"Kaa-san…" Naruto said sadly watching his mother face away from him. He could feel her turbulent emotions, anger, and overwhelming fear. Mito was also looking at his mother solemnly.
Kushina seemed to be releasing the shock and horror she had suppressed when Naruto had taken on an army of strong shinobi singlehandedly.
She turned to him.
"Naruto, do you…do you have any idea what I have gone through to keep you safe? You told me you were a father once…try, just try to put yourself in my current situation. How could you scare me like that, taking on an entire elite army alone? You know what it feels like for a parent to see their child facing what they think is an imminent death…"
Naruto moved to her and engulfed her in a hug, a poignant expression on his face. The loss of Hiruzen, the misery of his mother who had thought she would see him die and his wholesale slaughter of the Iwa shinobi were weighing upon his soul.
He was never this quick to anger as Senju Hashirama. His twin lives were merging slowly, creating someone entirely new.
He had to be wary of himself. There was no doubt that his actions today were necessary, but there was also no doubt that he had let his emotions overcome him. He had thought he was long past that, but it seemed he still had issues in that regard.
He had very few people whom he saw as family in this life, and losing one of them had made him let his power loose. He had to be calmer….
"Kaa-san, I understand … and I am so sorry. I had just lost my student Hiruzen, who was also the one man who was truly there for me during my darkest years. I am sorry…"
"You may be the great Shodai Hokage reborn, Naruto, but I still see you as the adorable little boy who cried for his stuffed fox at night…please, please do not do such things ever again without me. I have only you left whom I can call my own, my blood…my son. I will die if I lose you…"Kushina said into his shoulder in a small voice, her pain and anguish apparent.
Naruto's blood ran cold at the thought of his mother dying. "I promise…"
He could feel the intensity of his mother's emotions receding somewhat.
"Don't forget me, Kushina-chan. I will be there with my husband as a part of our family. We are the last of the Uzumaki…"
Kushina looked at Mito, as the three of them sat together on the sofa. Naruto gathered Mito in his arms, the great Kunoichi cuddling into her husband.
"Mito-sama, how are you so young again? If not for my familiarity with your chakra, I could never have recognized you…I never knew you to be so beautiful…"
Mito blushed faintly, and Naruto got stars in his eyes looking once more at his stunning wife. Even Madara had acknowledged her beauty, and his old friend had developed a large hatred for anything to do with the Senju by then.
"Thank you, Kushina-chan…As for your question, I think Orochimaru has understood the Edo Tensei in an unusual way, and used it to bring me back in my seventeen year old body. I was extremely strong as I am now…almost reaching my prime. My physical energy and chakra used to be and currently is almost as much as Hashirama has now…"
Kushina laughed sadly.
"I suppose we owe Orochimaru for this, don't we? He brought you back to us…back to my son. Naruto needs someone from his past to help him reconcile completely and support him like a lover. We should be grateful to Kami…"
Naruto nodded. Extreme sadness coursed through his mind as he remembered the Sandaime from both his lives.
"True, Kaa-san. We will need to attend Hiruzen's funeral tomorrow, though. Then we will have to answer to the village council…they will want to put me under their thumb after seeing Mokuton once more…"
Mito looked annoyed.
"No they won't. Have you forgotten the relationship Uzumaki have with Konoha? You are now an Uzumaki. Unless you take your father's name, which Kushina tells me is highly regarded in Konoha, the council will have little hold on you…", she said.
"So you will head the Uzumaki clan then, Mito-sama..?" Kushina asked curiously.
"Yes. I am the eldest Uzumaki alive after all, and Konoha will serve as an excellent rallying point for the new Uzumaki clan. The village owes us…"
"What is owed will be repaid in full, Mito-chan. I will ensure that…" Naruto assured her. Mito just laid her head on his shoulder and Kushina stood up tiredly.
"I am going to sleep, Naruto. It has been a long day…We will have an even longer one tomorrow. Good night, Mito-sama, Naruto…"
"Good Night, Kaa-san…" said Naruto. A night's sleep would lessen his piercing grief and allow him to come to terms slowly with the Old Man's death and his own actions.
Rain began to fall, and it seemed Konoha itself was weeping for its lost Hokage.
Sasuke walked up to the Sandaime and placed a single white flower in front of his framed portrait. He was the last.
Konoha's entire shinobi force had turned up to attend Sarutobi Hiruzen's funeral. The Hokage had evidently fought the Orochimaru, nearly defeating him.
They had said that Orochimaru was now gravely injured and had gone back to recuperate from his incapacitation. He watched as Naruto stood alongside Kushina-san, and some pretty red haired woman whom he seemed to have picked up somewhere.
They were holding hands. Sasuke felt rather out of character, wanting to tease his friend mercilessly. But he saw the sadness on Naruto's face and concluded that he would have a tree shoved through him if he did that.
His mission had ended in failure. He had successfully incapacitated Gaara's teammates, but Jounin from Suna had soon appeared to extract them from Konoha. It seemed as if Temari and Kankurou held some rank in the hierarchy of Suna.
He and the other rookies had gathered to prepare for the siege, and they had seen what Naruto had done. He had singlehandedly destroyed the invading force and only looked moderately tired after doing it.
After forcing the Tsuchikage to flee. The power he had exhibited…The village bowed to Naruto with reverence and looked upon him as if he was their deliverance.
Where he walked, the villagers seemed to straighten and their faces would change to one of blazing determination and pride.
It was as if Naruto had ignited a flame in the village that refused to be extinguished. As he fought Konoha's enemies, its Shinobi had changed.
His weariness after the battle had seemed only mental and emotional, rather than physical. It just amazed Sasuke to think how Naruto could contain that much power.
Power to wipe out armies.
He had to step up his training if he were to ever catch up with Naruto. He had been slacking off, even if he progressed well with the shunshin.
He had to speak to Naruto, get him to help with his training.
He watched as ANBU appeared in front of Naruto, Kushina-san, and the pretty woman and they all disappeared in a shunshin.
Oh, well. He would talk to him later….
KONOHA'S COUNCIL ROOM
Naruto faced the council of Konoha, congregated fully. On the left side sat the Shinobi consisting of the clan heads.
Inuzuka, Hyuuga, Nara, Akimichi…to name a few.
He could see Homura, Koharu and Danzo staring at Mito with amazement and at him with apprehension.
Hiruzen's seat was empty and it brought him a deep pang of sadness. He had been told by the ANBU witness of Hiruzen's actions. He felt proud of the Hokage, proud at his sacrifice and sad at its necessity. To beat Tobirama and Orochimaru at his age…
He would honour Hiruzen's sacrifice.
"Let us start this council with the most pressing matter at this moment. Uzumaki Naruto, step forward." Said Homura in an authoritative voice.
Naruto just sighed and went up to stand in front of the council.
"We have many matters to attend to after yesterday's invasion, and we cannot waste time. Thus we will go directly to the issue. Naruto-san, you destroyed those barbaric Iwa shinobi with the sacred bloodline, Mokuton.", here Homura and Koharu stared at him with something akin to respect. Danzo just stared at him blankly.
"You have the utmost gratitude of your fellow shinobi and Konoha as a whole for defending us in our time of need. After your actions at the field of battle, the council of Konoha has seen fit to appoint you to the rank of Jounin. This matter is not open for discussion.", stated Homura firmly.
The shinobi in the room were giving Naruto looks of respect and awe, inclining their heads in his direction. Some bowed.
The clan heads were giving sour glances to the civilian side at this statement.
What had happened to the smooth working of this village? Did it really always need me to prosper, thought Naruto with frustration.
Was it only his strength that had held his shinobi together? He had for the longest time thought it was something else…he had thought it was his ideals. Seeing Homura's manoeuvring, feeling all their deplorable emotions in the air made him sick.
He wanted out.
The civilian council were quite predictably shouting their objections. Morons…
"Silence. The civilians have no say in the workings of the shinobi hierarchy. It was only the Shodai's kindness that allowed nuisances like you in this room in the first place…", came Hyuuga Hiashi's cutting voice. The civilian council members just froze, unable to bear the killing intent.
Naruto agreed wholeheartedly. His kindness to the civilian population as Hashirama had come back to annoy him…
"Indeed. We have received reports from our ANBU eyewitnesses that Mito-sama was resurrected by Orochimaru…"
Mito stepped forward.
"Indeed I was. Orochimaru resurrected me in this form, and I was able to break free of his bindings and return to a human body. I am Uzumaki Mito."
The council seemed stunned, only the three elders even seeing the Mito they had known in the beautiful woman in front of them.
"This is indeed Mito-sama, her chakra still burns bright." said Koharu. Her reputation as a sensor was once widely known throughout the nations.
The civilians were open mouthed with their surprise. They kept on whispering, unable to keep up with the astronomical changes introduced to Konoha after the battle.
"We are glad to see you alive and young once more, Mito-sama. So glad…" said Homura in what really appeared to be happiness, while the clan heads bowed in respect to the Kunoichi. Koharu too looked elated, but Naruto was intrigued with Danzo.
He extended his sense towards the bandaged shinobi…and almost cried out in surprise. Danzo's emotions felt regretful and cold at the same time, but that was not the point.
He could feel chakras in Danzo that should not coexist. A trace of his own chakra, and…the chakra of multiple Sharingan.
What had Danzo been doing? How far had he fallen, to have multiple Sharingan implanted upon his arm, and Senju Hashirama's cells into his body?
Something was very wrong with the village. If the council that he had appointed so long ago was so deeply corrupt, it was a wonder that Konoha was still standing.
Already he could feel a change in the village. The warmth and loyalty that used to dominate the village during his reign were gone, leaving only essential kindness and a certain loyalty towards the organization.
These three were the organization. They had made themselves centres of power in Konoha, despite his teachings that the Hokage and the councils only lived to serve the shinobi, and were the first among equals.
He had to play this carefully. He wresting control of the village from the council would not go well, it would only plant the seeds for chaos.
As much as he hated what the village had become he had to play by the rules. Rules he himself had created. It was the better choice…
Danzo could wait.
Anyway, he was broken from his pondering as Mito spoke.
"It is good to be back. Hashirama would want me to keep his legacy safe and shining…"
"…so I will be the head of the Uzumaki clan in Konoha from here on. It is my right as the oldest surviving Uzumaki in the village. My clan will no longer be unrepresented…"
The three elders nodded, as did the rest of the council. It was only right.
Koharu took the floor. "We are glad that this matter is settled. We would like to accord Uzumaki Naruto a great honour and induct him into the Council guard, the elite shinobi that is under our direct command. It often requires years of skill and experience to gain membership. What do you say, Naruto-san?"
They believe me a kid. A powerful one, but a kid nonetheless. What a bad play to have my strength…
"It is not my choice, Koharu-san. I must consult my clan head. What say you, Mito-san, should I enter the great 'council guard'?" he asked.
"My clansmen shall be affiliated to Konoha and Uzumaki alone. No other affiliations, as there are precious few of us to spare. This is my final decision…" Mito said firmly.
The elders looked rather sour. But the clan heads seemed rather happy, Naruto had avoided the clutches of the elders for now, and they could somehow ally themselves with him.
The entire council were now staring at Naruto like a hungry pack of wolves.
They care so much about my power, forgetting so easily that we were invaded on two fronts. I had to win the battle, and Hiruzen defeated Orochimaru. Konoha needs to change….
Mito now stood tall, her and Kushina flanking a depressed Naruto on both sides.
"Any and all offers to the Uzumaki clan, from marriage to alliances should be made through me. Any Kunoichi forcing themselves upon Uzumaki Naruto for any reason whatsoever…shall be dealt with by me personally", she said with an ice cold voice.
Jealous are you, Mito-chan? Do you actually believe I would even look at any other woman when I have you at my side?
The council sighed as one. With Naruto under the protection of Mito herself as clan head, their power plays for him were futile. For now, at least.
The three elders looked a bit angry, but the session was resumed by Homura once more.
"We have lost our Hokage Hiruzen to Orochimaru's attack. Uzumaki Naruto's show of strength will incite the alarm of all the villages in the land. We need a new Hokage to guide us during these turbulent times. I nominate Jiraiya...", said Homura.
Jiraiya appeared out of nowhere, startling the council.
"Don't do that, Jiraiya-sensei!" Kushina scolded him.
Jiraiya waved it off, staring at the council.
"That job is not for me. I have another job, and it cannot have me sitting stationary here in Konoha…"
"You were the candidate endorsed by Hiruzen, there is no one else suitable."
"There is one, actually. I am not the only remaining Sannin, barring Orochimaru…"
Tsunade? thought Naruto. That child had gone off the grid, supposedly drowning in her own miseries. Her become the Hokage, when she had enough ghosts of her own to deal with. What was ero-sennin thinking?
He would love to see the little girl once more, though.
Jiraiya gave him a glance, as if he knew what was on his mind and signalled him to wait.
"You speak of Tsunade-sama. She cannot be found at we need a leader fast…"
A civilian tried to butt in, "how about Kushina-sama? she has strong ties with the Hokage of Konoha and is strong enough."
Kushina snorted. "No way. I will not be Hokage as I have many personal commitments…"
The council seemed annoyed by this. "Personal commitments? You would forsake Konoha for such a thing?" questioned Hiashi.
Kushina looked at Naruto who nodded minutely. They would know sooner or later.
"I have to be there for my husband's legacy, my son, Uzumaki Naruto. I will not give up my son for anything. So rule me out."
"Your son? He is the son of Yondaime! What is going on here?" questioned Chouza in amazement. They seemed stunned, though the elders seemed resigned.
Kushina sighed, as did Mito and Naruto. This would be a long sitting.
Orochimaru screamed in pain as Kabuto dressed his arms in a salve and bandages.
Damn old geezer…he hoped the Sandaime would suffer for an eternity within the death god. He could not use techniques any more…curse that old man!
"My plan, all in ruins thanks to that annoying Kyuubi Jinchuuriki and the old man…my cursed seal on Sasuke will be removed eventually by Mito. I am back to square one…HOW DARE HE?", yelled Orochimaru in anger.
"Orochimaru-sama…you were facing strong opponents. The shinobi no kami, Sarutobi Hiruzen was no mere ninja. The rumours about Naruto-kun portray him as someone to be feared as much as or more than the Yondaime…"
"Do not patronize me, Kabuto! I failed at getting the Sharingan twice and I have no chance whatsoever of getting the Mokuton! Itachi and Naruto-kun are both too strong for me. We need to get Sasuke-kun, and soon…"
"But Orochimaru-sama, we would have no chance against the ones who are in Konoha right now…"
"I know that…aaahh…I know…which is why, after I get my arms healed, we will be re-joining a certain organization. They can be of use to me once more…"
Kabuto's eyes widened.
"….do you agree to these terms, A-dono?" questioned the Godaime Mizukage, Terumi Mei.
She was an extremely beautiful woman with a stunningly proportioned body, not to mention her reputation as a Kunoichi. She was to be feared as a Kage…defeating the Sanbi Jinchuuriki and a Kage to boot in combat was no mean feat.
A considered the woman in front of him and considered her treaty. It would absolve Kumo from harm for quite some time, allowing him to accelerate his own plans.
Two shinobi appeared in the room abruptly, bending down to whisper a message in the ears of each Kage. The two leaders listened for quite some time, their eyebrows climbing higher and higher…and their jaws dropping.
A looked at Mei.
"I wager we heard essentially the same news. To think that Onoki himself and his personal army were defeated by that boy…"
Mei looked intrigued. "He is a very strong shinobi, Uzumaki Naruto. To think he possesses the Mokuton and on such a scale…"
A nodded with wonder. The message had startled him a lot. Yugito had been right. Her prompt message had allowed him to be prepared for this eventuality.
It seemed that Naruto was becoming strong with the Mokuton. Too strong. The balance of power in the nations would be shifting with this…
He was already being called the God of Shinobi, inheriting the title from Hiruzen. He had earned it on the field of battle, defeating a Kage and his army simultaneously.
He owed Yugito. To have that power directed against his village would be disastrous….
Mei, though, was secretly happy. So that is your son, Kushina-san. It seems that the Namikaze family is the true strength of Konoha. I need to meet your Naruto, as fast as possible…
Both Kage resumed their discussion, plans whirling in their minds after hearing the new developments.
"Did you speak to Matatabi, Kurama?" asked Naruto as he walked to the edge of the village with Sasuke, Jiraiya and his family accompanying him.
The council had accepted him being Namikaze Minato's son after a great deal of shouting. But he had refused his father's name formally for now, as he needed the political protection of the Uzumaki clan.
Many shinobi already considered him Namikaze Naruto, and had taken to calling him that. News of his heritage had spread among Konoha's shinobi, and they already accepted him as Minato's son.
"I did, Hashirama. She told me that Jinchuuriki in Kumo are treated reasonably, except that their training is a little tough. Her Jinchuuriki was trained in very harsh conditions…and one more thing, the Hachibi, Gyuuki, is there with his Jinchuuriki. He is rather strong, if a bit boring…"
Naruto thought about it. The Niibi Jinchuuriki had claimed Gaara as her capture, taking him to Kumo. The treaty with Hiruzen had allowed it, unfortunately.
From what he heard from Kurama, the Ichibi Jinchuuriki would surely have a better life in Kumo.
He wondered what was happening in Suna; their lack of a leader had to have created a vacuum in power.
Mito put up the silence seals.
"Be careful, Sasuke-kun, Naruto. Tsunade is really short tempered…", Kushina said to her son and godson.
"Now, Now…don't worry Kushina. I will be there with them…"
Mito and Kushina looked sceptical.
"Somehow that does not reassure me, Jiraiya-sensei…", said Kushina.
Mito got a dangerous look in her eye. "If you turn my husband into a pervert, Jiraiya-kun, there will be hell to pay…"
Naruto and Sasuke looked on, amused, as Jiraiya backpedalled fast from the two Kunoichi, waving his hands frantically.
"No…No…I would never!"
The two looked satisfied. Sasuke proceeded onward, stepping out of the silence barrier's range. Convenient.
"Mito-chan, don't worry about me. Tsunade is acting like a child…I'll get her back, don't worry. You know how I can convince her to do anything, she idolizes me…", said Naruto happily.
"You spoil her too much, Hashirama. You will tell her, then?" asked Mito. Kushina and Jiraiya were paying attention.
"Yes. She deserves to know she has family left in this world still. I won't tell her right away, though…."
Kushina and Mito nodded.
"Be careful, Naruto…you will be targeted by multiple shinobi after you showed your prowess at the battle. I know who you are, but still…."
"Don't worry, Kaa-san! They'll be toast!" declared Naruto.
Mito embraced him.
"Hashirama, listen to your mother. There will always be someone strong enough to challenge you. Come back soon…with Tsunade."
Naruto kissed her softly on the cheek.
"Of course! Bye, Kaa-san! Mito-chan! Come on, ero-sennin let us get to Sasuke before he gets too far away…"
Jiraiya and Naruto ran after Sasuke, the two Uzumaki women watching them.
In a cave far from Konoha, upon the fingers of a massive statue with multiple eyes, stood projections of nine shinobi. All of them wearing black cloaks with red clouds.
"Why are we gathered again so soon? I have bounties to collect…" said the deep voice of a man with a mask on him.
A silver haired man with a large scythe laughed madly.
"Leader-sama, this job with Akatsuki is sacred! The number of people I have sacrificed to Jashin-sama…It is Jashin-sama's grace that I have such a purpose!"
The man in the centre spoke at last, and his eyes were strange. They were a dull purple in colour, with a ripple like pattern spreading over the eyeballs.
"Quiet, Hidan. We have extremely important news that affects our plans. Tell them, Zetsu…"
A plant like being with half black and half white skin divided vertically spoke.
"It appears that Orochimaru attempted an invasion of Konoha during the Chuunin Exams. He was able to kill the Sandaime Hokage and was invaded the village with Oto and Suna…", said the white half of Zetsu, but was interrupted by black Zetsu.
"But it appears as if the village knew of his plans and defended itself well. But Orochimaru used Edo Tensei to bring back Uzumaki Mito at full strength. He underestimated her…"
Sharingan eyes widened, and the other shinobi began to curse softly.
"I can deal with Uzumaki Mito if necessary. But we will avoid confrontation with her till absolutely needed. Proceed, Zetsu", ordered the leader.
"But that is the least of our worries. The Ichibi Jinchuuriki then went haywire, but the Niibi Jinchuuriki stopped him. They fought in their tailed beast forms…"
A grotesquely hunched form with a facemask asked, "Did that not destroy the village? Orochimaru won it seems…"
"No, Sasori. Uzumaki Naruto contained both bijuu… with a prison of Mokuton…"
Their reactions were instantaneous.
"To confine the bijuu…it is the Shodai Hokage's strength…"
"Mokuton, of all things…"
"Jashin-sama! He will be your sacrifice…"
"Silence", ordered Pain. "Listen first. Continue, Zetsu…"
"That is not the whole story. He then left the third to deal with the snake,and then accompanied Mito to an unknown location.
After which..Iwa attacked in force, about two thousand of their strongest, under Onoki's command."
Eyes widened everywhere.
"Oh yeah, I bet the old man got them right…his Dust release is true art! An explosive masterpiece!" a blonde and tall young man shouted.
"I'm sure it is…Deidara…The Kyuubi Jinchuuriki confronted them and…"
Zetsu proceeded to describe in detail what the battle had entailed. There was absolute silence when he finished.
Only Onoki and his family had left alive.
"Itachi, the Kyuubi is your job, yours and Kisame's too bad you can't capture him…he is too strong for you! We know he's stronger than you, don't we Kisame?" laughed Deidara.
Kisame snarled at Deidara.
"The techniques he used are Hashirama's own techniques and it seems like he possesses the might and skill of the Shodai himself in battle. This will make his capture difficult, Pain…" Itachi said.
"I know of Hashirama's strength, and that boy has it. He created several square miles of forest with little effort, and he looked only minimally tired after the battle. He is extremely strong, and is growing stronger steadily. At this rate he will reach Hashirama's strength in a few years…", said black Zetsu.
"He cannot be allowed to grow stronger. Currently, I believe none of you with the exception of me or Itachi can face him in battle and live. If he grows any more powerful he will be a major hindrance to our plan…"
Pain surveyed the members of Akatsuki, his Rinnegan fixing upon Itachi's Sharingan.
"We must act now to secure the plan's execution. Listen to your orders…"
Kakashi strolled down the road, accompanied by his long time friends and colleagues Asuma and Kurenai.
"Kakashi, have you visited the new forest?"
Kakashi shook his head.
"No, not really. Is that where you are going?" he looked at Asuma, observing his body language.
"Knew you had it in you…Asuma." He said lazily.
Asuma looked at him with a light blush, with Kurenai staring quizzically at the two of them.
Kakashi turned and spotted Sakura waving at him, carrying what appeared to be a basket of Ohagi.
"Ohayo, Sakura. Searching for your teammates, huh?"
"Yes, Do you know where either one of them are Kakashi sensei? I searched their apartment but there was no one…I just wanted to spend some time with Sasuke-kun and Naruto…the invasion seems to have affected them both…"
Kakashi wondered, along with Asuma and Kurenai. Of course, Naruto would have had a hard time dealing with his actions.
Even if he is the Shodai, there is a part of him that is as innocent as a pure child. He must be tortured by his part in the battle, but he hides it well…or deals well with it.
"I think they are on a mission with Jiraiya-sama, aren't they Kakashi?"
Kakashi nodded. Sakura sighed, "Oh. I see. I wanted to speak to them both…"
Something seemed to be running through her mind with the speed of Namikaze Minato.
"Kakashi-sensei, will you train me? I have no wish to be left behind by them…"
Kakashi nodded again. Suddenly he saw something, something that put him on edge. Two men wearing black cloaks with red clouds, mixing into the crowd.
Dangerous, they are Akatsuki. Jiraiya-sama…your fears were true. I need to follow them...
He made imperceptible signs to Asuma and Kurenai, who nodded. They shot off fast.
The two Akatsuki stopped in front of what the villagers had begun to call, 'The forest of the God'.
The forest was huge. The trees were so massive and dense but it still felt natural. The sunlight hardly filtered through, providing just adequate light.
The shorter of the two took off his hat.
"Come out, Asuma-san, Kurenai-san. I can sense you hiding…"
The larger man too took off his hat.
"It seems you are hated in this village, Itachi-san…"
The two Jounin appeared behind the Akatsuki.
"Uchiha Itachi. You certainly have a lot of gall, coming back to the scene of the crime. Why are you here…?"
Uchiha Itachi and his partner turned, revealing their features. His partner was pale blue skinned, spiked hair and looking like a shark.
"I have no wish to fight you two. Why we are here…is our business. Just know that we are here on orders…"
"Orders...well, be that as it may, you are both wanted Shinobi of the highest priority. S-class missing Nin. You won't leave here alive, Uchiha Itachi and Hoshigaki Kisame." Said Asuma grimly.
"Oh..you know me too, I'm honoured. Shall I kill them, Itachi-san?"
Itachi considered, and replied.
"Be quick about it, Kisame. We have our orders…"
Sakura walked towards that forest Naruto had created at a brisk walk. She had forgotten to give the Ohagi to be given to Kakashi-sensei.
She had heard Kurenai-sensei saying they were coming to visit the forest for the first time. That forest was becoming a kind of shrine for the Konoha Shinobi, only after a day.
She passed through the gates of Konoha, greeting Izumo briefly, and ran for the Forest of God. Her mother would be irritated if she were late…
She entered the forest through a convenient path that Naruto had created before leaving.
What? What were those sounds, it was Kunai clashing! She rushed in that direction when she heard her sensei's voice…
She saw Kakashi, Asuma and Kurenai all facing two men in black robes, with red clouds on them.
….No, it was not him. It looked like an older verison of him. Then it had to be…
Uchiha Itachi! And the other blue man fit Naruto's description of the shinobi he had fought at Wave, Hoshigaki Kisame!
Kakashi turned hastily at the sound of Sakura's voice. This was no place for a Genin! Why was she here..?
"Sakura, What are you doing here? Leave, NOW!" Kurenai yelled.
Sakura seemed frozen, unable to take her eyes off Itachi's face. Kakashi cursed. Of all the times for Sakura's obsession with anything Sasuke to get in the way!
Itachi appeared in front of Sakura, looking deep into her eyes. The pink haired girl just fell in a heap.
"We are taking the girl, Kisame!"
Itachi appeared next to Kisame, Sakura slung over his shoulders.
Kakashi was absolutely angered. Sakura had nothing to do with this. Unless…oh no, Naruto! They were aiming for Naruto!
"Itachi, leave Sakura and go. Or else…"
Itachi paused, looking at Kakashi. Asuma and Kurenai were exhausted from their battle, only the copy ninja was fit to fight.
"Do not make threats you cannot back, Kakashi-san…this is necessary. I will not hold back if you continue…"
Kakashi did not answer, and unveiled his Sharingan.
"Oho, a Sharingan! Itachi-san, we have to deal with him here and now! The girl will not be secure in a fight!", said Kisame ferally.
Itachi nodded infinitesimally. He turned his stoic face upon Kakashi, and his Sharingan morphed into a pinwheel making the Jounin gasp.
"Your eye cannot match mine, Kakashi-san. I am the true heir of the Sharingan; they called me the most powerful Uchiha since Madara. I will show you…my visual prowess…"
Kisame was grinning.
"Don't look into his eyes!" said Kakashi sharply. Asuma and Kurenai averted their faces.
"True…Sharingan can resist my Mangekyou a little, but you are no Uchiha, Kakashi-san….Tsukuyomi!"
Kakashi was transported into a bleak world with a red moon and clouds moving rapidly, and he was lashed to a cross.
Itachi stood in front of him with a bared Katana.
"This is the world of Tsukuyomi, Kakashi-san. The most powerful Genjutsu…I can bend space and time to my will here. You will feel pain for three days."
Kakashi felt pure pain rage through him, and he cried out.
"72 hours 59 minutes and 30 seconds to go…"
Kakashi screamed out again and again, being stabbed by multiple Katana on all sides.
Faintly, he remembered a conversation he had with Naruto this morning…
"Kakashi, do you know you have the Mangekyou Sharingan?"
"I knew you would sense it, having fought so many Uchiha…No, Naruto, it is not that. I got it after watching my teammate die…" said Kakashi.
Naruto nodded sadly. "I am so sorry, Kakashi. But remember, that eye you possess has great power. I do not presume to advise you, but in my experience…a weapon not used is a weapon wasted. I know you risk blindness with its excessive use…but do use it very occasionally. You must be familiar with it in case a dire situation arises…"
Kakashi shook his head.
"It is not that I do not want to use it, Naruto. It is simply that after one use, I tend to fall in exhaustion. I am no Uchiha…that, and no opponent I have met warrants the use of that eye."
Naruto looked sharply at him. "Uchiha Itachi possesses the Mangekyou as well, and if you ever meet him, remember: You can match one Mangekyou with only another Mangekyou…unless you are so strong that Doujutsu becomes irrelevant. Do not hesitate to use it in such situations…"
Kakashi considered deeply, and then nodded.
"Thank you for the warning, Naruto. I will be sure to keep that in mind…"
Naruto nodded and shot off.
Kurenai and Asuma watched as Kakashi stared into Itachi's eyes, and began to slump.
Suddenly Itachi slumped as well, Sakura nearly slipping off with the motion. Then he straightened up with great effort, staring at Kakashi with unbridled surprise.
Kakashi asked in a hoarse voice, "Your organization…it is called Akatsuki is it not? You plan to take Naruto and all the other Jinchuuriki…"
Itachi looked tired as well, but a lot more surprised than tired. Kisame was staring at Kakashi with wide eyes.
"You must not be allowed to live if you have Mangekyou Sharingan and have this much knowledge, Kakashi-san…"
Itachi laid Sakura on the water gently, and stared at Kakashi with his eyes, the pinwheel formation not fading.
Kakashi too stared back with his own single Mangekyou, preparing for the battle he feared he could not win.
Itachi's left eye bled.
A torrent of black fire hotter than the flames of the sun materialized in front of Kakashi instantly, only to be swallowed up by what seemed a spiralling distortion of space-time.
The rest of the Ninja stared amazed at the sheer power of the techniques used. Kakashi fell on to the water unconscious, and at the same time Itachi and Kisame flew back as if kicked.
Maito Gai, the noble blue beast of Konoha stood in front of the Konoha Jounin, holding Sakura.
"Kurenai, take Kakashi and Sakura-san back to Konoha. Asuma and I will fight them until ANBU arrives!"
"Let's leave, Kisame! We did not come here to start a fight…let's go!"
The two Akatsuki disappeared, the Konoha Jounin heaving a sigh of relief.
"Kakashi needs immediate medical attention, as does Sakura. Let's go!"
Orochimaru stared at the town. So unassuming it was, so sleepy.
"Is this the place, Kabuto? Is this where my old teammate now wastes away?"
"Yes, Orochimaru-sama. Our spies have confirmed it. This is where Tsunade-sama now resides with her apprentice…"
Orochimaru licked his lips with his creepily long tongue.
"It's time for me to reunite with my old teammate, Kabuto. Let's see if Tsunade is as helpful as she was in the old days…"
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