Well, old friend, it looks like your persistence has gotten you into even more trouble. I told you weeks ago that your pointless badgering about your lost Hyuuga would rile my village into a war frenzy once more, and the time has come. I can't reason with the masses any longer, and their arguments are making more and more sense to me. As much as it pains my old bones to do so, I prepare with my village for the tides of war for what I know will be the last time. I won't see another one, no matter what the outcome of this one may be.

Believe me, I know the pain of losing shinobi under mysterious circumstances. But you had no real reason to push us as far as you did, and I stand by my claim of having nothing to do with the kidnapping. Hell, I was watching you hand your student his scaly ass!

As it is, I can't say I look forward to seeing you on the fields of war again. No doubt we've slowed down, but we might as well remind these kids what a real ninja used to be, eh?

I'm sorry that this has to be our last cordial letter, I had grown fond of them over the past few years. Unfortunately, we cannot stand for the disrespect you've been showing us, and we're ready to make Konoha bleed for it. So, for the last time, goodbye old friend.

Your not-so-new enemy,


Lord Third,

I am writing on behalf of my Raikage due to the fact that his overwhelming rage over your behavior throughout the past year has left him incapable of holding writing instruments and leaving them whole.

To reiterate our list of grievances with you over the last year will likely justify our cause for anger.

Groundless accusations over the abduction of one of your shinobi.

Failure to respond to letters in a timely manner regardless of urgency in your own writing.

Refusal to accept the condolences and oaths of honor from our Raikage.

Several bodies returned to us after the Exam invasion with no compensation of needless death.

Blatant disrespect when dealing with emissaries.

I will leave you with a quote from my Raikage and allow you to get to your own preparations.

"Konoha has been on top for too long, and the power has gone to their heads! If they think that their position lets them speak to us this way, then it's time we removed them from that position! Kumo's time is now, and Konoha will have to either accept that fact or die at our feet."

We will see each other on the battlefield,



I bet you never expected to receive a letter from me, right? Yes, it's me, your little 'prodigy gone wrong'. I just wanted to let you know that the entirety of the elemental nations can feel the rumblings of another war, with Konoha in the middle of it. Oh, how I remember how the vultures circled us last time!

Wasn't that a blast, Sensei? Ah, unfortunately, I now find myself in the position of the vulture, except I'm more than happy to take my pickings. I just wanted to let you know that you may have gotten the better of me in our last little playfight, but things will be different next time.

See you amidst countless bodies,



Hi, yeah, bad news. Taki just lost their Jinchuriki, and no one got a description on the Akatsuki members responsible. The only evidence that it was even them is pretty iffy: a piece of a cloak that's half black and half red, nothing definitive of a cloud though. So yeah.

All in all, we have no leads on Hinata, no new info on any of the villages looking to slit our throats, we can't find Sound or Orochimaru, and Naruto is due to come back expecting answers or leads.

On the upside, being part of a secret undercover team lands a guy LOADS of tail. They don't even try to coax details out of me. It's great, you should have told me to do this way sooner.

See you around when Naruto gets back.


Hey Old Man,

I'm making my way home now. Had a pretty productive trip, and I'm pretty sure I could take that hat from you whenever you're ready. No pressure though.

How much stronger did everyone get while I was gone? It still kinda sucks I couldn't bring Team 7 with me, but they probably found way better teachers in Konoha. How could I compare to either Itachi or Tsunade right?

Anyway, you know I'm mostly just filling out the paper here. You won't bother with a response since I'll be back by the time it gets to the little town I'm sending this from. I'm also gonna walk home instead of flashing in, there are a few things I wanna check before I get back so I'll be a few days.

So the big stuff. I really want to get put on Hinata's rescue team, be all poetic and stuff ya know? I mean, dad did it and he ended up marrying my mom haha. But yeah, I'm totally ready to fight a war for her, but I know it won't come to that with you showing me the 'Hokage' way of doing things. Can't wait to see you all again!


"I have to retire," Hiruzen Sarutobi managed to wheeze out between tired lips. He sat at his desk wearing his full hat and robes, the various scrolls and messages laid out before him, with Naruto's being the most recent. Why did everything have to happen today? And all at once? And why wouldn't Tsunade take the damn hat?

"I've been telling you that for years," Tsunade jibed as she walked in. She looked not a day older than she did the last time she saw that little twerp of Minato's, but she couldn't say the same for her Sensei. The years and the stress were really starting to wear down on him, and it showed. His wrinkles looked deeper, his eyes held more mist in them than they ever had before, and he looked tired enough to sleep on the pile of papers in front of him.

"Does that mean you're finally here to relieve me of my torture?" the Third chuckled lightly. Laughs were rare in his office as of late. Not even his grandson's antics brightened his mood anymore.

Tsunade looked hard at the old man, seriously considering the option for what was the first time. "Have you asked Kakashi?"

"He would manage for a time, but he's not quite ready to run a village. He's used to small teams getting the job on hand done. Having one goal and doing whatever he could to accomplish it. A good quality, yes, but he's not finished fleshing it out. In a few years, I imagine his mind will have shifted to taking in the bigger picture as a whole, at the very least coming to see the village as a team to protect and lead."

"You're still pretty long winded for your advanced age, I see," Tsunade sighed and sat down with a small smile.

"Enough wind to still give you a good sparring session if you upset me enough, that's for sure!"

Tsunade had to smile at the thought. It was likely true, even in her fighting peak she could never truly lay a hand on her sensei, old age be damned. It was also true that someone would have to step in for him sooner rather than later, and she owed it to him to at least be a placeholder for the next Hokage's coming.

"I take it Jiraiya still isn't a candidate?" probably a stupid question.

Hiruzen simply passed her the message Jiraiya had sent. Definitely a stupid idea.

"How can he really be that stupid?" Tsunade asked in near exasperation.

In all seriousness, Hiruzen looked her in the eyes and said, "Well, you did hit him in the head quite a bit as kids…"

Tsunade shot him an annoyed glance, "Cut me some slack, you know he had it coming to him."

A chuckle was her only response. After a comfortable moment of silence had passed, Hiruzen asked in a weary voice, "What are we going to do, Tsunade? Another war and most of our shinobi remember the last one."

Tsunade leaned back in her chair, sighing as she stared at the blank wooden ceiling. "Normally I'd say 'What we've always done: win.' But I understand your desire to end these wars. We've destroyed as many lives as we've saved, and it's pretty heavy on my mind too."

"My point exactly. All of these wars over the years and almost nothing has changed. What will it take to convince Iwa and Kumo to work with us instead of against us?"

Tsunade bit her lip. "There might be too much bad blood to avoid drowning in it, Sensei."

Hiruzen rubbed at his wrinkled face, "What would you have me do, then? Follow Danzo's advice and just make sure there was no one left to wage a war at all?"

"I'm saying," Tsunade drew out her words for the extra emphasis, "that you should pass the problems off to someone else. You've dealt with them for more than long enough."

"And who would you have me give the hat to? Naruto?"

"No, but maybe I can in a few years, depending on how he matures."

The silence that invaded the room was laced with emotion. Surprise and resignation being the two most prominent ones. "You'll take the position?" Hiruzen asked quietly. He refused to meet her gaze, likely worried he might see the glint of a joke in her eyes.

"At least until Jiraiya's brat makes good on his promise and is ready, yes."

Hiruzen stood up from his chair and walked around his desk. Tsunade stood as well, rising to match his height and expecting him to simply hand her the hat. Instead, he wrapped her in his thin yet still strong arms, giving her the first hug she had received from him since she had become a chunin.

"Thank you, Tsunade. I know you never wanted this for yourself, so thank you for taking the hat before it killed me."

Completely stunned, Tsunade didn't move. Hiruzen simply released her, set the hat he so despised in his advanced years on the desk, and walked out the door. Tsunade knew he'd tell the people who had to know to make it official, so she just let him leave. Let him have his day, it was his first real day off in far too many years.

Tsunade picked up the hat and moved her way back to the old chair she had gotten used to seeing her Sensei in. Taking the seat, she donned the hat. It fit her well. Then she read over the papers left out, the messages sent to Hiruzen.

Hiding her first bottle of sake as Hokage sealed the deal. This was her burden to bear now, and by Kami, she wouldn't do it sober if she could help it.

"Why did you want to come back here again?" Naruto asked aloud as he stepped onto the overgrown grounds of Kurama's temple once more.

"I told you, you have to be back in that reflection room for me to do what I have in mind."

Naruto stepped into the main hall, "It's nothing stupid right? You won't give me a tail or turn me into a chick or anything?"

There was a loud snort from Naruto's mindscape. He took that as a maybe, so he was wary when he stepped into the somewhat familiar white room dancing with grey veins.

"Alright, what next, oh cryptic one?" Naruto snapped out sarcastically.

"Just get your ass in here, kit."

Naruto sat down with his legs crossed, comfortable enough to go into his mindscape. He had had plenty of practice doing so over the last year, and now it took no time at all.

"Alright furball, what's the big plan?" Naruto asked from his seat atop Kurama's head.

"You know I hate it when you appear on my head, right?" with a flick of his head, Kurama sent Naruto hurtling to the ground. "And we're here to try and create a contract."

Pulling himself back up and straightening his clothes, Naruto asked, "We already kinda have one, though. You live inside me and keep me alive, and therefore keep yourself alive."

"If I do this right it will be more of a summoning contract…"

"Woah, hold up. Since when has there been a fox summons?"

"There isn't, at least to my knowledge. And you'd be summoning only me, not foxes."

"And where do you think I'd find the chakra to summon YOU of all things?" Naruto was very skeptical of this plan.

"Naruto, you can literally store hundreds upon hundreds of seals full of your chakra AS WELL AS tapping into the chakra of the literal environment."

"You make a fair point. How's this work?" Naruto conceded as he sat down in front of the Biju.

"I'll create the contract itself on your back, and no one else will be able to sign it. This stays between you, me, and if I agree whoever my next jinchuriki is. You'll be able to summon me at various strength levels, one for each tail, so you don't have to blow chakra every time I want out of here for a while."

"So I'll be spending enough chakra to not only summon your soul and various power levels but also enough to create a physical body for you? Doesn't really sound worth it."

"I'll handle the manifestation of a body, you just get me and some of my power into the real world."

"Hmmm. Deal," Naruto stood, removed his shirt, and gave his back to Kurama.

One of Kurama's massive claws touched lightly onto the skin of Naruto's spine, and his entire back was filled with black, flowing markings that glowed with power. Naruto shivered at the warm sensation, and he felt it trail all the way down his spine before flowering out to encompass the rest of his back. A year ago he would be hard-pressed to trust Kurama this much, but now it was nothing.

"I'm done. Go into the main hall of the temple and summon my one tail form."

Naruto had his shirt off as he walked into the main room of the temple, and he was constantly looking over his shoulder at the new black marks running down his back. Maybe people would mistake it for a tattoo.

Naruto bit his thumb and ran through the seals to summon. What he did do differently, though, was reach his chakra to his back to feel for the contract. Naruto felt a subtle shift in his energy as well as a slight heat on his back, and he knew he wouldn't summon a toad by accident.

Slamming his hand down, Naruto saw a small circle of the usual seals appear before the puff of smoke blinded him.

Standing there, under his hand, was Kurama. Barely bigger than the last time Naruto had seen Akamaru, the chibi version of the mighty nine-tails only sported one of the fluffy appendages.

"Ah, fresh air. Hello, Naruto."

Naruto, as much as he tried to suppress it, let out a loud, echoing laugh. He fell to his rear and rocked with the laughter, annoying Kurama to no end.


"It… it's just that, OH KAMI! Your deep ass voice is coming from a MIDGET YOU!" more laughter followed, even as Kurama huffed in his tiny form.

"It's not like I can just change my voice… let's just get back to Konoha."

Naruto stood in the middle of the road, the towering gate of Konoha's wall staring him in the face. What would he come home to? How much could change in just a year? Who all would be home?

"Been a while, eh Naruto?"

Naruto spun to face the voice directly behind him. Unsurprisingly, Kakashi stood there, nonchalantly reading his preferred literature.

"Why am I not surprised you'd know I was back before I was even back?" Naruto joked. "It's good to see you, Kakashi-sensei."

Kakashi pat the top of Naruto's head as they started the walk to the gates. "To tell the truth I'm just returning from a mission with Jiraiya and Anko. I got lucky and decided to hang back for a bit."

Naruto perked up at that. At the very least he would see both of his sensei today. After checking in at the gate, Naruto and Kakashi started to walk towards the Hokage's building.

"Hey, I'd say you're almost as tall as I am now," the masked man made conversation.

"Pa says I might be as big as Ero-sensei when I'm finished growing. I guess I eat more bugs than he ever did," Naruto pulled a quick face at the thought of his previous year's menu.

"I wouldn't put too much stock into that, but you sure aren't the runt I remember trying to climb on my shoulders."

The two walked in happy silence, Kakashi's words having started a mental trip down memory lane. Naruto had to agree, he had changed quite a bit since he left with Jiraiya.

"I'd say the change was for the better, even as annoying as you still are."

"Love you too, asshole."

The duo walked into the Hokage's office to an… unexpected sight. Hiruzen had changed even more than Naruto had. He had lost his wrinkles, his beard, and most likely his male reproductive organs.

"Uh, hey there Jiji. You look, uh, different than when I left," Naruto stumbled through his greeting, prompting Tsunade to lift her head up from her paperwork.

"Real clever, brat. Kakashi, Jiraiya already gave me a briefing so you're free to go. If you'd do me a favor and tell Jiraiya his troublemaker is back I'd appreciate it."

Kakashi bowed as he left, giving Naruto an eye-smile as he did so. That bastard could have at least warned him…

"So, not that I'm not happy for you or anything, but what happened to the Old Man?" Naruto asked as he slid into a chair.

Tsunade simply sighed as she moved her papers off to the side. "He's old, Naruto. This job was killing him as surely as this war would have."

"Wait, we're in the middle of a war? Why didn't anyone call me back?" Naruto sat up straighter, mild panic rising in his voice.

"Calm down," Tsunade's tone wasn't an amused one. "Sensei did his best to prolong the attempts at peace talks until you could finish your year of training. It was difficult, but he managed to have the official declaration held off until earlier this week."

Naruto relaxed back into the chair. "I'll have to thank him then. So, what's our list of enemies looking like so far?"

Before Tsunade could respond, a third voice piped up from the side of the room. "Better than it could be, but worse than it should," Jiraiya lazily interrupted. He was seated on the windowsill, looking bored as he doodled notes onto a pad of paper for something.

"Jiraiya, you can't keep pulling this stunt! I'm the Hokage now," Tsunade almost growled at him. Naruto had to suppress a smile.

"Eh, Hokage or not, you're my teammate first. And Naruto is my… special little problem, so I figured I could barge in."

"Let it slide…"Kurama prevented the slew of insults Naruto had prepared for the white-haired man.

"Fine. Then you can finish talking to him. I need a break and a drink," Tsunade insisted. Naruto had a feeling that she had planned to pass him off as soon as she could anyway. Much to his surprise, however, she didn't leave her desk for her break. Instead, she reached into one of the drawers and pulled out her own bottle. He should have figured.

"Alright Naruto, we'll continue just as soon as Shizune finishes up," Jiraiya hummed as he hopped off the window and made his way to the remaining chair.

Naruto was confused, to say the least, and Kurama couldn't offer any insight. Then he understood all in a… very short amount of time.

Tsunade pulled the stopper from her bottle, the gentle pop nearly inaudible. The door flew open, and a very frazzled, pig-holding Shizune burst into the room. Naruto sat in silent awe and confusion as she wrestled with the Hokage for the prized bottle of sake. The two ladies rolled over the desk, and Shizune eventually popped up with the alcohol. She then ran from the room, screaming something about 'proper behavior in your position', and she was tailed closely by the older blond.

"Ah," Jiraiya sighed as he put away his pen and paper, a lecherous yet stupid smile on his face. "I love when she decides to take breaks."

"Focus, pervert," Naruto muttered under his breath.

"Oh, I'm focused alright… Ah! State of affairs, that's right!" the Sannin snapped his fingers at his revelation. "So, here's the basic rundown. Iwa and Kumo hate us, big surprise there, and half of Mist is now loyal to Orochimaru and will probably attack as well. Suna is on our side though, so that's good news. Hmm, Akatsuki seem to be mingled into the mix of things here, but I can't figure out how yet. I'm sure that losing Itachi was a pretty big blow and they're sitting back on their heels now, but I wouldn't count them out for too long. They've already snatched up Taki's jinchuriki."

Naruto did his best to follow along, he really did. The mere fact that two and a half of the five major villages hated Konoha's guts just seemed to not sit well with him. His sensei, of course, took it all in stride and relayed the information in an almost nonchalant tone. Almost as if he'd done this before… huh. Weird.

"And Hinata?" Naruto pressed as soon as he was able.

Jiraiya visibly darkened, and Naruto knew better than to expect good news. "I've spent the last year with Kakashi and Anko tracking her down, but I can't seem to pinpoint who has her. We're betting that she's alive, though. If she wasn't there'd be a village sporting at least one successful Byakugan transplant."

Naruto's fists clenched and his knuckles whitened. "What about her seal?"

"That's probably the only reason she's still alive. Whoever has her is likely taking as much time as they need to try and bypass that seal, and since whoever it is isn't as good as me or you, they'll need a lot of time. They probably shit a brick when they realized she had it, but it's not like they'll get another chance."

"They won't get much of a chance to do anything after this stunt if it's up to me," Naruto's voice dropped, and his eyes reddened. Ever since his merge with Kurama, his emotions had been more intense and easily displayed.

"Easy, kit. You'll get your mate back, as well as your vengeance."

Naruto calmed at the words even as Jiraiya patted his shoulder. "Don't worry, kid. We'll get her back before anything drastic happens. And maybe with you back on the force, you can mass out your clones and spread the party. If the Hokage permits it, that is."

"Yeah, about that! When did Jiji pass off the hat? And why wasn't I called back for it?" Naruto asked.

"Couple of days ago, and it was really a small affair. It usually is during wartime. He stepped down to retire again and Tsunade stepped into the office the same day. I didn't even know until a few days later when we got the hawk."

Naruto nodded in understanding and then stood up with his sensei when Tsunade waltzed back into the room, her face a bit flushed and her smile relaxed. She must have won the battle of the bottle.

"Well, Naruto," She started as she sat down at her desk. "What all did you happen to learn on your trip?"

Jiraiya perked up at this, as it was likely something he had been waiting to ask about for quite some time.

"Well, I did manage to become a perfect jinchuriki. Kurama and I are pretty tight."

"Never say that again or so help me."

"That's great! Any drawbacks you've noticed?" The Hokage asked as she pulled yet another bottle from her desk. When Shizune didn't barge in at the opening of said bottle Naruto answered.

"Most notable would be my increased emotions I think. I can still control them well enough, but they show more easily now. Also, I can hold the perfect cloak for well over an hour, and I'm getting close to two the last time I checked."

Naruto watched as his Hokage poured herself a saucer of her sake before taking long gulps from the container itself.

"Uh, good, good," Jiraiya tried to keep the conversation going while avoiding his teammate's glare. "And your Sage Mode?"

Naruto brightened at the mention of senjutsu. "I actually think that was my biggest improvement. I can enter Sage Mode in three minutes now, and totally on my own. I can last about twenty minutes per charge, and I can fit three seals on my arm to stock up," to emphasize his point Naruto pointed out three seals on his left forearm.

Jiraiya whistled in appreciation, "That's pretty good, kid. Anything else you want us to know?"

Naruto smiled mischievously at the question. "Well, I can split a waterfall no problem now, and I've already started on another impossible project."

"Becoming attractive, less annoying, and/or a productive member of the human race?" for some odd reason, Kurama was ignored. Heard, but ignored.

"Impossible project, eh?" Jiraiya leaned forward as Tsunade finished her bottle and tossed it to the trash. Her attention was also on him.

"Yup. Dad said that the Rasengan was incomplete."

Tsunade nodded in what appeared to be polite ignorance of the levity of his statement, but Jiraiya immediately caught on. Tsunade tossed what was left of her sake from the saucer and into her mouth, swishing it around before finally ingesting it.

"If you're looking for impossible you did a pretty good job of picking one," the white-haired Sannin mumbled.

Before Naruto could elaborate on his progress, the door burst down. Standing where the heavy door used to hang was a stiff looking Maito Guy. Everyone present immediately knew that something was off with the man.

"Hokage-sama, I have urgent news. Sasuke Uchiha has been taken from his Clan Compound by a large group of Sound nin. He fought off and killed several, and the commotion drew in several of his peers as well as myself. I took the initiative and sent out Chunin Neji Hyuuga, Shikamaru Nara, and Sakura Haruno. They are leading a team of genin comprised of Choji Akimichi, Kiba Inuzuka, and Tenten Higurashi. I apprehended and captured three of the Sound operatives that were escaping into the village, but the children had to take pursuit on their own."

Tsunade was immediately sobered. The blush was gone, and her soft smile followed it shortly after. In that one instant, she had the look of a hardened veteran, a capable leader, and a Hokage that Naruto could follow. "You did well, Gai. Have you brought the three you captured to T&I already?"

Gai nodded once. "Yes, although they did have a strange technique which allows them to transform that made keeping them alive difficult. I'm sure Ibiki can handle it, but I would suggest possibly sending him backup."

The blond Kage snapped her fingers once and a masked ANBU appeared at her side. Without a word, she glanced at the masked nin and nodded. He was gone in an instant.

"Naruto, I assume that you would like to be involved in the retrieval of your teammate?" Tsunade asked rhetorically. Everyone knew the answer to that.

Naruto suppressed the rage he was feeling. "With your leave, Lady Hokage."

Once Naruto got clearance, he dropped a Hirashin kunai into Jiraiya's lap. "If I find Orochimaru I'll come to get you."

And then he was gone, even before he received approval from Jiraiya.

Gai was dismissed as part of Ibiki's backup, and the two Sannin sat in weary silence.

"How long had he been back before the shit hit the fan, Tsunade?"

"I'm guessing about two hours. That's if he didn't stop for ramen and came straight here."

Jiraiya shook his head. "He's just a magnet for trouble, that one. I hope he manages to get Sasuke back because if he fails at that too I don't think we'll have to worry about Sound or Mist anymore. They won't be on the map."

Naruto flashed into a pitch black area, much to the surprise of two others in the same 'room'. In the instant that his jutsu lit the pace up, he would almost suggest that they were in a cave.

"Sakura? Where are we? I thought you were tracking Sasuke," Naruto asked as he reached a hand out for the wall.

"Naruto?!" Sakura and the other voice yelled in surprise.

"Oh, Choji are you in here too? Nice to see you, man. Well, hear you."

"Naruto what are you doing back?" Sakura asked.

"Eh, I got back a few hours ago, and Guy-sensei interrupted my meeting with our new Hokage to tell her about you guys and Sasuke. So… here I am! What's our scenario here?"

Choji spoke up next, "This one guy called Jirobi broke off from his group to hold us off. He's huge, and he has this jutsu that's trapped us in this rock cave thing. I'm pretty sure it's sucking our chakra too."

"Here, let me get a feel of the wall, I've been working on my sensory abilities," Naruto suggested.

He moved to his left with his arms outstretched and reaching, the direction he remembered both the nearest wall and Sakura being. Now, taking into account that it was pitch black and Sakura hadn't said anything in a bit, it was completely understandable how Naruto made the mistake he did.

With his hands groping for some semblance of a rock wall, they met something much… softer. A pair of somethings, actually. Yeah, they were much softer than rock, and after his first involuntary squeeze, they almost seemed to have a tip or pebble at the front of them…

"YOU MOTHER FUCKER!" Sakura's fist somehow squarely found his jaw in the dark, planting firmly into the side of his face and rocketing him away. Naruto's head then crashed into the opposite rock face, not making a mark despite the speed he had hit it at.

"What? What happened? Are you guys okay? Why did it sound like Naruto flew into the wall?" Choji asked rapidly, his voice filled with worry. "Is this part of the sensing technique?"

"It better NOT be part of the fucking technique," Sakura growled.

Naruto lay against the far wall, doing his best to keep his whimpers to himself as he put his jaw back into place and flooded chakra to the area to heal it.

"I. Am. SO PROUD!" the comment was followed by a round of loud laughter.

"Sakura, by Kami, why don't you just punch the goddamn wall?" Naruto moaned once he could use his jaw.

The pinkette huffed. "Tell me where and I will. I have a lot of anger to get rid of now."

Naruto gulped audibly as Choji asked again, "Guys? I still don't know what happened."

"That's fine, Choji," Naruto immediately responded. "Alright, well at least I found a wall. One sec," Naruto place both hands on the wall and started to feel out the chakra coursing through it.

"Naruto," Choji started, "Can't you just make a shadow clone outside of the dome and have it place a Hirashin marker?"

"Already tried, the chakra in the walls is blocking my Presence," Naruto answered.

After a solid minute, a fed up Sakura asked, "Did you find the damn spot yet? I can feel this place sucking my chakra, and Choji and I don't have an infinite amount like you do!"

Naruto grunted. "Yeah, I found a couple. And don't worry about chakra since I can refill your reserves."

Naruto dusted off his hands before continuing, "Sakura, three feet to your right is where the chakra is the strongest, likely where that Jirobo guy is holding the jutsu at. Three feet to my left is where it's at its weakest, the exact opposite end which makes sense. Now, I can probably use a Rasengan—"

"About fucking time," Naruto heard Sakura cut him off before there was a loud whumph and a crack of light appeared. The entire dome of rock then crumbled in on itself, and Naruto could see his teammate's outstretched fist continuing from where the wall was and hitting a large Sound shinobi's jaw. He knew that one would hurt.

Naruto stood next to Choji, in complete awe of what just happened and totally fine with letting Sakura take this one.

"Huh? There's three of you now?" The large man said dumbly as he jumped back and rubbed his jaw. The shinobi was massive, both tall and stout. He may have been a bit round compared to the average shinobi, but the layer of fat likely hid pounds upon pounds of muscle. "How did you… I don't care. But since you broke out of my technique, I'll have to kick things up a notch!"

Sakura was about to charge in again when the black marks started to take over his body. The already ugly man then went through a kind of transformation, one that didn't help his slightly overweight and idiotic look. His skin turned completely red, and muscles seemed to bulge a bit before calming. The black receded, and Jirobo stood looking smug.

"Sakura, that's curse mark stuff, do you want help?" Naruto asked. Surprisingly, Sakura waved him off.

"You think you're the only one who can get a power boost?" Sakura asked aloud.

Choji leaned into Naruto and said, "We all loved it when she showed us this."

Sakura crossed her arms in a very familiar pose, and when she released them Naruto's eyes widened. She had opened the Gate of Opening. Fuck. Note to self, never upset her again.

Sakura flew forward at least twice as fast as the last time Naruto had seen her. Jirobo hurled a massive chunk of the earth at her, the mass of rock and dirt dwarfing the kunoichi. Sakura didn't even punch through it. She flicked it, and a few of Jiraiya's stories made Naruto rethink her training under Tsunade was good for his health.

Through the rubble, the transformed Jirobo showed fear for the first time. This little girl was coming for him, and she was stronger than anyone he had seen before.

"Surprise, bitch!" Sakura screamed as her fist made contact with his stomach.

The flesh of the Sound ninja's stomach offered little resistance to Sakura's fist, allowing it to sink in past her wrist. The shockwave that traveled along his belly fat seemed delayed, and the man was frozen in place by pain. His body tried to absorb the chakra present in the girl and the chakra invading his body, but there was no way he could do so in time. The wave made its way back to his center, and finally, the pent up energy found a place to escape. Out his back.

A massive crater was blown through Jirobo's body, the power behind Sakura's punch literally ripping him open. Over half of his back was blown away. Bits of his bloody organs decorated the trees behind him, and the shattered pieces of his spine cut into the trunks.

Sakura pulled her fist from the tiny hole it had made in the front as Jirobo's skin went back to normal. She shook off what blood she could, and then used the shirt of her now-dead opponent to finish cleaning her hand.

"So, uh, Sakura! About what happened earlier. It was a mistake, see, and I'm really sorry," Naruto started as he walked up to his teammate.

"I'm over it," she cut him off with a sigh. "It was dark, so I don't blame you too much."

"I'm not even going to ask anymore," Choji mumbled.

"Well," Naruto said both quickly and cheerily, "we should get going, someone else might need backup!"

And the three took off, Naruto scribbling seals onto tags so he could eventually give them back some chakra.

That was the first of another multitude of chapters, any thoughts so far?

War is definitely coming, and Orochimaru is still set on trying to get himself a pair of Sharingan. Naruto will have quite a bit to deal with, but hey it makes for good reading right? See you guys in a bit, let me know how this one seems to be starting off!