For all those that kept writing in requesting an update, thank you.
I understand that some of you are probably sick to the back teeth of procrastinations, so I won't bother.
Gaiden was my first major work, and by thunder I intend to finish it.
Just don't expect a time skip...or if there is, it'll happen earlier, since there's no 'valley of the end' bull crap.
Also, my apologies fo ther earlier post, it was the un-edited version that was supposed to have been deleted earlier, but somehow managed to weasle it's way off the cutting room floor. Also, my Keyboard, as you can tell from the old version, has been acting really screwy.
Please enjoy the real, hopefully typo-free, version of the latest chapter.
"I'll kill the bastard." Naruto hissed, stalking down the country road, his teeth clenched so tight they were cracking, wisps of crimson chakra wafting off him in his ire "I won't leave a scrap of meat!"
"Get in line." Sasuke grumbled, walking alongside the irate jinchuriki's right, muttering darkly to himself as he recalled just how easily his hated older brother had taken him down. 'Like he was swatting a fly...' he noted bitterly 'Even with a broken leg he took me down like I was still an academy student.'
"Oh come now that isn't very healthy." Orochimaru scoffed as he kept pace with Sasuke on the Uchiha's right, though internally the snake sennin was seething at being subjugated to his weakness in such a public manner "Of course he's stronger than you, he's been running around with S-class missing nin since he left Konoha behind. Put him out of your heads and focus on your training."
'And leave the vengeance to ME!' he hissed to himself, golden eyes narrowing as he put all of his years of experience into devising an appropriate punishment for the prodigal Uchiha 'Little brat doesn't know who he's messing with!'
"Dirty, dirty never gonna be clean again..." Jiraiya muttered, marching along at Naruto's Left, putting as much distance between himself and Orochimaru as possible for the moment. Oh sure he knew it wasn't Orochimaru's fault, and would eventually forget the matter after a weeklong bender at the next red light district he could find, but until then he was ITCHING to go sennin on a certain prodigal Uchiha, and wouldn't feel 100% cleansed until justice had been served.
The group had been like this since leaving the town behind, Orochimaru, the only one emotionally stable enough to venture in public after the events of the day before, having caught a tip that Tsunade had drifted towards Tanzaku-Gai, which was at best a days walk away.
"In all honesty, we should have headed to Tanzaku-gai n the first place." the sennin muttered idly, holding his chin as he walked, deep in contemplation "Tanzaku is one of the biggest gambling havens in the elemental nations...even if she weren't there she'd have had to have passed through at some point or other."
"Tsunade isn't exactly too popular in Tsuchi no Kuni or Rai no kuni either." Jiraiya agreed, though he pointedly avoided looking at his teammate as he spoke "Stands to reason she'd tend to stick to relatively neutral areas where she wouldn't be recognized for her contributions to the war."
"Contributions?" Sasuke repeated, looking between the sanin as they conversed before turning to Naruto "What contributions? From what they've told us so far she's just some wandering gambler."
Naruto shrugged, pulling out one of his now infamous 'famous shinobi and their achievements' volumes and flipping through the contents "Lessee...Densetsu no Sannin...here we are!" he ran his eyes over the page "Senju Tsunade, otherwise known as the Slug Sennin, Healing Princess, Legendary Sucker and the...Chichigami?"
"Goddess of boobs?" Sasuke repeated disbelievingly, quirking an eyebrow at the blonde, who merely shrugged, rolling his eyes in disbelief before turning his attention back to the book.
"Grand-daughter of Senju Hashirama, the First Hokage, and Grand-niece of Senju Tobirama, the Second Hokage." He whistled, "Hell of a background...she's like royalty or something."
"The closest thing Konoha has to it actually." Orochimaru agreed, waking alongside th teens with a wistful smile, "And she made a point of reminding us of it every time."
"Right up until she failed to make chunin rank the first time." Jiraiya sighed, a smile on his face as if recalling one of the fondest memories of his life "Wouldn't speak to us for weeks."
"Didn't you fail on your first try too?" Orochimaru asked coyly, chuckling as the man sputtered indignantly at the reminder "Not that I had any better luck."
"No way..." Sasuke gaped, looking over the two sennin in surprised disbelief "But...you were the sannin! The prodigal three! Everyone in Konoha considers you an example on proper shinobi!"
"Believe it or not we only became famous after we all achieved Jounin rank." Orochimaru offered consolingly, a little flattered with the Uchiha's confusion "And we only started calling ourselves the 'Sannin' during the en of the 2nd shinobi world war." he added, frowning in distaste "It was against the former leader of Amagakure, Sanshouo no Hanzo."
"Now there was a bastard." Jiraiya agreed, spitting to the side as he recalled the only opponent the Sannin had never managed to defeat, even when pooling their resources "Guy fought off an entire army by himself, then turned his attention to OUR cell." he shivered "Fiercest fight of my life, no joke."
"In the end we only lived because he realized the tide of battle was turning." Orochimaru recalled, lips pressed in a line of distaste at the memory "But before that he praised us...apparently the first time he'd done so in his entire life."
"Said he'd 'let us live'." Jiraiya grumbled, spitting to the side in distaste "But in return, we had to call ourselves the 'Densetsu no Sannin', like it was some big honor to be spared by him or something."
"Hanzo...Hanzo..." Naruto muttered, flipping through the appendix of his book for the name "Here he is...man this guy was paranoid...had his own mother strip-searched when she came to visit him."
"What did we discuss about Too Much Information?" Sasuke muttered, shuddering at the blonde's words before looking up at Orochimaru "So how come we never learned of him at the academy?"
"How good do you think it would've been for morale if children learned their childhood heroes were beaten back by the leader of a backwater nation?" Orochimaru replied, snorting at the look of comprehension on the teens' faces "I believe someone once said that 'history is made by the people who write the textbooks...'. In that case consider the council of any major shinobi village the censors that take out the 'nasty' bits."
"Frikking prudes..." Jiraiya muttered.
"Is there a draft in here?" Danzo muttered, covering his nose as he wiped it off, glaring at the rest of the council as he spoke "Anyways, back to business."
"The repairs are progressing steadily." Homura reported, shifting through a stack of papers, "However, we still need to refill the ranks that were decimated by the enemy."
"How could they have killed so many of us..." Koharu muttered bitterly "We outnumbered Suna's forces at least ten to one, and don't get me started on how inadequate Otogakure's shinobi were."
"Not a single jounin rank in the bunch." a civilian councilor muttered, snorting in disdain "But they still managed to take out half our main forces, not to mention ripping through the village proper."
"Clearly we've let the level of quality drop too far in these times of peace." Danzo stated, not for the first time, but THIS time he had the recent assault backing him up "I've warned Sarutobi that he's let the instructors become too soft on the new batches of recruits...clearly he hasn't heeded me."
"Mainly because I know you'll just drum roll as many poor children as possible into your 'Ne' division." Sarutobi spoke out, startling the hell out of the group as he sidled into the room "Starting the meeting without me? How very rude of you."
"Sarutobi." Danzo muttered, pursing his lips in annoyance as he eyed his one-time rival and superior in sheathed dislike "We were just speaking about you."
"I have no doubt you were." Sarutobi shot back, the look in his eyes letting Danzo know he was having none of it "you do enjoy having these little private conversations behind my back after all." he smirked as the obviously rattled council looked amongst themselves "Now...any new business?"
"One major one, Sarutobi." Danzo stated, standing up stiffly as he eyed the man, leaning heavily on his cane "Namely the succession of the Hokage title."
"Sarutobi." Koharu began, her tone neutral, but placating, "You've served as Hokage, and quite well I may add, for many years now...longer than anyone had right to demand of you."
'Your damn right I have...' Sarutobi muttered, but kept his thoughts to himself as he listened to the woman who'd once been his teammate carry on, filtering out the drabble to hear the main points: 'You're old, give the job to someone else'.
"And surely you can see the sense in electing someone else to carry the responsibility from now on?" Koharu finished, pointedly looking anywhere at Danzo, lest they give the game away.
"I can indeed." Sarutobi agreed, startling his remaining supporters on the council, and even Danzo himself "For one thing I wouldn't have to deal with the multitude of false documents that are wormed into my paperwork to wrest my authority away from me."
Several civilian members of the council looked away from the old man, and several more pointedly avoiding the look Danzo was shooting them as well. The old war hawk may not have liked Sarutobi, if anything he held him PERSONALLY responsible for Konoha's state of affairs, but one thing he absolutely LOATHED was Sarutobi including civilians on the council. This was a SHINOBI village, the main modus operandi was to go out, do missions, kill anyone that looked at you sideways or just plain and simple pissed you off, then come home to recover before the next slaughtering session, all the while hording secrets and techniques like pack-rats.
But Sarutobi, in a bid to get the civilians to see that the Jinchuuriki (for Danzo refused to see Naruto as anything but an unforged weapon), had granted several notable figures a seat on the council so that they might have a role in the affairs of their home. Once again, the old man's generosity had proved his downfall. The civilians had, rather than openly hunting the boy down, started using the Konoha legal system to their advantage, writing in loopholes that allowed them to ostracize the brat to their hearts content.
Danzo really couldn't have given a flying fuck about that, if anything he thought the treatment would slowly drive the jinchuuriki to it's limits, meaning HE could legally step in to 'prevent a repeat of the Kyuubi incident' from taking place, forging the nine-tails into his ultimate trump card. No, what pissed the director of 'Ne' off so much was the civilians attempts to wrest the Hokage's authority away from Sarutobi through subterfuge and pathetic deceit.
If ANYONE was going to claim the power of the Hokage name, it would be Danzo, and no one else. And the second he was in the office, the old War hawk would see to it that civilians would not only KNOW their place in society, somewhere above vermin but well beneath Shinobi, but he would purge the influences of their 'councilmen' from his administration.
"As I was saying." Hiruzen continued, noting the dark chuckles coming from Danzo with suspicion, "I am quite in agreement with you all regarding the choosing of a Godaime, so much so, in fact, that I have sent Jiraiya and Orochimaru to fetch her for us."
"Fetch?" Koharu repeated, looking confused as several mutters went up amongst the councilmen, Danzo's eyes narrowing in suspicion as he tightened his grip on his cane "You mean this person is an outsider? But Sarutobi, who better to lead us than someone that has always put the concerns of Konoha above all else?"
"You are, again, correct Koharu." Hiruzen agreed, smirking at her knowingly "Which is why I have chosen my disciple, Senju Tsunade, as my successor as Godaime Hokage."
The silence that followed could be felt by the council, the civilian members struck dumb from surprise and terror at what the venerable elder had just said. They had all, at some stage, encountered Konoha's 'Princess' in her youth, and knew firs hand that while Sarutobi had tolerated their meddling in his affairs, Tsunade was not above putting her foot down on interlopers.
It didn't hurt that she had no patience for silvered words and, outside of gambling, had the ability to read people like a book.
No, the civilian members of the council were NOT pleased at all with this turn of events. But their distress paled in comparison to the dark anger that was Danzo's ire.
'Damn you Sarutobi...' the war hawk muttered, locking gazes with his rival, catching the knowing look in his eye and cursing 'You had this planned from the start...Orochimaru and Jiraiya I could handle...but that wench!' he grumbled to himself, recalling the few tims he had met with Tsunade and tried to coax her over to his way of thinking...let's just say Tsunade had left an impression on him...with her knee.
Hey, why do you think he needed the cane?
"...and that's how we got the Sandaime Kazekage to sign the peace treaty." Jiraiya concluded, a sigh escaping as he smiled at the memory of those bygone days "I never looked at a banana daiquiri the same way again after that."
Orochimaru scoffed, noting that their companions looked torn between arousal and horror, their eyes wide with fascinated horror, like they'd just watched a train crash into an orphanage. "She isn't that bad..." he assured them "when she's sober anyways, just try to avoid her when she's had a few and you'll be fine."
"Sounds Kinda hard." Sasuke noted, a deadpan expression slipping onto his features "Seeing as, from what you say, she's either drinking or looking for a drink to forget her gambling debts."
"I'm with Sasuke on this one." Naruto muttered in annoyance "If she's like that every waking moment should we only approach her when she's sleeping?"
"NO!" the two Sennin yelled, their eyes wide in horror as they clamped their hands over the startled blonde's mouth, his eyes bugging out at the terror in their eyes.
"NEVER try to wake her up!" Orochimaru insisted, veins visible in his eyes from the terror as he gripped the sides of his head "You have no idea what terror is until you've interrupted Tsunade's beauty rest!"
"So much pain..." Jiraiya mumbled, apparently lost in some horrible memory, gripping his mane of white hair between his fingers as he knelt on the side of the road, rocking back and forth "Make the hurting stop...oh dear sweet god not the CORN!"
Sasuke ad Naruto watched as Orochimaru and Jiraiya huddled together, trembling like newborn foals and pleading for mercy, before looking at each other and nodding, walking up to their respective senseis and giving them a comforting pat on the back.
They knew what it was like to be hounded by an angry female.
Tsunade sneezed, cursing this apparent cold that had been plaguing her for well over a week now, only to look up in alarm as the slot reels landed on triple sevens, coins spraying out of the machine, littering at her feet as Shizune began scooping up as much as she could.
"HIEEE!!!" the medic cheered, racing back and forth between th counter as she went "If you keep this streak up we're likely to pay off half your debts within the week Shishou!"
"Baka! Don't just scoop it up!" Tsunade yelled, cursing as she tried to make her way through he crowd, who'd swooped in to congratulate her and sneak off with some of the earnings. 'This is seriously bad! If I don't get out of here soon-!'
Her elbow caught some doddering old fart with a walker in the spine as he hobbled past, earning a yelp as he straightened up, only to blink and rub his back in wonder "I...I can walk!" he cheered, tears running down his aged face as he began to kick his heels for joy "I can move again! I feel like I'm thirty!"
Tsunade rolled her eyes, only to blink as she was suddenly beset upon by a horde of old fogies that were offering her their life's savings in exchange for he 'miracle treatment'.
Needless to say, by the time Tsunade finally managed to make it out of the town, she had was not only several thousand ryo richer, she also had a much better reputation than when she went in. Which basically meant she was pissed as hell.
"Danzo-sama..." one of the faceless, nameless grunts of Ne greeted, kneeling before his lord and master as he hobbled into the dark catacombs that ran under the village "your 'guest' is here."
"One thing after another..." Danzo muttered, making his way to the audience chambers, schemes hatching in his mind as he tried to predict Sarutobi's next move, only to glare at the cloaked figure waiting for him in the chamber "What are you still doing here? You failed."
"Failed? Hardly." Kabuto chuckled, removing his cowl "All I did was make it clear to Orochimaru that no-one bought his tall tales, that the threats that surround Konoha are still very much inclined to slit his throat along with the village's."
"A risky gamble..." Danzo muttered, his hands gripping his cane tightly as he evaluated the bespectacled man "But can you be certain that there are none that would support him?"
"Amongst the troops? None." Kabuto assured him "Orochimaru didn't make many friends during the war, most of the ones that 'joined' Otogakure were out for the bounty on his head." he chuckled "Not that it did them any good."
"The serpent is good I'll give him hat much." Danzo muttered "Had I managed to get to him all those years ago he'd be sitting n the Hokage office by now, under MY control."
"But you didn't." Kabuto countered with a smug smirk "You missed your chance and his teammates jumped in to comfort him right when a few honeyed words could have corrupted his faith and purpose."
"You watch your tongue." Danzo growled, tapping his cane, several ANBU operatives filtering into view, only to phase out again, a clear warning that the old man wasn't willing to put up with cheek here in his own domain "What of his so called 'elite'?"
"A bunch of teenagers drunk of the power of the Tenfuuin." Kabuto scoffed "Without my ministrations their own seals would have devoured them by now, so there's no fear of them turning turncoat." he scowled "There are one or two exceptions however..."
"Names?" Danzo queried, only to scowl as Kabuto shook his head, a knowing smirk on the youth's face "Fine, just make sure they aren't a threat to us."
"To YOU maybe." Kabuto chuckled, turning on his heel and pulling up his cowl "After all, YOU'RE the one that's plotting to undermine the Sandaime's authority, "I'm merely providing the manpower."
Danzo glowered at the youth as he walked off, shadowed by several ANBU to make certain he didn't try anything funny, before turning and hobbling back this quarters. He had a long day ahead of him tomorrow, and his wounds needed seeing to again.
'I will not allow the rot that infests Konoha to remain any longer.' he growled, allowing his medics to see to his scars 'I put too much effort into driving away the last of the Shodai's bloodline, I will NOT tolerate that wench wearing the Hokage robes.'
And so, deep within the bowls of his underground nest, Danzo resumed his plotting, determined to prevent the Senju line's re-ascension to te seat of power. He'd managed to pull it off twice now, and didn't intend to lose his perfect record.
'It's just too bad she never had any other siblings...' he muttered, recalling the funeral for the Shodai's grandson, how Tsunade had wept her eyes out, a shadow of the proud, headstrong heiress she'd once been '...it could have driven her off for good.'
Danzo's plans are in motion, an Kabuto makes a re-appearance.
Just how tightly wound are these two conspirators? Are there any in Otogakure that would support Orochimaru?
And Will Tsunade manage to escape the harbingers of good luck?
Find out, hopefully, next time, on Naruto Gaiden!