk.

Running footsteps in a familiar cadence; Choza almost wept with relief as Tatsuji, Inoichi and Kunugi came into view travelling at a speed that Choza could no longer even aspire to match.

“Wheel marks,” he shouted as they flashed past and Inoichi raised a hand to acknowledge that they understood.

He cleaned his knife on the man’s jacket, returned it to its scabbard, picked up the child and followed them.

Lee managed to twist but both of Kimimaro’s knives hit; one in his upper arm and one in his ribs.

He had been foolish; running too fast without considering that Kimimaro might ambush him.

His suit limited the penetration of the knife into his arm and his body armour turned a deadly trust to the vitals into cracked ribs. He was lucky, he knew that, but his injuries gave Kimimaro a considerable advantage.

The longer Lee could draw out the fight the fewer evacuees Kimimaro would kill. The more time he gained, the more likely Gaara would be to arrive before the end.

He could see Kimimaro’s mouth was moving but Lee refused to hear his words. It would be the usual filth and, if Lee was going to die, it would not be with Kimimaro’s twisted views polluting his mind.

Instead he thought of Gaara. Each time he dodged one of Kimimaro’s strikes, or parried a blow, or landed one of his own, Lee rewarded himself with a memory of an act he had shared with his dearest friend.

But the rewards were becoming less frequent. Kimimaro had given up trying to pierce Lee’s body armour. Instead he concentrated on Lee’s limbs, using his speed to increase the impact of each blow.

If Lee could not move he could not evade.

The end would come soon. Lee released his favourite memory: on Kaze I, Gaara looking out over the desert, lit by the golden light of the setting sun.

A growling snarl, moving air, the sound of body hitting body and Kimimaro had gone. Lee managed to raise his head enough to look.

Gaara was berserk. There was no missing the insane bloodlust in his eyes as he turned towards Lee, leaving Kimimaro to thrash in his death throes, unable to suck air through his crushed windpipe.

Lee knew he had to find the activator for Gaara’s controller but he was too weak. His arms would not move.

He refused to think on it. He shut his eyes and thought about Gaara on the balcony, the golden light on his skin.

A howl; Lee risked a look. Gaara was crouched straddling him. He threw back his head and howled again.

Gaara was protecting him. Even berserk, Gaara was protecting him.

The attackers had fallen back. Sasuke was not sure if it was a good sign or a bad one. Whichever, they took advantage of the lull to put out the fires, bind wounds and reinforce the barricades.

He activated his private channel to Shikamaru. “What do you have for me Shika-san?”

“Two, smaller explosions in the top level of the residential section. I think Onoki has gone; fled or dead. Sakura-san’s couriers say that the rumours are that Kurotsuchi, the hybrid-hater, has seized control.

“The Silver Leaf is loading at the private dock and, so far, the AHB and the authorities seem unaware of it, which is good. Both lower gates are still operational. Only a few of the feral children have arrived at the assembly point. Shizune suggests that we may be incorrect in our assumption that more than a handful of them have survived the AHB.

“I have negotiated the opening of spur 8 and Anko is directing evacuees there. Hopefully that news will not get back to the AHB for some time. I moved the evacuees from spur 1 to spur 2 as soon as the AHB attack became a certainty. Kakashi agreed that it would be easier to defend one spur rather than two.”

There was a hitch in Shikamaru’s voice. “Choza reports that some of the evacuees have been killed on their way to spur 1. He has seen three bodies and has killed the attacker responsible. He thinks the vehicle of attackers is on its way to spur 1 but they will divert to spur 2 as soon as they realise that spur 1 is empty. I have warned Dan and Tenten. Inoichi, Tatsuji and Kunugi should be there soon. No sign of Kimimaro, so we have to assume Lee and Gaara stopped him, but neither of them have reported in.

“Gai, Ibiki and Konohamaru report that the smaller corridors are quiet. I think that is everything.

“Do you want me to open a private channel between you and Naruto?”

“Briefly,” Sasuke admitted. “Thank you, Shika-san.”

“No problem. It is open.”

“Dobe, can you hear me? Shika-san has given us a minute on a private channel.”

Naruto’s voice was reassuringly normal. “Teme. You shouldn’t have asked him to do that.”

“I didn’t. He offered. How are you?”

“It is fine so far. You?”

“Uninjured. Sumaru is doing a great job.” Sasuke made absolutely sure no one could overhear him or read his lips. “It’s scary, but not so bad I can’t stop it showing.”

“Same here. Be careful, Sasuke, I love you.”

“Likewise. I love you, Naruto.”

Then, with the channels assigned normally and ready with appropriate responses, Sasuke asked each member of Uchiha in the Warren to report.

Knowing that all the evacuees were in spur 2 gave them an advantage. Instead of following the vehicle to spur 1, Tatsuji, Inoichi and Kunugi took a short cut to spur 2.

Row upon row of evacuees filled the spur. They sat on the ground, clutching bundles of belongings. A shiver ran down Inoichi’s spine. It would not take an attack to cause injuries, even deaths. Panic alone would do it; the weaker and smaller would be crushed.

“Why haven’t you loaded them onto a ship?” Inoichi hissed at Dan. “Or at least shut the doors to the spur?”

Dan dragged him even further from the crowd. “All the doors have been sabotaged. The ones to the spur won’t close. The ones to the docking bay won’t open. We only found out once we moved everyone in here.”

“Spur 1 would have been the same,” Inoichi reassured him. He looked through the open doors to the corridor beyond and imagined the vehicle full of crazed killers accelerating towards the evacuees. “We will stop it before it reaches here,” he promised.

“I’ll come with you,” Dan insisted.

“No you won’t,” Inoichi replied. “You stay here and you deal with the aftermath, whatever that turns out to be. We are relying on you, Dan.”

He turned and jogged away. Tatsuji and Kunugi fell in beside him. Once they were around the corner and out of sight they stopped.

“We have to stop it before they see it,” Tatsuji whispered in his soft voice. “Whatever it takes.”

Kunugi looked back over his shoulder. Inoichi knew he was thinking of Dan. “Whatever it takes,” he agreed.

“Get hypershots ready,” Inoichi instructed. “We’ll hear them coming. I’ll take mine before they round the bend. I’m going to jump the driver and steer the vehicle into the wall. If I succeed, you kill them. If not, you will have to try a similar move.”

There had been nothing Choza could do for the little girl’s mother, or for the other two hybrids he had found; he hoped that they had died quickly. He held the child tight, trying to shield her from seeing the bodies, and jogged towards spur 2.

He heard the vehicle before he saw it. He put the girl down.

“Wait for me,” he told her. “I will be back soon. I promise. Will you promise to stay here?”

She nodded.

He ran down to the T junction. To his left he could hear the approaching vehicle. To his right he saw Inoichi, Tatsuji and Kunugi. Beyond them was the junction to spur 2.

Choza watched Inoichi press a hypospray to his neck and then discard it. It was a hypershot; Choza could tell from the way that Inoichi’s body straightened and his suddenly staring eyes.

He felt sick; his eyes filled with tears. One man against a speeding vehicle. It was madness. Inoichi had never even seen the vehicle.

But he had. Choza activated his radio.

“Inoichi, this is Choza,” he said. “The vehicle has a tubular steel roll cage with transparent panels so it is closed at the front, the top and the back. It is open at the sides. There are no doors. The driver is front right, so on your left.” He shut his eye, trying to remember every small detail. “It’s steered with a wheel.”

He saw Inoichi nod and then the vehicle was coming from his left and Inoichi was running from his right.

Inoichi leapt. He grabbed the edge of the roll cage on the driver’s side, swung himself around and jackknifed so that he entered the cab feet first.

From where Choza was standing he could see that it was a perfect hit. The soles of Inoichi’s boots hit the side of the driver’s head. The man pitched sideways, knocking the man sitting beside him almost out of the vehicle. Inoichi released the roll bar and grabbed the steering wheel, turning it as his momentum carried him into the cab.

The vehicle swerved left, ricocheted off one wall and ploughed into the other.

Choza watched as the driver’s side crumpled.

Any small hope in Sasuke’s mind that the AHB’s retreat was permanent vanished as the attackers charged around the bend. This time they were in tight formation, with armour to the front.

Sumaru sounded the whistle as they came within range but the laser rifles were ineffective, the tight beams of light hit their targets but were reflected or absorbed by the attackers’ armour.

The front rank of attackers divided.

Behind them there was a makeshift battering ram; a thick steel pole mounted on a wheeled trolley. There were other, thinner, poles at right angles to the ram, handles to push with. The trolley was moving with the momentum of eight running men.

Then, just before the first wave of attackers and the ram reached the barricade a shower of napalm grenades was launched.

The defenders ducked under cover or raised shields. Beside him, Sasuke saw Sumaru raise and close his helmet and, belatedly, did the same. It meant the two of them were ready to attack but the others in the first rank were not; they were too busy avoiding the grenades.

The end of the pole hit a junction between two tables. The tables moved, screeching across the metal floor. Then the ropes holding them together snapped, the tables flew apart and the ram and trolley were through.

The attackers flooded through the gap.

Sasuke opened and lowered his helmet. “Turn and attack them from behind,” he ordered and ran at one of the men pushing the trolley, Sumaru beside him.

But the damage was done; attackers were climbing the second barricade. Whilst only the occasional attacker had made it past the second rank during the first battle, this time it was twos and threes.

Naruto knew it would be harder this time. The attackers were better organised; they were in formation, using their limited armour to best effect, throwing the napalm at exactly the right moment and, worst, they had breached the first barricade with their ram.

So he was not surprised that the first three through engaged Kisame and the second two him; they were trying to occupy them whilst their fellows sprinted for the corridors beyond.

He could not allow that to happen. He raised his helmet and closed it; he would be taking more risks and could not afford a hit.

He leapt away from the men trying to distract him and killed one of the runners as he landed. Five steps took him to another and a jump to a third; observe, decision, move, kill, observe, decision, move, kill. Each decision and move had to be perfect. If his attention faltered for a moment one of them would escape.

A grenade broke on his suit and them another. He ignored them. Being covered with burning goo was irrelevant. All that mattered was observe, decision, move, kill.

The sound of a gun firing bullets; Naruto recognised it from Jewel. Orochimaru had owned many guns and Kakashi had taken the opportunity to demonstrate their effect to those of them who had never seen one.

Naruto had lived his life in space stations and ships. No one other than the completely insane used a gun that fired bullets in either.

Two of the bullets hit him; one in his shoulder spinning him around and the other in his back. His suit slowed them and finally stopped them, but not before shoulder and ribs were crushed.

Pain blossomed and he flipped.

Only this time it was different. He was hyperaware of his surroundings. The pain was no worse than an itch. He could move faster and hit harder. Yet he could tell friend from foe. He could even decide not to howl in case one of his crewmates panicked and activated his controller.

Within seconds all the attackers who had cleared the second barricade were dead. Next was the man with the gun; Naruto ripped his arm out of its socket as he twisted the gun from his grasp and smashed his skull with it.

He cleared them from the second barricade and then from the gap beyond. Some tried to run back the way that they had come but Naruto dealt with the ones that made it past Sasuke’s men.

He caught the last before he made it to the bend in the corridor and killed him with his knives.

He checked Itachi’s and Kisame’s faces. They agreed with him that it was over. He opened and lowered his helmet to check again without that barrier. It looked, sounded and smelt safe. Then he allowed his gaze to go to Sasuke.

His helmet was open. His face was spattered with blood and there was more of it in his hair but then their eyes locked, space dark to sky blue, and Naruto knew that he was fine.

Three bounds and Naruto was lifting Sasuke up to stand beside him on the remains of the first barricade.

“Who is this?” Sasuke whispered. “Warrior-Naruto?”

Naruto shook his head. “It’s me, but with berserker-Naruto’s abilities.”

Sasuke’s eyes smiled and his lips twitched. “Awesome,” he declared.

Like the others, Sasuke had watched the new warrior-Naruto in amazed fascination. Yet when their eyes had met it had been pure Naruto. It was, indeed, awesome.

It felt so good to have Naruto’s arm about his waist. He turned to the men who had fought so bravely. It was harder than he expected to control his diaphragm and throat to project his voice.

“We are spacers,” he told them. “They were uninvited. Now they are dead. I, Sasuke Uchiha, am honoured to have fought beside you.”

He bowed and Naruto, following his lead, bowed beside him.

One of the spacers jumped onto the second barricade. “In the cold of space...” he yelled.

“ find the heat of suns,” the others roared.

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