Itachi leant against a tree as his companion checked Joshu's vitals. "Is it ok to move him, or do we have to bring Kakuzu over?" The Uchiha asked, more annoyed then worried. "It's risky, I think it's best if one of us gets Kakuzu while the other keeps guard." Kisame said, both him and Joshu stared at the younger man. "Fine, I'll go get him, just don't come crying to me when you come face to face with Orochimaru without me..." He said as he picked Hattori up and walked away.
The Leader somersaulted out of the swamp water, dodging yet another bite from the Yabi. He landed in a handstand and used chakra to push himself off the ground. His cape decided to call it quits and flew from his back. The Leader quickly ran through some handseals as the Yabi also surfaced and jump into the air. "Dendou Dageki no jutsu!" The man cried out, aiming his palm to the Yabi. a ball of electricity shot out of the ninja's hand, flying towards the snake at high speed. "Kasai Doragon no jutsu!" Yabi called out in return, spewing a dragon consisting out of pure heat at the ball. The two jutsu's impacted, the resulting explosion sending both fighters flying.
Kakuzu cracked his jaw, still feeling a little numb from the kick. Hidan on the other hand, acted like nothing happened, as they leant against the wall besides the Hokage. Naruto and Sakura sat in front of the Hokage, waiting until she had formed her explanation. "It's like this, Akatsuki came to the village shortly after the army left with a proposal. They would help us in our war against Orochimaru for a day, and we would burn every records of them or their members, plus stop trying to kill them." The Hokage explained calmly. "You made a deal with those criminals!?" Naruto asked, half startled. Hidan coughed loudly while Kakuzu just rolled his eyes. "Here it comes." The bounty hunter mumbled. "I am not a criminal, but a servant of Jashin, you non believer! I should smite you where you stand!" Hidan said. "Thanks a lot kid, now I gotta hear to him talk about his damn cult for three hours." Kakuzu growled as Hidan started an explanation about his religion, how he believes in it, and strangely enough, goats.
The Nijikage sat in a carriage, three ANBU sitting across and next to him, while another one drove and two more sat on top of the carriage. "How much longer?" The Nijikage asked the driver. "Fifteen minutes." Was the short answer. The Nijikage nodded and turned towards the three ANBU in the carriage with him. "You three go ahead, you never know what kind of bandits plague these roads." The Kage said, to which the three fake ANBU jumped out of the carriage and ran towards Iwa.
'It doesn't make sense, why would Akatsuki want their records cleaned all of a sudden? They never bothered with it before...' Kyuubi wondered. 'Maybe they're gonna do something that takes a lot of uninterrupted preperation time?' Naruto asked back. The doors of the office opened, and Itachi walked in calmly, Hattori slung over his back. He dropped the man in front of the Hokage. "Dad!" Sakura yelled, instantly running to the unconscious man's side. "Sakura! Stay away from him!" Tsunade ordered. Sakura froze in her tracks. Itachi walked up to Kakuzu and mumbled something to him about a man named 'Joshu', to which Kakuzu flinched. The man rushed out of the room, while Itachi walked up to the Hokage. "May I request one thing of you?" The Uchiha asked humbly. He stepped closer to the Hokage and whispered something into her ear. Tsunade visibly paled, hardly believing what she just heard. "I-I'll take care of it." She said. The red-eyed man bowed and walked to the door. "Jinchuuriki," He began as he opened the door. "Until we meet again." He finished, a hint of excitement in his voice as he closed the door. Tsunade jumped out of her seat and nearly flew towards the door. "Naruto, Sakura, come with me. Hidan, take Hattori to the prison, Izumo will show you the way."
On the other side of the door, Izumo paled and sent a death glare at Kotetsu, who had let out a sigh of relief. The door swung open, hitting Kotetsu in the face. Tsunade ran out of the door, followed by Naruto. Sakura trailed a bit behind, looking back at her father for just a few seconds. Kotetsu stood up and closed the door, only to have it fling open in his face again. Hidan walked out, Hattori slung over his shoulder lazily. He followed after Izumo, who tried to keep as much distance as possible between them. Kotetsu got up again and threw the door shut, nearly tearing it out of it's hinges. "I hate guard duty..."
Bryan used Henge shortly before the Konoha gates while Kirbie and Eddie took the appearance of two normal ANBU. They left the city and walked in a single line, Kirbie in front, Bryan in the middle and Eddie covering the rear. "So Bryan, why were you deemed incompetent?" Eddie asked, trying to get a conversation going. "Because I 'wouldn't be able to even plan a tactical escape out of a ball of hay.', or so they said was the reason."
Kabuto formed some handseals. "Chakra No Mesu." He said as his chakra covered his hands in a blueish glow. Orochimaru fell into a taijutsu stance, snakes coming out of his sleeves and taking a defensive position around the man. Kabuto raced forward, striking at Orochimaru's legs. The man jumped up. Instincts suddenly took over and he landed on Kabuto's arm before jumping to the left, barely dodging the katana that came down. Kabuto had no such luck as the katana cleaved his head. "Hmmm, I missed." Maria said as she pulled the sword out of Kabuto's skull. She threw the Kusanagi at Orochimaru, who dodged out of the way and grabbed the hilt as it passed. Maria raced forward. She ducked under a horizontal slice aimed for her neck, and jumped up into an upright position, starting an uppercut. Her fist never made contact though, as a sword that looked to be made out of bone blocked the attack. Maria grabbed a hold of the weapon and set both of her feet against the wielder's stomach, kicking herself back to her first position and ripping the sword out of the wielder's hand. "I thought Tobi had gotten rid of you." She said calmly as she crushed the weapon in her hand. "The ability to control and harden your bones, interesting. Kimimaro, was it?" "Orochimaru, we must withdraw!" Kimimaro said. Orochimaru nodded and the two fled out of the clearing. "Like I'll let you leave!" Maria started a dash after the duo, but came to a stop when a crow landed a few feet in front of her.
Tsunade stood in front of Jiraiya, who had just fallen out of his chair. "He actually said that!?" The man yelled, making everyone in the bar turn towards the two. "Yes, now you have to go to Root and deliver the message." The Hokage replied, ignoring the people looking at them. Jiraiya formed an X with his arms. "Oh heck no! I don't have a death wish!" He yelled, annoying people more then just a little. "Then I suggest you do it." Tsunade said calmly, cracking her knuckles. Jiraiya sulked. "Fine, but your paying the bill."
Sakura sat on a bench, her eyes fixating on the ground. She couldn't believe what Tsunade had told her only minutes before.
"Forget about your father." Tsunade said without even looking at the girl. "W-wha?" The girl questioned her response. "He was brainwashed by Orochimaru and has done things that makes most other crimes committed against Konoha pale in comparisation. It'll be a miracle if he gets out of prison." The Hokage replied, still keeping her back to the girl. Naruto kept quiet, knowing that the council would never allow Hattori to roam free, even if Orochimaru's brainwashing was negated... It already had taken a lot of effort to get Sasuke free, and that was mostly because he was the last Uchiha that didn't go berserk. Sakura didn't respond, instead she ran off, barely able to keep the tears out of her eyes.
"Naruto..." Sakura said quietly. Naruto walked out from behind the tree next to the bench. "I want to become strong enough to take revenge on that man for brainwashing my father." She continued. If Sakura wasn't staring at the ground, she would've seen the grin form on Naruto's face before he turned around. 'Sounds like all the pieces are falling into place, the hour of our plan strikes.' The Kyuubi snickered. Naruto stook a mental tongue out at Kyuubi.
Bryan sat in front of the campfire, staring into the fire like it had all the answers, while Kirbie and Eddie stayed back, the memory of a campfire blowing up in Kenshin's face still fresh in their memory. "Sooo..." Bryan trailed off. He was bored, tired and most of all annoyed. Why did he have to be the decoy? "Do you guys always get these kind of suicide missions?" Bryan asked with a mumble. "Yep. It's like there's some greater force that loves to mock our very existence." Eddie said with a sigh. Kirbie snickered. "You actually believe that there is something that controls our every move?" A rock fell on top of Kirbie's head. "He must hate you..." Bryan mumbled with a grin. "This proves nothing!" Kirbie countered.
Jiraiya stood in front of Sasuke, uncomfortably shifting under his gaze. "What do you want?" He asked, mildly annoyed of having so many people in his house. Jiraiya swallowed slowly. "I have a message from Itachi... He says he's sorry and he wants to explain you some things. He'll be waiting at the abandoned mill south from here in exactly a week from now." Sasuke's eyes widened slightly. "So he can kill me without having to come into a village of ninja's, I suppose?" "He said you could bring anyone you want..." Jiraiya continued. Sasuke's eyes widened to the size of dinner plates. "Could you... Could you come with me?" The younger man asked, embarrassed that he felt the need for assistance. "Heh, your saying that like I wouldn't come anyway." Jiraiya said with a grin, opening Sasuke's front door.
Itachi leant against a tree as Kakuzu stitched yet another one of Joshu's more serious wounds. Kisame yawned as he leant on the hilt of Samehade, bored out of his skull. Three crows appeared through the foliage, one stopping in front of each of the men. Kakuzu stood up, slung Joshu over his arm and walked away. Kisame glanced at Itachi, who gave a short nod and followed after Kakuzu with his partner.
Jiraiya wouldn't have been easily suprised when he opened the front door. He wouldn't be suprised to see Akatsuki prepare to cleave him in two, he wouldn't have been suprised if one of Orochimaru's snakes flew at him, heck, he wouldn't have been suprised if the Kyuubi knocked on the front door and burned him to a crisp. He was suprised though, to see a certain blonde waiting for him. "Naruto? What do you want?" Jiraiya asked as he closed the door behind him. "Well, I came to ask a favour." Naruto said as he twiddled his fingers. "No, I'm not letting you give any more of my books to Kakashi before they come out, now tell that pervert to stop asking!" Jiraiya yelled at the smaller man, making him lose his balance. "It's nothing like that! ... I was wondering if I could borrow the training scrolls you have?" Jiraiya raised an eyebrow. "What happened to the copies I gave you." The twiddling of Naruto's fingers quickened. "I ... Lost them..." Naruto mumbled. Jiraiya hung his head and sighed. "Naruto, your hopeless. Fine, which ones do you need?" "All of them." Jiraiya reached into his pocket and pulled three scrolls out of them. "Thanks Ero-sennin!" Naruto poofed away just in time to dodge a pebble flying towards him.
Tsunade rubbed her temples while letting out a sigh. She held up her hand and produced a bottle of sake out of thin air. For dozens of years, medical ninja's have been wondering why cells could only split a select number of times, and a way to negate it. Tsunade too had been intrigued by this, and spent most of her free time cracking her head over this mystery. If she succeeded in her purpose, ninja of Konoha would be able to stay in their prime for over hundreds of years. Tsunade slammed her head against the desk, cracking it. "Damn it all! What am I overlooking?" She raised her head and stared at the file in front of her. Then it hit her like a ton of bricks falling on a dog's back.