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Sewers of Your Mind

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Harry looked around himself, absently scratching the back of his head. He wasn't entirely certain where he was. It looked nice enough - wooden houses, some lanterns here and there,  sort of weird flags everywhere with ping-pong paddles on them for some weird reason. He had seen worse places in his unwitting travel through the cosmos after Voldemort had, somehow, managed to botch up his death for him.

"Who are you?" a child's voice asked from behind him, making the wizard turn around. A small black haired boy stood there, staring up at him with big dark eyes. It would've been cute, if the boy hadn't been almost completely covered with blood splatters. "How did you get here?"

Harry considered him for a moment before crouching down. The kid had the weird ping-pong paddle symbol on his chest. Interesting. "Why don't you tell me?" he asked, reaching to wipe some of the splatters from the kid's face. "What is this place?"

"It's my mind," the boy answered, staring at him flatly, almost like completely missing the fact that Harry was wiping his face clean. The kid looked almost like a doll of some sort. "One of the better parts of it," the boy added.

"Your mind?" Harry asked thoughtfully, glancing around. Yes, it had the feel of a mindscape - the sky was a blur of whirls and spirals, and there were unnatural colours in the shadows - and the hot breath of wind on his hair was more like emotion - heavy, stifling desperation. It wasn't too bad, as far as mindscapes went. He had seen some really gruesome ones over the years.

The boy blinked slowly at him. "Why are you here?" he asked, oddly calm considering the gust of terrified wind that the question caused. "Did Orochimaru send you?"

"No one sends me," Harry answered, frowning at the wind and sending mental equivalent of a snort at it, making it instantly still. "Usually people tend to summon me," he added, brushing the kid's forehead with his sleeve to mop the blood there. That's how it tended to be in most cases of his unintentional jumps from this world to the next - after couple of hundred of years, he had rather gotten adjusted to it. "Who is Orochimaru?" he asked.

"He was supposed to be my teacher," the empty eyed boy said. "He was a great man once, a great ninja. He promised to teach me. To make me strong."

"And I guess he didn't keep his promise," Harry said, and lowered his hand, giving up trying to clean the boy. Every smear he managed to wipe away was replaced by a trickle of blood that dribbled down from the boy's hairline, fresh and dark red against the kid's pale chin. Not a fleeting memory then - a mental trauma. That would be a bit more difficult to fix.

"In a way he did," the kid answered, blinking again slowly. It would've looked sleepy - if not for the forced alertness of the kid's eyes. "I have never been so strong."

Harry gave him a considering look - because the words caused a distant rumble, something like thunder or an earthquake. There was world of meaning in the words, especially since they rang so true. "You don't look strong to me," he said quietly, tilting his head and listening to the distant sounds, trying to gauge the reaction.

"I am pathetic," the kid agreed - another sentence so meaningful that it made the world around the grumble.

"Hm. Let's start with that then," Harry mused after moment of thought, he gathered the little boy to his arms and stood up. "If this is the better part of your mind, how about you show me the worse parts?" he said, supporting the kid against his hip with his arm comfortably around his waist.

For the first time, the kid showed some emotion - not at being held or carried, but at words. He frowned, and the blank look in his eyes was replaced by suspicion. "Why?"

"Why not?" Harry answered, lifting his eyebrows. A brush of hateful air made his hair stand up on his neck and, leaning back against the sensation, Harry examined the air around him. So much rage - all wrapped up in hopelessness. "If this is really the better part of your mind, I imagine the other parts are worse than anything I could spring at you," he noted, reaching out and catching the wind into his palm. He held out the whirling ball of hopeless malice in front of the kid's eyes. "Or do you want to keep holding onto this?" he asked.

The kid frowned at him, now more alert. Then he pointed at the great wooden house just at the end of the blood splattered street. "Through there," he said.

Harry nodded with satisfaction, and threw the wind of hate away. The kid looked ahead, tensing a little as Harry approached the slightly open door of the house, pushing it open. It slid to the side, rather than swung. Interesting, but not very important.

"Is this it?" Harry asked, as they came into an enormous hall, scattered with dead bodies. Everything was so covered with red, that he couldn't see the brown of the wood anywhere.

"No. Through there," the kid answered, pointing at the door across the massacre, glaring at the bodies momentarily before looking ahead. Harry had to wonder for a moment how old he had been before this part of his mindscape had been constructed. It was probably even worse than his own would've been, if he had actually remembered what had happened that night his parents had died.

He would look into it later if it was necessary. Now, though, there were worse scenes to attend to. Determined, he walked across the scene of the massacre, carefully avoiding stepping onto any of the corpses and nearly wading in blood by the time he made it to the door, but ignoring it.

As he slid the door open, he could immediately see the change of mindscape. The heavy reds and shadows of before gave away to stark white and grey, and as the stifling winds of malice and desperation died down, they were replaced by what could only be called sterility. Sterility of emotion.

That was always bad.

After taking in the empty white corridor, Harry began walking it down, absently noting how the kid took a hold of his jumper and gripped the fabric tight. There were monsters here, he knew. Enough to make the kid terrified in a way the massacre hadn't.

And then they came to the great hall - trice as large as the scene of massacre, and tenfold as horrifying. It was almost like a laboratory out of a muggle hospital - or a nightmarish version of one. There were television screens and monitoring equipment. There were beds and examination tables.

There was a headless, armless torso, hanging from the wall, with its insides spilling out and its spine stark white against the fragile pink of the guts. The arms were pinned to the floor with needles, with the skin cut open and pinned aside and the muscles unwound from their bone frames, spread open like some horrifying flowers. The lower half the body was on a table just below the hanging torso, similarly opened, similarly examined. On a table next to it, there was the head, with the skin of the face removed and set onto a stretching frame and with the dark eyes in a glass tube, floating in some sort liquid. The skull was cut open and the brains were set on a pedestal, still attached to the head by the veins and some threads of muscles - and metallic looking wires.

Harry eyed the horrifying display for a moment, before turning to look elsewhere. Another body - or maybe the same body - was cut open like for autopsy on an examination table not far from it, with arms and legs bound down with chains and the dark haired head blind folded and gagged. By the way the body was jerking, it was still alive, despite the fact that the heart was lifted out of the chest, and one of the lungs lay next to the body, cut into pieces.

There was a third body, and a fourth, and a fifth - all the same body but cut open with different methods. The crown jewel of the gallery of gore, however, was the body in the enormous glass tube that stood in the middle of the room. This one was whole, with everything where it should be - and all the more horrifying for it. It was nearly beautiful in comparison to the other, defiled ones. Pale skin and dark eyes and blood red eyes, empty and just slightly open, red lips parted slightly underneath the breathing mask covering his nose and mouth.

Almost perfect - but not quite. The entire body, beautifully as it was muscled and formed, was almost completely covered with just visible stitches, as if someone had taken it apart a million times, and put it back together again.

"That's you?" Harry asked.

"Nearly," the kid agreed, his fingernails nearly digging into Harry's skin as he squeezed his hands helplessly into fists. "Orochimaru is better than my imagination can convey - he won't leave any marks. When he's done, no one will be able to tell."

"Ah," the wizard murmured, looking around again. When he looked at the bodies from a more objective viewpoint, he could sort of see a timeline. They were at different stages of adolescence - the body displayed on the wall was the youngest and smallest, or would've been if it had been complete. The one opened on the table was slightly older. The whole one in the tube was the oldest - maybe sixteen or so years old, not to mention much more muscular and tall than the youngest body.

Even if this wasn't an accurate description of reality, it definitely explained the desperation and hopelessness.

Shaking his head, Harry stepped closer to the enormous glass container, placing his hand onto the surface. The container was pulsing with warmth - rather like a blood vein of a beast. "I suppose there's a purpose for this?" he asked, as the boy squirmed against his chest like he was trying to get away from the container.

"He's making a perfect body for himself," the boy said, almost smashing his face into Harry's neck and nearly strangling him as he threw his arms around the wizard's neck.

"...right," Harry murmured, looking up to the stitched body's empty eyes. One of those cases. Albeit he hadn't encountered one as elaborate as this, there seemed to be an occurring theme of possession on his journeys. Maybe because of his own experiences.

"You said he promised to teach you, to make you strong," the wizard said, running his hand over the glass. "Does that mean you agreed to this, on some level?"

"I... betrayed my village because of his promise," the boy admitted in a whisper. "My best friend..." he lifted his head and looked behind Harry's shoulder - to the corridor they had come from. "My brother killed our clan - all but me. I wanted revenge, but I was weak and learned too slow. Orochimaru promised to make the difference. I wanted nothing more."

Harry nodded. People screwed themselves over easily with things like that. He probably would've too, after Sirius's death, if someone had offered him that impossible miracle. "Wanted. How about right now?" Harry asked, glancing at the boy who was still staring behind him, at the corridor - at the memory of the massacre. "What do you want now?"

The boy didn't say anything for a long while, just clutched onto Harry's shoulder, his entire body tense. "I want the entire world to burn," the boy whispered. "Burn and fade away."

Harry smiled grimly at that and looked up to the body in the tube instead. "I'm bad at destroying worlds," he admitted, and knocked on the glass. "And revenge on the innocents isn't really something I'm that interested in. How about something a little simpler?"

The boy threw a glare at him, red flickering in the debts of dark grey.

Harry met the glare calmly. "How about retribution?" he asked. "Eons and eons of being summoned by people like you... I've gotten very good at retribution."

"How?" the boy asked and looked at him like he was only now actually seeing him - actually taking him in. "Who are you?"

"Who knows," Harry mused. "A ghost or maybe a nightmare. Or maybe I'm the angel of justice." He shook his head and dragged one fingernail across the surface of the glass, making a horrible screeching sound echo in the horrifying laboratory. As he stepped back, the glass tube began to crackle until it shattered, the liquid inside gushing out first in trickles before it burst forward in a wave of liquid and glass shards.

The body, despite lacking any support, remained suspended midair even after all the water leaked out, floating idly in place. While the little boy clutched onto Harry's heck, looking shocked, the wizard stepped forward and placed his hand onto the empty eyed man's stitch ridden chest.

"In the real world, you're unconscious," he said, as the echo of the real world thrummed under the skin, echoing into him. "You have been unconscious for a while now."

"Every now and then I wake up, but I can't do anything and nothing makes sense when I do," the boy whispered, looking wide eyed. "What… what will you do?"

"What you can't," Harry answered and flicked a finger lightly at the boy's nose, smiling almost fondly at him. "And what I do best. Close your eyes kid. This won't be pretty."

However long he had been jumping across the cosmos, hundreds of lifetimes, thousands of them… It was a hell of a long time to learn how to be good at killing.




The kid's assessment of reality had been both spot on, and just slightly askew. Harry had been expecting that, though - people locked inside their heads tended to have a somewhat flawed grasp on reality, and considering however long it had been since the kid had been able to see or hear anything, it was downright amazing he had gotten it so close.

There was no big tube of liquid where the body floated like in a display case, and no enormous white laboratory sewn with bodies and body parts. Instead there was looked like nearly normal hospital ward, complete with monitors and curtains. Only, the bed was too wide and too strange and as Harry took over the kid's body - which was definitely not a kid's body - he found that he was attached to the bed in many disturbing ways.

Well. Months and years and who knew how long it had been in a coma - the body needed support. And it got it, apparently, with intravenous drips and gastric tubes and breathing apparatus - and various tubes in the lower section of the body, taking care of the excess material and fluid that the body had no need for. And he was also certain he was hooked up to some sort of brain scanner thing - there were lot of electrodes on his head.

Harry kept his eyes almost shut, frozen still and just taking in the room around him in careful glances, the steady beep of the monitors echoing in his ears. He wasn't exactly bound into the bed - though there were restraints, they seemed to be designed to stifle the body's natural reactions and possible convulsions, rather than escape attempts. It was the tubes that could've made escaping difficult. There were at least eight different intravenous drips going into his arms alone, making it somewhat risky to move his hands - even if the leather straps around his wrists would've allowed it. And he couldn't sit up, thanks to the electrodes on his head, the gastric tube…

And, of course, on top of everything there seemed to be at least five cameras aimed straight at him, no doubt recording his every breath.

But on the other hand… it wouldn't have been any fun if it was easy.

Closing his eyes for a moment, Harry examined the body. The kid hadn't been kidding when he had said that the Orochimaru fellow wanted a perfect body. The whole thing was tampered with - the muscles, the bones, the sinews, the walls of his blood veins, everything. Not to mention about the brain and nervous system. And even now, some half dozen drugs were running through the body, over and over in a continuous pump of enhancements and steroids, their mixture potent and incredibly accurate. If any single one of them had been the slightest bit off, the body would've probably given in and just burned.

The evil guy of this particular jump was one frighteningly competent bastard.

But, thanks to that, Harry had some excellent clay to work with. The body was, though still obviously under construction and not quite complete with its many treatments, incredible. Inhumanly strong, no doubt very fast also, and nimble - even without moving an inch, Harry could tell one could bend the body into knots and it wouldn't even notice it.

And then there was the power.

Harry just barely kept himself from humming. The people he jumped into always tended to have some power, be it magic or chi or mana or whatever the local people called it - it was all the same stuff, with slight variations. Some had little, some had much - but this body was obviously conditioned to have excessive amounts. Harry hadn't felt so much power since…

Well, since he had died.

The problem was; a man who created a body like this had a reason and a motive - and a base to work from. There was never a person so strong that there couldn't be someone stronger, Harry knew as much, and didn't bother with the notions that the body he currently inhabited was super strong or invincible. No, it was best to go with the assumption that in this world, the strength he had was actually weakness.

Expect the worst and you won't be surprised. He had learned that the hard way.

He had also learned, from skipping from body to body, that it was nice that his brand of magic wasn't attached to the body - but to the soul.

"Muffliato," he murmured around the breathing tube, using the body surrounding his soul as the focus he lacked, and opened his eyes as the monitoring equipment went into fits, losing the track of his heart and brain and letting out painful screeches of cacophony instead.

It was unlikely he had much time, so speed was probably of essence. "Wingardium… Leviosa…" he groaned out, and lashed out with his magic, taking hold of everything invading the body he was inhabiting, and gently using the spell to pull them out All the needles, the tubes – he nearly gagged as the breathing tube came out, and hissed a curse as the gastric tube pulled free from his stomach. The rest was definitely not any easier to ignore, but a few muttered healing spells - with especial attention spent on the hole left behind the gastric tube - and it was all forgotten.

Ripping the electrodes from his forehead and hair, Harry quickly sat up on the bed - or tried to. "Damn it. Alohamora!" he hissed and the belt around his neck quickly snapped open - as did the binds holding his hands and feet. As he sat up he found that he was completely naked, but that was hardly his main concern.

He managed to mutter the spell of disillusionment over himself and to step into the shadows of the curtains just in time, before a grey haired man with wide round glasses and purple vest rushed into the room, and to the bed where Harry had just been lying on. Before the man could do more than gape, Harry pointed a finger at him, mimicking the motion of holding a gun, and sent a petrifying charm at him.

Was this the terrifyingly skilled Orochimaru? Harry looked down to the relatively young man, who uselessly struggled against the hold of the spell - powered by eons of practice and nearly unbreakable now. No, he decided. The kid inside him - who was watching every move and seeing his every action, didn't feel hateful enough. The bespectacled young man was someone else, not the main villain of this play.

He would still play his part, Harry decided, and stepped over the frozen man. The man stared helplessly at nothing, eyes flickering left and right in vain search for his assailant. When the eyes flickered upwards and unknowingly met Harry's, Harry forced him to keep the eye contact. "Legilimens," he whispered with something like a smile, and with an ease that nearly surprised him he tore into the young man's mind.

His name was Kabuto, and despite everything he wasn't afraid. He had seen too much under Orochimaru's service, and his abilities protected him - even if his assailant would try and cause any damage, he would be able to regenerate. But he was worried - because Sasuke was supposed to be nearly brain dead by now; he couldn't have moved. Had someone broken into facility? The Konoha-nin, perhaps?

Harry took moment to appreciate the name - Sasuke, huh? Oddly enough, it seemed to fit the kid. Then the wizard dug ruthlessly deeper, dragging into light everything Kabuto knew about what was going on, about the facility, about Orochimaru, about everything. The facility, it turned out, was only one of many, this one solely dedicated to the task of turning Sasuke into a perfect body for Orochimaru. There were others - and Orochimaru himself, it seemed, wasn't present.

Instead there were about thirty soldiers of varying talents, and a couple of other medical specialist, working on Sasuke's body.

"Good to know," Harry murmured, pulling out from the man's mind. The security of the facility was much more lax than he had suspected - especially against threats from the inside. Sasuke was, after all, supposed to be brain dead and not a threat to anyone.

With a smile, Harry let the disillusionment charm fade away, as he crouched down on still frozen Kabuto. "Hello Kabuto," he said, tapping the man's nose almost gently. "I like your clothes."

Kabuto hnned in objection, staring at him with wide eyed shock, as Harry easily removed his clothes and pulled them on. They didn't quite fit - compared to Sasuke's enhanced body, Kabuto was fairly thin and small - but a couple of spells repaired that - and then fixed the colouring into a more appropriate black from the odd mixture of lavender and purple. While examining the pockets and trying to get used to the strange footwear, Harry discovered plenty of assorted weapons - needles, knifes, throwing stars - which he quickly discarded. He would have no need for them.

"Now," he said almost conversationally, and lifted the man off the floor with a spell. The fool of a man still wasn't afraid. Good for him. "You and I are going to go off on a little slaughter. I hope you don't mind, but I travel light," he said, and with a wave and a spell, forced one of the simplest transfiguration spells onto the man, ignoring the muffled screams of agony as Kabuto was shrunken from his usual size, to the size of a finger puppet.

With a satisfied smile Harry pushed the still frozen man into his pocket, before stretching his hands and running them through his hair. It was longer than he would've preferred and longer than the kid had led him to believe - long enough to easily reach his shoulder blades, actually - but that was beside the point. He had work to do. Namely, thirty highly trained warriors scattered across the building, behind locked doors and with cameras working as their eyes all over the facility. He would need to kill them all to make sure that Orochimaru wouldn't be warned of his, of "Sasuke's", miraculous awakening. First, though…

"Muffliato Maximus," he murmured, sending the spell nearly half a mile in every direction, easily covering the entire facility and making all the technology useless. He smiled, and almost absently set the bed and the curtains on fire as he walked out of the room. It was time to become the angel of justice, and nothing put him into a better divine retribution type of frame of mind than a nice big fire.

He encountered his first opponent just outside the door - two of them, actually, both men, both wearing similar colours as Kabuto had - both also with the Hidden Sound headbands. According to Kabuto's knowledge, they were all able warriors. But they made the mistake of sacrificing a split second of wide eyed shock at the sight of him - by the looks of him, they also had thought the term brain-dead would protect them - and to Harry's delight it turned out his assessment of Sasuke's body was spot on. It was fast. Very fast.

It had been very long time since he had launched any proper attack spells - the last jump had been pretty lame in that regard, not that he had minded the breather. Still, the cutting hex came out from his lips with satisfying precision and although most of the bodies Harry had inhabited had been able to channel magic, Sasuke's body was brilliant at it. The wide palm slashes seemed to come from it naturally, easily sending the magical attack straight where it hurt.

Sasuke's bloodstained mindscape had lacked the true result, though, Harry mused as he straightened his back, looking at the mess he had made by slicing the two assailants in half. The vision was about the same but the sounds - and the smell… Probably just as well - it wasn't very pleasant. Not at all suitable for little kids.

"Two down, twenty seven to go," Harry murmured, and turned away. He looked at his hands with appreciation, clenching Sasuke's strong fingers into fists. Rare were the worlds where he got such a useful body to work with - usually they tended to be weak and skinny, and often abused beyond recognition. This, though, this was nice.

He looked up as a door opened along the corridor he was walking, and a man wearing a headband glanced out - and then at him. Unlike the others, this man didn't immediately rush forward - only looked at Harry, then at the remains of his two co-workers - before quickly withdrawing back into the room. Harry chuckled softly - and then saw him returning, with four others, who were already holding weapons and one of them was already preparing a jutsu.

"Better," Harry said with approval and then chanted, "Protego," that enclosed into sphere of blue, that kept him untouched as one of the man roared fire at him and the others launched weapons. Harry laughed with honest delight - this world seemed to have interesting equivalent of magic, and the people were quick to react too! Most worlds didn't have that - people tended to spend a moment blustering and panicking. Not here, it seemed. It was a welcome change.

 Smiling he held up his hand as two of the four men rushed at him, with the other two preparing jutsu attacks. Pity he didn't have time to play. "Expulso Maximus," he said, and stayed standing only thanks to the shield he had cast, as the explosion rattled the corridor, and shook the walls and the ceiling, lighting everything on fire and then filling the corridor with smoke.

As he surveyed the damage - he had managed to make holes into the floor, the walls and the ceiling, turning the corridor into a three level room - he couldn't help but snort. Once upon a time he would've never been able to do that - not for the lack of power or ability, but force of will. Once upon a time, the sight of the smoking, burned bodies would've made him violently ill and sent him into a yearlong circle of nightmares.

Back when human civilisations hadn't looked like playing grounds. And, after couple of hundred of them, they rather did.

Shaking his head, Harry moved ahead and, knowing that the facility was underground, began climbing the ruined walls to the level above him. There were two other levels to go - and twenty three people to kill. And, with the explosion announcing his arrival, and making everyone aware of him… the battle was on.




In the end, taking over the entire facility took him about an hour. After the first ten or so people had attacked him and fallen in the process, the rest of them had gotten cautious and quick, trying to catch him unawares and going to some lengths in the attempt to defeat him. The warriors of this world really had some strange powers, Harry had found, as they had launched the elements after him and one of them had, for some reason, summoned enormous goats to fight him.

He was never ever going to laugh at goats again. They gave him one hell of a fight.

The last warrior had been hardest to take down - not because of his skill, though he had certainly good amount of it, but because of his sheer desperation. The fact that the man hadn't been trying to defeat him as much as he had been trying to get away had also made things difficult - people who were trying to escape tended to be the quickest on their feet. Sasuke's body, though, was incredibly fast - catching the man hadn't been that difficult, and the fight had ended in the "front yard" of the experimental facility, where the man had eventually fallen when Harry had managed to overwhelm his odd shield of earth and decapitate him with a well aimed cutting hex.

It was, without doubt the most exciting hour he had had in a while and, however immoral and monstrous it made him in the terms of his old, young self, he had enjoyed every moment of it. Sasuke's body was definitely an interesting thing, and he doubted he would get the chance to inhabit such a creation in a while, so he was pulling all the stops to make it worth it.

"Now then, let's see if there's anything interesting here," he murmured to himself while leaving the last fallen warrior on the field above the facility, and heading back down. There were computers to look into and files to read - he had learned long ago that there was power in details and disregarding those details tended to come back to haunt him. It was best he read up on what the opponents had been doing, before launching an attach at the next secret hideout.

Of course the computer files were all password protected and encrypted on top of it, but thankfully he had a pocket translator. Kabuto was a little more wide eyed and little more horrified when Harry unshrunk him, staring at the two guards Harry had splattered across the walls, but Harry didn't give him any time to gather his wits. "Kabuto," he said almost gently. "Don't think about the computers and the passwords." Then, as the man threw a wide eyed look at him, Harry broke into his mind again. It was amazing how well it worked every time - tell someone not to think about something and, regardless of their mental training, and it popped up to the forefront of their minds.

After throwing some ropes around the grey haired medic-nin to make sure that he wouldn't be able to escape that easily even if he did overcome the Petrificus Totalus, Harry shrunk him again and hid him in his pocket. Then he turned to the computers and began preparing for his next bit of homework.

And had Kabuto ever been busy. The level of horrible precision and determination put into Sasuke's horrifying transformation was... in a word, impressive. Enhanced strength and speed and such were just one thing - the body had been conditioned out of its usual "chakra alignment" into all of them, until the chart was even at all sides. Usually Harry would've scoffed at the very notion - making someone even at everything made him often fairly average at everything, but not in this case. Sasuke's fire and lightning alignment's had been high - and everything else had been lifted to match. And the process to make the body that way had been long and fairly cruel.

"And what is this..." Harry murmured, as he looked through the files about some sort of cursed seal. It was complete with pictures and diagrams, making him aware of the tomoe-seal on his shoulder. Tugging the collar of his shirt out of the way, Harry glanced at the seal, rubbing his hand over it. He hadn't noticed it before - and no wonder. Two and half years ago, when Sasuke's treatments had began, the seal had been painfully obvious, like a gaping wound on the shoulder, draining chakra and stamina. The time in between had made a great difference - the mark was little less than a mark now while the curse underneath it was body wide. He hadn't noticed anything amiss because nothing had been amiss - Sasuke's entire body carried the curse naturally now. Or as naturally as someone could carry a curse.

Harry smiled grimly at the feeling of revulsion coming from the kid himself, as he realised the lengths of his body's mutations. Realisations like this were a bitch. He still couldn't help but admire Orochimaru for all of this. It was really, really great work - among the best he had seen so far. It was a pity the bastard was utterly completely evil - he could've done some amazing things with abilities like this.

After reading the rest of the files and figuring the rough limits and strengths of Sasuke's body - and figuring out that he probably wouldn't ever be able to activate the cursed seal, as it relied on negative emotions and he was fairly bad at those - Harry moved onto the other folders. There were mentions of dozens and dozens of other experiments and about as many hidden facilities in which they were being completed in. Most of them were light compared to what had been done to Sasuke, while others were worse. What caught his interest was the test number 57 and the test subject S57-M14 - the only survivor of about fifty or so children, all who had been created from Sasuke's semen.

The kid himself didn't seem too interested about that - he was still somewhat hung on the things done to him. Harry shrugged at him. "Well, it's something to look into later," he mused, and finished with the computer. After launching some destructive magic onto the computers, turning them into scatters of scrap metal, Harry turned to the paperwork and glanced over the latest of Kabuto's and Orochimaru's work. It was mostly more of the same, but there was a single sentence reference in a file, that made him pause. Something about Sasuke's status on the Bingo Book being completely wrong.

Hadn't Harry seen something like that on one of the people he had killed? Yes, one of them had been talking about his own status in the Bingo Book, stating that he wouldn't be as easy an opponent as the rest. Harry had given him the pleasure of dying in a reversed Protego - one so strong, that it had prevented even air from passing through.

Now curious, Harry went looking for the bodies he had left behind, going through their pockets until he found the relatively unharmed body that had been brandishing the book like it was some sort of lethal weapon. Crouching beside the body, Harry leafed through the book, his eyebrows rising. It seemed to be some sort of archive of powerful warriors - all of them with ratings, lists of known history, skills and kills and, on the bottom of each page there was the price on their head.

Kabuto, it seemed, was worth about thirty thousand Ryo - fifty, if caught alive.

"Very interesting," Harry mused, and looked at the dead man. When dead, he had the price of ten thousand Ryo, thanks to the fact that he had couple of years back killed a high class noble of the Earth Country. Apparently the man was also a known earth Ninjutsu user which made it kind of ironic how he had died. Wind, apparently, was a weakness for earth users.

"I think I'm starting to get the hang of this," Harry said, while throwing a shrinking charm at the dead man, and putting him into his pocket. One more thing he had learned - his summoners tended to be happy if he made some income for them on the way, and wasting a good bounty wasn't his style anyway. He would need a portable ice box or something to carry the man in - who knows when or if he would get the chance to visit a bounty office of some sort, he didn't want the body to rot on the way.

As he went around the facility, checking if the other dead guys had any usable bounties and if he could find the said ice box, Harry cast some fire magic around himself, setting the rooms he had visited on fire. It was a good enough way to mark the places he had seen and walked through so that he wouldn't mistakenly check the same routes. By the time he was finished - and located another, five thousand Ryo bounty - the entire facility was covered in smoke, and he had had to cast some protective charms and a bubble head charm to stop himself from passing out. Despite super human strength and all, even Sasuke was dependant on oxygen.

"That's about it. I think we're done here," Harry mused, after raiding the facility's kitchens for the needed ice box - and some food, Merlin only knew when Sasuke had eaten properly. As he headed upwards and towards the surface, he cast a couple more fire charms to make sure everything burned nice and bright. It would've been easier just to release some Fiendfyre on the place - but he wasn't that good with the spell and he didn't have the time to stick around to make sure that the spell stopped eventually. With his luck he would just make the kid's first wish come true and make sure the world did, indeed, burn. Normal fire was the safer option.

By the time he made it to the surface, a column of smoke was rising from the hideout, heading upwards like great pillar. For a moment Harry cursed himself - nice job he had done, keeping the whole thing secret. Everyone within thirty miles could see the pillar. But there was nothing he could do about that. He shook his head, making a mental note not to go with fire the next time, and after throwing the man he had killed on the surface back into the hideout so that all evidence would be erased, he hoisted the ice box to his shoulder and headed off.

The next facility out was about ten miles away - this one was much larger and with about fifty guards. And considering that they were probably seeing what was going on here, there was no time to waste.

Behind his mind, the kid asked if he would kill them too - and how would he able to do that, after they had seen the smoke. They were sure to be at high alert. Harry merely smiled. "I still got a couple of tricks up my sleeve," he answered, and ran. At Sasuke's speed, he would be able to reach the facility in no time at all. As he went, a simple plan formed in his head. Whether it would work or not, though... well, not knowing was part of the fun.

Inside his mind, the kid very nearly called him a monster. No, not a monster, Harry answered, amused. He had just learned to enjoy the little things in his non-life.

When he reached the other hideout - which, much like the first one, was build underground with the entrance well hidden - he left the ice box hidden among the bushes and protected by a notice-me-not charm. Then he approached the entrance with a slight limp, with some blood trickling down his forehead, his left eye shut with pain and hand clutching his chest. The sentries noticed him soon enough, and as he limped closer, they were quick to approach him. "Stop right here! Don't move a muscle!"

"Oh, thank god," Harry breathed out. "There was... there was an attack!" he motioned haphazardly behind him. "I woke up and everything, everything was burning. Where is Orochimaru? He needs to know - Kabuto --" he gasped and fell to his knees - and as he very nearly fell to the ground face first, the first sentry moved automatically forward to catch him.

Harry chanted a silent spell in his head, easily sending it through the close contact and into the woman touching him. "Oh, shit, he's injured!" the woman said and Harry carefully hid a smile. Success. "We need to take him inside!"

"Wait, we shouldn't be just --" the other sentry started.

"Don't you know who this is? It's Orochimaru's important experiment, the Uchiha! He'll skewer us if we let him die!" The first sentry, now trying to pull Harry up to his feet, said. "Come on, help me out here. We can put him into a holding cell or something, but we need to stop him from bleeding to death right here and now!"

"Oh... fine, but it's on your head," the other sentry said, and came to support Harry from the other side. The spell caught him just as easily as it had caught the woman, and quickly the two began dragging nearly unresponsive Harry towards the hideout entrance.

Inside, they were approached by another warrior, who looked at them suspiciously but nodded when they explained what had supposedly happened. "Get back to your stations - I'll handle him," the man said, and as the two sentries transferred Harry to the man, Harry quickly slapped the spell onto him as well.

"Okay, Uchiha, tell me what happened," the man ordered, and while dragging him into the corridors inside, Harry gasped out his tale, more to the benefit of the security cameras than the man. A couple more of guards soon joined him to take the burden from the man so that he could 'start arranging a party to be sent to the other hideout' and as Harry nailed them with the spell too, he figured it was about enough.

Bring me five more, he sent the orders to the five warriors under his Imperios, and they were quick to follow the order. The man who had taken him from the sentries - who, apparently, was the leader of the facility - ordered a couple of medic-nin to take care of Harry, and then three other guards to carry him while the two under Imperios went with him. Harry was quick to bring the new guards and the medic-nin under his control as well, and with ten people as his small private army, he set them to work.

While he sent a Muffliato to scramble the communications and disillusioned himself, his mind controlled puppets were sent forward. A good twenty people were knifed in the back in silence before anyone noticed - and after that, the odds against Harry and his little army were evened out nicely. Chuckling with delight, Harry sent the imperioed shinobi at the still untagged ones, and watched the fighting that ensued from behind a protective shield.

Ninja were really something. "I could seriously get used to this place," he murmured, folding his arms as his puppets and their opponents clashed in epic battles of elements and blades. His puppets had one advantage the others didn't, though, and that tipped the scales slightly to his benefit even if the opposition still had a slight advantage in numbers. People under Imperius didn't feel pain - and, even if they’re tired, they don't stop.

"Find Uchiha Sasuke! He did this somehow!" one of their opponents screeched out. "Kill him; they'll stop if you just kill --"

The young woman was silenced with a light, carefully aimed cutting hex that tore through her throat, ripping it open but without complete decapitation. Harry had decapitated the second bounty and he didn't want to go through the trouble of gathering bits if it turned out that these people were worth money. It was best to keep all limbs attached.

Everything was over rather quickly, making Harry regret the efficiency of his simple plan. Still, it had been better to be safe than sorry - even he wasn't confident enough to go head to head with fifty opponents when they were aware that he was coming. Shaking his head and deciding to go with a different, more interesting plan at the next place, Harry went out looking for the computers and files, figuring he might as well get his reading done here too. Knowing what they were doing here would be interesting. Orochimaru had assigned fifty guards to this place, after all, when Sasuke for all his importance had only merited thirty or so. It had to mean that something special was afoot here.

And it was. It turned out that the hideout was Orochimaru's prized gene bank - with the majority of his carefully collected genetic material stored in the vaults. Samples from powerful clans and bloodline limit users... it also had a collection of some of Orochimaru's ninjutsu collection - with almost ten summoning scrolls on top of it.

"I so believe I hit the jackpot," Harry murmured. While sending a couple of his puppets to fetch the ice box and the others to collect everyone with a possible bounty on their head, he himself headed down to the vaults. Amusingly enough they were more like the kid's mental representation of his reality - an enormous laboratory with huge glass tubes and some thousand smaller ones. It seemed that Orochimaru was nothing if not thorough.

"Well, hello. What do we have here," he murmured, walking to one of the enormous glass tubes and pressing his palm against it. Unlike the others, this wasn't part of the cooling system or a refinery of this or that genome. This one was a container - and judging by the sounds coming for it, it was one meant to store a living, albeit liquid, being. "I think I've read about you. Hozuki Suigetsu, wasn't it?"

"Who the hell are you?" the water inside the tube asked.

"No one of any importance," Harry answered, and slashed the enormous tube open with a cutting hex, stepping aside as the water spilled out in an enormous gust. As he watched, a head and then a torso formed out of the water, and then the white haired man forming from the water looked up to him suspiciously.

"Why?" he asked.

Harry smiled, crouching next to him. "Why not?" he asked, and lifted the water-creature's chin with a single finger. "You wouldn't happen to have a bounty on your head Hozuki Suigetsu?"

"Not that I know of," the water creature hissed, pulling back from the touch and baring sharp teeth at him. "Who the hell are you? One of Orochimaru's bastard henchmen?"

Harry chuckled. "Not quite," he said, and stood up again, while the water-creature solidified into the naked form of a man. If the man didn't have a bounty and he wasn't supporter of Orochimaru, then he held no importance to Harry. The gene bank, on other hand... "Now, what would be the easiest way to destroy this place," he murmured, stepping forward and examining the rows upon rows of carefully preserved sample tubes. Oh what heart break it would cause to Orochimaru, to see them be destroyed.

"Cut the cooling feed - they'll spoil within couple of hours if you do," the water-creature said, now looking at him thoughtfully. "Or, if you're in hurry, just smash them open."

Harry nodded. It seemed viable enough. "Just to be sure, let's do both. Watch yourself, Suigetsu, this is going to be messy," he warned, and after enclosing himself in a Protego, he started throwing destruction at the tubes of cooling liquids, showering the floor with near acidic liquid. After that, he turned to the rows of sample tubes and started tossing Expulsos and Reductos at them, sending glass shards and fire everywhere.

"Shit!" the water creature hissed, trying to get away from the acidic cooling liquids by climbing onto the pedestal of his former containment tube. "Warn a guy before you do something like that! You have any idea how much that would've hurt, you bastard?"

"Plenty, I'm sure," Harry nodded, and lowered his hand to inspect the damage. It looked as if all of the samples were destroyed - and if they weren't the lack of cooling system would sent them rotting soon enough. "Well then. Time to move on."

"Oi, oi, oi! You can't just leave me here, you asshole!" the water-creature hissed. "The floor is covered with that stuff - how the hell am I supposed to get out?!"

"I'm sure you would find a way. I'm not obliged to help you," Harry answered, shrugging his shoulder.

"Then what, exactly, are you obligated to do?!" the water creature hissed.

Harry shrugged, and motioned at the ruined wall of samples. "More of that," he said almost pleasantly and then gave the water-creature a thoughtful look. "Unless you have something to make it worthwhile for me. I'm afraid my days of saving people just for free are long gone."

The white haired man hissed. "I'll serve you for a while! I've got nothing else!" he growled. "Anything, just help me out of here!"

Harry snorted. "Well, I suppose I could do with a servant, for a while," he said, and aimed a single finger at the man, sending a levitation charm at him. Then, while the white haired water creature hissed in outrage, he began walking towards the exit, with the man floating after him, cursing up a storm.

"There," Harry said, setting the white haired man. "Grab some clothing for yourself, would you? There should be plenty to pick from."

"What do you mean?" Suigetsu asked, and then noticed the bodies littering the floor. "Oh. Okay then," he nodded, and without any visible disgust about the dead, he went and began practically scavenging them

Harry, without waiting him to finish, moved forward. He didn't want to burn the place, so he looked around to see a best way to destroy the facility. A well aimed earthquake could do wonders for the place, but he wasn't very good at that type of magic. "Suigetsu," he called over his shoulder. "You wouldn't happen to know any good water jutsu?"

"Some. Why?" the man called back, confused.

"I'm thinking this place could use nice little flooding."

There was a silence, and after pulling on a shirt, Suigetsu jogged after him. "I like the way you think," he grinned blood thirstily. "There wouldn't happen to be anyone alive here?"

"Some people under my control," Harry nodded. Three had died in the battles, but the rest, while fairly wounded and not in best of health, were still kicking. For the moment. "I have no long lasting use for them, though, and once they've served their purpose I will dispose them."

The white haired man eyed him for a moment and then grinned. "I like you!" he decided. "Can I do it?"

Harry gave him a slightly amused look. Maybe helping him hadn't been that of a bad idea - it was always nice to have some likeminded company. "Why not? Just wait for my word, they still have stuff to do."

By the time they made it to the surface, the puppets had done as he had ordered and fetched everything worthwhile and the ice box Harry had hidden in the forest. There were three more people with bounties among the group - one of them being the head of the facility, who was still alive and under Imperius. While inspecting the bodies and making sure they were recognizable, Harry waved Suigetsu to work. "Do whatever you like - just make sure not to harm the leader. He has a fifteen thousand Ryo bounty on him and I want to collect it."

"Sure thing, boss," Suigetsu said gleefully, and after stealing the sword from said leader, he went about testing it's sharpness on Harry's former puppets. Harry shook his head with amusement at the water-creature's glee, and quickly shrunk down the bounties and placed them among the others in the icebox, doing the same to the leader after Suigetsu had stabbed him a couple of times.

"Okay, so. Now what? We're gonna make run for it? Go and collect the bounties?" Suigetsu asked after cleaning the sword.

"We're going to take the rest of the bodies back inside, and then you are going to flood the facility," Harry corrected. "I want to completely ruin it, so feel free to be rough about it. After that's done, I will head south towards the next of Orochimaru's hideouts, and repeat the process."

"Oh. Wait. You're not escaping?" Suigetsu asked, frowning.

"What's the fun in that?" Harry answered, closing the lid of the ice box and sealing it shut. "No, I'm going to kill Orochimaru and every person who works for him."

The water creature gave him a wide eyed look. "Are you insane? You have to be if you think you can, I mean, that's Orochimaru. Isn't he like, immortal?"

Harry snorted. "I'm sure I will figure something out," he said, and began levitating the bodies back into the hideout. It wouldn't be the first - or probably the last - time he killed someone who was supposedly immortal. "Come on now, Suigetsu. The hideout is getting thirsty."

Giving him a partially worried and partially awed look, the water creature got to work - and Harry had to admit, it was no wonder Orochimaru had kept him sealed up in a tube. As he created a veritable tsunami out of thin air, he had to wonder if Sasuke was capable of similar feats. Even magic couldn't create that much water in such a short time.

"I sent a couple of water dragons down there," Suigetsu grinned, after finishing some ten minutes of hand seals. "They will make sure there will be nothing left to salvage."

"Hm. Good," Harry nodded, making a mental note to check water dragons at some point. In hindsight, it probably would've been best if he had collected Orochimaru's jutsu library before destroying the place - there might've been some interesting stuff there, but… nah. He had no use for ninjutsu. His magic served him just fine.

"I'm going to head off now. The southern hideout is in desperate need of… renovation," Harry said, hoisting the ice box on his shoulder again. "You're welcome to take off to wherever you like, Suigetsu. If you're going to cower at the notion of killing Orochimaru, then I have no need for you."

"I'm not cowering! I just don't think you could do it," the white haired man hissed in answer before giving him a look. "But you obviously do."

"Orochimaru is weaker than people think," Harry smiled, thinking back to what he had learned from Kabuto. "Roughly three years ago, there was a fight that ruined his hands, he hasn't been able to do much with them since. He still won't be easy to beat, but it's not as impossible as you seem to think."

"… huh. You really think so?" Suigetsu murmured, while sheathing the stolen sword and tying it to his hip. "Well, fine then, Boss. Try not to get us both killed."

"I'll do my very best. Come on," Harry nodded, and together they took off to the forest, leaving behind a ruined hideout and forty seven dead bodies floating in it.




As they ran, Suigetsu told him what he knew of the southern hideout and its leader. Unlike the two first ones, the southern hideout was a big facility, and although it had only about as many guards as the sample facility, it had twice as many prisoners. "Testing subjects. Orochimaru performs his main experiments there," the water-creature said, as they ran. "And Karin - the bitch who leads the place - she adores him."

"Karin. I read about her," Harry murmured. Kabuto had known something too. Red haired and eyed woman, good medic-nin - ruthless scientist.

"She and I, we're about the same age. We were together a lot when Orochimaru performed experiments on us," Suigetsu muttered, grimacing. "She's got lousy attitude, that bitch. Likes Orochimaru a lot, despite everything. She's a sensor, too, so she'll probably know when we get too close."

"Not if I have anything to do with it," Harry mused, smiling. Muffliato was one of the most useful spells in the universe - it worked on all sort of eavesdropping methods, be they natural, technological or magical. And with a notice-me-not charm slapped over it, no one even noticed the muffling effect. "Do you know anything about the fighting force of the place?"

"Nothing specific, but Orochimaru isn't a cheapskate when it comes to security. Although, I guess you know that by now," Suigetsu grinned. "Why'd you want to go there anyway?"

"It's closest," Harry answered. And it was where test subject S57-M14 was held.

"If you're going to be jumping around like this, Orochimaru's going to find out there's someone after him," the water creature noted.

Harry smiled at him. "Ask me if I care."

Suigetsu gave in a slightly unimpressed look. "He's going to have time to prepare."

That made the wizard chuckle. "I'll be looking forward to that, then," he murmured. He still had couple of tricks up his sleeve and, really… element of surprise was interesting, at times, and could be useful, but when he had a final battle, he wanted it to be magnificent. The better prepared Orochimaru was, the more interesting it would get.

Besides, it wasn't like he had anything to lose. He was already dead and even if he died in the attempt of trying to kill Orochimaru and all his forces, all it meant that he would have another jump to another world to look forward to. It wasn't like this world meant anything to him.

The way to the southern hideout was long and hard. They came to the shore of the ocean. The hideout was on an island that just visible on the horizon. Unlike Suigetsu and no doubt all capable ninjas, Harry couldn't walk on water. With some practice he supposed he could've figured out a way to do it, but he didn't have the time or the patience for that.

"And here I thought you were kind of cool. What kind of ninja can't chakra walk?" Suigetsu asked, idly bobbing up and down atop the waves.

"Shut up, and don't judge a book by its cover," Harry answered, glancing around. There were enough trees around, he supposed, for a bit of transfiguration. Setting the ice box down, he picked couple of thick trees, and cut them with couple of hexes. They fell down with rumble and rustle, and while Suigetsu gave him a strange look, Harry went about stripping them bare of any branches. Then, once he was done with that, he threw the trunks together and transfigured them into a boat.

"I'm not sure if I'm supposed to be impressed or not," Suigetsu murmured, as Harry floated the simple boat onto the water.

"Just try to keep up," Harry grinned, and after making sure his ice box was securely on board, he aimed a hand to the water behind the boat, and cast the equivalent of continuous banishing charm.

It worked better than a motor would've, and while Suigetsu looked after him with wide eyes, Harry shot forward in his crudely transfigured boat, easily leaving him at his wake.

The trip to the island lasted little more than ten minutes, and with Muffliato and Notice-me-not charms firmly in place, they reached the shore without anyone seemingly noticing them. After getting up from the boat and carefully hiding his precious ice box behind the rocks of the shore, Harry stretched his arms. He was finally starting to get a little tired. Sasuke's body was really something.

"Now what, Boss?" Suigetsu asked a little breathlessly after catching up with him.

"Now we play the part of the bad guys," Harry answered, and placed his hand on top of Suigetsu's head, casting a disillusionment charm on him. "There, that should give you bit of an advantage."

"Nice," the water creature murmured, now looking like nothing but the frames of a distant mirage. "How long it will last?"

"For as long as I want it to. I don't know how it will react if you liquefy, though, so watch for that," Harry said, and enchanted an island wide Muffliato. "Alright. Let's go."

"What about you?" Suigetsu asked. "You're still visible."

"Yeah. And people will see me and think I'm all there is, and thus they won't see you stabbing them in the back. Think of it as a test, Suigetsu," Harry said, flicking the invisible man's nose. "If you get through this without anyone finding you out, you will get some brownie points."

With that said, he headed forward. Unlike in other hideouts, the entrance to this one wasn't in the ground, but rather in the cliffs of the rocky island - as was the hideout itself. It was a good enough way to hide the place, Harry mused. The island was mostly uninhabitable, so no one had ever had any reason to check it out - and the location and the geography of the island turned it into a natural fortress. Orochimaru was no  fool when it came to creating hideouts.

"Knock knock," Harry said, and blew the hideout entrance open with an explosive attack spell. "Anyone home?" he asked, and grinned at the sight of a good ten people, weapons drawn and, by the looks of it, waiting for him. "Hello. Mind if I drop in for a bit?" he greeted them - and that was about as far as he got to, before they attacked.

Harry had to admit, after the fight, that disillusioning Suigetsu had been a stroke of brilliance. These ten hadn't been fooling around - and he had to wonder if they had known about his abilities, if someone from the previous two hideouts had gotten a word through after all. It had almost seemed like they had been anticipating his shields and had been doing their best to overwhelm them and not give him the time to counterattack. One of them had even tried to dig under him with an earth jutsu, but that didn't work because Harry's Protego wasn't just a semi-sphere

Still, it had been tough, and might've gotten a bit difficult with five shinobi continuously sending ninjutsu at him, not to mention about the one that had been trying to distract him with a genjutsu - and the rest had been waiting for the moment his shield failed. Only, Suigetsu had been there - and he definitely could swing a sword. While the ten had been occupied with Harry, Suigetsu tore through them like wheat, cutting them down with a dance of blades, stealing one more from his opponents and sending the rest down in flurry of slashes and swipes. In just handful of seconds, Suigetsu got them all.

"Very nice," Harry commented, once it was over.

"Being invisible helps, I think," Suigetsu answered, as the disillusion trickled down the blade of his newly acquired second sword, and made it invisible as well. "You need to teach this trick to me."

"Maybe later," Harry said, adjusting the collar of his shirt absently. "Ten down, forty or so to go."

"Plus Karin," Suigetsu agreed.

"Plus her. If you see her, though, don't kill her. I might need her knowledge," Harry answered, and together they headed forward.

The hideout was, as Suigetsu had said and Harry had read, bigger than the others - but not because of its intricate corridors or complex basement. No, as whole it was just much larger - the hallways, the rooms, even the numerous prison cells lining the hallways, they were all very large. It was obviously a place meant to be inhabited by a great number of people - and to allow the movement of large machinery, Harry noted as they saw a giant medical scanner, standing in middle of one of the corridors.

"I heard fighting. There was fighting at the entrance!" one of the prisoners said, leaning forward to look through the bars. "You, hey, you! What's going on? What's happening?"

Harry glanced at him and then at the twenty or so prisoners in the cell with him. "Re-management," he said. "You're all test subjects, aren't you? Orochimaru's prisoners."

"Yeah," the prisoner answered frowning. "Re-management? What is that supposed to be? Who are you? What is… what is going to happen?"

Harry smiled. It never hurt to have some distraction and organised chaos at his back, he mused, and glanced at the other cells. "Alohomora," he enchanted, waving his hand around him and opening all the locks in the hall. "You might want to make a run for it," he said to the shocked prisoners, as they cell doors swing open.

"Why?" Suigetsu asked under his breath, as Harry continued on through the corridor. Behind them, a couple of the prisoners had stepped out - and then they all were rushing out urgently, hurriedly making their escape.

"For the fun of it," Harry answered, and blasted open the door at the end of the corridor. "Anyone home?" he called amusedly into the large room, filled with Shinobi. These ones were a bit more cautious than the ones before, and although they were obviously ready, some had even erected earthen walls to use as shields, they were holding for a moment, just observing.

Harry grinned. They had organized a party for him. How nice. "Oh, we're going to have a blast, aren't we? Expulso! Reducto!" he cast, and felt Suigetsu rushing past him, eager to jump into the fray. Fighting with him running around and invisible was a bit hard for Harry, as he couldn't cast any high damage spells like his very favourite exploding hexes without the risk of hitting him, but it was nothing he couldn't overcome. With the shield firmly in place, Harry held both his hands forward for two handed spell casting. "Expelliarmus," he enchanted and grinned as the knives and throwing stars were ripped from their wielders, along with the swords and needles and everything else. They flew in to the air in a mad scatter, before stopping in place as Harry caught them with a levitation spell and held on.

For a moment it rained metal, as the wizard send the weapons back at their former wielders. He did hit some of them, but most managed duck under the way - and while they did, for about ten seconds there was no ninjutsu flying, no attacks, no distractions - and everyone was an open target.

Making sure to not aim to the direction where people were getting cut and stabbed by Suigetsu's invisible blades, Harry sliced through the air with his cutting hexes. "Sectumsempra, Diffindo!" he enchanted over and over again, and in satisfying displays of blood and gore, his targets were split open. Most of the attacks weren't immediately lethal - but it was very distracting to have your insides fall to the floor. It was, in fact, so effective as a means of distracting their opponents that Harry ditched the cutting hexes for a moment, and concentrated on entrail-expelling curses.

The opponents were brought down quickly enough, and after the mess Harry's spells had made of them, Suigetsu was performing them a favour when he, invisible and silent, snuck up on them as they helplessly tried to gather their insides. "You are one ruthless bastard," the water creature noted with a grimace clearly discernible in his voice.

"You have no idea," Harry grinned, picking one of the knives from the floor and examining it. He had ignored them before, the design was strange and oddly heavy - but after throwing a handful of them with levitation magic, he had to admit that the design wasn't bad. They were obviously created to be thrown - and the accuracy was very impressive.

Whirling the knife on his finger by the odd hoop at the end of its handle, Harry glanced around. So, twenty or so down. More to go. "Let's move on, there are still people here left."

"Yes, sir," Suigetsu answered, and cut open the locked door before Harry managed to cast an Alohamora. Harry shook his head with amusement, and followed him out, still whirling the knife.

It turned out, actually, that that was it. They encountered no more opposition and found the rest of the rooms and corridors empty - expect for prisoners, of course, whom they all released as they encountered them. "I think they've taken a hike," Suigetsu mused, after they had decided that there were no traps waiting for them, no ambushes. "There're lot of escape routes here."

"I suppose thinking that they'd all play nice and stay indoors like in the previous places was too much to hope for. It’s easier to keep people indoors when there's only one viable exit," Harry sighed, and opened the door to the last unchecked room - which, he knew, was the laboratory.

Unlike the place where Sasuke's body had been kept, or the gene bank where Suigetsu had been, this place was oddly comfortable. There were actual couches there, even some flowers on a vase standing on the table between the couches. Someone had tried to make the place more habitable, it seemed, but Harry wasn't as interested about the decor, as he was of the red haired woman - and the black haired child she was holding.

"Karin, I presume?" Harry asked, while looking at the child she was holding - with a knife held onto the boy's throat. The child looked very much like the kid did - he had the same pale skin, the same black eyes and hair, only while Sasuke's mental child form was something like six years old, this boy was only two, if even that. It also seemed that the files about S57-M14 hadn't been lying. The kid was empty eyed and seemingly lifeless, hanging onto the woman's grip without struggling, without doing anything - without any hint of awareness in his eyes.

"Stay back, or I will kill him," the spectacled red haired woman hissed. "He's the reason you're here, right? Try anything and it'll be over for him."

"And you think that after you kill him, I'd let you live?" Harry asked, more amused than worried. He had wanted to see the kid, Sasuke's kid, more out of curiosity than anything else - the mindless boy held no importance to him. "Your plan kind of sucks, Karin."

The woman swallowed, the hand holding the knife on the kid's throat shaking a little. "Sasuke," she said, almost whined. "I… I understand why you're doing this. A-after all the things Orochimaru did, after all the things he promised, I would want revenge too! But I had nothing to do with it - I fought against him, I told him you'd be stronger if he trained you, not --"

Harry cleared his throat. "Kindly stop wasting my time and cut to the chase," he demanded. Whimpered explanations weren't his thing, not really, and he had places to be to later on.

"Let me live," the woman said immediately. "I'll do anything. Just don't kill me!"

The wizard chuckled. "As I hear it, you're one of Orochimaru's most devoted followers," he said, stepping forward and making the woman back away against a table covered with monitors and keyboards. "Letting you live would serve little purpose for me, now would it, when you'd be sure to betray me at the first chance."

"I wouldn't, I swear, I wouldn't!" Karin cried. "Do you remember, back then, three years ago? During the Chuunin exams at Konoha? You saved me in the Forest of Death. Ever since then I've been… I've respected you, I don't want to…" she swallowed, trying to step aside as Harry took another step closer. "Please, you have to believe me. If it's a choice between you or Orochimaru - I choose you, I'd always choose you!"

"You've had that choice, haven't you? For the past years, you've had that choice," Harry said, following her until she was literally backed away into a corner. He smiled, and reached out to flick her nose lightly. "But with your strength, I imagine it was terrifying, the very concept of going against someone like Orochimaru. You poor girl," he said almost kindly. "The thing is, though, that I have no use for you, do I? If you want to live, you will have to give me something a little more concrete than words."

"Anything, everything! I'll tell you everything I know about Orochimaru, about his forces and weaknesses, his hideouts!" she nearly screeched, slithering down on the corner with eyes wide with terror, arms clutching to the child she was still holding - though now it looked like she was trying to find comfort and protection in him, rather than to threaten him. "My abilities as chakra sensor, my ability to heal people who bite me, everything! I'll serve you, I'll, I'll do anything! I'd even wear your mark! Please!"

"My mark," Harry murmured, nor amused. She meant the fan of the Uchiha - the ping-pong paddle thing - and not his mark. Is she had known Harry's mark, the mark of the Master of Death, she wouldn't have said it. "Heh," Harry snorted. "You'd take my mark willingly."

"Yes!" she nodded frantically. "I'll take your mark, I'll carry it until I die, please!"

Harry chuckled and crouched before her. "You silly little girl," he said and reached out to brush her hair aside gently. "Selling your soul so easily. I have no need for it, though, and you would make a bad travelling companion in my travels through eternity," he said, and flicked her nose. The fact that she would go so far to save her own hide, though, that told something. "But for now, you may live. Betray me and you will die in horrible agony. Do you understand, Karin?"

The woman let out a shuddering breath of relief, and nodded. Satisfied, Harry took the limp child from her arms, and stood up.

"What the hell?" Suigetsu asked from the doorway.

"We have another companion, it seems," Harry answered, while holding up the empty child of Sasuke's and eying him thoughtfully. Something was wrong. The kid wasn't as drugged as he had thought, and yet his eyes were completely blank. Harry frowned before carrying the kid to a nearby table and placing him down, so that he could get his hands free. Concentrating a little and ignoring how Karin struggled to get to her feet, Harry placed his palm onto the kid's forehead and sent his senses down into him.

It wasn't just that the kid was without awareness. He was more or less perfectly healthy and his brain was undamaged. The lack of intelligence came from lack of a spirit. The kid was really empty - it was as if he had been kissed by a Dementor. "Interesting," Harry murmured, pulling back his hand and eyeing the empty kid thoughtfully. "Was he like this when he was born?" he asked, turning to Karin.

"Ah… yes. We… we thought it was side effect of the experimentation," the red haired woman said, blinking and running her hand over her clothes, as if trying to make sure she was still in one piece. Then she quickly straightened her back and regained her composure, looking for all the world as if nothing had happened at all. "All the other children died, either at birth or soon after - and as far as we know, they all had similar mental condition."

"Hm," Harry nodded, stroking a finger over his chin. Interesting. Usually things done to the body affected the soul by ruining it, like what had happened to Sasuke. To get a result like complete lack of a spirit, that was different. "You experimented on him and the others before they were even born then. What was the experimentation?"

The woman frowned. "… attempted infusion of two bloodline limits," she admitted. "Orochimaru wanted someone with both the Sharingan and the Mokuton bloodline. We thought it was impossible, of course, and most of the kids were born… malformed. Obviously we have no way of knowing if S57-M14 has either Sharingan or the Mokuton, he might have neither, but he carries the genes of both bloodlines."

Harry nodded. He didn't know that much about the bloodlines of this world or the importance of bloodline limits, but Orochimaru didn't seem to him like a man who did things without damn good reason. "Why is it considered impossible?" he asked.

Karin shook her head. "It's never been done before successfully - even when implanting parts of a blood line limit, like the Sharingan Eyes for example, it usually has negative effect. Human body simply can't carry two bloodlines. One could even say that there isn't enough space in the human genome for that."

"Ah, so it's about tampering with the building blocks of humans," Harry mused. There was that - if a person went far enough when unravelling the human genes, then weird stuff happened. Given, of course, that the subject lived at all. The energy that was a human soul was a picky thing in times like that - if the body was put through a transformation when it was barely attached, then it could flee. And if this kid, this poor S57-M14, was indeed transformed whilst still in womb… it could be that the soul that had supposed to be him had taken one look at him, and then taken off. Or it had simply not been able to attach itself to the new, transformed body.

"When did you begin the… experimenting?" Harry asked. "Before or after insemination?"

Karin looked at him strangely. "Before. Since the Sharingan genome came from… Well, it had to be the mother's eggs that passed the kid the Mokuton genes."

Harry nodded. Just enough tampering for a freak accident. "Why was it so important?" he asked. "Putting those two bloodlines together?"

"I don't know, but Orochimaru was adamant that we kept up with the experiment."

So, Orochimaru hadn't been forthcoming. Humming thoughtfully, Harry concentrated onto the kid once more. Well, in the end it didn't matter. The kid was just another horrifying creation of Orochimaru, nothing more, even if it had been born partially from Sasuke. The most merciful thing would be to kill the boy - he had no life ahead of him, not without a spirit, without a mind. All he could really do, was be exploited by other people.


Harry blinked, and tilted his head. Sasuke had been quiet for a while now in the back of his head, ever since the second hideout actually. Harry had figured he no longer wanted to see what was happening, or that his mind had strayed to other things - too adjusted to not knowing to keep his attention on the present. Now, though, it seemed S57-M14 had caught his interest.

Harry humoured him. Easy as anything, he was once again in Sasuke's mindscape, in the horrifying laboratory, standing next to the still floating, stitched up body that had been the gateway to controlling the actual, physical one.

Little Sasuke was standing beside him, holding onto the fabric of his pants. If his face hadn't been so carefully emotionless, Harry would've said that the kid had an urgent look about his face. "Master of Death," the boy said, looking up him. "You control death. That's what you are. That's how you can be here."

Harry laughed out right at that. "No, no. Nothing as nice and grand, I'm afraid," he said, and crouched down to get to the kid's eye level. "I'm just a slave of life and the universe, just like everyone else. People like you can call me when the situation and circumstances are right, and then I do what they can't," he explained. "That is pretty much all. The only mastery I have over death is superficial at best."

The boy frowned. "And Karin? The mark? You were thinking of giving it to her, but you didn't. You thought… eternity."

Harry smiled. "Sometimes, if people want it, I can give them an existence like mine. Most choose it because they're too stupid to know better, because they think it's immortality, and before long they end up fading away, losing their conviction and minds under the strain of it. It's no blessing, it's a curse and only fools want it," he said. "And you don't want it," he said, lifting a hand and placing it onto the boy's shoulder. "You want freedom or death."

The kid frowned, looking at him seriously. Harry smiled in answer, stroking his fingers through the boy's hair. "What do you want, kid?" he asked.

"I don't want this," the boy answered, looking around them and scowling.

It was a loaded sentence, one Harry immediately understood. The three years of experimentations and mindlessness had drained Sasuke of all energy for ambitions - whatever the reason for wanting strength and going to Orochimaru's had been, Sasuke had lost it. And the body Orochimaru had created from his, by raping every single cell of his being… Sasuke didn't want it. Couldn't stand it.

"Do you want to start anew, kid?" Harry asked, smiling. Oh, Sasuke was bright. Childlike mentality or not, he was very bright - and S57-M14, previously no more than a side note in his existence of horror, was suddenly a means to an end. The kid had realised it even before Harry had. Not bad. "It might not be comfortable, who knows what Orochimaru has done to that body. And there's a reason why the soul meant for that kid didn't take."

"Whatever it is, time can undo it," the kid murmured softly.

Harry conceded the point. The body was young and had years and years of growing to do - and how that turned out was greatly reliant on what the body did. And if Sasuke was be in control, those years could make an incredible difference - and, indeed, erase Orochimaru's fingerprints. "You might lose your Sharingan - that body might never have it," he warned. "And this body is strong. By gods it's strong. If I was you, I wouldn't give it up."

"It doesn't make you sick," the boy snarled, and reached out to wind his arms around Harry's shoulders. "I don't want to be me anymore," he sighed, burying his face into Harry's neck.

Harry laughed at that, wrapping his arms around the boy. "You are clever, little boy, so very clever," he murmured. Merlin, the kid reminded him of himself. Excluding the experimentation, though. He would've given up anything not to be Harry Potter, once upon a time. Harry's laugh subsided to chuckles and gently he pressed a kiss to the kid's hair. "Let's renew you, then."

Sasuke murmured something incoherent, and reaching for the stitched up body that worked as the doorway, Harry returned to the real world, back to the control of Sasuke's physical, enhanced form. Karin was eying him worriedly and Harry could feel Suigetsu somewhere nearby, but he ignored them. His summoner had made a request, and Harry was nothing if not obedient of his summoner's wishes - even if only when they were good ones.

It had been a while since he had done anything like this, though. But, he supposed, it was like riding a bicycle or flying a broom. You arrange one physical takeover of a body, and you've arranged them all.

Opening his mouth, Harry breathed out Sasuke's soul. It was small ball of red light, surprisingly strong and bright considering how close the kid had come to giving up his entire life and existence. Smiling with approval at the kid's ferocious strength of spirit - which, by the looks of it, was only getting stronger now that he had made such a choice - Harry turned his attention to the empty body of S57-M14. Fate was sometimes such a brilliant thing, he mused, and gently tugged the two-year-old's mouth open with his finger.

Eyes were the windows of the soul and mouth was the doorway.

"What…?" Karin asked quietly, as Harry gently pushed the ball of Sasuke's soul into the unresponsive S57-M14. Then, knowing that taking over a new body could be a difficult experience for the kid, he gathered some magic into a bright golden flame on the palm of his hand.

"Wakey wakey," he said, and slapped the flame of magic into the kid's chest, sending a spiritual equivalent of a defibrillator charge through him. In answer, the boy jolted and then gasped for breath before opening his eyes, coming to himself. The kid blinked almost blindly and then squinted up to him, opening his mouth and closing it with a click. Harry grinned. "There we go."

"How the… how did you do that? What did you do?" Karin asked, horrified and fascinated at the same time.

Harry ignored her once more, and instead lifted the kid housing Sasuke's soul into his arms. "It'll be a bit fuzzy for a moment but you'll get hang of it in couple of hours. Just stay calm and let me handle things, okay kid?" he said to the kid, who blinked blearily at him and nodded. "Good," Harry nodded, supporting the kid comfortably against his shoulder. Now that he was actually moving to take a hold of him, the kid felt, oddly enough, smaller.

Ignoring the feel of how fragile the kid seemed to feel, now, Harry turned to Karin and to the still invisible Suigetsu, both of whom were staring at him wordlessly. With a wave of his hand, he turned Suigetsu visible again. "Alright. I'm about ready move on. Karin, get the kid something to eat and maybe some change clothes if you have any here. Suigetsu -" he pulled out the bingo book from his pocket, "Go check to see if anyone we killed has bounties on their heads. If they do, take them outside,"

"Suigetsu?" Karin asked, looking at the white haired swordsman in shock.

The water-creature gave her a glare and leafed through the book. "You got it, boss," he nodded, and headed off.

"Why is Suigetsu here? How did you - why - what is going on here?" Karin stuttered, motioning at the kid who was pressing his face into Harry's shoulder, muffling a yawn against the fabric of Harry's clothing.

"Karin," Harry snapped. "Clothing and food for the kid, if you have any. Get to work, the less useful you prove yourself to me, the less likely I am to need you," Harry answered.

"Ah… yes, of course. Sorry, Sasuke," she said, and after throwing one uneasy glance to his direction and another to where Suigetsu had gone, she too headed out.

"Well then," Harry murmured, and glanced down to the kid who had wrapped his arms around his neck again, and seemed to be intending to fall asleep. "Do you have a name for yourself?"

The kid was quiet for a moment before turning so that his cheek was resting onto Harry's shoulder and he could look at the man from the corner of his eyes. "Tatuke," he said - and then looked absolutely mortified with himself, releasing Harry's neck just long enough to cover his mouth with his fingers.

Harry snorted. "Baby body - comes with a baby mouth and baby vocal chords," he said amusedly. "Sasuke, huh? But if you're Sasuke, who am I?" he asked. The kid sighed with irritation and didn't answer, and with a smile Harry shook his head. "I'm going to keep on calling you kid then," he decided, and turned to follow Suigetsu.

He was almost outside when Karin, carrying a bag on her shoulder, caught up with him. "I got some food - I couldn't find that many clothes, we haven't… we haven't needed any so far, but I'm sure we can buy more if we need to," she said, jogging forward until she reached Harry's side. She looked slightly ill. "I must say, very … I mean, you did very thorough job. On the defenders."

"Mm-hmm," Harry agreed. "Where did the people who escaped go?"

She swallowed. "Probably headed to the central hideout to warn Orochimaru," she admitted, cringing slightly.

Harry nodded. "Good. Then we'll be able to catch them later," he said, and walked over the bodies scattering the entrance, mementos of their rather impressive entrance. Outside in the sunlight, Suigetsu was sitting atop a rough piece of rock, with two bodies lying down before him. "Only two this time?"

"Yep. And they're small fries both of them," Suigetsu nodded. "The brown haired bastard is eight thousand and the other is just three. Kinda pitiful." He leaned backwards and produced Harry's ice box. "I got this for you. Figured it'd save time."

"You are proving out to be very useful. Keep this up and I'll make sure you'll get your share of the bounties," Harry nodded, and while Sasuke stared with wide, curious eyes, Harry shrunk the bodies into more manageable sizes, before opening the ice box. "What happened to the prisoners?"

Suigetsu pointed at the water. "I think some of them knew enough to chakra walk - and they probably carried each other. Either that or they tried to swim and drowned. Your boat is gone, though, they probably took it."

Harry nodded, not really bothered. It wasn't like he needed it anymore.

"E-excuse me, Sasuke?" Karin asked, making Harry glance up to her. She pointed between him and the icebox, looking uneasily at the shrunken bodies. "H-how did you do that? I… I didn't see you performing any seals." Harry snorted and turned away, to put the shrunken bounties among the others. He was starting to get bit of a clutch, about fifty, sixty thousand in total - twice as much, when Kabuto was counted. Not bad, for one day's work - and the day wasn't even over yet.

"Suigetsu, how did he do that?" Karin demanded to know.

"I haven't bothered to ask. It works, that's enough for me," Suigetsu answered, while Harry sealed the ice box once more. "Where to next, boss?"

"Central hideout. I think I've circled around enough - time to take out Orochimaru," Harry decided, and set the ice box beside his foot. "Before I do that, though, I want to know a bit about the lay of the land around the place - and the place itself."

"W-well, I can tell you some, but I've mostly been around the southern head quarters lately," Karin said, looking decisively nervous. "And… take down Orochimaru? Just like that?"

"Hm," Harry answered, wrapping an arm securely around Sasuke and sitting down on top of the ice box. It was mostly made of metal, so it should take the weight easily enough. "Do you know anything about the place, Suigetsu?"

"Not much, I haven't been there in years, not since I was put into the tube," the white haired swordsman answered. "I could roughly tell what it was like couple of years back, but I don't know how much help that is."

"Alright," Harry nodded, and dug Kabuto out of his pocket. "Time for you to give me some information," he said, setting the bound and still petrified man to the ground and returning him to his actual size, making Suigetsu and Karin both jump back a little.

"When the hell did you get him?" Suigetsu asked, looking awed, while Karin eyed Harry with a very thoughtful expression.

"When I woke up, he… very enthusiastically came to check up on me," Harry answered, and then noticed that Kabuto had apparently learned from the previous times. He was squeezing his eyes tightly shut, and by the looks of the strain on his face, he was also trying his best to keep his eyes rolled upwards, so that he wouldn't be able to an eye contact even if his eyelids were pried open.

"Cute," Harry said to him, before lifting his foot and dropping the heel hard to Kabuto's stomach, digging his heel hard into his midriff and forcing the breath out of him. Kabuto was made of sterner stuff than that, though, and even whilst convulsing with pain, he didn't open his eyes. Harry almost had to admire him for that.

"So, we're going to torture him?" Karin asked uncertainly.

"No. I just need him to open his eyes, but apparently the grey dog learned a trick, didn't you, Kabuto?" Harry said amusedly. He gave his two companions a thoughtful look and then smiled. "Suigetsu, Karin, open his eyes for me, would you?"

The two shared a slightly unnerved glance before Karin glanced at Harry. "He… can't move, right?"

Harry nudged Kabuto with his foot. It seemed that the Petrificus Totalus was holding. It had lasted a long while now, but still wasn't showing any signs of breaking apart. Not bad. "He won't move a muscle."

Karin nodded, looking relieved. "Peel his eyelids open, Suigetsu," she said, rubbing her fingers together. Harry could see a faint green glow at her fingertips - healing chakra, he thought, recalling seeing something similar in Kabuto's mind. As Suigetsu, sighing and looking irritated, followed her order, Karin touched her fingers at the corners of Kabuto's eyes. The effect was immediate, and while Kabuto let out muffled sounds of objection and tried his best to fight back, his eyes were rolled forward, almost like Karin had found dial to command them. It was small, but pretty neat trick.

"Good," Harry said and, while cradling little Sasuke against his chest, he leaned forward. "Kabuto. That last time you visited the head quarters and saw Orochimaru, the orders he gave you? Don't think any of that. Legilimens," he said and made himself familiar with Kabuto's mind again.

The medic-nin had indeed learned from the last times and was fighting tooth and nail to keep him from accessing his memories. It was a losing battle though. Kabuto was a master of medical ninjutsu, not mind arts - and definitely not the type of mind arts that Harry knew. The barriers he tried to erect were nothing but pathways for Harry, flags screaming, 'Important information here!', which he could easily break through. It seemed that Occlumency or anything similar enough to work weren't among the repertoire of a ninja's skills and Kabuto was too much of a genius and too much of a worker to be able to still his mind enough to hide anything.

Taking complete advantage of the fact that he had Suigetsu - and Karin, though her usefulness was yet to be seen - watching over his back, Harry dug deeper. The blueprints of Orochimaru's hideouts, the treatments Orochimaru had gone through, all of his surviving forces and everything else that might be important. There was a chance he wouldn't be able to do it again, so getting every use out of Kabuto was probably a good idea, and thus everything and anything that the medic-nin knew and considered even a little bit important, Harry ruthlessly dug up until he had what he needed, and more.

Sighing, the wizard leaned back, closing his eyes and letting the new information settle. The lay of the central hideout was simple enough, made like a fortress of course, but not completely impenetrable. It couldn't be, you needed people going in and out, after all, so there were holes in the defence, secret passages and such. Harry, though, would have no use for those. Best way to go, would be through the front door.

He was a little more interested of one of the fields just at the edge the hide out's front yard, than of the hideout or its protections. It was, judging by what Kabuto knew, Orochimaru's dumping ground. Harry would be able to make use of that.

"Alright," the wizard said, waving Karin and Suigetsu to back away, and shrinking Kabuto back to pocket size. After putting the man into his pocket, Harry stood up. He was about ready to leave - there was only one more thing to attend to. Thoughtful, he turned to look at the entrance of the southern hideout. For a moment he contemplated letting Suigetsu handle it - what he had done at the gene storage had been inspired to say at least… But no, he wanted this one for himself.

It had been a while since he had gotten such a lovely opportunity to use Fiendfyre safely. With water all around, he could happily let the spell wreck all the mayhem it wanted on the island, without needing to stick around to manage it - eventually it would burn everything it could and die out.

Shifting Sasuke a little so that he could support the kid with his left arm alone, Harry flexed the fingers of his right hand. "Suigetsu, take my box. When I say so, both of you will grab a hold of me - with some skin contact preferably."

"What are you going to do?" Suigetsu asked, while hoisting the icebox up.

"Something slightly mental," Harry murmured, and began whispering the spell of the Fiendfyre, gathering magic to his palm until it took the shape of a small kitten made of bright red flames, unnaturally red. With some nourishment, the kitten would grow into a house cat, then into a bobcat, growing higher and wider and more ferocious with the more it ate - and eventually, as was the nature of fire, it would spread and divide, until there would be an entire pride of flaming lions, running rampant.

A single kitten was all that was needed for that. Harry smiled at the little flaming creature, ignoring the looks he was getting from Suigetsu and Karin. "Fetch, boy," the wizard whispered to kitten, and threw the small but dangerous flaming attack towards the entrance of the hideout. With a crackling meow, the Fiendfyre dashed forward, attacking the stones with unnatural hunger only fitting of fire. In a split of a moment, it began growing.

"Okay, now!" Harry barked at Suigetsu and Karin, who followed his earlier order more out of reflex than actual decision, and clamped their hands onto his shoulders. Knowing better than to stick around with a Fiendfyre loose, even if distracted one, Harry concentrated and Disapparated them all away, Apparating at the shore of the ocean where Harry had made his little boat, several miles away.

"Oh my god," Karin grumbled as they reappeared, falling to her knees and holding her stomach, by the looks of it trying not to vomit. Suigetsu, by the looks of it, didn't feel too good either, and he had to quickly drop the icebox to keep his balance. Sasuke however had came out relatively un-nauseated, thanks to the fact that he was pressed against Harry and protected by his magic, and now the kid was looking at the two Shinobi with a frown.

"Saved us a little time, didn't it?" Harry asked while taking the box Suigetsu had dropped. "Once you've recovered, we'll get moving. If we're fast enough, we might make it to the central hideout before dark, and we can be done before morning.

"What the hell was that, that fire?" Suigetsu asked. "It almost looked like normal fire ninjutsu, but… it wasn't was it?"

Harry shrugged, smiling. In couple of hours, there would be no hideout left - not to mention about the island.

"Forget about the flame - what about that shunshin? Actually, forget the shunshin - I don't want to know," Karin groaned, shaking a little.

"Why the hell didn't you do that before?" Suigetsu grumbled, glaring at the wizard. "All that running we did!"

"I need to know a place to Apparate there," Harry shrugged. "We'll be doing whole lot more running soon, so don't expect any short cuts," he added and with a groan Suigetsu crouched to the ground, running his hands through his hair.,

Harry smiled at the shaken Shinobi and looked down to Sasuke, who was still silently frowning. "It's going to be some four, five hours of running, from here on," he said to the kid. "So it's going to be bumpy. Do you think you can handle that?" he asked, and was answered by a sharp glare and disbelieving look. Harry grinned and kissed the kid's temple. Cute little bugger he had turned out to be. "Alright then," he said. "Feel free to say if it gets too much, though. We're not in that much of a hurry."

Karin and Suigetsu recovered surprisingly fast from their first brush with apparition - especially considering how different magic was from their chakra based abilities and how unnatural it had no doubt felt for them. Once they had, Harry set a steady pace, and they began making their way through the forest of the shore line, before they came through the famous fields of grass that had named the Grass Country, where they could run faster and easier than in the forest, but in doing so left more tracks. Not that tracks mattered, all things considered.

Throughout the run there were several breaks. Despite his strength of will, Sasuke's new body wasn't as strong, and it had to stop to eat - and then to pee - on occasion. By the time they had been running for couple of hours, Harry could tell the kid was doing his best not to grumble, but there was a deeply irritated look on his face, and he was starting to get sleepy, judging by the way he was yawning.

Harry respected his pride, though, and didn't offer him the option of them stopping for the night and continuing in the morning. The kid would've glared him something fierce if he had, no doubt - and really, Harry wasn't sure if he liked spending a night idling when there were other, much more interesting things to be done and people to be killed. The more he learned about Orochimaru, the more he wanted to fight against the man. It would no doubt prove to be an interesting little match.

So they ran, and ran, and ran a little more, until finally, just as the sun sunk below the horizon and shadows started to get darker, they made it to the boarder of the central hideout's lands. Harry stopped there, not wanting to be noticed before he could give Suigetsu and Karin his orders. He had to hide his ice box too, he didn't want it to get broken or stolen in the fights after all.

"Right," he started once the box was hidden and Karin and Suigetsu were eyeing him and Sasuke seriously, like not entirely sure if they should be making the run for it. Harry smiled - it would be interesting to see if they would. "Here's what we're going to do. We're going to break in and we're going to kill everyone who works for Orochimaru. Questions?"

"Ah… Just how do you think we will do that?" Karin asked.

"The same way we did the southern hideout? That was nice," Suigetsu said, licking his sharp teeth and grinning widely. "I wouldn't mind trying that again."

"Then I'll make you invisible again - I'll even throw in ward to make people not notice you even when you're stabbing them, that should make your job a little easier," Harry agreed and lifted a single eye brow at Karin. "How about you?"

"What about me?"

"How do you kill people?"

Suigetsu snorted. "She doesn't. But throw the same on her that you'll do to me - she can scout ahead. She's good at that."

The redheaded woman scowled at him, "Excuse me?" she snarled, but only got a sharp grin from the white haired swordsman for her troubles. Huffing, she turned to Harry. "Sasuke, are we really going to be storming Orochimaru's best guarded hideout with nothing but some stealth jutsu?"

Harry shrugged. "If it works, I see no reason to change the mode of operation," he said. "Why, do you have better ideas?"

She stared at him with shock. "We'd need either a really good plan - or an army - to take this hide out! It's an underground fortress! The grounds surrounding it are all laid with mines and explosive tags, one step on the wrong place and it will be over! And even if we managed to survive the mine field, we'd never make it to the entrance - the ninja inside would be easily able to nail us with long distance ninjutsu - and it's the same with all possible secret exits, Orochimaru probably knows we're coming thanks to those who retreated from the southern base, and will have all entrances well guarded --"

Harry eyed her amusedly, as she passionately explained all the reasons why they weren't going to succeed and why they were going to die, until she finally ran out of breath and had to stop to breathe. She had been a bit tame since the beginning but it seemed that the true redheadedness shone through, eventually.

"So, the bottom line is, we need an army?" he asked, chuckling while Sasuke, sitting in his lap and looking up to him silently, frowned at him. "That's what you're saying, isn't it?"

"Well, it's part of it!" she agreed. "And we obviously don't have an army."

Harry nodded in agreement. "No, we don't," he agreed, and then looked past her, to the large field of high grass just beyond the small patch of forest they had stopped in. "Do you know what that is?" he asked thoughtfully. Karin and Suigetsu shared a puzzled look and shook their heads. "That is where the corpses are dumped when Orochimaru is done with them. There lives and breeds a brand of particularly ferocious rats in that field - they clean the bodies away in matter of days. Useful means of garbage disposal, and with the rats multiplying like the rodents they are, Orochimaru has never any troubles feeding his many snakes."

"You're going to be using the rats?" Suigetsu asked, disbelieving.

"No, of course not," Harry answered with a snort. "You two wouldn't know a thing called Inferius?" he asked, and got blank looks in return. "Ah, well, you will find out." Chuckling he stood up, gently lifting Sasuke by his armpits, and lifting the kid to his shoulders. "Come here, you two," he said to the Shinobi. "I'll make you invisible and unnoticeable. After that, make sure to stay behind me, at least for a while. I wouldn't want you to get eaten."

"Eaten?" Karin asked with look of dread on her face that faded away as Harry placed his hand over her and Suigetsu's head, and chanted the spells of Disillusion and Notice-me-not over them - throwing a muggle repelling charm just for the fun of it. "That's cold," Karin grumbled, as she completely faded away, the notice-me- not stopping Harry from even noticing the edges of her mirage-like appearance.

"Stay behind me. And kid, hold on. If you fall, it will be on your own head, literally," Harry said, pointing a finger up at Sasuke, who gripped a tight hold of Harry's long hair, squeezing his neck as hard as he could with his little feet. "Good," Harry nodded, and once Suigetsu and Karin had followed their orders, he stepped forward and towards the field. It looked pretty serene, gently flowing in the wind - almost innocent, in fact.

"I wonder how many corpses have been thrown to this field over the years, the decades," he mused idly, kicking the dirt and smiling. "And how many of those thrown here bear even the smallest of grudge against our dear old Orochimaru." Smiling, he lifted his hands and for a moment held Sasuke's tiny little feet in his hands. "Let's find out, shall we?"

"Un," Sasuke murmured, leaning his chin atop Harry's head.

The state of a Inferius always depended on the state of the remains. The best ones were made from fresh cadavers, barely rotten ones, and those were the hardiest and longest to last of all Inferi. The ones from old corpses or, in some cases from dead without any bodies left at all tended to come out as messy skeletons or, in some cases, as clouds of dust, just barely contained in a form of something resembling a human.

Of course, normally that sort of Inferi were impossible to make - pulling together bone dust and such wasn't exactly easy. But it wasn't as if it was the first time Harry was resurrecting the dead. There was a trick to it - and after doing it a couple of hundred times…

"Alright," he murmured, satisfied as the field of grass began to shudder as the ground beneath it started to shift - here and there, in spots where he suspected the bodies had been dumped more frequently, the soil was actually so agitated by the movements of the dead that it was getting thrown into the air. "Now we have an army."

"What, I don't see --" Karin started and then gasped, the sound oddly airy, made even more so by the fact that she was invisible. As she did the first of the dead, the freshest of them, started to stand up among the high grass - half rotten, half gone but just recognisable for anyone with eyes. "H-how did you," Karin started, but couldn't complete the sentence. "What are you?" she finally settled on asking, and Harry could feel her stare on the back of his neck, as she apparently for the first time started to wonder if Harry was the "Sasuke" she had met once.

Harry just smiled - would've shrugged his shoulders cheerfully, but he didn't want to drop the actual Sasuke sitting there. "Come on," he said, motioning to his two invisible companions. "Get closer. I'll enclose us in a shield that will get us through the mine fields."

Hesitating only a moment, Suigetsu stepped closer to him and, after lingering just beyond reach for a while longer, Karin did the same. Amused by their reactions, Harry cast the Protego around them, before turning to the field where more and more rotten corpses were standing up - he could already see couple of skeletons too. "Come on," he said, and started walking forward.

"Karin, keep your senses ahead of us - tell us if someone's coming," Suigetsu ordered tensely, as they joined the dead in the field of wheat.

"A-alright," the woman said, and Harry could hear the quiver in her voice as the dead stepped aside to let Harry pass through the field. "Orochimaru has a technique kind of like this," she suddenly said. "Only, he puts spirits into the corpses, and it's the spirit he wants to resurrect, not the corpses themselves. The one that knows the ninjutsu is the spirit, after all."

"Hm. I suppose summoning a man with certain skill set would be more useful than corpses with none," Harry mused, looking around as the walking dead began to take sturdier forms, and look around, often with sockets with no eyes in them. "There's an upside to this sort of necromancy, though," he added, as the first of them began screaming like a fire alarm, calling wordless rage to the sky.

"W-what is that?!" Karin asked, as more of them began to scream. "What are they doing?!"

"Do you know why people bury their dead with ceremonies?" Harry asked. "Most of it is about respect and of course there's a whole social event involved - but every civilisation I've even encountered had some form of burial or cremation ceremonies, even ones that had absolutely no respect for dead, not to mention about lack of burial grounds or means of cremation. But they still did it. You know why?"

The woman was quiet for a moment, nearly pressed to Harry's back as they walked across the field filled with the screaming dead. "I think, I heard once it was because otherwise the dead can't move on."

"Exactly," Harry nodded, grinning. "If you don't give the dead proper ceremonies, they stick around. And loose spirits, they take the nearest available body, if they have even the slightest urge to be alive or do something physical."

"Like getting revenge on someone who's alive," Suigetsu murmured and laughed.

"Of course, these types of dead are pretty weak - I'd need fresh bodies to make something that would really count in a battle. But they will work as a way of distraction, I suppose," Harry mused, as the screaming dead began crawling and limping their way after them and towards the entrance to Orochimaru's hideout.

"You are a ruthless son of a bitch," the swordsman noted, snorting.

"It's an occupational hazard, I'm afraid," Harry mused.

They only managed to barely cross the field, with Harry's undead army barely keeping up with them as they went, before Karin let out a curse under her breath. "Incoming," she said. "Eight of them, and judging by the way their chakra is flaring, they mean business."

"Well, then," Harry said, smiling. "Time to see how my little pets fare against hard boiled ninjas. Suigetsu, be a dear and keep an eye out for anyone with a bounty? Inferi have the tendency of eating people, and I would just hate to loose anyone valuable."

"... sure, why not," the swordsman answered.

That was about it for conversation - both from their and their opponents' part. Orochimaru's ninja crashed down on them without any warning and, if Karin hadn't told Harry they were coming, he would've been quite surprised. The ninjutsu sent by their newest opponents came before the actual ninja, washing over the field and Harry's shield with a mixture of cutting blades and blasting winds, with some water and earth attacks thrown into mix.

No fire users, Harry noted with a sigh, even as the wind attacks easily tore his little army into pieces, scattering the Inferi across the field. Good.

"How dare you try and invade these lands - don't you know who you are messing with?" The head of the attacking squad asked, after the winds had died out - and then stopped to stare. The attack had done a good number on the Inferi, but Harry, Sasuke - and their invisible companions - were all completely unharmed underneath the shield Harry had erected. That they were completely unscratched shouldn't have been their enemies main concern though, though Harry wasn't about to rebuke them

"Well, this is a nice welcome. How do you do? Nice of you to stop by," Harry said cheerfully. "Very impressive ninjutsu there," he added, and glanced to his left where the first of the Inferi were already getting to their feet, coming together after the dismembering attack. It was, oddly enough, even more gruesome sight than them rising from the ground had been - as torn limbs slithered back to their places and bones, crushed and scattered, floated into the enclosure of torn flesh and loose skin. Even their insides - in cases of those that had insides left - were returning to their places, worming and crawling up their legs like snakes and slugs.

And so, still coming together in gruesome display of rot and deterioration, the Inferi moved forward.

"What in the name of the nine demons..." one of Orochimaru's ninja's asked, looking revolted as some of the Inferi resumed their inhuman screaming.

"Never mind that, attack! Attack!" the leading ninja roared. Harry folded his arms with amusement as the eight shinobi quickly did as ordered, launching more and more attacks at the Inferi. None of them fire, though, and after each crushing, slicing and crumbling attack, the Inferi pulled together and continued their advance.

"Another thing about Inferi," Harry murmured, mostly to himself. "They learn pretty quickly."

The magic behind them did, anyway. Fire wasn't considered the only weakness Inferi had just because it was what worked the best - no, it was really the only thing that worked. Everything else, water, slashes, even being torn apart, only made the Inferi stronger as the magic learned to counteract the effects. The more the Inferi were blown apart, the quicker they pulled together - and the sturdier the torn bodies became.

And as they did, the shinobi grew more desperate and eventually seemed to mostly forget Harry completely in their attempts of making the Inferi stay down - and the walking corpses, their gait slow and limping, hadn't even reached them. Harry watched it with deep amusement - it was like watching group of people try and beat infestation of roaches or rats.

"Boss. Two o'clock, bastard with the beard. Twenty thousand Ryo bounty on him - he butchered a wealthy family in the Land of Rock," Suigetsu said at Harry's right. "Do you want me to get him?"

Harry shook his head. Invisibility and his shield were the only thing protecting Suigetsu and Karin from the Inferi - while Sasuke was protected by the close blood relation, as he was technically Harry's son right now. "Stay where you are," he said. "I got this."

While the man with twenty Ryo bounty swung an enormous axe through the Inferi, seeming to take some measure of pleasure in the attack, Harry aimed his outstretched palm at the man. "Accio," he whispered with a smile - and then watched amusedly as the man was thrown towards them, pulled by invisible force that made him fly screaming nearly through a couple of Inferi - and then nearly splatter against the shield surrounding Harry. "Sectumsempra," Harry said, before the man recovered from the impact, and cut his throat neatly open.

"Shit," Suigetsu murmured, as the now dead man slid down the side of the invisible shield, and crumbled to the ground. Once he hit the grass, Harry stepped forward, and the shield moved with him, enveloping the now dead twenty thousand Ryo bounty.

"Just how many tricks do you got?" Suigetsu asked, while Harry shrunk the body, much to the horror of a ninja watching nearby.

"A couple more," Harry said, examining the shrunken body thoughtfully and shrugging his shoulder. Even while no bigger than miniature plastic soldier, it would probably stain his pockets. That was okay, though - he had plenty of cleaning charms for that.

"Eargh!" someone suddenly screamed, and glancing up Harry saw that the shinobi, who had been watching the wizard shrink his money worthy price, had allowed himself get distracted for too long. The nearest Inferi had reached him, and taken hold of his legs. "Get off, get off - aah!" the man cried out, as the Inferi hungrily sunk its teeth into the man's calf.

The other Inferi nearby, quickly taking note of the slowest prey in the bunch, immediately turned to the caught shinobi. Harry chuckled softly to himself, as they crawled forward with hunger he knew they couldn't satisfy, but that they would definitely try to anyway. The shinobi could've gotten away, if he hadn't paid all his attention on getting away from the first one - he thus missed the one behind him and the other in his side. Just as the man managed to free his legs from the first Inferus - two more attacked him, then another three, until the man was taken down by the weight and unnatural strength of the living dead.

Inferi, much to the man's misfortune, tended to go for whatever piece of flesh was closest - not the most vital ones. As his team mates watched, horrified and unsure if they should help, the man screamed as he was, fairly slowly in shinobi's standards, eaten to death.

"Oh, god," Karin groaned beside Harry, and the wizard could hear her retching.

"Come on," Harry said, chuckling, and began walking forward. "We're just starting. And stay inside the shield, would you? The Inferi make no differences between enemies and friends."

 While the ninja around them attacked the Inferi that had eaten their friends - and couple of them ran away - Harry began walking through the field of death. The Inferi would take care of the shinobi - and once there were be no shinobi left to take care of, they would follow. He didn't care one way or another - the Inferi were, after all, a weak distraction at best.

The fact that the shinobi let them leave so easily didn't register as anything suspicious to Harry until they made it little closer to the hideout's entrance - and the traps began springing all around them. Explosions rattled the ground and unearthed soil and bushes, even sending trees into the air. Weapons and ninjutsu, boulders and wire and all sort of attacks were flung at them, making Harry soon fall to his knees under the bombardment, as the sheer weight of the continuous attacks made his shield sink and strain. Cursing, he lifted his arms, hissing the shielding charm over and over, trying to hold it up under the bombardment.

"Oh, shit. Oh shit oh shit oh shit," Karin whispered in panic, as the air outside the shield was turned nearly molten with the force of the bombardment.

"I'm with her. Boss?" Suigetsu asked, sounding a little breathless, and Harry could feel how both of them stepped a little closer to him. Even Sasuke, who had remained nearly impassive during the thing with the Inferi, was tense on the wizard's shoulders, squeezing his neck and hair with all his might.

Harry hissed a curse and glanced up. With the attacks washing constantly over the shield, he couldn't see where they were coming from or how many of them were traps and how many came from people. Someone had done their homework in any case - the first eight had probably only been a distraction, giving whoever had set this up some more time.

"Well then," Harry murmured, eyes blazing. This had stopped being fun - and turned into something even better. He finally had a worthy opponent. "Let's play."

Chanting the shielding charm one more time he concentrated. "Avis, Avis, Avis, Avis, Avis, Avis," he hissed over and over again. He could hear Karin screaming out in surprise and how Suigetsu cursed, as entire flocks of birds began appearing from nowhere - small birds and bigger ones, pigeons and birds of prey, owls and hawks and eagles and vultures so big their wings easily stretched all across the shield... soon there were so many of them that they began appearing outside the shield - and, following their creator's wishes, they didn't idle around.

Harry gasped for breath and then mustered some more strength, and then continued chanting the spell. "Avis, Avis, Avis, Avis, Avis!" he repeated over and over, and more and more birds appeared, dozens and dozens of them with each spell. Without any formation but with all the elegance of their nature, they burst through the shield, fluent and eager and ferocious.

With his chanting done, Harry slumped down for a moment, the weight of his arms just for a split of a second too much for his shoulders to handle. He had to hand it to his enemies - it had been a long time since he had ran out of strength. He almost laughed at that - maybe he should take Orochimaru for that. It was a delight these days, to feel a little weak.

"Boss," Suigetsu asked, and Harry could feel him at his side, reaching for his elbow. "You okay?"

"Winded! I'm winded!" Harry answered, laughing and struggling back to his feet, holding momentarily onto Sasuke's little hands to keep him from falling. Outside the shield, the last, strongest explosions had died out, and no more attacks were thrown at them. The birds had done their work - most of them dying in order to trigger the traps and stop the attackers. Harry chuckled again. Such excitement. "I can't WAIT to tear Orochimaru apart!" he enthused, and laughing uproariously he headed forward once more.

The attacks and ambushes didn't stop there. A couple of times Karin managed to warn him on time, telling that people were nearby, but the closer they got to the hide out, the more people there were to feel. Traps rarely could be detected by any of them before they were already on top of them and triggering them, making Harry summon more of his birds to do the dying for him. He laughed all the way, getting more delighted by the moment. Orochimaru was throwing his people at him like the cannon fodder they were. Finally, finally someone who understood the game!

Then, eventually, they were at the entrance itself - in its ruined, exploded remains after the latest ambush in long line of them that strained Harry's magic and abilities. The way inside was gaping open like a wound, and Harry couldn't wait to infect the insides.

"Uh, Boss? Boss?!" Suigetsu cried, surprisingly vehement, and looking up Harry could see a lone blonde man, standing in the dark corridor inside. "Oh, fuck," the white haired swordsman, still invisible, hissed, really sounding panicked this time.

"What is it?" Harry asked, tilting his head, as Karin let out a breathless gasp. "Is something wrong?"

"Is something wrong? That's the goddamn Fourth Hokage! Of course something is wrong! Orochimaru resurrected the Fourth Hokage!" Karin roared at him.

"Fourth Hokage?" Harry asked, curious. He had learned some of this world's history from Kabuto and the files he had read, but that was something he had missed. He knew, roughly, that the Mokuton ability Karin had been in charge of putting to Sasuke's new body came from the First Hokage, but he had no idea who the Hokages were, and why they had numbers.

Leader of a shinobi village - of the Village Hidden In Leaves, Konoha, Sasuke's voice came to his mind, making Harry glance up to the utterly tense child on his shoulders. Sasuke was staring seriously at the lone blonde man ahead of them. One of the strongest shinobi who ever lived. In life he beat Orochimaru in strength.

"Oh," Harry murmured. He knew Konoha, if nothing else - it was one of the greater villages and Sasuke's birth home. That wasn't as interesting as the Fourth Hokage though. Harry stroked his fingers thoughtfully over his chin. So this was Orochimaru's necromancy. If it could resurrect someone as powerful as this man seemed to be…

"Karin, Suigetsu - take off. Find other ways inside, and do anything and everything you can without getting killed. Kill, destroy, distract - and if you happen to encounter any possible writings about how Orochimaru does his brand of resurrection, I'd appreciate it," Harry said calmly. "Any bounties you might be able to acquire too, of course."

"Oh, thank god," Karin sighed - and took off without further questions.

"You think you can handle him?" Suigetsu asked, though he too was inching away from Harry.

"We'll see," Harry answered. "Shoo, Suigetsu. Have fun."

The two shinobi, still unseen and undetected under their invisibility spells, left him and Sasuke alone to face the blonde man, who had been watching Harry talking to thin air with a curious look about his face. As Harry stepped forward, already formulating plans in his head and wondering if Orochimaru's necromancy had the same weakness his did, the blonde man stepped forward as well.

"So, you're… Uchiha Sasuke," the blonde man said, looking fairly pleasant for someone who seemed to command such fear. "You have been causing a bit of mayhem among Orochimaru's troops today, I hear."

Harry lifted a single eyebrow at the man - both at the break in his words and way he made the name sound so superficial, and at the way he was looking at the actual Uchiha Sasuke, rather than at Harry. There was odd longing in the man's eyes. "Bit of this, bit of that. You know how it is," Harry answered cheerfully, and the man lowered his blue eyed gaze into his face.

"No, I'm afraid I don't, but I can imagine," the man agreed slowly and then smirked in oddly sardonic way. "How ironic it is that Orochimaru sends me, a dead man, to do battle with a man who is even deader than I am."

"Very good," Harry whispered, grinning widely. Not an ordinary resurrection, definitely not. He really needed to figure out how Orochimaru had done it. "Do you know who I am, Fourth Hokage?"

"No," the man answered, and glanced to Harry's left. "But death grants us boons of this and that sort - and I can just barely tell the dead behind you."

Harry glanced behind him, more out of amusement than curiosity, and saw that the Inferi were finally catching up with him - and getting distracted by the bodies Harry had sown after him. There were barely a quarter of them left, the rest had no doubt been taken by stray explosions and fires of the traps. Yet Harry rather doubted they were what the blonde man meant. The line of dead behind him was slightly more impressive, than the Inferi were.

"Might I have your name, Fourth Hokage?" Harry asked. "I need to know who I'm reminiscing, when in thousand years I think back to you." And he would, he knew he would.

The blonde man laughed - oddly airy sound which still managed to carry hint of edge in it. "Namikaze Minato," he said, still chuckling. He glanced up at Sasuke, who stared at him seriously. "It won't mean anything to you, my dead opponent, but in life I was Uzumaki Naruto's father."

Harry could just barely feel the jolt of surprise that ran through his tiny summoner, but it meant little to him. "Well, Namikaze Minato, the father of Uzumaki Naruto," he said, smiling. "My name is Harry Potter. Shall we battle to our non-death?"

"In a moment," Minato agreed, folding his arms. "But before we do, I want to know. What will you do, if you win?"

"What do you think?" Harry asked, taking hold of Sasuke's little legs and swinging them up and down gently, trying to make the kid loosen up a little. If he kept up with the constant tensing up, he'd get them both killed way too soon. "What you're really curious about is what I will do once I'm done here - once Orochimaru is dead and everyone who follows him has followed him to the bitter end, and everything he ever built burns."

"Well then, what will you do after all that?" Minato asked.

"No idea, but I can't wait to find out," Harry grinned in answer.

The Fourth Hokage nodded thoughtfully, and then pulled out couple of strange, trident-shaped kunai. "I hope you're fast, Harii," he said, tossed the kunai towards Harry - and the vanished.

The blow that nearly took out Harry's entire shield was more than enough to make him take the fight seriously. Whoever and whatever Namikaze Minato was and however he commanded such fear in likes of Suigetsu and Karin, he was strong - and more than that, he was fast. Insanely fast. Almost as if he was manipulating the very time.

Harry redid the shield just as the incredibly fast blows nearly took it down, and smiled. Time was something he couldn't quite manage to control - but speed, on other hand… "Arresto Momentum," he whispered.

As the Fourth Hokage slowed down, his momentum stalled as if he had ran into mud or quick sand, Harry aimed his fore finger at in mockery of holding a gun - not that anyone here would appreciate the joke. "Expulso," he chanted, and grinned as the blonde man's eyes widened, and he hurriedly ducked away - or as hurriedly as he could, under the stalling charm.

One couldn't say that Minato became slow, though. Normal man would've become slow, as if they had been put on slow motion, but this was definitely no normal opponent. And, Harry found as Minato vanished under the Expulso charm and reappeared at Harry's other side to grab a trident knife from the air, had some interesting tricks.

Lowering his hand, Harry spent a moment just watching. Minato could teleport. It was definitely nothing like apparition either - he seemed to suffer no negative side effects as he jumped from left to right - or, Harry mused, from knife to knife. He also didn't seem to use an in-between dimension like most magic based means of transport did - no, there was no in-between, only instant jump from one place to another. And it was definitely the knives he used to do it. The trident knifes - and there were good dozen of them in the air now, it seemed, slowed down by the Arresto Momentum, but still flying - seemed to be his points of teleport - he teleported to them.

"Interesting," Harry murmured, redoing the shield as Minato brought it down. He would've loved to figure out how Minato was doing it, what it was about the knives that enabled it - but this wasn't the time or place. For a moment he considered casting an expelliarmus - but that would've been fairly counterproductive, as the spell send the expelled weapons towards the caster and that would've just helped Minato.

Well, it wasn't like expelliarmus was the only way to disarm a person.

Carefully Harry aimed a finger at the nearest of the knives - and then turned it into a big butterfly.

"You seem to have some interesting tricks," Minato noted, his voice coming slowly under the charm as he stilled to watch how Harry threw another transfiguration charm. "A means to still momentum in a large area and to turn objects into living creatures. It's impossible to do that, via ninjutsu. Via anything I know of, actually."

"The fact that I'm not one shouldn't come to you as a surprise - you know what I am, after all," Harry answered and easily took out the rest of the knives, now that Minato had abandoned the use of them. "Maybe in one rebirth you will learn how to do it too."

"I think I'd prefer not," the man said and held up his palm, concentrating. There was a flicker on his hand and then it looked like he had somehow commanded wind to dance upon it. It was rather pretty.

Rasengan, Sasuke thought quickly to Harry, it's made of quickly moving flows of chakra - hundreds of them.

Harry nodded slowly, and flexed his fingers. He could feel it - the power of the ball, spinning away on Minato's hand. Single impact wouldn't just take out his shield but easily disperse it - and if it would hit Harry, it would disperse him.

"Very interesting," he murmured with admiration. He was seriously starting to love this world - it was hands down the most fascinating one he had landed in nearly two hundred lifetimes.

Minato smiled at the words and then, without giving a warning or hesitating, he rushed forward; palm outstretched and with full intention of crashing the Rasengan right into Harry's shield. Harry withstood it for a moment before concentrating and just as the Rasengan made his shield pop like a soap bubble, he apparated directly behind Minato. The blonde ninja seemed to be worth his reputation, however, as he immediately turned his attack, the angle of it making Harry's face the easiest, fastest target --

"Oh?" Harry asked curiously as the blonde man stopped, with the Rasengan spinning and shaking just in front of the wizard's nose. Minato strained oddly, grimacing, and just as Harry realised why he had stopped, the blonde changed the angle of the attack, and trusted it downwards, towards Harry's belly instead.

The wizard Apparated again, this time a little further away. "Oh, Minato, Minato, Minato," he sing sang, grinning widely. "You softie, you!"

The blonde man sighed with relief. "Even the dead can have morals," he said, glancing up to Sasuke - who would've been torn apart into itty bits if the Rasengan had impacted on Harry's head. Only it seemed that the blonde had a great big weakness called children.

"I did too, once," Harry mused, and laughed. A few hundred lifetimes – and a couple of children who had committed genocide among a couple of other things - had grown him out of that. Shaking his head, Harry redid the shield around him and Sasuke, and glanced up to the kid. "You okay there?"

"Un," the boy answered, but there was odd tone to his voice - and the hands that clutched onto Harry's long, spiky hair were more desperate than before.

Harry laughed again, realising what the kid was suddenly so worried about. Since Minato didn't want to hit Sasuke, using him would've popped up to the forefront in the minds of some people. "Don't worry, I have no use for human shields," he said. He needed to use his hands anyway, and holding Sasuke against his chest for example would just make him clumsy. "Just hold on, kid."

Minato, taking the opportunity Harry had more or less intentionally presented by getting distracted by Sasuke, rushed forward, the Rasengan outstretched and aimed at Harry's chest. Harry waited until he was just close enough - and then apparated once more, and watched how Minato crashed the Rasengan right into the wall, blowing out a great chunk of it and making the corridor around them shudder.

The blonde didn't idle after that - and apparently, he had lost all interest in talk. Harry had to wonder if Orochimaru was watching them and ordering Minato, because the look on the blonde's face turned nearly completely blank, as he turned to Harry and went through hand seals.

"Oh, shi - Protego! Protego, Protego, Protego!" Harry chanted, cursing silently as the blonde Hokage sent a torrent of wind blades at him, dozens of them at time and most of them enough to undo his shield by themselves. That was only the beginning, though, and as Harry redid and redid the shield, the wind attacks were joined by fire so strong that it turned the wall behind Harry nearly molten.

Harry laughed breathlessly. "Somebody took the kid gloves off. Protego!" he chanted again, as yet another attack crashed against his shield, bringing it down. Okay, was a good time to have a plan. The Inferi, even if they had had the attention span greater than that of a squirrel, would be useless against his man. So would the avis summon - the moment he would cast it, Minato would easily destroy the birds. What else did he have that could do his work for him while he was pinned down under the shield…

Of course. All he needed was a distraction. "Protego!" Harry cast again and then concentrated onto something he had felt long time ago, and nearly forgotten. "Expecto Patronum!" he chanted, holding his hands out. It took a moment that he very nearly didn't have, but the silvery stag did burst forward - not waiting a single second, but charging forward, following his urge.

The ninjutsu barrage halted just for a moment, as the Patronus crashed onto Minato - doing no damage and barely even disorienting the man - but the moment was all Harry needed. "Impedimenta, Immobilis, Petrificus Totalus, Incarcerous!" And then, as Minato tripped and was immobilized before being bound and very nearly gagged by conjured ropes, Harry aimed his attention at the ropes and hissed out a breathless, "Duro!" to turn the ropes harder than steel.

Minato, his eyes a little wide, fell down, very effectively secured. Harry threw another Petrificus Totalus at him just to make sure before releasing a breath. "I will definitely remember you for a thousand years, Namikaze Minato," he promised, as he left the spot that had remained undamaged thanks to his shields while the floor around it and the wall behind it was cut, melted and burned. "I will even remember you fondly," he added, and crouched down beside the bound man. As Minato let out a muffled sound and frowned, Harry released the Petrificus charm a little, just enough to allow him speak.

"Binding me won't be enough," the blonde man said. "Orochimaru knows his thing - this form is unstoppable. If you leave me here, I will eventually break free and come after you again."

"No, you won't," Harry chuckled, reaching out and flicking a finger gently at the man's nose. "I've fought against unstoppable people before, enough many times to know there is no such thing. I'll send you on your way soon, but before that I want to know if there are other surprises waiting for me up ahead."

"If there are, I don't know about it," Minato answered, and glanced up, frowning, as hasty steps echoed in the hall.

"Boss, boss!" Suigetsu called urgently - from a little further away, keeping more than a safe distance. "Karin told me Orochimaru's fleeing trough one of the back entrances!"

"That's my cue," Harry said, and smiled kindly at Minato. "Any last words, Fourth Hokage of Konoha, the father of Uzumaki Naruto?"

"Not to you, no," the blonde man answered, and looked up to Sasuke, who was leaning dangerously to the side so that he could see Minato pass Harry's head. "Sasuke," the man said. "Many things the Third did after my death were wrong. Naruto, the Hyuuga - the Uchiha too. He was weakened by age and confusion and order of advisors who did not have the village's best interest in mind - or the best interest of the people. I hope you know that."

Sasuke nearly pulled a great chunk of Harry's hair off as he leaned forward. "Uthiwa?" he asked urgently, making Harry glance at him with surprise. This was the most interest the kid had shown since wanting to take the S57-M14's body.

"Orochimaru will no doubt tell you and take great pleasure in doing so," the Hokage said sadly. "Don't blame the village. And… if you ever get the chance, tell Naruto that I and his mother love him very much. "

The little kid frowned but nodded, and after giving the pair of them a curious glance, wondering how many skeletons were in the closest of these people, Harry shook his head. "As interesting this is, I'm on a clock here, and it's time to go," he said, placing a hand onto the Hokage's chest. "So I'll just be putting you down, if you don't mind."

"I'd like that, if you can manage it," the man agreed, and closed his eyes.

Harry snorted softly. Such trust. "Nighty night, Minato. Sweet dreams," the wizard said and then, "Avada Kedavra."

The effect of the green blast of light, passing from his palm into Minato's chest, was immediate. Curiously Harry watched for a moment, as Minato's face seemed to just flake off from the body, along with his clothes and form, until another man - a dark haired, long dead shinobi - was left behind. Harry shook his head with amazement. So that was how it was done. Amazing.

"Boss?" Suigetsu called, still invisible but unable to hide the sound of his steps as he came cautiously closer.

"Let's go," Harry said, standing up. He had a snake bastard to catch.

Suigetsu led him and Sasuke through the hideout, where they found no more opposition waiting for them. It seemed Orochimaru had thrown all he had at him, and Minato had been his final sword - thrown to buy time so that the snake bastard himself could make his escape. Harry, even though he had known that Orochimaru was weaker than people knew and no doubt in no fit state to really fight, was fairly disappointed. Even Voldemort had fought before fleeing - and he had been nowhere near the strength Orochimaru had.

And even after all this time, Harry was still comparing his new enemies to his old one. Voldemort deserved the most credit though - he had succeeded where all the others so far had failed.

"Karin," the wizard called, as he saw the mirage of a woman, hiding against a wall.

"Orochimaru is… he's making a run for it. I think he wasn't expecting you to be able to follow," the woman answered. "The Fourth Hokage…?"

"Sleeps, like all dead ought to. Where is he?" Harry asked, flexing his shoulders a little and then lifting his hand to steady Sasuke.

"Through there - but you need to hurry. They're almost out already."

"Alright. Let's go, then. Keep an eye out - I want to know the moment something… unexpected is about to happen."

Karin and Suigetsu followed quietly, as he made his way through the corridor and then up a spiral staircase which apparently led to one of the emergency escape routes. As they climbed, he could hear the sounds of the people ahead - someone was groaning in pain and there were hasty whispers. "How many?" he asked under his breath. Orochimaru wasn't alone.

"Him, and five others," Karin said.


He sped up his steps from a light jog into an outright run, holding onto Sasuke's legs to make sure the kid didn't fall. The stairs ended almost abruptly, and suddenly he was in a large room that housed some boxes and crates and such - and where his target was making his escape, with shinobi surrounding him and, by the looks of it, carrying his things for him. When Harry jumped to the room they stopped, though, and as they turned around to face him Harry got his first actual view of Orochimaru.

The man was prettier than he had thought. Pale, long haired, with near perfect skin and exotically slanted eyes. Definitely got the longer stick there, in comparison to Voldemort. But then who knew what Orochimaru had done to himself - and the body he was inhabiting - to make it look that way.

"Sasuke," the pale skinned snake man whispered in a raspy voice, staring at him with open hunger. "You're awake. Kabuto told me it was impossible. That you were brain dead."

Harry snorted. Time to pretend they didn't know exactly what was happening, it seemed. "The rumours of my brain death were greatly exaggerated," he said amusedly, while Orochimaru's shinobi pulled out weapons and took fighting stances. "All the things I've heard of you, and now this. Look at you, running with your tail between your legs," the wizard said. "I have to say I'm very disappointed, Orochimaru. I expected better."

"Hmph," Orochimaru harrumphed, smiling grimly. "It's a miracle that after all that time in coma, you have such strength. Kabuto did a greater job on your body, than I originally thought."

"It is a neat piece of work, I know," Harry nodded, stretching out a single arm, and squeezing his fingers into a fist. The sheer musculature of Sasuke's modified body was impressive - but the strength and energy beneath, as little as it was of use to him, were even more so. "It's not quite what you promised, though," Harry noted, flexing his fingers. On his shoulders, the kid was tense and shaking just a little. Whether it was because of fear or anger, Harry didn't know. "Is it?"

"I promised to make you strong - and obviously that goal was met," the snake man said, folding his arms. "This revenge of yours is foolish, Sasuke. You must stand down."

Harry lifted a single eyebrow at that, and then crouched down before taking a comfortable seated position on the stone floor. "There we go," he said cheerfully, leaning his elbows to his knees and leaning forward a little. "I'm still going to cut you up, though."

"I rather doubt that," Orochimaru said, giving him a weird look as Harry lifted little Sasuke from his shoulders and settled the kid to his lap. "I see you found your son."

"Hm-hmm," Harry nodded. "Maybe I should thank you for that - but I'm doing all I can to not imagine the situation in which you extracted enough seed to make the kids of the test number 57," he said. "Or where you got the women to bear the kids. Fifty of them! That must've been tough."

Orochimaru snorted. "Just doing my part to fix one of Konoha's worse mistakes," he said, and smirked. "Oh, but you don't know, do you. What really happened that night…"

Sasuke tensed in Harry's arms, making the wizard lean back a little. This was something important, even though he wasn't entirely sure what. "Do enlighten me, then," he said slowly.

"The night Itachi killed your family, all those women and children and civilians… he didn't do it because of a random decision," the snake man said, smiling almost pityingly down to him. "No, Itachi was brilliant and strong and beyond all he was loyal to the village. Only, there was the Third and his advisors - and, of course, Danzo of the Root - and they had their brilliant notions. The Kyuubi attack happened in unfortunate time, as during that time there was bit of… unrest among your clan. The Third Hokage and his advisors and Danzo of Root saw that unrest as rebellion bubbling beneath the surface."

Harry lifted an eyebrow at that. Oh, rebellion? How exciting. "And?"

"And they watched and waited and made their little plans until something happened - a secret meeting or two among your clan, and a slight change in their mode of behaviour afterwards - which was interpreted as the beginning of the Uchiha Rebellion, the start of their attempt to take over Konoha. The Third of course couldn't allow that, so he dispatched his most loyal ninja to deal with the problem. That someone was, of course, Itachi."

Sasuke was frozen still in Harry's lap, his little fingers digging holes into the wizard's arm. Whoever Itachi was, or whatever all of it meant, it seemed to have great deal of importance to the kid. Harry smiled idly, glancing down to the kid. It seemed he was coming out of his bloody numbness.

 "And so the great clan of Uchiha fell at the sword of one Uchiha Itachi - and for all the world to see, Itachi became a great criminal, a mass murderer without compare, a killer and a traitor," Orochimaru chuckled breathlessly. "While you were left alive because of your brother's pity, to swear revenge on someone who had only been doing his job. And you did, to the point you came to me to grow stronger…" he added, smirking. "Tell me, Sasuke. How does it feel to know your existence is false, futile?"

Harry shrugged. "Doesn't really make any difference," he answered he answered, even while little Sasuke shook with barely contained emotion. "Oh, wait, yes it does. Now I'm even more disappointed in you," Harry said. "Trying to manipulate my emotional balance, really? Surely you can do better than that."

The pale man narrowed his eyes. "Kill him!" he rasped to the guards, who dashed forward, weapons aimed and jutsu at their lips.

Harry leaned back a bit and while holding Sasuke with one arm, he used his free hand to draw a long line in the air with his finger, murmuring, "Valde Sectumsempra," as he did. The effect was pretty impressive, as in single stroke he sliced all five attackers in half, sending splatters of blood at Orochimaru. Harry smiled in satisfaction, as the bodies he had just divided fell to the floor, spilling their insides into puddles. It always paid to save the best for last.

As Orochimaru stared at him with open shock, Harry pointed his finger at the man, closing a single eye mockingly to aim. "Sectumsempra," he repeated, and Orochimaru managed to move out of the way just in time that he didn't lose his life. He did however lose an arm, Harry noted with satisfaction, as the man's left arm was send flying. "Nice tattoo," the wizard said, as the arm fell to the floor, shedding the torn off sleeve and revealing the stripes of black on the pale skin.

"Damn you. You aren't Sasuke, you can't be!" the pale man hissed. "Who are you? What are you?"

Harry smiled, patting little Sasuke's head gently to try to calm the kid down a little. "It happens, every once in a while, that a person like you comes along," he said amusedly. "And they select another person to inflict all the harm under the sun on. Only, you don't do it out of malice or evil, no, you do it because it is necessary in your eyes - something that absolutely has to be done, consequences and collateral damage be damned. Somewhere inside you, you even think you're doing the right thing - the only right and good thing in the world - while everyone who fights you or disagrees with you is a fool that will do only harm because of their stupidity."

Harry laughed. "So, what do they matter? Indeed, what does that little person you're changing and transforming matter? You are changing the world - for the better - even if by one little person at the time. You are saving the world," the wizard shook his head, beyond amused. "And you are the only one who can, the only one with the power and the means and the sheer intelligence - the only man who is not a fool. And thus it is your right to break their foolish rules - it is your right to change and tear and alter."

While Orochimaru stared at him uneasily, Harry glanced up to Sasuke. "And somewhere in the midst of it, there is this person. This little person with so much potential - which you intend to bring out by any means necessary. You do terrible things to the person and so the little person is beyond helpless and beyond desperate, too torn and raped to even think straight. He is screaming. He doesn't know it and he doesn't expect an answer, he is beyond crying for help or expecting aid…. but he is still screaming because it's the only thing he can do, screaming into the eternity itself."

Harry smiled. "And I am the one who hears it," he said, almost gently. "Sasuke asked me to burn the world for him - but I decided that destroying everything you ever made, killing everyone who works for you… and beating you, would be enough."

There was a moment of quiet following the words. Harry could feel Suigetsu and Karin staring at his back, but ignored it, too curious about the emotions flashing over Orochimaru's pale face. "I will kill you," Orochimaru said in slow, breathy tones. "I will kill you and take over that body. I will kill you!"

"Do try," Harry said, making a welcoming motion.

Orochimaru hissed a curse and then threw his single surviving arm forward, with snakes spilling out of his sleeve. Harry erected the shield around him - and Suigetsu and Karin, who quickly ducked towards him - and so the snakes hit the thin layer of bluish energy, their fangs shattering and necks bending. "Snakes, huh," Harry asked amusedly, as more of them seemed to spill out of nowhere, to surround the shield. "I can do snakes too. Magnus Serpensotia," Harry said, holding out an arm, and a great serpent slithered from his palm, thicker than his arm, hissing with fury at the other snakes. It rolled into a loose ring, head swaying as it hissed its threats. "Engorgio," Harry said, running his hand over the snake's back. "Engorgio. Engorgio!" the wizard repeated, grinning widely as the snake grew and grew until it was as biggest snake of the punch, as thick as a man if not a little thicker.

"Attack!" Harry hissed at the snake at the exact same time Orochimaru rasped out his own attack command. The snake Harry had conjured dashed forward and swooped down, snatching entire groups of the smaller snakes and eating them alive. The smaller snakes tried to attack - some of them managed to wrap around it, and even bite it, but they were so much smaller than it was. The fight was fairly one sided.

"Sas - ah, boss?" Karin asked carefully. "The arm, Orochimaru's arm - the tattoo is used for summoning. If he gets he can summon snakes much bigger than these ones --"

Harry glanced at the still invisible woman and then quickly stood up, to see that Orochimaru had left the battle site and was dashing towards the cut off arm. "I don't think so," Harry hissed, holding Sasuke against his chest with his left arm and reaching the right one forward. Quickly he chanted the spell for Fiendfyre, forcing the spell's form into a bird this time before throwing it out, aiming it at Orochimaru's cut off arm. With all of his companions inside a shield, he didn't feel that worried about letting the spell out - especially not after seeing how Orochimaru hurriedly ducked to the side, as the flaming bird attacked the torn limb ferociously, consuming it in few seconds and growing from a small song bird into a hawk.

After that, the bird turned to the nearest snake, and did the same. It didn't take more than a moment before the bird split into two, spreading across the sea of snakes and becoming an entire flock of firing creatures. As they grew in size and numbers, Orochimaru hurriedly erected some sort of protection too, in attempt to escape from the hungry, ferocious flames.

Meanwhile Harry was busy controlling the fire. It was spreading faster than he would've liked - the snakes it was feeding on gave it more energy than he had thought. There were already more of the firey creatures than he normally used in such delicate places - islands like the southern head quarter excluded, of course. If a single one of the Fiendfyre escaped, it would be enough to start a chain reaction that could, indeed burn down the entire world.

"Boss, you know what you're doing, right?" Suigetsu asked nervously, as the area around them was covered with flames. Harry didn't answer immediately, gritting his teeth instead ad concentrating onto keeping the Fiendfyre inside and from heading out.

"Some water would be appreciated, Suigetsu," he finally gasped out, and could feel the swordsman moving to follow the order. Harry more felt it than saw it, as the water shot out through the shield. Even though several of the Fiendfyre were hit, the water alone wasn't enough to extinguish them. As Suigetsu covered the entire floor of the room with foot of water, however, it was enough to slow the Fiendfyre down - which gave Harry the opportunity to wrestle the spell under his control and then out of existence.

"Shit. Shit, shit. What the hell was that?" Karin gasped, as the fires finally died down, leaving them with wet, smoke filled room.

"My bad, sorry," Harry said, sighing. "They grew a bit faster than I planned." He glanced around until he saw Orochimaru, who was on his knees inside a see through shield. The black haired snake man was gasping for breath, his face sweaty - his clothes soaked with blood. Apparently holding the shield up had taken bit out of him. "How you're doing over there, Orochimaru? Getting tired?" Harry asked, amused.

"Damn you," the pale skinned shinobi groaned. The shield flickered over him for a moment before dying out, and gasping for breath Orochimaru looked up at Harry, glaring. "Damn you…!"

With strength Harry seriously doubted the man was supposed to have, Orochimaru dashed forward, his lone arm reaching forward like a claw. The man opened his mouth and another snake spilled out from his throat - except… it wasn't quite a snake.

"Oh, god," Karin whimpered as Harry looked up to some sort of… weird amalgamation of hundreds and hundreds of white snake heads. The monster, whatever it was, had a face and hair - and after a moment Harry realised that it was, in fact, Orochimaru and not just another summon.

"I will kill you. I will possess you!" Orochimaru hissed at him and attacked, jaws ajar as if intending to swallow Harry and his companions along with the shield surrounding them in one bite. As it did, the separate snakes of his body shot forward as well, showing that they were more than just heads and for a moment making the monster that was Orochimaru look like some sort of strange Hydra.

"Reducto," Harry chanted, barely needing to aim anymore - Orochimaru was almost as big as the basilisk Harry had once fought had been, he made a very easy target now. The spell impacted with side of Orochimaru's yaw, sending his aim astray and making him crash to the ground while some of the snakes were simply blown off. Grinning, Harry aimed at the exposed side of the weird snakelike body, to where the dozens and dozens of snakes were already reaching forward. "Expulso, Sectumsempra! Reducto!" he chanted, wondering what the hell had motivated the man to take such a large form when it was so weak against impacts. With a couple of spells, he managed to tear the thing apart - not to mention the man snakes that got cut, torn and blown off.

The whole battle lasted barely a minute, and then the great serpent lay in pieces scattered across the room, still somehow alive but in no fit state to even move. "Oh, this was just pathetic," Harry grinned, while wrapping his arms around Sasuke now that he didn't need to cast spells. "What the hell made you think that transforming into this thing would be a good idea? You were stronger when you were missing an arm and coughing blood!"

"You think so?" Orochimaru asked and lifted his enormous, monstrous head, chucking breathily even while the side of his head bled. "There is an advantage to this form…" he said, and waited.

"Yes?" Harry asked curiously, folding his arms and waiting. "What is it?"

The beast stared down to him, its eyes widening as it noticed that Harry was still surrounded the blue half sphere of the shield. "Damn you," he hissed, shifting weakly forward and then falling over one of its torn off coils. "Damn you!"

"What did I do this time?" Harry asked, now a little confused.

"Ah, boss? The blood of these snakes, it's venomous," Karin said carefully. "The air, there's enough of it in the air now, that breathing it would paralyze us. Except…"

Harry eyed her with surprise, and then snorted helplessly before busting out to laugher. Paralyzing air! Orochimaru's final ace, and he had counteracted it without even noticing! His laughter turning into quiet chuckling, Harry quickly cast bubble head charms onto himself, Sasuke and his two invisible companions, undoing the disillusion charms as he did. "Karin, take the kid. Then the three of you will head out," he said, gently dropping Sasuke to the floor, before stepping out of the shield bubble.

"Why?" Suigetsu asked, frowning.

Harry smiled. "Just do it," he said, and waited until they did as asked, Sasuke frowning over Karin's shoulder but not saying anything as she carried him out. Satisfied, Harry threw a silencing charm around the room before turning to the monstrous Orochimaru.

"You would've been an interesting opponent, if you had had any idea how to fight me," Harry noted, while approaching the head of the great snake. "But I will remember this for a great while, you can trust me on that. Lifetimes from now, I will still remember you." Smiling, Harry crouched down beside the great snake. "Now, though… I'm going to make sure you will never forget me," he said, his smile spreading into a grin. "The things you did to Sasuke, or had people do to him… I doubt I will ever be able to pay back in kind. But I have a good idea about where to start from."

Orochimaru stared at him with wide, inhumane eyes. Chuckling, Harry stroked his hand over the monster's cheek. "Let's start by undoing some of the damage, shall we? I will remake you - and then I will cut you apart. And after that I am going to do the most horrible and evil thing I can possibly manage," Harry said and grinned. "I'm going to save your life."

"Why?" Orochimaru rasped. "I did… nothing to you."

"How and why and who and where and when… and so forth," Harry sang amusedly, patting the monster's nose. "Because once upon a time, justice spent years avoiding me - because I never got my revenge. Because each and every one of you bastards just reminds me of how fucked up the universe really is. Mostly, though? Because I can."




Even though Harry gave them the opportunity after Orochimaru's defeat, neither Suigetsu nor Karin left. Suigetsu said it was because he wanted his share of the bounties and Karin said that she didn't have any other place to go, but Harry got the feeling that wasn't really it. What it was, though - whether it be some sort of twisted need to belong or something more complex - he didn't care for. If they felt like following him around, then he was fully willing to let them. His life tended to lack conversation, so he certainly didn't mind.

While Sasuke worked on learning how to pronounce things and how to walk again, they travelled across the Grass country, crossing it up and down in search of Orochimaru's little nests. It took, all in all, almost a week to clean up all of them. Karin was great help there, as she knew where they all were and, after getting used to the idea that Harry was really going to bring them all to the ground, she even gave him suggestions about easiest ways to do it. Suigetsu played his part too, a major part, as he really got into the hunt for bounties and became an expert at finding them among Orochimaru's troops. Sometimes, though, Harry was pretty sure he was only with them to kill - he seemed to like fighting even more than Harry did at times.

The many, many prisoners and test subjects were all released, mostly without doing much harm. It was hardest to do in the northern hide out, though. After the news of Orochimaru's demise spread, the prisoners there had rebelled and taken over the facility, forcing Harry and his group to fight their way through them. It had been fairly interesting thanks to the fact that they all had been subjects of a whole bunch of tests and had been infused with early forms of the cursed seals - many of them looked barely human anymore.

They had figured out that clearing them out was the best way to go, though. There had been more or less no one left to kill in the hide out afterwards - the prisoners had taken care of them - but Harry's group still collected all the bounties. They walked away from the hide out eventually with a new companion, Juugo, the origin of the cursed seal - who had tried to attack Harry. The orange haired man had turned out to be surprisingly susceptible to calming charms and had decided to go with Harry because, unlike anyone else before him, Harry had managed to bring his murderous side down without needing to fight him.

After that, it was more or less over and if there was anything left, any people of Orochimaru's or any more hide outs, they were too well hidden to bother with hunting them down.

"Now what?" Suigetsu asked, after they watched the eastern hide out burn, the last one left. "Where will we go now?"

Harry shrugged, putting the last of the bounties into his trusty ice box and then glancing at Sasuke who, with the help of Juugo, was practicing walking. It was a rather peculiar sight, a tiny little kid and a one hulk of a man - not to mention about the fact that Juugo had the unfortunate habit of snapping into murderous rages if Harry forgot to hit him with a calming charm.

The wizard smiled. It was oddly adorable. "What say you, kid?" he asked, and Sasuke glanced up. "What now?"

The little black haired boy thought about it for a moment. "I wanna go home," he said, pronouncing the words slowly and carefully.

"Konoha?" Harry asked, and the kid nodded determinedly. Harry nodded in answer, stroking his chin thoughtfully. It wasn't a bad idea. On other hand, though.

"Aren't you - I mean… Isn't Uchiha Sasuke a missing-nin?" Karin asked.

"Wanted because he took off, rather than because killed someone, so maybe it's not that big of an offence," Harry mused, reaching out a hand for Sasuke to take and then waiting for the kid to stumble his way to him, before lifting the kid to his arms. "And if there's nothing else I can do, I think I could buy our way inside," the wizard mused. He had bargaining chips literally in his pocket - Konoha had been the one to issue both Kabuto's and Orochimaru's bounties. And by now they had enough other bounties that Harry could cash some actual money to bribe Konoha with, if it came to that…

"I suppose Konoha won't let us be shinobi, though," Suigetsu murmured, grimacing and flashing his many sharp teeth.

"Probably not," Karin agreed. "If they don't throw us immediately into holding cells and into torture and interrogation, then they're going to keep us under guard for… probably forever." She glanced at Harry. "Which might not seem that long for you, but I don't know about myself."

"You're all free to go wherever you want to," Harry noted, lifting Sasuke more comfortably to his arm. "We can just find a bounty office together and cash our loot, and after we've shared it you can go on your merry way."

"I won't," Juugo said, taking the icebox before Harry could. "I'll go where you go."

Harry glanced at the taller man and then shrugged his shoulders. "Suit yourself," he agreed. He probably would've done the same, if he suffered of Juugo's affliction.

Suigetsu and Karin shared a look before the white haired swordsman harrumphed, and the woman lifted her glasses higher on her nose. "I guess I will have to use my next reincarnation collecting swords instead," Suigetsu murmured while Karin said that she'd be coming with Harry. Suigetsu snorted. "I'm curious though. What'll happen if Konoha tries to interrogate or torture you?"

Harry shrugged. "Nothing, probably," he said. It had been a long while since he had encountered a torture that worked on him. If they tried to do anything to Sasuke though, well, that was a different thing - but he didn't need to say that aloud. He stretched his arms, giving his companions a thoughtful look. Considering everything, history and circumstances and sheer amount of bullshit they had all gone through… they weren't the bad type people. He could definitely see himself wasting some more time with them.

Sasuke tugged slightly at Harry's hair, making the wizard glance down to him. "Will you tay?" the boy asked, and then huffed out an irritated breath. "Sstay," he said again and nodded. "Will you stay?"

Harry lifted an amused eyebrow at him before pressing a kiss to the kid's forehead. "With you?" he asked and hummed. "Why not." Time meant nothing to him - there was, after all, a reason why he measured his existence in lifetimes, rather than years. It made no difference to him or his damned task if he moved on a day from now, or a century - not with the way he tended to jump not only across space but time, when he answered the calls of the little, abused people.

"Why not," he whispered, closing his eyes for a moment. He liked this world. It was strange and flashy and exciting, full of arts and energies he hadn't encountered yet, but which he couldn't wait to learn more about. Not to mention about the awesome body he got to stay in. "I'm not one to abandon little kids," he said, and then glanced up to the three former Oto-nin, who were looking at him and Sasuke with varying expressions and emotions.

"Sometimes I look at you and I can't really believe I saw you do all the things you did," Suigetsu said, blinking. "Sometimes you look so normal."

Harry snorted. "You should try it sometimes," he said, standing up and lifting Sasuke to his shoulders. He would need to get a proper backpack to carry the kid in, or something - and the rest of the stuff too, bed and proper clothes and whatnot. "If we're all in agreement, let's get going then," he said, making a shooing motion at Suigetsu, Karin and Juugo. "We have a bounty office to find."

There was lot to do and he couldn't wait to start.