Author Note

Hi there and welcome to another chapter of Nidaime no Sairin.

Not much to say beforehand, so let's get right to it.

Please enjoy!


Nidaime no Sairin - Naruto Shippuden

Chapter 35 – Rivalry Part I

Beta: Scheffinator


Hiruzen stood with his hand behind his back as he eyed his old rival.

He could see the man's entourage even though all of them were perfectly hidden from view, just like they were trained to do all their lives. Even though they should have disbanded long ago, Hiruzen had to commend the old Warhawk for his tutoring. Most, if not all of them, were concealing not only their presence, but their intentions as well. The perfect assassin squad to perhaps tutor the Elemental Nations like Danzo saw fit. Now that his mind was free of the Hokage reins, Hiruzen allowed himself to ponder on that.

Just how much havoc out there had Danzo's fingerprints on it.

"I take it you wish to speak to me...Hiruzen?" Sarutobi nodded with an easy smile on his face, despite the situation he now placed himself in. "I do wonder why, though…since you're no longer the Hokage."

"Oh, can't a friend stop by to visit every now and then, Danzo? You're right, I am no longer the Hokage, so I no longer represent the chair I used to sit in." Danzo merely chuckled at that.

"Yes, you so naively decided to nominate yet another candidate that won't do what's necessary for the village's benefit. That thought aside, however, I fail to understand what is it that you want?" Hiruzen saw it…Danzo tapped his cane on the ground twice and the ROOT ANBU's presence all but disappeared. He knew, however, that the same signal once more would bring them back. His old rival…always the strategist. However, right now, the former Sandaime Hokage's intentions lie elsewhere.

"You don't seem to intend on hiding the ROOT ANBU's existence from me, Danzo…almost as if you don't perceive me as a threat." Danzo merely cleared his throat and turned his back on Hiruzen.

"I happen to know you Hiruzen for a long time. You came here to talk. So please follow me for some tea and we can chat for old time's sake, shall we?" Hiruzen merely chuckled and nodded.

"Of course, lead the way."

As such, the battle between the old rivals had already begun.


===With Yuugao's team===

The Konoha strike team moved at fast speeds until they had stopped on top of a tree log to inspect their opposition.

To the naked eye, it didn't seem like the shinobi from Otogakure spotted them coming, but right now stealth was not the issue.

The team had already split like Yuugao instructed with her pairing up with Tokuma and Naruto pairing up with Hana. The Jonin leader instructed Naruto to begin the attack and the recently promoted Jonin nodded, before strapping a couple of exploding tags in two kunai. The two projectiles traveled at swift velocity and the rest were already ready to move the second the blast ignited. However, Tokuma's eyes saw one of the enemies release a swift water technique the second the projectiles ignited, forcibly dousing the flames. Yuugao did signal for them to move in regardless as they now stood in front of one another.

"So, you did notice we were coming…" Yuugao pondered as Kidomaru smirked.

From the mission participants, they were the only ones who knew each other.

"Huh, of course, what do you take us for…" Naruto had immediately focused on the opposition, particularly on the red-haired girl with glasses.

"Hm, now I see how they knew." Yuugao and the others turned to him as he pointed to the girl with red hair. "She is a sensor." The girl in question smirked and adjusted her glasses as well. It wasn't their only means of spotting a tail, but it's not like they will divulge their abilities to the enemy. Naruto also noticed something odd about this girl. A strange resemblance in feel, though he couldn't quite figure it out. His eyes then moved on the enemy with gray hair and lifeless eyes. His chakra capacity alone spoke volumes, but this person had a Kekkei Genkai.

"Enough chit chat, let's move to grab that barrel."

Yuugao ordered everyone to move, before Naruto urged them all to stop as soon as the one he was focusing on surprisingly had swords coming from his hands, before slamming them on the ground. In less than a second, the ground around them was littered with thousands and thousands of swords that would have pierced the group from Konoha had they not adhered to Naruto's warning. These swords, however, weren't made of steel, at least not the regular steel Yuugao and Naruto were accustomed to.

"Let's split up...our objective remains the same."

Kimimaro ordered everyone, before grabbing the barrel and leaving.

Yuugao turned to their teammates and nodded as she and Tokuma moved to stop Kimimaro from advancing, before Kidomaru shot a bunch of web shots at them, forcing them to stay their ground. Naruto and Hana moved ahead from their position, as they were following the other two who were guarding the escaping Kimimaro. Kidomaru attempted to shoot spider web shots at Naruto and Hana's back, but Yuugao had used her sword to slice the web shots in half.

Yuugao and Tokuma stood their ground against the smirking Kidomaru.

The Hyuuga's eyes widened as strange marks appeared around the enemy's body.


===With Naruto and Hana===

Naruto and Hana were quickly advancing at two of the shinobi from Otogakure, one of them was the girl who was a sensor and the other one, a blue-haired teen with pointy teeth and an annoyed expression on his face.

"Geez, now we are the ones being chased, Karin. I had never signed up for this mess." The girl named Karin looked backward and saw the duo from Konoha, plus the canines advance.

"You are going to have to step up and face them, Suigetsu…" the one mentioned sighed in dismay, knowing that to be true.

"Of course, aside from being a sensor, you're pretty much useless in a fight, aren't you."

Karin's response to that was to show indignation and approach him to smack his head with her feet.

"You shut it you ass." Naruto and Hana looked at one another in surprise when the teen's head turned into water when the girl hit him.

Naruto sensed that this guy had a massive affinity for water ninjutsu, just like he did.

Eventually, they had arrived at a stream nearby as Naruto and Hana landed on the ground next to the triplets. The girl Karin immediately went into hiding.

"Well, not that I fancy doing Orochimaru's bidding here, but I was promised extreme pain if I didn't comply with the bastard's orders. Might as well have some fun doing that." Suigetsu had removed a sword from his holster. It was a regular sword from appearance alone, rather long in length. Suigetsu noticed that his opponent was eyeing the sword and smirked. "I know it doesn't look like much. Once I acquire Zabuza-senpai's Executioner's Blade, then things shall be quite interesting."

"Zabuza…you know of Momochi Zabuza?" Suigetsu looked surprised at Naruto's mention.

"Of course, he trained me…you know him as well, I take it. Interesting." Naruto nodded, remembering about the Kiri nuke-nin that forced Haku into that life.

"I do…my team met him in Wave Country, three years ago." Hana was focusing on the girl hiding in the nearby bushes, though she didn't appear much of a threat. Only the one talking with Naruto right now.

"Well, this mission was a pain in the ass, but luckily for me I had found someone who had known Zabuza-senpai. Let's have some fun, then."

Suigetsu noticed as Hana took advantage of the situation and advanced together with her three canines, earning a chuckle from Suigetsu. Hana didn't need to dodge the incoming projectiles thrown by Karin, since Naruto had blocked them with projectiles of his own. Suigetsu used advanced evasion techniques against the canines and Hana as well. His sword strikes were aimed at the canines first, but the pups used their claws and even their teeth to block the swords. Naruto noticed when Suigetsu's arm that was holding the sword expanded somehow, showing ample muscles out of the blue.

Because of the extra strength, he made quick work of Hana's three canines, pouncing on them with his bare arms.

"Bastard…I will show you what happens when someone beats my dogs." Suigetsu saw as Hana started spinning madly, before forming a tornado.

The enemy had turned his body into water, so Hana's attack passed through him, effortlessly, before Hana materialized from her attack. She used the Tsuuga again, but all she received from her effort was her injured leg, once Suigetsu used his water ability to escape and then materialize fast enough to use his sword to injure her leg. She had opted to order her pups to retreat close to Naruto, who was busy studying this foe.

"What's the meaning of this? His body has turned into water." Naruto nodded and Hana concluded the obvious. "Naruto, I am afraid I won't be of much use against him. My attacks are more physical."

"I am afraid so…take care of your injuries and the dogs, Hana, I will take a shot at this guy." The Inuzuka woman accepted it and looked back to her pups, while focusing on Karin to see if she would attack.

"Oh, what can you do against me, I wonder?" Naruto saw as Suigetsu made a motion with his hand, mimicking a firearm. At first, he thought it was an act of provocation, but when he sensed the molding of water chakra focused on the opponent's finger, Naruto moved ahead and focused on the ram sign. As soon as Suigetsu released a powerful water bullet at him, Suigetsu was surprised to see water from the air currently forming a water barrier in front of Naruto, blocking his attack. "Wow, interesting…you have a water affinity, just like me." Naruto then vanished and released his sword to slash at Suigetsu. However, his sword passed through the enemy's body just like Hana's attack did.

Suigetsu smirked at that, but Naruto was not done, moving forward with other branches of the shinobi arts. He went through hand seals.

Fuuton: Daitoppa (Wind Release: Great Breakthrough)

Suigetsu felt the strong gust of wind erupt from Naruto's hands and sent him flying. Wind techniques wouldn't normally do much damage aside from sprawling water around, but since it wasn't a physical attack per se, more like a hurricane, Suigetsu's body didn't turn into water, hence why his body was somersaulted. Naruto didn't waste time and sent two kunai with fire seals strapped to it, blasting Suigetsu. Only this time, the Hozuki managed to turn into water, before falling on the stream like drops of rain.

Naruto stood waiting for the attack to come and cursed somewhat. His sensory perception was attuned to the water element. But this guy's body was almost entirely made of water. He couldn't sense Suigetsu's position.

Hence why Naruto went through hand seals, extending a disorienting Genjutsu around him, before summoning a clone to become bait.

True to his pondering, the clone got pierced from the back from Suigetsu's surprise sword strike.

The man's glee from killing was short lived, however, as Naruto removed the disorienting Genjutsu and used his sword to cut Suigetsu's body in half. Suigetsu's body, though, once more turned into water and got up unscathed.

"You have skill…what's your name?" Naruto snorted, but complied.

"Naruto and yours?" Suigetsu smirked as well, understanding the lack of the last name.

"Suigetsu…well, this is quite fun, let's continue." What followed up was a Kenjutsu dance the likes of which a Swordsman of the Mist quite enjoyed. Naruto, while clashing swords, wondered what he could do against someone who could turn his body into water and thus couldn't suffer attacks. The obvious choice would be lightning attacks, but Naruto didn't know any to use. He would kill for the Nidaime's sword right now. However, one thing he could use at his disposal.

Chakra

His body may turn into water, but he must use chakra in order to do so.

Naruto then thought of a suitable strategy. Suigetsu is a formidable fighter in close range and quite agile to be taken by surprise.

Also, he is quite adept at sword fighting to fall for a faint.

Reaching for his training with Kurenai, Naruto went for a mix between Kenjutsu, Genjutsu and Fuuinjutsu. As soon as Suigetsu slammed his sword, Naruto didn't block with the same intensity, forcing him to lose his step a bit. Suigetsu smirked and pushed forward, but he didn't see Naruto's ram sign activate. As such, Suigetsu's sword appeared to pierce Naruto's chest and even Hana screamed in surprise. However, Suigetsu realized too late when his attack didn't draw blood as the real Naruto appeared from his back and slammed a chakra suppression seal. Karin looked scandalized at what she had witnessed as Suigetsu began to melt from dehydration.

"You are a troublesome opponent for sure, but without chakra you can't use that nasty ability of yours."

Suigetsu was usually the one taunting others, but right now he was truly without words.

His body had turned into water completely, becoming no different than a puddle of water on the ground. Naruto noticed that the puddle slowly fell towards the water stream. Naruto snorted in the end. His seal needed skin to stick. Without it, its influence ended. And since Suigetsu can use the water like he could, chances were that this fight would progress endlessly. However, after a while, he wondered if an attack would come or not. However, his answer came from the girl Karin.

"Oi Suigetsu, come back here you coward…you can't leave me alone here." Naruto's sensing capability was worthless against the Hozuki, but Karin's still worked.

Hana's pups had advanced at Karin's position and forced her against a nearby tree. She didn't have the means to escape from dogs and this guy managed to beat Suigetsu, forcing him to escape.

"Huh, seems like he took the easy way out in the end. It was a shame, I was really enjoying this fight." Karin looked at Naruto approaching. She could feel the immensity of his chakra. She could also feel its immense purity and warmth for a while, before cowering in fear at the other feeling she had of Naruto. The Uzumaki for his part looked at this girl studying her chakra. It felt familiar to him, so to speak. His curiosity however dwindled for the moment, as the mission took precedence.

Still, she was also a goon for Orochimaru, so capturing her was a must right now.

"I am sorry to say that you shall have to come back to Konoha with us."

Before Karin could protest, Hana had sent her to unconsciousness, before Naruto grabbed a scroll from his kunai holster.


===With Yuugao and Tokuma===

Yuugao and Tokuma were busy facing the long-range fighter from the enemy group.

This battle so far has been a rollercoaster ride for both sides. The cursed seal was already active just like Yuugao remembered it.

Though, Kidomaru didn't fancy fighting against an expert swordswoman and against the Jyuuken in close range. Kidomaru's sticky membrane defense managed to secure himself against the almighty sixty four palms technique from Tokuma as well as Yuugao's shadow sword technique. Right now, both Tokuma and Yuugao were back to back defending themselves against the onslaught of kunai made from the same material. Tokuma would use his chakra palm strike and Yuugao would use her sword to slash the sticky projectiles, though this now turned into a battle of attrition.

"Tokuma, can you see where he is?" They were still blocking the projectiles and the Hyuuga had his eyes activated.

"I do, but he keeps on moving around. I can't pinpoint his location to make a suitable move." Yuugao cursed their situation. ANBU protocol would dictate a suitable move right now, but she was dreading it.

"We have to shorten the distance, but there is only one possible move right now." Tokuma smirked, acknowledging the captain's dilemma.

"I can become the target, taichou." Yuugao turned to him in surprise. "You know that one of us would have to be the prey to lure him out, I can anticipate his attacks with the Byakugan. You are swifter than me."

"Tokuma…" The Hyuuga felt her apprehension, but for the sake of this fight, one of them had to take the fall, let it be him because of his eyes.

"I will be fine, just go already." Yuugao slashed a couple of the projectiles, before making up her mind.

"Fine, but please do not underestimate his aim…he seems to be quite adept at long range attacks and still targets vital areas." Tokuma nodded, understanding it. One of those projectiles had gone through the Byakugan's blind side.

Kidomaru was enjoying keeping a distance as he eyes his opponents, trapped by such a distance. He cursed as soon as he threw his next horde of projectiles, because the woman vanished from view, leaving the other one alone to block the projectiles through an awesome technique where he would spin three hundred and sixty degrees while expelling his chakra, blocking it all. Kidomaru then turned in surprise to see Yuugao appear right next to him. She swung her sword in a circular motion, leaving a trace of an afterimage behind.

Oborozukiyo (Hazy Moon Night)

Yuugao then advanced in extreme speeds creating afterimages in a zig-zag. Kidomaru was forced into a corner as he couldn't pinpoint where the attack would come from. Yuugao noticed the cursed seal glowing once more and moved to strike. Her sword, however, met with enough resistance from this guy's body, as he now transformed once more. His body now turned into a grotesque looking shape, with one eye appearing in his forehead. Kidomaru smirked at her look of surprise, forcing Yuugao to kick him and remove the sword from this troublesome opponent's stomach. Tokuma saw it all with his Byakugan and decided to create a window for his partner to escape.

Hakke Kusho (Eight Trigrams Vacuum Palm)

The air vacuum hit Kidomaru dead on, allowing Yuugao to retreat and land by her partner's side.

"Thanks for the save. This has become problematic…I have seen that transformation before, when Kakashi-senpai and I defeated the others back then."

True to her tension, both looked upward to see the opponent hanging upside down using a spider's web.

"You two have taken me this far, now rejoice as I had decided to bring some friends to play with us." Tokuma and Yuugao saw as Kidomaru began the summoning technique, before a giant spider appeared behind him. "You two have been quite adept at stopping my projectiles, but I wonder how you will fare against a never-ending rain of spiders at the same time as I send the projectiles." Just like he said, the giant spider had given birth to a horde of smaller sized spiders that traveled against the duo from Konoha. Tokuma's eyes hardened as his fingers glowed in Jyuuken strikes as Yuugao grabbed her sword harder, in anticipation.

Kidomaru looked on in surprise when they not only stopped the spiders, but also slashed the projectiles thrown from multiple distances.

Still, his summoned animal could conjure an endless amount of puppet spiders, so he was confident that they would tire first.

"Tokuma, focus your air attack on the summoned spider. We can't keep doing this for long." Tokuma nodded as he closed his eyes and focused on the giant spider. He needed to reach deep inside his chakra coils for one pinpoint attack, carrying enough punch to remove this beast from the scene. Tokuma's eyes were usually more focused in tracking, but like the others in his clan, his constant training was for these very moments. One surgical attack that could neutralize the opponents from afar. The Hyuuga Clan's only weakness is being constantly trained to overcome.

As soon as he opened his eyes and focused enough chakra in his right palm, Tokuma took aim and screamed.

Dai Hakke Kusho (Great Eight Trigrams Vacuum Palm)

The attack alone removed the giant horde of spiders heading his way and it slammed on both the surprised Kidomaru and the giant spider on his back, forcing it to be destroyed instantly.

The attack had also hit Kidomaru's inner organs and with the little spiders gone, Yuugao was free to move and go for the instant kill as Kidomaru was falling to the ground.


===With Naruto===

A part of Naruto still felt guilty over leaving Hana, but time was of the essence right now.

The clones he had summoned to help protect the Inuzuka had enough juice to last until Hana arrived at the village, with the help of her canines. Still, the nagging feeling Naruto had about this Karin person occupied his mind, while he progressed to face the next enemy. He couldn't help but wonder about the familiarity of her chakra feel. It felt like the time he would meditate and take a feel for his own chakra. He supposed he would have enough time to ponder about that, once they returned to Konoha.

With her captured, the Hokage can shed some light about this for him later.

It didn't take long for Naruto to reach Kimimaro's position. He was carrying the barrel with Sasuke inside, so his movements were hindered.

They were now in an open grassy field as the enemy placed the barrel on the ground, while observing Naruto from a distance.

"So, it seems Suigetsu died just like I thought he would. No matter, I shall deal with trash like you."

Naruto extended his chakra perception about this guy, while observing his mannerisms.

Being called trash on the other hand kind of miffed the Uzumaki, however, and it didn't help that the fox in his head was laughing about it.

"Indeed, he didn't seem that much inclined in putting up much of a fight to be honest...a rather sneaky fellow ended up taking advantage of the nearby river to flee. You on the other hand at least look interested in following Orochimaru's orders and putting up a fight." Naruto was keen on observing this guy's chakra. He knew the enemy had a special ability; however, he was still clueless as to what exactly. All he saw was the ability in the beginning to release multiple strange swords coming off the ground. "I do wonder about that, though…about Orochimaru's true desire at this point with Sasuke. Or is it the Sharingan that Sasuke possesses?"

Kimimaro kept on his blank stare for a good while, before closing his eyes.

"Orochimaru-sama has already obtained the Jutsu of immortality…but that alone is not enough. He needs a powerful vessel for the possession and indeed, the Sharingan is one powerful tool in his ultimate quest of learning every possible Jutsu there is to be discovered. Uchiha Sasuke thus is the perfect vessel for Orochimaru-sama to fulfill his wishes and goals. And it's my mission above all else to make sure that Sasuke's body is delivered. You, trash, just happen to be in the way." Naruto hummed at the notion…the Snake Sannin was perhaps the most twisted individual he had ever come across.

Immortality…knowing every possible Jutsu out there…human possession…the Nidaime had some studies in his journal in similar fashion, but never with such selfish desires.

"Well, at least, the answer as to whether Sasuke was willingly kidnapped or taken against his will is now clear…so you imbeciles captured him." Kimimaro, though, only laughed, earning question marks from Naruto.

"Uchiha Sasuke may have been captured against his will, but he didn't put up much of a fight once we explained what would happen. Perhaps, his loyalty wasn't that much attuned to Konoha, in the end." To the Uzumaki, Sasuke was not that high in his list of well-wishers. Hell, he has been quite annoying ever since he appointed Naruto as his ultimate rival of sorts. However, at the end of the day, the bastard was still a Konoha shinobi…he was still Sakura and Kiba's teammate. That being said, it irked him that Sasuke may have chosen this venue. At the end of the day, it didn't matter, he reasoned. His mission remained the same, whether or not he left on his free will.

He would just have to knock some sense into him, after all.

"Whether he did in fact choose to betray the village is irrelevant to me…my mission remains the same." Kimimaro only hummed as he realized that their conversation had now ended.

Naruto felt the spike of chakra from his opponent and saw as swords strangely erupted from his palms. Before the fight began, however, Naruto's eyes turned immediately to the barrel that began to emit such a foul black chakra.

"Hmmm, it appears that the procedure is now complete." Naruto looked on in surprise as the barrel exploded, before the feeling of Sasuke's chakra surged at full force, unimpeded. He could feel Orochimaru's cursed seal all over him, but stronger than before, definitely more vile. His usual clothes remained the same, with the exception that his body was entirely filled with this black hue, as if he was possessed. His hair was now much longer and spikier, all the way to his middle back.

"Sasuke…" The Uchiha turned and saw Naruto. Sasuke's eyes were mad…almost entranced.

"Oh is that you Naruto…exquisite isn't it? This power…it's at my disposal at last." Naruto narrowed his eyes at the inevitable conclusion. Indeed, Sasuke may have been captured, but he was no victim in this mess.

"You need to go to Orochimaru-sama at once…I shall deal with this trash." Sasuke turned to look at Kimimaro, before smirking and then looking back at Naruto.

"I wish to fight you once more with this new power. I shall be waiting up ahead for you once you deal with him." Kimimaro turned abruptly at Sasuke, wondering what was that all about, however Sasuke had left soon afterward.

"Hmmm, he still is the same annoying person, perhaps not even Orochimaru can take that away from him. Well, if I know that bastard like I think I do, then at least I can afford to waste time on you."

Kimimaro looked at him for a while, not at all enjoying that Sasuke was being uncooperative right now.

"I will just have to deliver your head to him, then…" Those were Kimimaro's last words, before he advanced with his two swords.

Naruto grabbed his sword and advanced to meet up in the middle.


===With Yuugao===

The sword user looked down at the killed Kidomaru and tsked at such a troublesome opponent. The wound from her sword was quite visible in his heart, after so many thrusts from her sword that met his sticky defense.

She could see the forest around them was filled with spider webs and gore from the never-ending rain of those bastard's arachnids that threatened to skewer her and Tokuma. Just remembering their noise made Yuugao's skin crawl. The Forest of Death had a few nasty ones, so Yuugao was somewhat accustomed to facing arachnids in battle. However, this was the first time that she had to face a rain of those tiny creatures. If Tokuma hadn't used his special Jyuuken against them, she doubted that her sword alone would handle all of them.

Still, with one of the enemies down, the mission was still a go and she wondered how Naruto and Hana were fairing. Kidomaru had shared with her in laughter that it was probably too late for them. He had also shared with her about Sasuke's ultimate decision to go along with the act of betraying his village in exchange for power. So, for the squad leader, it was a certainty that the Uchiha had now become an enemy of Konohagakure no Sato, a soon to be labeled a nuke-nin.

Arriving close to her companion for this mission, the Hyuuga was busy cleaning some webs from his outfit.

"How are you fairing, Tokuma? We still need to advance." Tokuma had his Byakugan activated, while Yuugao was talking to him.

"I am ready when you are, taichou, though I can see Naruto and Hana coming towards us with Hana's triplets." The captain looked at him in surprise and it caught the Hyuuga by surprise, at seeing her looking directly at him.

"What do you mean…" She wasn't able to finish her train of thought, before she heard Naruto's voice calling up to them.

Naruto was helping Hana adjust while the triplets were behind them.

"What's the meaning of this, Naruto…where is Sasuke and the other opponents?"

"I am just a clone, sensei. The original went up ahead after Sasuke. He summoned me to take Hana back to the village. One of the enemies escaped, but we managed to capture their sensor, the girl with the red hair. She is in this scroll." Yuugao and Tokuma looked at one another, in wonder about that. Sealing objects and even corpses in scrolls they had heard about and even done so in the past, but sealing a live person inside a scroll, it was quite unheard of. Yuugao grabbed the scroll from Naruto.

"Ah Naruto, just how is it possible to seal a live person in a scroll?"

Hana at the time voiced the same question, also baffled at the possibility. She was also baffled at the explanation given before.

"Well, to tell the truth, she is not inside this scroll per se…it's actually Fuuinjutsu together with space-time ninjutsu. Inside the scroll, there is a seal written that contains a gateway linking this world to the Land of the Toads. Right now, Gamatsurugi is keeping her company while I bring this scroll back to Hokage-sama to decide what to do with her. Either I or Jiraiya can summon her with this scroll as per our agreement with the Toads." Yuugao and Tokuma looked at the Uzumaki Jonin in shock, both attempting to figure out the concept of what was just explained to them, while Naruto wondered why they were staring at him like that.

Yuugao had always known that there wasn't much of a limit regarding what he could do, but this was simply ridiculous.

"Fine, Tokuma and I shall advance further ahead to meet the real Naruto. Naruto clone, you are to return at once to Konoha and meet up with the Hokage. Hand her this partial report, please." Naruto's clone nodded, before seeing Yuugao and Tokuma leave in a shunshin. The clone then scratched his head, before turning to Hana and the clones.

"Why were they staring at me like that? " Hana merely chuckled at her partner's cluelessness.

"What you just did is highly advanced, Naruto. I don't even know anyone aside from perhaps the Hokage or Jiraiya-sama that can do what you did.

Now, we should get going…the sooner we arrive at the village, the better."

The clone nodded, as he approached the Inuzuka, before she leaned on him for movement towards Konoha.


===With Naruto===

Naruto and Kimimaro have been dueling in a kenjutsu battle.

Kimimaro's body was already filled with bones protruding from his arms, chest and stomach. Its bones were harder than steel, forcing the Uzumaki to pass wind chakra through his ninjato, in order to withstand against the bone sword of his opponent. Still, in terms of agility and anticipation, Naruto had the upper hand, counting on his skill to disperse water chakra around them. Kimimaro's movements were hindered by the humidity around him, forcing his muscles to tighten in order to keep up the pace with this foe.

Still, it wasn't enough as Naruto would use Genjutsu as well to make Kimimaro miss the target, allowing Naruto to swing his sword at the Oto shinobi.

Nevertheless, it wasn't enough on Naruto's side as the foe's body structure was much too tough to penetrate. He would harden his bones to stop Naruto's sword from attacking a vital spot. The two shinobi then placed enough distance between one another to size each other up.

"You know, you're not half bad for trash." Naruto smirked at the sort of compliment. "However, Orochimaru-sama needs me to return, so I will have to cut this short."

"Worry not, for as I am merely getting started." Kimimaro noticed as this guy went through hand seals.

Suiton: Hahonryuu (Water Release: Destruction Torrent)

Kimimaro jumped immediately once the fast water advanced towards his position. He was surprised to see the attack coming, because there was no water source nearby.

His eyes focused on Naruto's hands the entire time as he went through another series of hand seals.

Suiton: Suiryuudan no Jutsu (Water Release: Water Dragon Technique)

From the strong current, a dragon shaped creature emerged and advanced against the still airborne Kimimaro. His body turned into a body pincushion as he extended enough bones throughout his body to serve as a defense against the A-ranked Ninjutsu. Naruto noticed the gray haired opponent attempting to stop his water dragon's mouth from swallowing him whole. The Kaguya clan member was surprised when two kunai with exploding tags slammed on his chest, forcing his body to explode.

Naruto saw the debris from the onslaught of his attack, as his foe landed safely on the ground, though his body was filled with cursed seal marks.

Naruto expanded his chakra perception on his opponent and noticed something.

"I have noticed some irregularities with your chakra…"

Kimimaro was about to advance and shorten the distance to a Kenjutsu battle where he could push Naruto into, but stopped once Naruto commented.

"What do you mean?" Naruto was by no means a medic-nin or anything of the sort, however the reading he had on his foe was clear as day.

"Your chakra capacity is dwindling at an alarming rate. Normally, a regular shinobi's capacity reduces while in the middle of a fight, however not in the speed in which yours is. Your body seems to be fighting something and the cursed seal only makes the matter worse." Kimimaro stood a little straighter at that, understanding that this foe was something else, indeed. Memories of his life going forward…the curse of the Kaguya Clan…the misdeeds he performed under Orochimaru-sama and above all else, the times in which he would spit out blood from an incurable disease that is slowly but surely killing him.

"I am assuming you're a sensor as well, it's the only way you could know about this, so there is no point in hiding it from you. Karin did warn me that eventually would happen…" Naruto observed the defeated look on this guys' face as he resumed talking. "Indeed, my body is fighting against a disease that could be linked to my Kekkei Genkai, the Shikotsumyaku, the ability to manipulate the bones inside my body, making it harder than steel if I so desire. Unfortunately, because of this, I can't be of use to my master Orochimaru-sama. His desire for Uchiha Sasuke stems from the fact that he could not use my body because of this disease.

Therefore, my will…my life must hold a significance to the betterment of my master."

The words spoken made Naruto remember his talk with Haku, years ago.

'…I owe him my life…' The line used by Haku once Naruto asked him why he was serving someone like Zabuza. 'Do you know how it feels Naruto…to not be needed by anyone? To live day by day without a dream, the pain of it all'.

"I think I heard that before somewhere." Naruto said as he observed Kimimaro. "Strangely so, from another shinobi I met from Kirigakure, he had a Kekkei Genkai as well." Kimimaro couldn't know who this person was, but he for sure knew what had happened to everyone with special abilities in the Bloody Mist Village. Naruto, however, continued. "If you're interested, there is someone in Konoha who could take a look at your illness and cure you. There is no need to throw your life away from the sake of someone like Orochimaru." Naruto knew that it was pathetic, but at least he supposed that the reason has to be about curing his disease…like Isaribi possibly.

Like her, Tsunade could perhaps take a look and help him.

"My allegiance is to Orochimaru-sama, trash. It's always going to be, so don't bother." Kimimaro was surprised when his opponent's voice appeared from his back.

"It was worth a shot…in the end, it's your life."

The real Naruto looked saddened as Kimimaro created some distance between them, alarmed that he couldn't follow this guy's movements.

Already he could feel his disease taking a hold on his life force and Kimimaro right now doubted that he could take on this foe.

Perhaps he could when he was disease free, but right now, it was impossible.

Naruto noticed as his opponent's body suffered another transformation. His body turned fully into the cursed seal second form as Kimimaro took some distance, taking this fight into long range. Naruto could see bones emerging from the tips of this guy's fingers, before the little bones traveled at him at high velocity. Going through hand seals, Naruto focused wind chakra through all of his tenketsus. When the ten bone-like projectile attempted to reach his position, Naruto went through a quick series of hand seals.

Fuuton: Shippu Shouheki (Wind Release: Hurricane Barrier)

Kimimaro looked in surprise to see his finger tip projectile being redirected elsewhere courtesy of a strong hurricane that erupted from Naruto's position. Kimimaro snarled and focused all of his chakra into hardening his bones. He removed his spine to use it as a whip and manufactured a spear with his other hand. Naruto merely observed while maintaining his wind technique. Kimimaro then dashed forward with great speed, with the intent to skewer Naruto, however the blond merely shifted his hands into a couple more hand seals, taking advantage of the wind he already had in motion.

Fuuton: Kaze no Yaiba (Wind Release: Blade of Wind)

Kimimaro's body received dozens, maybe hundreds of the wind blades in his body, however he advanced. His bones took the full force of the elemental onslaught, but he kept on going…Naruto could see the amount of injuries his technique was causing, but he could see in Kimimaro's eyes that he was driven by something…something far bigger than his own worth. Once again, it made him remember Haku. How far he was prepared to go to be Zabuza's tool in the end…his eyes watered as he could see Haku's face in Kimimaro's.

"I am sorry, but this is the end…"

The Oto shinobi was right now far too close to Naruto's typhoon and was completely ill equipped to handle when Naruto expanded the hurricane to slam at his opponent at full force.

In the end, Kimimaro may have an almost indestructible body, but he couldn't survive against a full scale hurricane, at least not while fighting his incurable disease at the same time. And with a lack of chakra, the body's natural defenses against internal attacks become completely reduced. He attempted to draw forces from Orochimaru's loyalty, however his lungs got completely taken by blood and he coughed it all out. His body organs began to fail one by one and for a sensor like Naruto, it was like a bloody living show of death.

It was quite a horrible scene in his mind as he saw the eyes of his opponent lose its spark.

This was the scene that Yuugao and Tokuma saw upon arriving.

The sword user saw as Naruto's opponent fell on the ground, with his body still filled with Orochimaru's cursed seal.

"Naruto…" His saddened eyes upon looking at his teacher had told her plenty. "What about Sasuke?" Naruto had released a long sigh as he turned.

"The bastard is waiting for me it seems. I have to go have a conversation with him, sensei." Naruto was about to leave, when Yuugao stopped him.

"Wait…" Sensei and student shared a long look together and Naruto smiled at the concern. She needed him to understand what needed to be done right now…it was his concern when they started this mission.

Sasuke is no longer a fellow shinobi and needs to be handled appropriately.

"I know, sensei. I know…" Yuugao and Tokuma only observed for a while, before Tokuma turned to see Yuugao.

"Do you think he will go through with what needs to be done, taichou?" Yuugao said nothing for a while, as she advanced to capture Kimimaro's body in an empty scroll.

"I am sure he will…" Yuugao, however, was not sure about the effects on her student's spirit afterward.


===At the Valley of the End===

Naruto ran towards the position he sensed Sasuke to be waiting for him.

Despite Kimimaro's revealed sickness in the middle of the fight, Naruto couldn't help but respect his drive, even if he was following someone who cared little about his well-being. Kimimaro in a sense was similar to Haku's case and it sickened him to understand that a lack of purpose can influence someone into following the first one who extends a hand. However, come to think about it, before the Nidaime, Naruto was also like them, searching for someone who would look at him. In the end, both Haku and Kimimaro latched on to the first one who gave them an olive branch. Zabuza and Orochimaru took advantage of their loyalty and twisted it to their own needs.

And now Orochimaru seeks to do the same thing to Sasuke.

Soon enough, Naruto jumped onto a large waterfall as he eyed Sasuke on the other side of what appeared to be two separate statues that divided the waterfall.

If one were to look from a different angle, Naruto had just stepped into the statue of the Shodaime Hokage while Sasuke remained on top of the statue of Uchiha Madara.

"Well, it took you long enough to come here, Naruto…I was already wondering if he defeated you." Naruto said nothing as he took a closer look at Sasuke. The Uchiha for his part snorted in derision. "What, are you not going to say anything? How could you do this? How could you leave Konoha? Leave Sakura and Kiba and the others? Nothing?" Oh Naruto had lots of words to say, no question about that. The very reason they were all in this mess was because of the bastard in front of him. However…

"I have learned a long time ago, Sasuke, that words alone won't ever reach that thick skull of yours. So I won't waste time talking…rather I will just compensate by pounding you to the ground."

Apparently, those were the magic words as a maniacal smile surged on Sasuke's face.

"Hm, I would like nothing better, Naruto…"


Author Note

Ok, that's it for now.

Next chapter shall be focused on Hiruzen and Danzo's "conversation" and of course the ultimate battle between Rivals.

This is why this chapter was called Rivalry Part I. Part II shall be focused on those two fights.

Oh man, I am pumped.

So, please send me your impressions and reviews.

Lastly, I have recently created a P-atreon account for those who wish to follow my stories more personally, sending suggestions and occasional polls to help me.

Also for those who wish to make a pledge there, it will be highly appreciated.

P-atreon Account: Anime-Enthusiast

Next update: Avalon Bond