Chapter 1: Arrival
Madara stared up at the underside of his spaceship, The Sharingan, a look of combined rage and hopelessness in his furrowed brow. She had been acting up for the past few trips, but this last courrier mission had produced more pronounced rattling and mysterious clunking that ever before. Madara sighed, and considered just hitting the exposed bit of warp drive with his wrench, and then imagining the subsequent explosion, killing him, his partner, and a vast number of the bizarre cotton candy cloud like apparitions that inhabited this planet.
Thinking again of his partner, he clicked on the radios they used while planetside. “Hashirama, what’s your status, we need to get this show on the road.” A moment later, the returning signal buzzed, although initially all he heard was heavy breathing. Finally, the man’s winded voice came over the speaker, “Almost there, friend… I ran into a little trouble on my way out of town.”
Madara pantomimed vomiting. “I don’t want to know what you’re doing to make you so winded,” he groaned.
“And I don’t want to know what your repressed mind came up with. I’ll have you know I’m running for my life at the moment.”
“What?” Madara shot up, immediately hitting his head against the underside of the ship, and rolled out from under the aft end of the vessel. “What!” He shouted again, and as he did he could begin to hear a high pitched, but steadily growing louder cacophony coming from the west.
This planet was incredible hard to take seriously. It looked like a giant gumball from space, and things just got worse the closer you got to land. The clouds where fluffy and pastel, the grass was silvery and shimmering, and great expanses of field covered most of the planet, only breaking for turquoise seas, that maintained a temperature perfect for swimming all year round. Even the name, Venus Nebulon VI, suggested pleasures untold. Which, naturally, is why the entire planet was basically a paradise of excess and debauchery. And unfortunately for Madara, Hashirama and Venus Nebulon VI were of the same opinion of what constituted paradise.
Madara squinted his eyes in the direction of the chirping and squeaking, and saw his friend and business partner sprinting towards him, as fast as his long legs could carry him, followed by a crowd of locals, who apparently couldn't decide if they were furious or besotted. Like a hurdler, Hashirama cleared a bush covered in gold flowers and some sort of shimmering insects, and his pursuers, which appeared to be vaguely anthropomorphized clouds swept around it, some reaching for him sensuously, some taking a moment to hurl a clod of dirt at the man’s head.
Hashirama noticed Madara standing there staring at him and began to wave his arms. “Start the ship! Start the ship!” He was yelling. Madara startled out of his reverie caused by the bizarre scene before him and ran on board from the descended loading ramp. He hurtled into the cabin and began pulling the thrusters back - and there was that damn clunking noise again, this time replacing the more comforting sound of engines turning on. “Shit,” Madara hissed. Through the window he could see Hashirama drawing closer, jumping and twisting to avoid one of the cloud people’s lunges at his feet. What the hell were they planning on doing to him if they caught him, Madara wondered.
He rattled the thruster, to no avail, and swearing again, he hurtled to the engine room below decks. He would have to try rerouting the engine thrusters into the generator power system, and hope that would both get them off the planet and get them to Erduan, ideally still living and breathing. He reconnected several circuits, and sighed in relief when he heard the engines rattle to life under his hands. He ran back to the cabin, just in time to see Hashirama sprinting on board and hurriedly closing the ramp. Madara thought he could hear the soft whoosh of several cloud bodies hitting the closed side of the ship.
“What was that all about,” he yelled from the cabin. From behind him, he heard Hashirama collapse into the floor of the ship, groaning slightly.
“Just a slight miscommunication at the casino,” he wheezed. “I think they thought I was some politician from Demigord…”
“And you did nothing to disabuse them of this notion.”
“Well, I was going to, and then they brought out the top shelf liquor and I decided to play it closer to the chest. And then they brought out the, ah, ladies, and I just said to myself, ‘what’s the real difference between me and a Demigordian politician…’”
“Actually, based on that story, very little difference.”
Hashirama huffed out a laugh. “So, what’s wrong with the old girl,” He said after regaining some composure.
“I’m not entirely sure,” Madara said, begrudgingly. Neither of them were mechanics or engineers, and they usually took on jobs like this one to pay for repairs in the ship. Repairs that clearly were a long time coming.
“Please tell me I did not just run away from two dozen erotic clouds only to die in space with only you at my side,” Hashirama groaned.
“Oh, so now they’re erotic clouds? I guess I should have taken off without you.” The threat was slightly ruined by the clunking sounds returning.
“What’s the nearest system,” Hashirama asked, calm as ever. Madara had known the man for ten years, and any measure of flappability was usually an act.
“Unfortunately, it looks like the Core is our best bet.” The Core, dangerous, and unruly, did seem preferable to dying in space.
“Well, at least we can get a little money planetside, I believe I remember the best bare knuckle halls the the system are there,” Hashirama said cheerfully. Madara rolled his eyes, and rubbed a soothing hand over the console of the ship.
“Let’s just hope we get there in one piece.”
They did, although the landing may have shaved some years off of Madara’s life. His beloved space vessel was currently parked in a severely untrustworthy looking hangar, and he was partially relieved that the owners had seen them fly in, so they wouldn’t immediately sell the ship to the highest bidder. Not that this would necessarily save the ship from being scrapped for parts, which is what Madara reminded himself when he paid nearly three times the daily rate for moorage. Hashirama grinned wolfishly at his misery. The man was no stranger to bribery.
As if reading his mind, Hashirama, a little too cavalierly, gripped his elbow, and asked if he would like to take in the sights. Madara, knowing that the “sights” on the core consisted of starving children sorting through the gigantic trash piles that demarcated the different feuding neighborhoods, a black market thriving on illicit refabbed industrial and military items, and trying to keep eyes on the absolute army of pickpockets in the urban centers, narrowed his eyes.
“Alright fine, why don’t I take in the sight of two amateurs beating the the everloving shit out of each other, and you can take in the sight of me betting on it.”
“That sounds horrifying,” Madara replied.
“Maybe so, but if we win, we can pay to get off this hell rock. Besides, I have an idea…”
The makeshift arena was in another large hangar somewhat similar to the one they had just left, though this one was filled with a stomping, screaming, chanting, raging mass of people. The two people in the small open space a the center of the crowd were drenched in sweat and splattered with blood. One, wearing a mask covered in metal barbs, had the other in a headlock. The person in the headlock was wearing some sort of helmet patterned with coiled snakes, and was thoroughly pummeling their opponent in the ribs. They stepped down hard on barbed mask’s knee joint, and the other fighter immediately dropped, howling in pain. Snake helmet stood victorious for a moment, then collapsed along side barbed. The crowd went absolutely wild.
“Damn,” Hashirama whispered, “I had bet that snakes would go down first. Oh well!”
Madara shuddered at the scene. He couldn’t understand wanting to fight like that, to hurt someone, and to have that hurt be entertainment to others. He had grown up hurting like that, for power, maybe even for entertainment, but he had never enjoyed it. That’s probably why he was on this intergalactic trash pile with a gambling addict, now that he thought about it.
Two scrawny kids dragged the collapsed bodies of barbs and snakes out of the way, and a tall, spindly man who had gotten some questionably legal augmentations took the center. “Alright, my dearest ladies and gentleman, guys and dolls, if I may,” he intoned smoothly, “now is the opportunity of a lifetime.” His grin was cold and sinister, and Madara was sure that his eyes had slitted pupils like a snakes. “Let’s begin our ametuer round!”
The crowd burst into shouts of glee. Madara glanced and Hashirama, and the man leaned in, “ametuer rounds are known for being especially creative and… damaging,” he had to shout over the yelling and jostling around them.
“For our first round, we have a crowd favorite,” snake man crowed over the mass of bodies. “The wild fox herself!” The crowd’s volume increased, which Madara did not think was possible, and a huge person emerged from the shadows. The crowd had begun to stomp their feet rhythmically, yipping and howling, and Madara noted that many of them had ragged patches and tattoos of a feral, red eyed snarling fox. The newcomer made it to the center, easily parting the sea of human flesh, but instead of stepping into the ring, they stood aside, and a small, lithe, and clearly female figure wearing a fox mask took their place. Just behind her, Madara could make out a taller figure, with a hooded sweatshirt pulled over their head, beginning to split off and make their way through the crowd, clearly taking bets.
“Do we have any challengers for the wild fox tonight?” Snake man’s voice remained oddly amplified in the space.
“Right here, on planet for only one night!” Madara sneered, until he realized that Hashirama had lifted Madara’s hand into the air, and was starting to nudge him forward into the ring. He could practically feel his eyes bugging out of his head.
“Well well, it looks like our amateur has an agent! Why don’t you step right up and see what the core has to offer,” snake man practically hissed, his augmented face slipping into and out of shadow, a slow reptilian smile playing on his lips.
“I am not doing this,” Madara snarled out of the corner of his mouth.
“We have an opportunity to make a fortune here, over just one fight,” Hashirama yelled, grinning wildly at him and continuing to push him through the crowd.
“Are you crazy! She’s just a girl,” Madara hissed at Hashirama
“Somehow I doubt that,” Hashirama laughed, “and besides, I’m betting against you.” And with that, Madara was in the cleared out space, staring down at the small figure in front of him.
“Um, hello,” he said lamely. Through the mask he could see her roll her eyes. She was crouched, all her muscles tensed and ready. Madara approached slowly, with his hands in front of him.
“Let the match...begin!” The snake cleared the ring, and the stomping and barking reached an almost frenzied pitch.
“Listen, I don’t to hurt yo-” was all he was able to get out before his opponent leapt to his left and delivered a roundhouse kick to his head.
“GAHH,” he cried out spinning around to where she had landed, only to find that she wasn’t there anymore. Stay calm, he thought, until he felt his legs being swept out from under him. He was able to twist up into standing quickly, and widened his stance into the traditional Uchiha fighting style. He heard her coming from behind, and prepared to spin. He caught one shoulder, intending to immobilize fox mask, but she took the opportunity to grab his hair, and connect his head with her flexed knee. He moved his hand to her neck, and twisted her down to the ground, but she blithely slid between his legs, and kicked his foot out from under him.
He went down on one knee, and felt the solid crack of her fist connecting with his temple. Right before he lost consciousness, Madara thought he could see Hashirama shaking hands with the tall, slim figure in this hooded sweatshirt, grinning ear to ear.
Madara woke up to water being splashed in his face by a euphoric looking Hashirama. “You absolute fucking asshole!” he managed to slur.
“Hmm, maybe a mild concussion,” Hashirama mused, offering him the water to drink. “On the other hand, we made four thousand units off that fight, which should be enough to get repaired and on our way to Erduan to pick up that courier payment.” He paused, and his expression softened. “Look, I know you don’t want to have to fight anybody except your own family. But I knew from the crowd that you were more likely to have your ass handed to you that you were to actually inflict any damage. You look so tough that people might be fooled though, so I made a gamble… I know it’s not much of an apology, but we will be getting off this planet all the sooner for it.”
Madara slugged back the water, and closed his eyes. Hashirama was right, in a roundabout way, and the plan did stink of his off-brand ingenuity. He cracked an eye. “If you were anyone else, I would have to kill you to save face.”
“Right,” Hashirama said skeptically. “I believe it when I see it. Although that was pretty embarrassing.”
“I mean, how old you think that girl was? 17 max?
“I said shut up!”
The soft, metallic click of footsteps interrupted them, as someone approached the secluded corner of the warehouse they were in. “Pardon me, gentlemen,” a soft feminine voice intoned. “Would you be Madara Uchiha and Hashirama Senju?”
The two men looked up at a cloaked figure before them. “Ah, who’s asking?” Hashirama said, standing up in front of Madara.
The figure stepped closer and removed her hood, revealing a flawlessly symmetrical woman’s face. Her eyes, pointedly almond shaped, glittered under the fluorescent overhead illumination like gemstones. Her nose was exactly regular, and topped a small mouth held now in a demur and nonthreatening smile. Her polished black hair was brushed into an elegant knot at the back of her head. What was most notable, however, was that she was made entirely of a flexible, glowing silver metal.
“My name is Shizune, and I have been sent by my master to ask you to seek her audience.”
Hashirama recovered first, likely because he wasn’t concussed. “What could your master possibly want with us, we’re just passing through.” To the untrained ear, he sounded completely at ease, as though he encountered beautiful cyborg women regularly enough for it to be boring, but Madara recognized the note of trouble in his voice. This was exactly the kind of situation that set his teeth on edge as well, and it reeked of complications untold. Shizune smiled demurely.
“That is precisely why she wishes to speak with you,” she continued, “for she has a task that requires a ship.”
“So, who exactly is this enigmatic master of yours?” Hashirama asked with a slow smile, striding beside Shizune. Madara rolled his eyes, unsurprised that Hashirama would try and flirt with an android. Up to now, they had been traversing the warehouse district in silence, Madara and Hashirama sharing wary glances with each other. They had agreed to go because at their core, they were both overly curious individuals, which both of them realized has a tendency to get one into trouble.
Shizune smiled, meeting his eyes. “My master is a genius, and understands the human body better than anyone in this galaxy. Her expertise in this field allowed her to create my own humble existence.”
“Huh, I’m looking for a new physician on my spacecraft, think she would be interested,” Madara said drolly, earning him a glare from his current ship’s physician. “She asked for us by name… how does she know us? And how would she know where we would be?”
“She simply told me to look for two men matching your descriptions that had recently lost a fight. As for how she knows of you in the first place, that is up to her discretion.” Madara grumbled under his breath about fights being lost, until Shizune softly said, “we’re here.”
They had stopped in front of a discrete door, unilluminated from the rest of the industrial cement wall marked only with unintelligible graffiti. The two men shared a glance, both aware that their seemingly unassuming guide was likely much stronger than she appeared, and moreover, could be luring them into a trap. Hashirama winked lasciviously at her. “Ladies first,” he all but purred.
Shizune smiled elegantly, and slid open the door, it’s hinges screaming after a long period of rusted disuse. A long black passageway opened up before them, and in any other circumstance Madara would have laughed at the ridiculously sinister echoes of dripping water. “Shizune, I feel like you could have kidnapped us for the slave trade in far more picturesque locations,” he tried to joke, but came out more as a bark.
“Exactly, so please proceed,” she said softly. Madara looked and Hashirama, who shrugged, and stepped into the gloom. Madara followed, Shizune taking up the rear, her silver skin giving an ethereal illumination to the dank space.
They walked for about a hundred paces, until they reached a second door, this one armed with a glowing red security eye. “Welcome to Sannin biotech,” chirped a robotic, female sounding voice, “please present your identification cards.” Shizune stepped forward, and an infrared matrix sprawled over her figure. “Plus two,” she stated. The door slid open noiselessly this time, and Madara and Hashirama traded glances. Whatever was going on what not as it initially appeared.
They continued down a set of stairs and through one more set of security doors, this time manned by two large augmented figures who noiselessly verified Shizune’s identity through some means that Madara and Hashirama were not privy to. “My apologies for the tight security,” Shizune murmured, “My master is cautious as time has taught her to be.”
“I am definitely looking forward to meeting this master,” Hashirama muttered under his breath, and Madara couldn’t tell if it was supposed to be flirtatious or professional. Probably a bit of both, knowing him. However all thoughts of his friend’s excessive interest died once the second security doors opened onto the room within.
The black lacquered walls and low ceiling made the space look like an elegant cave, an impression that was even more enhanced by sensual red lanterns that seemed to hover intermittently over the tables, and the fine blue smog of shishi smoke that filled the area with it’s nutty, evocative fragrance. Woven tapestries in gem shades lined the walls, showing the heroes Ashura and Indra’s erotic quest towards paradise, heavily emphasizing the erotic parts. There were tables scattered about, and beings languidly gambling, drinking, and smoking, while beautiful, lithe and rubenesque creatures rubbed their backs and poured drinks down their throats. “Holy stars...I really think I’m in heaven,” Hashirama breathed, but before Madara could snap at him to focus, Shizune was leading them through the milieu. “I may not have a background in science, but this is unlike any biotech lab i’ve heard of,” Madara muttered, and felt Hashirama’s distracted nod at his shoulder.
“My master is in the back room,” Shizune said, “She doesn’t usually spend time in the front of the house, on account of her, ah, nevermind!” the Android ended the sentence abruptly and began to walk faster. “Say what now?” asked Madara, but Shizune didn’t answer and was speeding through the room at pace that was all but running. Madara grabbed Hashirama’s arm, as he was staring a little too fixedly at the slegorian with three vaginas and three penises, and hurried after her. They caught up in the shadowy back of the hall, and entered another guarded door, this time using what Madara estimated to be a 50 digit key code.
The room they entered was clear of shishi, and dimly lit. But the darkness was punctuated by hundreds of screens. The ones Madara could immediately see showed the gambling outside, but there were more that showed other places, scenes that were seemingly disconnected, and very far away. The one closest the Madara looked to be an abandoned mech body shop. He took in the scene for a beat before a low voice said, “consider this my crystal ball.”
A tall woman stood up from a simple desk in the middle of the room, back lit by the screens behind her. “Lights if you please, Shizune,” she hummed, and instantly, a warm glow lit the room, and the screens dimmed to near blankness. “I appreciate you coming here on trust alone, gentlemen. I understand that for men such as yourselves, that is no easy task.”
Madara narrowed his eyes but stayed silent, trying not to let discomfort show on his face. There should be no reason that this strange woman would know anything about his or Hashirama’s history, and the fact that she alluded to it filled him with the kind of ice cold dread that kept him up most nights. He felt Hashirama stiffen next to him, then relax, and laugh easily, as if the women had made a clever witticism at one of his casinos. “Why, I hope you don’t have any other ideas of what ‘men such as ourselves’ are like. It would ruin the surprise,” Hashirama grinned crookedly at the woman, in a way that Madara had seen other beings blush and stutter over across the system.
This woman, however, simply narrowed her eyes for a moment, before sighing. “right, “ she seemed to mutter to herself, and took her seat again. Madara stared at her. She was certainly beautiful, he could at least notice that much, with ashy blond hair falling to her waist, pinned back elaborately with jet black ornaments shaped like the claws of great beast. Her figure was accentuated in similar colors, a slick red wrap dress cut high on the neck, and a black jacket that seemed to be made of liquid iron, and on her head was a diamond shaped seal. “Please, take a seat,” she offered. “And Shizune, help this poor man’s head, I want him to have his wits about him!” Madara realized that she was talking about him, and was about to protest that his wits were never not about him, when a cool silver hand rested on his temple, and the fuzziness he hadn’t realized had been there gradually faded into the background.
“My name is Tsunade,” she began, “and I have a very important job that I am willing to pay a large sum of money to see completed.” An elegant hand lifted a glass of what looked to be anything but tea. “Are you two interested in work?”
“I guess it depends on what kind,” Madara growled in response, and Tsunade let out an aggrieved sigh.
“Listen, I’ll be honest with you, I’m not great at sweet talking, that’s my…partner’s speciality. But I need you to find the planet Konoha. It is, and I cannot stress this enough, of the utmost importance that you do.” She said this all in such a matter of fact and businesslike tone of voice that Madara almost forgot for a moment that she was essentially asking for peace in the system.
Hashirama seemed to agree. “You wants us to find what!,” he spluttered, his usual relaxed affect gone in an instant, feet slamming squarely on the floor. “Listen lady, you have to know that’s a myth. And I know we must look like jokes to someone like you, but whatever you’re trying to pull on us, I really don’t find funny.”
She looked at this appraisingly for a moment, one finger crooked below her red painted lips, something indiscernible in her deep brown eyes. “Believe me,” she said slowly, “I don’t find either of you to be jokes. I think five years on a U slaver is enough to take the humor out of anyone.”
Hashirama sat back, looking a little stunned. “How the hell do you know that,” Madara growled. Tsunade turned to look at him, and something in her expression made him pause. She held his eyes for several heart beats, her expression remaining cool but not uncaring. “You think just because someone knows something of your past, you’re immediately in danger?” she asked, quirking her lips slightly. Madara didn’t answer. “This planet is immensely important, to me, and possibly to you as well. It’s a sustainable world, a place of peace, that is hidden from the Uchiha, something this galaxy desperately needs.” She sighed slightly, “but if those aren’t good enough reasons, I will pay you four hundred thousand units, half now and half upon discovery. Honestly, even if you just take the money and run, you’ve already made more than your next twenty cargo missions.”
Madara and Hashirama looked at each other. She was right, but this felt...strange, to say the least. “Why us?” Hashirama ventured, and that question seemed to earn a genuine smile from the stoic woman.
“Oh, maybe I just needed someone brave enough and insane enough to take on my dare?” she joked. “I would go myself, but that would complicate things a little overmuch.”
Madara rolled his eyes. “Say we agree to this, how in the hell do you expect us, two fugitives from one of the biggest powers in the system, to even start to look for a galaxy that’s basically one part shishi dream, one part myth?”
“Well, naturally you’ll need help. I was thinking somewhere along the lines of...a true seer?” Madara and Hashirama stared, dumbly. “My assistant will provide you with all the necessary details. Do we have a deal?”
Madara and Hashirama looked at each other again, Hashirama shaking his head imperceptibly. Madara could understand why, better than anyone else, but he looked at Hashirama longer trying to convey they tiniest, barest gasp of hope he felt through his eyes. It took a moment, but Hashirama eventually smiled, and gave his usual shrug. “Fine,” Madara said, “We’ll take it.”
Tsunade smiled like sugar at this.
The Behemoth groaned silently in space, not a sound so much to its inhabitants as a feeling that wrapped around their entire bodies, invading their bones, and running rough up their spines and down their throats until they remembered that there was no escape. There was no hope.
The halls echoed with ever clatter of tools, every footfall, every barked command, chirp of machinery, and especially, every agonized, helpless scream. He followed those screams, drawn like a compass point, like the one he had had as a boy, always pulled toward the true north of terror. He knew what he would find when he reached them. It was always the same.
The ship was familiar, if estranged. It was almost a relief to be back. No more running, she whispered, we’ve got you back. We’re your family, after all. He was pulled on, past the crew, in blank grey, their eyes shadows, past the cargo, whimpering, cowering, smelling like piss and shit, and fear and kill me, please, please, until he reached the screaming.
Just like every time before it, he saw the cage, filled with blood and gristle, the offal of victims past, and could see the beast inside. A man, slumped, in the center of the cage, appeared as if a puppet, no movement, barely any breathing. A commanding officer on the ship circled the cage, smiling sickly. As he reached the bars, the man in the middle looked up, and he locked eyes with himself.
Madara woke up with a cry, his back springing out of the navigation chair he had fallen asleep in. It took several frantic breaths to remember that he was on his own ship, in the Core. Madara jumped as a gently and familiar hand was laid on his back. Hashirama’s face came into clarity, pale as if carved from stone, and his eyes shadowed and dark. “I’m so sorry, my friend. Please, go back to sleep,” he said softly, and Madara could smell the strong ferment the man drank at night on his breath. Madara laid back with a last gasp, and heard Hashirama whisper, “I’m so sorry,” one more time, before drifting to sleep.
Chapter 3: Familiar Faces
True Seers were one of the system’s many great mysteries, their powers barely understood but coveted nonetheless, as they were told to be able to direct one to their heart’s desire.
An even greater mystery is why someone with true sight would be on this shit hole of a planet, Madara thought to himself, as they traversed the atmosphere regulated service tunnels leading into the central hub of transit for the Core. The Core had once been an enterprise that promised to alleviate the scourge of poverty that had swept through the system, as a station in between some of the larger planets where people could go make some money element mining before resettling on Erduan or The Eye of Taurus, the two major planets in this neighborhood. That plan was immediately shot to hell, as the element refineries stopped making planetside improvements, stopped paying competitively, and so on, trapping the ever growing number of citizens in back breaking labor with no chance of escape. After about a hundred years of stripping the local environment for all it’s worth, the refineries abandoned their outpost, and the people there, and took off, leaving behind what only a fool would call a functioning economy and political system. However, the people on the Core survived, if you could call it that, by kind of becoming the system’s dumpster. Also, it was known to be the best place to get some cutting edge and definitely not legal augmentations or mech repair.
The hub was so crowded in the morning that Madara and Hashirama were immediately on edge, and trying desperately not to refer back to the directions Shizune had given them the night before, for fear that they would immediately be identified as outsiders and dealt with accordingly. Although, judging by the looks they were getting from their fellow commuters, that jig was likely up. Madara was happy to at least have Hashirama’s easy confidence next to him. Even if the man was nervous, he would never let it show.
“I think we need to take the central branch up until we get to Fox Nest, and then go surface side for about a kilometer,” Hashirama muttered to him, and he moved to follow. The tunnels may be protecting them from the massive quantities of trash on the planet’s surface, but they made him deeply uncomfortable, his nightmare still clinging to the edges of his consciousness.
About an hour later they made it to the address that Shizune had given them, which turned out to be an old mech shop that Madara found bizarrely familiar, as if he had seen a photo of it in the past. He and Hashirama entered, and found what appeared to be a glowing warp core vibrating slightly, with a pair of legs sticking out from under it. They both paused.
“What do you want,” came the muffled voice from under the warp core.
Hashirama shrugged, “we were sent here by a friend, we’re looking for a True Seer….would that be you?”
The figure under the warp core guffawed, “do I look like a true seer to you?”
Hashirama smiled a little exasperatedly, “I honestly don’t know, I can only see your legs,” he said.
The voices snorted again, “Well, if I was I certainly wouldn’t be working on this engine for drinking money. And more to the point, what in the twelve hells would a true seer be doing on a rock like this?” and with that, the person rolled themselves from under the warp core and stood up, taking off the welding helmet she had been wearing, and looked at them for the first time. “Oh shit,” she said.
The two men looked at her quizzically. She was fairly short and lean, wearing rough canvas work pants and a smock, with heavy wool arm guards to protect her from sparks. Her hair was shaved into a utilitarian crew cut, but it was clearly bright red, and the cut accentuated her high, sharp cheekbones and grey eyes. She looked like a pixie to Madara, and very guilty one at that. He looked at Hashirama totally nonplussed, only to find his eyebrows creeping steadily up his forehead, his eyes getting wide, and a slightly maniacal smile starting to grow on his face. “Hashirama, what the hell is going on?”
“Listen, fellas, so good of you to stop by, but there’s no one with True Sight around here, so why don’t you stop wasting my time and yours, and get the hell out of here?” The woman said this all in a rush, motioning with her hands towards the door. At that moment, a familiar figure walked through the door into the back of the shop, a tall man wearing a hooded sweatshirt that Madara recognized from the fighting ring the night before. He whipped around to the girl. “You-!” he barely managed to splutter, as Hashirama started laughing hysterically.
“Yeah, yeah me,” she said, as she moved surreptitiously in front of the man, “I kicked your ass once and I’ll do it again, and include your friend free of charge. You’re not getting any money back, assholes.”
“No...no that’s actually not why we’re here,” Hashirama gasped as tears of mirth streamed down his face. “We really are here to look for a True Seer.” At his words, the young man behind the tiny red headed terror seemed to stiffen momentarily. “However, finding the seventeen year old who kicked my friend’s ass is absolutely an added bonus,” He concluded, wiping tears from his eyes.
“One, fuck you, I’m not seventeen, and two, why should we help you off planet idiots find anything or anyone?” The woman growled.
“I don’t know, we can pay you? We can probably pay you enough to get off this horrible planet once and for all.” Hashirama gestured languidly, and the woman bristled again.
“Let me tell you what pretty boy, why don’t you go fuck yourself straight through all twelve he-” she started, voice getting louder with each word, before the young man stopped her.
“Mito, no. we need to help them. “ His voice was low, and Madara could see under the hood a wild mass of white hair framing a long, aquiline face, a full mouth turned down slightly at the edges, and brilliant red eyes. He had tattoos coming all the way up to his chin, and even his face was decorated by three red lines. “Tell me, first,” he started again, “why do you need someone with Sight?”
There was a pause, and Madara stepped forward. “Were looking for the planet Konoha.” He could here Hashirama’s sigh behind him. Konoha was such a legend that pretty much anyone they mentioned it to would think they were absolutely crazy. Hell, he didn’t even know why he was being so honest all of a sudden, but it wasn’t like it was a secret they could keep forever. The young man’s eyes narrowed slightly at this.
“Fine,” he said. “I’m the True Seer you’re looking for.”
From behind him the woman wailed in exasperation, “Tobiramaaaaaa!”
They met again at the end of the mech shop work day, at a nearby bar and cafeteria that seemed to only play Core techno with such heavy base that Madara and Hashirama’s teeth were vibrating. The place was cramped with different barrels and boxes serving as tables, and the twinkling lights from abandoned and repurposed consoles gave the place an almost magical air. Which was swiftly mitigated by the absolute rot gut ferment that the table was drinking, Mito and Tobirama seemingly without noticing it’s clear ability to strip paint off of cargo hulls.
“I’ve been waiting for you,” Tobirama said somberly, which Madara was starting to suspect was his default state. He said this so earnestly, looking directly into Madara’s eyes that he felt a blush begin to creep up his cheeks. “What does that mean,” he snapped, “we only just got this gig yesterday.”
Tobirama smiled slightly, still maintaining eye contact, and pulled up the sleeve of his sweatshirt. Madara looked down and choked slightly, as there tattooed onto his forearm were Madara’s eyes, rendered exactly in fine black ink. “True Sight, remember?” Tobirama smirked. Madara was definitely blushing now, and grateful for the dim lighting and for the poisonous booze.
“Does this mean you’ll help us?” Hashirama asked, taking another shot of the ferment. Next to him Mito narrowed her eyes at the tall man.
“I will,” Tobirama started, “but I can’t do it from here. I’ll have to travel with you.” Mito sat up straighter at that.
“I’m going with you,” she said without hesitation, and Tobirama smiled softly.
“Hold the fuck up, my merry little travelers,” Madara said, hands raised, “my ship is not a pleasure cruise, you can’t just sign on board and enjoy the ride.” Maybe he was a little drunk?
Mito turned her glare to him, and he thought he did a good job of not wincing at the sight. “I’ve been at Tobirama’s side since we were picking through garbage to find element scraps. I’m not leaving it now. Besides, I’m the best mechanic in the Core. Quite frankly, I should be demanding wages for the fucking privilege of charter on board what I can only imagine to be a flying rust bucket.” Madara gave an affronted gasp, his hand flying to his chest.
“We do need a mechanic,” Hashirama said slowly, eyeing the woman. She turned her gaze to him, and they held eyes for a moment, her chin tilted up in challenge. Hashirama smiled, turned to Madara, and shrugged. “Who the hell knows if this whole plan will even work?” he said jovially.
“Oh trust me, if Tobirama is looking for it, we’ll find it,” Mito said confidently, grinning at the young man, who rolled his eyes. “So it’s settled then?” she looked at Madara expectantly.
“yeah , yeah, you’re both in, twelve hells, what is this shit you’re making me drink,” he replied. Both Tobirama and Mito smiled even wider, and lifted large canvas rucksacks from under the table. Madara spluttered into his drink, and Hashirama guffawed loudly at the sight.
Madara sat in the cockpit of this ship, sleepless against the cool background of the Core night. In the empty hangar where their ship had thankfully not been demolished for scrap, he could almost imagine they were back in the freedom of space, and that brief moment of fantasy set his mind a fraction more at ease. He could hear quiet clanging in the engine room as Mito made repairs to the ship, punctuated infrequently by unintelligible shouting between her and Hashirama, who apparently seized every opportunity to jump down each others throats. Madara would never admit to be so petty as to put her room next to his, it was just where space was available on this ship.
“I think they like each other,” said a low voice behind Madara. He jumped up in his seat, startled that he didn’t hear Tobirama’s entry.
“You’re gonna give me a heart attack, kid,” he muttered, slumping back down in the pilot’s seat. Tobirama moved around the chair to perch at the edge of the console, examining Madara’s face in the shadowy half light of the hangar’s nighttime illumination. Madara ignored him to look out over the control panel below the view screen, projecting the empty parameters of the hangar.
“You have nightmares that keep you awake,” Tobirama whispered, suddenly a lot closer to Madara’s face. He didn’t flinch, this time, just turned to look at him, their eyes only a few inches apart.
“Yeah, who doesn’t,” Madara said softly.
“Can I tell you something?” Tobirama whispered again, still leaning over Madara in his chair. Madara nodded slightly. “I’ve had dreams of Konoha my whole life. I didn’t know what it was for a long time, but I knew I had to find it, somehow. Not even Mito knows that.” Tobirama’s eyes looked sad and strange in the shadows, and he broke eye contact to look down at his knees. Madara reflected that up close, he was too thin, too young looking, to be so lost.
“Then why are you telling me,” Madara breathed, using the break from eye contact to examine Tobirama’s face. It was a nice face. Tobirama looked back up him and gave him the barest shadow of a smile.
“Because if we do this, nothing will ever be the same for any of us ever again.”
Chapter 4: Hidden
Madara doesn't know what flirting is
“I swear on Ashura and Indra’s magical dicks, if you call me seventeen again I will kick your ass into the next dying star,” Mito lunged forward, sweat dripping down her forehead.
Hashirama dodged lithely out of her way, swinging forward gracefully to attempt to sweep her feet out from under her, a move Mito blithely jumped over, twisting in mid air to aim a punch at his head. Hashirama ducked, and gasped out, “hey I’m only calling them like I see them...besides, you seem a little immature to me.”
“Oh, I’m immature?” Mito shrieked, using her momentum to roll into a crouch behind Hashirama, widening her defensive stance, raising two wrapped fists in front of her face. “At least I don’t fight like I have stick shoved up my ass.”
“Yeah, you only fight like a ten year old wrestling for garbage scraps,” Hashirama shot back, aligning his right leg behind his left in a traditional Senju dueling stance, designed to fool the enemy into thinking it’s user was off balance.
“Well I’ll have you know that is where I learned to fight, and it’s certainly worked for me so far,” Mito smiled demonically, and lunged quickly toward Hashirama’s knees. He moved forward too, wrapping a large arm under her armpit and then under her chin in a disabling hold. Mito seized the opportunity to kick out one of his ankles in what appeared to be a fit of rage, and they both tumbled to the mat.
“Has anyone ever told you you have some anger problems,” Hashirama wheezed, and Mito hissed in response, her neck still incapacitated by Hashirama’s hold. He grinned down at her, meeting her glare with a laugh.
The two newest crew members proved to be a test of some kind for the Sharingan’s reticent and moody captain. Mito was amusing, and he enjoyed her baiting Hashirama, who so rarely appeared to be ruffled by anything. Also, he was loath to admit it, but the ship was running better than ever before, so much so that he ignored Mito’s mutterings about whoever had been doing a hack job of mechanic before she got there (It was him).
Tobirama, on the other hand, was frustrating Madara, in a variety of ways that he didn’t want to engage with at the moment. After their brief moment in the hangar on the Core, the young man retreated to silence, only speaking up to argue with Madara about the appropriate course, always with a lot of passionate eye contact that left weird wiggley feelings in Madara’s stomach. Furthermore, he inexplicably had brought actual, physical books with him, and he left them everywhere. “Where do you even find these relics,” Madara howled in agony as he stubbed his toe against a massive tome outlining the mythology of the System’s southern quadrant in the mess station.
“Couldn’t afford a screen,” said a disembodied, taciturn voice.
“So you decided to lug several tons of bricks across the system?” the other man hopped on one foot, certain his toes were about to fall off, and immediately tripped and fell face first over a stack of books, the first offender being 'A Natural History of Goornian Slugmander Biospheres, and Their Practical Application Today.' “GAAHH!” He screamed as he tumbled down. He was certain the choking sound he heard behind the swiveling armchair, turned towards a view screen of the stars, was the offender himself holding back hysterical laughter.
“Is something funny, Tobirama?” Madara growled from the floor.
“Ah hah, no, I’m just contemplating the many merits of literature,” Tobirama snipped back, his voice constricting over a laugh, which he finally stopped being able to hold in.
Madara contemplated being furious and yelling, which was his natural reaction, but was then so taken aback by the young man’s heretofore never heard laughter that he let out a guffaw himself, and for a brief few minutes both men were lost to their laughter, neither one looking at each other.
In the cockpit, Madara looked at Tobirama disbelievingly. “So let me get this straight,” he said slowly, as if talking to a child. Tobirama’s eye twitched in response. “We need to head in this direction because, and I quote, ‘you just feel it’s right.’” Tobirama rolled his eyes impressively.
“I know it’s not an exact science-” he started, and Madara snorted.
“No, no, the art of navigation is not an exact science. Hell, gambling on cygor ungulate racing is not an exact science. This is not even in the same galaxy as science! This- this is magic or some bullshit!” Madara waved his arms in the air to further make his point. Again, Tobirama rolled his eyes, so hard that Madara thought they might disappear into the back of his head.
“Look, if you want to waste your time finding a rational explanation for True Sight, be my guest. All I can tell you is that what we’re looking for is somewhere-” and here Tobirama gestured vaguely aft - “that way.”
Madara opened his mouth to respond, only to be interrupted by an enraged howl, followed by a booming crash below decks. He and Tobirama looked at each other. “Maybe we need to make a brief refueling stop,” Madara suggested hesitantly. T nodded.
They landed on Oto V in the early evening. Since leaving the core, they had spent three weeks together on the ship, in what appeared to be increasingly close quarters. Mito and Hashirama both roomed below decks, Mito close to the engines, and Hashirama using their warmth to keep his medicinal plants alive in his rooms. Madara couldn’t honestly say that he thought the two of them hated each other, but they certainly didn’t waste any opportunity to bait the other one. He wondered if his friend was subconsciously offended that the Core woman hadn’t immediately fallen head over heels for him like he was used to. Mito, for her part, seemed to take offense to Hashirama’s overly casual world view, here for a good time not a long time and all that, which Madara knew was but a part of the armor Hashirama wore in every social interaction except with him.
Tobirama continued to be a menace. From the outside, the young man seemed deadly serious, his smiles incredibly rare. He also had the eery habit of noiselessly stalking through the ship, sneaking up on Madara wherever he went, from the cockpit to the mess, to embarrassingly the crew showers (they had both been blushing furiously, and stumbling to get out of each other's way). Despite all that, Madara couldn’t help but feel that Tobirama was messing with him in most of their interactions, baiting him more subtly that Mito and Hashirama, but baiting him nonetheless, and seeming to take increasing pleasure in getting a rise out of the man who usually tried to keep his emotions in check with an iron fist.
Yes, thought Madara, some planet time would do everyone bit of good.
The ragtag crew walked off the Sharingan into the crowded landing hangar, a little unbalanced at finding themselves so surrounded by people after almost a month in space. Oto’s capitol city was a barter town, known for being a trading outpost and a hub of gambling and other vices that Hashirama took great pleasure in. The man grinned, and seemed to look pointedly at Mito, “now, if I recall, there’s a delightful little gambling hall in the red light district that I must reacquaint myself with.” Mito glared back at him, then rolled her eyes.
“I need parts for this bucket of nails,” she said but Madara could have worn that her tone was a little fonder than it was back at the Core. She began to stalk off in the opposite direction of Hashirama.
Madara flailed for a moment, then went after her. Tobirama looked between the two departing parties, hesitated, then called out “hey wait up,” after Hashirama’s retreating back. The taller man turned around, and did a double take at who was following him.
The hall they went to was in the basement level of a brothel, and it appeared to Tobirama that Hashirama in no way needed to reacquaint himself with anyone on premises, judging by the way that the multiple different species running the gambling and the sexual encounters seemed to literally faint with joy as he walked in. Tobirama had never felt so disregarded in his entire life as he trailed behind the tall man who had prostitutes hanging off of each arm. They sat together and got a bottle of the local ferment “on the house this round,” the owner said with a wink.
“You seem to be quite popular here,” Tobirama noted, and he regarded the man next to him out of the corner of his eye. Hashirama is tall, with thick, dark hair that hung down his back, and an open, friendly face. Definitely classically handsome for a human, Tobirama considered, but not quite as alluring to him as Madara. Hashirama turned to look at him with a wide smile and what appeared to be barely contained giggles.
“I’ll tell you why,” he said, definitely about to start giggling. “I have terrible luck, I lose all the time,” and with that he broke down in to outright laughter, which seemed to light up his entire face. Tobirama couldn’t help but laugh a little in response.
“That’s terrible!” he said, regaining some seriousness. “What happens if you lose all the ship’s money?”
“Oh, Madara keeps a majority of it hidden away. He’s fully aware of my luck.” Hashirama said fondly.
“You two have known each other for a long time,” Tobirama observed, and something shadowy passed over Hashirama’s face.
“Yes,” he said seriously, then paused, a small smile returning, “but perhaps not as long as you and Mito. How did you two meet?” Tobirama rolled his eyes at the obvious subject change. “You both do that! You both roll your eyes so much. A sure sign of codependency. You’re going to form into one body soon enough, that’s my medical opinion,” Hashirama laughed out, and again Tobirama smiled a little.
“She’s been beating people up for me since we were basically toddlers,” Tobirama said. “I never knew my family, I grew up in the garbage mountains with the other Core rats. I was good at finding element scraps, and these older kids would follow me around and beat me up when I found something good. She just appeared one day and punched one so hard his front tooth fell out.” Hashirama smiled at him, it was probably the most he’d heard the younger man speak since they had met. Tobirama looked at him slyly, “you didn’t lose when you bet on Mito,” he said.
Hashirama glared at him. “That was just dumb chance,” he said into his drink, and luckily Tobirama didn’t bother to point out his flawed logic.
Madara trailed behind Mito as she perused parts lining the streets outside some of the larger mech body shops. He watched her carefully examine something that he probably couldn’t name given any number of clues, and then smile cagily up at the dealer, who was leaning flirtatiously over his stand to talk to the woman. As Madara walked up, he thought the man looked a little disappointed at the intrusion. Madara scowled at him.
“Ok tall, dark, and cranky, you’re really ruining my bartering energy,” Mito said slyly. Madara huffed in response. The woman turned and smiled at him more fully, and clapped him on the back. “Just kidding, I don’t think that guy was interested in bartering.”
Madara laughed a little at this. “Sorry, my reflex is to break up flirting after working with Hashirama for so long.” Mito rolled her eyes at the mention of the man’s name. “You know, he acts like nothing matters to him, but that’s not true.” Mito didn’t say anything to this, and appeared to be thinking. “He’d probably kill me for blowing his cover,” Madara mused.
“I think that’s why he gets under my skin,” she said at last. “I can tell he’s a brave man. You would have to be blind not to notice that you two have been through something awful together, and before you start, no I’m not trying to get you to tell me what it was. But it seems like he’s fighting who he really is. You both might be, at that.”
“Trust me, it’s a good thing i’m fighting who I really am. That person is.... Not great,” Madara sighed, thinking on her words. Hashirama was brave, and kind, and smart. But he had scars that were distorting that.
Mito looked over at him sharply at his words. “You keep yourself from being happy because you think you don’t deserve it,” she said. Madara looked at her in disbelief. “It wasn’t a question! That’s why you avoid Tobirama.” Madara’s disbelief turned to shock.
“What is that supposed to mean?” he choked out. Mito rolled her eyes again, and Madara thought it must be some kind of syndrome the two shared.
“Oh please, he likes you, he thinks your cute. And I think based on the amount of blushing I’ve noticed on the Sharingan, you think he’s cute too.” Madara blushed on the spot. “And speaking of,” Mito continued, “I think I’m all done here, shall we go meet them?”
Tobirama stepped away from the table where Hashirama, true to his word, was losing spectacularly at some dice game that Tobirama thought he recognized until some die started to glow and float away, while the rest turned an ashen gray and shriveled up. Tobirama was fairly confident that Hashirama had no clue how to play either.
He surveyed the hall where they had been sitting for several hours. It was in a basement, with long low tables where people gambled or sat drinking. Tinny rumba music played from speakers stacked precariously in the back corner, and the walls were lined with red shuttered booths for ungulate racing bets and other games.
And then all of a sudden it felt like Tobirama’s vision dimmed and narrowed to a single point. He tried to raise a hand to steady himself on a table, but found he couldn’t move. He gasped for breath, trying to calm his fluttering heart. A person was in front of him. A person he thought he would definitely have remembered seeing earlier.
Tall and thin, wearing a deep purple high necked silk robe, over which was a perfectly draped cloak made of what looked to be solid gold scales. Tobirama couldn’t tell if they were male of female, but they were certainly beautiful, their eyes heavily lined with kohl, the only makeup on their long, sharp face. Hair black and shimmering like spilled oil fell down their back, except for a top knot secured with a gold pin ornamented with a snake with emerald eyes. They smiled softly at Tobirama.
“You look awfully young now, don’t you,” they purred. “Nevertheless… The universe is feeling quite large right now, but it will be getting smaller, as you must go through the eye of the needle, and look underneath the underneath. So I’m telling you now, all this is easier with love, you’ll see that after tonight. But love is the same coin as hate, and where one exists the other will be soon to follow, like wild dogs smelling blood. Just be careful of that.” They finished the last sentence in such a matter of fact tone that Tobirama almost forgot that they had just told him basically nonsense. “I’ll be going now...but I’ll see you again,” they winked, and the lights and sounds of the room around him began to reassert themselves.
“Tobirama?” Mito was in front of him looking concerned. He blinked at her. “Everything alright?” Madara was behind her, looking concerned behind his ever present fall of dark hair.
“I...I’ll tell you later,” he muttered, looking down. He felt as though he needed to process that bizarre message himself.
“Well, well, well if it isn’t my best friend and the system’s brattiest teenager!” Hashirama’s booming voice woke him from his reverie, and the big man slung his arms around Madara and Mito. Tobirama could practically see the steam escaping from Mito’s ears.
“How old are you actually?” Madara asked Mito, and she turned to him.
“Oh I’m sixteen,” she said casually, and Madara and Hashirama both choked, while Mito and Tobirama doubled over laughing. “I’m messing with you, I’m twenty five!” she howled, and both the older men looked a combination of relieved and guilty.
“Thank the stars, I thought we had actually kidnapped a minor for a moment,” Hashirama muttered. “Say, is anyone hungry? Because I am and I don’t have any money any more.” There was a pause, and then even Madara started laughing.
Chapter 5: Maybe
People are having sex. and other people are hearing it. which is never a great feeling!
Also, I gave Madara a trim, because as it says in the tags, this is non canon compliant >:-)
Edit: I have a tumblr now https://eawrites.tumblr.com/
Mito woke up to what she could only consider to be egregious amounts of moaning, and the rhythmic sound of sex. She rolled over in her bunk and put a pillow over her ears in frustration, trying to get back to sleep, or at least escape the hangover she had incurred planet side with the rest of the crew. Did she hear three voices moaning now? And how in the twelve hells was Hashirama feeling chipper enough to pursue that level of vigorous fucking?
“Practice, probably,” she grumbled to herself, and dragged her body out of bed and pulling on her canvas work pants and a thin tank top. She dropped to the floor to begin some push ups and crunches, tapping her music deck on in the process.
Finishing up, she left her room to get to the head, only to run into to two slender green beings leaving Hashirama’s room, tittering to each other. The man himself was leaning against the door frame, wearing a kimono draped open at the chest and an entirely self satisfied grin. The two Dryads turned back, still giggling, and both gave him flirtatious waves goodbye, which the man returned. Mito could feel herself blushing, to her fury. “Good morning to you too, Mito,” Hashirama said eyeing her smugly. She looked at him blankly, unimpressed.
“Grow up,” she shot over her shoulder as she walked away.
Tobirama was sitting in solitude in the cockpit, having taken over the com while Madara took a shower. They had been flying after leaving Oto V for about a week, and strangely Tobirama felt more sure than before that they were going in the right direction. However, all that certainty left him with a lot of time to ponder over the apparition that visited him on Oto, and the strange riddle he had been left with as a result.
“Busy thinking about love and hate and… wild dogs?” Madara stood in the doorway, screwing his face up, comically confused. Tobirama smiled at the sight of him. He was wearing a simple gray shirt and loose black pants, with his shaggy shoulder length hair still wet and dripping on his shoulders. Tobirama took no small pleasure in looking at the other man’s face, rarely exposed by his hair. Right now he was looking at Tobirama with a slightly goofy smile, his aristocratic eyes and nose at a crooked angle. There was some concern behind the humor though, Tobirama could see that. He could see it in all of them after he told them about the vision. Or whatever it was.
He repeated the words now for Madara, “‘The universe is feeling quite large right now, but it will be getting smaller, as you must go through the eye of the needle, and look underneath the underneath. So I’m telling you now, all this is easier with love, you’ll see that after tonight. But love is the same coin as hate, and where one exists the other will be soon to follow, like wild dogs smelling blood. Just be careful of that’ I feel like they were trying to warn me of something. Something that feeds on hate…”
Madara paled a little at this. “Reminds me of my family,” he muttered, and Tobirama looked up at him sharply. The older man shrugged, “I’m sure you’ve heard of them, the Uchiha.” Tobirama nodded slowly.
“I don’t know much, to be honest. Not many planetary superpowers bother with the Core. And a lot of what I know seems like it could be fact or fiction.” Madara’s look prompted him to continue. “People said they were once a seat of power, but now… slavers.”
Madara smiled mirthlessly, and looked out the front window into the depths of space. “That’s them.” Tobirama continued to simply look at him, and he moved towards him into the cabin. “They were… good. Strong. But something poisoned their minds, and spread like a cancer through the elders. When I tried to say something….”
“They imprisoned you.” Tobirama finished. Madara nodded slowly, staring out into the middle distance.
“Five years on an Uchiha slaver vessel,” he said grimly, and then seemed to remember himself, and looked quickly at Tobirama, searching his face for some sort of horror or pity. “I don’t know why I’m telling you any of this,” he said with a low laugh. Tobirama reached out to close the space between them and took the man’s hand, tilting his chin up to keep looking him in the eye. “Tobirama...I’m not a good person,” Madara whispered. Tobirama didn’t smile, didn’t say anything for a moment.
“I don’t care.”
Mito was on her back under the engine, her tools resting in her relaxed hands, her eyes focused distantly. She felt something twist in her guts, thinking about what Tobirama had told her about their traveling companions. Held captive for years… she who had always valued her freedom, her wits, her ability to say anything and beat the shit out of anyone who gave her a hard time, she couldn’t imagine. She thought back on her conversation with Madara, who believed he didn’t deserve to be happy. She thought about Hashirama, his smooth, nut brown skin and dark eyes flashing in her mind. She had so frequently met that gaze with aggression since their first meeting, and had always seen reflected back a mocking, flippant disregard for taking anything seriously. But now, in her mind’s eye, she could see kindness, buried deeply just like Madara had said. She wondered how he had ended up on the slaver vessel. She wondered if she was about to cry.
“Mito?” A voice asked from somewhere around her legs, protruding from under the machinery, and she recognized the subject of her thoughts. “Seems pretty quiet down there, did you fall asleep or something?”
In a flash she knew her sympathy would be taken as pity, and the man would close his heart to her, forgoing their bantering and (she had to admit) growing camaraderie.
“If I was asleep, maybe it’s because someone on this ship has no sense of decency and woke me up at the crack of dawn with their fucking,” she said flatly, and was rewarded with a bark of a laugh, making her smile under the engine. Hashirama kicked her foot goodnaturedly.
“Aw shucks, and here i thought you didn’t sleep, you just hung upside down from the ceiling,” he taunted.
“You caught me… I stay up all night thinking about how I vant to suck your bloooood,” Mito giggled back. “Now, if you’re going to enjoy the sight of my legs, at least make yourself useful and hand me some tools.”
They continued confidently under Tobirama’s direction until he sensed a larger planet nearby. “I think we should stop,” He stated. Madara thought for a moment, but couldn’t deny that he wanted to stretch his legs. He looked at the overlayed map on the console.
“It’s Waterfall, it should be good for a refueling stop and some shore leave,” he acquiesced. Mito jumped up and punched the air in glee.
“I’m so excited to get away from you boys!” and at that she scampered out of the cockpit. Hashirama watched her go with amusement on his face.
“I think I’m very pleasant to be around,” he called after her. She peaked her head back around the door, a devilish grin on her face.
“You’re the worst of all,” she quipped. “Do you want me to water your plants before we land?”
“Yes, thank you. Avoid the Kudzu, she’s in a temper.” Mito rolled her eyes.
“You think I don’t know that?” Her head disappeared again.
Hashirama smiled after her for several beats, before realizing it was too quiet in the cabin around him. “What?” he asked peevishly.
“Nothing at all,” Madara and Tobirama responded quickly, although Madara couldn't quite hold back a grin.
“It’s just that for a moment I thought the system’s second coming of both Ashura and Indra was developing some feelings…” Madara taunted after a breath. Tobirama elbowed him in the ribs. Hashirama stood up.
“How dare you suggest I have feelings,” he hissed, eyes narrowed, and stalked out of the room.
“Do you think he’s going to go help her water the plants,” Tobirama asked wanly, earning a snicker from Madara.
“He’s probably going to go recount every interplanetary being he’s fucked to try and prove a point,” Madara said, laughing.
“I wonder if that’s what the apparition meant when they said ‘it’s easier with love,’” Tobirama mused, and Madara looked at him with interest.
“What would the ‘it’ be? Your sight?” he asked.
“I think so...I have felt more sure of where we’re going, and I could see that planet so clearly when I focused on it. Like a huge mass of emotions and wants. It felt...good”
“Well, I don’t think either of them will take kindly to you suggesting they’re in love,” Madara observed. They looked at each other for several heart beats, blushes rising on both their cheeks.
“I’m going to go get ready for port,” Tobirama said quickly, and Madara sighed as the younger man got up and left.
Waterfall is a large terraformed planet located close enough to industry planets that it was allowed to maintain a slightly more rural layout. Unlike other portages, the crew of The Sharingan landed in a wide field on the outskirts of the largest town in the area. Madara and Hashirama laughed as Tobirama and Mito were amazed by the expanse of flowers and grasses surrounding them, both running their hands through the foliage and smiling in wonder. Hashirama watched as Mito picked one of the pastel flowers growing around her and tucked it behind her ear. As if feeling his eyes, she turned and smiled excitedly at him, illuminated from behind by the cornflower sky.
'Oh no,' Hashirama thought to himself.
“I think I’ll stay with the ship,” Hashirama volunteered, earning him a strange look from Madara. “What?”
“I guess there’s a first time for everything,” Madara muttered, and walked off after Mito and Tobirama, who were already heading towards the town. “Want anything?” he asked.
'My sanity back,' thought Hashirama, as he shook his head.
Hashirama woke up to male groaning and female moaning. He turned onto his back and opened his eyes, making sure that he wasn’t still in the midst of a happy dream. He was disabused of this notion as a metallic clanging was added into the cacophony.
“Mito, I didn’t know you had it in you…” He laid in bed and listened to what sounded like very aerobic sex, milling over his complicated emotional state. Hashirama tended to avoid introspection like the plague, unlike his more morose crewmate, Madara. His strategy was to run far, far away from anything that felt a little too genuine or vulnerable, to stay drunk, high on shishi, and surrounded by sexy people from across the system. It didn’t matter if they actually liked him, in fact, that they didn’t know him at all was preferable. But now here he is, listening to a woman who makes him feel something, even if most days it’s annoyance, have erotic sex one wall away from him was doing things to his usual avoidant mindset.
He waited until they were done, and could hear footsteps walking towards the door, before he made his move. He darted into the hall as he heard her door slide open, and came face to face with a tall man who looked like he was from the Core, if his blanket of tattoos was anything to go by. He was shirtless, with dark hair hanging around his face, and demon faces inked all over his chest. He looked Hashirama up and down and smiled slowly.
“Hey Mito, if we ever do this again, tell your friend he’s invited.” Hashirama’s mouth fell open as the other man departed their ship, revealing behind him Mito’s form. He looked at her, a little stunned, and she raised her eyebrows.
“I don’t know if he could handle it,” she called after him, but grinned rakishly at Hashirama before turning back into her quarters.
Chapter 6: illumination
perhaps a little backstory for you?
The light of the three moons in trine illuminated his father’s study in a ghostly blue light that seemed to blur the lines between dream and reality. His father was brilliant, but careless with his papers, and the office was cluttered with medical textbooks, philosophical manuscripts, and fragments of poems. He liked to come in here after everyone was asleep and study the same texts that so absorbed his father during the day, that kept him hidden away behind his study doors. He was old enough now to recognize his father’s flaws - he was always more interested in his books than he was in his children, and he had never thought twice about being the stand in for his younger brothers. They needed someone brave, someone kind, someone true.
His head snapped up at the sound of voices down the hall in the reception room that was so rarely used nowadays, and this late. He walked down the hall, padding softly on bare feet, to peer in through a crack in the door.
He could see his father’s back, kneeling in front of their guests in the hall that illuminated Senju history since they had first explored the planet they had lived on for almost two centuries. In front of him were three men, all wearing leather combat gear decorated with sleek furs and the bones and fangs of some gigantic beast. The two in back were hidden slightly in shadow, but the man in the forefront was tall and broad, with dark shaggy hair cropped around his pale face, marred only by thick, old looking scars. He was sneering at his father, the look of a predator when the prey has been as good as caught.
“Lord Senju,” The man said calmly, his voice saccharine, “we certainly don’t want to disturb the work you’re doing here. But if we are going to leave this planet in your capable hands, we’ll need some...assurances.” His father tilted his chin upwards to indicate the speaker had his attention.
“And what might that be, Lord Uchiha.”
“Let me see… I think one of your sons should suffice.” The man’s smile was crooked and broke his scarred face into uneven planes. “That would allay my clan’s fears of interference, and leave you to your... important works.” His father appeared to consider this briefly, and then with some struggle stood and leaned on his cane. Hashirama looked at his father in horror, slowly shaking his head in the shadows outside the great door.
“I don’t particularly care. Take whichever one you wish.” The visitor’s victorious smile widened to show his sharp teeth.
Hashirama blinked, clearing the memory from his thoughts. He hadn’t thought about his father or his brothers in a long time, and that was intentional. The memory of them left a hollow feeling somewhere under his ribcage. He sat, leaned against the back of his chair, trying to clear his head, when the radio crackled on, and Madara’s voice was projected into his cabin.
“Hey Hashirama, I think you need to get up here and see this.” His friend sounded strangled. Hashirama raised his eyebrows with worry.
The scene visible through windscreen was the devastating carnage of a pitched space battle. The strip of space visible before them was littered with parts of ships, floating like an asteroid belt. In the blue light of the console, Madara’s face looked hollow and skeletal.
“We found them.”
Madara stood in front of the view screen on the large Uchiha Man of War vessel his father had put him in charge of before his untimely death last year. He looked without seeing any of the alien landscape below him, lost in recollection of the intervening year. He couldn't put his finger on it, but something was… off in the clan. There were disappearances, strange deaths, such as his father’s, and ugly rumors that swirled like dregs, never fully reaching the light of day. He had been investigating their sources, and the results were troubling, to say the least.
The sound of two pairs of footsteps reached him, and he turned to see his fellow Uchiha crewman on this ambassadorial mission. His cousin, Obito, tall and broad like him, but with horrible scars that bisected his face, giving his normally aristocratic Uchiha features a rugged and dangerous lean. He had received these scars on the same disastrous mission that had killed his young wife, and they reminded every Uchiha of the black knot of pain that had settled in his heart. Beside him was an adviser that Madara didn’t know well, only so far as that his name was Danzo and that he rarely left Obito’s side as of late. Madara narrowed his eyes. In all his searches, he had heard these two men’s names the most.
The two stopped behind him and stood in silence. Madara smiled at his cousin.
“Can I help you with something, Obito?” he asked pleasantly. Something in the air of the cabin didn’t feel right. Obito smiled, and for a moment Madara thought he looked quite mad.
“Yes, as a matter of fact, you can,” his cousin said smoothly. “Something has been bothering me for some time, actually.” Madara quirked his head to the side. “I think that the Uchiha clan has grown… soft. Weak. look at us now, on an ambassadors mission, kowtowing to some backwoods republic.” Obito’s face twisted for a moment into something ugly, before regaining composure. Madara frowned at this, feeling the lightning beginnings of nerves in the pit of his stomach.
“Obito, the truth of strength wielded well is peace, and that is what the Uchiha have achieved. We cannot go back to warmongering, it doesn’t do us justice.” Obito smiled at this.
“You see cousin, I’ve thought long about this. Weakness has destroyed us. If we weren’t so weak, we could prevent the misfortunes that befell our clan. If we weren’t so weak, Rin would still be alive,” and at the mention of his late wife, his face became hollow and bitter. “So I think we can regain some of our lost glory. Well… not ‘we,’ persay…” and at this he gestured between himself and Madara.
“What are you saying, Obito?” Madara narrowed his eyes at the other man.
“I’m saying that I’m taking over leadership from you. You see, you were tragically murdered by the very clan you were sent to make peace with, and your death so soon after your fathers drove your brother insane.” At his words, the cabin began to fill with Uchiha soldiers, not wearing their usual red and black uniforms, but instead the leather, pelts, and bones of their ancestral warlords.
“You’re going to murder me on my own ship?” Madara asked in disbelief.
“Oh, no I’m not going to murder you. I have something much better planned.” Obito said, and this time there was no doubt as to the madness in his eyes.
Tobirama stumbled into the cockpit, gasping. Madara darted to him, grasping him as he lurched forward.
“This place is death, I can’t feel anything here,” he said, and shivered. He looked up at Madara beseechingly, “we have to get out of here.”
The first time Madara refused to kill another prisoner for punishment, or sport, they beat him so severely that he'd pissed blood. The electrical whips probably didn’t help, a tiny, hopeless voice echos as he loses consciousness, drifting off into the welcome blackness he’s hoped for every day on The Behemoth.
When he wakes up, he’s a in new cabin, a space of the ship he hasn’t been to yet, which isn’t saying much, since he’s mostly kept in a large cage to be tormented by Obito’s minions. His wounds are bandaged tightly, and despite the fact that he has definitely not been given anything to decrease the pain, whoever was helping him did place a cool towel on his forehead. The gesture is so kind, so contradictory to anything that has happened to him him since boarding this ship that Madara feels his throat tighten. He closes his eyes, willing himself back to the darkness if sleep, but hears a small sound to his right instead.
A tall man, with rich brown skin and brown hair cut choppily around his face is slumped over a desk, his eyes screwed shut against the agony of waking. It’s a gesture that Madara is all too familiar with. The other man’s eyes slide open, and they spend a moment just starting at each other.
“I apologize for the lack of pain medication… I think they think I would kill myself if I had access to any drugs,” tall man says.
“Would you not?” Madara’s voice is harsh to his ears, and he wonders when the last time he had spoken instead of screamed was. The other man looks at him for a long moment, then slowly shakes his head.
“Who is Izuna?” He asks instead of answering further. Madara turns his head away, and now he’s really afraid he might start to cry. And if he starts to cry, alone on this horrible ship, he doesn’t know when he’ll stop. “I think we may have something in common,” the tall man finally says.
The Sharingan fled the wreckage, brushing up against the poison of the Uchiha, closer to their home planet than Madara had realized. Tobirama sat frozen in the cockpit, looking out over the view screen as if in a daze. He had felt death, the cold, lonely ending of life shattered in the silence of space. But he had also felt something else, a little thread of hope, leading further into Uchiha territory. He glanced at M, leaned over the nav console in single minded concentration, his jaw clenched and his eyes a flat black. ‘ I’m sorry …’ he thought softly.
Chapter 7: Trouble in Paradise
Their entry into the planet Ocho’s atmosphere was somber, each crewmember silent, yet loath to leave each other’s company in the cockpit. They docked in one of the large hangar’s on the city’s edge, but still seemed resistant to leaving the ship.
“ Now what?” Mito asked, her small face pale in the cabin lighting.
“I just...need to be around people. Some sort of life. Then I think I can figure out where we need to go,” Tobirama said. The young man’s normally serious face had taken on a haunted look, and Madara resisted reaching a hand out to him to comfort him. As if reading his thoughts, Tobirama looked up at the older man’s face. Madara thought for the first time he looked like he needed someone. He held his eyes; he knew first hand how horrifying his clan’s destructive power was, but it felt like opening an old wound that they made Tobirama feel like this.
“Madara and I will gather some supplies and information. You two get off the ship and just get around people, get this off your mind as much as possible,” Hashirama said matter of factly. Mito nodded, looking at him gratefully.
Ocho’s main port town, Octo, was known for being a tech hub. The city itself seemed to glitter with chrome and holoscreens advertising the kind of augmentations that would never be found on the Core. The city was rich, it’s people connected. As a result, Madara and Hashirama were able to determine that Uchiha had been seen in the area following the space assault, and had perhaps even come planetside. However, it seemed as though their operations had become even murkier, and it was difficult to get specifics on who had been where and when. The whole thing made Madara on edge. They decided to meet Mito and Tobirama back up, and after radioing, made their way towards the nightlife district.
They could hear the pounding music a block before the club came into sight, and fought their way through a twisting mass at the door to get in. A woman heavily augmented to look like an android gave them two neon green shots upon entry. Madara looked at Hashirama, who shrugged, and slugged the drink back. Madara shook his head, but did the same, and looked out across the floor.
He spotted Mito and Tobirama dancing, Mito perched on Tobirama’s shoulders, both of them grinning maniacally and sweating profusely.
“They seem to be feeling better,” Madara muttered to Hashirama, who was already walking out to meet them. Upon spotting their two newly arrived friends, the Core pair started grinning even harder, and waving frantically.
“We went shopping! Come dance with us!” Mito called to Hashirama, who smiled at her questioningly. His grin actually seemed to broaden even further, and he turned to Madara bemusedly.
“I don’t know why, but all of a sudden I feel really happy too,” he said with a little laugh. Madara was about to make some flip comment about the power of love, until he realized that he was feeling the same way. Elated, even.
“What the hell?” he asked, but also couldn’t fight the huge smile on his face, and Tobirama took ahold of his hands and looked at his eyes when they finally reached him.
“They definitely took the shot,” Tobirama said his face split with a goofy, crooked grin that Madara had never seen him wear before. In fact, it felt as if he had never seen his face before, for all that he was absolutely transfixed by it. They man’s place skin seemed to be glowing in the club’s flashing light, his hair looked so soft and snowy…
“Wow,” Madara sighed, not entirely unaware that he was looking at Tobirama was googly eyes. Tobirama was looking back at him, still smiling, and he raised his hand up to brush hair out of Madara’s eyes gently.
“Glad you’re here,” the younger man said. Meanwhile, Hashirama and Mito were giggling furiously at them, but seemed to be stuck to each other like glue, still moving hyperactively to the music.
“What was in that shot? Not that I’m complaining,” Asked Hashirama over the music.
“It’s euphora!” Mito answered. “Apparently it was invented here at this club, it’s supposed to give you feeling of joy for about two hours and then it wears off.”
“I kind of just want to sit and talk with you,” Tobirama said to Madara, the crush of bodies around them not having much effect on either man’s focus.
“Yeah, that sounds good,” Madara said softly.
At the bar, the feelings of elation where a little more tempered by fewer people literally sweating euphora out of their pores. The large glowing bar was in the right back corner, wrapping around sinuously so those who were sitting could survey the dance floor. Madara could see Hashirama and Mito still laughing and dancing furiously, now with Mito riding on Hashirama’s back. The sight made him smile. Some movement over his head made him look up, and for a moment his perspective tilted bizarrely. People appeared to be walking on the ceiling in an elegant room at the very zenith of the club’s roof.
“Isn’t that wild? They have a gravity console for the private lounge up there. I wonder how they make that work…” Tobirama mused next to him, his goofy grin momentarily replaced by a speculative look that made Madara snort.
“Nerd!” he laughed, poking Tobirama in the side, who laughed with him, despite giving a mock offended, “Hey!”
They kept smiling at each other through the pounding music and rapidly changing lights.
“Can I touch you?” Tobirama asked, shyly, looking at Madara through his eyelashes. Madara’s breath caught in his throat, but he nodded, and felt Tobirama’s hand run up his arm, feather light in weight. Somehow the gentleness of the touch seemed even more intimate, and Madara’s heart felt like it was breaking even further under the unbearable lightness of Tobirama’s intimacy. His hand snaked around Madara’s neck, and he inhaled and looked down. He shouldn’t be here, still smiling, stealing smiles from this good person, despite the euphora telling him this was the best thing that had happened to him in his life.
“You’re thinking too much,” Tobirama said softly, somehow carrying over the music. Madara looked up at him, and locked eyes. Tobirama’s hand was still on his neck, and their faces were drawn closer together. Madara’s heart beat in agony against his chest.
“What, can you read my mind now?” Madara said, glancing down at his companions lips, quirked in a little half smile. At that, Tobirama’s face turned thoughtful for a moment.
“Actually, yeah a little bit,” he said. “It usually only works with Mito, though, so maybe it has to do with people I love.” The casual nature of the comment stunned Madara for a moment.
“You can’t love me!” He managed to get out.
“It doesn’t work that way, idiot,” Tobirama said with a roll of his eyes, and brought their lips together in a slow kiss.
Madara felt as though his heart jumped out of his chest and into a vat of euphora. He closed his eyes, letting the lights play on his eyelids, and tilted his head into Tobirama’s. The seriousness of their first kiss was slightly ruined by the fact that they were both giggling into each other’s mouths.
(from out on the dance floor, Mito, who was straddling Hashirama’s front as they continued to move with the other dancers, spotted the couple at the bar, and promptly ratted them out to Hashirama. “About time,” he grinned at her)
They seemed to kiss for several hours, to Madara’s recollection, but were disrupted by what sounded like shouts of alarm from the entrance. At first he thought a fight had broken out, as people seemed to be fleeing the club, a press of bodies moving away from the front, but when he raised his eyes, he saw several tall figures dressed in leather and dragon bone ornaments moving languidly through the crowd, shoving the partygoers out of their way. He felt at though a bucket of ice had been poured over his head. He looked at Tobirama in wordless horror, and the young man stared back at him helplessly.
“What is it?” He asked, and at that moment Hashirama and Mito ran up to the bar, abruptly coming down from their euphora. Hashirama looked as if all the blood had drained form his face.
“You need to get out of here immediately,” Hashirama said to Mito, and over his shoulder, Madara could see the Uchiha troops making their way towards the bar, surrounding them in a loose semi circle and smiling preditorialy. At that moment, a crashing sound came from the ceiling above them, as a figure released his gravity console and dropped from the VIP lounge, turning in mid air to land in a graceful crouch in the middle of the assembled Uchiha.
Obito stood up, and Madara had never seen him look so mad. He wore no shirt, and was only decorated by a necklace of fangs from the great creatures that had once inhabited his homeworld.
“Madara, Hashirama, what a pleasant surprise,” he said venomously.
Chapter 8: rough enough
Oh man... my confession is that Obito is actually my favorite character. But anyway here we go!
“Please, run. Now!” Hashirama said tightly, trying to push Mito behind him. “We’ll hold them off, just get to the ship and get out of here.” Madara nodded, standing up in front of Tobirama. The circle of Uchiha moved forward, and Obito sauntered confidently towards them. Madara darted across their faces, recognizing people he had grown up with. His eyes stalled on a slim figure, face mostly concealed behind leather, in whose dark eyes there seemed to be something like surprise flickering.
“Not likely,” Mito said, and her voice was steel.
“It’s the handsome Senju lord,” one tall woman purred, a lieutenant named Karu. “You won’t be so lucky to be the ship’s doctor this time,” and she leveled her electrical cannon at Hashirama, ready to hit him with 10 milliamps of current that would cause complete muscle paralysis.
“As I just said, not likely,” and Mito raised her fists and knocked them together. Hashirama looked down, and noticed what looked like glowing brass knuckles.
“What in the hell are those?” He asked.
“I already told you, I went shopping,” she replied with a grin, right as the tall Uchiha woman shot a blast of pure energy aimed at Hashirama’s head. The bolt almost seemed to hang in the air, until Mito caught it in her hand.
She caught it.
Hashirama blinked. “What the hell?” But at the moment, all the Uchiha surrounding them moved in, and he had to dodge the blow from the butt of Karu’s electrical cannon. He jumped over her weapon, and landed an uppercut. She snarled at him, and threw a dagger hidden in her leather pants. He had to twist out of the way, and she was on him rabidly, slamming her gun into his gut and knocking the air out of his lung. She flipped the weapon around and started to charge it.
“Let’s try this again, shall we?” She snarled over him.
“Why don’t we try a hundred millivolts straight to the dome?” Mito’s voice came from behind her, and Karu’s eyes rolled back in her head as the electrical pulse Mito had caught screamed through her body. She fell, revealing Mito standing over her.
“You ok?” she asked Hashirama.
“Holy shit, that was amazing,” he groaned. She smiled.
Madara watched as the Uchiha attacked his friends, and looked to see Obito walking towards him through the mayhem.
“I think I’ve wasted enough time playing this ridiculous game of cat and mouse with you, Madara. I’m going to kill you here and now, in this absurd club, and in front of your lover,” Obito sneered. “I can’t say the same for your friend the good doctor though.” Madara’s eyes darted to the same slender Uchiah who was the only person who wasn’t moving to attack, instead staring at Madara as if at a ghost.
“Madara, this man is sick,” came Tobirama’s voice low from behind him. “But he’s… he’s like a puppet, being controlled.” Madara grunted.
“Are you happy, Obito? Is this what you wanted?” Obito narrowed his eyes. “It this was Rin would have wanted?” Madara knew he was baiting the mad man, but the words burst forth from him lips unbidden.
“How dare you mention her name. She should never have been killed. It should have been you or your coward of a brother, your weak father. How could she have died when we’re so strong -”
His words were cut off abruptly, as his body was shocked with the electrical cannon held by the masked man who had been staring at Madara.
“Get your comrades and hurry,” was all they said, and started running for the door.
Madara grabbed Tobirama, and yelled for Mito and Hashirama, and was able to see them running after him. They tore from the club, pushing aside euphora drinkers and those who had stuck around to see the carnage. The masked Uchiha was ahead of him, and as Madara caught up with them, they took Their mask off.
“Itachi?” Madara said incredulously, looking at his youngest nephew.
“Thought you were dead,” the young man said tersely.
“What a perfect time for a family reunion,” Hashirama growled from right behind them, taking up the rear from Mito and Tobirama.
They tore through the street, And for a moment Madara had the briefest glimmer of hope that no one was following. Panting they reached the ship, and Madara accessd the boarding hatch.
“Uncle… Can I come with you.” Itachi didn’t phrase it as a question, and Madara knew that saying no meant that he was sentencing his nephew to death. Or worse.
“Of course,” he said, clapping him on the back. At that moment, Obito and the rest of his squad of goons entered the hangar.
“You worthless piece of shit,” Obito screamed at Itachi, “I will personally gut you while you watch. And you,” Obito growled, now turning to Madara. “This ends now,” He leveled not an electrical cannon for capture, but an actual laser sidearm, and fired immediately. Madara had a second to react when he was roughly shoved aside, and Hashirama fell to the ground, a wound seeping blood from his gut.