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. This chapter was one of ‘those’, which end up having to be almost completely rewritten, so special thanks to Small Fox for his help.

Thank you to those who have left a review, particularly toosweet, v, the horseman of death, blugirlami21, meow-ku, richon, Gingitsune, sadie237, Prism0467 and disembodiedvoiceofthedying who left a review for chapter 34. I truly appreciate them.

Chapter thirty-five: Parley

Izumo consulted the simulation; with the exception of the Market Cross area the air quality was still declining. He needed the four large air scrubbers spread across the levels. He needed to stop using the failing airlock pumps. He needed to open the airlock doors so the ships and the additional scrubbers could do their jobs. He reluctantly contacted Kakashi.

“Izumo here. Kakashi-san, we are making insufficient progress. We need to distribute the four large air scrubbers. At the least, we need to open the inner doors of the airlocks where the small air scrubbers have been placed. That will have to be done from the station side.”

“Kakashi here. Neither of those things is a possibility at this time, Izumo-san. The situation at Market Cross is too volatile to spare people to open the airlocks or to move the large air scrubbers and then to guard them.”

Izumo’s fists were balled so tight that his nails dug into his palms.

At this rate the death toll would be thousands.

Sumashi watched in horrified fascination. Kurotsuchi had the data from the sensors in the lower levels displayed above her desk. There were a few areas where the air was truly breathable: a section of the middle lower level that obviously had its own scrubbers; close to some of the airlocks; Market Cross. The sensors for the others had long since turned amber; some of them were now flashing red. Once the red light stopped flashing people would begin dying.

He wished she would let him go back to the others. Instead she kept him there and made him watch.

It was all he could do not to fall on his knees and beg her to turn on the pumps. He did not do so because he knew she would merely sneer at him.

She would blame the Kaiju for sealing the doors. She would regretfully announce that Uchiha had been less successful than they had hoped. She would twist reality to suit her. She would cling to power no matter the cost.

The first of the lights stopped flashing. It was horribly, constantly red.

Kurotsuchi did not even flinch.

“Who are you, foxboy, that you should come to my home and tell my people what they should do?” Han roared.

Naruto did not flinch. He was between Sasuke and Han. Flinching was not an option.

“I am Naruto,” he announced. “I am patron of the Hybrid Defence League. I was asked to come to the Warren to save the hybrids who live here.”

Han scowled at him. It was an impressive scowl but Naruto was accustomed to being scowled at.

“Asked by whom?” Han demanded.

“By a little girl called Ume and her adopted father, Shibito-san,” Naruto answered. “He sold his bar and gave up his life’s savings to send me a light speed message.”

Denka took a few steps forward. “I told Shibito-san about the purge. Kotohime told you but I told Shibito-san.”

Han continued scowling but Naruto saw his eyes go to the banners and to the two hybrids sitting at the tables beneath.

“These are Roshi-san and Yugito-san,” Naruto said and then waited until Roshi and Yugito stood up and came out from behind the tables. “They are the leaders of the HDL.”

Roshi and Yugito bowed. Han did not bow back.

“And this is Gaara-san,” Naruto continued. “He leads the HDL hybrid sanctuary on Kaze V.”

Gaara stepped forward but did not bow. His eyes bored into Han.

“You may know Nerugui-san, Kintoki-san and Sickler-san who, like you, represent the hybrid residents in the Warren. You know Denka-san. We would like to discuss where to go from here with you,” he concluded and waited.

Fury had surged through Han as he had run towards Market Cross. How dare Uchiha come onto his territory? How dare they steal his people? He had been ready to rend limb from body. He had intended to teach Uchiha a lesson that they would not soon forget.

Instead there was this; a welcoming committee of hybrids wishing to discuss ‘where to go from here’.

His fury had given way to curiosity. He had felt it slipping away and, with it, the urge to kill. His logical side told him to listen. The dreamer in him suggested that, perhaps, there were better futures than death and destruction.

It was an impressive welcoming committee. He was particularly intrigued by Gaara, who he knew had led a resistance movement to victory only to turn his back on ruling a nation of purebreds.

He also appeared to have a purebred bodyguard, which was beyond strange.

One of his warriors was getting twitchy. Han made a gesture of reassurance but he knew he would have to make a decision; talk or fight.

He sat down. “Speak,” he demanded. The Kaiju warriors sheathed or unreadied their weapons.

The blond foxboy was more surprised than relieved. He came closer, about five paces distance from Han, and sat down. The Warren hybrids, including the weasel-human lad, sat to his left. The leaders of the HDL sat on his right, with Gaara to the right of them; his purebred bodyguard stood behind him.

“With Kurotsuchi as mayor, the residential sector of the Warren is a bad place for hybrids to be,” the foxboy began. “An evacuation is the safest option. The HDL can offer hybrids many options, ranging from temporary accommodation to a permanent home in a hybrid sanctuary. Any reasonable option will be considered and discussed.

“Perhaps the situation in the Warren will change and hybrids will be able to return here,” he continued. “It may be that some hybrids wish to go their own way; the HDL can help with that. Roshi-san and Yugito-san have been offering these types of options to hybrids ever since the HDL was founded.”

“Only now we have credit,” the catlady added. “Since Naruto-san became our patron we have the credit to make things happen. We have a mother ship fitted out as a mobile assessment centre. We have offices on over five hundred planets and in over one hundred space stations. We have the sanctuary on Kaze V. We have the funds to expand that sanctuary or create another.”

Han studied her. She was elegant and graceful. He had no urge to kill her; his body was suggesting other, more pleasant, activities. He crushed the urge. She had chosen her partner; the monkey-man with no voice. Was she the one with the dream or was it his?

Then reluctantly, his attention went to the foxboy. He shone. He was, indeed, the light to Uchiha’s dark. The urge to kill was back. He wanted to put out the light in the impossible blue eyes, take the sheen from the bright hair and see the golden skin grey in death. Who was he to have everything?

His eyes strayed to the Uchiha. He was unexpectedly beautiful. Han could imagine him in bed waiting for his lover; those bottomless eyes, that alabaster skin, the pink of his lips, the slightly messy hair that invited fingers.

The foxboy stiffened. Han understood; the Uchiha was his mate. Were they really partners rather than master and slave?

“How did you and the Uchiha meet?” he asked.

The blue eyes blinked. “Sasuke was cat on a crew, it was part of his training. My crew challenged for him and lost. I was reparations. Over the next two standards we became friends and then lovers.”

Maybe it was that simple. “Uchiha is here, evacuating the hybrids, because you want it,” he suggested.

The foxboy actually flushed and his whiskers twitched. It made him attractive. “Yes,” he admitted.

Han pulled his attention away and turned it to Gaara. For once his inner demons were quiet; wary rather than hungry. “Tell me about the sanctuary on Kaze V,” he demanded.

The sanctuary sounded good. Han thought many of the Warren’s hybrids could be happy there. They would like living on a planet and helping other hybrids lead productive lives. For Han and his Kaiju it was all far too nice and far too worthy. He looked at Denka and, to his surprise, found himself suppressing a snigger. For Denka it would be far too muddy.

“Some of us like living in a space station,” he stated.

The foxboy’s eyes unfocused for a moment. Han noticed that he was wearing an earpiece. “We would be willing to look into space station options,” he replied.

For a man of action Han sat still, said little and listened a lot. Naruto was interested in how far apart his questions seemed, as if Han’s mind travelled a long way between each one.

When he mentioned the space station Shi-chan started chatting in Naruto’s ear about knowing the most wonderful location for a new space station. Trust Shi-chan to suggest a sun when someone was asking for a candle. Given that he could not tell Shi-chan to shut up, he turned his earpiece off for a moment, hoping he would take the hint.

“Sorry, Na-chan,” Shikamaru said when he turned it back on.

“We leave the Warren to Kurotsuchi,” Han stated.

Naruto did not know what to say to that, but Denka seemed happy to answer.

“She will not stay in power long,” he replied. “She no longer has the AHB. There will be no hybrids, so she will have lost her focus for all the station’s ills. All the workers who did not need paying or were paid a pittance will be gone. People will start questioning her methods. If anyone can prove that this emergency with the air purification system was of her making, she will be out. With luck someone moderate will take power, maybe Sumashi-san. Once that happens, the HDL can campaign for hybrid rights in the Warren.”

“And perhaps we will be able to come home,” Nerugui added. “A period of exile is much better than death.”

Han’s eyes strayed again to Sasuke; Naruto forced himself to stay relaxed.

“We will not be putting ourselves in your hands, but in Uchiha’s hands. How do I know that Uchiha will not decide that the Kaiju are a potential danger and eliminate us?” he asked.

Sasuke was coming forward. Naruto wished he would not. Han hated purebreds and Naruto did not like the look in his eyes when he focused on Sasuke. Naruto got up. Han stood. Sasuke bowed.

“Han-san,” he stated.

There was stillness and silence. Then Han inclined his head slightly in what could be taken as a bow. “Uchiha-san,” he replied.

“You have my word, Han-san, that Uchiha will treat you and your warriors as crew guests,” Sasuke assured him. “This is my word as an Uchiha.”

Naruto felt every member of Uchiha stiffen. If Han rejected Sasuke’s word it would be an unbearable insult. He watched Han’s gaze sweep the semi-circle of fighters.

“I accept your word,” he replied finally. “I shall speak with my people about your offer.”

They turned and left. Naruto let out the breath he had not known he was holding.

“Good work, dobe,” Sasuke murmured.

“Truly excellent, Naruto-san,” Denka added. “Your utter honesty spoke to him. That and the demonstrations of your intentions.” He gestured towards the people getting medical assistance and the HDL stand. “Gaara-san’s presence also helped greatly. I think he sees parallels between himself and you, Gaara-san.”

Gaara considered. “I have also killed a great many people in pursuit of a cause that seemed hopeless,” he admitted.

“I think it helped that you also included local hybrids,” Yugito said, smiling at Sickler, Nerugui and Kintoki, who each flushed to a greater or lesser extent at the lady’s attention.

“Do you want me to go looking for the other two feral groups?” Sickler asked.

Naruto rested a hand on his shoulder. “Not yet, Sickler-kun.”

“We are not making enough progress with improving the air,” Kakashi admitted via Naruto’s ear piece. “We need to resolve the security situation so we can open the airlock doors or we will have mass deaths.”

Naruto bit his lip. Avoiding conflict was pointless if the people they were here to save died. He wished he had known that the situation was so bad. He would have pushed Han harder for an immediate decision.

As soon as Han moved away from Market Cross he could smell the deterioration in the air quality. He could see many of his warriors sniffing and wrinkling their noses. Most of them had been with him in the mines; bad air evoked many unpleasant memories. It made the demons within him restless.

“I propose that we cooperate with Uchiha until there is breathable air,” he stated.

Many of them looked relieved. None of them looked angry. There was some nodding of heads and murmurs of assent.

They stowed their weapons, the smaller ones on their persons and the larger ones in convenient hiding places. Then they jogged back to Market Cross.

The foxboy was surprised and relieved to see them so soon.

“We will delay any decision until the air quality is restored,” Han stated. “We will not damage any of the air scrubbers, or interfere with any of your technicians, or attack any of the ships involved.” He looked at the closest of the four air scrubbers. “Where should these be? We will take them there.” He looked past the foxboy to the Uchiha. “You have my word that they will be safe with us.”

Give the Uchiha credit, he did not hesitate. He sent his people to unlock the hover platforms and gave four locations.

Izumo was close to weeping with frustration. He had the means to save these people. He needed to open the inner doors of the airlocks. He needed to distribute the air scrubbers. He hated having to wait for Kakashi-san’s say-so.

“Kakashi here. Izumo-san, you can open the inner doors of the airlocks. The situation at Market Cross has been temporarily resolved. The four large air scrubbers are on their way to their designated locations. I have dispatched trios to open the airlocks containing the smaller air scrubbers.”

Izumo was almost overwhelmed by relief. He issued the instructions and then, with trembling hands, fed the modifications into the simulation. It showed that there would be a significant increase in air quality within ten minutes.

Sumashi had stopped watching. He could not bear it. She would have to strap him to a chair and pin his eyelids open to make him watch.

Then there was a small hitch in her breathing. His eyes went to the display before he could stop himself.

Some of the solid red lights had begun flashing again. As he watched one of the flashing red lights went amber and an amber one turned blue.

“They did it!” he declared before he could stop himself. He pulled himself together. “You will have to issue a proclamation, Kurotsuchi-sama, so that you can claim your part of the credit for saving so many lives.”

Her expression changed from hatred to calculation. “True,” she admitted. “I have decided to blame the Kaiju for the malfunction of the air purification system. They detonated bombs. They damaged the door mechanisms. People will believe that they caused the problem with the air purification system.”

She paused, obviously thinking. Then she smiled. “Onoki managed to confiscate a handful of hybrids before the evacuation started and there are some purebreds in prison for hybrid-related offenses. They will make very suitable Kaiju and Kaiju sympathisers.”

At least Han had his answer about Kurotsuchi. The air quality had dropped to near lethal and she still had not switched on the pumps. She had the data from the sensors. She had known that Uchiha was failing to restore the air at a fast enough rate. How many purebreds would she have been willing to kill? A quarter? A half? All of them?

Once they had delivered the air scrubbers it had proved impossible to stand aside and watch; everywhere the old, the weak and the young were suffering from carbon dioxide poisoning and oxygen deprivation. Even if he had been hard-hearted enough to do so, his warriors were not. They had slid the air scrubbers from the hover platforms and used them to transport the sick to Market Cross and the Uchiha medicos.

He heard rather than saw Kotohime. Despite the intervening standards, despite the fact she was now a woman rather than a girl, he would always recognise the way she moved and the sound of her breathing. He parked the hover platform at the triage point and waited while the people were helped to chairs or carried to cots.

He hated her as much as he loved her; he always had. That was why she had to be irrelevant or, at most, useful.

“Have you decided what you and the Kaiju will do?” she asked.

He did not answer her. To answer her would recognise her right to question him.

“Please take their offer of transport,” she said softly. “Please allow them to take you and the other hybrids away from here, even if it is only for a short time.”

He began walking away with the empty platform but she followed him.

“If you cannot bring yourself to go on one of their ships, I have the Fuma shuttles. They would get you as far as the asteroids.”

He would not answer her questions but he could ask one of his own. He stopped and turned towards her.

“What will you do?”

She laughed. He knew what that meant. She was frightened and uncertain. “I do not know. I have betrayed Orochimaru and stolen from my family. Perhaps Denka and Hina will ask Uchiha to take me as their family. They are taking mixed couples and mixed families.”

He decided to point out her assumption. “You think I will let them take the hybrids,” he stated. “I only agreed to cooperate while the air supply was secured.”

Her face crumpled. It hurt. He did not understand why it hurt. “Please, Han. The HDL is offering a better life for them. Freedom. They can even have a life away from purebreds, on Kaze V, if that is what they want.”

He knew she meant him.

Then, as changeable as always, she was angry with him. She stamped her foot as she had done as a child. “Can’t you see that Uchiha-sama treated you with more respect in those few seconds than all the other purebreds you have ever met? He sees you as a person, Han. Not a hybrid, not a monster, not a kaiju, but a person.”

She turned and stomped away from him, as if he had been following her rather than her him.

But what she had said was true. Sasuke Uchiha was one of the most influential people in known space. Uchihas were notoriously proud and arrogant. Yet he had bowed. He had said ‘Han-san’. He had treated Han as a person who understood what it meant if he gave his word.

Maybe some purebreds did not deserve his hate; the thought alone made his inner demons shift and grumble.

He would allow his fellow hybrids free choice. He knew that they would take up Uchiha’s offer.

As would he; without hybrids to stand up for there was no reason to stay. His battle with Kurotsuchi was over. She had won. She had proved herself more of a monster than he was capable of being.

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